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Topic: 2012 HF Challenge Course 3 - Celebrate Your Self - Discussion

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Subject: 2012 HF Challenge Course 3 - Celebrate Your Self - Discussion
Date Posted: 1/1/2012 9:24 PM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2009
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Date Posted: 1/2/2012 11:51 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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I read Endless Forest, the 6th and last book in the Wilderness series by Sara Donati for Item E of this challenge - What's In a Name? This book is "Dedicated to the One I Love: Bill." 

Although my Bil is no longer a member of my household in the physical sense, he is certainly the one I love & I definitely consider him as a member of my household.

The book gets a solid 5/5 from me - it was a wonderful ending to a wonderful series!

Kelly

 

Date Posted: 1/3/2012 11:31 AM ET
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Awwww, Kelly...I love the way you chose that book for the challenge.  Made me choke up a little bit.

Date Posted: 1/3/2012 12:08 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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Thanks, Christa. heart It's even more poignant that Bil was from upstate New York ... not as far upstate as the Endless Forest & Lake of the Clouds, but enough that I could really identify with the geography and setting descriptions.. 

I was a bit late (compared to most of us) getting to Sara Donati's Wilderness series, but can now heartily recommend them to anyone else who has not yet met Elizabeth & Nathaniel. And, the books (any of the 6 of them) could easily fit several different HF Challenge categories. (First one is Into the Wilderness.)

Kelly

 

 

Date Posted: 1/9/2012 8:57 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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A sister-in-law had recommended The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, and when I saw in the acknowedgements  that the author mentioned two Lindas, I decided this would serve as the book for section E, "what's in a name?" 

I enjoyed the book for the most part, but was a bit dissatisfied with the ending.

Linda

Date Posted: 1/9/2012 11:12 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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Just finished Doc by Mary Doria Russell for the "book set near where you live" category (Item A). The bulk of the book takes place in Dodge City, Kansas. With its beginnings as a destination for Texas cattle drives that pushed through Oklahoma, this was a perfect "regional" book for an Okie gal like myself. Oklahoma's history, Texas cattle drives, cow towns like Dodge City ... all integrally related to each other.

Loved this book! Russell's writing style is as enjoyable as any I have come across in recent memory. Her characterization, story development, research, etc. - all top-notch and told in a way that makes you feel like she is sitting across the room with a cup of coffee sharing anecdotes about people you both know. And, as it should be - Doc steals every scene he is in; but, Russell has developed a wonderful cast of supporting characters in Wyatt, Morgan, Kate, Bat Masterson & the town leaders of Dodge City - a rough and wild cow town in the 1870's.

To share just a wee taste:

Doc, in explaining his success at the poker table to Wyatt: "My edge is that I can count," he said quietly, "whereas the men I play against are rarely overburdened by education."

He goes on to add, "I myself do not believe that it is cheatin' to calculate odds by takin' note of cards layin' in plain view on a table. Do you believe that is cheatin', Wyatt?" [And, of course, Wyatt does not think that at all.]

"And yet," Doc said, "when some men lose to me, they reckon it theft, and when such men believe they have been cheated, they are not inclined to express their dismay with a well-turned phrase."

Book is a solid 5/5 ... will probably be on my top 10 list ... and is highly recommended!

Kelly

Date Posted: 1/10/2012 6:53 AM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
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Kelly, from that dialogue, I picture Sam Elliott playing the role of Doc...great review, and dangerous too!  I KNEW I should not have opened this thread!!

Date Posted: 1/10/2012 8:16 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
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Awesome, Kelly.  I just picked up Doc from the library and it is up next for me.  Can't wait!

Alice J. (ASJ) - ,
Date Posted: 1/13/2012 5:54 PM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2009
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So I finished What's in a Name cateogory (assuming our rules are the same as last year and can read one nonfiction history book). I read Erik Larson's In the Garden of the Beasts. My husband's name is Eric so it works. Hmmm the book was well written and reseachred and it was very interesting to learn more about the rise of Hitler, but I hate reading about Nazi Germany. So why did I read it? I really like his bok Devil in the White City, though it was fascinating, if not ghoulish.

Nazi Germany repulses me although it is part of our world history it is very difficult for me to read and judge this book fairly.

So that's my review!!

Date Posted: 1/15/2012 3:41 PM ET
Member Since: 8/29/2008
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I just finished To Die For by Sandra Byrd for the Let's Go category. It is a Tudor book, so ,obviously, it is set in England which I would like to visit one day. I enjoyed the story. It isn't my favorite time period, but the story was well told and realistic. It is told from the point of view of one of Anne Bolyn's ladies in waiting. Anne's story always leaves me a little sad.

Date Posted: 1/24/2012 9:06 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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I seem to be on a h/f mystery kick lately and since not all of my selections are fitting the h/f mystery challenge I am sneaking them in to the 2012 h/f general reading challenge.  I finished Three Kings of Cologne by Kate Sedley for the "let's go" - a place you want to visit (England) challenge.  This is yet another Roger the Chapman mystery (I am coming close to the end of this series, alas).  Roger is requested to solve a 20 year old murder by the soon to be Lord Mayor of Bristol who just happens to be his neighbor.  How a humble peddlar and his family happen to end up living in an "upscale" part of the city was featured in a previous story, but it causes continuous difficulties for Roger and his family.   This was a very quick read; maybe not one of my favorites, but any Roger the Chapman is better than none!

Alice J. (ASJ) - ,
Date Posted: 2/4/2012 3:14 PM ET
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I have finished my book for the Let's Go Category, E.L. Doctorow's The March. I have always want to visit Georgia, NC and SC, espciallly Savanah and Charleston. It just hasn't worked out yet.  The book is for my Feb book group. Excellent. I have always liked his writing style and this is no exception. The book gives you a many different views of the end of the Civil War. The method he writes his characters is excellent. You really learn to understand them. Wonderful blend of history and fiction. Highly recommend.

Date Posted: 2/21/2012 12:47 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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Item C - Roots and Wings - a book associated with my family heritage.

My Great (5 times) Grandfather immigrated from Ireland;  so I read Brigid of Kildare by Heather Terrell for this category.  St. Brigid established an abbey in the 5th century, and along with St. Patrick, and Colomba is one of Ireland's best loved patron saints.  A year ago I read Byzantium by Stephen Lawhead about an Irish monk associated with the famous Book of Kells (late 8th century).  A premise of this novel is the possibility of a similar beautiful illuminated manuscript (the Book of Kildare) which might have existed over 300 years earlier.  Brigid was a warrior and a healer and her abbey included both monks and nuns.  Her devotion was to her country and its people, as well as her devotion to her religion.

Linda

Date Posted: 3/5/2012 9:48 AM ET
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Item A - Home, Sweet Home -  a book set near where you live

The Confederate War Bonnet by Jack Shakely. 

The sub title "A Novel of the Civil War in Indian Territory" explains this setting for someone living in Oklahoma.  Interesting historical information.

Linda

Date Posted: 3/12/2012 11:09 AM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
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Course Three:  Celebrate Your Self

A.  Home, Sweet Home:  An Untamed Land by Lauraine Snelling or Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury.  Awestruck!  That's how I feel.  This is is probably my best read of the year.  While I had read much written by Bradbury I had never before read Dandelion Wine.  It's enchanting!  I felt as if I were living in Green Town in 1928 with Douglas and Tom, two brothers who decide to do a jouyrnal to chronicle their summer.  Bradbury has that much power.  It's hard to vocalize all the ways this book affects the reader.  If you keep any books in this day of electronic reading this is one that you should put on your shelf to read again and again and again.  Yup, this is from one who does not usually reread books, and you guessed it, 5 stars. 

B.  Let's Go!  Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran, 4/19/2012, 3.5 stars.  Moran does an interesting write about Egypt, its capture by Octavian and growing up in a patrician Roman household.  The tale makes one wonder who Kleopatra (spelling used according to her daughter), Octavian, Alexander and Selene really were.  Selene tells the story herself as she trains to become an architect in spite of the stigma about women's roles in Roman society.  3.5 stars

C.  Roots and Wings:  One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
D.  Celebrate Good Times:  The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig, 4/16/2012, 3 stars.  This is a delightfully light, quick read.  I like Willig's approach to spying and in this one she does a phenomenal job of creating romance between two unlikely people.  The scenes meant to be serious - Arabella held by a knife or a gun seem almost out of place in this one.  I did enjoy it for a change of pace.

E.  What's in a Name?  Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie, 2/11/2012  Wonderful, wonderful read!  This is a fascinating story about a highly intelligent, politically astute, tactful and beautiful woman who has the interests of Russia foremost in her heart and mind even though she was originally from Prussia (Germany).  Catherine write an idealistic code of laws and weathered wars with Turkey, several love affairs and a revolt led by a Cossack.  There is so much more to the book and the woman who well deserved the title Catherine the Great.  I leave the rest for readers to discover.

 



Last Edited on: 8/1/12 9:57 AM ET - Total times edited: 12
Date Posted: 4/2/2012 5:19 PM ET
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As Linda alluded to above, she & I are basically British Isles mutts, with a wee bit of German thrown in for extra flavor. So I could have used The Running Vixen (Elizabeth Chadwick) for my Roots & Wings category; but instead I'm going to use it for my "Let's Go" category.

The book's primary setting is in the Welsh Middle Marches, and takes place during 1126 - 27. Henry I is still on the throne, his heir has gone down in the White Ship, daughter Matilda has been recalled from the continent and the barons are forced to swear allegiance to her. In one article I read, the Welsh Marches are described as that land wedged roughly between Welsh mountain & English river beds. The article went on to say that this area contains the densest concentration of motte-and-bailey castles in Wales & England. Ownership of the land has been disputed since the Iron Age & some of the Marcher towns owe their beginnings to the Roman legions dating from the 1st century. It is from this area that arose the great and powerful Marcher Lords, i.e., William the Marshal, Gilbert de Clare, Roger Mortimer & William de Braose.   Sounds like a part of the world to pass some time!

This book loosely follows The Wild Hunt, but can easily be read as a stand alone novel. Our main character is Adam de Lacey, a minor (albeit important) baron for Henry I and son-in-law to the influential and well-respected Earl of Ravenstow. This is one of Elizabeth Chadwick's early historical romances, but even her earlier writing is so head and shoulders above other HR authors, that one hates to label her books. We get such wonderful character development, descriptions and plot development that they are really just quite hard to put down & Running Vixen was no different.

Kelly

 

 



Last Edited on: 4/2/12 5:19 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/28/2012 1:38 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
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For the Let's Go category, I recently completed The Schoolmaster's Daughter:  A Novel of the American Revolution, by John Smolens. 

In my history textbooks, I seem to recall that Lexington and Concord and The Battle of Bunker HIll sat like two bookends framing a bare bones paragraph about the start of the Revolutionary War.  This novel fills in the gaps and brings to life what it was like for everyday people living in Boston at the time of these events.  Abigail Lovell is the daughter of the Latin school headmaster, a staunch loyalist, and sister to James and Benjamin, both heavily involved in the patriotic resistance movement.  She is a brave, independent woman who struggles to maintain loyalties to her family and friends amid the tumultuous and disasterous happenings surrounding her.  The history in this book was great, but the story line was laborious and cumbersome, picking up speed only by about mid book.  So many characters had promise, but fell a little flat.  However, the book piqued my interest enough that I booked a Boston city stay for my husband and I in the fall.   

Date Posted: 4/28/2012 9:51 PM ET
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Nice review, Donna!

Date Posted: 4/29/2012 7:38 AM ET
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Thanks, Kelly!

 

 

Date Posted: 5/19/2012 8:31 PM ET
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Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos - completed for the Home Sweet Home category

Dead End in Norvelt is juvenile fiction that won the Newberry Medal 2012 for the best contribution to children's literature and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction.  Novelt is a small town in PA about 15 minutes from the small town in which I live.  Norvelt was a depression era planned community and is named for it's founder, Eleanor Roosevelt.  This is a funny, smart book by a favorite author of mine, with lots of history relevant to 1960's southwestern PA and many additional historical tidbits embedded in the story.  If I were still teaching, I'd definitely use this book in the classroom as a springboard to studying the historical events sprinkled throughout. 

Alice J. (ASJ) - ,
Date Posted: 9/16/2012 8:03 AM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2009
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For the Home Sweet Home category I finished  The Rebellion of Jane Clarke :: Sally Gunning. It is set in my home state of Massachusetts in 1770. The book was good but not great. I love the setting as I know the area she is describing and it is great to think about what it was like 242 years ago. Satucket is on Cape Cod in the town that is now Brewster (Bay side of the cape). It is funny to think that you used to take boat from Boston to Satucket and in presently in the summer it is still quicker to do that. The Cape traffic is bad. Truthfully I liked the Widows War and Bound better than this one.  This book was an interesting glimpse of the Boston Massacre though.

Date Posted: 10/12/2012 10:18 PM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
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I just finished my book for the Home Sweet Home category.  I read Storming Heaven by Denise Giardina.  It's the story of the Battle of Blair Mountain in West Virginia, and is told from four different viewpoints. I LOVED this book.  The story and the way she told it chilled me to the bone.  This struggle to unionize the southern coalfields in West Virginia during the early 20th century is a story of brutality and violence and the eventual institution of martial law.  This was the first time U.S. troops had been ordered to bomb our own people.  

The coal miners striking and fighting for their rights wore red bandanas, utilizing the term 'redneck' to mean a union member.  (Your bit of trivia for the day!)

Denise Giardina is coming to one of my library branches in early November to speak about this book, as it is the 25th anniversary of its publication.  It should be an interesting talk.

Date Posted: 10/13/2012 9:40 AM ET
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Alice, I had a little trouble with Widow's War (a bit of gratuitous violence, maybe? or the way the relationship was handled between the widow & the Indian?). There  was something that put me off this book - and thus, I've been reluctant to pick up either Bound or Jane Clarke. Maybe one of these days ... 

Nice review, Vicky ... and very interesting. I'm quite sure this incident was not a part of any of my history books in school. Yet another example of how much history gets lost on the editing room floor. A very sad thing.

Kelly

hro
Date Posted: 10/14/2012 9:38 PM ET
Member Since: 8/28/2011
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"What's In A Name." Whoever came up with that category obviously had a name like Ann or something! wink  I didn't have a lot of options for this category, so I went with a historical fantasy based on medieval Scandinavia. Here's my review for the book I read:

 

I first encountered "Voima" by C. Dale Brittain when searching for fantasy novels based on Norse mythology. I rather quickly dismissed it, however, because almost no one has read it and those that have don't seem to like it. 

But I decided to participate in a reading challenge in which one of the categories is: "Read a book associated with your name." *groan* Though not obscure, Dale is certainly not a common name. In fact, of the 1500 books I have cataloged, not one had an author named Dale. (And I had no idea how to search for books that contained a character named Dale.)

And then I remembered "Voima" and the author's name...Dale. To top it off, she is (like me) a FEMALE Dale (which I encounter very very rarely). So I decided to give this unknown book a chance. 

According to the author's website, the setting for Voima is based on medieval Scandinaviaand combines elements of Norse sagas and the Finnish Kalevala. The plot involves three characters - the warrior Roric No-man's Son, the king's son Valmar, and the princess Karin who is being held hostage by Valmar's father. The three are recruited by the Wanderers, the immortal rulers of the land, to aid them in battle against those who are attempting to usurp their authority.

In many ways, "Voima" is formula fantasy - the recruitment, the quest, the conflict, the victory. But I was impressed with the complexities of the world of "Voima" and the people that inhabit it, and the way in which the author vividly made this foreign place come alive for me. And even though the characters are in many ways drawn from the fantasy stock list, they are also complex enough to be believable and intriguing. They are faced with many situations in which there is no clear definition of which is the right or wrong choice, and this moral ambiguity added a great deal of depth to the plot. 

"Voima" is a fast-paced well-written novel that not only entertained me but also prompted philosophical musings. Though I wouldn't go so far as to place it on a list of Best Fantasy Novels Ever Written, it is certainly worthy of more attention than it has received. 

Date Posted: 10/14/2012 10:34 PM ET
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Excellent review, hro.  Glad you liked the book. Next time, if you're stuck, feel free to ask for help. My guess is that a number of us in this forum would have immediately thought of Alan-a-Dale, one of Robin Hood's merry men, and so he is present in many Robin Hood books. In our Angus' books, Allan Dale is the main character and narrator!



Last Edited on: 10/14/12 10:37 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
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