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Brenna's 2012 Reading List

Keep track of what you read in 2012. One thread per member, please.
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Brenna's 2012 Reading List

Post by Brenna » Mon January 2nd, 2012, 5:32 pm

Hopefully I can meet my 100 books reading challenge this year. Crossing my fingers. I'm going to try and keep my list a little more organized-Month, Title, Author, page #.

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Post by Brenna » Wed January 4th, 2012, 3:00 pm

January 2012:

#1 Karen Harper The First Princess of Wales, 624 pgs 3.5/5
I actually didn't think this was too bad. Although the story is way out there and cannot remotely be taken seriously, it is an easy read and gives you that "Happily Ever After" feeling.

#2 Ian Mortimer's The Greatest Traitor, 400 pgs 3/5
Mortimer's portrayl of Roger Mortimer is rather sympathetic until the point comes where you cannot simply explain away his behavior. Not to mention the amount of superfluous details made my mind go numb. A list of "characters" would have been helpful to keep all of the "Earls" straight. I'm not sure I buy the author's explanation that Roger and Isabella kept Edward II alive and he stayed so until his son became King. Overall, not very impressed.

#3 Roseanne Lortz I Serve: A Novel of the Black Prince, 372pgs 2.5/5
Honestly, I have no idea what this book was really about. Was it about the Black Prince? Was it about a servant of the Black Prince? I wish there was a book about the Black Prince that doesn't end with him finally coming together with Joan of Kent. Didn't the man have a life after that?

#4 Michelle Moran's Madame Tussuad, 480 pgs 5/5
I have loved all of Moran's books and this one is no different. Fascinating story both of Madame Tussuad and the French Revolution (a lot of focus on this). I wish there was more about when Marie reaches England but that would likely take another book.

#5 Robert Lacey's Great Tales from English History, 254 pgs 4/5
A very easy read with some interesting facts.

#6 Nigel Tranter's #1 in the Bruce Trilogy Steps To an Empty Throne, 351pgs 3.5/5
This book was a little difficult to get into at first, but it slowly grew on me. I'm hoping the second book moves a little quicker.

#7 Michael Packe's King Edward III, 318 pgs 3.5/5
I think this book was well written but for two possible reasons, I cannot give it more than 3.5. First (and this is completely on me) I have read way too much about the fighting between England and France and Crecy! Please no more! Second, I would have liked Mr. Packe to go into a little more detail or maybe some psychoananlysis on what drove Edward III, what was his family situation like, etc. Less fighting, more personal information. However, that being said, I know how very difficult to darn impossible that is when writing a biography about someone in the M.A

#8 Vanitha Sankaran's Watermark, 331 pgs, 5/5
I finished this book in less than 24 hours because it was so different and the way it was written just made you want to know more. Brilliantly done!

#9 Nigel Tranter's #2 in the Bruce Trilogy The Path of the Hero King, 346 pgs 4/5
The second book picked up significantly and now I have a good handle on all of the characters. I especially loved how this one ended, you really feel Bruce's emotions

#10 Nigel Tranter's #3 in the Bruce Trilogy The Price of the King's Peace 345 4/5
Ok, with the final book I can appreciate Tranter's writing style and his need to include EVERYTHING! However, and this is not a critique of the author, but man the Bruce would gain an inch just to lose a mile, over and over and over again! Makes reading about him a bit tedious sometimes. I liked it best when Tranter would touch on Bruce's family and friendships and less on the wars.

Total for January: 10 books, 3,839 pages
Last edited by Brenna on Mon February 6th, 2012, 2:32 pm, edited 10 times in total.

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Post by Brenna » Wed February 1st, 2012, 10:50 pm

February 2012

#1 Daughter's of the Witching Hill, Mary Sharratt. 352pg, 4/5
Well written book, but a rather predictable ending.

#2 Within the Hollow Crown, Margaret Campbell Barnes. 368pgs, 3.5/5
The large part of the book centers around what is known as the Peasant's Revolt, which I found to move very slowly. However, once through that section, everything else about Richard's reign was glossed over. The relationship between him and John, he and Henry, his "dethroning". I was quite surprised but at least the book moved quickly! There have been many reviews that said Barnes portrayed Richard in a sympathetic light but I completely disagree. I think his flaws are quite obvious; however the reason behind Henry's betrayl and Richard's death is still a bit mysterious. Was Henry really that ambitious and just wanted Richard out of the way? That seems odd considering he was the heir and Isabel wasn't going to be bearing any children for quite some time. Did he order Richard's death or was that an unfortunate communication like Henry II and Thomas Becket?

#3 The Rose Garden, Susanna Kearsley. 448pgs, 5/5
Another beautifully written book by the author. I absolutely loved The Winter Sea and thanks to Marianna being rereleased in the spring of 2012, amazon.com put the older edition up on the bargain section, so I've now added that to my collection. I hope Ms. Kearsley wouldn't mind the comparison, but I think of her as the Nora Roberts of Historical Fiction.

#4 Katherine, Anya Seton. 512pgs, 4/5
Katherine was one of the first historical fiction books recommended to me by Sharon Kay Penman and initially I was looking forward to rereading this novel. However, by the end of the novel, I was just relieved it was over. I am not a fan of "Katherine," she comes across as rather pathetic. The writing was still wonderful and very descriptive, so the book maintains the 4/5 rating.

#5 The Rope, Nevada Barr. 368pgs, 4.5/5
A prequel to the dozen or so Anna Pigeon novels, I enjoyed getting to know Anna before she became Ms. Super Ranger. The books moves quickly and the characters are interesting to say the least.

#6 Daughters of Rome, Kate Quinn. 400pgs, 4/5
Nicely done, although certainly not a light read. I don't know if a light read could actually exist if someone is writing about Rome during this time. Quinn certainly has a way with words that keeps you interested and turning the pages.

#7 Venetian Betrayl, Steve Berry. 576pgs, 4/5
Another success for Steve and I. I started reading this as a book on tape but got so impatient, I picked it up and actually read.

Total for February: 7 books, 3024pgs

Total for the year thus far: 17 books, 6863 pages
Last edited by Brenna on Sun March 4th, 2012, 10:44 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Post by Brenna » Sun March 4th, 2012, 10:45 pm

March 2012

#1 Brian Wainwright's Within the Fetterlock, 540pgs 5/5
Still one of my all time favorites!

#2 Edith Parageter's The Bloody Field at Shrewsbury, 362pgs 3/5
This wasn't a bad book; it just got a bit lyrical for me in some places. Certainly provided a different perspective on Henry Percy.

#3 Diana Giardina's Good King Harry, 416pgs 4/5
I enjoyed Giardina's writing style, which made this a very easy read. However, I'm not sure how much of Shakespeare's not so accurate portrayl of Henry IV and V got in the way of her telling an accurate story. With no Author's Note, I guess we'll never know. I also have a bunch of questions I would love to ask her-like did Henry IV and V really not get along? Was Catherine really so evil? Was there a Merryn and did that really happen to her (I don't want to put a spoiler in here)?

#4 Susanna Kearsley's Mariana, 395pgs 5/5
Wow. What more can a person say then wow. But man she left some loose ends that I want to know more about. But I can't ask those questions here because it would spoil the story for others. Gah!

#5 Rosemary Hawley Jarman's Crown in Candlelight, 352pgs 2.5/5
Ok, so it wasn't has horrible as I envisioned when I first started but man was it depressing! Although I have to wonder how you could tell that story without it being depressing-there wasn't anything really happy about Henry V's life or Katherine for that matter. It just wasn't a book that I enjoyed though.

#6 Laurel Corona's Finding Emilie, 448pgs 4/5
I really enjoy the way Laurel Corona writes. Although this book is made up of mostly fictional characters which I tend to shy away from, I really enjoyed Finding Emilie. Highly recommend it for those interested in reading about a young woman trying to find herself through her past.

#7 Nevada Barr's Track of the Cat, 272pgs, 4.5/5
I can't help it, Nevada Barr is one of my favorites and although she can't and really shouldn't be compared to my favorite HF authors, she is right up there with EC and SKP.

#8 Suzanne Collin's Hunger Games, 374pgs, 3.5/5
So the book was ok and while I appreciate the imagery of where our world might be headed, I didn't think there was any real depth to the books. It wasn't very suspenseful to me either; I had no problem putting the book down at night to fall asleep but I can see where others might think differently. It was a good book, but not really worth the hype it's been receiving.

Total for March 8 books, 3159 pages
Total for Year 25 books, 10022 pages
Last edited by Brenna on Sat March 31st, 2012, 6:51 pm, edited 9 times in total.

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Post by Brenna » Wed April 4th, 2012, 10:38 pm


#1 Suzanne Collin's Catching Fire 391 pgs 3.5/5
So I liked the second book almost more than the first and definitely more than the third but still not one of my favorites.

#2 Suzanne Collin's Mockingjay 390 pgs 3/5
I thought the ending was appropriate-my husband however was not a fan

#3 Elizabeth Loupas The Flower Reader 408pgs 4.5/5
Another wonderful book from a wonderful author! She is quickly becoming one of my favorites after SKP and EC! A very interesting twist on the Mary Queen of Scots saga; certainly new territory for me.

#4 Susan Higginbotham's The Queen of Last Hopes 345pgs 4.5/5
I didn't expect to enjoy a book told from the perspective of Margaret of Anjou; but I really did! SKP ruined me forever with Sunne and Splendour and for that reason alone, I will always be a Yorkist at heart. However, that being said, the author told the story from various points of view that completely suck you into the storyline and for a brief minute, have you rooting for the Lancasters! I highly recommend this book to anyone with Lancaster leanings or for those that want a different perspective from Sunne.

#5 Anne Easter Smith's The Daughter of York 557pgs 2.5/5
The first 25 pages were not so bad. Then King Edward kept pushing his sister Margaret to have sex with Anthony Woodville. Only to find out that part of the story is completely fake. Really?. The story picked back up again when Meg went to Burgundy but not enough to keep me all that interested. Well, I finished it so that is something. According to the reviews, this is the weaker of Smith's books, so when I get around to reading the other one about one of King Edward's bastard daughters.

#6 Susan Higginbotham's The Stolen Crown 384pgs 2.5/5
The "evil" King Richard was a hard pill for me to swallow because I am a Yorkist at heart. However, the back and forth between Henry and Katherine was interesting and not a bit distracting. I did find the storyline very interesting but in some parts, it was a bit over the top with Lancaster leadings. But I suppose a Lancaster would say the same for SKP's Sunne.

#7 Margaret Campbell Barne's The Tudor Rose 336pgs 3.5/5
So as most people have said already, this is a bit slow in the beginning but it certainly picks up. She had me almost believe the young Richard survived. I found myself feeling everything Bess felt which is a sign of a good book for me. There are a few quirks that could get in the way for purest, but otherwise, very well done for the time.

Total for April: 7 books
Total pages for April: 2811
Total books for year so far: 32
Total pages for year so far: 12833
Last edited by Brenna on Tue May 1st, 2012, 12:44 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Post by Brenna » Thu May 3rd, 2012, 3:44 pm

May 2012

#1 Nevada Barr's A Superior Death 310 pgs 4.5/5
The second book in her original Ann Pigeon series (a prequel was just released earlier in the year) and it was just as good as Track of the Cat. Can't wait to keep reading more!

#2 Thomas Penn's The Winter King 480 pgs 4/5 (library)
I don't read a lot of NF because I usually find it to be tedious, but The Winter King certainly wasn't that. There were some sections I had to skim because I didn't feel they were relevant to the storyline, but mostly I was hooked into this very complex King. I'm beginning to wonder if all of the kings beginning with the conquest weren't a little off their rocker in some way. If you are new the era, this wouldn't the first book I would pick up because it does flip flop around a bit in the beginning-but if you want to understand the players that ultimately have a significant impact on Henry VIII, this is the book for you.

#3 Julia Fox's Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile 454pgs 3.5 (library)
This is a very readable NF that I quite enjoyed. To get a great introduction into the world of Katherine and the Tudors, this is a wonderful book. However, if you are looking for the same for Juana, not so much. It's not because the author doesn't try; it's because the material is obviously not there. A lot of what we know about Juana's life is very basic-raised with her sisters and brother, married to Phillip Duke of Burgundy, gave birth to the Holy Roman Emperor, locked up for the rest of her life. End of story. Hardly takes an entire NF book to flesh that out. I'm still not clear on the connection because these two sisters as they never seem to communicate with one another. Maybe just another way to promote a book on Katherine.

#4 Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall 608pgs 2.5
I know everyone went crazy over this book and I suppose if I really thought about it, I could see why. For me, though, the writing style was more confusing than interesting.The whole, he said or he thought (who is he???). I especially had a hard time with Mantel's dipiction of Thomas More and her very sympathetic look at Wosley. Not that I think Wosley is the monster everyone makes him out to be, but I certainly couldn't buy into Mantel's description of More. I thought there was a lot of superfluous information and discussions that didn't really add to the story. I may or may not read Mante's continuation of the story. Depends.

#5 Maria Perry's The Sisters of Henry VIII 150/266pgs 2/5
The book was due back to the library before I come back from vacation, so I gave up and returned it this morning. I got about halfway through before finally saying enough is enough. While the writing isn't bad; it doesn't offer anything new or interesting either. It is told in the manner of someone doing a research paper; no emotion, no speculation, no nothing. If you like those types of NF, this would be a good book for you. It also provides a lot of information on Henry VIII, more information than you really want to have (especially if you wanted this book to focus on the sisters).

#6 Margaret George's The Autobiography of Henry VIII 939 pgs 4/5
I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. It certainly had a different angle on the same old stories. I read it on vacation and it took me the entire week and two plane rides. As MG doesn't include a comprehensive Author's Note, I don't know how much of the story is accurate vs. PG's version of accurate but the Henry she describes is realistic. Overall, I thought this book represented a comprehensive look at a very complex, oftentimes scary King.

#7 Nevada Barr's Ill Wind 320pgs 5/5
Another great read although a bit predictable. As I love the National Parks and a bit mystery, this is a great combination.

#8 Chelsea Yarbro's Commedia della Morte 429pgs 3/5
I wasn't sure how to rate this book for several reasons. First, this is certainly not my normal" cup of tea with vampires and French Revolution so I wasn't as entranced as I would have. Second, this is like #25 in a series which although it says they can be read separately, doesn't make a lot of sense without the back story. Why can't vampires live together? Who are the lead characters? How did they become vampires? There are just so many questions and unlike most authors, Ms. Yarbro doesn't fill you in with hints throughout the book. Despite not really understanding the storyline so much, the writing was very well done. It flowed well and the characters were easily likable. Not too much character development, but you would think the first 24 books did that sufficiently. If you like the combo of vampires and history, this is a great series to read. I think I'll check out the other books at sometime just because I'm curious enough about the characters to find out their " history"

#9 Nevada Barr's Firestorm 336pgs 4.5/5
This was my first Nevada Barr read many years ago and it still kept me on my seat! I love books that can still do that (it helps when you don't remember who the killer is or the storyline :-) ).

#10 Lyanda Lynn Haupt's Crow Planet 229pgs 4/5
I had to read this for my work bookclub and wasn't overly impressed with the idea. However, this turned out to be a wonderful read focused on you guess it, crows. But also about humanity and our relationship with these beautiful birds. The book is quite inspiring and will be going on my "favorite environmental read" shelf when I make one!

Total Books for May: 10
Total Pages for May: 4255
Total for the year: 42 books, 17088pgs
Last edited by Brenna on Fri June 1st, 2012, 12:36 pm, edited 9 times in total.

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Post by Brenna » Sun June 3rd, 2012, 7:50 pm

June 2012

#1 C.W Gortner's The Tudor Secret 327pgs 4/5
I really enjoyed this book although it is not based on historical fact so much-other than the time period. Still, I was amused by the characters and intrigued in where the story will be going in subsequent books. There wasn't much character development, but I imagine that will be coming later on. Still an overall interesting read.

#2 Nevada Barr's Endangered Species 400pgs 4/5
While I certainly enjoy all of Barr's work, even the far out there "stuff", I was a little disappointed in this one. When you see the title "Endangered Species" you would like it has to do with something species related. Not so much in this one. However, that being said, the writing, as always, is fast paced and enjoyable. This is the 5th in her Anna Pigeon series and you really have to wonder "How much more can one woman take?" Then of course, if you've read the series all the way through, you know the answer!

#3 Nora Loft's The Concubine 464pgs 3/5
I finished the Concubine last night and I have to say I was a bit disappointed, but perhaps unfairly so. When I first bought this book, I thought it would tell Anne's story from her perspective. Instead, it was more of a retelling of Henry and his "issues" regarding Catherine, himself, Jane, etc. The parts I truly enjoyed were when Anne made an appearance which wasn't as much as I would have liked. I think another reason I didn't enjoy this one as much is because it's like the 5th book I've read about the Tudors since April. I think I should start spacing these books out a bit more.

#4 Nevada Barr's Liberty Falling 322 pgs 3/5
#5 Nevada Barr's Deep South 384 pgs 5/5

#6 Sarah Poole's Poison 388pgs 2.5/5
Let me preface this review by saying, this is not a bad book. It just wasn't what I was expecting and the plot was a bit predictable. As this is the first in a series, I would imagine that character development will continue in the coming books. However, I was not in love with the main character and that just threw off the rest of the book. The author made her out to be very superficial and not all that likable. You get glimpses there is more to her at the end, but by that point, I was quite bored. If you are looking for a book that provides a very different look at the Borgias, this is not it nor does it really have any mystery to it either. Although it is an easy read, I got bored halfway through and skimmed most of the rest. Disappointed

#7 Nevada Barr's Blood Lure 333pgs 4.5/5
#8 Nevada Barr's Hunting Season 352pgs 5/5
Finally a good book that didn't require Anna getting horribly injured! Yay!

Total books for May: 8
Total pages for May: 2970

Total for Year so far: 50 books, 20058 pgs
Last edited by Brenna on Thu July 5th, 2012, 12:19 am, edited 7 times in total.

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Post by Brenna » Thu July 5th, 2012, 12:28 am


#1 Sherry Jones Four Sisters, All Queens 434 pgs, 3/5
I was really looking forward to this book because the subject matter was completely new to me and it seemed to be well received on goodreads. However, I ended up being horribly disappointed by the over-the-top unnecessary drama the author seemed the need to add. I know there are ongoing arguments over how much fact is required in historical fiction, but for me, I want facts. History is interesting enough without authors having to add melodramatic episodes that add nothing to the story. See Elizabeth Chadwick and SKP for examples. On the plus side, the storyline was interesting and you seemed to get a decent understanding of the characters. Final note: historical fiction authors should include a comprehensive author's note that at least outlines what is fact and what is conjecture.

#2 Sherry Jones White Heart 100 pgs 2.5/5
I didn't feel like this really added anything to the storyline of Four Sisters, All Queens but it was interesting.

#3 Nevada Barr's Flashback
#4 Nevada Barr's High Country
#4 Nevada Barr's Hard Truth
Last edited by Brenna on Tue July 17th, 2012, 12:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Misfit » Thu July 5th, 2012, 12:32 am

I missed your post about Poison. I was fairly underwhelmed with it as well. The narration drove me nuts, she was terribly chatty. I did giggle when she diagnosed and treated influenza though :D
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Post by rebecca » Thu July 5th, 2012, 12:59 am

#4 Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall 608pgs 2.5
I know everyone went crazy over this book and I suppose if I really thought about it, I could see why. For me, though, the writing style was more confusing than interesting.The whole, he said or he thought (who is he???). I especially had a hard time with Mantel's dipiction of Thomas More and her very sympathetic look at Wosley. Not that I think Wosley is the monster everyone makes him out to be, but I certainly couldn't buy into Mantel's description of More. I thought there was a lot of superfluous information and discussions that didn't really add to the story. I may or may not read Mante's continuation of the story. Depends.

I felt the same way. It could be that I am too simplistic but Wolf Hall simply does not flow well. When it comes to books I want to go on a journey and actually enjoy it. What I don't want is to stop and wonder in what direction am I going and then finally realise I'm totally lost :confused: :rolleyes: . That is what Wolf Hall was to me. But on the other hand I did enjoy 'Bring up the Bodies' and yes, the added 'he, Cromwell' makes a lot of difference. If Mantel keeps to that style then I will read the final book in her trilogy.

It's up to you Brenna, but I think you will enjoy BUTB more than WH.

Bec :)


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