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ARCHIVE > VICKI'S 50 BOOKS READ IN 2014

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Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Here is your new thread for 2014. Happy reading!


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JANUARY


1. The Kingmaker's Daughter (The Cousins' War #4) by Philippa Gregory by Philippa Gregory Philippa Gregory

Finish date: January 2, 2014
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: B+

Review: Anne Neville is the daughter of the Earl of Warwick, who was instrumental in overthrowing Henry VI and installing Edward IV on the throne of England. Hers is a sad story, first being betrothed to King Henry's son, thus getting under the thumb of his mother Margaret, a rather terrifying woman. Then when he is killed, she marries Edward's brother Richard (who will become Richard III). The whole Neville family believes that King Edward's wife Elizabeth is a witch who caused Anne's sister's miscarriage. Anything Elizabeth says casually is interpreted as a curse. Eventually even Richard succumbs to the paranoia. This is the fourth story told by a woman connected to the War of the Roses and is definitely the saddest. Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry Tudor, is the most interesting of the four, although she's quite maddeningly self-important, believing what she wants (her son on the throne) is God's will. I really like seeing the same events and people from different vantage points.


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2. The House of the Vestals (Roma Sub Rosa, #6) by Steven Saylor by Steven Saylor Steven Saylor

Finish date: January 3, 2014
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B+

Review: This is a series of short stories dealing with Gordianus' life between the end of Roman Blood and the beginning of Arms of Nemesis. Eco is still mute but can communicate well with Gordianus by gesture. Lucius Claudius, Gordianus' patrician friend who leaves him a farm in Catilina's Riddle is in many of these stories. The final one, "The House of the Vestals" includes Catilina as well as Cicero, where Gordianus has to solve a murder committed in the House of the Vestals. Another good one is "King Bee and Honey," which has a lot of Roman lore about bees (mostly erroneous).

Roman Blood (Roma Sub Rosa, #1) by Steven Saylor Arms of Nemesis (Roma Sub Rosa, #2) by Steven Saylor Catilina's Riddle (Roma Sub Rosa, #3) by Steven Saylor by Steven Saylor Steven Saylor


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3. A Gladiator Dies Only Once by Steven Saylor by Steven Saylor Steven Saylor

Finish date: January 7, 2014
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B+

Review: Another collection of stories about the early career of Gordianus the Finder, who solves mysteries in Republican Rome. The story about the gladiator is a good one, featuring a beautiful Nubian woman. Cicero shows up in a few of the stories, and is just slightly pompous, as usual. Saylor describes the historical background for the stories in a very interesting afterword.


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Peter Flom Vicki wrote: "2. The House of the Vestals (Roma Sub Rosa, #6) by Steven Saylor by Steven SaylorSteven Saylor

Finish date: January 3, 2014
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B+

Review: This is a seri..."


I like this series. Saylor Steven Saylor Steven Saylorknows his history


message 6: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Good start, Vicki!!!


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4. The Ivory Grin by Ross Macdonald by Ross Macdonald Ross Macdonald

Finish date: January 8, 2014
Genre: Detective mystery
Rating: B

Review: This is a fairly early Archer mystery and, as such, doesn't have the multi-generational links that I like so much in the later works. Archer is hired to tail a young black woman, and the middle-aged hard-faced woman who hires him doesn't tell him her real name nor why she wants the other woman followed. Of course, multiple murders ensue, starting with Archer's target. It is pretty interesting, and I like MacDonald's use of language. But I am looking forward to re-reading the later ones.


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5. The White Princess (The Cousins' War, #5) by Philippa Gregory by Philippa Gregory Philippa Gregory

Finish date: January 12, 2014
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: B+

Review: The title character and narrator is Elizabeth, the daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville (who has her own book, The White Queen). She is betrothed to Henry VII, who defeated Richard III at Bosworth. She is from the house of York (signified by a white rose), and Henry is from Lancaster (a red rose). Their marriage is supposed to join the two houses into the house of Tudor, with the roses merged. She was in love with Richard, so she's not happy to marry Henry, but it's important for England and her family. Unfortunately, Henry can't feel secure on the throne because there's a rumor that one of Edward's sons, who was supposed to have been killed in the Tower, is still alive and conspiring with many English nobles to get the crown away from Henry. Henry is not a sympathetic character, and his mother Margaret is even worse (her book is The Red Queen). This is an interesting addition to the series, but it makes me glad I wasn't part of the royal family back then.

The White Queen (The Cousins' War, #1) by Philippa Gregory The Red Queen (The Cousins' War, #2) by Philippa Gregory by Philippa Gregory Philippa Gregory


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6. Find A Victim(Lew Archer # 5) by Ross Macdonald by Ross Macdonald Ross Macdonald

Finish date: January 13, 2014
Genre: Detective mystery
Rating: C+

Review: Archer is driving from LA to Sacramento when he notices an injured man in the road. He takes him to a nearby motel, where the man dies, and for some reason, he decides to stay and get involved with solving the crime. This one is different from most other Archer books, in that there are no rich people involved and this crime doesn't connect back to one from years ago. Also he gets beaten up A LOT. It was still an enjoyable read.


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7. The Barbarous Coast by Ross Macdonald by Ross Macdonald Ross Macdonald

Finish date: January 25, 2014
Genre: Detective mystery
Rating: B-

Review: Archer is called in to help find the wife of a young man from Toronto who has been harassing one of her old friends. The case ultimately involves the head of a Hollywood studio, a mobster with ties to Vegas and a 2 year old murder of one of the woman's friends. As in the previous book, Archer gets beaten up a lot. While I like all of the Archer books, I'm looking forward to later ones in the series which (if I remember correctly) don't have so much violence.


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FEBRUARY

8. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens by Charles Dickens Charles Dickens

Finish date: February 3, 2014
Genre: Fiction
Rating: B+

Review: I had decided to read some Dickens and assumed that my local library would have a big selection. Well, it only had a couple of books, neither of which I wanted, so I requested David Copperfield from the main library. In the meantime, I started reading it on my iPad (I really prefer real books). When I finally got the physical book, I was stunned at how long it was. But it was well worth it. Of course pretty much everyone knows of Uriah Heep and Mr. Micawber, but there are lots of other great characters. I especially liked Tommy Traddles, David's friend from school whom he runs across later in life. In fact, if someone is mentioned early in the book, they are pretty much sure to turn up later. And there are several parts which are laugh-out-loud funny. My only quibble is with Dora, David's first love. It's hard to believe anyone can be that silly and clueless and still manage to eat and breathe. But altogether it was very enjoyable and didn't seem overly long.


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9. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce, #6) by Alan Bradley by Alan Bradley Alan Bradley

Finish date: February 7, 2014
Genre: Mystery
Rating: B+

Review: Flavia's mother Harriet, missing for more than 10 years, returns to Buckshaw. Unfortunately, she's dead. Her body is accompanied by several important-looking personages, not the least of whom is former Prime Minister Churchill. Flavia finally finds out why Harriet left so soon after giving birth to her, and how she died. I am a bit trepidatious about the new direction the next book will presumably take us, but I'm looking forward to it all the same.


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10. Stealing Athena by Karen Essex by Karen Essex Karen Essex

Finish date: February 13, 2014
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: B+

Review: This tells the stories of two women involved with the Elgin Marbles, originally part of the Parthenon in Athens but currently on display at the British Museum. One story is about Mary Nisbet, the wife of Lord Elgin, who was ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during Napoleon's time, and obtained permission from the Turkish government to remove the carvings from Greece. The second one is about Aspasia, the companion of Pericles, the leader of Athens during the fifth century BC, who got the Parthenon and other structures built on the Acropolis. Both of the women were independent-minded and suffered as a result, both being brought to trial for different charges, but really for not behaving as proper women should. Mary's tribulations as she works to get the statues sent to England, and then to get her husband out of Napoleon's clutches were quite harrowing. And her reward for her efforts was to be sued for divorce. This was a very interesting book, and made me want to learn more about Aspasia in particular.


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11. The Tudors The Kings And Queens Of England's Golden Age by Jane Bingham by Jane Bingham (no photo)

Finish date: February 13, 2014
Genre: History
Rating: B+

Review: This is an overview of the Tudor dynasty, starting from the end of the Wars of the Roses, with Edward IV and Richard III, through the final days of Elizabeth I's reign. There are lots of interesting portraits and photographs to illustrate the text.


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Peter Flom Vicki wrote: "11. The Tudors The Kings And Queens Of England's Golden Age by Jane Bingham by Jane Bingham (no photo)

Finish date: February 13, 2014
Genre: History
Rating: B+

Review: This is..."


If you want more about the Tudors, I recommend Carolly Erickson's books, esp. on Henry VIII and Elizabeth.

Great Harry by Carolly Erickson and The First Elizabeth by Carolly Erickson both by Carolly Erickson Carolly Erickson


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12. W is for Wasted (Kinsey Millhone #23) by Sue Grafton by Sue Grafton Sue Grafton

Finish date: February 7, 2014
Genre: Mystery
Rating: B+

Review: An acquaintance of Kinsey's, a sleazy detective named Pete Wolinsky, is shot dead in an apparent robbery. Then a few weeks later, a homeless man dies on the beach with Kinsey's name and phone number in his pocket. Of course these are linked since this is a mystery. Pete's story is interleaved with Kinsey's narration so we know what he was working on and who killed him, but connecting the two deaths takes some more work. Since the story takes place in 1988, there's no Google to make the links easier to find. One amusing addition to the cast of characters is Ed the cat, who comes to live with Henry, Kinsey's landlord. There are several funny scenes with Ed.


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Peter Flom Vicki wrote: "12. W is for Wasted (Kinsey Millhone #23) by Sue Grafton by Sue GraftonSue Grafton

Finish date: February 7, 2014
Genre: Mystery
Rating: B+

Review: An acquaintance of Kinsey's, a ..."


I never got into this series; tried a couple, but it's not my thing. Not sure why.


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13. The Doomsters  by Ross Macdonald by Ross Macdonald Ross Macdonald

Finish date: February 19, 2014
Genre: Mystery
Rating: C

Review: A young man from a wealthy family breaks out of a mental institution to ask for Archer's help to prove that his brother and sister-in-law are keeping him there so that they can control the family fortune. Carl's father was a Senator, and he died 6 months ago. This is a pretty involved story which takes place over only two days, and isn't one of the really good stories in this series, which I just love. I am re-reading the whole series, which has had its ups and downs so far.


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MARCH

14. Brutus. Orator by Cicero by Cicero Cicero

Finish date: March 6, 2014
Genre: Ancient history
Rating: C

Review: This book contains two works. The first one, Brutus, is in the form of a conversation between Cicero, Brutus and Atticus, about who among Greek and Roman orators were great, and why. Cicero does most of the talking. I had a hard time getting into this one, because Cicero doesn't really detail why certain men were really good while others weren't. I think this was the third in a series of four works about oratory, so perhaps the first two would have helped. The second one in this book, Orator, does go into more detail, and is not a conversation, just a lengthy essay. Cicero goes into the different styles of oratory, and even goes so far as to talk about why you shouldn't have one word ending in a vowel followed by one beginning with a vowel. And there is lots of detail about rhythm and meter. I wish I knew Latin - it would help me to appreciate these details more.


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Great job Vicki.


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15. Caveat Emptor (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #4) by Ruth Downie by Ruth Downie Ruth Downie

Finish date: March 6, 2014
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B-

Review: Ruso and Tilla have returned to Britain from visiting his relatives in Gaul. Now that Ruso's not working as an army doctor, he needs a job. The local Roman procurator wants him to find some missing tax money and the courier who was supposed to deliver it. This involves getting into local British politics. Meanwhile, Tilla has delivered the baby of the missing courier, whose mother is married to an important local man. Quite a messy situation. I liked it better when Ruso was still working for the army, but this one is still pretty good. I like Ruso and Tilla; they are each prickly characters, but in a different way.


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16. Augustus by John Edward Williams by John Edward Williams John Edward Williams

Finish date: March 23, 2014
Genre: Roman fiction
Rating: A-

Review: This book covers the career of Augustus/Octavian, Rome's first emperor. It's written as a series of journal or diary entries, letters, government documents and other writings by friends, enemies and relatives of Augustus. It's in three sections, the first of which covers the period between Octavian's learning about Julius Caesar's assassination and his being adopted by Caesar in his will, through his defeat of Antony and Cleopatra at Actium. Many of the entries are from a journal by Agrippa and many others are letters from Maecenas to Livy. The second section is mostly about his daughter Julia and how she happened to be banished to a small island for conspiring against him. We don't hear from Augustus himself until the final section, where he ruminates on his life. I liked the variety of writers, and that we don't really know what Augustus was thinking until the very end. He had an amazing career and this is a great way to look at it.


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Beverly Vicki wrote: "10. Stealing Athena by Karen Essex by Karen EssexKaren Essex

Finish date: February 13, 2014
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: B+

Review: This tells the sto..."


Vicki,
Many years ago I read The Glory and the Lightening by Taylor Caldwell - about Pericles and Aspasia. Reading this post made me think of it. I haven't read it in years so don't know if I would enjoy it now but I think I'll see if I can find it in the library.


message 24: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Beverly.....don't forget your book citations.

Glory and the Lightning by Taylor Caldwell by Taylor Caldwell Taylor Caldwell


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17. The Galton Case by Ross Macdonald by Ross Macdonald Ross Macdonald

Finish date: March 29, 2014
Genre: Mystery
Rating: B

Review: An old rich woman, who fears she may die soon, wants Archer to find her son, who disappeared years ago after a family fight. Archer finds that he changed his name and moved near San Francisco years ago with a wife and child, but then dropped out of sight again. A young man who looks a lot like him claims to be the son, but is he? This is the type of Archer plot I like, where an investigation ties in with an old crime.


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APRIL


18. Mars the Avenger by Alan Scribner by Alan Scribner (no photo)

Finish date: April 6, 2014
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B-

Review: This is the first in a series of Roman mysteries, taking place during the reign of Antoninus Pius in 158 CE. The "detective" is Marcus Flavius Severus, a judge. The wife of a Roman senator has disappeared at the same time that a body is discovered on the steps of the Temple of Mars the Avenger. It turns out these two knew each other while the senator and his family were in Ephesus. The book starts with a letter from Severus to himself, and I thought the whole book would be in the first person, but there are only a few of these notes. The mystery was fairly interesting, but Severus himself really isn't. There's lots of descriptions of the city of Rome and what life was like there.


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19. Famous Writers I Have Known by James Magnuson by James Magnuson James Magnuson

Finish date: April 27, 2014
Genre: Other fiction
Rating: A-

Review: A small-time con man, on the lam from the mob, discovers he closely resembles a reclusive author whose only book, published decades ago, was a sensation. He takes the author's place leading a writer's workshop in Austin, Texas. His high-wire impersonation act is a lot of fun to watch, and things come to a satisfactory conclusion, after a lot of tension and near-death encounters.


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20. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens by Charles Dickens Charles Dickens

Finish date: April 27, 2014
Genre: Fiction
Rating: B

Review: What a bleak picture of English life Dickens paints in this book. It would seem as though there were 20 awful people for every good one. Oliver has a terrible early childhood, his mother having died in childbirth and his being sent to a workhouse thereafter. We're all familiar with his "Please, sir, I want some more" scene. Then he falls in with the Fagin crowd, is temporarily rescued by one of the few decent people in London and is almost immediately snatched back by the baddies. Surprisingly, there is a lot of humor in the book, but none of the characters have much nuance, being mostly wholly good or wholly bad. But any book by Dickens is entertaining.


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21. The Wycherly Woman by Ross Macdonald by Ross Macdonald Ross Macdonald

Finish date: April 29, 2014
Genre: Mystery
Rating: B

Review: Homer Wycherly's daughter Phoebe disappeared while he was on a two month cruise and no one has seen or heard from her since. He wants Archer to find her, but not to contact her mother, who is persona non grata in the family. As the plot proceeds, we start to wonder which of these two women is "the Wycherly woman." I had read this book years ago, but I still was surprised by how things worked out. A very satisfying mystery.


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MAY


22. Zebra-Striped Hearse by Ross Macdonald by Ross Macdonald Ross Macdonald

Finish date: May 10, 2014
Genre: Mystery
Rating: B+

Review: I think this was the first mystery novel I ever read. I remember seeing it at my local library and being intrigued, probably by the title. Once I had finished it I was a Ross MacDonald fan for life. A wealthy man wants to stop his daughter from marrying a man he thinks is a gold-digger, so he has Archer look into the man's background. Pretty soon there are current murders tied to some old ones. Archer solves them all, natch.


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G Hodges (glh1) | 901 comments Vicki wrote: "10. Stealing Athena by Karen Essex by Karen EssexKaren Essex

Finish date: February 13, 2014
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: B+

Review: This tells the sto..."


This sounds very interesting. I've added it to my list.


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23. The Roman Triumph by Mary Beard by Mary Beard Mary Beard

Finish date: May 20, 2014
Genre: Ancient history
Rating: C+

Review: Beard goes into minute detail about the history of Roman triumphs. It turns out there's not a lot of agreement among the ancient and modern historians about how the triumph was created or even celebrated. Some think it was imported from Greece and others believe it originated with the Etruscans. Even the order of the various parts of the parade varies among different historians. Beard is a very good writer and kept the topic interesting, but all in all, I didn't really need to know this much about triumphs.


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24. Frog Music by Emma Donoghue by Emma Donoghue Emma Donoghue

Finish date: May 24, 2014
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: B+

Review: This is a fictional account of a real murder in San Francisco during the summer of 1876, in the middle of a heat wave and smallpox epidemic. Jenny Bonnet got in trouble a lot with the law because she liked to wear men's clothes, which was illegal at that time. About a month before the murder, Jenny met Blanche Beunon, a French dancer, and they became friends. In fact, Blanche was in the room with Jenny when she was shot. Blanche is convinced the culprit was her erstwhile lover Arthur, or maybe his best friend Ernest. In reality the murder was never solved, but the fictional solution is satisfying. The story skips back and forth between events leading up to the murder and what happened after, and it was a bit confusing at times. The author did a lot of research on the case and nearly everyone in the book is real.


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Donna (drspoon) Vicki wrote: "24. Frog Music by Emma Donoghue by Emma DonoghueEmma Donoghue

Finish date: May 24, 2014
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: B+

Review: This is a fictional acc..."


I enjoyed your review, Vicki. This is a book that is on my list to get to get to soon.


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JUNE


25. Hannibal's Children by John Maddox Roberts by John Maddox Roberts John Maddox Roberts

Finish date: June 4, 2014
Genre: Roman fiction
Rating: B+

Review: Suppose Hannibal had defeated Rome in 215 BC. Roberts rewrites history, having Hannibal exile all the Romans to the hinterlands, specifically Noricum, in the area of current-day Austria and Slovenia. Naturally the Romans take over that part of the world and keep up their martial ways. Finally in 100 BC some of them want to find out about what's happening in Carthage and Italy. Maybe they can regain their ancient lands. A group of "diplomats" venture to Carthage, keeping track of what they see on the way. Hamilcar, the ruler of Carthage, doesn't think they're much of a threat, and decides to hire some Roman legions to help him conquer Egypt. There is some intrigue with Hamilcar's sister, and later with Selene, the queen of Egypt (her brother-husband is very young). This was a very plausible and satisfying story, with The Seven Hills as a sequel. My only disappointment is that there weren't any maps, which I really like with a book like this.

The Seven Hills by John Maddox Roberts by John Maddox Roberts John Maddox Roberts


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26. The Chill by Ross Macdonald by Ross Macdonald Ross Macdonald

Finish date: June 10, 2014
Genre: Mystery
Rating: B+

Review: A young man wants Archer to find his wife, who ran off the day they were married. As Archer tracks down her whereabouts, he discovers links to a 10 year old murder, and a 20 year old one. The identity of the murderer was a complete shock. It's amazing how much Archer can get done in just a few days, as in all of these books.


message 37: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) As many mysteries as I read, I have to admit that I have never read a Ross MacDonald book......I need to do that but I seem to get stuck on British mysteries. Which Archer should I read first?

BTW, hope you are doing well.

Ross Macdonald Ross Macdonald


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Good progress thus far Vicki - you have 70 views of your thread (that means that 70 folks have read your reviews so far here on the History Book Club)


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Jill wrote: "As many mysteries as I read, I have to admit that I have never read a Ross MacDonald book......I need to do that but I seem to get stuck on British mysteries. Which Archer should I read first?

BTW..."


The Drowning Pool is an early one but one of the best. In general I like the later ones more, but this one is pretty good.

The Drowning Pool by Ross Macdonald by Ross Macdonald Ross Macdonald


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Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Thanks, Vicki.....I don't know why I never got around to reading this author.


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27. Flashman At The Charge by George MacDonald Fraser by George MacDonald Fraser George MacDonald Fraser

Finish date: June 26, 2014
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: B-

Review: Flashman, a consummate coward, would never volunteer to fight in the Crimean War, but he has to go anyway. While there, he participates in the Charge of the Light Brigade and is captured by the Russian Army. And this is only half-way into the book! The rest concerns his discovery of a Russian plot to invade India while Great Britain is otherwise occupied. This is one of the few novels I have read with historical footnotes.


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

Finish date: June 29, 2014
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: A

Review: One of my favorite books, featuring the actual murder defense that made Cicero's reputation. Gordianus the Finder 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 fourth(?) time I read it (my memory not being quite as good as it should). One of my favorite things about this series is the way Gordianus' unconventional family grows.


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JULY

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

Finish date: July 5, 2014
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: A-

Review: 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.

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


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30. The House of the Vestals (Roma Sub Rosa, #6) by Steven Saylor by Steven Saylor Steven Saylor

Finish date: July 14, 2014
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B

Review: This is a series of short stories dealing with Gordianus' life between the end of Roman Blood and the beginning of Arms of Nemesis. Eco is still mute but can communicate well with Gordianus by gesture. Lucius Claudius, Gordianus' patrician friend who leaves him a farm in Catilina's Riddle is in many of these stories. The final one, "The House of the Vestals" includes Catilina as well as Cicero, where Gordianus has to solve a murder committed in the House of the Vestals. Another good one is "King Bee and Honey," which has a lot of Roman lore about bees (mostly erroneous).

Roman Blood (Roma Sub Rosa, #1) by Steven Saylor Arms of Nemesis (Roma Sub Rosa, #2) by Steven Saylor Catilina's Riddle (Roma Sub Rosa, #3) by Steven Saylor by Steven Saylor Steven Saylor


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31. A Gladiator Dies Only Once (Roma Sub Rosa, #11) by Steven Saylor by Steven Saylor Steven Saylor

Finish date: July 16, 2014
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B

Review: Having reread the first two books in the Roma Sub Rosa series, I decided to reread the short stories which filled in the 8 years between them. I used Saylor's timeline at the end of the book to get the order correctly and alternated between this book and the previous short story collection (#30 above). I am very fond of Gordianus and was glad to revisit these stories.

Roman Blood (Roma Sub Rosa, #1) by Steven Saylor Arms of Nemesis (Roma Sub Rosa, #2) by Steven Saylor The House of the Vestals (Roma Sub Rosa, #6) by Steven Saylor by Steven Saylor Steven Saylor


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32. Catilina's Riddle (Roma Sub Rosa, #3) by Steven Saylor by Steven Saylor Steven Saylor

Finish date: July 23, 2014
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: A-

Review: Gordianus' friend Lucius Claudius has died and left Gordianus his farm north of Rome. He thinks he can escape the intrigue and violence of Rome by becoming a farmer, but is persuaded to play host to Catilina because Cicero wants to keep tabs on him. When a couple of headless corpses show up on the farm, Gordianus realizes he can't really escape Rome - it's everywhere. Catilina comes off as a rather sympathetic character, and we don't ever really know if he was the wild revolutionary Cicero accused him of being.


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33. My Real Children by Jo Walton by Jo Walton Jo Walton

Finish date: July 26, 2014
Genre: Fiction
Rating: B-

Review: An old woman has distinct, detailed memories of having lived two separate lives. In one, she was married to a distant, unloving man and having four living, and some still-born, children. In the other, she falls in love with a woman and they each have a child fathered by the same male friend. Which life is the real one? Apparently both are, as this is a quasi-fantasy. Both lives were interesting but it was as though they were lived by two different women with not much to connect them psychologically.


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Donna (drspoon) Vicki wrote: "33. My Real Children by Jo Walton by Jo WaltonJo Walton

Finish date: July 26, 2014
Genre: Fiction
Rating: B-

Review: An old woman has distinct, detail..."


Her books are so imaginative!


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34. Rome's Last Citizen The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar by Rob Goodman by Rob Goodman (no photo)

Finish date: July 30, 2014
Genre: Ancient history
Rating: A-

Review: This is a very readable biography of one of the most interesting characters of the late Roman Republican era. Marcus Porcius Cato the Younger was a very conservative Senator and did everything he could stop the plans of the populares, those politicians who catered to the masses. In particular, he hated Caesar, perhaps in part because Cato's half-sister Servilia was Caesar's mistress. After Caesar finally wrapped up the Gallic wars and wanted to stand for consul without entering the city (because several people were ready to prosecute him for treason and other charges), Cato was dead against it and convinced Pompey (at that time consul without a colleague) not to compromise with Caesar. Once Caesar crossed the Rubicon, Cato and others of the optimates left Italy with Pompey. After Pompey's defeat at Pharsalus and death in Egypt, Cato took many of the Pompeian forces to Africa and wound up in Utica. When it was clear that Caesar had won in Africa, Cato committed suicide rather than be pardoned by Caesar. He was very popular in American Revolutionary times owing to a play written by Joseph Addison in the early 1700's. Washington put on this play at Valley Forge to buck up the soldiers there.


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AUGUST


35. The Venus Throw (Roma Sub Rosa, #4) by Steven Saylor by Steven Saylor Steven Saylor

Finish date: August 7, 2014
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: A-

Review: One of Gordianus' teachers from his days in Alexandria has come to Rome as part of an Egyptian delegation, most of whose members have been scared off. He's worried he will be killed. Gordianus can't do anything for him, and the next day, he is found dead. While trying to solve that case, Gordianus is hired by the infamous Clodia, sister of the equally infamous Publius Clodius Pulcher, to get evidence that Caelius, a former lover, has tried to poison her. This is based on an actual court case where Cicero successfully defended Caelius. The poet Catullus, who had also been Clodia's lover for a while, becomes involved. The second time I read this, I thought I had remembered who Dio's killer was, but I was wrong. My memory held up this time, though.


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