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Lindymc's Reading Log, 2011

Keep track of your reading for 2011 here! One thread per member, please.
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Lindymc's Reading Log, 2011

Post by lindymc » Mon January 3rd, 2011, 12:02 pm


Outback, Aaron Fletcher
Really enjoyed this novel set in Australia, late 1700s. Pat Garrity, bastard son of an English female convict, raised in an orphanage, is rescued by a sheep station owner. Pat takes an Aborigine wife, eventually creates one of the largest stations in the Outback. The novel continues with the stories of his children and grandchildren. 5/5; 1/2/11

Our Lives Are the Rivers, Jaime Manrique
Manuela Saenz, South American freedom fighter, and her love affair with Simon Bolivar. Interesting but I was never able to really like or admire the characters. 3.5/5; 1/4/11

Luncheon of the Boating Party, Susan Vreeland
The story behind Renoir's masterpiece. Very interesting and I'm glad to know the background, to know more about the artist. 4.5/5; 1/7/11

Trade Wind, M. M. Kaye
Loved this novel set on the island of Zanzibar, 1860s. Hero Hollis is a strong, wealthy American heiress who goes to Zanzibar to visit her uncle who is the American Consul there. En route, in a violent storm she is swept overboard and rescued by Rory Frost, a 'blackgaurd' ship captain, sometime slave trader. Great romance, interesting history.
5/5; 1/12/11

My Splendid Concubine, Lloyd Lofthouse
Robert Hart came to China as a young man, employed in a British consulate office as an interpreter. He later achieved prominence as inspector general of China's Customs Service, helped build China's railroads, telegraph and postal services. However this novel was about his relationship with his Chinese concubine, and got a bit tedious. 3/5; 1/14/11

Roses, Leila Meacham
Three generations of three families, their ambitions, loves, vengeances, successes from pre WWI through 1980s. Mary Toliver struggled to maintain her inheritance and her obsession - a cotton plantation in east Texas, thus denying herself the man she loved and entangling future generations. 4.5/5, 1/16/11

Beauvallet, Georgette Heyer
Not a regency, set mostly in Spain as Beauvallet, a bold and handsome pirate goes after Dominica, the Spanish senorita he had previously 'abducted' on the high seas. This is during the time of Queen Elizabeth, and the continuing animosity between Spain and England. Good story, but I prefer the regencies. 4/5, 1/18/11

Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Susan Vreeland
Traces the history of a fictional Vermeer painting back through the centuries, telling in vignettes of the various people who owned and loved the painting. Some of these little stories were better than others. 3.5/5, 1/19/11

Daughter of the Red Deer, Joan Wolf
Another great novel by this author. Two Cro-Magnon tribes of 14 thousand years ago. Mar's Tribe of the Horse has lost most of their women and children through water from a poisoned well, and kidnap a group of young women from the Tribe of the Red Deer, a tribe with a woman chief. Wonderful story. 5/5, 1/22/11

The Distant Hours, Kate Morton
Edie becomes interested in the lives of the Blythe sisters living in Milderhurst Castle where her mother had lived as a child evacuee during WWII. The mother does not want to talk about it which increases Edie's curiosity. The story goes back and forth from the present to past. A bit of a 'horror' story aspect involves the story of the "Mud Man" a famous novel written by the father of the Blythe sisters. 5/5, 1/25/11

Tears of Pearl, Tasha Alexander
This is the third book of the Lady Emily mysteries, set in Constantinople where Emily and Colin Hargreaves are on their honeymoon. They insinuate themselve in the investigation of a murder in the sultan's harem. A bit hard to believe that an English couple could be allowed such access to the harem and the palaces. 3/5, 1/27/11


The Persian Boy, Mary Renault
Bagaos is an uncommonly pretty eunuch who becomes a devoted servant and lover to Alexander the Great. The book follows much of Alexander's travels and conquests. Interesting for what I learned of this period in ancient history. 4/5, 2/3/11

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, Lauren Willig
An almost silly (chick lit) romance in an historical setting, complete with spies, masks, black capes, etc. Entertaining but nothing to grab onto. 3/5, 2/5/11

Henry and Clara, a Novel, Thomas Mallon
Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris were the couple in the box with the Lincolns at Ford Theatre. Raised together as step brother and sister in the home of her father Ira Harris, a prominent judge and later U.S. Senator. Henry was intelligent, and cynical, saw the Civil War thru cynical eyes. The night of the assassination he was wounded, a deep knife wound to the upper arm. Accusations that he should have done more to save the president haunted him, crippled him mentally. In 1883, in Germany, he shot and killed Clara and spent the rest of his life in a mental institiution. 4/5, 2/6/11

Dark Road to Darjeeling, Deanna Raybourn
Fourth book in the Lady Julia / Nicholas Brisbane series. Great story, great characters - this one takes place in India on a tea plantation where sister Portia's friend Jane is pregnant; her husband has been murdered. In an unexpected shocker we meet Brisbane's long lost (thought dead by Julia) father. 5/5, 2/8/11

The Quickenberry Tree, Annette Motley
Wonderful novel about a family during the English Civil War. 5/5, 2/13/11

Outlaw, Angus Donald
A tale of Robin Hood, a violent warrior, loyal to his band, but demanding of absolute and total loyalty. Narrated by Alan Dale who sometimes questions the violence, but remains true to Robin. By book's end Robin has been pardoned by King Richard in exchange for vowing to go on crusade. 5/5, 2/18/11

Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner
Pulitzer Prize winning novel of 1972. A wheel-chair-bound retired history professor is research and writing the story of his grandparents. The grandfather is a brilliant mining engineer, the grandmother a talented artist transplanted by her marriage to the rugged west and away from her revered friends and the culture of the east. Interesting but a bit distressing, esp. the end. 4/5, 2/20/11

Queen of Swords, Judith Tarr
Set in Jerusalem at the time of the Second Crusade, told through the story of a fictional family involved with Jerusalem's royal family, Queen Melisende, her father Baldwin, husband Fulk, and son Baldwin. Eleanor of Aquaintaine makes an appearance. Very readable novel. 5/5, 2/24/11


Shores of Darkness, Diana Norman
Great historical fiction set at the time of Queen Anne and the worry and intrigue concerning who would inherit the throne after her death. Wonderful fictional characters interact with such real characters as female pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read, also Daniel Defoe and others. 5/5, 3/3/11

Royal Flush, Rhys Bowen
Book 3 about Lady Georgianna, 34th in line to the throne. Another fun mystery, mostly takes place at the Rannoch Castle in Scotland, next door to Balmoral where mysterious accidents keep happening to members of the royal family.
4/5, 3/4/11

Dark North, Gillian Bradshaw
Set in 208 AD, Memnon, a very black Ethiopian scout with the Roman Legions, rescues two valuable members of the Emporor's staff, and therefore plays a bigger and bigger role within his cavalry unit. Great novel. 5/5, 3/5/11

Rivals for the Crown, Kathleen Givens
Scotland, late 13th century, is without a king, and Edward I of England takes control. Rory fights back, along with William Wallace. Rory loves Isabel, a former English lady-in-waiting, who has angered Edward's steward, the powerful and evil Walter Langton, has found refuge with the family of her friend Rachel, Jews who had been expelled from England. Great love stories and history. 5/5, 3/7/11

Sherwood, Parke Godwin
This very enjoyable novel about Robin Hood is set in the period following the Norman Conquest at Hastings. Edward of Denby (Robin) is a farmer/thane forced to become an outlaw as he runs afoul of the unjust laws imposed by William the Conqueror. 5/5, 3/11/11

The Dead of Winter, Rennie Airth
Third book in this mystery series, and best so far. A Polish girl who works on John Madden's farm is murdered for no apparent reason in London, the first in a series of murders that turn out to be the work of an assassin. John gets involved in solving the mystery with his old friends and colleagues at Scotland Yard. 5/5, 3/12/11

Where Serpents Sleep, C. S. Harris
The fourth Sebastian St. Cyr mystery - and very, very enjoyable. In this one Sebastian works with Lady Hero Jarvis to solve the mystery behind the fire and murder of prostitutes at the Magdalene House, a Quaker rescue home. Anxious for the next in the series to watch the relationship with Hero unfold. 5/5, 3/14/11

Lily Cigar, Tom Murphy
Set in the 1850s, a rags to riches saga about an orphan, Lily, who leaves the orphanage to work as a maid in a wealthy home, becomes pregnant by the good-for-nothing son, flees to California, befriended by a rich and kindly madam, becomes the most successful whore in San Francisco, eventually marries the man she has always loved. The book concludes after the 1906 earthquake. 5/5, 3/17/11

Brendan, Morgan LLywelyn
Subtitle: The Remarkable Life and Voyage of Brendan of Clonfert, one of the most beloved Irish Saints. Also called Brendan the Navigator, 4th/5th century early Christian. In addition to founding many monasteries, he made many sea voyages. Interesting man, lovely writing. 3.5/5, 3/21/11

Medicus, Ruth Downie
A totally delightful and entertaining novel (bit of a mystery) about the trials and tribulations of Ruso, a medicus/doctor with the 20th Roman Legion in Britain. He has money problems, and problems with his slave Tilla, whom he bo't in order to save her from an abusive owner although he doesn't really enjoy being a slave-owner, has trouble understanding and communicating with her. Loved the writing. 5/5, 3/23/11

Under an English Heaven, Robert Radcliffe
Life in wartime England near an American B17 base in Suffolk. Story revolves around the pilot and crew of "Misbehavin' Martha" flying dangerous bombing missions against Germany; we also follow the story of some of the villagers nearby including a boy evacuated from London who is befriended by the yanks at the base, also his teacher Heather. Her husband is MIA in a Japanese POW camp, and she falls in love with the American pilot. Wonderful story.
5/5, 3/25/11

Byzantium, Stephen Lawhead
Probably would not have read this thick tome had it not been for the timeline challenge on pbs, not that many novels set in 900s AD. But I'm glad it read it. Lawhead is a great writer, and I loved the characters. A group of monks are on a pilgrimage to Byzantium (Constantinople) taking the Book of Kells to the emporor. Along the way they encounter Vikings and Aiden (the protagonist) is taken as a slave. More trials and tribulations occur, and the Vikings eventually become likeable characters as they go to Byzantium, planning to loot and place and realize it is too big. They in turn are enslaved, Aiden is rescued by the Sarazens, and in turn is able to rescue his friends. Through all this Aiden feels abandoned by God at the same time one of Viking friends becomes a Christian. Great story, apparently based on experiences of 2 or 3 monks of this period, altho Aiden is ficticious. 4.5/5 - 3/30/11


Forget the Glory, Emma Drummond
Wonderful novel about the regiment in India, never utilized in battle, forced to 'dress-up' and march, drill, attend social affairs. They finally get their chance to fight when called to the Crimea after the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade. Hero is Rowan, a very brave soldier from an aristocratic and military family. He has disgraced the family and tries always to over-achieve to make up for past mistakes. He marries a beautiful and very spoiled girl who accompanies him on the long trip to the Crimea. Heroine is Mary Clarke, a trooper's widow, uneducated but with a desire to better herself and see more of the world. She gets her chance as a lady's maid to Rowan's wife. 5/5, 4/2/11

Genghis, Conn Iggulden
Liked this novel much more than I expected. Bloody and violent, but interesting story about the early life of Temujin, son of the khan of the Wolves, abandoned with his family after his father dies and another man betrays the khan's family and steals the leadership of the tribe. 4.5/5, 4-4-11

The Proud Villeins, Valerie Anand
Several generations of a family founded by a former Norman knight who was enslaved at Gildenford, marries another thrall on a manor in the north of England that is destroyed during William the Conqueror's harrying of the north. Covers eras from pre-Conquest through 1215 through the eyes of the villeins, some who always yearn for freedom while others accept their fate. 4/5, 4/7/11

Robin and the King, Parke Godwin
This continues the story of Robin Hood started in Sherwood. Banished by William to Normandy, Robin serves as a soldier, scout, and spy for William and for William's son William II (Rossel in this book, more commonly known as William Rufus). In both of these books by Godwin, Robin Hood is portrayed more as a farmer, self-educated in the law, whose sense of right and wrong, and duty to his people and to England puts him at odds with the crown. 5/5, 4/10/11

The Toll-Gate, Georgette Heyer
This one is mostly a mystery with a bit of romance. Likeable characters, but not as appealing as her standard regency romances. 3.5/5, 4/11/11

The Desperate Remedy, Martin Stephen
Sir Henry Gresham, rich, an intellectual (even a teacher at Cambridge) and a spy uncovers the Gunpowder Plot. Had been highly touted on the PBS forum, but I was not all that taken with it - too much intriguing. 3/5, 4/14/11

Lords of the Bow, Conn Iggulden
Continues the story of Genghis Khan as he unites the tribes of the Mongolian plains and moves against the walled cities of the Chin. Fascinating, esp. when I consider that this was happening in 1211-1215, while in England King John is being forced to sign the Magna Carta. 4.5/5, 4/16/11

The de Lacy Inheritance, Elizabeth Ashworth
Based on an old Lancastrian legend, Richard FitzEustace returns from the Crusade afflicted with leprosy. Expected to enter a leprosy house, instead he goes on an errand for his grandmother to secure the de Lacy inheritance from the grandmother's cousin who has no heirs. Meanwhile his younger, spirited sister is resisting efforts to an arranged marriage and Richard helps her escape to the de Lacy home where he has been befriended and given a place to live beneath the de Lacy castle. 4/5, 4/17/11

The Day the Falls Stood Still, Cathy Marie Buchanan
Set during early 1900s, this is a love story and a statement against the over-industrialization of the Niagara Falls in Canadian Ontario. Bess is a girl from a wealthy family suddenly impoverished when her father is laid off. She falls for a "riverman" - a man devoted to the river and the falls, but beneath her socially. Enjoyed the book, esp. the first half to three-quarters of it. 4/5, 4/18/11

Men on White Horses, Annette Motley
About the rise of Catherine the Great of Russia - from rather lonely and obscure German princess to the Empress of all the Russias. Married to Peter, nephew of Elizabeth, childish, half-crazy, and uninterested in consummating the marriage, Catherine has a series of lovers, but never loses sight of her ambition to rule Russia, a country she truly loves. Book was interesting, but a bit tedious at times. 3.5/5, 4/22/11

Claude & Camille, Stephanie Cowell
Enjoyed this novel about the love affair and later marriage of Claude Monet. He painted many pictures of Camille, a girl from a fairly wealthy family who broke her engagement to be with Monet in spite of her family's opposition. Monet was close friends with other struggling artists, including Bazil, Renoir, and Pissaro. 4/5, 4/25/11

Wild Swan, Celeste de Blasis
A love story/romance set in both England and later in Maryland. Alexandria loved by her wise woman grandmother, unloved by her mother spends part of her childhood with distant, very loving, relatives who are free traders in the west of England. When her sister dies, leaving twin babies, Alex returns home to care for the children, eventually marries the father, St. John Carrington. They move to Maryland and struggle to build a stable of race horses. Meanwhile Rane Falconer who has been in love with Alex since their time together in the west country has also immigrated to Maryland. Great family saga. 4.5/5, 4/29/11


Swan's Chance, Celeste de Blasis
A sequel to the book above, continues the story of Rane and Alexandria and the Thoroughbred racing farm. This novel involves the lives and loves of the children and grandchildren and sees the story through the end of the Civil War. 5/5, 5/5/11

Cry 'God for Harry', Martha Rofheart
Novel about King Henry V, the hero of Agincourt, told through the eyes of several people who figured in his life: Henry himself as a boy; Morgan (fictional) bastard daughter of Owen Glendower and Henry's first love; Hercules the court fool for Henry IV; John Page a knight who was with Henry during the Agincourt campaign; Katherine of Valois, Henry's queen. 4/5, 5/9/11

India Black, Carol Carr
The English prime minister's office requests the assistance of a whore/madam in recovering some important documents that go missing following the death of a government employee while at the whore house. Somewhat humorous in spots, but pretty silly and unbelieveable. 3/5, 5/10/11

Daughters of the Witching Hill, Mary Sharratt
Bess Southerns was a 'cunning woman' in the Pendle Forest in northern England in the late 1500s, early 1600s. She was a blesser, using herbs and her power as a cunning woman to heal animals and children. She, as well as her daughter and granddaughter Alizon Device, were eventually accused of witchcraft and hanged along with friends as innocent as they were. 4.5/5, 5/12/11

Liberty Tavern, Thomas Fleming
A novel set in New Jersey during the Revolutionary War. Captain Jonathan Gifford, an ex-English officer, veteran of the French-Indian Wars, operates a tavern in New Jersey. Now a widower, he loves his two step-children who take different, and passionate roles in the conflict between the loyalists and the revolutionaries. A very different look at the Revolutionary War, but probably a very true account of the conflicts within families, and of the jealousies, and greedy 'entrepreneurs' who infected the area, taking advantage of the situation. 5/5, 5/15/11

The Rose of Sebastopol, Katharine McMahon
Rosa and Mariella are cousins. Rosa goes to the Crimea to be a nurse, goes missing, and Mariella goes in search of her, after first seeing her fiance, very ill in Italy. He is a doctor and had also been in the Crimea, apparently having fallen in love with Rosa. Story goes back and forth between 1844, when the cousins were young girls, and 1854 during the siege of Sebastopol. 4/5, 5/17/11

Day After Night, Anita Diamant
I read this book to complete the 'It's About Time' challenge on swap. Enjoyed the book and learned something. The novel is based on the true story of the 1945 recue of the 200+ Jewish detainees at the Atlit internment camp maintained by the the British north of Haifa. The story revolves around the lives of four women at the camp, each with a different background and very different experiences during the war and the holocaust. 4.5/5, 5/18/11

The House at Riverton, Kate Morton
Grace at age 99 looks back and recounts the events at the manor house called Riverton, where in 1924 a young poet is shot, believed to be a suicide. Grace had begun work as a housemaid at Riverton when she was 14 years old, and became involved in the lives of the three children there, one of which, Hannah is her age. She becomes Hannah's lady's maid and shares secrets which are crucial to the mystery and plot of the novel. 4.5/5, 5/21/11

The Nonsuch Lure, Mary Luke
Very unusual book; in the current time an American, intrigued by a seventeenth century journal, travels to England, visits the ruins of the old Nonsuch Palace, feels a connection to the place and to the Cuddinton family whose land it was that Henry VIII confiscated for the palace. Through hypnosis he learns that he is a reincarnation of the writer of the journal, and then goes even further back in time to the building of the palace itself in the 1500s.
4.5/5, 5/24/11

Holy Warrior, Angus Donald
Second book in series, following Outlaw. Alan Dale continues to narrate the story as he follows Robin to Outremer as part of King Richard's Crusade. Lots of little errors due to sloppy editing, but an engrossing novel. 4.5/5, 5/27/11

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, Helen Simonson
Not HF, but a totally delightful novel about a retired, widowed army major attracted to a lovely Pakistani widow owns a local shop. The major's upwardly mobile son, and the major's golfing friends together with their wives are disapproving. Very humorous, wonderful lines. 5/5, 5/28/11


The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
The classic novel, enjoyed all 1243 pages, what a great story. very strong 5/5, 6/4/11

Terra Incognita, Ruth Downie
Book two about Ruso, a medicus with the Roman legions in Britain. A fun mystery type novel. 4.5/5, 6/7/11

The Road to Jerusalem, Jan Guillou
Arn, young son of a wealthy and powerful family is sent to the cloister by his parents to satisfy a pledge to "give him to God" when he miraculously comes back to life after an injury. The prior recognizes Arn's talent and intelligence and begins grooming him for his future role although he cannot yet understand what God's purpose will be for Arn. Sent back to his own family as a young man, Arn proves his prowess with a sword, falls in love, is manipulated by a man hungering for the crown, is betrayed by his betrothed's sister, wrongly excommunicated, must abandon his pregnant girlfriend, and at book's end is sent off to Rome to follow the life of a Templar Knight. 5/5, 6/12/11

Murder on Lexington Avenue, Victoria Thompson
Book #11 in the Gaslight Mystery Series. In this one Malloy is investigating the murder of the father of a deaf girl. When the mother of the deaf girl goes iinto labor, Malloy sends for Sarah Brandt. Very enjoyable. 5/5, 6/14/11

The Returning, Jean Sorrell
This novel is by Pat Hurley's widow, Sorrell being her maiden name. Don & Julie loaned me the book. Interesting story set in 1951. Enjoyed the novel, lots of dreams, theories re. reincarnation. Not a book I would have chosen had it not been that Jean was the author. 3.5/5 6/14/11

Hand of Isis, Jo Graham
A look at Cleopatra through the eyes of Charmian, her half-sister and indespensible hand maiden. I liked Charmian and her own story as much as the story of Cleopatra. I like Caesar, but not too fond of Mark Antony. 4.5/5, 6/19/11

Cape Cod, William Martin
Good book, family saga follows two families from arrival of the Mayflower in 1620 to the 20th century as the aristocratic Bigelows interact with the working-class Hilyards. Love, hate, jealousies, vengence, mystery. 5/5, 6/23/11

Here Be Dragons, Sharon Kay Penman
This was a re-read, enjoyed it this time just as when I first read it back in 2007; dreaded the last of the book when Joanna commits adultery. But loved the forgiving. Without a doubt, a strong 5/5, 6/27/11

Miss Hildreth Wore Brown, Olivia deBelle Byrd
A collection of rather humorous vignetttes from a Southern woman. A book I won. 3/5, 6/20/11


Vainglory, Geraldiine McCaughrean
A very unusual novel, set in Renaissance France, revolving around an estate called Gloriole and the 'vainglorious' men who owned it, and continued to add to and try to glorify the chateau. The writing was witty in spots, clever characters, unexpected plot twists. Had been recommended by Eliz. Chadwick. 4.5/5, 7/5/11

The Black Moth, Georgette Heyer
Her first novel, written as a teen ager. Enjoyable and entertaining; I liked the characters. Jack Carstares, heir to a title, takes the blame for his younger brother's cheating at cards, and exiles himself from England; returns 6 years later with a loyal servant and becomes a semi-honorable highwayman. Rescues a girl from being kidnapped, falls in love with her. 4/5, 7/6/11

The Coroner's Lunch, Colin Cotterill
A fun little mystery; main character is a 72-year-old coroner in Communist Laos. Dead bodies, political intrigue, fun characters. 4/5, 7/7/11

Bride Flight, Marieke Van Der Pol
1953 and 3 women are emigrating to New Zealand via a Dutch plane participating in a transcontinental air race. Ada, Marjorie, and Esther's stories interact together and with Frank, a bachelor on the flight. 4/5, 7/9/11

What Remains of Heaven, C. S. Harris
Number 5 of the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries. In this one a bishop is murdered in an old, formerly sealed-up crypt and Sebastian's aunt insists that he help solve the murder mystery. Hero Jarvis is pregnant with Sebastian's child which Sebastian suspects, but Hero denies. I love this series. 5/5, 7/10/11

Where Shadows Dance, C. S. Harris
Sebastian's surgeon friend realizes that a body he has had "resurrected" from the grave was murdered, had not died of a heart attack, but since he examined the body illegally, Sebastian must seek the murderer w/o disclosing how he knows there is a murder. Lots more murders occur, and finally he and Hero get married. 5/5, 7/11/11

Zemindar, Valerie Fitzgerald
Great, great novel set during the Sepoy Mutiny. Wonderful romance with great characters. 5/5, 7/16/11

Smokin' Seventeen, Janet Evanovich
Much better than the last one. Lots of funny situations. 4/5, 7/16/11

Black Sheep, Georgette Heyer
This was a fun, quick read. Miles Calverleigh arrives in Bath, meets Abby (a 28-year-old spinster) who at first mistakenly takes him to be his nephew who she has just learned is 'dangling' after her much-loved niece Fanny, a rich and very young heiress. The nephew, Stacy, is clearly a fortune hunter and Abby tries to enlist the aid of Miles in stopping a possible elopement. And of course Abby falls in love with Miles. 5/5, 7/18/11

The Mistletoe and Sword, Anya Seton
Set in Roman Britain at the time of Boudicea's revolt against the Roman army. Boudicea's husband has died, and ignoring the peaceful relations they have had, the Roman procurator, wanting the riches of the Iceni tribe, turns against the Queen, has her flogged, her daughters are raped. The young Roman soldier Quintus is appalled by this, rescues the Queen's foster daughter. Boudicea revolts, many of the other Britain tribes join her revolt, and enjoy great success against the Romans. In the final battle Boudicea is defeated in spite of having far superior numbers. Hoping for a more lasting peace, Quintus accompanies his general to locate the Druid priest near Stonehenge, and renews his romance with Regan, the foster daughter he had rescued. 4/5, 7/19/11

The Templar Knight, Jan Guillou
Book two following The Road to Jerusalem. Book alternates by chapter, Arn's experiences in the Holy Land against Saladin, and the difficult life led by Cecelia at the convent at Gudhem. Unusual look at the role of the Templars, and the petty grabs for power after the death of Baldwin IV, the leper king. The loss of Jerusalem to the Saracens can be directly attributed to the ineptness and personal grabs for glory by the 'Christians'. 5/5, 7/21/11

Birth of the Kingdom, Jan Gaullou
Book 3. Arn returns home from Outremer, bringing with him Saracen physicians, and both Muslim and Jewish artisans and builders to build up and create a real bastion at his home. He and Cecelia marry and develoop at their home a "school" for knights, and workshops to create weapons, armour, glass, and tapestry. Great series. 5/5, 7/25/11

People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks
Interesting novel about the possible history of the Sarajevo Haggadah, a beautifully illuminated story of the Jewish Seder, from the 15th century. 3.5/5, 7/30/11


Lady of the English, Elizabeth Chadwick
Novel about the Empress Matilda and her stepmother, Henry I's second wife/widow. Having read SKP's novel about the war for the English crown between Matilda and Stephen, much of this story was already known to me. I did enjoy reading about Adeliza and her marriage to William d'Albini. Not as good as earlier books by EC. 4.5/5, 8/2/11

Dreaming the Eagle, Manda Scott
Book one of a 4-book series about Boudica and the struggle of the tribes of first century AD Britain against the Roman legions. 5/5, 8/6/11

Dreaming the Bull, Manda Scott
Breaca's brother Ban, thinking his family is dead has become a Roman soldier, becomes a follower of the God, Mithras, and becomes the most hated Roman by the tribes led by Breaca and Caradoc. 5/5, 8/8/11

Dreaming the Hound, Manda Scott
Ban/Valerius, on orders from the Emperor Claudius, escorts Caradoc's family out of Rome. Caradoc, too injured, stays behind while Ban sails to Mona with Cunomar and Cygfa. Under the care of Luain mac Calma, Ban returns to the dreams of the Eceni and eventually returns to the Eceni lands in time to rescue Breaca and her family from execution. These books just get better and better. 5/5, 8/11/11

Dreaming the Serpent Spear, Manda Scott
Following her flogging, and the rape of her daughters, Breaca needs time to heal. Valerius and Cunomar continue to battle the Romans. Lots and lots of dreaming in this one, but still an exciting conclusion to the series. 4.5/5, 8/18/11

Eagle (of the Ninth), Rosemary Sutcliff
Fictional account of what might have happened to the Roman Ninth Legion. The son of a commander of the Ninth, serves as a Roman Centurion, is wounded and unable to return to his unit. With his freed slave, Esca, he journeys north of Hadrian's Wall to try to solve the mystery and reclaim the Eagle, the standard of the lost legion. 5/5, 8/23/11

A Murder of Crows, P. F. Chisholm
Book five of the Sir Robert Carey series. This one was lots of fun; Sergeant Dodd had the starring role in this one, and he is such a character. 5/5, 8/25/11

1066 The Year of the Conquest, David Howarth
Non-fiction. Relates the events of the year, including the effect on the villages and the people, not just the battle at Hastings. Provides examples of the different chronicles of the time with possible interpretations. Non-biased. A bit dry, but I'm glad I read it. 4/5, 8/27/11

The Ruthless Yeomen, Valerie Anand
Second book of the author's "Bridges over Time" series. Following the plague, Thomas Woodcarver, his wife, and daughter leave their village, and their status as villeins, and take up residence in a deserted manor and claim to be the free distant heirs. Later in the book their grandson becomes involved in the Peasants' Revolt. 4/5, 8/30/11.


Leaden Skies, Ann Parker
Book 3 of the Silver Rush Mystery series which takes place in Leadville, CO, in 1880. Inez Stannert and her black partner Abe still "own" and run the Silver Queen Saloon which her now absent husband had won in a poker game. Inez, has not seen the husband in over a year, is involved with Rev. Sands, and decides to pursue a divorce on grounds of desertion. Former Pres. U. S. Grant comes to town and five days follow of mystery, violence, and polititics. 5/5, 9/1/11

Dark Fire, C. J. Sansom
A Matthew Shardlake Mystery, book 2. I read book one of this series a couple of years ago and was not real "taken" with it. Continuing to read recommendations for the series, I decided to try book 2 and I'm so glad I did. Really enjoyed this mystery. It seemed to have more likeable secondary characters, esp. Shardlake's new sidekick, Barak. 5/5, 9/3/11

Raven in the Forecourt, Ellis Peters
Cadfael, #12. Fairly routine Cadfael mystery. An over-strict and therefore unpopular priest is found murdered. A young man who has been working with Cadfael is accused of the murder. 3.5/5, 9-6-11

A Season of Swans, Celeste de Blasis
Third and final book about the Falconer family that comes from England and establishes a very successful thoroughbred racing farm in Maryland. Enjoyed the book but got tired toward the end, it could have been many pages shorter. 3.5/5, 9/10/11

Sharpe's Trafalgar, Bernard Cornwell
Really liked this one. Richard Sharpe, returning to England from India, finds himself involved in the sea battle of Trafalgar. He also has an affair with the wife of a very obnoxious and arrogant English Lord. 5/5, 9/11/11

Sovereign, C. J. Sansom
The third Shardlake mystery. Shardlake and Barak are sent to York by Archbishop Cranmer ahead of Henry VIII's Progress there. York is known for being
a center of discontent and rebellion following the unsuccesful Pilgrimage of Grace insurrection 5 years ago. Shardlake is charged with safely transporting a conspirator back to London for questioning. Lots of intrigue, including the beginnings of the Catherine Howard downfall. 5/5, 9/13/11

King's Man, Angus Donald
Book 3 of the Robin Hood series. Robin and Alan Dale are back from the Crusade; King Richard has been kidnapped and Alan is sent to locate his whereabouts. After the king returns to England, Robin, Alan, and the rest of the band help the king take Nottinham Castle. 4.5/5; 9/16/11

Outback Station, Aaron Fletcher
This one was not as good as Outback that I read in January; not really a sequel - just had characters from the first book as secondary characters in this one. Again, a former convict is the main character. An aristocratic girl from Sydney is kidnapped, following a long, drawn-out ordeal, she is recued by the hero and they build a big successful sheep station. 3.5/5; 9/18/11

The Tiger's Woman, Celeste de Blasis
Historical romance set around Seattle in the late 1800s. Mary, daughter of a rich and powerful businessman, abused by her father, stabs him and escapes to California. Later she makes a deal with rich and handsome Jason to become his mistress in exchange for his protection. Readable and enjoyable, could have been edited for length. 4.5/5; 9/20/11

Jeremy Poldark, Winston Graham
Book 3 in the Poldark series. Begins with the trial for Ross Poldark; he is acquitted. By the end he has reconciled with his cousin Francis and they become partners in reopening a mine, and united in their enmity toward Warleggan. The book ends with the birth of Jeremy, son of Ross and Demelza.
4.5/5; 9/22/11

The Wolves of Andover, Kathleen Kent
Prequel to The Heretic's Daughter, tells the story of Thomas Morgan who served in Cromwell's army, serves as the executioner of Charles I, and flees to America to escape capture. In Massachusetts he works as a hired hand under the name Thomas Carrier, and eventually marries Martha who is living at the same farm as servant and companion to her cousin. 3.5/5; 9/23/11

The Flood-Tide, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Book 9 of the Morland dynasty. This novel is set during the era of the American Revolution, two of the Morland family serving in the King's Navy, another Morland cousin has married an American and is living near the Chesapeake Bay. Another part of the story takes place in pre-Revolutionary France. The book ends with news of the Fall of the Bastille. 4.5/5; 9/27/11

Death at Epsom Downs, Robin Paige
Book 7 of this mystery series. Involves the scandals of doping race horses to manipulate the odds and the gambling. HRH Prince Albert and Lillie Langtry are characters in this one. 4/5; 9/29/11

Murder in a Mill Town, P B Ryan
Book 2 in series featuring Irish governess Nell Sweeney. She is asked by her employer to find a missing mill worker. 4/5, 9/29/11

Charity Girl, Georgette Heyer
Not considered to be one of her better one, but still enjoyable with the typical slangy dialog and quirky characters. Viscount Desford tries to help a young runaway who is being treated like a Cinderella by her aunt and cousins. The runaway is Charity, called Cherry. To protect his own, as well as Charity's reputation, he leaves Cherry with an old friend, Hetta and Hetta's eccentric mother, while he searches for Cherry's irrascible grandfather.
3.5/5; 9/30/11


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
Un-put-downable. Kelly was afraid it might be too violent for me, but it is just such a good book. I like the characters, the dialog, the mystery.
5/5, 10/2/11

The Girl who Played with Fire, Stieg Larsson
Book 2, following the book above. Story continues to be suspenseful and very entertaining. 5/5, 10/4/11

The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Stieg Larsson
Such a great trilogy. Loved the characters, and the way Larsson writes. 5/5, 10/9/11

Sharpe's Prey, Bernard Cornwell
Grieving for Grace, and having sold his jewels to build a home for them, which he subsequently loses to the lawyers of Grace's family, Richard tries unsuccessfully to sell his commission, and instead winds up being sent to Denmark where the British fleet is trying to capture the Danish fleet to keep it from the French. Such a great series. 5/5; 10/11/11

Lionheart, Sharon Kay Penman
I liked this book more than I thought I would. The abundance of battle descriptions gets a bit tedious but all-in-all it was a fascinating look at the third crusade, complete with interesting characters inc. Richard's sister, Joanna and his wife Barangaria. His nephew (son of one of Eleanor's daughters by Louis) plays a big role in this book and it was interesting to learn of him and his role in history. 4.75/5; 10/18/11

The Bloody Field, Edith Pargeter
aka A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury. Covers the friendship between Harry "Hotspur" Percy and the young prince Henry (Hal) son of Henry IV. Hotspur had originally assisted Henry IV in his usurpation of the crown from Richard II; but later regetted it as Henry became less and less of a rightful king. Hotspur led a failed rebellion near Shrewsbury and was killed. 4/5; 10/20/11

The Rose Garden, Susanna Kearsley
Great time-slip novel, set in Cornwall, slipping back to era of smuggling and the impending Jacobite rebellion. 5/5; 10/22/11

The Enemy, Lee Child
A Jack Reacher novel, explaining his background, as an MP just as the Cold War is ending. 4/5; 10/23/11

The Summer Day Is Done, R.T. Stevens
A British agent/soldier in pre-WWI Russia becomes acquainted with and endeared to the Imperial family, particularly Olga, the shy oldest daughter. A young Crimean girl, Karita, becomes the devoted servant of Colonel Kirby. She becomes a lovely, and humorous character, and central to the novel and my enjoyment of it. The novel follows and helps explain the tragedy of the Bolshevik Revolution. 4/5; 10/25/11

Die Trying, Lee Child
This is the second in the Jack Reacher series, and now, I'm a Jack Reacher fan. In this novel he stops on a Chicago street to assist a young woman struggling with her dry-cleaning and a crutch. He is kidnapped along with Holly (FBI agent and daughter of the head of the Joint Chiefs) where they become involved with a radical militia group. 5/5; 10/26/11

Tripwire, Lee Child
Jack Reacher #3. Garber, Reacher's old C. O. and mentor, has died while checking into the disappearance of a VietNam soldier. Reacher and Garber's daughter Jodie persue the mystery while having to evade the bad guys (a sadistic crook who has stolen the identity of the veteran that Reacher is trying to find). Love interest with Jodie; and Garber has willed his house to Reacher. 5/5; 10/28/11

Sharpe's Rifles, Bernard Cornwell
Sharpe finally earns the respect of his men as they battle along side a troop of Spanish cavalry against the French who are trying to take Spain for Napolean. 4.5/5; 10/31/11


Seventrees, Janice Young Brooks
Maggie and Gerald leave their German community in Pennsylvania heading west to hopefully make their fortune in Santa Fe. Losing their trade goods in a fire in Kansas, they settle there. Maggie knows about herbs and cures and eventually develops a very successful drug/medicine business. The novel follows three generations of this family plus their close friends and business associates through floods, epidemics, and the "bleeding Kansas" horrors of the Civil War. 5/5; 11/3/11

Running Blind, Lee Child
Reacher, book 4. Really enjoyed this one. The FBI coerces Reacher into helping this solve a series of murders in which the victims are found in their bathtubs full of army-green camo paint. A bit of sexual flirtation with the tall FBI agent assigned to Reacher. 5/5; 11/4/11

Echo Burning, Lee Child
Reacher, book 5. Reacher becomes involved with a young Mexican woman and her 6 1/2 year old daughter. Carmen is a victim of wife abuse from her white husband, and verbal and emotional abuse from his family. Carmen picks up Reacher who is hitchhiking and enlists his help. 4.5/5; 11/5/11

Sharpe's Havoc, Bernard Cornwell
Sharpe gets roped in by an English officer who is trying to play both sides in the war in Portugal. The dirty colonel even steals Sharpe's telescope. Wellinton arrives, the French are defeated and escape back to Spain. Sharpe kills the colonel and retrieves his telescope. 4.5/5; 11/9/11

Without Fail, Lee Child
Reacher, book 6. Reacher is approached by his brother's old girl friend to assist the Secret Service in protecting the Vice President-elect. 4.5/5; 11/11/11

My Love, My Enemy, Jan Cox Speas
A very likeable romance set during the War of 1812. Page is young, beautiful, and fiercely loyal to the United States. She 'rescues' a British spy from a mob and her small sloop on the Chesapeake Bay is then captured by a British gun ship. The adventure continues through naval battles, time in France, and in England. Very enjoyable, but got a bit tiresome toward the end. 3.5/5; 11/12/11

Persuader, Lee Child
Another good Reacher. This one takes place on a remote point of rocky land off the Maine coast. Reacher goes undercover to help some DEA agents, with his own personal agenda to kill (for the 'second' time) an old enemy from ten years ago. 5/5; 11/15/11

One Shot, Lee Child
Reacher, #9. An ex-military sniper randomly kills 5 people, leaving a string of clues so that police nab him within hours. He claims innocence and asks for Jack Reacher. Reacher teams up with the female defense lawyer to unravel the case. 5/5; 11/20/11

The Hard Way, Lee Child
Another good Reacher. Reacher's help is enlisted by an ex-military, very rich mercenary contractor to help find his kidnapped wife and step-daughter. But nothing is as it seems. Reacher and his side-kick (in this case an older, but very attractive private investigator) wind up in England to solve the mystery and get rid of the bad guys. 5/5; 11/28/11

This Other Eden, Marilyn Harris
First book in a series written in the 70s, recommended by misfit. Marianne, who stood up to the lord of the manor is publicly whipped. The lord, Thomas Eden, feels guilt but is also obsessed with Marianne and continues to pursue her. 4/5; 11/28/11


Bad Luck and Trouble, Lee Child
Four members of Reacher's former special investigaors team have been brutally killed in the LA area. Reacher and the remaining 3 members of the unit set out to avenge the deaths, and expose the threat to homeland security. 5/5; 12/1/11

The Prince of Eden, Marilyn Harris
Edward Eden, bastard son who inherited all the wealth, but not the title, lives in London and helps his friend Daniel create a "Ragged School". Returning to Eden castle for his younger brother's engagement party, he and the proposed bride have a brief passionate affair. He manages later to rescue his bastard son and raise him. 4.5/5; 12/3/11

Nothing to Lose, Lee Child
Heading west, Reacher walks from Hope to Despair, two small towns in Colorado. In Despair he is arrested for vagrancy and told to leave town, but learning from a lady cop in Hope that Despair is a company town and doesn't allow outsiders, Reacher begins to ask questions. 4/5; 12/4/11

The Unknown Ajax, Georgette Heyer
Hugo Darracott, whose aristocratic father marries a weaver's daughter and is therefore disowned, becomes the heir to the Darracott baroncy. The gruff grandfather brings the heir to the home place thinking he will have to whip him into shape to become quality enough for his future role. Turns out that Hugo is educated, a war hero, and fabulously wealthy. A typical fun romp. 4.5/5; 12/9/11

Gone Tomorrow, Lee Child
Reacher witnesses a strange suicide on the subway. Becomes involved with the "why" and therefore also involved with Federal agents, FBI, and a candidate for Senate. 4.5/5; 12/13/11

Ashes in the Wind, Kathleen Woodiwiss
Overly melodramatic romance set in Louisiana, later in Minnesota, Civil War era. Not as trashy as Kelly predicted, but still a rather mediocre read. 2.5/5; 12/14/11

61 Hours, Lee Child
Reacher is on a bus which crashes during an ice storm in South Dakota and becomes involved in a situation involving drugs, a new prison, and a mysterious old government installation now home to a biker gang. Ending is unclear as to Reacher's condition. 5/5; 12/15/11

Worth Dying For, Lee Child
Reacher winds up at a crossroads in rural Nebraska where a family controls the entire farming community. They are involved in white slavery, importing Asian girls for the Nevada sex trade. Also there is a twenty-five year old mystery about the disappearance of an 8-year-old girl. 5/5; 12/17/11

The Affair, Lee Child
This book takes place in 1997 and tells of the events that led to Reacher's leaving the army. He is sent undercover to a small town in Mississippi, near an Army base, where three young women have been murdered. The commander of the base is also the son of a powerful senator, and there is believed to be a coverup underway. 5/5; 12/19/11

Killing Floor, Lee Child
Actually a re-read - first in the series, read years ago, but did not care for all the violence and blood. Turns out to actually be a sequel, chronologically, to The Affair, as it is the first 'adventure' Reacher has once he is out of the army. In this one he wanders into a small Georgia town, where a man who turns out to be his brother has been murdered while trying to bring down a counterfeiting ring. 4/5; 12/21/11

Promise Bridge, Eileen Clymer Schwab
Pre Civil War, Aunt Augusta runs her plantation, is strict but fair with the slaves, likewise with Hannah her orphaned niece. Hannah and her friend Colt rescue a runaway slave, Livie. The two girls become friends - develop a "promise bridge" between them to understand and help each other. Enjoyable story, somewhat predictable. 3.5/5; 12/28/11

Sharpe's Eagle, Bernard Cornwell
This series just gets better and better. Sharpe is still in Spain/Portugal, fighting the French, harrassed by British officers that are incompetent and jealous of Sharpe's abilities and his rise from without the aristocracy. 5/5; 12/30/11
Last edited by lindymc on Fri December 30th, 2011, 5:23 pm, edited 131 times in total.
She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain. (1873) -- Louisa May Alcott


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