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Topic: Best Read in 2011

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Subject: Best Read in 2011
Date Posted: 8/14/2011 10:13 AM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 3,133
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Maybe I'm becoming more discriminating but I have found that only three of my 2011 HF reads were in my estimation very good or outstanding.  They were The Grass Crown by Colleen McCullough, Moloka'i by Alan Brennert and Caleb's Crossing by Geradine Brooks.  Would some of you mind sharing what yours have been?  

Wow!  What response!   I'm sorting my TBR to get to the best.  Keep them coming. 

Last Edited on: 8/14/11 2:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 8/14/2011 10:27 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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Oh, good topic. I haven't read a lot of HF this year. But here's my 4.5 and 5-star reads:

  • Kushiel's Dart (historical fantasy)
  • The Eight (historical thriller)
  • Maledicte (historical fantasy, dark fantasy)


Date Posted: 8/14/2011 11:02 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,178
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Gosh this is hard but

Lady of the English
Genghis Birth of an Empire

Honorable mention
Holy Warrior
Midwife of the Blueridge
Darling Strumpet
Libertines KIss
The Kings Mistress


Last Edited on: 8/14/11 11:06 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/14/2011 11:08 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
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I agree that this is hard, Letty. So far, I would have to say that my best reads this year are:

The King's Man by Angus Donald - no kidding!

City of Thieves by David Benioff

Genghis by Conn Iggulden

Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand (non fiction)

Date Posted: 8/14/2011 11:17 AM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 4,035
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I haven't had too many stand outs this year so my list is rather short.


Lady of the English

Lily Cigar

The Alnwyck Trilogy by Carol Wensby Scott

Date Posted: 8/14/2011 11:21 AM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2007
Posts: 1,900
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I've got 4 books that I rated 5 stars on Goodreads this year:

Falls the Shadow by Sharon Kay Penman

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert

So, not too many for me this year either.  To get a 5 star rating from me it has to be a book I would read again and I generally don't do re-reads.

Date Posted: 8/14/2011 11:55 AM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2009
Posts: 9,499
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I only have a few

  • In the Shadow of Gotham
  • Pope Joan
  • The Irish Princess
Date Posted: 8/14/2011 12:32 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,581
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I actually had to go back to my BIR lists and look for this information.  I've read lots of good books this year and very few great ones, but according to what I listed:

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin (h/f fantasy, sort of) 5 stars

1066 The Hidden History in the Bayeux Tapestry by Andrew Bridgeford n/f 5 stars

Child of the Northern Spring by Persia Woolley h/f 4.5 stars

Queen of Swords by Judith Tarr h/f 4.5 stars

Everything else has been 4 stars or less this year

Last Edited on: 8/14/11 4:25 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/14/2011 3:27 PM ET
Member Since: 7/6/2007
Posts: 763
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I only have two books that I considered excellent:  

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart

Some have been pretty good and fun, but nothing to write home about .

Date Posted: 8/14/2011 5:26 PM ET
Member Since: 3/5/2008
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Distant Star by Barbara Bickmore

Jubilee Trail by Gwen Bristow

Honolulu by Alan Brennert

The Moon Below by Barbara Bickmore

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I always get such good recommendations from these threads. Thanks.

Date Posted: 8/15/2011 11:13 AM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
Posts: 4,815
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My picks:

Homestead by Rosina Lippi (HF)

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl (Non-fiction)

Down the Common : A Year in the Life of a Medieval Woman by Ann Baer (HF)

Chalice by Robin McKinley (Historical Fantasy)

Timeshare by Joshua Dann (Time Travel/HF)

They all got 4.5 stars from me -- apparently I haven't given anything 5 stars this year.

Date Posted: 8/15/2011 12:08 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
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Lori, which "Irish Princess" did you like?  There seem to be several ...  ;-)

Date Posted: 8/15/2011 12:10 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
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I have had a number of excellent reads this year (I guess I'm not very discriminating).

The very best:

  • The Heaven Tree Trilogy - Pargeter
  • The Count of Monte Cristo - Dumas (unabridged translation by Robin Buss)

Really, really good:

  • A Game of Thrones - Martin
  • Lady of the English - Chadwick
  • A Place Beyond Courage - Chadwick
  • To Defy a King - Chadwick
  • The Love Knot - Chadwick
  • Shadows and Strongholds - Chadwick
  • Falcons of Montabard - Chadwick
  • Shields of Pride - Chadwick
  • Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter - Franklin
  • The Kitchen House - Grissom
  • Lily Cigar - Murphy
  • Treason - Whitford
  • The Forgotten Garden - Morton

Outstanding audios:

  • Bradley's Flavia de Luce series
Date Posted: 8/15/2011 4:26 PM ET
Member Since: 7/6/2007
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The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my all time favorite books. 


Date Posted: 8/15/2011 5:15 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2009
Posts: 9,499
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Lori, which "Irish Princess" did you like?  There seem to be several ...  ;-)

It was The Irish Princess Author: Karen Harper

Date Posted: 8/15/2011 7:09 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,588
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The best book I've read this year was Knight's Fee by Rosemary Sutcliff.  I rated it 6/5. 

My five star reads were:

  • Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick 5/5
  • Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff 5/5
  • The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley 5/5
  • Calico Palace by Gwen Bristow 5/5
  • Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff 5/5
  • The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff 5/5
  • Prince of Darkness by Sharon Kay Penman 5/5

I had a number of 4.5 reads, but to pick just one to give an honorable mention, it would be A Memory of Lions by Parke Godwin 4.5/5.  (Others include more Sutcliff, Chadwick, Martin, and Donati, but others have mentioned them or we know the score on them anyway, so I'll leave them be.)


Date Posted: 8/16/2011 1:59 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
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Neither of my favorites so far this year are HF.  Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank and Replay by Ken Grimwood.  Last year my favorites were The Forgotten Garden and A Dog's Purpose.

Bruce -
Date Posted: 8/17/2011 8:00 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2008
Posts: 3,412
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"Lonesome Dove" Larry McMurtry

"Valley Forge" Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen

"Fall of Giants" Ken Follett

"The Devil's Company" David Liss

"Wolf of the Plains" Conn Iggulden

"City of Thieves" David Benioff


"The Name of the Wind" and "The Wise Man's Fear" by Patrick Rothfuss (fantasy not HF but so good I had to plug these books. Even if you don't like fantasy read this series. You can thank me later.)



"The Last Queen" C. W. Gortner

"The Black Tower" Louis Bayard

"A Crowning Mercy" Bernard Cornwell and Susannah Kells

"Cathedral of the Sea" Ildefonso Falcones

"Outlander" and "Dragonfly in Amber" Dianna Gabaldon

"The Airmen and the Headhunters:A True Story of Lost Soldiers, Heroic Tribesmen and the Unlikeliest Rescue of World War II" Judith Heimann (non-fiction)

Last Edited on: 8/17/11 12:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/17/2011 9:03 AM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
Posts: 4,727
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Oh, man.  This is the year I met Uhtred!  And Will Thomas's Baker and Llewellyn!  Oh, and Crispin Guest!  

Dang, this was a good year!  I'll have to go over my list tonight for the absolute top reads.

Date Posted: 8/17/2011 10:34 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2009
Posts: 9,499
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I know I say this every time I see someone has read The City of Thieves.  But I must speak!!!  Its such a great book!  I kick myself for posting it in a swap.  I want to read it again....sometimes I feel like I've forgotten some of the story and need to make clarification for my mind to settle down.  Just loved it!!!

I wondered how Valley Forge was Brad.  Good to see you liked it.  Might have to check it out.

Date Posted: 8/18/2011 1:17 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,178
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Bruce, you read Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber?  So few men have and I was wondering what you thought of them.  My husband  listened to most of the first three and he liked them very much.  He thought they might be girly and was surprised that he actually wanted to listed to them.  Do you plan on continuing the series?  I highly recommend you read Voyager.  I think that one is still my favorite.

Date Posted: 8/18/2011 8:22 AM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
Posts: 4,727
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Bruce...I really enjoyed The Airmen and the Headhunters too.  Have you tried Lost in Shangri-la?  I haven't read it yet, but it too is getting rave reviews from my library patrons.

My Best Reads:

Saxon Chronicle series  (with book 2 being the weakest, but still good) by Bernard Cornwell

Ransom by David Malouf

Some Danger Involved by Will Thomas

Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick

Whose Song is Sung by Frank Schaefer

4.5 out of 5 Stars:

The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveria

Crispin Guest series by Jeri Westerson

The Cup of Ghosts by Paul Doherty

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Best Audiobooks So Far:

The Black Tower by Louis Bayard (and Simon Vance)

Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley (and Ms. Entwhistle)

Imperium and Conspirata by Rober Harris (and a great reader whose name escapes me)

Best Non-HF Reads So Far:

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

Heaven's Keep by William Kent Krueger (excellent series!!)

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

The Girls by Lori Lansens

Date Posted: 8/18/2011 10:25 AM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
Posts: 4,815
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Letty, my husband is very keen on Gabaldon's series -- he's got the whole thing unabridged on audio (which, in the pre-PBS days, was not cheap).  They're his favorite books.

Off to find a copy of  The Airmen and the Headhunters ...

Bruce -
Date Posted: 8/18/2011 1:36 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2008
Posts: 3,412
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Jerelyn, I have Voyager in my stack of books as we speak. I don't think they read like "chick-lit" at all. I'm just taking it one book at a time for now. Not sure how Gabaldon managed to keep the story fresh after so many 900 page volumes but I'll keep reading them as long as they keep my interest.

Putting Lost in Shrangi-La on my wish list. Thanks.

Date Posted: 8/18/2011 2:31 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,178
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If you get a chance check your library and see if they have the unabridged audio books, and give yourself a treat and listen to them, Davina Porter the narrator is one of the best!  I also like Drums of Autumn, but Fiery Cross was my least favorite. Just the same I am hoping to find the unabridged edition and listen to it as well.  The abridged edition is narrated by another actress and I just didn't like her as much Davina Porters voice "is" Claire, and she is a talented mimic and does the accents beautifully.   I am on an audio kick lately, I can enjoy my books and still clean my house. :) 

My local library has just started with  OneClickMedia, I can download an audio book right to my computer!  The catalog is a bit limited as yet but I am hoping that it will expand soon. Other wise Audible is a good choice if you know you'll listen to them again.