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ARCHIVE > VICKI'S 50 BOOKS READ IN 2012

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Dec 10, 2011 10:27AM) (new)

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Vicki, here is your new thread for 2012.

Our Format:

JANUARY

1. My Early Life 1874-1904 by Winston S. Churchill Winston S. Churchill Winston S. Churchill
Finish date: March 2008
Genre: (whatever genre the book happens to be)
Rating: A
Review or a Few Words about book: You can add text from a review you have written but no links to any review elsewhere even goodreads. And that is about it. Just make sure to number consecutively and just add the months.

Note: I will delete the required format post once you get started.


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JANUARY

1. Rome and Rhetoric Shakespeare's Julius Caesar by Garry Wills Garry Wills (no photo)

Finish date: 1/1/2012
Genre: Literary criticism
Rating: A-

Review: Wills contrasts the way three major characters (Brutus, Antony and Cassius) in the play speak. They all use some standard rhetorical modes of speech, which was very interesting to me, not having studied rhetoric. Brutus speaks to the crowd after Caesar's murder and his approach is to remind them of his own integrity, assuming they will agree with what he says, without his having to convince them. In contrast, Antony uses many different forms to draw his listeners in and turn them to his way of thinking. Wills remarks that this is a play without villains, that they were all doing what they thought best for Rome. "Rome eats at them, and they eat at Rome, bringing it down in the name of its own greatness" (p. 119). One quibble I have is that Wills seems to buy into the belief that Brutus was Caesar's natural son, even though they were only 15 years apart in age. Doesn't seem reasonable to me.


message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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Good for you Vicki; you are off to a good start.


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2. Threadbare (Needlecraft Mystery) by Monica Ferris Monica Ferris Monica Ferris

Finish date: 1/2/2012
Rating: C+
Genre: Detective fiction

Review: This is the 15th in this series of needlecraft mysteries, and while it was interesting, there wasn't enough needlework stuff in it. I did like the depictions of the lives of some homeless women, it was very sympathetic.


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3. Pick Up Sticks (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #11) by Emma Lathen Emma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 1/6/2012
Rating: C+
Genre: Detective fiction

Review: Thatcher is hiking the Appalachian Trail (there's a phrase with a new connotation) with his friend Henry when Henry discovers the body of an acquaintance at a new vacation development. This book wasn't as enjoyable as others in the series because the action is away from the Sloan, Thatcher's bank, and much of it is focussed on Henry, who's determined to solve the mystery.


message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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You are off to a splendid start.


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4. Ashes to Ashes (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #12) by Emma Lathen Emma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 1/9/2012
Rating: B
Genre: Detective fiction

Review: This was more satisfying than the previous book because it took place in NYC. A local diocese is planning to sell the parochial school and the head of the parents' committee trying to stop the sale is killed. Thatcher is involved because the Sloan is providing the loan for the buyer, who plans to build an apartment building on the site.


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5. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare William Shakespeare

Finish date: 1/11/2012
Rating: B+
Genre: Drama

Review: After reading Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (book #1, above), I watched the DVD version with Marlon Brando as Mark Antony, and thought I should read the whole play. It was interesting how often Caesar refers to himself in the third person, as he did in Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War. I was struck by the number of familiar phrases in the play. Not only "Beware the Ides of March" and "Friends, Romans, Countrymen..." but also "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves..." and "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune..." Cassius definitely doesn't come off well, and even Brutus doesn't seem "the noblest Roman of them all."

Rome and Rhetoric Shakespeare's Julius Caesar by Garry Wills Garry Wills (no photo)
Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War With Notes, Dictionary, and a Map of Gaul (1886) by Julius Caesar Julius Caesar Julius Caesar


message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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Love Shakespeare. Great start Vicki.


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6. The Longer the Thread (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #13) by Emma Lathen Emma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 1/15/2012
Rating: C+
Genre: Detective fiction

Review: This one mostly takes place in Puerto Rico, at a garment factory. The owner also has plants in the US, and this one is being run by his brother-in-law, who's not quite as good a businessman as he thinks he is. Several bad things happen, and finally Thatcher figures out who the culprit is. It's interesting that he never says to himself "Say, I sure have been involved with a lot of murders." Each book in the series reads as though the events in the other books never happened. The most interesting character in this book is Annie Galiano, a labor organizer for the ULGWU. Too bad this is the only one in which she appears.


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7. SPQR XIII The Year of Confusion A Mystery (The SPQR Roman Mysteries) by John Maddox Roberts John Maddox Roberts John Maddox Roberts

Finish date: 1/24/2012
Rating: B+
Genre: Roman mystery

Review: This book takes place during 45 B.C., the year before Caesar's assassination. Two of the scholars Caesar has brought to Rome to reform the calendar have been killed. Caesar tells Decius to find the person responsible. Many of the men who will later figure in Caesar's death appear in the book, as do some of the most famous women in Rome, including Cleopatra and Caesar's former lover Servilia. A very satisfying mystery. I wonder what the next one will be about, if it will include Caesar's murder or events following that.


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FEBRUARY

8. Caesar (Masters of Rome, #5) by Colleen McCullough Colleen McCullough Colleen McCullough

Finish date: 2/1/2012
Rating: B
Genre: Roman fiction

Review: This is the fifth in the Masters of Rome series, and is my least favorite, although I do like it. It starts with the latter part of Caesar's conquest of Gaul, when he gets word that his daughter Julia, Pompey's wife, has died in childbirth. This is a problem, as well as being personally tragic, because now there is nothing holding Caesar and Pompey together. I couldn't really get into most of the Gallic campaigns (too many names), although the taking of Avaricum and Alesia were very interesting and quite well described. The rest of the book is about the civil war, ending with Pompey's death in Egypt. As usual in her books, Caesar can do no wrong and his enemies are rather unflatteringly described. Pompey especially comes off badly, but he is saddled with a bunch of real losers. It would be interesting to read a story from the Optimates POV.


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9. Murder Without Icing (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #14) by Emma Lathen Emma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 2/2/2012
Rating: B
Genre: Detective fiction

Review: Thatcher becomes involved with an ice hockey team because the main owner is an important client of the Sloan. When a potential buyer of part of the team is killed at the airport after the team arrives from an away game, the police get involved, and we get to meet some of the players and other important figures on the periphery. I like how Lathen always starts each book with a couple of paragraphs about Wall Street, as a seque into the story. And I like the continuing characters, especially Brad Withers, the clueless president of the bank.


message 14: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) You are on a roll, Vicki. Do you, by chance, like Emma Lathen? :o)


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10. Render Unto Caesar by Gillian Bradshaw Gillian Bradshaw (no photo)

Finish date: 2/6/2012
Rating: A-
Genre: Roman fiction

Review: Around the middle of Augustus' reign, a young Alexandrian businessman, Hermogenes, comes to Rome to collect on a debt an important Roman owes his uncle. The Roman is determined not to pay and is actually insulted that a foreigner would try to get money from him. When Hermogenes is set upon and nearly killed, he's saved by a former female gladiator (yes, there were such people). She becomes his bodyguard as he tries various ways to get the money. It's a very interesting story and an important background is about the relationships between masters and slaves.


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11. Black Diamond by Susan Holtzer Susan Holtzer (no photo)

Finish date: 2/8/2012
Rating: B+
Genre: Detective fiction

Review: I started reading this mystery series because the main character, Anneke Haagen, is a computer programmer, but there has been little of programming in the books so far. In fact, she's not even the main character in this book. That falls to Zoe Kaplan, an student reporter for the U. of Michigan paper, who was introduced in a previous book. A friend of hers finds her long-lost father dead in her dorm room, not long after she has inherited a mysterious box from her great-aunt, which box is now missing. This friend, Clare Swann, has the most unpleasant family you can imagine, but they are entertaining. Before the box went missing, the young women removed some letters written by Clare's ancestor and another woman in the 1890s. They are hoping the letters will lead to what Clare's great-aunt always said was a great fortune. The mystery's a good one and the letters are very interesting.

12. Republican Party Reptile Essays and Outrages by P.J. O'Rourke P.J. O'Rourke P.J. O'Rourke

Finish date: 2/12/2012
Rating: C+
Genre: Humorous essays

Review: This one's pretty old, articles from various publications collected in 1985. It was strange to see Reagan and the Soviet Union being written of in the present tense. Despite the title, there was very little of political talk here. My favorites are the articles he writes about being in a foreign country. P.J. is always funny even if I don't agree with his politics.

13. The Triumph of Caesar (Roma Sub Rosa, #12) by Steven Saylor Steven Saylor Steven Saylor

Finish date: 2/12/2012
Rating: B-
Genre: Roman mystery

Review: In 46 BC, Caesar has returned to Rome after concluding the civil wars and is about to celebrate four triumphs. His wife, Calpurnia, has been consulting a haruspex who predicts that Caesar is in great danger. She tasks Gordianus the Finder to uncover the plot and protect Caesar. She had previously used Gordianus' friend Hieronymus (from Last Seen in Massilia) for this, but he was killed. Gordianus looks through Hieronymus' notes and interviews all the people he had been checking out, a sort of Who's Who in Rome. He talks to Antony, Cicero, Fulvia, Cleopatra, and even the prisoners Vercingetorix and Cleopatra's sister Arsinoe. Naturally he finally figures out who killed his friend, and along the way we get a description of the triumphs, which were quite elaborate. While I always like going along with Gordianus and his family, the last book in the series that I really liked was Last Seen in Massilia. This one was kind of like reading a list of famous people, and you don't really get to know them well.

Last Seen in Massilia (Roma Sub Rosa, #8) by Steven Saylor Steven Saylor Steven Saylor


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14. The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi Hanif Kureishi Hanif Kureishi

Finish date: 2/23/2012
Rating: C-
Genre: Novel

Review: Although the characters in this novel were interesting, I didn't really like any of them. The narrator, Karim, seemed really self-absorbed, understandably, since he is a teen-ager. But I wouldn't want to spend any time with him, nor with any of the others in the book.


message 18: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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Vicki, we have been trying to reach you.


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15. Sweet and Low (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #15) by Emma Lathen Emma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 2/25/2012
Rating: B
Genre: Detective fiction

Review: Since this is the 15th book in the series, that means that John Thatcher has been involved with about 30 murders (each book has at least 2). Yet he never reflects on this, nor do the police come to him, even though he's been the one to figure out the mystery each time. I guess that's the fate of a non-professional sleuth. Some interesting characters here, dealing with the Cocoa Exchange. It seems to work pretty much like any other commodity exchange, with plenty of money to be made or lost. A satisfying read.

16. The Silly Season An Entr' Acte Mystery of the University of Michigan by Susan Holtzer Susan Holtzer (no photo)

Finish date: 2/27/2012
Rating: B
Genre: Detective fiction

Review: There are three UFO sightings during the summer session at the U. of Michigan, and at the site of the last one, a prominent UFologist is found dead. College reporter Zoe Kaplan gets to cover the story for the Associate Press, and with her friend Anneke Haagen and Lt. Karl Genesko, searches for the truth. This was very entertaining and had a satisfying solution.


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MARCH

17. Persona Non Grata (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #3) by Ruth Downie Ruth Downie Ruth Downie

Finish date: 3/5/2012
Rating: B
Genre: Roman mystery

Review: Ruso takes a leave from his duties as army surgeon in Brittania to go home to Southern Gaul when he gets an urgent letter from his brother. It turns out that the family farm is in danger of being taken away by Severus, the new husband of Ruso's previous wife. But things get worse when Severus dies of poisoning at the farm in Ruso's presence. It all turns out well, thanks in part to the sleuthing of Ruso's British housekeeper/lover Tilla. There's a very funny chapter where Tilla goes to a small Christian meeting. She likes the idea of a god who's everywhere and can see everything, but doesn't like that this god won't do curses on her enemies.


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18. The Accordion Family Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents, and the Private Toll of Global Competition by Katherine S. Newman Katherine S. Newman Katherine S. Newman

Finish date: 3/14/2012
Rating: B
Genre: Non-fiction

Review: This book talks about a relatively new phenomenon, adult children moving back into the parents' home. Sometimes this is done after college while the graduate is looking for a job, and sometimes after a divorce or foreclosure. High unemployment around the world is causing most of this, and it's apparently especially bad in Italy and Spain. The author also has studied Japan, where it's an embarrassment to the parents, and the Scandinavian countries, where it's rare because of generous government subsidies which allow young people to live on their own, and also because of a tradition of separation from the family when a youg person reaches adulthood. This is also causing lower birth rates in countries where it happens, because of later marriages, and if immigration is restricted, to fewer workers contributing to growing numbers of retirees. Altogether, a very interesting look at something I was only vaguely aware of.

19. By Hook or by Crook (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #16) by Emma Lathen Emma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 3/16/2012
Rating: B
Genre: Detective fiction

Review: The Sloan (and Thatcher) gets involved with an Oriental rug business. The elderly sister of the owner comes to the US after having lived in the USSR and recuperating in Tehran from an illness. This book was written in 1975, 4 years before the overthrow of the Shah and the hostage-taking there. It's a bit jarring reading about previously normal relations with a current enemy. Another interesting thing about this book is that it's the only one so far where I've had some sympathy for the murderer.


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20. The Wedding Game A Mystery at the University of Michigan by Susan Holtzer Susan Holtzer (no photo)

Finish date: 3/23/2012
Rating: B+
Genre: Detective fiction

Review: I started reading this series because the main character is a computer programmer, but it wasn't until this book, the sixth one, that there was any talk about programming. Anneke Haagen and her fiance, police lietenant Karl Genesko, are about to be married when they become suspects in the murder of an abrasive programmer on a mailing list dedicated to computer game construction. Although none of the members of the list have ever met IRL (in real life), Anneke and Karl are able to discover much about each of them and finally unravel the motive for the murder and hence, the culprit. This was the best so far of an enjoyable series.

21. A Gift Of Sanctuary (Owen Archer, #6) by Candace Robb Candace Robb Candace Robb

Finish date: 3/31/2012
Rating: C+
Genre: Historical mystery

Review: I read the first five books in this series years ago, so I was expecting to reacquaint myself with Lucie, an apocethary in York, but this was all about her husband, Owen Archer, who has to go on an errand to Wales for the Duke of Lancaster. It's an interesting mystery, but I was a bit confused by the Welsh names and political situation, also by the switching among three different POVs by three main characters. Owen left Wales many years ago and he reconnects with the remaining member of his family. His relationship with his father-in-law, who came with him on a pilgrimage, is very interesting. I'll be glad to get back to York in the next book, however.


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APRIL

22. Double, Double, Oil and Trouble (no cover photo)
by Emma Lathan (no photo)

Finish date: 4/5/2012
Rating: B-
Genre: Detective fiction

Review: A murder mystery involving North Sea oil, a Texas company and a ransom demand from Turkey of 1.5 million dollars, which money Thatcher has to deliver to a Swiss bank. Talk about international affairs! A pretty good story, but not one of my favorite Thatcher mysteries.

23. Going for the Gold (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #18) by Emma Lathen by Emma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 4/25/2012
Rating: B-
Genre: Detective fiction

Review: The Sloan is sponsoring the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, New York. The first murder happens almost immediately when a French ski jumper is shot as he flies toward the finish line. The motive is quite complicated, involving counterfeit travelers checks. A pretty good mystery.


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MAY

24. Antony And Cleopatra by Adrian Goldsworthy by Adrian Goldsworthy Adrian Goldsworthy

Finish date: 5/2/2012
Genre: Ancient history
Rating: B-

Review: Goldsworthy takes the interesting, and probably necessary, tactic of alternating chapters between Egypt and Rome for most of the book. He goes into the background of the Ptolemaic rule in Egypt and some of the background of the Roman Republic. We learn about Cleopatra's family and also about Antony's family and his military background, which was less extensive than I had thought. I learned a lot about these iconic characters.

25. The Republic of Vengeance by Paul Waters by Paul Waters (no photo)

Finish date: 5/11/2012
Genre: Roman fiction
Rating: B+

Review: This story takes place at the end of the third century BC. The narrator is a young Roman who escaped from some pirates who had captured the ship he and his father were traveling on. The pirates killed his father and he vowed to have revenge on the killer. A few years later, he has been adopted by his father's brother, a merchant, and is sent to Tarentum in the south of Italy to help the business. There he meets Titus Flamininus, a historical character, who will later lead Rome to defeat Philip V of Macedonia. He also meets Menexenos, a young Greek - later they fall in love. The homosexual element is handled quite discreetly. This is a lovely story and it's quite a relief to read about a period of Roman history with no Caesar/Pompey/Antony in it.


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26. Green Grow the Dollars (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #19) by Emma Lathen by Emma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 5/14/2012
Genre: Detective fiction
Rating: B-

Review: What's the world coming to? People are being killed over tomato plants! Specifically, the secretary at a small agricultural research facility is killed before she can testify at a patent suit where the proper inventor of a biennial tomato is being decided. The other claimant to the tomato is a large firm financed by the Sloan, Thatcher's bank. This mystery seemed particularly convoluted, but it was quite interesting.

27. The Story of English in 100 Words by David Crystal by David Crystal David Crystal

Finish date: 5/18/2012
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: B+

Review: This is an interesting selection of words, in more or less chronological order of when they first appeared. And the discussion of each word includes other related words. The biggest surprise for me was that "doable" entered the language in the mid-1400s. I would have guessed that it was a fairly recent word. There are many other pleasant surprises.

28. The Thieves of Ostia (The Roman Mysteries, #1) by Caroline Lawrence by Caroline Lawrence Caroline Lawrence

Finish date: 5/23/2012
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B

Review: This is a very entertaining book about four children who become friends in Ostia in 79 AD, and is the first of a series of books. The main character, Flavia, is the daughter of a sea captain, and she lives next door to Jonathan, a Jew whose family has converted to the new religion, Christianity. Her family purchases a young black girl, Nubia, as a slave and companion for Flavia, and the fourth member of the group is Lupus, a young beggar whose tongue was cut out some years ago. They make a great group of kids who are handy as solving mysteries. I had to laugh at the comment of the guilty party after he was caught when he said something along the lines of "I would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for you meddlesome kids." Reminded me of the Scooby-Do gang.

29. The Scribes from Alexandria (Roman Mysteries, #15) by Caroline Lawrence by Caroline Lawrence Caroline Lawrence

Finish date: 5/27/2012
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B

Review: This is the 15th of a projected 18 book series, all of which take place during the 2 1/2 year reign of Emperor Titus (79-81 AD). Sounds like a lot to squeeze into a relatively short time. In this one, the young friends have been shipwrecked off the coast of Egypt. Three of them are fine and have found each other, but no one can find Nubia. When they get to the Library of Alexandria, they hear she has gone off to find her family with one of the scribes there - she has been thinking they were all dead. While they and another young scribe are following her trail, using clues the scribe with her has left on various monuments, they (and we) find out a lot about ancient Egypt. While these books are aimed at a pre-teen audience, they are quite well written and can hold an adult's interest.


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JUNE

30. Something in the Air (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #20) by Emma Lathen by Emma Lathen (no photo)

Finish date: 6/6/2012
Genre: Detective fiction
Rating: B

Review: This murder mystery centers around an employee-owned small airline. The president and founder wants to expand to the West Coast, but many employees disagree because it will be very expensive. There's a noisy meeting when the spokesperson for the employees, sort of a buffoon, goes off message. He's later killed and suspicion falls on current and former higher-ups in the company. As usual, the characters are interesting, and Thatcher figures out whodunit.

31. The Secrets of Vesuvius (The Roman Mysteries, #2) by Caroline Lawrence by Caroline Lawrence Caroline Lawrence

Finish date: 6/7/2012
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B

Review: In August of 79 AD, Flavia and her three young friends go to her uncle's farm near Pompeii. They meet Admiral Pliny, the famous author of Natural History and a mysterious young blacksmith named Vulcan. Given the date and place of the novel (as well as the title), I don't think it's a spoiler to say that much of the action takes place around the eruption of Vesuvius. There is naturally a good bit of tragedy in the book, unusual for something aimed at pre- and young teens.

Natural History (no cover photo) by Pliny the Elder Pliny the Elder


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32. The Pirates of Pompeii (The Roman Mysteries, #3) by Caroline Lawrence by Caroline Lawrence Caroline Lawrence

Finish date: 6/8/2012
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B

Review: It's a few days after the end of the previous book, The Secrets of Vesuvius, and the friends are in a refugee camp down the coast near Surrentum. Emperor Titus has come to reassure the people, and a very wealthy local friend of his, Publius Pollius Felix, invites the children to stay at his villa, since he also has children. Flavia suspects he might be behind the disappearance of some children from the camp, and is determined to solve the mystery. This book goes into the institution of slavery much more than the previous books, and it might be a bit too strong for younger kids.

The Secrets of Vesuvius (The Roman Mysteries, #2) by Caroline Lawrence by Caroline Lawrence Caroline Lawrence


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33. Caesar's Women (Masters of Rome, #4) by Colleen McCullough by Colleen McCullough Colleen McCullough

Finish date: 6/24/2012
Genre: Roman fiction
Rating: A

Review: My favorite of the Masters of Rome series. I really like the portrayal of domestic life and the politics in Rome. Casear is portrayed as nearly perfect, and although I admire him a lot, it's a bit hard to believe he was this flawless. The various women of the title are quite interesting. We've met his mother Aurelia in the previous books in the series and get to know her a little better. She appears to be the one person he confides in, not really having any male friends of his own class. We also get to watch his daughter Julia grow up and become politically useful to him. Once he's elected Pontifex Maximus, he has the six Vestal Virgins to watch over, and does a really good job of it. Finally, there's his mistress Servilia, Cato the Younger's half-sister, whom he doesn't really love, but can't seem to give up. The book ends with his leaving Rome for his extended campaigns in Gaul.

34. A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2) by George R.R. Martin by George R.R. Martin George R.R. Martin

Finish date: 6/27/2012
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: B-

Review: Since this is only the second in a projected 7-book series, I certainly wasn't expecting closure, but it seemed to leave even more plot points hanging than the first one. I do enjoy reading about these characters, especially Arya and Tyrion, but they are all separated from each other now, so the story seems a bit disjointed. I've been watching the HBO series (naturally), and I don't want to read ahead, but it's tempting. The TV series seemed to veer away from the novel more in this book than the first one, but not in a bad way. Looking forward to the next season.


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JULY

35. The Assassins of Rome (Roman Mysteries, #4) by Caroline Lawrence by Caroline Lawrence Caroline Lawrence

Finish date: 7/4/2012
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B-

Review: The young friends are back in Ostia when Jonathan's uncle arrives with possible news that Jonathan's mother, who he thought had been killed in the seige of Jerusalem, might still be alive in Rome. They go to Rome together and Flavia, Nubia and Lupus follow, with their tutor Aristo as chaperone. They all meet Emperor Titus and get to see Nero's Golden House. This is a fast-moving story with plenty of danger.


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36. The Dolphins of Laurentum (The Roman Mysteries, #5) by Caroline Lawrence by Caroline Lawrence Caroline Lawrence

Finish date: 7/7/2012
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B

(Yes, I am reading the whole series.)

Review: Flavia's father staggers home after being shipwrecked and losing his entire cargo. Unless something can be done, everything they own will be taken to settle their debts. Pliny the Younger (whom they met during Vesuvius' eruption) invites the whole gang to his estate at Laurentum, where they try to recover a sunken treasure. We also learn why Lupus had his tongue cut out. Action-packed, as usual.


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37. Caesars' Wives The Women Who Shaped the History of Rome by Annelise Freisenbruch by Annelise Freisenbruch (no photo)

Finish date: 7/8/2012
Genre: Ancient history
Rating: B-

Review: The author has collected together as much evidence as she could find about the lives of the wives (and other female relatives) of many of the early Roman emperors, starting with everyone's favorite, Livia, Augustus' better half. After reading and watching I, Claudius, it's hard to approach the Julio-Claudian ladies with an unprejudiced point of view, but Freisenbruch does a good job of presenting "just the facts." She also has found portraits and statues of these women and describes much of how they looked (although I wish more illustrations had been included in the book). There's also a lot about the progress of the Empire and the activities of the emperors.

I, Claudius by Robert Graves by Robert Graves Robert Graves


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Thank you Vicki for following the required format. Your reading list and progress is very impressive.


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I notice I've never put in the Review: header, but I will start doing that.


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Well how do you like that - I missed it. Could you go back and put it in for all of your 37 entries. It will only take a few minutes I assume and will set a good example. Thank you.


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38. (no image) Lew Archer Private Investigator by Ross Macdonald Ross Macdonald

Finish date: 7/9/2012
Genre: Detective fiction
Rating: C+

Review: These short stories do have the flavor of Lew Archer's "voice" but aren't as satisfying as the novels. Still worth reading, though.

39. The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina (The Roman Mysteries, #6) by Caroline Lawrence by Caroline Lawrence Caroline Lawrence

Finish date: 7/11/2012
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B

Review: Flavia is suspicious of a new woman her father's shown an interest in. She and her friends investigate, and help round up some animals who have escaped from a traveling circus. The twelve tasks are related to similar ones Hercules had to perform.

40. The Blood of Caesar A Second Case from the Notebooks of Pliny the Younger by Albert A. Bell Jr. by Albert A. Bell Jr. Albert A. Bell Jr.

Finish date: 7/15/2012
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B+

Review: Pliny has been told by Emperor Domitian to find the memoirs of Agrippina, Nero's mother. What he's really after is any evidence there is a blood relative of Augustus still living (whom he would no doubt eliminate). Pliny has help from his friend Tacitus and Tacitus' father-in-law Agricola (both historcal characters). I like this series because Pliny is very straightforward, not at all snarky or cynical like the "detectives" in other Roman mystery series. Tacitus gets to be the jaded pessimist with all the wise cracks.


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41. Enemies of Jupiter by Caroline Lawrence by Caroline Lawrence Caroline Lawrence

Finish date: 7/18/2012
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B+

Review: Jonathan gets Emperor Titus to request help from Jonathan's father, a physician, with the epidemic that's sweeping Rome. He's hoping that his father will "accidentally" run across his mother, whom everyone thought had died in Jerusalem when the Romans conquered it, but who has been in Rome all this time as part of a group of Jewish female slaves. Natually, Flavia, Nubia and Lupus also have a hand in the action.

42. The Gladiators from Capua by Caroline Lawrence by Caroline Lawrence Caroline Lawrence

Finish date: 7/22/2012
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B+

Review: At the end of the previous book in the series, Flavia, Nubia and Lupus believed that Jonathan was killed in a great fire, but actually he accidentally caused it and is hoping to expiate his guilt by staying away from friends and becoming a gladiator (even though he's only 12). The other three friends become involved with the games also and Nubia discovers her older brother among the gladiators. Quite an exciting bunch of adventures in this one. The more I read of this series the better I like it.


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43. (no image) The Revolutions of Ancient Rome by F.R. Cowell

Finish date: 7/23/2012
Genre: Roman history
Rating: B+

Review: The Revolutions in the title refer to changes in the political structure of Rome, mainly benefiting the plebeians. The first one was the expulsion of the Etruscan king Tarquinius Supurbus in 509 BC. The second one was in 494 BC, when the office of the Tribune of the Plebs was established to look out for the rights of plebeians. The third, in 449 BC, was soon after the drawing up of the Twelve Tables, a sort of constitution, when the decemvirs, the ten men who were in charge of making the Twelve Tables and who were replacing the consuls as heads of state, appeared to be acting tyrannically. The army refused to act and the patricians gave in. Gradually, plebeians were allowed to hold offices, like consul, which had been restricted to patricians. These so-called revolutions had been mostly peaceful until in 133 BC Tiberius Gracchus, as Tribune of the Plebs, passed a law doling out public lands to landless citizens who could then become citizen soldiers. The upper classes, who had the use of these public lands, were against this, and during a riot, Gracchus was killed.

What was interesting to me about this book was that it covered the history of the Roman Republic with hardly any reference to the many wars that were fought by the Romans. Another unusual thing was that there were no footnotes or endnotes, and the bibliography was only a listing of about a dozen books that the author admired. Altogether it was a very good look at the history of the Roman Republic.

44. East Is East (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #21) by Emma Lathen by Emma Lathen

Finish date: 7/28/2012
Genre: Detective fiction
Rating: B

Review: A mid-level Japanese functionary is murdered while Thatcher is in Japan to oversee the possible purchase by a Japanese company of a subsidiary of an American company. The murdered man may have uncovered bribery related to the sale, and the Japanese government is particularly sensitive to this because of a recent scandal involving corruption in the government. The case isn't solved until Thatcher and the Japanese police inspector compare notes in England, just before another murder there of an American employee of the aforementioned American company. The plot of this book in the series is particulary involved.

45. Hooked on Murder by Betty Hechtman by Betty Hechtman Betty Hechtman

Finish date: 7/31/2012
Genre: Detective fiction
Rating: B-

Review: This is the first in a series of mysteries where the amateur detective, Molly, is just learning crochet. Since I really like crocheting, it was interesting to read about her problems with it. She gets involved in the murder mystery because she has discovered the body and had a somewhat difficult past with the victim, so she's suspected by a female detective who has the hots for Molly's boyfriend. Naturally it all works out, but there is a bit of a relationship cliff-hanger, probably to be taken up in the next book in the series.


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AUGUST

46. The Colossus of Rhodes by Caroline Lawrence by Caroline Lawrence Caroline Lawrence

Finish date: 8/2/2012
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B+

Review: The four young detectives sail to Rhodes (along with Flavia's father) to find a slave dealer who has been kidnapping freeborn children and selling them. On the way, Lupus slips away to a nearby island, where he was born, to search for his mother. The confrontation on Rhodes is quite dramatic.

47. The Fugitive from Corinth (The Roman Mysteries, #10) by Caroline Lawrence by Caroline Lawrence Caroline Lawrence

Finish date: 8/3/2012
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B+

Review: On the way back from Rhodes, the party stops in Corinth, and in the hospitium where they are staying, thire tutor Aristo is discovered holding a knife over the badly injured body of Captain Geminius. When he runs away, the four friends track him to Delphi, and get an explanation. Quite harrowing.

48. The Sirens of Surrentum (The Roman Mysteries, #11) by Caroline Lawrence by Caroline Lawrence Caroline Lawrence

Finish date: 8/4/2012
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B+

Review: Back in Ostia, Flavia receives a letter from her friend Pulchra, of the Villa Limona, where they all stayed after the eruption of Vesuvius. Pulchra thinks her mother is being poisoned and begs Flavia and the others to find out who is doing it. At the villa, Flavia meets Tranquillus, the boy to whom her father intends to betroth her. A surprising ending, in more ways than one.

49. The Charioteer of Delphi (Roman Mysteries, #12) by Caroline Lawrence by Caroline Lawrence Caroline Lawrence

Finish date: 8/7/2012
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B+

Review: A young man, Scopus, comes from Delphi with a letter to Lupus from his mother. She asks the four friends to help Scopus get a job at the Circus Maximus, with the hope of his eventually becoming a famous charioteer. Once in Rome, they help recover a valuable missing horse belonging to the Green faction. Scopus is very good with horses, but the other stable-boys beat up on him. This was quite an exciting book, with many perilous events. I also learned several Latin words having to do with racing.


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50. Letters to Atticus vol. 1 by Marcus Tullius Cicero by Marcus Tullius Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero

Finish date: 8/9/2012
Genre: Roman history
Rating: B

Review: This is a collection of letters from Cicero to his good friend Atticus, running from November 68 BC to July 1, 54 BC. I was hoping for more about the Catilina affair, but there were many letters bemoaning Cicero's banishment from Rome, when Publius Clodius Pulcher, as Tribune of the Plebs, passed a law forbidding Cicero to come within 400 miles of Rome and conficating his property, based on Cicero's having executed, without a trial, some Roman citizens who aided Catilina. I bought this edition, with Latin on one page and the English translation on the facing page, hoping one day to read the Latin, but I don't know if that will ever happen.

51. The Corpus Conundrum by Albert A. Bell Jr. by Albert A. Bell Jr. Albert A. Bell Jr.

Finish date: 8/13/2012
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: A-

Review: This was a really interesting mystery, with possible occult explanations. Pliny doesn't believe in the occult - a 400 year old man who can die and come back to life, a woman who's also a bat. He demands a reasonable explanation and with Tacitus' help, he finds it. The two town whores are great characters, and Pliny's mother sticks in her oar, as usual.


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52. The Swerve How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt by Stephen Greenblatt Stephen Greenblatt

Finish date: 8/14/2012
Genre: History
Rating: A-

Review: This is the story of the discovery of an ancient poem by Lucretius, called The Way Things Are. The discoverer, Poggio Bracciolini, was an avid book hunter and had been a secretary to the Pope, until said Pope was dethroned and Poggio was out of a job. The author goes back and forth in history from the philosophy of Epicurianism, of which Lucretius was an adherent, through the early 1400s when there were multiple claims to the office of Pope, down to Shakespeare. The modern ideas in Lucretius, which upset medieval theology, are that the world is made of atoms and empty space, that there is nothing after death, and that pleasure is the highest good, as long as no one is hurt. I'm not really sure about the swerve in the title - it makes me think of Nike products - but the book was a fascinating look at the beginning of the Renaissance.

The Way Things Are The De Rerum Natura by Titus Lucretius Carus by Titus Lucretius Carus Titus Lucretius Carus


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53. Dead Men Don't Crochet by Betty Hechtman by Betty Hechtman Betty Hechtman

Finish date: 8/18/2012
Genre: Detective fiction
Rating: B-

Review: In this second book in the series, Molly isn't the murder suspect, but one of her friends in the Tarzana Hookers crochet group might be. The victim was one of the owners of a high-end consignment shop who was cheating Sheila on the beautiful crocheted scarves that she had the shop sell for her. With these "cozy mystery" series, the secondary characters are important, and this group is made up of distinct personalities that you like getting to know. A new character joins the group in this book, a yummy male model who's an expert crocheter.


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54. History of God by Karen Armstrong by Karen Armstrong Karen Armstrong

Finish date: 8/19/2012
Genre: Religion
Rating: C+

Review: This was a scholarly, and, to me, dense book on how religious scholars have thought about what God is, at least the Jewish, Christian and Islamic God. It took a long time to read because I couldn't get through more than about 10 pages a day. I did learn a lot about Islam, and the parts about how philosophers in the last couple of hundred years dealt with God was interesting.


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55. The Golden Spiders by Rex Stout by Rex Stout Rex Stout

Finish date: 8/22/2012
Genre: Detective fiction
Rating: B

Review: A 12-year old neighbor boy comes to Wolfe with a story of a women with golden spider earrings who whispered to him from the driver's seat of a car to get the police. He figures there must be money in the story somehow, and he'll split the loot with Wolfe. A few days later the boy is dead - run over by the same car. Then the car is found and there's evidence in it to link the car to the death of another person. Finally, a rich woman is found murdered not long after coming to see Wolfe wearing golden spider earrings. There's the expected ending with all suspects gathered at Wolfe's office with the murderer revealed. A satisfactory book.


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Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Oh, yes, Nero Wolfe is one of my favorite fictional detective. I own and have read every one of the books...such an addiction!! Glad you liked it, Vicki


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56. By Hook or by Crook by Betty Hechtman by Betty Hechtman Betty Hechtman

Finish date: 8/25/2012
Genre: Detective fiction
Rating: B

Review: While cleaning up after a Tarzana Hookers charity sale, Molly finds a bag containing a panel made up of several filet crochet pieces, along with a note and an old diary page. She tracks down the person who left the bag, only to find that the woman has just been killed. Of course, she has to solve the crime, at no little peril to herself. She's also having man trouble, which seems to be continuing throughout the series.


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57. The Penguin Complete Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton by G.K. Chesterton G.K. Chesterton

Finish date: 8/26/2012
Genre: Detective fiction
Rating: C

Review: This book contains about 50 short stories featuring Father Brown, the mystery-solving British Catholic priest. While the descriptions and set-ups were interesting, Father Brown himself doesn't have much personality. It took me a long time to read this book because I couldn't manage more than one or two stories per day.

58. Brewing Up a Storm (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #23) by Emma Lathen by Emma Lathan

Finish date: 8/28/2012
Genre: Detective fiction
Rating: B+

Review: The leader of a group agitating against a non-alcoholic beer (because it's a gateway to alcohol for kids) is murdered and John Thatcher of Sloan Bank deduces whodunit, as usual. This one had a lot of interesting characters - business people, politicians and ordinary housewives. It's usually pretty easy figuring out who the victim will be, and sometimes I can guess the killer.


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59. At Bertram's Hotel (Miss Marple, #11) by Agatha Christie by Agatha Christie Agatha Christie

Finish date: 8/29/2012
Genre: Detective fiction
Rating: C+

Review: It's been a long time since I read any Agatha Christie, but I recently watched two different TV versions of this story, and I wanted to see which was closer to the book (it was the earlier one with Joan Hickson). It's a pretty good story, but there's not much Miss Marple in it, even though she's the key to solving the murder.


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Vicki - good adds.


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SEPTEMBER

60. A Shark Out of Water (John Putnam Thatcher Mysteries, #24) by Emma Lathen by Emma Lathen

Finish date: 9/4/2012
Genre: Detective fiction
Rating: B-

Review: This is the 24th, and presumably last, book in the Thatcher mystery series. Unfortunately it's not one of the best ones, taking place in Poland and Germany not long after the opening up of Eastern Europe. A zealous bureaucrat is killed when he discovers irregularities in shipping in the Baltic. I generally don't enjoy the books set in foreign lands - the domestic ones seem more interesting. I wish she was still writing. I'd love to read her take on Credit Default Swaps and Collateralized Debt Obligations. Hopefully the Sloan Bank would have steered clear of questionable practices.

61. The Disappearing Spoon And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean by Sam Kean Sam Kean

Finish date: 9/6/2012
Genre: Science
Rating: A-

Review: This book is about how the periodic table of elements was discovered (invented?), how it was refined and how it might be improved. Plus there's a story about each and every element in it. Not in order, but in related groups. I wouldn't have thought it possible. It's really a very interesting look at science and scientists.

62. A Stitch in Crime by Betty Hechtman by Betty Hechtman Betty Hechtman

Finish date: 9/8/2012
Genre: Detective fiction
Rating: B-

Review: Molly is in Asilomar near Monterey leading a weekend get-together of people participating in various creative workshops - drama, crochet, knitting, entertaining, etc. The leader of the crochet workshop dies after ingesting a peanut-laden s'more. Is it murder or an accident? (Do we have to ask?) It might be a function of my reading the books in the series too close together, but I'm getting a bit tired of the back-and-forth with Molly's cop boyfriend Barry and her possibly-too-close friendship with lawyer Mason. But I like the crocheting characters and the situations they get into.


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63. The Slave-girl from Jerusalem (The Roman Mysteries, #13) by Caroline Lawrence by Caroline Lawrence Caroline Lawrence

Finish date: 9/11/2012
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B

Review: A childhood friend of Miriam's was recently freed in secret by her owner, but then he dies and so does the only witness to the manumission. Then the young woman, Hephzibah, is accused of those deaths and another one. She's defended by Gaius Valerius Flaccus, aka Floppy, one of Flavia's friends from a previous adventure. During the events of this book, all four of the children write their own wills and we learn a lot about the Roman legal system.

64. The Beggar of Volubilis (The Roman Mysteries, #14) by Caroline Lawrence by Caroline Lawrence Caroline Lawrence

Finish date: 9/14/2012
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B-

Review: Emperor Titus asks Flavia et al to go to North Africa to search for Nero's Eye, a fabulous emerald. They are also on the look-out for Flavia's uncle Gaius who has gone missing after the death in childbirth of his wife Miriam. After many travails across the top of North Africa, they wind up in Volubulis, near the northwest corner of Africa. The beggar of the title seems to have known Nero. Perils galore, as usual.

65. The Prophet from Ephesus by Caroline Lawrence by Caroline Lawrence Caroline Lawrence

Finish date: 9/15/2012
Genre: Roman mystery
Rating: B

Review: After their adventures on the Nile, the young detectives are hiding out in Alexandria because they're wanted by the Emperor - why, they don't know. Fortunately, their tutor Aristo finds them, and tells them there have been more kidnappings of freeborn children, including Flavia's baby cousin Popo. Flavia's father and Flaccus have gone to Halicarnassus to find the children. They all sneak out of Egypt and get to Halicarnassus right after the kidnappers have fled, leaving the children behind. While on their trail, they encounter a Christian prophet who, people say, can heal people, including the dumb. Lupus hopes he can restore his tongue so he can talk again. Needless to say, a whole lot more happens before the end of the book. This is the penultimate book of the series, and I'm expecting many plot threads to be wound up in the final one.


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