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ARCHIVE: 50 BOOKS/100 MOVIES > VICKI'S 50 BOOKS READ IN 2011

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message 101: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments 70. A Place for Murder (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #2) by Emma LathenEmma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 7/26/2011
Rating: B
Genre: Detective fiction

I read nearly this whole series years ago, and recently reread one of the later ones, so I though I would go back to the beginning and reread them all. I didn't have #1 (getting it soon), but this is #2, so it seemed like a good place to re-start. This is different from most of the others in the series in that it doesn't really deal with a particular business, but rather with the divorce of the Sloan's president's sister. Thatcher has to go up to Connecticut to do some hand-holding, and in the process, solves 2 murders. I surprised myself by guessing whodunnit - I'll have to see if my theory of selecting the murderer holds up in later books.


message 102: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (last edited Aug 24, 2011 05:08PM) (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments 71. Bleeding Maize and Blue (A Mystery Featuring Anneke Haagen) by Susan HoltzerSusan Holtzer (no photo)

Finish date: 7/29/2011
Rating: C+
Genre: Detective fiction

This was a pretty good mystery, dealing with possible NCAA violations at the University of Michigan. As well as the murder, Anneke is dealing with just having moved in with her boyfriend, Karl Genesko, a police lieutenant. The action is presented from the viewpoints of several of the characters, which makes it interesting and different from first-person mysteries.


message 103: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (last edited Aug 24, 2011 05:09PM) (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments 72. Banking on Death (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #1) by Emma LathenEmma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 7/31/2011
Rating: B
Genre: Detective fiction

It was interesting (re)reading the first book in the series after having read a very late one followed by the second in the series. In both 1 and 2, the focus is on John Thatcher himself, assisted by one of his subordinates in the bank, Ken Nicolls. As usual, we learn a good bit about the primary suspects in the murder, but I wasn't able to pick out the culprit this time. It's always interesting to see how many different motives there are in these business-based mysteries. And there's plenty of wry humor, as well.


message 104: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (last edited Aug 24, 2011 05:09PM) (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments AUGUST

73. Accounting for Murder (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #3) by Emma LathenEmma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 8/5/2011
Rating: B-
Genre: Detective fiction

Another good business mystery. And I guessed the murderer! One of the things I like best about this series is the chapter headings. They are always centered around a theme. In this case, since the victim is named Fortinbras, the theme is Shakespeare's Hamlet. Some examples -
2. Enter Fortinbras
8. Weepings and Lamentations
11. Distant Revelry
15. Behind the Arras
20. Exeunt Omnes
Also, in this book we learn that Thatcher is 60 years old. I don't think he ever ages, even though the books were written between 1961 and 1997.


message 105: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (last edited Aug 24, 2011 05:09PM) (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments AUGUST

74. Murder Makes the Wheels Go Round (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #4) by Emma LathenEmma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 8/23/2011
Rating: C+
Genre: Detective fiction

Thatcher has to go to Detroit to look into an auto company. While he's there, one of its executives is murdered. Naturally he figures out the culprit. I had a bit of a hard time keeping the characters in Detroit straight, something I haven't noticed in previous books.


message 106: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments 75. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) by George R.R. Martin George R.R. MartinGeorge R.R. Martin

Finish date: 8/24/2011
Rating: B+
Genre: Fantasy

This book has many interesting characters and you get to know several of them really well, since the story is told alternately from each of their perspectives. The society is sort of familiar, similar to our own medieval history, but different enough to really grab you. And the landscape is an exaggerated version of northern Europe, particularly the British Isles. But since it's the first book in a series of seven (I believe), there's not much closure in this first one, just an introduction to the story, even at 800 pages.


message 107: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments 76. Death Shall Overcome (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #5) by Emma LathenEmma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 8/29/2011
Rating: B-
Genre: Detective fiction

There's an uproar on Wall Street when a brokerage firm wants to add its new member, a black millionaire named Parry, to the Stock Exchange. One of its other members is poisoned at a party, possibly because his drink is mistaken for Parry's. This book was written in 1966, so instead of using the current term "blacks", all references are to "Negroes", making it seem a bit anachronistic. I did figure out the killer, but not his motive. This is usual for me and Lathen.


message 108: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments 77. The Last Enchantment (Arthurian Saga, #3) by Mary Stewart Mary StewartMary Stewart

Finish date: 9/17/2011
Rating: C+
Genre: Fantasy

This is the third in the King Arthur series of 5 books and the last one which deals with Merlin; the final 2 get along without him. This was good and a satisfactory close to the Merlin legend, but I think I liked the first two a bit better. As usual, there wasn't a lot of magic, and everything seemed pretty grounded in reality.


message 109: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments 78. The Ghosts of Cannae  Hannibal and the Darkest Hour of the Roman Republic by Robert L. O'ConnellRobert L. O'Connell (no photo)

Finish date: 9/20/2011
Rating: C+
Genre: Ancient history

This is a very readable account of Hannibal's victories over Rome, focussing on Cannae. O'Connell starts with an interesting discussion of our sources for the battles, mainly Polybius and Livy. Then there is some background on both Rome and Carthage (about which we don't really know very much). The titular "ghosts" are the legionnaries who survived the battle at Cannae, and were sent to Sicily in disgrace instead of being allowed to return home to Italy. Eventually Scipio Africanus, Hannibal's nemesis, used them as the foundation for his army which took the war to Carthage and defeated Hannibal.


message 110: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments 79. Murder Against the Grain (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #6) by Emma LathenEmma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 9/23/2011
Rating: B-
Genre: Detective fiction

Thatcher's bank is ripped off for nearly a million dollars by forged documents involved in a grain deal with the USSR. Thatcher needs help from the Soviet investigator and a NY detective in order to solve the theft and the subsequent murder of a limo driver. I was a little disappointed in this one; I didn't connect with the characters like I normally do, although the Soviet investigator was interesting.

80. Fortune's Favorites (Masters of Rome, #3) by Colleen McCullough Colleen McCulloughColleen McCullough

Finish date: 9/25/2011
Rating: B+
Genre: Roman fiction

While there were a lot of interesting events in this book, I didn't find it as satisfying as the previous two in the series, I guess because there wasn't an overarching theme.

The First Man in Rome (Masters of Rome, #1) by Colleen McCullough Colleen McCulloughColleen McCullough dealt with the rise of Marius and Sulla, and
The Grass Crown (Masters of Rome, #2) by Colleen McCullough Colleen McCulloughColleen McCullough was about the fall of Marius and the further rise of Sulla. Sulla continues to dominate the first part of Fortune's Favorites, but overall the book seemed a little disjointed. Caesar and the pirates, Spartacus, Cicero vs. Verres, Pompey vs. Crassus - all great stories, but again, no theme.

81. The Fat Woman's Joke by Fay Weldon Fay WeldonFay Weldon

Finish date: 9/26/2011
Rating: C+
Genre: Fiction

This is an interesting book, but all of the characters are unlikeable. The two main characters are The Fat Woman and her husband's mistress and they are each telling their side of the story to a friend. We also meet the husband. You just want to slap them all silly.


message 111: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments OCTOBER

82. Sejanus (Marcus Corvinus, #4) by David Wishart David WishartDavid Wishart

Finish date: 10/8/2011
Rating: C-
Genre: Roman mystery

I had a hard time following the action at the beginning of this book, and couldn't keep the characters straight. I think I should have read the prequel Germanicus (Marcus Corvinus, #2) by David Wishart first. I also don't really like all the modernisms, like "Yeah", "pal", "sunshine" (when addressing someone) - expressions that would be more appropriate for a modern whodunit.


message 112: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments 83. How to Mellify a Corpse  and Other Human Stories of Ancient Science and Superstition by Vicki LeónVicki León (no photo)

Finish date: 10/12/2011
Rating: B+
Genre: Ancient history

This book is chock-full of interesting tid-bits about ancient science, philosophy and superstition. It's limited to civilizations around the Mediterranean Sea, dealing with mostly Greco-Roman personalities. The use of honey to embalm bodies was fascinating.


message 113: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments 84. Pharaoh (Kleopatra, #2) by Karen Essex Karen EssexKaren Essex

Finish date: 10/22/2011
Rating: B-
Genre: Historical fiction

I liked this one better than the previous one in the series, Kleopatra by Karen Essex, since I'm more interested in Caesar and Antony than Kleo herself. The Romans (and Rome) don't come off very well in either book, but that's to be expected since that would have been how she saw things. Octavian, in particular, is portrayed as really devious and untrustworthy.


message 114: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments Sorry I've been MIA - I'll try to catch up.

85. Cleopatra's Heir by Gillian BradshawGillian Bradshaw (no photo)

Finish date: 10/28/2011
Rating: B
Genre: Historical fiction

Suppose Caesar and Cleopatra's son Caesarion had escaped Octavian. Bradshaw has given him an interesting personality, sheltered and sort of stuck-up but basically decent. She's also given him epilepsy, as an inheritance from his father, and perhaps a dead give-away to anyone looking for him. He was assumed to be dead because when Octavian's men overran his camp, he had an attack and appeared to be lifeless. He escaped the funeral pyre and was helped by Ani, the owner of a small caravan, who doesn't know who he really is. He becomes Ani's secretary and helps his business. Everything leads back to Alexandria and a confrontation with Octavian. Overall, it's a very interesting journey.

86. A Stitch in Time (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #7) by Emma LathenEmma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 10/31/2011
Rating: B-
Genre: Detective fiction

What I like about Lathen's mysteries is that you're always learning something new about different businesses - in this case a hospital. When a wealthy man dies in hospital four days after being operated on for a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Thatcher becomes involved because the insurance company won't pay if he died by suicide, but will pay if the death was the hospital's fault, and Thatcher's bank is the trustee for the beneficiary. Things become really interesting when the surgeon who operated on the deceased is himself murdered.


message 115: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Glad you are back.


message 116: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments NOVEMBER

87. Murder To Go (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #10) by Emma LathenEmma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 11/5/2011
Rating: B+
Genre: Detective fiction

Many people are sickened and one man dies when ingredients for take-out chicken are adulterated. Later, the man who was responsible for the deed is found dead at a club attended by several suspects. Thatcher is involved because the Sloan has invested several millions of dollars with the business. Naturally, Thatcher helps solve the mystery.

88. The Pericles Commission by Gary Corby Gary CorbyGary Corby

Finish date: 11/8/2011
Rating: B+
Genre: Historical mystery

It was really great to read a mystery set in ancient Athens. I'm a big fan of Roman mysteries and was glad to be able to branch out into Greece. The mystery was quite interesting and the "detective" seemed like someone you'd like to hang out with, although his female side-kick was a tad too perky. My main quibble is that there was no city map - I love maps in historical mysteries.

89. Come to Dust (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #8) by Emma LathenEmma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 11/12/2011
Rating: C+
Genre: Detective fiction

This is perhaps the least satisfying of the Thatcher mysteries so far. A college trustee disappears and so does a $50,000 bond. Much later a student is murdered. Of course, the mystery is solved and the missing man (and money) is found, but overall the story just didn't jell. Still, it was a fun read.

90. When in Greece (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #9) by Emma LathenEmma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 11/15/2011
Rating: A-
Genre: Detective fiction

I thought this one was really enjoyable, particularly the misadventures of the Sloan's representatives in Greece, young Ken Nicholls and crusty Everett Gabler. And it was interesting to read about these old troubles in Greece contrasted to the current troubles.


message 117: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Great job this year Vicki.


message 118: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments 91. SPQR XII  Oracle of the Dead (The SPQR Roman Mysteries) by John Maddox Roberts John Maddox RobertsJohn Maddox Roberts

Finish date: 11/20/2011
Rating: B+
Genre: Roman mystery

Once again, Decius Metellus plunges in where he shouldn't, trying to figure out who killed the priests of Apollo. As praetor peregrinus he shouldn't really involve himself, but he just can't resist. I love all of the SPQR mysteries and this is another good one.

92. Foundation (Foundation, #1) by Isaac Asimov Isaac AsimovIsaac Asimov

Finish date: 11/24/2011
Rating: A-
Genre: Science fiction

93. Foundation and Empire (Foundation 2) by Isaac Asimov Isaac AsimovIsaac Asimov

Finish date: 11/26/2011
Rating: A-
Genre: Science fiction

94. Second Foundation (Foundation 3) by Isaac Asimov Isaac AsimovIsaac Asimov

Finish date: 11/27/2011
Rating: A-
Genre: Science fiction

These three constitute the great Foundation Trilogy, a sci fi classic. Millenia in the future, mankind has colonized the entire galaxy and is ruled by an emperor. The empire seems unbeatable and eternal, but Hari Seldon, a psychohistorian, has determined that it will fall apart in 500 years and civilization will be destroyed. So he sets up two foundations at "the opposite ends of the universe", one to maintain science and culture and the other, using psychology, to keep things going in the right direction. The books span a few hundred years, focussing on important events and people, and were originally written as a series of short stories. I wasn't quite as enraptured this time as I was the first time I read them, probably 50 years ago. But they hold up really well, and anyone with a passing interest in sci fi should read them.


message 119: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments That trilogy is great and it makes me want to reread them.


message 120: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments DECEMBER

95. Foundation's Edge (Foundation, #4) by Isaac Asimov Isaac AsimovIsaac Asimov

Finish date: 12/1/2011
Rating: A-
Genre: Science fiction

This was written 30 years after the Foundation Trilogy and takes place 500 years after Hari Seldon set up the Foundations. Agents of the First Foundation go searching for the hidden Second Foundation, which was believed to have been destroyed many years ago. They believe it may exist on the legendary planet Earth, where mankind is rumored to have come from. A very good further exploration into the Foundation universe.

96. Roman Blood (Roma Sub Rosa, #1) by Steven Saylor Steven SaylorSteven Saylor

Finish date: 12/4/2011
Rating: A
Genre: Roman mystery

One of my favorite books, featuring the actual murder prosecution that made Cicero's reputation. Gordianus is a wonderful protagonist; you really get to know and like him tremendously. And Saylor makes Rome come alive, describing the streets and people quite vividly. The actual solution to the murder really surprised me, even the second time I read it (my memory not being quite as good as it should).

97. Arms of Nemesis (Roma Sub Rosa, #2) by Steven Saylor Steven SaylorSteven Saylor

Finish date: 12/11/2011
Rating: B+
Genre: Roman mystery

This one isn't quite as good as the first in the series, Roman Blood, but then Crassus isn't as interesting as Cicero. You do get a good feel for life in a seaside estate, with the many, many slaves required to run it. Also, there was the quite legitimate underlying fear of slaves at this time, since many owners and their families were murdered by their slaves during the Spartacus revolt. Naturally, there's a happy ending for (almost) all but the culprit.


message 121: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments 98. Rome  Day One by Andrea CarandiniAndrea Carandini (no photo)

Finish date: 12/14/2011
Rating: C+
Genre: Ancient history

This book features the recent archeological findings in Rome by the author. Plenty of maps and figures, but I had a hard time following the narrative. I'm planning to reread it in the near future and hope to get a better grasp of his findings. The last section of the book was composed of several portions of ancient writings (Plutarch, Livy, Ovid, others) regarding the founding of Rome and these were very interesting.

99. Down These Strange Streets by George R.R. Martin George R.R. MartinGeorge R.R. Martin (editor)

Finish date: 12/17/2011
Rating: B-
Genre: Urban fantasy

This book is billed as a collection of "urban fantasy" stories, i.e. detective stories involving strange creatures and forces, like ghosts, vampires, zombies, etc. I got it in order to read the 2 stories set in ancient Rome, one involving Gordianus (by Steven SaylorSteven Saylor) and the other with Decius Caecilius Metellus (by John Maddox RobertsJohn Maddox Roberts). Fortunately, no strange creatures or forces were necessary in these stories. I did read one other, by Lisa TuttleLisa Tuttle], featuring a Holmes/Watson-like pair, which did actually have a supernatural force - it was very enjoyable. Not really interested in the others.

100. A Christmas carol by Charles Dickens Charles DickensCharles Dickens

Finish date: 12/17/2011
Rating: A+
Genre: Christmas story

I love this edition (but I couldn't find the exact one in the list) and read it every year. Ronald Searle's illustrations are just perfect. I bought this book not long before I met my future husband. On an early date, I tried to read part of it to him, but he just wanted to make out. Not really a Dickens fan.


message 122: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments 101. V is for Vengeance (Kinsey Millhone, #22) by Sue Grafton Sue GraftonSue Grafton

Finish date: 12/21/2011
Rating: A-
Genre: Detective fiction

We meet many interesting characters in this one, with detective Kinsey Millhone as our guide. Most of the book is written in first person, but there are several third person segments which give us the details about the other main characters. There's an honorable mob boss, a socialite wife who realizes she's not happy, a crooked cop, a wealthy professional shoplifter. I always like reading about the details of Kinsey's life, and she tells us lots of them. It's also interesting to read about a detective who, since the story is set in 1988, doesn't have a cell phone or access to the Internet.

102. PRISONER'S BASE - A Nero Wolfe Mystery by Rex Stout Rex StoutRex Stout

Finish date: 12/28/2011
Rating: B+
Genre: Detective fiction

An heiress-to-be is murdered before she can inherit, and there are many who would profit by her demise. I'm never able to figure out who the murderer is in these books, but they're always interesting. I especially like the gathering of the suspects in Wolfe's office while he quizzes them.


Krystal (queenravenclaw) | 330 comments Viki I'm not sure how you did it but you read over 100 books even in my spare months I didnt even get that many done. Great Job hope you bet your goal again this year and maybe even read 103 books.


message 124: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1431 comments Thanks, Krystal. It was a lot of books, but 44 of them were ones I had read before, and most of them were mysteries, which tend to go quickly. Also I'm retired so I have lots of spare time.


message 125: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 23983 comments Still a great job Vicki.


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