Showing posts from December, 2013

Favorite Non-fiction Books in 2013

Whew! I've created so many posts the past few days I'm happy to say this will be my last---for this year.
Thanks to Amberley Publishing for allowing me the privilege to read and review so many great British history books.

It is difficult to narrow down my favorites, rather like choosing just one piece of chocolate in a Godiva Chocolate store.

I reviewed four books by Elizabeth Norton and enjoyed all of them. I gave reviews of 4 or 5 stars. What stood out to me the most in her books were the amount of research and knowledge of the subject. A non-fiction book can be dry as toast, but her books showed enthusiasm which transferred over to me.
Books written by Elizabeth Norton:
Bessie Blount: Mistress to Henry VIII
The Anne Boleyn Papers
Elfrida: The First Crowned Queen of England
The Boleyn Women

Another author where I read more than one book, Terry Breverton. Mr. Breverton is passionate, seriously passionate about Wales. I respect him immensely for his commitment for writing the hi…

2013 Reading Challenges Update

This was a good year for reading. Final count of books read, 180. Beginning goal was 175. Thanks to Goodreads for helping me keep track. I reviewed 160 books. The books that were not reviewed were cookbooks, devotionals, or a few books that were a 1 star rating.
In 2013 the following challenges I took part in and did pretty good at completing them. The Historical Fiction reading challenge I surpassed my reading goal, but did not post any of them at the hosts link up in order for them to count.

The reading challenge I did poorly in was War Through The Generations Challenge: I only read three books and did not fulfill my beginning goal of 5.

War Through The Generations is a creation of Serena and Anna.
Serena's blog is @
Anna's blog is @

In 2009---This challenge was on World War II.
In 2010---This challenge was on Vietnam.
In 2011---This challenge was on The Civil War.
In 2012---This challenge was on World War …

British History Reading Challenge 2014

I have looked for a reading challenge for British history books and have not found one, so I've decided to host a challenge.
I love simple stuff, life itself is complicated enough and reading should be a pleasure not more pressure.
The minimal rules are:
Reading challenge is from January 1 through December 31, 2014.Read at last three British History books in 2014.You may listen to an audio book, read an e-book or hard copy, watch a movie. The reading challenge pertains to non-fiction or historical fiction, I have to draw the line at no purely fiction material. If you would like, leave a comment that you're joining as well as leaving links in the comment section of books you've reviewed. No Mr. Linky.  You may use the above illustration for your participation in challenge.

Victorian Reading Challenge 2014

I just signed up for a 2014 Victorian Reading Challenge hosted by Becky at Becky's Book Reviews.
The link for this challenge is:
The rules are simple---simple. Read at least two (between the years of 1837 and 1901) Victorian books in 2014. No linkup required.
I'm all for simple!

The first book I plan to read for this challenge is Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

Review: The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

Title: The Pilgrim's Progress
Author: John Bunyan
Publisher: Oxford World's Classics USA printed 2009. First published Part One in 1678 and Part Two in 1684, in England.
Genre: Fiction
Theme: Allegory of a Christian life
Format: Paperback
Age: Adult
Pages: 400
Rating: 3 1/2-4 Stars
Source: Self-purchase
I joined a reading-a-long from The Classics Club to read this book in August. I began reading it but it was soon put away as my dad died August 18. I did not pick the book up again and finish until December. This is the second time to read it.
Reading other reviews on Goodreads there are three comments most expressed:
"The book is an allegory.""The book is hard to read.""I don't get it."The Pilgrim's Progressis a difficult book to read, and or understand, as it's written in the English of the 1600s, plus it's an allegory. The two together are just too much for some readers and they give up.
A second problem and it's less remar…

Favorite Fiction Books of 2013

I read a total of fifty-six fiction books. I gave most of them favorable reviews from three to five stars, one book was a dud and was not reviewed.
The following fiction books stand out to me as memorable books read, they may not have gotten a five star review, but the stories and characters have taken up residence in my mind.
The Odyssey by Homer
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

The Black House by Peter May
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Murder As A Fine Art by David Morrell
Redemption on the River by Loren DeShon
Charlotte's Case by Valerie Walland
The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas
Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent
Spartacus: Rebellion Book Two by Ben Kane
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

I read all the "Station" series by David Downing, loved some more than others, all are memorable. 
Zoo Station
Silesian Station
Stettin Station
Potsdam Station
Lehrter Station
Masaryk Station

There were two books (epic poems) in particular th…

Book Blogger Hop, December 27, 2013 Through January 2, 2014

Thank you to Coffee Addicted Writer for hosting:

What books are you looking forward to reading in 2014?

2013 has been a great year of reading, total of 176 books read. Many of these books read were British history, but I failed to keep up with classic literature.
I'm in The Classics Club and have a goal of 50 books to reach by June 2017. I've read 21 so far. In 2014 I plan to read more classics. Some examples of those in my to be read pile: Great Expectations, The Count of Monte Cristo, War and Peace, Middle March, and Ivanhoe.

2014 Reading Challenges

I love reading challenges! I've spent the past few days browsing the Internet looking for 2014 reading challenges. A few I've chosen will be new for me in 2014.
The Chunkster Challenge,Back To The Classics Challenge, The Classics ClubThe European Reading Challenge, are not new.

New Challenges for 2014: 
Arthurian Literature Reading Challenge goal is Page-2 works, one of which may be Recent.
Russian Literature Challenge  goal is Level One 1-3 books,
Shakespeare Reading Challenge  goal is 1-4 Occasional Theatre-Goer.
Challenges not new and I'll take part again in 2014:
Chunkster Challenge-This year the challenge is set up differently, no defined beginning goal, just read chunkster books! In the past we were to establish certain goals for reading greater than 450 pages, or greater than 750 pages--this has changed to reading chunkster size books period. What a relief this is!
Back To The Classics Challeng…

Merry Christmas!


[Review] The Kings and Queens of Scotland by Timothy Venning

Title: The Kings and Queens of Scotland
Author: Timothy Venning
Publisher: Amberley August 2013
Genre: Non-fiction
Theme: Kings and Queens of Scotland, history of Scotland.
Format: Paperback
Age: Adult
Pages: 304, 27 color illustrations
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Free copy from Amberley for the purpose of review.

Beginning with the first recorded history of the Picts in AD 300, through the kings of Dal Riada and Strathclyde, the Viking invasion and settlements, the real history of Macbeth, Sir William Wallace, Robert Bruce, the Black Douglas and Douglas Clan, Mary Queen of Scots, James Stuart, Charles I and Charles II, the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell, and the ending of the Stuart lineage on the throne.
The Kings and Queens of Scotland, is a fascinating study of Scotland's history with emphasis on its royal families.
This has been a great year of British history reading. Thanks to Amberley for the ability to read voraciously and joyously this genre! 

I lo…

[Review] The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States

Title: The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States
Introduction: Pauline Maier
Publisher: Bantam Classic 2008
Genre: Non-fiction
Theme: American historical documents.
Format: Paperback
Age: Young adult to adult
Pages: 112
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Self-purchase
I've taken part in the War Through The Generations Challenge since they first began the program.
This year I've not kept up well. This is the third book read this year pertaining to the American Revolution.

To review the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States seems redundant; instead, this post will be on how I feel about an amendment that is often in the news. 

People who dislike reading would be attracted to this tiny book. I make this assessment because browsing the book store or shopping on Amazon, a reader would be inclined to find a lengthier book on the subject of important American documents. As an American citizen it should go without saying but I…

[Review] The Boleyn Women by Elizabeth Norton

Title: The Boleyn Women
Author: Elizabeth Norton
Publisher: Amberley 2 October 2013
Genre: Non-fiction
Theme: Biography of the Boleyn family, focusing on the women.
Format: Hardcover
Age: Adult
Pages: 336, with 48 illustrations
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Free copy from Amberley for the purpose of review.

Anne Boleyn is infamous as being Henry's tumultuous second wife. Her sister Mary was known as his mistress; however, what do we know of the other Boleyn women who lived in the 13th (late 1200s) through 17th centuries (1603); each with ambitions, intelligence, and leaving their own mark in history.
The following women are depicted in The Boleyn Women:
Alice Bracton BoleynAnne Hoo BoleynAnne Boleyn Heydon Margaret Butler BoleynElizabeth Howard BoleynMary BoleynAnne BoleynAnne Tempest Boleyn Elizabeth Wood Boleyn, Lady Boleyn Margaret (Madge) SheltonMary SheltonJane Parker Boleyn, Lady RochfordCatherine Carey Knollys, daughter of Mary Boleyn Lettice Knollys DudleyElizabeth I T…

[Review] The Monster of Florence by Magdalen Nabb

Title: The Monster of Florence
Author: Magdalen Nabb
Publisher: Soho Crime October 1, 2013
Genre: Fiction
Theme: Serial murder mystery in Italy.
Format: Hardcover
Age: Adult
Pages: 352
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Free copy from Soho Crime for the purpose of review.

Serial murders committed from the late 60s through the mid 80s has left the Florence, Italy police force unable to solve. Marshal Guarnaccia is asked by his Captain to take over the case. The time period for this story is 1990, it's been five years since a murder was committed. Guarnaccia is at first shocked he's been asked to solve the case, he does not feel adequate for this type of detective work. His Captain explains, "You won't be required to work any miracles, you can set your mind to rest about that." Yet, "the Prosecutor General" is under stress because the "Monster" of Florence has not been apprehended.  

I love Marshal Guarnaccia's character. He is not…