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Your Top HF and Other reads of 2012

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Your Top HF and Other reads of 2012

Post by javagirl » Fri December 21st, 2012, 5:42 am

Hope no one minds me starting this since I didn't see one and usually we have one near the end of the year.

What I find valuable is learning what everyone considered their best HF reads of 2012, regardless of whether the book was published in 2012.

Also, I find it nicer to let people use their judgement on where to "cut it off" ... rather than say "top 3" or "top 10" etc. I like to hear about any that stand out above the rest when you look back at your reading for the year.

And if you have some "Honorable Mentions" that are close ... go for listing those too.

Finally, if you were/are really excited about a few NON HF or Non Fiction books you read during the past year, feel free to show those too (labeled as such, please).

To kick it off ... here's my lists:

HF (In approximate order of most favorite first)
The Winds of War / War and Remembrance - Wouk, Herman - if you haven't read these I highly recommend them even though they are very long. Also the TV mini-series of each was also great which I watched after reading both. Netflix has Winds of War, and amazon sells the dvds for War and Remembrance and they were well worth the price. My DH loved watching them with me.

The Fiery Cross - Gabaldon, Diana
To Defy A King - Chadwick, Elizabeth
Year of Wonders - Brooks, Geraldine - despite what for me and many others was a disappointing end ... still a great read
Fire By Night - Austin, Lynn
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Ford, Jamie
Revelation - Sansom, C. J.
The Dark Rose - Harrod-Eagles, Cynthia - I've only read the first two so far in this Moreland Dynasty series and thought this second one was a lot better than the first.
The King Raven Trilogy (Tuck/Scarlet/Hood) - Lawhead, Stephen
Winter of the World - Follett, Ken

Historical Mystery
Her Royal Spyness / A Royal Pain - Bowen, Rhys - These first two in a series were both a lot of fun!

Non - HF - Fiction
Travis Chase Trilogy (The Breach/Ghost Country/Deep Sky) - Lee, Patrick
WWW Trilogy (WWW Wake/WWW Wonder/WWW Watch) - Sawyer, Robert J

Non Fiction
Complaint Free World - Bowen, Will (audiobook)
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain - Ratey, John
Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think - Diamandis, Peter/Kotler, Steven

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Post by Ludmilla » Fri December 21st, 2012, 4:13 pm

Historicals / Set in the Past:
Galore by Michael Crummey (Historical, Multi-generational, Newfoundland)
The River Thieves by Michael Crummey (Historical, 19th C, Newfoundland, Settler/Indian Conflicts)
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (WWII Thriller)
The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman (Depression era, Appalachia, 1930s)
The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (Booker Shortlist, WWII in Malaysia)
Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier (Historical, 19th C, North Carolina, Cherokee Nation)
South Riding by Winifred Holtby (General Fiction, 1930s England)
Lady Julia Grey Mystery series (all books to date) by Deanna Raybourn (Historical Mystery, Victorian)
Master of Hestviken series (vol 2-4) by Sigrid Undset (Historical, 14th C, Norway) … still waiting for vol 1 to come out as an ebook; why they released vol 2-4 and not vol 1, I’ll never know!
Lost Nation by Jeffrey Lent (Historical, 19th C, New Hampshire/Indian Stream)
The Light Bearer | Lady of Light by Donna Gillespie (Roman Empire, Historical)
His Very Own Girl by Carrie Lofty (nice little WWII romance)

A few others that stood out:
The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (Contemporary Dystopia/N. Korea)
The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon (Near Contemporary Sci Fi, Autism)

Edited to add Jetta Carleton's The Moonflower Vine. I was very moved by this forgotten gem - a family saga set in rural Missouri in the first half of the 20th century.
Last edited by Ludmilla on Fri December 21st, 2012, 5:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Favourite HF book: Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman
Preferred HF: Any time period/location. Timeslip, usually prefer female POV. Also love Gothic melodrama.
Location: Northeast Scotland

Post by Lisa » Fri December 21st, 2012, 5:00 pm

Off the top of my head, my favourite HF novels that I read this year were:

The Reckoning by Sharon Penman - an amazing end to the Welsh trilogy, couldn't put it down. I found it gripping, memorable, and also very moving - it made me feel sad for days afterwards!

The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham - I thought the pace was about right, although the first 80 pages or so felt a bit rushed until the 'real' story started. I could sympathise with the wide cast of very human, strong yet imperfect characters, and I could easily picture the settings without feeling they were being obviously 'described' to me. I also appreciated the odd bit of dramatic license that was taken - for example a certain scene involving Eleanor and Edward II :eek: . I do love a good scandal! This was the first Susan Higginbotham novel I've read, and I now look forward to reading the rest.

I also just finished reading How Far to Bethlehem? by Norah Lofts, and thoroughly enjoyed that too (my thoughts on it are in this thread).

My favourite non-HF novel that I read this year was definitely The Translator by Leila Aboulela - I loved the style of writing, which gave me the impression of being a ghost drifting through the story (that's how I like to feel on holiday). I also personally appreciated having an unfamiliar setting (Khartoum, Sudan) juxtaposed with a very familiar setting (Aberdeen, UK).

I don't think I actually read any new releases this year. I even held off buying SKP's Lionheart, because I want the paperback to fit next to the others on my shelf :)


Post by Helen_Davis » Fri December 21st, 2012, 8:03 pm

A short story about Arsinoe II The Princess of Egypt Must Die

Pour the Dark Wine, an old novel about the Seymours

Madame Tussaud

Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore

Sappho's Leap

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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) » Fri December 21st, 2012, 8:55 pm

I'll edit later as more occur to me, but the two books that immediately come to mind are Hawk Quest and The Flower Reader.
I read My Name is Mary Sutter for book group, and it was decent, but not one of my top reads.
I enjoyed exactly half of Madame Tussaud -- it was an audiobook my daughter and I listened to on a long drive. I mean to get it from her so I can listen to the rest.
Winter Sea was excellent.
But I must put in a caveat: the older I get, and the more I read, the harder it is to 'Wow!' me.

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Post by erechwydd » Fri December 21st, 2012, 9:02 pm

Two new releases really stood out for me: Hawk Quest, by Robert Lyndon, and Into the Valley of Death, by AL Berridge. Jane Borodale's The Knot was another recently published novel that I enjoyed a lot. And from those novels older than this year (but which were first time reads for me), I'd have to choose Sword at Sunset, by Rosemary Sutcliff, and The Wordsmith's Tale, by Stephen Edden.

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Post by EC2 » Fri December 21st, 2012, 10:40 pm

I started reading Hawk Quest and couldn't get on with the writing style, but that might have been me, so I will try it again on another occasion.
Like Emily, the older I get, the pickier I get and there hasn't been much about that's grabbed me this year. However 4 fairly recent reads have bucked that trend.
I loved John Saturnall's Feast by Lawrence Norfolk - literary but accessible and a delight to read.
At the more genre end I have just read and really enjoyed River of Destiny by Barbara Erskine -excellent curl up with a page turner book. She's right on form.
Sworn Sword by James Aitcheson - excellent writing and a cut above (pun intended!) a lot of the bash and slash novels around. An author I will auto-buy now.
Consider The Fork by Bee Wilson - non fiction social history of many of our kitchen tools and implements. I was riveted.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal


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Post by Susan » Sat December 22nd, 2012, 8:36 pm

My five star books for 2012 in no particular order:
  • The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
  • A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1) by Deborah Harkness
  • Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2) by Deborah Harkness
  • Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
  • Mariana by Susanna Kearsley
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Post by Misfit » Sat December 22nd, 2012, 10:06 pm

Best of the year for me was Omamori by Richard McGill. The rest in no particular order:

The Passing Bells by Phillip Rock

The Rich are Different Susan Howatch

Crown of Desire Marjorie deBoer (don't let that cover scare you)

The Glitter and the Gold by Michael Dyne

The Magnificent Ambersons Booth Tarkington

The Flower Reader Elizabeth Loupas

Her Highness the Traitor Susan Higginbotham

Yankee Stranger Elswyth Thane

Follow the River by James Alexander Thom
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Post by rebecca » Sun December 23rd, 2012, 2:08 am

Here's my best read for 2012

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore

The Second Last Woman in England by Maggie Joel

Rebecca By Daphne Du Maurier

& HF

The Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas

Phantom by Susan Kay

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier

Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Mésalliance By Stella Riley

I feel like I have forgotten some :confused: I have packed away so many books!

Bec :)

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