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ARCHIVE > VICKI'S 50 BOOKS READ IN 2011

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message 1: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
JANUARY
1. Brother Cadfael's Herb Garden An Illustrated Companion to Medieval Plants and Their Uses by Robin Whiteman Robin Whiteman
Finish date: 1/1/2011
Rating: B+
A really good companion to the Brother Cadfael mystery series by Ellis Peters Ellis Peters. Every plant mentioned in any book is listed, along with medicinal and/or culinary uses. Some lovely photos.


message 2: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Wow! I loved the Brother Cadfael series (and all of Ellis Peters other books too). Never knew there was a companion book. Next time I read the series I'll have to get the book so I can SEE what plants I'm reading about. How fun!

A Morbid Taste for Bones (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #1) by Ellis Peters by Ellis Peters Ellis Peters


message 3: by Velvetink (new)

Velvetink | 59 comments Elizabeth S wrote: "Wow! I loved the Brother Cadfael series (and all of Ellis Peters other books too). Never knew there was a companion book. Next time I read the series I'll have to get the book so I can SEE what ..."

Oh a mystery series with plants! Must look out for it.


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Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
2. All Roads Lead to Murder A Case From the Notebooks of Pliny the Younger by Albert A. Bell Jr. by Albert A. Bell Jr. Albert A. Bell Jr.

Finish date: 1/4/2011
Rating: B+

In 83 A.D. Smyrna, Pliny the Younger and Tacitus solve a murder mystery with the help of Luke, who wrote the third book of the Gospels. Pliny is a likeable character, and his portrayal fits with what we know of him from his letters ( The Letters of Pliny the Younger by Pliny the Younger Pliny the Younger). This is the first in a series.


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Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Good for you Vicki; two books done in the first week of January. You are off to a great start.


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Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
3. The Highly Effective Detective Goes to the Dogs (Teddy Ruzak, #2) by Rick Yancey by Rick Yancey Rick Yancey

Finish date: 1/7/2011
Rating: B+

This is the second in a series about a nebbishy wannabe detective. His problem is he can't pass the PI license test, so he can't have paying clients, but he's very dogged and has a strong ethical sense. He's also very, very funny.


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Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
It sounds good Vicki.


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Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
4. The Gospel According to Jesus Christ by José Saramago by José Saramago José Saramago

Finish date: 1/12/2011
Rating: C+

This was a sad, maybe even depressing, book. Bad things happen to Joseph, Jesus isn't particularly likeable, nor is God, and even Mary isn't very sympathetic. The only thing that saves it is Saramago's writing, which is always great.


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Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
5. The Highly Effective Detective Plays the Fool by Rick Yancey by Rick Yancey Rick Yancey

Finish date: 1/16/2011
Rating: A

This is the third book following the adventures of would-be detective Teddy Ruzak (if only he could pass the licensing exam). As usual, it's funny and sweet, with twists and surprises.


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6. The Poison King The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy by Adrienne Mayor by Adrienne Mayor.

Finish date: 1/16/2011
Rating: B+

Finally a history book! A very interesting and detailed look at the life of Mithradates, one of ancient Rome's most implacable and tenacious opponents. He fancied himself the second coming of Alexander and for a while ruled most of Anatolia (modern Turkey) and the area around the Black Sea. He experimented with poisons all his life and was said to have concocted a universal antidote. There is much to admire in his life, but I just can't forgive his order to kill all the Romans and Italians in Anatolia, including women, children and slaves, on the same day in the spring of 88 BC; at least 80,000 died.


message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Good job Vicki; you are really doing well.


message 12: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Glad to see you had a chance to read "The Poison King", an interesting story eh!


The Poison King The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy by Adrienne Mayor by Adrienne Mayor


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Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
7. The Elephant's Journey by José Saramago by José Saramago José Saramago

Finish date: 1/22/2011
Rating: A

This is a simple story of an elephant travelling from Lisbon to Vienna in the 16th century, but it's like having the storyteller sitting with you by the fire, going off on tangents about language and royalty and many other things. This is a very amusing story told as only Saramago can.


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Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
8. Snobbery With Violence  by Marion Chesney by Marion Chesney Marion Chesney

Finish date: 1/23/2011
Rating: B+

This is a very entertaining Edwardian mystery with well-drawn characters, and it's pretty funny. I can see it as a TV series. Looking forward to reading the others in the series.


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Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
9. Rome in the Late Republic by Mary Beard by Mary Beard Mary Beard

Finish date: 1/24/2011
Rating: B

This is a very good overview of Rome in the first half of the first century BC, organized by topic (religion, politics, etc.) rather than chronologically. The footnotes are especially helpful, with pointers to books covering the topics this one only touches on.


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Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
10. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle by Arthur Conan Doyle Arthur Conan Doyle

Finish date: 1/24/2011
Rating: C+

I liked this, never had read any Holmes before. The stuff about Mormons was a bit over the top, though.


message 17: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Vicki, perfect, you have the format down and are following the rules and guidelines.


message 18: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
I am obsessive about following instructions. Of course, it's not hard.


message 19: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
No it isn't but you have it down pat. Good job.


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Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
11. Hasty Death (An Edwardian Murder Mystery #2) by Marion Chesney Marion Chesney Marion Chesney

Finish date: 1/26/2011
Rating: B+

This is the second in a funny, silly series of Edwardian mysteries. It's almost like Perils of Pauline - Lady Rose is first kidnapped, then sent to an insane asylum, and this is before the first murder. It all works out, of course, even though Rose is almost killed herself twice before the end.


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12. Sick of Shadows (An Edwardian Murder Mystery #3) by Marion Chesney Marion Chesney Marion Chesney

Finish date: 1/28/2011
Rating: B+

The third in a series of the adventures of Lady Rose and Captain Harry Cathcart, her fiance (of convenience only). More dead bodies, more misunderstandings between Rose and Harry. A fun read.


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Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
13. Our Lady of Pain (An Edwardian Murder Mystery #4) by Marion Chesney Marion Chesney Marion Chesney

Finish date: 1/31/2011
Rating: B

This is the last in a series of four Edwardian mysteries. The required happy ending for Rose and Harry, and Daisy and Becket, was a bit abrupt, but getting there was a fun time.


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FEBRUARY

14. Conspirata A Novel of Ancient Rome by Robert Harris Robert Harris Robert Harris

Finish date: 2/11/2011
Rating: C

This appears to be the middle part of a trilogy about Cicero, of which Imperium A Novel of Ancient Rome by Robert Harris was the first. I liked that one a lot better. This one covers the Catiline conspiracy, the Bona Dea scandal, and Clodius hounding Cicero out of Rome. This is the fourth fictional treatment of the Cataline affair that I've read, and is the least interesting. Also I think he's way too hard on Caesar, making him almost evil.


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15. The Dogs Of Rome by Conor Fitzgerald Conor Fitzgerald Conor Fitzgerald

Finish date: 2/14/2011
Rating: B+

This is a really interesting police procedural set in Rome. It's pretty long, but never drags. We meet all sorts of interesting characters - politicians, criminals, animal rights activists, police and lawyers. And they're all sort of tied together in shady ways. It's also pretty funny in places. I'm looking forward to the next one, which is implied by the subtitle "A Commissario Alec Blume Novel".


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16. Emma  by Jane Austen Jane Austen Jane Austen

Finish date: 2/24/2011
Rating: B

I've seen both the movie and TV versions of this book at least twice each, so there weren't any surprises, but it was very enjoyable. Her depictions of the characters are really specific, which is why her books translate so well to the screen. I'm glad, though, I didn't live in this era, even as a wealthy woman. There seems so little to do except have long and intricate conversations.


message 26: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Vicki wrote: "...There seems so little to do except have long and intricate conversations. "

How well put that is. Not to mention the joys of flush toilets, although that issue is seldom discussed in Austen's books. :)


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Velvetink | 59 comments Elizabeth S wrote: "Vicki wrote: "...There seems so little to do except have long and intricate conversations. "

How well put that is. Not to mention the joys of flush toilets, although that issue is seldom discusse..."


There's a tv series (BBC I think) called "Lost in Austen" - my daughter was watching it last year - it's quite good, funny even..making Austen more accessible to young people today - there were plumbing issues raised as well as any number of issues that women today wouldn't stand for.


message 28: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Cool! I'll have to watch for that.


message 29: by Velvetink (new)

Velvetink | 59 comments Elizabeth, here's the wiki link for info about it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_in_...

It's on DVD now and I'm pretty sure if you search on youtube you can find segments of it.


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Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
17. The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart A Bernie Rhodenbarr Mystery by Lawrence Block Lawrence Block Lawrence Block

Finish date: 2/27/2011
Rating: C+

I read some of the Burglar series years ago, and this one has been sitting on my shelf for a long time. It was fun because the dialog is so good. The "case" turns out to be like one of Bogart's movies and it ends like another one (I won't spoil it by saying which ones). The solution to the crime is a bit disappointing, but overall it was worth reading.


message 31: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (last edited Mar 16, 2011 11:10AM) (new)

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
MARCH

18. Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders by John Mortimer John Mortimer John Mortimer

Finish date: 3/4/2011
Rating: B

We finally learn the details of Rumpole's famous case, which he won "alone and without a leader." We also find out how he wound up with his wife Hilda, although that's not quite a satisfying. An important read for Rumpole fans.


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19. Fer-De-Lance by Rex Stout Rex Stout Rex Stout

Finish date: 3/7/2011
Rating: B+

This is the first Nero Wolfe mystery, but it feels like he's been writing them for years. You get a vivid picture of Wolfe, Archie, the house they live in, and the other characters. And the solution to the mystery is quite satisfying. I had forgotten how enjoyable these books are.


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20. How Rome Fell Death of a Superpower by Adrian Goldsworthy Adrian Goldsworthy Adrian Goldsworthy

Finish date: 3/9/2011
Rating: B

This is a good and detailed discussion of the events between the death of Marcus Aurelius and the "retirement" of the last Western Roman emperor Romulus Augustulus (love that name). Unfortunately, this is a period of history I'm not that fond of - so many uprisings, invasions and civil wars. Even so, it was worthwhile reading.


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21. The Highly Effective Detective Crosses the Line (Teddy Ruzak Series #4) by Richard Yancey Rick Yancey Rick Yancey

Finish date: 3/11/2011
Rating: B-

I don't quite know what to say about this one. I love this series and Teddy Ruzak is one of my favorite characters. But right after an account of one of the funniest dinner parties ever comes two horrifyingly violent incidents that really upset me. I'm hoping the series continues but I don't know if it can regain the light-heartedness of the first three books.


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22. The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth Vikram Seth Vikram Seth

Finish date: 3/15/2011
Rating: B+

Reading a modern novel completely in verse was a very interesting experience, although I don't think I'd want to read many more. Sometimes I hardly noticed the rhyme scheme and other times I focussed on it, but it was never obtrusive. The story was a good one, interveaving the lives of a few friends and lovers. And even though I've lived in the Bay Area for 40 years, it took me quite a while to figure out that Lungless Labs=Livermore Labs.


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23. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris David Sedaris David Sedaris

Finish date: 3/15/2011
Rating: A+

Very funny stories about animals with human foibles. Also an extremely quick read.


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24. Cleopatra A Life by Stacy Schiff Stacy Schiff Stacy Schiff

Finish date: 3/17/2011
Rating: A-

I enjoyed this book a lot. She pulled together details from a lot of sources. I was particularly interested in what Cleopatra did after the battle was lost at Actium. Apparently she had lots of plans, which all fell through.


message 38: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Vicki wrote: "24. Cleopatra A Life by Stacy SchiffStacy SchiffStacy Schiff

Finish date: 3/17/2011
Rating: A-

I enjoyed this book a lot. She pulled together details f..."


Have this on my to-read list and have heard great things about it from several sources. Glad to see your review. I'll have to move it up on my list!


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Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Vicki wrote: "24. Cleopatra A Life by Stacy SchiffStacy SchiffStacy Schiff

Finish date: 3/17/2011
Rating: A-

I enjoyed this book a lot. She pulled together details f..."


Was actually just looking at this book recently.


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25. Pride and Prejudice  by Jane Austen Jane Austen Jane Austen

Finish date: 3/19/2011
Rating: A

This book has one of the best opening sentences of all time - "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." The characters are very well drawn and the dialog is excellent. I did find Darcy's change of attitude a bit sudden and surprising from what we had been shown of him so far but it didn't spoil the enjoyment of the book.


message 41: by Elizabeth S (last edited Mar 20, 2011 08:24PM) (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Vicki wrote: "25. Pride and Prejudice  by Jane AustenJane AustenJane Austen

Finish date: 3/19/2011
Rating: A

This book has one of the best opening sentences of all time..."


Very true on the opening sentence. It is one of my favorite openings, and sets up the book so perfectly. Was this your first time reading P&P?


message 42: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
Elizabeth, I'm not sure if this is the first or second time for P&P. It's certainly a book you can read more than once. It's hard to disentangle the books from the movies/TV shows in my memory.


message 43: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Vicki wrote: "Elizabeth, I'm not sure if this is the first or second time for P&P. It's certainly a book you can read more than once. It's hard to disentangle the books from the movies/TV shows in my memory."

Very true. Unless you really get to know either the book or the movie/TVshow before getting into the other, it is hard to ever clearly differentiate. Not to mention there are so many versions of P&P out there.


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26. The League of Frightened Men by Rex Stout Rex Stout Rex Stout

Finish date: 3/24/2011
Rating: B+
Genre: Detective fiction

This is my second time through the Nero Wolfe oeuvre and I am definitely enjoying it. I can never figure out whodunit but the solution is always logical. In each of the first two books, there's a twist at the end; it will be interesting to see if that continues. Plus in this one, Wolfe leaves the house!!


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27. The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries Bringing Jane Austen's Novel to Film (Newmarket Pictorial Moviebooks) by Emma Thompson Jane Austen Jane Austen

Finish date: 3/31/2011
Rating: B+
Genre: Fiction

Now that I've read all 6 of Austen's books, I'm struck by the variety of characters she portrays. Even the heroines of the books have different personalities. As for this one, I have to say that the heroine's love interest, Edward Ferrars, is pretty boring. I guess he just clicked with Elinore. And I always wonder how these people passed their time - no jobs, servants to do the cleaning and cooking. Apparently much time was spent in conversation, the rules of which you learned as you were growing up, I guess.


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APRIL

28. The Rubber Band by Rex Stout Rex Stout Rex Stout

Finish date: 4/5/2011
Rating: B+
Genre: Detective fiction

This one had a very intricate plot, going back about 40 years to the Wild West. I didn't figure out who the murderer was, but I hardly ever do. Lots of snappy dialog as always.


message 47: by Elizabeth S (last edited Apr 05, 2011 07:56PM) (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Are you working your way through the Wolfe's in order? I did that a few years ago. It was fun. My brother doesn't like the Nero Wolfe books because Wolfe bugs him. Personally, I think the Archie character is so fun it is all worth it. I think Archie is extremely intelligent and clever, and he and Wolfe complement each other so well.

Three at Wolfe's Door by Rex Stout (and many others in the series) by Rex Stout Rex Stout


message 48: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
Yes, Elizabeth, I plan to read them in order. I read all of them years ago (I still have all the books), but they are such fun I thought I'd alternate "serious" fiction with Wolfe. I like both Archie and Wolfe. There was a good TV series a few years ago that did several of the books. Here's the Netflix link -
http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Ner...


message 49: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments I thought I recognized the first two in the series. I really enjoyed my read-through. I only own about a dozen of them, but I plan to gradually collect them all.

I'm not a netflix member, so the link didn't work for me. I'm guessing you are talking about the TV series from about 10 years ago. That was shortly before I read my first Nero Wolfe book, and I never saw the series. My mother thoroughly enjoyed the older TV series from the early 80s and was extremely disappointed when it was canceled. She never wanted to watch the newer series because the 80's version was too perfect.


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29. The Jane Austen Book Club  by Karen Joy Fowler Karen Joy Fowler Karen Joy Fowler

Finish date: 4/7/2011
Rating: C+
Genre: Fiction

I was hoping to get more discussion of Austen's books than was portrayed in the book. The characters and their back-stories were interesting, though. And the movie that was made from the book was also good.


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