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What were your favorite reads of 2011?

For discussions of historical fiction. Threads that do not relate to historical fiction should be started in the Chat forum or elsewhere on the forum, depending on the topic.
Ash
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Location: Arizona, USA

Post by Ash » Tue January 3rd, 2012, 12:18 am

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie
Ill be reading this next. I loved his other books, and always have been fascinated with the subject. Glad to hear its on someone's best list!

rebecca
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Post by rebecca » Tue January 3rd, 2012, 2:43 am

No Particular Order

The language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Daughters of the Witching Hill Mary Sharratt
Lionheart Sharon Kay Penman
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
The Butterfly Cabinet
Lady of the Butterflies by Fiona Mountain
Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin
Faking It by Elisa Lorello
Queen by Right Anne Easter Smith
Game of Thrones-- Dance with Dragons George Martin
Rivals in the Tudor Court D. L Bogdan
East End Angel by Carol Rivers
On Falcons Wings by Lisa J Yarde (didn't like it)
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (didn't like it)
Behind Enemy Lines by Marthe Cohn
The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey(didn't finish it)
Queen Hereafter by Susan Fraser King
The Queen of Last Hopes by Susan Higginbotham
The Traitors Emblem by Juan Gomez-Jurado(readable)
That Woman: The life of Wallis Simpson by Anne Sebba(disappointed with it)
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
The Lady of the Rivers by P. Gregory(nuff said!)
Phantom by Susan King(loved-loved-loved it!)
Mistress of my Fate Confessions of Henrietta Lightfoot by Hallie Rubenhold(didn't finish it)
Before I go to Sleep by S.J Watson
The Final Curtsey by Margaret Rhodes
Lady of the English by E Chadwick(loved it)
Memoirs of a Bitch by Francesca Petrizzo
Devils Consort by Anne O'brien
Seperate Beds by Elizabeth Buchan
The Small Hand by Susan Hill
Daughters in Law by Joanna Trollope (didn't finish it)
The Raven Queen by Jules Watson
The swan Maiden by Jules Watson(didn't like either)
The Believers by Zoe Heller(disappointing read)
Fallen Skies P. Gregory (a bit OTT)
Persuasion by Jane Austen( my Austen favourite)
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho(brilliant)
Jane Boleyn by Julia Fox
Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor (loved it)
Brief Gaudy Hour by Margaret Campbell Barnes
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
The Help by Kathryn Stockett (didn't finish it)

My Reads for 2011

Bec :)

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SonjaMarie
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Post by SonjaMarie » Tue January 3rd, 2012, 3:38 am

There are just way to many books I liked out of the 193, so I'm just going to post the historical fiction ones I liked the best:
"Kathryn: In the Court of Six Queens" by Anne Merton Abbey (454pgs, 1989, reread) (10/3)*
"Lady of the English: One Queen, One Empress, and the Crown That Would Define Them Both" by Elizabeth Chadwick (509pgs, 2011) (10/18)
"The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou" by Susan Higginbotham (336pgs, 2011) (2/18)
"Madame Tussaud" by Michelle Moran (446pgs, 2011) (2/13)*
"The Tudor Secret: The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles #1" by C.W. Gortner (324pgs, 2011) (2/27)
"The Second Duchess" by Elizabeth Loupas (374pgs, 2011) (4/10)

Gee how surprising that all of them are from members of the forum, except for one!

SM
Last edited by SonjaMarie on Tue January 3rd, 2012, 3:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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javagirl
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Post by javagirl » Tue January 3rd, 2012, 4:47 am

I read 57 this year. I also had 9 DNF's this year - a new high, because I'm finally learning that life is too short and there are too many books on Mt TBR to keep reading ones I'm not enjoying.

These were my favorites in H.F:

The Help - Katherine Stockett
A Candle in the Darkness - Lynn Austin
A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
The Robe - Lloyd C Douglass
A Land Remembered - Patrick D Smith
The Winter Sea - Susanna Kearsley
Birds of a Feather (Maisee Dobbs 2nd) and Pardonable Lies (Maisie Dobbs book 3) - Jaqueline Winspear
Sovereign - C J Sansom
The Bastard and The Rebels - John Jakes
The Blood of Flowers - Anita Amirrezvani
Pope Joan - Donna Woodfolk Cross
Fall of Giants - Ken Follett
Shadow of the Wind- Carlos Ruiz Safon
The Time of Singing - Elizabeth Chadwick
The Tudor Secret - C.W. Gortner

Other fiction favorites:

The Lincoln Lawyer - Michael Connelly
Money to Burn - James Grippando
A Cold Day for Murder - Dana Stabenow

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Tue January 3rd, 2012, 5:36 am

These that I really enjoyed come to mind (though I might remember others later):
The Second Duchess -- Loupas
The Help -- Stockett (I might have read that in 2009)
The Winter Sea -- Kearsley
Roselynde -- Gellis
Hood -- Lawhead

Not HF, but I also was quite riveted to the Hunger Games series, at least while it lasted.

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LoobyG
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Post by LoobyG » Tue January 3rd, 2012, 11:38 am

37 books read in 2011, not too bad but hope to do better this year :) My favourites, both HF and non HF were in no particular order:

The Percy Alnwick Trilogy by Carol Wensby Scott
Exploring the Lusitania by Robert D Ballard
Lusitania by David Butler
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
The Sookie Stackhouse series
And the band played on by Christopher Ward
Faberge's Eggs by Tony Faber
Mistress and Daughters of Rome by Kate Quinn.

Ash
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Post by Ash » Tue January 3rd, 2012, 1:24 pm

And the band played on by Christopher Ward
That was an amazing book, one that opened many people's eyes.

Not sure I'd call Valley of the Dolls great, but I have a funny story. It came out when I was 11, and the hype got to me - I sooo had to read it. So I took my big sister's library card and checked it out. I read it at night, and kept it under my bed so my folks wouldn't see. I didn't understand half of what I was reading but I was rather spellbound. One morning when I woke up, my dad said 'so I see you are reading Vof theD. Let me read it when you are finished. Umm -my face turned beat read 'ah yeah, sure dad'. Never knew if he actually read it, but I bet he had fun catching me at it (my parents never censored anything I read, bless their hearts) I did try to read it a few years back - couldn't get very far into it.
Last edited by Ash on Tue January 3rd, 2012, 1:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Ludmilla
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Location: Georgia USA

Post by Ludmilla » Tue January 3rd, 2012, 2:46 pm

Read slightly over 200 books this year, mostly eBooks, and half of it was romance (usually I don't read that much romance, but it's been a year for escapism). Notable reads included:

Favorite Historical Series Fiction:
  • First five books of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories (England, 9th Century, Alfred the Great)
  • First three books of Winston Graham’s Poldark series (Georgian England, Cornwall, Family Saga, 1783-1791)
  • First six books of CS Harris’ Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery series (Regency England, 1811-1812)
  • First two books of Roberta Gellis’ Roselynde Chronicles (England, Third Crusade, 1189-1207)
  • First two books of Wilbur Smith's Courtney Family Adventures (Historical Adventure, Family Saga, South Africa, 1880s-early 1900s)
Other noteworthy novels with historical elements:
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (19th Century, 1850s, Victorian England, Industrial Revolution, Manufacturing, Class Issues, Unions, Strikes) 4.5 stars
  • Bride of the Wilderness by Charles McCarry (Fiction, Historical, England, Connecticut River, Canada, 1665-1704, Colonial America, Frontier, Indian Conflicts, Abenaki) 4.5 stars
  • Lady Elizabeth's Comet by Sheila Simonson (Historical Romance, Regency, War Veterans, 19th Century, 1816-1818, England, Favorite Heroes) 4.5 stars
  • A Sudden Country by Karen Fisher (Historical, Western, Oregon Trail, Hudson Bay Company, Pioneers, 19th Century, 1840s, American West, Oregon Territory) 4 stars
  • Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (Historical, Western, Cattle Drive, Indian Conflicts, Texas Rangers, 19th Century, 1876, Texas, Western US) 4 stars
  • Streets of Laredo by Larry McMurtry (Historical, Western, Outlaws, Train Robberies, 19th Century, 1890s, Southwest US, Mexico) 4 stars
  • The Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles (Historical, Western, Indian Conflicts, Captives, Quakers, Comanche, Kiowa, 19th Century, 1863-1871, N. Texas) 4 stars
  • The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley (Historical, Dual Time Periods, Jacobite Rebellion of 1708, Genetic Memory, 18th Century, 1708, Scotland, Slains Castle) 4 stars
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (Historical, American Civil War, Reconstruction, 19th Century, 1861-1872, Georgia, Atlanta, Clayton County) 4 stars
  • We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen (Nautical Fiction, Seafaring, Translation, 19th Century, 20th Century, 1848-1945, Denmark, Marstal) 4 stars
  • My Love, My Enemy by Jane Cox Speas (Historical Romance, Swashbuckler, War of 1812, 19th Century, 1813-1814, Washington DC, France, England) 4 stars
  • As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann (Historical, English Civil War, 17th Century, 1645-1646, Siege of Basing, Psychological, Digger Movement, GLBT, Unreliable Narrators) 4 stars
  • The Long Ships by Frans Bengtsson (Historical, Adventure, Vikings, 10th Century, 980s-990s, Harald Bluetooth, Denmark, Spain, England) 4 stars
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (General Literature, Romance, Regency, 19th Century, England) 4 stars
  • The Earl by Cecelia Holland (Fiction, Historical, England, 12th Century, 1153, Normans) 4 stars
  • Fortune’s Son by Emery Lee (Georgian England, Gaming/Gambling, 1739-1752) 4 stars
Set in the 20th century or present day:
  • The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh (General Literature, Historical, Saga, WWII, Colonialism, 1895-1990s, India, Burma, Malaya) 4 stars
  • A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute (General Literature, WWII, POWs, Cattle Ranches, 20th Century, 1940s, Malaysia, England, Australia, Favorite-by-Author) 4 stars
  • The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (General Literature, Metafiction, Non-Linear, Desert Explorers, WWII, Morphine Addicts, Bomb Disposal, 20th Century, 1930s-1945, Italy) 4 stars
  • While Still We Live by Helen MacInnes (Romantic Suspense, Espionage, Thriller, WWII, 20th Century, 1939, Poland) 4 stars
  • The Silence of Trees by Valya Dudycz Lupescu (Fiction, WWII, Ukraine, Germany, Chicago, Work Camps, 1940s - 1990s, Survivors Guilt, Fairy Tales, Eastern European Mythology, Magical Realism, 1st Person Narrative) 4 stars
  • Nightwoods by Charles Frazier (Fiction, North Carolina, Appalachia, Thriller, 1960s) 4 stars
  • The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht (General Literature, Allegory, Animal Tale, Grandfathers, Physicians, Jungle Book, 20th Century, Balkan States) 4 stars
  • The House of a Thousand Candles by Meredith Nicholson (General Literature, Mystery, Romance, Heirs, Mysterious Houses, 20th Century, 1901, Indiana) 4 stars

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sweetpotatoboy
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Post by sweetpotatoboy » Tue January 3rd, 2012, 3:13 pm

I didn't read as much as I would have liked, but just above my typical rate of a book a fortnight.

To be honest, not much stood out for me, in either HF or otherwise. And definitely nothing that will make my all-time favourites list.

Looking back at my reading log and my scores at the time, only one book stood out: As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann. I struggled with the early part of it, but the more I got into it, the more I loved it and it had a strong effect on me.

That was the only 4.5/5 for me (nothing scored 5/5).

A few other historical novels were 4/5 for me:

Away by Amy Bloom
Helena by Evelyn Waugh
The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon

Other books that were 4/5:

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

I also scored A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin as 4/5 at the time, but I'm now thinking that was a bit generous. I found it highly readable so I guess that's enough, but I wasn't wowed as much by it as the hype had led me to believe I would be and, although I will probably get round to reading the sequels, I'm not in a rush.

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LoobyG
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Post by LoobyG » Tue January 3rd, 2012, 8:09 pm

[quote=""Ash""]That was an amazing book, one that opened many people's eyes.

Not sure I'd call Valley of the Dolls great, but I have a funny story. It came out when I was 11, and the hype got to me - I sooo had to read it. So I took my big sister's library card and checked it out. I read it at night, and kept it under my bed so my folks wouldn't see. I didn't understand half of what I was reading but I was rather spellbound. One morning when I woke up, my dad said 'so I see you are reading Vof theD. Let me read it when you are finished. Umm -my face turned beat read 'ah yeah, sure dad'. Never knew if he actually read it, but I bet he had fun catching me at it (my parents never censored anything I read, bless their hearts) I did try to read it a few years back - couldn't get very far into it.[/quote]

I've read so many books on the Titanic, but 'And the band played on' was the most absorbing one I've read in quite a while, a definite keeper! Valley of the dolls wasn't brilliantly written but I really enjoyed the story, good light reading. I can see why it was a tad shocking when it came out ;)

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