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Topic: The Mid-Year Best....

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Subject: The Mid-Year Best....
Date Posted: 6/5/2010 11:28 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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The year is half over.... What are the best books you have read so far?

I've read 87 books so far, but some of those were not finished.

The best H/F of my year so far....

The Kitchen House - The most moving I've read.

Other standout H/F:

  • Aztec by Gary Jennings
  • Queen of Camelot by Nnacy McKenzie
  • Remember Me - Lesley Pearce - probably should be classified as historical romance, but I loved how adventurous it was!

The very best Historical Mystery

  • The River of Darkness by Rennie Airth

More great mysteries -

  • In the Comapny of Liars by David Ellis - This one started with the ending in the first chapter and the entire rest of the book moved backwards in time. Very original and good!
  • Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger

The best Non-Fiction -

  • First Into Nagasaki by George Weller
  • An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagin
  • World Without Us by Alan Weisman

The best Fantasy, Ghost Stories, Etc. -

  • The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti
  • The Tale of Halycon Crane by Wendy Webb
  • Shelter by Susan Palwick

The best contemporary fiction -

  • The Seduction of Water by Carol Goodman


The best series books -

Joan Wolf's trilogy:

  • The Road to Avalon
  • Born of the Sun
  • The Edge of Light

The Millenium Trilogy:

  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire
  • The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest

My biggest disappointment -

Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine

Last Edited on: 6/5/10 11:54 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 6/5/2010 12:09 PM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
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The best HF for me has been:

  The King Must Die and The Bull from the Sea, by Mary Renault

Honorable mentions:

Legion of the Mists, by Amanda Cockrell

The Stone Goddess, by Minfong Ho

Best HF series, mystery, and Main Character Cutie Pie:

The Justin deQuincy series, by Sharon Kay Penman

  • The Queen's Man
  • Cruel as the Grave
  • Dragon's Lair
  • Prince of Darkness


Best short story collection:

Black Juice, by Margo Lanagan

Honorable mentions:

Red Spikes, by Margo Lanagan

Just After Sunset, by Stephen King

Best Audio book:

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

Honorable mention:

Pompeii, by Robert Harris

Best contemporary fiction:

The Third Angel, by Alice Hoffman

Best re-read:

Dracula, by Bram Stoker

My biggest disappointment:

Helen of Troy, by Margaret George

(And the ending of Shanghai Girls, by Lisa See)




Date Posted: 6/5/2010 2:48 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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Ha Ha Ha . . . I knew Vicky would have the Justin de Quincy books on her list :-)

Subject: historical fiction favorites....
Date Posted: 6/5/2010 7:35 PM ET
Member Since: 9/21/2009
Posts: 1,173
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I've read 37 so far.  Mostly historical romances-there's about 12 historical fictions in there. 


In the hf category:


Shadow Queen  Edith Felber(Edith Layton)-love her style-her talents will be greatly missed

Tory Widow Christine Blevins

honorable mention for a really good debut Ella Chase's The Virgin Queen's Daughter


I've got better than a dozen hf's sitting on my shelf...not bad for someone who hadn't delved into this category a year ago!

Date Posted: 6/5/2010 8:00 PM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
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Sheila....only because I haven't read Uhtred yet!  ;p

Date Posted: 6/5/2010 8:30 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,559
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Best H/F book thus far would have to be a tie between 2 BC's The Burning Land and Enemy of God

Best H/F mystery is Roman Blood by Steven Saylor with SKP's The Queen's Man not very far behind

I also really liked The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society very much no matter what category you would consider it under

The best fiction/mystery The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith

Best N/F so far is Ladies of Liberty by Cokie Roberts although I thought it rambles a bit compared to her first book Founding Mothers

Biggest disapointment would have to be Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran.

Last Edited on: 6/6/10 11:51 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/5/2010 11:11 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
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Wow -- and I thought I read a lot....

Best HF (so far):

   The Greatest Knight - Chadwick
   The Winthrop Woman - Seton
   Genghis: Birth of an Empire - Iggulden
   Honorable mention: The Romanov Bride - Alexander; The Secret Scripture - Barry
Best HF series most recent installment:
   The Devil's Company - Liss
   Honorable mention: The God of the Hive - King
Best HF Fantasy:
   The Crystal Cave - Stewart
Best HF Mystery:
   The Black Tower - Bayard
   Mistress of the Art of Death - Franklin
   The Queen's Man, Cruel As the Grave, Dragon's Lair, Prince of Darkness - Penman
   Silent in the Grave, Silent in the Sanctuary, Silent on the Moor - Raybourn
   River of Darkness - Airth
Best HF Spoof:
   The Adventures of Alianore Audley - Wainwright
Best Classic:
   The Woman in White - Collins  
   The Scarlet Pimpernel - Orczy
   The Black Tulip - Dumas
Best Non-fiction:
   Under the Banner of Heaven - Krakauer
   The Tender Bar - Moehringer
   A Girl Named Zippy - Kimmel
   She Got Up Off the Couch - Kimmel
   The Road From Coorain - Conway
Date Posted: 6/6/2010 8:44 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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My best reads in 2010 to date ...

Historical Fiction

Whiskey Rebels by David Liss

Mariana by Susanne Kearsley

Taliesin by Steven Lawhead

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Green Darkness by Anya Seton

Sophia's Secret by Susanna Kearsley

Best Literary Fiction

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Best New-to-Me Author

Susanne Kearsley

Best Non-Fiction

Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

This Is Not the Life I Ordered by D.C. Stephens (still reading, but nearly finished)

Biggest Disappointment

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 6/6/2010 9:11 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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I am sooo far behind all of you  (have only read 17 books not including the 4 I have started and not finished yet) and miserably behind in the challenges. But I do have some favorites.

My Favorite Historical Fiction 

                Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Fave Mystery:

              Inkheart by Cornelia Funk

Fave Classic:

              Sherlock Holmes short stories

Honorable Mentions:

             The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte

            Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott

            Gone For Soldiers by Jeff Shaara

Biggest Disapointments

            The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain

            Atlantis by David Gibbons

Date Posted: 6/6/2010 9:21 AM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 3,063
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It's hard to pick the best - there are several HF novels that merit mention.  (Have read 119 books since Jan. 1 - not all HF, of course.)   I loved the Chadwick series about William Marshall which I read just because Letty recommended them, enjoyed Company of Liars so much, waded through First Man in Rome and Wolf Hall, both of which I rate highly, found Nefertiti most entertaining (sorry Letty), and Hood by Stephen Lawhead was exceptional.  I so enjoyed The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee  and enjoyed The Eagles Quest A Prince's Flight for Freedom by Charlotte Lederer,  FLanagan's Run by Tom McNab and  Sword in the Stone by T.H. White because it was so funny.  The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland was depressing but memorable.  Marrying Mozart was funny, light and entertaining.  Time and Again by Jack Finney was an excellent read and so was Lord John and the Private Matter (need to read the next two in the series).  The Deanna Raybourn mystery series is worth reading, too.  Good mysteries without ghoulish dialog and a wonderfully strong heroine in Lady Julia Grey.  I simply cannot end this commentary without mentioning Pauline Gedge's saga, The Eagle and the Raven, an exceptional book indeed.  Isn't it wonderful that I found so many wonderful reads - many because of all my PBS friends.  Thanks!  After looking at your lists I have so many more!

Last Edited on: 6/10/10 4:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 8
Date Posted: 6/6/2010 9:32 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,175
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My favorites so far this year are..

The Wilderness, series by Sara Donati

To Defy a King, by Elizabeth Chadwick

Mistress of the Art of Death series, by Arianna Franklin

Silent In series by Deanna Raybourne

Company of Liars by Karen Maitland

Veil of Lies by Jeri Westerson


Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas 

Broken Wing by Judith James

Other Mysteries

Her Royal Spyness and Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen

Gaslight Mysteries by Victoria Thompson

Biggest Disappointments

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran  (Just didn't live up to the hype) 

Island of the Swans  Cili Ware. (just didn't live up to the hype)

Last Edited on: 6/9/10 2:26 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 6/6/2010 10:05 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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I love reading everyone's lists. I get to find new to me books! I am a bit disturbed though to see so many books I bought new on your "Biggest Disappoinment" lists, aargh.

One of these purchases was really stupid because Genie had already told me it sucked, "The Swan Thieves". Oh, why didn't I listen?!

I'm always happy to see Jack Finney's "Time and Again" on a "best" list! It is a marvelous book, one I've read twice, and I would encourage everyone to try it! I love Finney's descriptions of a lifestyle gone by! I found a book of 3 short stories by Finney, read a few pages, set it down, and I haven't seen it since. I have searched high and low; the book is hiding from me!

Last Edited on: 6/6/10 10:31 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/6/2010 3:01 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,175
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Ruth, I liked Nefertiti it was just so over hyped that I was expecting more.  shrugs.  But I am really glad you like the Marshal books!smiley

Date Posted: 6/6/2010 3:22 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2009
Posts: 388
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I've read 24 books so far.

Absolute faves:

- The Lion of Ireland by Morgan Llywelyn

- Penmarric by Susan Howatch

- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell


Books with sheer readability that kept me turning pages:

- Whiskey Rebels by David Liss

- The Golden Tulip by Rosalind Laker


Biggest disappointment:

- Victoria Victorious by Jean Plaidy- started out so wonderful, but Victoria quickly became annoying. This was the first Plaidy I've read where I couldn't wait for it to end!

Last Edited on: 6/6/10 3:22 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/8/2010 2:07 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,588
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Top 5 HF (but I?ll include parts of a series as one entry):

   -Born of the Sun, Joan Wolf, and the rest of the trilogy

   -Falcons of Montabard, Elizabeth Chadwick

   -Roselynde and Alinore by Roberta Gellis

   -Into the Wilderness by Sarah Donati

   -Vagabond by Bernard Cornwall

 Best Non HF: Dracula and Rebecca

 Biggest disappointment:  Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourne.


Date Posted: 6/8/2010 5:16 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,432
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What fun, reading everyone's lists!  Like Valli, I thought The Kitchen House was wonderful, and Joan Wolf''s Dark Ages trilogy is an all-time favorite series.  In fact Kelly just mailed that series to Jennifer (my granddaughter) for summer reading and she is already well into The Road to Avalon.

Another series I absolutely loved is the Wilderness series by Sara Donati that Jerelyn mentioned, and also agree with Jerelyn that To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick is a favorite.

Like Deb, I thought Romanov Bride was wonderful.  And, I agree with Geni that Susanna Kearsley is a great new-to-me author.

Favorite historical romances: Jubilee Trail, Gwen Bristow  and  The Proud Breed, Celeste de Blasis  (both are American HF)

Other favorites not yet mentioned:  City of God, Beverly Swerling;  City of Thieves, David Benioff;  Galway Bay, Mary Pat Kelly

Another I must mention is Forever Amber even 'tho I have a bit of a love/hate opinion of  that novel.  But it's one I've heard of all my life, and I'm really glad I read it.

Also like Valli, I find I've moved several titles to the top of the TBR stack: Company of Liars, Black Tower, Veil of Lies.  And I just added Devil's Company to the Wish List.


Date Posted: 6/8/2010 8:06 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,175
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Yay Linda I am glad you like the Wilderness series!  smiley

Date Posted: 6/9/2010 12:08 AM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2006
Posts: 1,366
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The best Historical Fiction I have read so far for 2010 would be............


COMPANY OF LIARS by Karen Maitland

RELIABLE WIFE by Robert Goolrick

Date Posted: 6/9/2010 10:54 AM ET
Member Since: 6/16/2008
Posts: 772
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The Flesh and the Devil by Teresa Denys

Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor

Date Posted: 6/10/2010 2:49 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,757
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Aztec, Aztec, Aztec!!!!! 

Definitely the best book I've read so far this year.  Others to note -

Really, Really Enjoyed -

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

The Burning Land

The Winter King

The Sunne In Splendour

And although I'm not quite done with it, I have to add Outlander

The Duds -

Wolf Hall

The Secret Supper

I've read several other books, but those are the ones that stand out.


Last Edited on: 6/10/10 6:34 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/10/2010 5:28 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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The Saxon Chronicles - Cornwall

The Sunne in Splendour - Penman

Blood and Thunder - Hampton Sides

Stitches - David Small

This Body of Death - E. George

Crime and Punishment

The Queen's Man & Cruel As The Grave


One Amazing Thing - Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

The Winter Queen - Akunin