Happy (almost 2012) everyone! I’m afraid to admit this, but my house is in complete chaos at the moment. I have book due (eek) Monday, so the shreds of wrapping paper are still piled on the floor and the new books I got for presents (yay books for presents!!) are stacked on the table. But as I look back on 2011, I remember some really fabulous reads. I can only hope the new year is as good!
Here are a few I liked:
Amanda Foreman, A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War
I admit I don’t know nearly as much about American history as I do European, but I found this epic tale, featuring more than 200 characters with distinctive and linked stories, fascinating and absorbing. I couldn’t put it down…
Kady Cross, The Girl in the Steel Corset
Two of my favorite new things in a good fiction read–YA and steampunk! Plus a fabulous heroine and some great dialogue
Jehanne Wake, Sisters of Fortune: America’s Caton Sisters at Home and Abroad
I am not sure how I missed the story of the 4 Caton sisters of Maryland (granddaughters of the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence), but the story of these Regency precursor’s of the Victorian “Dollar Duchesses” who went to England and married titles is amazing. Marianne married Wellington’s brother (and was said to have been the great love if Wellington himself); Louisa became the Duchess of Leeds and a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria; and Bess made her own fortune in the stock market.
Alan Bradley, A Red Hering Without Mustard
The first Flavia de Luce mystery, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, was one of my favorite novels of last year, and this one was just as enjoyable a read. Flavia (a wickedly precocious 11-year-old) and the English village setting of Bishop’s Lacey are tons of fun!
Deborah Lutz, Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism
Who can resist a research book with “sex rebels” in the title?? The Pre-Raphaelites, Richard and Isabel Burton, the poet Swinburne and his favorite flagellation brothels….a great look at a scandalous counter-culture…
Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus
I was reluctant to pick this up at first, it was so hyped, but I am so glad I did. Truly a magical and absorbing read.
Another magical read! It’s Midsummer Eve in 2008. and 3 humans with romantic troubles get trapped in San Francisco’s Buena Vista Park with Titania, Oberon, Puck, etc for some truly crazy doings (and a group of homeless people putting on a musical version of Soylent Green…)
Priya Parmar, Exit the Actress
Another one I was reluctant to pick up at first–I love Nell Gwyn and have read sooo many novels about her. How could I need another one?? But this was unlike any other I’ve read lately, I started it early one evening and didn’t stop I finished it!
Chris Skidmore, Death and the Virgin Queen
A new account of the mysterious death of Amy Robsart Dudley in 1560, utilizing some fascinating new forensic evidence found from the original inquiry. A story I never tire of speculating about!
Cherie Burns, Searching for Beauty: The Life of Millicent Rogers
I grew up visiting Taos, New Mexico every summer, and my parents would take me to the Millicent Rogers Museum many times. But I never knew much about the woman who once owned that house and the fabulous art and jewelry collections it houses (except for the fact that she wore fabulous clothes in the photos on the wall!). It turns out the Standard Oil heiress (who died in the 1950s at age 51) had an incredibly adventurous and glamorous life that reads like an novel…
I haven’t been to the movies much this year, but I did see some I enjoyed very much: Like Crazy, The Descendants, Melancholia, The Mill and the Cross, and the gorgeous Midnight in Paris were a few.
How was your reading year in 2011??? Did you get any fabulous new books for Christmas presents?
I’ve gotten to hear Amanda Foreman talk about her book, although I haven’t read it yet. I adored Jehanne Wake’s book, I had heard about the sisters while researching Betsey Patterson, who had been friends initially with the sisters. All the other books sound great. And you must see Sherlock Holmes!
Elizabeth, I am saving Sherlock Holmes for my “after the book is turned in” treat next week! I can’t wait…
NO! No books for gifts this year,not even a gift card. I don’t know what is wrong with my family; they’re losing it. But I have seen two great movies: Sherlock Holmes and Mission Impossible. I will be taking my Grandson to see the Chipmunk movie tomorrow.
I cannot remember the last time I actually went to see a movie in an actual theatre! I do like to watch them on DVDs though when they come out. This was a so-so year for me bookwise – I read an awful lot of books (amazon/kindle was very happy) but only a few really stood out.
The Help – loved it.
Eileen Dreyers “Never a Gentleman”, love it not only because it was a great story but because Dreyer committed a complete no-no in romance but did it in a way that managed to still make you fall in love more and more with the hero and heroine.
Julia Quinn’s Just Like Heaven – I never ever want to see her stop writing related books to the Bridgertons!
Sarah MacLeans “Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake” – as with any of Sarah’s books, the wait is always worth it
Kieran Kramer “When Harry Met Molly” – great new author
Rachel Gibson “Nothing But Trouble”
and finally, 2011 was the year I discovered Lauren Willig!
I’m afraid I haven’t read a lot of romance this year (not as much read as usual all the way around), but I am in the middle of Cecilia Grant’s “A Lady Awakened” and it is wonderful 🙂
You have just added to my wish list. Not that I need any more on it.
No books for gifts although I did buy a few myself. My husband kept trying to buy me a Kindle and I kept talking him out of it. That was so DUMB. I guess now my only hope is to win one.
We went to New Orleans last March. Before going, I started Jennifer Blake’s MASTER AT ARMS series. I finished 2 before going, one while there, started another, and finished that one and the last two after getting home. I really enjoyed them. She researched them well. It was nice seeing the places she described and after getting home, knowing just where a character was standing or what the building looked like. It made the books come alive and made New Orleans more enjoyable.
Just before Christmas, I was catching up with JAnet Chapman’s Highlanders.