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Topic: 2010 H/F Challenge #2 - U-Z

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Subject: 2010 H/F Challenge #2 - U-Z
Date Posted: 11/26/2009 6:13 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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Discuss the books you read for the alphabet challenge, letters U through Z.

Ideas for X: Capricornia by Xavier Herbert, Promise of Glory: A Novel of Antietam by C. X. Moreau, Exodus by Leon Uris.



Last Edited on: 11/27/09 8:46 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/5/2010 8:59 AM ET
Member Since: 6/16/2008
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Just finished a YA Civil War novel from the mid 90s - Divided Hearts by Cheryl Zach. It's better than I expected. The slave issue isn't shyed away from here, unlike some other YA series (*coughSunfirecough*) where the southern belle lived on a plantation peopled with "servants."

It was a fast read with a pleasing heroine, good atmosphere about a Charleston girls' boarding school, and a realistic pace. Instead of trying to cover the whole war, it ends shortly after First Bull Run. It was recommended from a PBSer who has a huge collection of HF YA lit and I'm glad I ran into her. :-D There's 2 other books in the series, which I'll definitely be reading.

Date Posted: 1/7/2010 12:07 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
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I just read Geraldine Brooks' Year of Wonders for my Y book.  It's pretty good.  Very interesting from the perspective of learning about the plague and small town, lead mining life at that period.  It gets to be TOO much, though, at the end.  The last chapter and the epilogue don't work for me.  But probably the biggest thing for me is that it's all first person, and I've never cared much for that.  It feels like looking at the story through blinders, unless done so well that I forget it's in first person.  I didn't.

Date Posted: 1/12/2010 9:23 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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I read The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss. I enjoyed it. Posted the review in the "Winner" thread.

Date Posted: 1/12/2010 9:53 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
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Genie,  I am happy to hear that you liked it, I read a bit free on line and will be ordering it. 

Date Posted: 1/13/2010 8:13 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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Letty, Not to discourage you from ordering it. But I will be offering it when Christa does her HF challenge game in March.

Date Posted: 1/13/2010 9:13 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
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Genie,

I'll keep that in mind!  But I tend to have the same affliction Valli has books jump into my shopping basket.  Or follow me home, and the best yet my cat Itty just goes on to my Amazon account and on to my wish list and every once in a while, will order  1 or 2  or 7 books!  We are trying to break him of this however, before he figures out that you can also buy kitty treats there.  He already weighs 18 lbs.:P

Date Posted: 1/19/2010 7:08 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
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Well I finished The Whiskey Rebels,  Genie I found it at the library so my pocket book was happy. 

 

See "Read a winner" for my point of view if your interested.

Date Posted: 1/19/2010 8:19 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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Well don't leave me hanging, Letty! What did you think of it?

Date Posted: 1/23/2010 12:20 PM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
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I just finished "The Virgin Blue" by Tracy Chevalier, for my "V" book.  This is Chevalier's first novel, and I have to say I really enjoyed it.  I don't know much about the time period (France, 1560's) which includes the conflicts between the Catholics and the Huguenots, but for me, she brought the time period to life.

The story's chapters alternate between present day France, and 1560's France, featuring two women: Ella Tournier and what turns out to be her distant ancestor, Isabelle du Moulin Tournier.  I loved the way she twined the two stories together, with a bit of magical realism thrown in.  My only complaint was the epilogue; Ella knew some details about Isabelle, and it wasn't made clear HOW she knew these things.  Dreams?  Memories? It left me feeling a bit cheated.

But, it was a quick read, and kept me up very late last night. ;)

Subject: My W Read for Historical Fiction #2
Date Posted: 2/3/2010 10:47 AM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 2,879
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Wolf Hall by by Hilary Mantel: A great book about Thomas Cromwell. Coming from humble origins and an abusive home, he becomes the most influential person in England next to the king. Cromwell was a complex intelligent person whose intellect is admired by many. If I have a complaint at all, it is that author does not spend enough time on his influence in designing the laws of the country. She describes the loss of his wife and two daughters to "the sweat" or "the sweating sickness", and suggests how it may have influenced the person he became. Who was he really? Read Wolf Hall to see one view of this remarkable person.



Last Edited on: 3/15/10 10:30 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 2/3/2010 11:37 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
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Very nice review, Bigstone! I got a copy of Wolf Hall in a game at Christmas time, but I still haven't read it. I was planning to read it right away, but then I decided to read a short non-fiction book about Cromwell to refresh my memory of him. So, I bought a copy of "Oliver Cromwell" by Peter Gaunt. It's a bit  less than 250 pages long, but I read that it's supposed to be an excellent, short overview of his life and career.

I'm looking forward to reading both books! If only I had more time to read!

Subject: My V Read for Historical Fiction #2
Date Posted: 2/4/2010 7:47 AM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 2,879
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Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland: This is a lovely easy to read story and I finished it in one day. The book focuses on tales about owners of the painting. As one meets the owners you feel like you know them. Liked the portrait of the artist best. Artists still starve as they pursue their talents. I do think I'll look for more books by this author.



Last Edited on: 3/15/10 10:27 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 2/4/2010 2:42 PM ET
Member Since: 1/9/2008
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For the letter U I read Morality Play by Barry Unsworth.  It tells the story of a group of players in the 14th century.  It is told from the perspective of a priest who joins them.  They end up in a town telling the story of a murder of a young boy.  This was a different read for me but I found the play-acting and the interweaving of the real life story very interesting.

Date Posted: 2/4/2010 4:40 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
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Tha t book has intrigued me Vickie .Thanks for your opinion - I'm going to see if our library has it.

Date Posted: 2/5/2010 3:42 PM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
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I finished my "Y" book, "Girl in a Cage" by Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris.  It's a young adult novel about Marjorie, the daughter of Robert the Bruce.  She is captured by Edward I of England, and put in a cage in the village square of Lanercost.  This is based on true accounts, and so well-written!

The narrative goes back and forth in time, with Marjorie's memories of her father and her family, to her present captivity.  She's only 11 years old, so when her father is crowned King of Scotland, she is thrilled to be a real princess.  But, it's not that easy, apparently.  The characters have a depth that I (as an adult reader) appreciated.  You come to hate Edward "Longshanks" for his treatment of Marjorie and the people of Lanercost, but the authors also show us glimpses into his deep grief for his dead queen Eleanor, and his fear of dying. 

I will put this one into my library...I can sell this book!  The afterword tells the reader what is true about the novel, and what was fabricated to make the story flow, something the kids will find interesting too.  Well done!

 

Originally posted in the N-T thread..d'oh!!!

Date Posted: 2/5/2010 4:32 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
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Vickie -- I also have Morality Play by Unsworth listed for my "U" challenge, so am glad to hear that you found it interesting (I'm hoping that's meant as a positive recommendation). I actually am eager to read Unsworth's Sacred Hunger but it's three times as long -- so I opted for the shorter book -- but I'm eager to hear opinions about Sacred Hunger if anyone's read it. The reviews on Amazon are quite good.

Date Posted: 2/7/2010 8:48 AM ET
Member Since: 1/9/2008
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Deb...when I mentioned that Morality Play was interesting, that was definately a positive recommendation.  I do not read many mysteries and this book falls in that category, but it was a good read and I would like to read another title by him.  I saw Sacred Hunger and put it on my reminder list to hopefully read sometime in the near future.

Subject: My Z Read HF Challenge #2
Date Posted: 2/7/2010 10:07 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
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Moses, Man of the Mountain by Zora Neal Hurston: On occasion I find reading about the author just as interesting as the book itself. I did enjoy rereading the story of Moses from birth to leading the Hebrews from Egypt to their new home. The blending of black folklore with Afro-American language and the story of Moses himself was sometimes confusing, sometimes funny, sometimes enlightening. The postscript discussion about the author helps you understood more about the author and her writing techniques. She was a writer before her time and did not write in the popular veins of her time. "Freedom," she wrote, "was something internal...The man himself must make his own emancipation." Hurston has become a role model for many of today's Afro-American writers. Well worth the read!

Time and Again by Jack Finney (interpreted as x (exiting the century into 1882): What an interesting book! The author went to great pains to make the book as historically accurate as possible taking only those deviations from history necessary to make the story flow well. Even the drawings and photos used in the book were painstakingly selected from historical files. The plot, in short, is this: a scientist discovers how to travel in time but his prime concern is not to alter history in any way. Sending carefully selected people back into time, he and those who support him hope to learn the truth about what happened in those periods of time. Their most successful traveler is Si Morley who predictably falls in love with a woman who lived in that time period. The story is fascinating as the author interprets the debriefing and life in 1882 in Si's words and the tale ends as we all hope it will but I loved it just the same.

Fairoaks by Frank Yerby: Occasionally one comes across a book and an author in a quite unorthodox way that is so good you wonder why you never read it. A few months after I joined PBS hubby and I went to an auction where we bought five -yes five - boxes of books for $3. I began to work my way through them, reading what caught my eye and posting those I thought someone might like. One of those books was this out-of-print HB. It's a story that takes one to the time of slavery in our country and into the minds and thoughts of those who lived in the South. What an exciting read! I felt as if I walked with Guy Falks who grows up in the South, lives in Africa for some time working in the slavery business to make his fortune before he returns home. I did not wince when he took a whip to a slave yet I thrilled to his compassion for a young woman slave who saves his life. He learns to cope with several different African tribes, speaking their languages and discovering how to cope with their beliefs and lives. It's an excellent read.

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya (U): It's a fine read and so different from many of the other HF books I've read. This story is told by Antonio, a young Spanish boy who is strongly influenced by the church, a curandera named Ultima, witches, and ghosts. It's fascinating to see how these concepts affect Antonio, his family, community and friends. While my college Spanish is rusty, I have plowed through the book and delighted in the childish dreams and fantasies expressed by Antonio. At times I think that Antonio uses vocabulary that is beyond his years. It's a good in depth look at life in a Spanish family in the 1940s. Most interesting read!.



Last Edited on: 12/1/10 5:33 PM ET - Total times edited: 9
Date Posted: 2/12/2010 9:37 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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For "W," I read The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell, first in his "Arthur Chronicles" series. Excellent book! I haven't really read any King Arthur stuff, and other than the highlights we all know (Guinevere and Lancelot, the Knights of the Round Table, Camelot, the sword in the Stone, Merlin, etc.), I didn't know much of thestory. I enjoyed Cornwell's take. There was no round table, Camelot had a different name and so far is not the idyllic place one would suppose, there were plenty of fighters but none were referred to as knights, and Arthur did not pull his sword, Excalibur, from a stone. LOL! The characters were there though, Arthur, of course, Guinevere, Lancelot, Galahad and Merlin, but there are plenty more, including Derfel, the narrator, who is one of Arthur's men. I'm anxious to get to the other books in the trilogy. Another winner, in my book, from Cornwell!

Date Posted: 2/12/2010 10:10 AM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2009
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Shelley - Glad to hear youthought so well of Cornwell's "Arthur" series.Amazon.com recently offeredthe trilogy at a discount and I took the bait, so your review is very reassuring. By the way, this thread has listed one good book/author/recommendation after another. I'm very happily clicking away addingto my reminder list. ;) All I can say is thanks, and keep 'em coming!

Date Posted: 2/12/2010 10:16 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,300
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Finished The White Queen by Philippa Gregory and really enjoyed it. First person narrative was no bother to me. I ended up actually liking this woman by the end of the story.

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 11:03 AM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2009
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For the letter V I chose Versailles by Kathryn Davis. I think this is a book a reader might really like or really hate.I ended up enjoying it.Davis gives life and grit to Marie Antoinette, but in very disconcerting ways that can be off-putting. First is her writing style: it's not the usual storytelling prose, but disjointed vignettes and some curious little short plays, somefable-like, where even animals (like Marie Antoinette's cows from Trianon, Blanche and Blanchette) can talk. Then, Marie Antoinetteherself is an omniscient narrator, like some spirit of Versailles, narrating its beginnings, and more pathetically, knowing her own violent end. She's not resigned, however, not restful, but a little bitter, a little defiant. Louis, on the other hand, is a well-meaning dunce obsessed with privacy and locks, yet ironically, no one can physically be locked out of Versailles. And then there is the Versailles itself,a decayed character, a gilded cage, a glass monument to a lifestylethatbecamea death sentencefor Louis XVI and Marie.

Filled with ironies and symbolism, Versailles definitely touched a chord. I still think about it. But I couldn't sufficiently relax to enjoy it because the style of writing kept throwing me off. I'll be better prepared the next time I read it. This one is staying on my shelf for at least one more read.



Last Edited on: 2/19/10 9:48 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/3/2010 7:43 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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Nevermind.



Last Edited on: 3/3/10 7:49 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 3/7/2010 9:46 AM ET
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For Y I had chosen Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. Brooks brings an interesting perspective to a town whose normal calm is made turbulent by the plague, where everyone isstretched to the limit struggling to maintaintheir humanity in the face of extreme fear and horror.The main charactersare interesting and well-drawn but the ending feels rushed and unwieldy. The epilogue doesn't quite work for me, either. (I have to agree with Sharla about that). Maybe because the author (IMO) doesn't build up the expectation adequately enough for me to envision Anya's future as the authorlays it out in the epilogue,soit comes across to me as a happy, but unrealistic fantasy, and a bit contrived. Despite the problems I had with it in the end,I would still recommend it, because Brooks is that good of a writer.

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