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Topic: Holiday Fun: Most Wanted Books

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Subject: Holiday Fun: Most Wanted Books
Date Posted: 11/10/2009 12:23 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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List your "Most Wanted" wishlist books right here! Also, feel free to add any info that you'd like your secret buddy to know about you, like if you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Yule or whatever it is you celebrate. You could even tell us if you like a small, table-top tree or if you need a great big, flocked tree. Do you wrap your gifts in fancy paper with velvet ribbons or wrap the Sunday comic papers around it and call it good?!

Just share whatever you want to share; we'll all be interested in learning more about you!

(This thread is mainly for those playing Secret Santa, but anyone should feel free to share here!)

Date Posted: 11/10/2009 1:58 PM ET
Member Since: 8/31/2007
Posts: 482
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Well I guess I'll start.  I celebrate Christmas, but not at all religious (so no wrapping paper with Jesus or something on it please).  I know that there are a lot of cat people around here, but sorry, I am not one of them.  Not allergic, but just don't want things with cats on them.  I am not a Twilight fan.  I'm not married and don't have children, but I do have a lovely boyfriend who is sometimes like a child! :P

What I do like... bookmarks.  I collect them a bit.  I like ones with quotes on them (nothing too cliche or sappy though) and monogrammed ones (I usually get an "E" if that is the case).  I like monogrammed things of all sorts really.  I have quite a pile of "E" post-it note pads and writing pads!  I'm not terribly girly except for the whole monogramming thing. ;)

In terms of holiday decorations, I'm much like my mother - I love little snowmen and snowflakes, and the occasional Santa.  I used to figure skate and play hockey (and am a big hockey fan - Washington Capitals) so I also like skating animals (for some reason they're just cute).

I have thus far lost over 30 lbs with Jenny Craig, so please no chocolates or similarly-caloried treats (as much as I would like them).

For book recommendations, I religiously read Publishers Weekly's reviews every week and generally put starred reviews on my WL.  I also use Amazon's suggestions, and I rarely if ever put anything on my WL that doesn't have at least a 3.5/5 star rating with Amazon's user reviews.

Oh my, this list is making me sound terribly picky!  I'm not really, I'm pretty easy to please.  Can't wait to get my buddy and get started!

List follows (but I'm happy with anything from my WL!):

Shanghai Girls – Lisa See

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County – Tiffany Baker

Genghis: Bones of the Hills – Conn Iggulden

Sea of Poppies – Amitav Ghosh

Lords of the White Castle – Elizabeth Chadwick

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers – Xiaolu Guo

Aztec – Gary Jennings

The Painter from Shanghai – Jennifer Epstein

Desperate Passage: The Donner Party’s Perilous Journey West – Ethan Rarick 

Last Edited on: 11/10/09 10:17 PM ET - Total times edited: 8
Date Posted: 11/10/2009 2:34 PM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2008
Posts: 99
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I'll go second - my list is at the end.

I Do celebrate Christmas - both HO HO HO and religiously.  I have an out of control Santa Claus collection - I'm running out of places to put them.  My husband's grandparents started a tradition of giving each child a gold plated ornament each year and I just loved it when we got our own place and already had a tree full of ornaments - So I am carrying on the tradition with my own kids - however I (well Santa) gets them a glass ornament pertaining  to an important event that occured during the year.

Sorry - I am NOT a cat fan either- just the thought of a cat makes my eyes itch ;(  I feel them swelling as I type.  We have the joy of living with a wonderful Cardigan Corgi (the corgi with a tail) and an out of control Blue Heeler puppy - we love our herding dogs.

I am a HUGE hockey fan - Go Red Wings!  Two of my three boys play hockey and I spend most of my winter at the hockey rink and driving across the midwest for tournaments.  Of course my one son who wants NOTHING to do with hockey is the only one named after a hockey player - he will start wrestling this winter.

Anyway, here's my list - I put the books that I'm "last in line" for at the top and put 5 "harder to get" books at the bottom.  Oh - if possible I do prefer hardcovers - they just look better on my shelf - but they don't HAVE to be.  THANKS!

Brooklyn - Colm Toibin

Grave Goods - Ariana Franklin

The White Queen - Philippa Gregory

The Other Queen - Philippa Gregory

The Virgin Queen's Daughter - Ella Chase

The Wild Rose - Jennifer Donnelly


Gully Town - George P Schultz

Ceila Garth - Gwen Bristow

The Winthrop Woman - Anya Seton

The Endless Forest - Sara Donati

River Journey - Clarence Jonk


Thanks Again!

Date Posted: 11/10/2009 3:47 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,175
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I too celebrate Christmas, I am not overly religious, love my cats LOL. love folkart. We decorate two trees  the living room tree is elegant, while the family room tree is folkart.  Very proud of my heritage which is Scots, Irish, Welch, and English.   I don't really have a most wanted book I'll be tickled with anything.  I am not a contemporary person I feel allot of the time that I was born in the wrong century, I am an Master Gardener, and that was my profession along with floral design.

Date Posted: 11/10/2009 4:02 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,757
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Dear Secret Santa -

I have been extraordinarily good this year, and I'm sure the real Santa will bestow heaps and heaps of presents on me, so a book from my list is what I would like from you!  I thank you in advance for your participation and hope that you aren't one of the many people at this forum whom I'm sure I totally annoy here.   A used book is just fine with me, although since I'm a member of PBS, that's probably obvious.  I have a gazillion books on my wishlist, but here are the ones topping the list right now  (in no particular order - I couldn't possibly choose!) -

Time and Chance, Sharon Kay Penman (I am so into Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine so if you know of another good book on them, other than The Book of Eleanor, which I have, surprise me)

Devil's Brood, Sharon Kay Penman

Power of A Woman. Memoirs of a Turbulent Life: Eleanor of Aquitaine, by Robert Fripp

Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings, by Amy Kelly

The White Queen, Philippa Gregory

The Physick Book of Deliverance, Katherine Howe

The Angel's Game, Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Adventures of Alianore Adley, Brian Wainright

Grave Goods, Arianna Franklin

Katherine, Anya Seton

Queen Isabella: Treachery, Adultry & Murder in Medieval England, by Alison Weir

The Wars of the Roses, by Alison Weir

I celebrate Christmas in every way. My spirituality is a personal blend of the Christianity I grew up with combined with heavy influences from the Eastern dharmas, Hinduism and Buddhism, which I've studied for the past few years.  I firmly believe that God is in all things, and there is one God, but he has many, many names. 

I'm actually very girly (my favorite color is pink), and I do like cats (and in fact own one), but not in any sort of obsessive way like I want to collect things with cats on them, so no books about cats!  LOL!  I love scented lotions, soaps, candles, etc., with a strong preference for organic items.

ETA - Thought I'd amend this since so many others are adding such awesome  personal details!

I am married to husband #2 (and hopefully the last), and we have two children, a 10-year-old boy, and a 7-year-old daughter.  Our daughter has Down Syndrome, but thankfully is only mildly affected by it.  She teaches us a LOT!  I have two children from my first marriage.  My daughter is 23, and a senior in college.  She attends the University of North Dakota from where she will graduate in December with a double major in Psychology and Economics.  My son is almost 20, and he lives and works in Duluth (on Minnesota's beautiful North Shore) while he figures out what he wants to do with his life.  He's my dreamer and my drifter. 

DH is a reader, but [gasp!] he finds HF boring.  Go figure.  I don't think there's enough violence, gratutitous sex, drugs, or rock & roll for him in most HF novels.  Yeah, I sometimes ask myself what we're doing together.  At least he reads.

I work part-time as a paralegal/loan closer for an attorney's office/title company.  It's boring.   If I had to do it all over again, I'd be a dietician, personal trainer and a yoga instructor.  Yes, ALL of those things!  My dream job would be working in a wellness center.  I also would love to have a physical therapy degree, because healing without the use of drugs or surgery impresses me.

My other passions besides reading are vegetable gardening, spending lots of time on or near one of Minnesota's thousands of lakes in the summer, and physical fitness.  I spend as much time at videofitness.com as I do here!  No, I don't view exercise as a necessary evil, but rather a joyous expression of what my body is capable of and an  opportunity to keep my body strong, flexible, healthy and youthful.  I like kicking my own ass in a workout, and I also like quite, mellow, body-soul workouts. I do it all from step and floor aerobics, walking, weight lifting, circuit workouts, dance stuff, barre workouts, ballet/yoga/Pilates fusion stuff and plenty of vinyasa yoga.  I seriously couldn't live without my daily workouts!

Happy Holidays, Secret Santa!

Last Edited on: 11/16/09 2:13 PM ET - Total times edited: 4
Date Posted: 11/10/2009 4:11 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,603
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As many of you already know, My DH and I retired in Tucson,AZ  this year and we downsized. I had an extremely huge collection of Christmas decorations, most of which had to go. We celebrate religious and commercial Christmas around this place. If you have looked at my profile you know that I am an animal lover - ALL animals. We are unfortunately, down to 2 dogs, who are my best buddies!

I used to be the only psych RN at the Denver City Jail which is probably why I still hold on to my love of mysteries (as well as other genres, of course).

I am an avid bird lover which drives my DH crazy. We currently have so many hummingbirds in our yard that we may have to get safety goggles! Being a birdwatcher you also have to be a bit of a gardener in order to make your yard pleasing to the birds of course!  I collect eagles (statues, paintings. pillows - you name it).

Here is my most wanted list of books (but be forewarned, I'm not fussy about condition, HC or PB, used or new):

By Zoe Oldenbourg: 1.) The Crusades; 2.)The Heirs of the Kingdom; 3.) Massacre at Montsegur; a history of the Albigensian Crusades; 4.) Catherine the Great  (Most of these can be found used at Amazon)

By Wesley Adamczyk : When God Looked the Other Way

By Bernard Cornwell: Lords of the North

By David Howarth: The Shetland Bus: a WWll epic of escape, survival and adventure

By Margaret George: The Memoirs of Cleopatra

By Paul Doherty: 1.) The Magician's Death; 2.) The Angel of Death; 3.)The Secret Life of Elizabeth l; 4.) The Treason of Ghosts

I know, seems like a long list, but I thought that I would put a variety in there.

Thanks in advance to my secret Santa!!

Date Posted: 11/10/2009 6:26 PM ET
Member Since: 3/6/2006
Posts: 3,070
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I'm not religous so I celebrate Yuletide, basically.  I do love lights, lots of lights!  And candles!  I love the way the lights reflect against the colored ball ornaments on the tree. I dig the snow!  I love anything snowmen related, too. Would prefer a real tree, we always had one in Mn, no one seems to have them here in Mo so I broke down and bought a (gulp) plastic pre-lit tree; it's small, I'm single but for some reason still don't seem to have enough room.  I always end up crabbier than all get out setting it up and putting it away, but I love the middle part when it's up!  Heh!

I would love any books from my list; I  just grabbed some from my list and posted them in my profile which I will copy over to here:

Historical Fiction Secret Santa Swap Wish List!!!!

Coventry--Helen Humphreys

Dreaming the Serpent Spear, Boudica Book 4--Manda Scott

The Greatest Knight--Elizabeth Chadwick

The Serpent's Tale--Ariana Franklin

1603--Christopher Lee

The Heretic Queen--Michelle Moran

The Forgotton Garden--Kate Morton

Harold the King--Helen Hollick

Shannon--Frank Delaney

Tiger Claws--John Speed

The Tudor Rose--A Novel of Elizabeth of York--Margaret Campbell Barnes

Date Posted: 11/10/2009 7:06 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
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Here's my Secret Santa Wish List.  It's simply in alphabetical order by author -- I'd be happy with any -- pb or hardcover, pre-read or not.

  • The Greatest Knight - Chadwick
  • The Scarlet Lion - Chadwick
  • An Inconvenient Wife - Chance
  • I Kill - Faletti
  • The Memoirs of Cleopatra - George
  • A Hollow Crown - Hollick
  • Harold the King - Hollick
  • Legacy - Kay
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire - Larsson
  • Wolf Hall - Mantel
  • Shadow Country - Matthiessen
  • Under This Unbroken Sky - Mitchell
  • Time and Chance - Penman
  • Devil's Brood - Penman
  • Angels in Iron - Prata
  • The Winthrop Woman - Seton
  • The Vanishing Point - Sharratt
  • The Six Wives of Henry VIII - Weir

I celebrate Chanukkah, but quite honestly, if someone is sending me a gift, I don't care if it's wrapped in Christmas wrapping,  Kwanzaa wrapping, brown paper, newspaper, or not wrapped at all!

Have two kids: a high school sophomore and a college sophomore; 2 cats, though I'm a cat lover only on the days that my cat has not thrown up on my dining room rug; a husband who tolerates my passion for fictional characters (namely, Ranger, Lymond, and Sharpe) but is much less tolerant of my need to own books. Am originally from California but have lived in the DC suburbs for over 20 years, since returning from Peace Corps service in West Africa.

A big thank you in advance to my Secret Santa.  Happy holidays to all!

Last Edited on: 11/11/09 9:07 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/10/2009 7:08 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,546
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Wow, where to start?!  I guess I'll start by saying that after 25 plus years in retail (mostly management) Christmas is still my most favorite time of the year on a personal and family level.  I celebrate both secular and religious aspects and I love to watch the version of Scrooge starring Patrick Stewart each year at least once.  My family was always visited personally by Santa on Christmas Eve and if you were good you got to ring his bell that always announced his arrival at the house.  If you were not so good Santa shook his walking stick at you, but then you got your presents anyhow!  This year my granddaughter will be nearly 15 months and we are all looking forward to lots of excitement and mayhem with her.


Any book off my wishlist would be fine and yes used is certainly acceptable.  I love historical mysteries and anything well written regardless of country.  I would especially appreciate any of the Roger the Chapman mysteries (after book 1 which I have) by Kate Sedley, any of the Boudicca books after Dreaming the Eagle (which I have read) by Manda Scott, or anything by Elizabeth Chadwick or Susan Higginbotham.  Thank you Secret Santa!!

Date Posted: 11/10/2009 9:11 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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I'm a law librarian and researcher with a specialty in public records research, which I teach on a graduate and undergraduate level to journalism students. I have 2 adult children, which says enough about just how old I am! I'm allergic to cats so I stay out of their way.

I'm a recovering Catholic and hopeless geek. I celebrate Christmas, but I prefer a quiet at-home celebration with my family. A few gifts, but nothing OTT.

I love techie things and figuring how exactly how something works. I've been know to spend time researching questions I see in HF forums and then providing the answer. (I did admit to being a geek AND hopeless.)

In addition to reading, I like playing games. I like anything that challenges my mind - from puzzle games to business challenges to complex research issues. I love developing strategy for anything.

I prefer paperback because it's easier to carry around. I don't mind used. In fact, I rarely buy new. Here's my list in no particular order:

The Cloisterman :: Juliet Dymoke
The Confession of Piers Gaveston :: Brandy Purdy
The Lodestar (Heron, Bk 4) :: Pamela Belle
The Owl Killers :: Karen Maitland
Richard IV: The Last White Rose :: Eric Owen Burke
Storyteller :: G. R. Grove
The Swan Thieves: A Novel :: Elizabeth Kostova
Strongbow : The Story of Richard And Aoife (Celtic World of Morgan Llywelyn) :: Morgan Llywelyn
Bloodline of Kings: A Novel of Philip of Macedon  by Thomas Sundell
The White Mare (Dalriada Trilogy) :: Jules Watson
The Winter Sea :: Susanna Kearsley

Date Posted: 11/10/2009 10:38 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2007
Posts: 1,897
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We celebrate Christmas at our house.  I like cats, dogs not so much though we do have a yellow lab (he belongs to hubby and boy).  I like bookmarks, lavender/lilac scents and my fave color is purple.  I am not picky about wrapping.  I really do not like Christmas music.  Not having to listen to it and avoiding lines are why I do most of my shopping online now.

Here is my WL Top 10 (I put them in order they've been on my list the longest but I'd be happy to recieve any of them) :)

Mary of Nazareth-Marek Halter someone actually posted this one after it not being posted for 11 months!!

Honolulu-Alan Brennert

The King's Fool-Margaret Campbell Barnes

The Hemingses of Monticello-Annette Gordon-Reed

Ladies-in-Waiting: from Tudors to the Present Day-Anne Somerset

Grave Goods-Ariana Franklin

Shanghai Girls-Lisa See

The Secret Scripture-Sebastian Barry

Flaunting, Extravagent Queen-Jean Plaidy

The Book of Night Women-Marlon James

The Painter from Shanghai-Jennifer C. Epstein

Last Edited on: 11/20/09 7:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 5
Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 11/11/2009 8:21 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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We are not Christian, but we celebrate Yuletide. I love the lights, music and smell of pine trees at christmas time. I am a big kid at heart when it comes to Santa and Christmas. We always have a big tree, lots of decorations and cookies baking. I start baking Thanksgiving week and dont stop till Christmas day. I make cookies, pies, fudge, truffles, and other candies. The baked goods (whatever my family doesnt eat) gets given out as gifts. We take mini trips throughout December to see Christmas lights and towns that go over board, lol. Last year we went to a little town in Upstate New York where the whole town dresses up like A Christmas Carol and perform in the streets. We also took a day trip to Boston (we were living in Maine at the time) and a weekend trip to NYC to see the shop windows. This year we are thinking of going to Branson, MO for a long weekend. And we have been told that we can not miss the lights up in Wheeling, WV, so we will have a day trip there as well. Christmas is my favorite time of year.

I am an avid reader of Mystery novels which quite often takes me in to the HF genre, since most of what I read are historical mysteries. I am married with two daughters (15 and 10) and an overgrown puppy.  I am a historian with a passion for geology/archeaology. I am also a big animal and nature lover. I wont care what the gift is wrapped in or even if it is wrapped. Nor will I care if it is used, as long as it is readable.

By top ten Wish List books are:


  1. The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte
  2. The Falconers Crusade  by Ian Morson
  3. In the Time of the Poisioned Queen by Anne Dukthas
  4. The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl
  5. The Man who Loved China by Simon Winchester
  6. No Less than Victory by Jeff Shaara
  7. The Prince Lost to Time by Ann Dukthas  By By some miracle i finally got this book after almost a year on my wish list!!! lol
  8. The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  9. The Long Summer by Brian Fagan
  10. The Hawk that Dare Not Hunt by Day by Scott O'Dell
  11. The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett



Last Edited on: 11/14/09 8:22 AM ET - Total times edited: 5
Date Posted: 11/11/2009 5:28 PM ET
Member Since: 3/6/2006
Posts: 3,070
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polbio....if you're up for a cup of tea or anything if you have spare time, I live in Springfield, just north of Branson!

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 11/11/2009 10:23 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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Cool. Thanks. 

We will be there actually over Christmas. We just booked the trip tonight. We leave the 22 and are going to stay to the 27th. I would appreciate any recommendations you would have for sites worth seeing. :) IT is our first year being away from home on Christmas Morning,, but it was the deal I made with my DH. Once the kids were too old to believe in Santa, he wanted to take trips rather than buy alot of gifts.

Last Edited on: 11/11/09 10:27 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/12/2009 2:59 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 849
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I have always loved Christmas, but the last couple of years I haven't decorated much since we have been transitioning our lives to Denver.  I used to have tons of stuff and decorated our whole house (inside and out).  We had to get rid of most of it when we moved (a lot of it we gave to my daughter's boyfriend) and I just bought a little 4 foot table top tree.  I told my husband it wouldn't seem like Christmas without one!   This will be the first year that I've been away from "home" during the shopping season and I'm really going to miss doing all of the Christmas preparation with my daughter.  We will be "home" for Christmas for a few days though - my daughter is planning on having Christmas at her house but she said I have to help her cook! 

Any books on my wishlist would be great - the only condition I have for used books is that they not smell like smoke (I'm extremely allergic to it).  Here are a few ideas:

Child of the Morning  - Pauline Gedge

The Conquest; The Running Vixen; The Wild Hunt; The Falcons of Montabard; Shields of Pride; Shadows and Strongholds - Elizabeth Chadwick

The Lady Queen - Nancy Goldstone

Her Mother's Daughter   - Julianne Lee

Last Edited on: 11/14/09 8:04 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/13/2009 12:31 AM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
Posts: 1,976
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Suggestions for the HF Secret Santa.  Anything on my WL is OK, but the ones I especially want are:

New York - Edward Rutherfurd
Roanoke: A Novel of Elizabethan Intrigue - Margaret Lawrence
The Greatest Knight: The Story of William Marshal - Elizabeth Chadwick
Outlasting the Trail: The Story of a Woman's Journey West - Mary Barmeyer O'Brien
Jubilee Trail or Celia Garth - Gwen Bristow
Stand the Storm - Breena Clark
King's Fool: A Notorious King, His Six Wives, and the One Man Who Knew Their Secrets - Margaret Campbell Barnes (you would think I'd be 'Tudor'd' out by now, but this one looks interesting and it has good reviews)

I prefer trade size or paperbacks, but I'll take anything.

Last Edited on: 11/20/09 12:53 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Subject: Linda's Most Wanted List
Date Posted: 11/13/2009 4:32 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,430
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Linda celebrates Christmas, but believes strongly that religiosity should be private in nature. Therefore, her Christmas celebrations and decorations tend to be more secular in nature. She always decorates a small tree in an old-fashioned style - lots of handmade ornaments from the grandchildren, etc. She loves antiques, snow babies, AnnaLee dolls, whimsical decorations, bows & ornaments.

Linda's most wanted list includes:

  • Winter Sea, (aka Sophia's Secret), Susanna Kearsley
  • A Great & Terrible King, Mark Morris
  • Madselin, Norah Lofts
  • Lodestar, Pamela Belle
  • White Rose of Langley, Sarah Emily Holt
  • The Hanging Tree, Allen Massie
  • Mysteries of Glass, Sue Gee
  • Splendour Falls, Susanna Kearsley

We prefer the larger trade-sized paperbacks, or hard cover. But, we realize that with some of these older titles, there's not much choice to be had & we are happy with whatever our Secret Santa can find. Please note: Linda has been a particularly good girl this year.


Last Edited on: 11/13/09 4:36 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/13/2009 4:59 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,430
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I adore Christmas and Christmas presents & decorations. Following an old  example of Linda's, I don't ever use store bought bows, rather I use ribbon, small ornaments, greenery, etc. and fashion each present's "bow" by hand. Each one of my presents can take up to 30 minutes to complete (unless I can use something from last year's supply!) I tend not to put names on my presents - forcing the family to enjoy all the presents, not just their own! I am quite strong in my Christian faith, but, like Linda, overt expression is just not our thing. Decorations, wrapping paper, etc. is secular in nature or understated. I love children, puppies and kittens and most adults, dogs & cats!!

Kelly's most wanted list includes:

  • Jubilee Trail, Gwen Bristow (2006 edition only)
  • Castle, Mark Morris
  • Wintercombe, Pamela Belle
  • Mistletoe & the Sword, Anya Seton
  • The Hanging Tree, Allen Massie
  • A Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger
  • The Black Swan, Day Taylor
  • Sunflowers, Sheramy Brundick

We prefer the larger trade-sized paperbacks, or hard cover. But, we realize that with some of these older titles, there's not much choice to be had & we are happy with whatever our Secret Santa can find. Dear Santa, I too have been a good girl this year ... and have also had a very tough year!


Date Posted: 11/16/2009 1:13 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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Hi, Ladies! I participated in the 2008 HF Secret Santa, and it was a wonderful way for us to share with each other our common passion.  I'm excited to be doing it again this year.

I grew up the elder daughter of two history professors/educators/aficionados--so, I didn't fall too far from my tree. I'll read anything (as a kid, I'd read all the small print on every label, each cereal box, every road sign....my mother was a saint, I think!).  I gravitate to history and HF, and prefer my history with a decent narrative voice and my HF with proper and accurate details--my idea of heaven is proper history with a good story thrown in :)  I live in northwest Charlotte, NC, but call the Baltimore-Washington area home still.

I'm married with two amazing stepsons, 24 and 20, with the 20 year old still at home with us; my husband is awesome (anyone know where I can get one of those 'I love my husband' bumper stickers? honest!)  None of my men is a reader---they apprently believe that head-down-nose-in-book translates to "interrupt her, she wants to chat".  I have two awesome 6lb toy poodles named Nutmeg and Nestle, who run my house---they are happy to 'read' with me, unlike my men.  They like HF as well, especially if there is a proper mastiff or faithful companion somewhere in the tome.  Or a nearby milk bone.

We most definitely celebrate Christmas--mostly secular but with a religious undertone for sure. My favorite part is that the entire family gathers at our house for the better part of the week and we get to spend time together--we only can do this once at the holidays and once in the summer--so it's special time. I love to cook and go all out.

My hobbies dovetail with my historical bent--my home is full of antiques, both family heirlooms and things I wish were family heirlooms. I collect rose medallion china, cinnabar jars and sterling silver items, as much for the way they look as for the history they have seem--I often wonder what they would tell me if they could! I love bargains and will drag my hubby to yard sales and consignment shops against his will----shopping as sport, I tell him. My home has a definite mid-19th century feel---things a ship captain on the clipper ship routes to and from Asia would bring home for his beloved wife. I, too, think I was born in the wrong century and would have been perfectly at home in 1850.  I'm a definite Francophile and Anglophile---I think we Americans have much in our spirit and character to recommend us but have lost some of the gentility in our roots.

My own ancestry combines Norman (an ancestor on my father's side accompanied William the Conqueror) and Scottish (the descendants of the Norman ancestor, who was rewarded with vast tracts of land in the Scottish highlands, where our clan castle still exists today--I've had the honor of sleeping there!) with my mother's parents, salt-of-the-earth Italian immigrants themselves. I plan in my retirement to write a Gabaldon- or Chadwick- caliber HF novel using my own real Scottish ancestors--namely, one patriarch dubbed "The Black Baron", known for his licentousness and absolutely aggressive additions to the family landholdings---sounds like the perfect hero, no?

Lastly, I am addicted to shoes. See avatar. And no, I do not need a 12-step program for it. I need a bigger closet. Unrepentant to the last.

I have a number of books on my WL which I think is publicly viewable, and honestly would be grateful for any of them.  However, for My Secret Santa--the Most Wanted Books on my Wish List are:

1.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak--because it's newish and very popular and I am way back on the list, but my PBS in-person local book club is reading it in January and I'd love to have it by then!

2.  Cathedral of the Sea by Idelfonso Falcones---because Genie recommended it and it sounds just lovely and elegant, and there are no copies in the system.

3.  The Legend of Pope Joan by Peter Stanford---because I read the fictionalized "Pope Joan" story and loved it, and this is the non-fiction research- driven account of whether we did or did not have a masquerading female pope at one point in time. Just too good a premise to resist ;)

4.  Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton--because he's gone and it's posthumous and such a departure for him in terms of writing HF instead of medical sci-fi--if he does HF as well as he writes on his other topics, well, then we've lost a good voice in HF.

5. Three Kingoms by various Chinese translators, many many editions---several volumes as well.  Because I recently went to China on the trip of a lifetime and am resultingly intensely curious about the country's elegant history, so I'm working on reading its historical classics one by one, and this is one of them; there are no copies in the system and I've tried every UBS near me to no avail--if you live in or near a college town, I'd bet your UBS's will have it--so it might be an easy score for someone else.


Thank you so very much for doing this; I am grateful for anything and in fact, you could pick others off my WL if these don't take your fancy. Happy holidays and I can't wait to know who you are!


Colleen J. --"Shukween"

Alice J. (ASJ) - ,
Date Posted: 11/16/2009 1:32 PM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2009
Posts: 42,013
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HF Christmas swap items anything on my wish list woud be great. Here are some in particular I am waiting for:

Fool by Christopher Moore

Given Day by Dennis Lehane

In a Gilded Cage by Rhys Bowen

Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead



Date Posted: 11/16/2009 6:13 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
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My family celebrates Christmas, although more as a secular holiday than a religious one.  DH and I are both Italian, so we look forward to lots of feasting over Christmas week!  As most of you know, I travel to Asia quite a bit for work, which has driven my love of Asian HF.  But I'm interested in all cultures, times, and places, which is why I love HF in general!  My top WL choices include:

Antony and Cleopatra by Colleen McCullough

Cleopatra’s Heir by Gillian Bradshaw

The Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Sweet Mandarin by Helen Tse

The Temple Dancer: A Novel of India by John Speed

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

Date Posted: 11/16/2009 7:51 PM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2006
Posts: 861
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I celebrate Christmas  with a full sized tree decorated in all gold, crystal, glass,  small marabou feathered, and white ornaments and balls.  My living room has gold tone sofas with brass,sage green, beige and rust accents in the rest of the room and adjoining dining room. Therefore I do not use much red in my decorations. The ornaments are all no longer than four inches and some of them have been with me for over 25 years.   I love seeing it lit up at night and hate the time when it must come down.

I don't wrap gifts anymore....bags are just as pretty and so much easier.  I live alone with my little mini dachshund, Oscar who cannot have squeaky toys because he rips them apart.  I love  bookmarks and used to collect them. 

I am known for my Christmas cookies and make trays for friends and family.  I make the fancy Italian types that we also serve at weddings: butterballs, ricotta egg biscuits, prune slices, almond slices, cherry slices, pecan mini-tarts, chocolate crinkle, apricot dainties. I began my baking no earlier than the 14th because I do not enjoy cookies that have been frozen.  2 kinds each evening and some need double batches.  it is my favorite part of the holidays. and gladly, everyone enjoys them and appreciates  the effort.

On Christmas Eve, I celebrate with my relatives and that is when we have the traditional Italian meal of the 7 fishes.  It's a feast for sure with stuffed squid, snail salad, baked stuffed shrimp, pasta with baccala sauce, spaghetti with white clam sauce, fried smelts and fried calamari.   Later,we all get to open one gift and then it is off to Midnight Mass or home for those with little ones.


My most wanted book list is posted on my profile.  Hardcover, paperback, New, Used....all fine with me.  I will add the titles here tomorrow when my hand is feeling better.  My arthritis is killing me right now. 

Last Edited on: 11/16/09 7:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/16/2009 8:34 PM ET
Member Since: 2/27/2008
Posts: 1,152
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Anything from my WL would be wonderful; the following are the ones I'm likely to have to wait the longest for --

Most wanted from WL:
Tears of Pearl::Tasha Alexander--
Calico Palace:: Gwen Bristow--
The Unquiet Bones::Melvin Starr--
The Lost Hours:: Karen White--
The Mystery of Things::Debra Murphy--
Chronicles of Faerie:
     The Light Bearers Daughter and/or The Book of Dreams::O.R. Melling--
The Forgotten Garden::Kate Morton

I have a delightful husband and 2 "kids," a daughter midway through her 3rd year of medical school and a son in his junior year of high school. We love Christmas and all of our traditions, but are not overtly religious. I love bookmarks, citrusy candles and dark roast coffee, all enjoyed with a good book, new or used! Happy holidays, however you celebrate...Lovely to learn more about you all! Debbie

Last Edited on: 11/17/09 6:34 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/17/2009 1:23 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,508
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I do celebrate Christmas in a quietly religious way. I have a Christmas tree and my favorite ornaments are unique, handmade, or have meaning.  I have two kids, two cats, and a wonderful husband who tolerates a towering “to read” pile. My favorite historical person is Eleanor of Aquitaine. I love blueberries and coffee.


The one book I would be amazed to get is the out of print

Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia: New Martyr of the Communist Yoke by Lubov Millar


But, knowing that is extremely difficult to find, I’d be happy with any book on my Wish List, but these are the ones I’d rate highest:

 A Daughter’s Love: Thomas More and his deaerest Meg by John Guy.

 Eleanor of Aquitaine: Lord and Lady

 The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

 (I’m most embarrassed to add this one, grin) Wild Boy: My Life in Duran Duran by Andy Taylor

In the Shadow of Lady Jane by Edward Charles

 Katherine Synford: The Story of John of Gaunt and his Scandalous Duchess by Alison Wier

 And the newer translations of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Kristin Lavransdotter by Sigred Undset

Last Edited on: 11/17/09 1:28 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 11/17/2009 3:16 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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Michelle V:

Have you read Cloud of Sparrows and Auttumn Bridge by Takashi Matsuoka? They are great historical fictions set in Japan. I cant wait until he writes another one. I keep checking, but so far no new ones. :/