Historical Fiction Buddy Reads discussion

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message 1: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
I am currently reading "The Secret River" by Kate Grenville. It is an exploration of the "colonization", origins of Australia. I am not very far into it yet

Has anyone else read it?

message 2: by Annie (new)

Annie (anniebucknall) I have really wanted to try a Kate Grenville for some time but haven't made the leap yet. Are you enjoying it? What's your take so far?

I'm currently reading On a Highland Shore by Kathleen Givens and I am LOVING it! Set in Scotland in 1254 during a Viking raid it is a fascinating book with a plot that hits a frenetic pace from about page 120.

I also bought Helen of Troy today by Margaret George. Has anyone read this? The cover was really nice, not that that is why I bought it ;-)

message 3: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
I am enjoying The Secret River. I will tell you more about it when I get a little deeper into it.

Please put "On a Highland Shore" on the shelf, it sounds like a book I would love.

I have not read margaret George yet, but I have Memoirs of Cleopatra waiting. I am hoping that I will find someone to do a buddy read with me on that one.

message 4: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod

I just finished The Secret River by Kate Grenville. Knowing something about the history, I knew this book was going to be upsetting to me when I started it, but I didn't realize how deeply it would cut into the quick!

While the backdrop was realistic, the characters were an unlikable lot - ignorant, arrogant , condescending and greedy, which is a lethal combination. They believed it was their right to push the indigenous people, who had been there for over 60,000 years, off of the land and claim ownership of chunks of it as their own.

The subject matter is absorbing and a significant part of the history of the colonization of New South Wales by convicts. It was the beginning of the genocide of a people and the book could have had more of an impact, but it just missed the mark for me.


message 5: by Laura (new)

Laura (schill27) I just joined this group and have to say historical fiction is one of my favorite categories of books. I recently finished reading The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff. It is set in Poland at the time of the Nazi invasion and follows a young Jewish girl who is forced to hide her identity in order to survive. Excellent read. There is also a follow-up book by the author called The Diplomat's Wife. I have yet to read it though.

Hope to get some good suggestions from this group!


message 6: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Welcome Laura, I am so glad you have joined us.

Have you read "The True Story of Hansel and Gretel" by Louise Murphy? I think you would enjoy it. It takes place in war-torn Poland during the last months of the Nazi occupation. Two children are left in the forest by their parents and an eccentric old woman tries to save them and hide their Jewishness.

The Kommandant's Girl, sounds familiar, I may have read it, but I have to check.


message 7: by Laura (new)

Laura (schill27) Thank you for the recommendation, sounds like a great book. I have added it to my constantly growing to-read list.

message 8: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
I am just about to start Nefertiti by Michelle Moran. I have heard good things about this book. Has anyone here read it yet?

I will let you know how I like it as I go along.

message 9: by Annie (new)

Annie (anniebucknall) Hey just finished Nefertiti and LOVED it! My review's here: http://readingwritingranting.blogspot... and on good reads of course.

message 10: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
I don't want to read your review yet because there may be some "spoilers." The book did immediately bring to mind The Other Boleyn Girl. Philippa Gregory is one of my favorite authors too.

I look forward to reading your review as soon as I finish the book.

message 11: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Hi Annie, I read your review of Nefertiti and I agreed with you on most points. I just had a vew comments.

While the story was interesting, I was a bit disappointed because the author failed to immerse me in Egypt the way I had hoped to be immersed. Nefertiti was portrayed as an unsympathetic character and her husband was almost pathetic with his weakness and instability. I would have enjoyed having a more intimate relationship with Nefertiti than was allowed because the story was told from her sister’s point-of-view. The relationship between Nefertiti and her sister Mutny was reminiscent of Gregory’s “The Other Boleyn Girl.”

This one will not go on my "favorites list"

message 12: by Annie (new)

Annie (anniebucknall) That's interesting Sydney! Great to hear another point of view.

To me, it really made Egypt come alive. And while I agree that Nefertiti wasn't portrayed in a sympathetic light and that her husband seemed quite weak, I don't know enough about the actual history to be disappointed by it.

I really enjoyed Mutny's character and didn't mind that it was told from her point of view. I think I just approached this as a purely entertaining read in a setting I find fascinating.

I guess this just illustrates the importance of having a buddy with similar tastes. Although it can be refreshing to disagree!

message 13: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Hi Annie,
It is Wonderful to have different points of view; that's what makes a discussion worth having. It would have been a different book entirely if it had been told from Nefertiti's point of view. Maybe not better, but certainly different.

What are you reading now?

message 14: by Annie (new)

Annie (anniebucknall) Funny enough I'm reading the follow-on from Nefertiti - The Heretic Queen. Really enjoying it so far. Just finished a Russian historical, Under a Blood Red Sky and really enjoyed it too.

What are you reading?

message 15: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
You will have to be sure and let me know what you think of The Heretic Queen.

I am in between reads at the moment and I'm not sure what I will read next.

message 16: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
I have just started The Septembers Of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer this morning.

I have a few books I am going to post on Buddy Reads to see if I get any bites.

What is everyone else reading?

message 17: by Laura (new)

Laura (schill27) I am currently reading a book for my book club called Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish.

It is the author's memoirs about her childhood during the Depression. So far, it's okay. Nothing I would ever pick up on my own, but that's what a book club is all about!

Once I finish with this one I can get back to my To Read list which seems to be ever growing.

message 18: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) I'm currently reading 'Snow Flower and the Secret Fan' by Lisa See

message 19: by Laura (new)

Laura (schill27) I read 'Snow Flower' last year and really enjoyed it. I am hoping to read Lisa See's other book 'Peony in Love' in the future.

message 20: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
I loved Snow Flower too. It is the only book I have read by Lisa See. I have Peony in Love on my TBR list also.

message 21: by Joyce (new)

Joyce | 3 comments Was I not supposed to put the book I'm reading now on the group's "currently reading" shelf? If not, I'll take it off again. I didn't know the rules about what we put where.

message 22: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) I'm now reading 'the other boleyn girl' as I've owned it for aaaaaages and I'm determined to read the book before I watch the film!

message 23: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
The book is so much better than the film. I think that is usually the way.


message 24: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
It is fine, now we have a "Currently Reading" Shelf. We don't read books together as a group, rather we will form Buddy Reads and just talk about the books we are currently reading.

We will be starting our first Buddy Read in a few days.


message 25: by Laura (new)

Laura (schill27) I am currently reading Philippa Gregory's newest book 'The Other Queen' about Queen Mary of Scots. So far it is good (I'm only 35 pages in right now). I've read quite a few of her books but 'The Other Boleyn Girl' was my first and favorite.

I agree with Sydney that the book is 100 times better than the film, so you'll definitely want to finish it first.

message 26: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Hi Laura,
I am going to put 'The Other Queen' on my To-Be-Read List.


message 27: by Roxanne (new)

Roxanne (onlinewoman) | 35 comments I've read both The Other Queen and The Other Boleyn Girl and loved them both, though I preferred the later over the former just slightly, because I thought the story-line was smoother.

I'm looking to read Gregory's The Wise Woman. Anyone else read this one yet?

message 28: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
I just added The Wise Woman to my TBR list, but I don't know when I will get to it. I was just looking over some of the reviews and not too many Gregory fans liked the book very much.

Has anyone here read it yet?

message 29: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
What is everyone reading? Annie, how did you like the Heretic Queen? How does it compare to her first book?

message 30: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Having finished The Three Musketeers I'm now onto Twenty Years After. Still wallowing in Dumas. Love it.

message 31: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
It's like time travel - Enjoy!

message 32: by Laura (new)

Laura (schill27) I just finished reading Rasputin's Daughter by Robert Alexander about the spiritual adviser's last days before his murder. The story is told by Maria, Rasputin's eldest daughter.

The book was very interesting. I did not have much background information on the Russian Tsar and their empire's fall. It has certainly peaked my interest in the Romanov family and Russia in general. If anyone knows of other good historical fictions books on this topic please let me know.

I would recommend this read.

message 33: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
I have been wondering about this book. Rasputin has always interested me. I am going to add it to my TBR list if it is not already there. Why don't you add the book to our book shelf for future members.

I hope someone will come up with a few good recommendations for you. Is Alexander a new author for you?

message 34: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Laura, I just discovered that Robert Alexander is the author of many books about the Romanov family. The Kitchen Boy and The Romanov Bride are two that I just found. The Kitchen Boy is one that I am going to add to my TBR list (and may even request a Buddy Read)check it out here on Goodreads.

message 35: by Laura (new)

Laura (schill27) I had heard of The Kitchen Boy but not The Romanov Bride. I will look into both of them. I'd be interested in doing it as a Buddy Read in the future so maybe I'll hold of on reading them right now (I've got so many books from the library, etc. I don't fear having nothing to read). Let me know if and when you'd like to read the book.

Thanks for your help also!

message 36: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Great.......I will let you know when I am ready, it will be a while. I just requested both books from Paperback Swap.

message 37: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod

What is everyone planning on reading next? If you would like to share the reading experience with someone, post it on the Buddy Reads board or - just tell us about it.

It would be great if we had more members to share our thoughts and reading experiences with, so if you have friends who love historical novels, ask them to join our group.

message 38: by Donna (new)

Donna Hi Sydney, I've been following your Buddy Read of The Instance of the Fingerpost and I really like the concept so I would like to find a buddy to read Pope Joan by Donna Cross with. I can't start before Christmas (Santa is delivering the book) but if anyone has time after Christmas that would be great.

message 39: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Hi Donna,
Pope Joan sounds like a really good read. I bet you can interest others in reading it with you. After the holidays are over, post a request for a buddy or buddies to join you. When you are ready to start the read just set up a separate board and reading schedule for it and your off.

The book that we are doing a buddy read for now is a long one - over 700 pages. Sharing the book has made it more enjoyable and it is great to get a viewpoint that is different from your own.

Bring some of your friends onboard if they have an interest in historical novels.


message 40: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Please add Pope Joan to our book shelf. I have just added it to my to-be-read list.

message 41: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Yellin (Jaywhy) | 11 comments I would like to suggest The Blackened Canteen available at www.amazon.com. The reviews are terrific.

Dave albion

message 42: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Hi Jerry,
There may be now or in the future members who are interested in that period or the war in particular.

message 43: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Yellin (Jaywhy) | 11 comments Thanks Sydney, the story is pertinent to our history today. It runs from 1941 to 2000.

message 44: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Jerry, feel free to add the book to our bookshelf.

message 45: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Yellin (Jaywhy) | 11 comments How do I do that?

message 46: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Yellin (Jaywhy) | 11 comments The Blackened Canteen
Inspiring, great reading, September 26, 2008
By JoEllyn Rickard "teacher" (Vero Beach, FL)
Jerry Yellin has accomplished something here...a book of extraordinary depth and resonance.
I was mesmerized...at times unnerved...and continually found myself re-examining my thoughts.

Dialogue made it very easy for me to connect with the characters. The book brought to life parts of history I remember being told to me by my father and uncles who served in World War II. It prompts a renewed and profound appreciation of life.

I loved how music, entertainers, food, Iwo Jima, Mt. Fuji, Roosevelt, Churchill....a plethora of information...were all brought to life and intertwined with the personal lives of the soldiers. The incredible courage and caring nature of Mr. Itoh was so moving, along with Dr. Sugano using the blackened canteen as a vehicle of honor and remembrance on top of Mt. Shizuhata.

I've heard it said about nature that trees bend low with ripened fruit, clouds bend down with gentle rain, and noble men bow graciously...this is the way of generous things. This is the way of my friend and neighbor, Jerry Yellin.
I trust that through his book a spark of human kindness will ignite in all of us and peace in the world will prevail!
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A Novel with Significant Academic Value!, October 1, 2008
By Kimberly A. Broz (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews

I have read many academic and historical fiction texts about Japanese history as a long time student of the subject. Rarely have I found historical fiction to have as many history lessons as in 'The Blackened Canteen.' Yellin does an excellent job of providing not only the experiences of Japanese and Americans in WWII, but also factual historical perspective. The characters in 'The Blackened Canteen' aren't simply sympathetic figures in an historically significant story, their thoughts also provide insightful analysis of the events that shaped the war in the Pacific.

Yellin's descriptions of the American airmen's thoughts are particularly credible because of the author's personal experience as the pilot of a P-51. His descriptions of the Japanese civilians' thoughts may provide an even deeper perspective on the thinking of an American World War II Veteran.

I would recommend this book to students of Japanese history. I have an M.A. from Washington University in St. Louis (in Japanese History and Foreign Policy), and in my entire study I never came across a book so entertaining and informative at the same time. I would also recommend this book to anyone looking for an interesting book for their book club. This book invites discussion! It is rare that a book about war ends up being so inspiring.

message 47: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
I will put the book on the shelf for you.

message 48: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Yellin (Jaywhy) | 11 comments Thank you so much Sidney,,where can I mail you a copy?

message 49: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 249 comments Mod
Thanks Jerry,
That is very generous of you. I will send you an address.

message 50: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Yellin (Jaywhy) | 11 comments My pleasuer

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