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Topic: It's March what are you reading?

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Subject: It's March what are you reading?
Date Posted: 3/1/2012 12:36 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,142
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I am starting Whispers in the Sand, by  Barbara Erskine.  I like Erskine's work but in small doses.



Last Edited on: 3/20/12 6:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/1/2012 7:30 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,850
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I don't think I ever read her, Letty. Is she a little romance-y, or more family relationships?

I'm still listening to Cutting for Stone, which is excellent. I'm a little more than 6 hours into this 24 hour audiobook. Gonna be awhile ...

I'm also still reading The Rain Maiden, which I'm enjoying. Very entertaining, if not very historically accurate.

Date Posted: 3/1/2012 8:08 AM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,475
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Just started The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Barbery which both my book groups are reading for March. Not a book that I really wanted to read so we'll see how it goes.

Date Posted: 3/1/2012 8:25 AM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
Posts: 4,458
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I started Mary Renault's second book about Alexander the Great, The Persian Boy last night.  This is a view of Alexander from a young slave boy's POV.  While I enjoyed Fire from Heaven, I felt it wasn't her best writing; maybe there were too many battles to keep straight, or something.  I can't put my finger on it, but it just didn't seem as if I could connect with the characters. Too vague, just like this little review here.  But The Persian Boy...wham.  She's got me hooked, my heart just aching for this 12 year old boy who watches his parents die, is captured and castrated, used as a slave...it's a measure of her writing skills that I felt so bad!  Maybe not Genie-dark,  wink but dark for Renault, IMO.  

Date Posted: 3/1/2012 8:51 AM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2007
Posts: 2,233
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Top o' the morning to all my historical friends!!!!  March is coming in rather like a lamb just this moment in Delaware.  Foggy and still after yesterday's rain.

Finished up "Down River" last night.  It is by John Hart and not historical, but I sure enjoyed it.  Had me twisting and turning til the very end trying to figure out which one of the family members was the bad guy!!!  Recommend it highly to those who enjoy a modern-day dysfunctional family murder intrigue.

Not quite sure what I will begin next --- today is my Meals on Wheels day and have a few household chores that need attention, but will definitely start another book this evening.

Date Posted: 3/1/2012 9:33 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,562
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I finished Cold My Heart: A Tale of Arthur by Sarah Woodbury.  I liked the story, but not the take on Arthur ... or Merlin, for that matter.  No Merlin at all would be preferable to this one.  As a story of 6thC Wales, in the time of Arthur, I liked it. But she made Arthur strictly Wales, merely trying to unite Wales to hold out against Saxons that have already completely conquered what's England.  Sort of a 6thC version of Llewelyn v England (except the Saxons have no single leader such as an Edward).  Didn't care for that aspect much.  And Merlin is simply a household "knight" of Arthur's for 20 years, bastardborn, "old" and about ready to retire from the military.  If she'd made the Arthur character a half brother or cousin, instead of Arthur himself, someone trying to hold Wales and a (sometimes?) ally with Arthur in the context of broader England v Saxon, I'd have LOVED it.  But I just couldn't get past my reaction "no, this isn't Arthur--not any version of him I can buy." Both as to the personality and character of the man Arthur, and as to the overall situation. But as a story, I liked it; 4/5.

Date Posted: 3/1/2012 10:25 AM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 3,954
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I'm working on Angelique in Revolt, and she's thick in the midst of the Huegenot (sp?) revolts against King and taxes in Poitou.

Genie, Erskine is a bit on the romancy side at times, but my main issues with her are her doormat heroines. You do have to space her out between books.



Last Edited on: 3/1/12 10:26 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/1/2012 10:42 AM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 1,785
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Oregon Country by T.H. Hanson was quite good with a great deal of interesting historical detail.  Since hubby and I once traced a part of the trail we both identified with it so much.  The heroine and her hired helper are fictional but nearly everyone else exisited and the author did extensive research.  Also working on The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson as well as skimming some Andre Norton books that I read years ago.  Catherine the Great completed. What a wonderful read!  The author spent eight years with this oustanding woman writing the book.  No wonder it comes across as if the reader were walking with Catherine throughout her life.  His resources included her memoirs, numerous letters from many sources, and previous writings about Catherine.  His references even refer to many comments by Catherine even with the pages indicated from the source.  It was so well written it was easy to read and difficult to put aside.  I loved it and can't recommend it enough. 

Also read The White Raven by Diana L. Paxton, a romantic retelling the beautiful story of Tristan and Iseult for the contemporary challenge.  I cried as I read the last few pages.  It's enchanting.  The book could easily be used for historical fiction.  The author explains that Drustan and Marc'h lived as believed.  It appears that Drustan could have been Marc'h's son and  the author explains how this may be so.  Discovering a faint carving that was later added to the Drustanius gravestone indicates that Eisseilt may well have existed as well.  And, because of the rules governing royal behavior at the time, Paxton explains why Branwen or someone like her may have helped the couple meet in spite of Eisseilt's marriage.  The author, who has been devoted to this romantic tale since college, details origins of the ballads, poems and stories told by Drustan and others.  Furthermore, she explains how the book parallels the political history of the time.  The research was considerable making the book even more fun.  She has two more in this series that I plan to read very soon.   

Star of the Sea by Joseph O'Connor is not a mystery I would recommend.  While there are flashes of well written prose, particularly regarding Pius Mulvey, the novel is often disjointed.  Just when I thought the author was hitting his stride I would find myself asking what's this?  I felt that the author couldn't decide what was important to share with the reader.  I skimmed the last two chapters.  The book does do a fair task of informing the reader about what it must have been like to travel from Ireland to New York in a overcrowded ship and the emotions that break out as a result.  Enough said!  Finished The Tiger's Wife, a gentle, meditating read that soothes the mind.  I liked it.

My first read with Elizabeth Bear for the fantasy challenge is By the Mountain Bound and it was sooo good - 4 1/2 -5 stars.  Read Beauty by Robin McKinley, an awesome writer - 4 stars, for fantasy and cruised through Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller which is a most interesting look at Christianity, 3 stars for the nonfiction challenge.  Finished The Tiger's Wife, a gentle, meditating read that soothes the mind.  I liked it - 3 stars.  Also read Creatures of Accident by Wallace Arthur for the non-fiction challenge (Did the minimum!).  It was hard work but a good read.  Read The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, a first novel, for the fantasy challenge to ease the pain of longer reads!  Now done with Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin for the fantasy challenge, which I so enjoyed.  Martin is a genius with character development and writes to keep the reader up-to-date on so many characters that one must really concentrate to keep it all straight.  Took time to read Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell which I had scheduled for the YA challenge.  To my surprise, it is a  historical fiction.  The tale is based on The Lost Woman of St. Nicolas who is buried with her skirt of green cormorant feathers near the Santa Barbara Mission.  Like Karana, she was marooned on an island.  She, too, had jumped into the sea and swam back to the island where she lived from 1835 to 1853.   Her tribe had been removed from the island as well.  When the woman was found she was living with a dog and her brother had been killed by wild dogs, like Karana in this book.  Found another Carolos Ruiz Zavon read, The Angels Game, which is a gothic novel - dark and more.  If you like gothic novels you will like this one.  I did.  Read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - a little dark but very fanciful.  Good.  4 stars 

 



Last Edited on: 3/31/12 5:45 PM ET - Total times edited: 53
Date Posted: 3/1/2012 11:18 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,092
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I'm still reading Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick.  I think I'm about halfway through it and it is really really good.  I am also still reading The Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart for my night time read.  I had almost forgotten how wonderful this story is.  So glad that I decided to re-read this one.

Date Posted: 3/1/2012 12:11 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,307
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@Cathy M: how's the chemotherapy going? I am jealous that you have the whole Angelique series--that is awesome! I have been so busy working for the boss who won't fire me so I can read more that I am struggling to find time to begin The Calligrapher's Daughter.
Date Posted: 3/1/2012 12:57 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,142
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Genie, Erskine's heroine's are as Cathy said a little doormatty... The reason she is considered a bit of a historical novelist, is that many times her heroines discover and experience past lives, or are haunted by people from the past.  Her books are historical/thriller/time slippy.  I haven't read one in a year or so and I know that Cathy didn't love this one.  But I downloaded it from my library and it's free so if I hate it I won't be out anything but time. 

Oh! I know she reminds me of Susanna Kearsley.

Date Posted: 3/1/2012 2:30 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 2,452
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I picked up the book Drood by Dan Simmons today. It looks really interesting, based supposedly on true events about Charles Dickens. Has anyone read it?

 



Last Edited on: 3/1/12 3:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 3/1/2012 2:33 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 3,954
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@ Colleen, I'm not doing chemo I believe that's Cheryl.

Yes, I lucked out on the Angelique series. Got some via swap and some thanks for kind friends like Genie. Some very lucky finds at a local UBS.

Date Posted: 3/1/2012 3:21 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,850
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Maybe not Genie-dark, wink but dark for Renault, IMO.

Am I getting a reputation here? LOL.

Erskine is a bit on the romancy side at times, but my main issues with her are her doormat heroines.

Nuff said.

The reason she is considered a bit of a historical novelist, is that many times her heroines discover and experience past lives, or are haunted by people from the past.

Oh, right. She wrote that book I read about some Scot's mistress -- Wallace or that Bruce fellow. What's his name? Anyhoo, it was good for a light read. We all need that sometimes, right?

She is similar to Kearsley, but I really like Kearsley's writing. I remember getting a bit impatient with Erskine.

Date Posted: 3/1/2012 8:16 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,142
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Genie , I meant how part is in the past and the other part is in the present.

Date Posted: 3/1/2012 9:20 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,562
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 I started The Highlander's Heart by Amanda Forester on the way home tonight.  Thought I was in the mood for a brainless Scottish romance.  Not that brainless, however.  I quit at 51 pages.  Heroine way, way, WAY too stupid to live. Really, an 11 year old, Bieber-loving American girl dropped into the situation would be smarter than this supposedly 20 year old married woman.  I WANTED the freaking wild boar to kill her.  And the hero.  Totally an empty kilt.  Nothing there.  Nothing.  I didn't just archive this, I deleted.



Last Edited on: 3/1/12 9:21 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/1/2012 10:19 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
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Hmmm -- guess I won't be reading The Highlander's Heart!! Truly LOL, Sharla.

Date Posted: 3/2/2012 8:23 AM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2007
Posts: 2,233
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Sharla --- Sorry you wasted 51 pages worth of your time --- but you are pretty funny with your descriptions of the unworthy characters!!!!  Hope your next choice works out better for you.

I started an Amelia Peabody book last night, something about a Big Cat --- it is for the Historical Mystery Challenge.  I had read some of these books several years ago and thought I was picking up where I left off -- NOT SO.  There was no adopted daughter when I last read of them.  Back then I was using my brain to keep track of the books I had read, not software.  As time as proven, software is far more reliable than the current state of my brain!!!

The church I attend has a flea market every April and I usually really clean out my bookshelf at that time.  So I decided to see if I could not manage to get some of them shipped here and I have had a 3 for 1 special going for 2 days I guess.  Unbelievably, I have had 12 requests so far.  Cannot decide if I am happy or sad, as now I have to ship all the books.  Oh well, it is good that someone wanted them I suppose.  Off to the postage scale!!!

Date Posted: 3/2/2012 8:58 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,142
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LOL  Sharla,  smiley

Date Posted: 3/2/2012 9:32 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,562
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The sad thing is that I'm pretty sure I paid 1.99 for it.  With no investigation as to its ratings, reviews, or a sample.  Less than a PBS credit, what the heck, right?  ~shaking head~

On to a not-quite-so brainless romance--one of the Gellis Regencies I picked up when hers all went on reduced price a few months ago.  I'm generally not drawn to Regencies, but Gellis will at least be all around decent quality. 

Date Posted: 3/2/2012 9:53 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 6,798
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Last night I finished The Anatomist's Apprentice by Tessa Harris and what do I think? Well, in all fairness, it is her first book and she certainly created a mystery with many twists and turns. For Becky, I will say that this book is jammed with medical information of the time and Silkstone is definitely working himself into a postiion of being a forensics expert - and for that, I say good for him! As for the plot of the story, the MANY twists make the plot rather improbable, IMHO, even though she does manage to tie everything together. I had to raise my eyebrows on a couple of occasions wondering how anyone in that time period would be able to make the deductions that were made! My biggest gripe is our main female character - what a wimp! I wanted to slap her silly on a number of occasions. This is a real Doormat - too much simpering, crying, sobbing and being so totally helpless (very melodramatic). Her rare moments of trying to stand up for herself were always dashed - and it seems as if these were the very characteristics that attracted our protagonist to her! For shame!

Chances are that I will give her future books another shot to see how she handles the female character. I think she has a good concept going with the onset of forensic medicine but I wish she would put aside the bodice-ripper type romance- it really doesn't work well here. I give this one 3 stars.

Date Posted: 3/2/2012 12:27 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 1,941
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The Lion's Legacy, Juliet Dymoke.  This novel about Brien FitzCount had been on our WL for a long, long time before Kelly's Secret Santa, Aimee, included it in Kelly's lovely Christmas box.  Much of the historical content of this novel covers the same territory as that of When Christ and His Saints Slept, but this novel is from the viewpoint of Brien, one of Maud's most loyal knights.  I enjoyed the novel although parts of it got a bit tedious with all Brien's introspection re. his love for the Empress.  And I have never found Maud to be a very likeable character.  The characters who really came through in this book were Robert of Gloucester, and Brien's household knights. 

Happy to finally have read this - thanks, Aimee.  I also used this as one of the "extra picks" in this year's challenge.

Linda

Date Posted: 3/2/2012 12:32 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,850
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I meant how part is in the past and the other part is in the present.

Yep. Time travel, wasn't it? Or was it just 2 stories told in parallel?

The Lion's Legacy sounds good, Linda. I've read some Dymoke. She holds up well even after the passage of time.

Date Posted: 3/2/2012 2:53 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,142
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Genie, it was like past life stuff  In Lady of Hay, and more like hauntings in the others,  She can write spooky.  I can't remember which book of Erskine's I sent into the wall.  But the protagonist kept getting "visitations" she was in Scotland and all I could think was, this chick is TSTL. :p

Date Posted: 3/2/2012 5:45 PM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2009
Posts: 24,817
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I gave this book about 100 pages this week. I could not get into. I did not like the style it was writtne in at all. Truthfully I thought it was boring. It does get good reveiws just not from me. Can't like them all.

 


Last Edited on: 3/2/12 5:46 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
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