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Topic: Half way point of the year -- best book so far?

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Subject: Half way point of the year -- best book so far?
Date Posted: 6/1/2008 10:43 PM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2007
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June 1st -- almost half way through the year.... What's the most enjoyable HF, bio or history based book you've read this year?

Of all I've read thus far this year, I thouroughly enjoyed Eleanor of Aquitaine, A Life, by Marion Meade the most. It wa a well researched and well told story of IMHO, one of the most interesting women who ever lived.

Date Posted: 6/1/2008 10:58 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2007
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I think for HF I would have to say the Kitchen Boy is the best one I've read so far.   For any type of book I would have to say The Kite Runner is on the top of my list. 

Date Posted: 6/1/2008 11:45 PM ET
Member Since: 3/6/2006
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Hmmm...Dexter in the Dark followed by The Witch's Trinity and My Enemy's Cradle

I have just started Moon Shot by astronauts Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton and it's super so far.  I haven't had a lot of time to read, having some big life changes for a few months and for a little whie to come.

Date Posted: 6/1/2008 11:51 PM ET
Member Since: 3/18/2007
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I would have to say it's a tie between Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles by Margaret George and The Assyrian by Nicholas Guild. I really loved both. OH, and The Physician by Noah Gordon! It was too good to leave off the list.

Date Posted: 6/2/2008 5:22 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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I would have to say "The Archer" by Bernard Cornwell.  It is the first in a trilogy about the Grail/100 year's war.  It was a truly unexpected pleasure.  I loved Kite Runner too, though.  I guess it would be #2.



Last Edited on: 6/2/08 5:23 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/2/2008 7:19 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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Just one, Marci? Geez, you're tough. ;-)

I've read several I really, really enjoyed. But to answer your question, I looked at the titles I would re-read. At the top of the list is The Religion by Tim Willocks. It's not for everybody, but if you like your HF with a bit of thriller mixed in, and if you don't mind graphic descriptions of violence or sex, then I highly recommend this book. It won a new award by the American Library Association this year for best HF. It's about the crusades in Malta in the mid-1500s. There's lots of information about religious fanaticism of the times.

Another book that I think is worthy of re-reading is Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. It's contemporary fiction (not historical), although the setting is now history. Published in 1956, it deals with sexual attitudes, particularly those of gay or bisexual young men of the times. It takes place in Paris. It's one of the most powerful and moving books I have ever read. But it's quite depressing, so if you don't like sad, don't read it.

I also thought Lady Macbeth by Susan Fraser King and Lady of the Garter by Juliet Dymoke were good reads. I'm not sure that I'd read them again, though.

 



Last Edited on: 6/2/08 7:20 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/2/2008 8:55 PM ET
Member Since: 6/24/2007
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I've read 3 books by Noah Gordon-I loved all 3.  The Physician (medieval England and Middle East) and Shaman (frontier Illinois)-the 1st 2 books in a trilogy about a family of doctors and The Last Jew (in Spain during the Inquisition).  All 4 stars.

I've also read the 1st 2 books in the Norman trilogy by Valerie Anand-Gildenford and The Norman Pretender-waiting on the 3rd from Alibris.  Highly recommended.  Both 4 stars.

And finally Alison Weir's Children of Henry VIII  which somehow I'd never read before.  5 stars.

You didn't ask, but the worst books I've read so far are Great Maria by Cecilia Holland which I couldn't even finish and Lady of the Roses by Sandra Worth.

 

Date Posted: 6/2/2008 10:27 PM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2007
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Watch my WL (and TBR) grow......



Last Edited on: 6/2/08 10:29 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/3/2008 2:28 AM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
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Difficult to narrow down to one...so I won't :)

Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B by Sandra Gulland was the best about a real person (Josephine Bonaparte)  Magnificent portrayal of Josephine and the French Revolution.

The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama really captured Japan in the 1930s.

Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas was an excellent, short book set in the depression

Date Posted: 6/3/2008 9:36 AM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2005
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Katherine by Anya Seton was wonderful and I also enjoyed World Without End by Ken Follett.

Date Posted: 6/3/2008 11:52 AM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
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My favorite so far is the Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory.   That is the first book I read from that author and I loved it.

Date Posted: 6/3/2008 12:48 PM ET
Member Since: 10/9/2007
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The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell . Hands down.   I also enjoyed Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald and The Food of Love by Anthony Capella.  I read Julia Quinn's The Lost Duke of Wyndham last week, and it was a fun read.

Not many HF on my list this year... I don't know what's up with my reading choices!

Date Posted: 6/3/2008 1:47 PM ET
Member Since: 3/18/2007
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You're not the only one who hasn't been reading a lot of HF this year Lisa. I have gotten back into fantasy, so about half of the books I have read so far this year have been fantasy. Actually, the book I am reading right now, Eight Skilled Gentlemen by Barry Hughart, is fantasy.

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 8:30 AM ET
Member Since: 10/20/2007
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SHAMAN by Noah Gordon ties with PILLARS OF THE EARTH  by Follet.

Date Posted: 6/5/2008 12:48 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2005
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Is the year half over already? I've only managed to read 5 books so far. I hope I do much better during the second half of 2008!

Four of the five books I've read were HF. I really enjoyed Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz and Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn. The only one I didn't like was The Sixth Wife by Suzannah Dunn.

Date Posted: 6/5/2008 9:30 PM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2007
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Felicia, I can relate. I seem to keep reading the SAME book. I would do anything for one whole day to do nothing but read!

Date Posted: 6/6/2008 9:49 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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My HF faves so far:

  • The Breath of Kings by Gene Farrington
  • The Journeyer - Gary Jennings

Fiction:

  • The Gravedigger's Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates
  • The Vanishing Acto of Esme Lennox - Maggie O'Farrell
  • The Birth House - Ami McKay

Non-Fiction

  • Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King
  • Over the Edge of the World by Laurence Bergreen
  • The Lost German Slave Girl by John Bailey  (This is NF, but it included a very interesting mystery)

Fantasy: (Just found out I like fantasy!)

  • Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey - I've read the first three books in the series and loved them all.
Date Posted: 6/6/2008 10:04 AM ET
Member Since: 3/18/2007
Posts: 782
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Wow Valli. You must read very fast. You listed 11 favorites, and so far I think I have managed about 32 books total this year.

I just realized that three of us listed a Noah Gordon book as one of our favorites of the year. That's really saying something about him as an author!



Last Edited on: 6/6/08 10:10 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Debbie - ,
Date Posted: 6/6/2008 11:10 AM ET
Member Since: 10/7/2007
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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See and Year of Wonders - Geraldine Brooks.

Date Posted: 6/6/2008 1:47 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,446
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Hi Valli.  Did you request my Anthony and Cleopatra by Colleen McCullough?  It's on the way, but let me know what you thought of it once you've read it!

 

Date Posted: 6/7/2008 10:00 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
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Hi Cheryl! Antony & Cleo is coming from you! Thanks so much for sending it.  It might be a while before I read it because I'm planning to go back and re-read all of the previous books before starting this one. It's been years and years since I read the others and I think I might need a refresher. What did you think of it? I so hope it was good, especially since it is definitely the last book. Oh, I read that McCullough has some sort of degenerative eye disease that is making her lose her sight, so they're saying that we probably can't expect many more books at all from her. How sad is that?! I wish I could remember where I read this because I'd like to post the article for everyone to see.

Jennifer, I'm embarrassed to tell you how many books I've already read this year. You'd think I have no life at all! I do read a lot and fast too.

Date Posted: 6/7/2008 5:55 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,446
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I'm so glad it's going to a good home!  I loved her Masters of Rome books so much, especially the ones about Julius Caesar and his family.  I didn't think she was going to do any more after reading her comments in The October Horse.  I figured she was ending the series with the death of Caesar and then when I saw A&C in the bookstore I was hoping she had decided to continue on.  I am so sad to hear she won't be writing anymore.  I have loved reading her books for many years.  I liked  A&C, it is just hard to rate it up there with some of my other favorites of hers like The Grass Crown and Caesar's Women.




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Just finished re-reading Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir and enjoyed it very much.  Not sure what I will try next



Last Edited on: 6/8/08 4:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/9/2008 7:00 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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I agree Cheryl, it's very sad that she won't be writing much anymore. I just recently read her book Morgan's Run which is set in Australia, and thought it was great. I love the Roman books more, but it was still a very good read. Really, I've enjoyed all of her books, but I'm so excited to read this last book in the Rome series! I need to get started on my re-reading so I can get Antony & Cleopatra posted to someone else who is excited to read it.