The Friends and Family


Fourth page. List starts with the most recent at the top.  Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Kay read: MESSENGER OF TRUTH by Jacqueline Winspear
In Messenger of Truth, Maisie Dobbs is hired to investigate the death of an artist on the eve of a very important art show in London in 1931. The death has been ruled accidental, but one of his family members has serious doubts so hires Maisie as a private investigator. The more Maisie researches the case, the more cans of worms she opens up. And when she finally finds the truth, it is devastating. **Part of my Favorite Historical Mystery Series read in 2006

Kay read: PARDONABLE LIES by Jacqueline Winspear
In Pardonable Lies, Maisie Dobbs, private investigator and psychologist who works in London in the late 1920's and early 1930's, is hired to find out the true fates of two English soldiers thought to have died in France in WW1. In traveling to France, Maisie must face down her own nightmares and dragons as she was once a battlefield nurse in France during the War. **Favorite Historical Mystery read in 2006 **Part of my Favorite Historical Mystery Series read in 2006

Kay read: THE BOLEYN INHERITANCE by Philippa Gregory
The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory goes back to the court of Henry VIII and explores the lives of three women who lived late in that King's reign - his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, his fifth wife, Katherine Howard, and the spiteful and treacherous madwoman who was in service to them both - Jane Boleyn - who had already helped send her husband George and his sister, Anne, to their deaths. The Boleyn family, in helping Henry break with his first wife and with the Church, taught him that he had absolute power. And then they paid the price. The Boleyn Inheritence to all of England and its royal court: false witness, selling your soul for wealth and power, false accusations against those who stand in your way when you seek power, the threat of an axe, a mad and paranoid King drunken with power who uses injustice as a tool. The book shines in its portrait of Anne of Cleves - a very kind and intelligent young woman thrust into a horrible situation, without a word of English - and who not only survives but eventually thrives. **Honorable Mention for my Favorite Historical Novel read in 2006

The tumultuous life and times of the last true Queen of France. She was one of the youngest in her family, the huge royal family of Austria, and not properly educated or prepared for her eventual great marriage. Her husband was an unattractive man who was unsuited for the role he was born into. While she had a good heart, she was often too self absorbed and spoiled - not to mention ignorant of the poverty and hunger and anger stalking through France - to fully use her better nature to improve the lives of her subjects. This is a first person novelization of some of the events of her life.

Joy read: HORSE PASSAGES by Jennifer Macaire
Horse herders are also explorers, discovering new planets with the help of horses who have the special talent of creating passages across space. Twins Meagan and Carl are the youngest of all the herders. Maegan battles Raiders, a sentient species who captured their parents; and Carl gets more lost than any herder has been in a long time. Good reading for teenagers; Macaire especially brings Maegan to life. **Most enjoyable Youth Book I read in 2006

Joy read: THE ENCHANTED ISLE by D.E. Stevenson
I revived myself with one of my Christmas gifts. D.E. Stevenson was writing lovable, admirable romantic novels when I was born. This one is about Charlotte Fairlie, a lonely young school headmistress. Her position requires that she not "play favorites" by making any friends at her school. But she finds herself loving new student Tessa McRynne, heir to a Scottish laird. Charlotte's summer vacation at The McRynne's castle opens up new worlds. THE ENCHANTED ISLE does not leap into bed. It develops so slowly that we know and love Charlotte well by the time she finally meets Tessa's father. This is for those who want to read about people rather than passion.

Joy read: THE ROAD TO A HANGING by Mike Kearby
...But quit a third of the way through. This is labeled Young Adult. I thought the story was as inappropriate for youngsters as its title is. An ex-slave goes West after the Civil War, becomes an expert cowboy, and suffers many injustices. There was some enjoyable adventure, including an exciting horse race, but don't give it to kids. Cheating, lying, backstabbing, and injustice are commonplaces. They give it an atmosphere unwholesome for youngsters. Unwholesome for anyone else, too, but at least adults aren't learning how to live from what they read. I was thrilled when a woman I work with actually
wanted to read and review this, so I could back out of my promise to do it.

Kay read: FIRE by Sebastian Junger
Just finished reading Fire by Sebastian Junger (probably much better known as the author of Perfect Storm). It is a collection of magazine articles he wrote as a wandering reporter - many of them from spots of high danger such as a firestorm in the Rockies, Afghanistan in civil war, Sierra Leone in civil war, and Kosovo at the height of the genocide. Depressing but interesting.

Kay read: IF I'D KILLED HIM WHEN I MET HIM by Sharyn McCrumb
Sharyn McCrumb wrote a mystery book called If I'd Killed Him When I Met Him. It tells the stories of some clients of a tiny law firm in rural Virginia. Some fifty year old men are having midlife crises and are behaving badly. They are then turning up dead. Their ex-wives or wives are suspects and the law firm must defend them, or prove them innocent if applicable. While it was morbid, it was also pretty funny in places (though I am not sure many middle aged men might find it to be very funny).

Joy read: THE GRAND SOPHY by Georgette Heyer
When Sophy moves in with her cousins, the family of Lord Ombersley, it doesn't take her long to realize they need her help. Sophy breathes life into the household with her good nature and her ingenious plots to make everyone around her as happy as she is. The climax makes it one of the funniest romances I have read. One of Heyer's best, and that's saying some. **Most enjoyable Romance I reread in 2006

Kay read: SECRETS OF A SUMMER NIGHT by Lisa Kleypas
Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas is a romance set in the early Victorian era. Annabelle Peyton is on one of the lowest rungs of the Ton. She must marry wealth to keep her impoverished family afloat. Simon Hunt is a wealthy industrialist and financier who straddles the worlds of the working class and the upper class. The people in Annabelle's class look down on Simon, even as they use him to build their wealth. The people of Simon's class look down on Annabelle, as a worthless woman who does not know how to make an honest living. In order to become a couple these two people must learn how to deal with class prejudice.

Kay read: BARELY A BRIDE by Rebecca Hagan Lee
Barely a Bride by Rebecca Hagan Lee is a Regency romance which tells the story of two people who married each other so as to each be as independent as possible. Viscount Abernethy is ordered by his father to marry before taking up his commission and going off to Spain to fight against Napoleon's armies. Lady Alyssa only wants to be left alone to design beautiful gardens. They make a marriage of convenience - but everything changes when Abernathy is terribly wounded in a battle.

Kay read: THE UNRULY CHAPERON by Elizabeth Rolls
The Unruly Chaperon by Elizabeth Rolls is a Regency romance which tells the story of Mathilda, Lady Winter. She was an abused teenager living with her aunt and uncle until they forced her to marry a very elderly Lord looking for a young wife to have children. Now a very wealthy young widow at age 25, she is asked by those odious relatives to chaperon her young cousin at the house party of the cousin's suitor. Upon arriving at the party, it soon becomes clear that the suitor greatly prefers the beautiful widow to her younger cousin.

Kay read: DIANA TREGARDE INVESTIGATES by Mercedes Lackey
Diana Tregarde Investigates by Mercedes Lackey is an omnibus with three books featuring character Diana Tregarde - professional romance writer, practicing white witch, and supernatural Guardian of the innocent. Over the course of the omnibus, she faces off against legendary Japanese monsters, vampires of emotion, the avatars of Aztec gods, and a body stealing sorceress with centuries of experience and power to pull on.

Kay read: TOUCH NOT THE CAT by Tracy Fobes
I was in the mood for relaxing mind candy, and this book fit the bill. More than a bit silly, and perfect for the sort of book I wished to read. It is a Regency romance featuring a studly English Duke and the daughter of a Scottish Earl. And oh yeah - she is under a curse where she periodically turns into a leopard-sized were-cat. And only true love with a member of the clan her clan has been carrying on a blood feud for centuries will break the spell. And do I even have to mention that the Duke carries blood from that clan in his veins?

Joy read: VENETIA by Georgette Heyer
A beautiful orphan grew up in an isolated community of Yorkshire because her father Lord Lanyon was a recluse. The wicked Lord Damerel takes up residence on the next estate, and forms an instant friendship with Venetia and her eccentric brother Aubrey. Venetia discovers how unimportant social conventions can be, but has trouble convincing others that she doesn't need to be conventional. I couldn't count the number of times I have read my favorite Heyers, including this one.

Kay read: JANE AND THE BARQUE OF FRAILTY by Stephanie Barron
The ninth book in her mystery series featuring authoress Jane Austen as the sleuth. In this installment, Jane is staying with her brother Henry and his wife Eliza, in London, as the publisher prepares Sense and Sensibility for the presses. At a nearby home belonging to a Lord active in politics, a Russian princess is found with her throat slit. While most of Polite Society thinks that the unfortunate woman harmed herself, Jane is not so sure...

Joy read: THE RIVER OF ADVENTURE by Enid Blyton
The children go on vacation boating in some invented country in the Middle East, though it has several resemblances to Egypt. Bill is tracking an international criminal who is expert with disguises. The children, of course, find themselves separated from Bill. In some very tight spots they get help from a starving native boy, a poisonous snake, and Kiki the parrot. This is the last of the series, and not so well tied up as the rest.

Kay read: FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley
I must have seen too many cheesy and bad movies based upon this novel, as I did not have high expectations. This turned out to be a very intelligent, literate, and stunningly good book. **Favorite Horror Book read in 2006

Joy read: THE CIRCUS OF ADVENTURE by Enid Blyton
The children go on vacation with a spoiled boy that Bill brings home, and wind up being whisked off to a foreign country by evil men (and an evil woman this time). Jack joins a circus there with his talking parrot Kiki, who has a great time entertaining. The circus setting is fun, especially the bears.

Joy read: THE VALLEY OF ADVENTURE by Enid Blyton
The children get on the wrong airplane, and end up stranded in a valley that is being used by evil men in search of treasure. I loved the cave they found to live in, so much that I used to make up stories about it when I was a kid.

Joy read: THE SEA OF ADVENTURE by Enid Blyton
The children and their policeman friend Bill go up to the British northwest isles to watch birds. Bill needs to get out of reach of some evil men for a while, because he has been too hot on their trail. Naturally, they are all walking into the evil men's nest. This has enticing images of boating through the sea full of islands, and huge bird colonies. The children are helped by a delightful pair of puffins.

Joy read: THE CASTLE OF ADVENTURE by Enid Blyton
More sheer escapism. All the children wanted to do is watch eagles in a supposedly-abandoned castle, but evil men are messing about with maps in a hidden room under it. The children are helped by a wild mountain girl and a fox cub.

Kay read: THE GHOST BRIGADES by John Scalzi
It is set in the same universe as his novel Old Man's War, but it is a stand alone story. When a leading human scientist defects to a coalition of three alien races who hate humans, the Colonial Defense Corps decides to grow a clone body with his DNA and implant a copy of his electronically stored memories into that body in order to try to figure out why he became a traitor and what he is doing to sabotage mankind. The clone body is one with many special features usually reserved only for special forces soldiers. When the memories do not take, the clone is assigned to the special forces. After some stressful combat situations, the implanted memories begin to surface. As he begins to understand the reasons behind the treason, and begins to feel his progenitor's emotions, Jared (the clone) will have to face some huge decisions. **Honorable Mention for my Favorite Adventure read in 2006 **Honorable Mention for my Favorite Science Fiction read in 2006

Joy read: WHEN RABBIT HOWLS by The Troops for Truddi Chase
An immensely thought-provoking account of dealing with multiple personality, written by the patient. Her therapist seems stuck on the idea that child incest is the cause of multiple personality, but even in the mainstream published accounts, in this rare but popular sub-genre, it can be seen that the key is being intimately trapped with a person or persons who habitually torture the child. It seems to take talent to become a multiple personality. Only the creative ones can create other personalities who preserve the forbidden character traits and don't remember the unendurable memories, and only the very smart ones can find ways to survive without memory.

Joy read: THE MOUNTAIN OF ADVENTURE by Enid Blyton
Four children find danger on vacation in Wales. They are helped by Kiki, a voluble parrot, and Snowy, an affectionate young goat. They are hindered by evil men experimenting with dangerous science inside a mountain. Sheer escape into a classic kids' adventure series. Political correctness begins to look like Puritanism these days, and a good example is when it rejects this 1949 adventure perfectly gauged to delight children without lecturing them.

Kay read: THE PERSIAN EXPEDITION by Xenophon
I read Xenophon's The Persian Expedition; a great adventure story from ancient Greece. 10,000 Greek mercenaries take part in a Persian civil war. When the person who hired them is defeated and killed, they must march back to Greece from what today is called Iraq - crossing high mountains in the winter and fighting hostile tribes all the way back. **Favorite Adventure read in 2006

Joy read: VANISH by Tess Gerritsen
Detective Jane Rizzoli, very pregnant, is taken hostage in a hospital by a Jane Doe who had been declared dead. Her husband Gabriel and their friend Dr. Maura Isles feel that something is wrong with this picture. Review.

Joy read: BEYOND THESE WALLS by Rachel Gunner & Hanna Gabriele
A woman with multiple personalities collaborated with her therapist to write this book about her life and therapy. Review.

Kay read: THE SHARING KNIFE: BEGUILEMENT by Lois McMaster Bujold
Lois McMaster Bujold's The Sharing Knife: Beguilement is the first half of a new fantasy duology. It tells the story of a young girl named Fawn Bluefield and a warrior/sorcerer from another race on the same world named Dag. The two meet on the road, and come to share a terrifying adventure. They manage to barely survive it, and at great personal cost. The adventure binds them together both emotionally and through the miss-spelling of a powerful magical knife. For the two to be together, they must face down both of their peoples, who frown on alliances between individuals of the two races. Also - what happened to the knife is unprecedented, and a great mystery which needs to be explained. Part fantasy, part romance, and part mystery, this was an enjoyable first half of a story. **Honorable Mention for my Favorite Fantasy read in 2006

Kay read: OLD MAN'S WAR by John Scalzi
John Scalzi's Old Man's War was a finalist for the 2005 Hugo for best novel, and I found it to be the most enjoyable book of the five finalists. In fact, it was one of the funnest and sheerly enjoyable science fiction reads I have encountered in quite some time. On his 75'th birthday, Ohioan John Perry does two things. He visits the grave of his beloved wife and he joins the military. The galaxy is a violent place filled with intelligent aliens who like to add humans to their menu. So the Colonial Defense Corps recruits people who have long lives filled with learning and experience. And all of that learning and experience will be needed as they will be spending the next several years visiting one hot spot after another throughout the galaxy, defending mankind's hard won colonies and waging war after war. When you enlist you leave Earth and are never allowed to return. The few who survive will be given a generous homestead on a colony at the end of their enlistment. But when going in, the recruits know little of what will happen to them and what they will become! This book made me think (but was never preachy), made me laugh, made me cry, and was incredibly heart warming at times. It was just wonderful. **Favorite Science Fiction read in 2006 **Favorite Debut Novel read in 2006

Kay read: SPIN by Robert Charles Wilson
Robert Charles Wilson's Spin is the 2005 Hugo winner for best novel. It tells of how one night, the stars vanish from the skies of Earth. It soon becomes clear that the Earth has been enclosed in a bubble which distorts time. While billions of years pass by in the universe outside of the bubble, one human lifetime will pass by on the Earth. The story follows the lives of three people who were children when the Spin started, and follows their lives well into adulthood. Jason is filled with awe by Spin. Filled with amazement, he becomes a leading scientist to find out what the Spin is, and who (or what) has produced it. His twin sister, Diane, is terrified by the Spin. She ends up becoming involved in a series of bizarre fundamentalist cults looking for some sort of hope. Their best friend, Tyler, wants to help people have the best lives they can, Spin or no Spin. He becomes a doctor. As Jason finally begins to understand Spin, life on Earth becomes odder and odder, with stranger and ever stronger changes. **Honorable Mention for my Favorite Science Fiction read in 2006

Kay read: BLOOD AND IVORY by P.C. Hodgell
P. C. Hodgell's Blood and Ivory is a short story collection set primarily on the world and with some of the characters from her classic fantasy novel Godstalk. There are three peoples forged together into one in service of a Three Faced god. They fight Perimal Darkling, the forces of evil and chaos on world to world, eventually losing each world one by one through the millennia. Finally one of their leaders betrays the peoples and their god and makes a pact with the forces of chaos to become immortal. In one night he slays a huge number of the three fold peoples, and the few remnants flee to the final world in the chain - Rathiliien. There is born twins - blood binders with a strong ability for magic. One of the twins, Torisen, will become the leader of the peoples. The other - Jame - looks like she will become much more than that as she investigates the world, slays gods, resurrects gods, becomes a master thief, and begins to come into her power.

Kay read: THE ICE DRAGON by George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin's The Ice Dragon is a novella for older children, but I loved it. Adara, a winter child, befriends an ice dragon, a rare and magical creature that brings winter with it wherever it goes. When their homeland is invaded by fiery dragons in the service of a neighboring land's king, Adara and her beloved friend might be the only hope that Adara's family and nation have to survive. But at what price?

Kay read: A BITE TO REMEMBER by Lynsay Sands
Lynsay Sands's A Bite to Remember is a part of her Argeneau vampire series; supernatural romance stories. In this installment, vampire Vincent Argeneau's company, which produces original Broadway plays throughout the US and Canada, is being shut down through acts of vandalism and violence. He asks his New York cousin for advice, and he sends some top private investigators out to Vincent in California to both keep Vincent safe and to discover who is vandalizing the company and why. Vincent (centuries old and a bit old fashioned in a lot of ways) is shocked when the chief detective turns out to be both a mortal and a beautiful (and very tough and intelligent) woman. Sparks soon fly, while the violence towards the company and Vincent quickly escalates.

Kay read: STRANGE CANDY by Laurell K. Hamilton
Laurell K. Hamilton's Strange Candy is a wonderful short story collection. Particularly enjoyable were the haunting story The Edge of the Sea, which tells of a merman who is a serial rapist and murderer, and the woman who manages to stop him - and hilarious and very cute Lust of Cupids which tells about how flocks of cupids (who can be bribed!!) fly about hunting down single people above a certain age to force them to fall in love! **Best Short Story Collection read in 2006 **To A Lust of Cupids, Best Short Story read in 2006

Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan has a title that sounds like a children's book, but it is an adult novel about the precious value of friendship in the lives of Chinese women in the late 1800's. Two girls of the Yao people of China are bound together in their childhoods as laotong, the most emotionally intimate lifelong relationship possible for their people. It is a formal and contractually bound relationship, more important to a woman than her marriage, as her husband can bring home concubines, but she will always be the most important person in her friend's life, and her friend will always be the most important person in hers. When your laotong comes for a visit, your husband vacates the marriage bed for the length of her visit, so you can have that time together! The women send messages back and forth in nu shu, a secret written language known only to women. As the years go by, Lily and Snow Flower pass these secret messages back and forth on a fan, sharing and commemorating all of the important events of their lives. The greatest crisis of their lives comes from a misunderstanding that threatens their relationship.

Kay read: FRANKLIN AND WINSTON by Jon Meacham
Jon Meacham explores the inner workings of a friendship that helped save the world in Franklin and Winston. Churchill and FDR were not only great leaders for their countries in a time of crisis, but they shared a friendship and a deep affection for each other, forged during the war years.

Kim Edwards's novel The Memory Keeper's Daughter tells the story of what horrendous secrets and lies can do to both an individual and to the relationships with everyone he loves. In a freak snow storm in 1964, in Lexington, Kentucky, a doctor ends up delivering his wife's twins in his medical office when they cannot get to the hospital on the bad roads. He is helped only by a nurse, who has long been secretly in love with him. The first twin, the boy, is perfectly healthy. The second twin, the girl, has Down's Syndrome. Dr. Henry gives the baby girl to the nurse and tells her to take the baby to an institution near Louisville. When his wife comes out from under the anesthesia, he tells her the second baby died at birth. The nurse, Caroline, does take the baby to Louisville, but the institution is a terrible place. She decides to keep Phoebe and raise her as her own. the story tells of the twins growing to adulthood - and how very different their family situations are and how that affects them as they grow to adulthood.

Kay read: SMOKE AND MIRRORS by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors is a collection of some of that highly regarded fantasy writer's short stories and poems. I particularly enjoyed a pair of fractured fairy tales in Troll Bridge and especially the wonderful Snow, Glass, Apples. **Honorable Mention for my Best Short Story Collection read in 2006

Kay read: LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER by Diana Gabaldon
Diana Gabaldon's Lord John and the Private Matter is a mystery book set in London in 1757. While it features a character from her Outlander series, it is a stand alone book. On a lovely early summer day, Lord John Grey is relieving himself at his gentleman's club in London. He glances over at the gentleman using the chamber pot next to his, and sees unmistakable and shocking proof that the man has a venereal disease. Unfortunately, the man is set to wed Lord John's innocent young cousin in a few short weeks. Lord John must find a way for the engagement to be broken without any scandal sullying his cousin's reputation. Grey is a high ranking officer in His Majesty's army; when a comrade-in-arms is murdered in London in circumstances that indicate he might have been a traitor, Lord John is charged by the Crown to head the investigation. Strangely, the two quests seem to be coming together - and both trails seem to lead into some of the strangest brothels in England.

Todd read: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen
Some psychologists think Jane Austen had Asperger's Syndrome. It's amazing how many AS traits Mr Darcy exhibits. He's quiet, emotionally distant, can be rude, shows little care or understanding of the emotions of others, is brutally honest, has an extreme view of right and wrong, thinks in absolutes, if he does speak he has a tendency to monologue, communicates better in writing, is disturbed by his own emotions, will eavesdrop openly, will stare at Elizabeth without caring how it affects her, has no understanding of the rules of social interaction. And he's the hero.
   I also think Charlotte is Jane Austen in disguise, her view of herself. That's an intuitive response. I have no clear evidence for it.

Joy read: KIPLING: A READER edited by Edward Parone
Short stories chosen to be the best of Rudyard Kipling's known and unknown shorts. The first half was stories set in Colonial India. I wasn't able to identify with the British Colonial India mentality, but I did enjoy
The Mark of the Beast, in which a newby to India desecrates an Indian temple and suffers an exotic curse as punishment.
   In the second half of the book we came back to Europe, and immediately read
The Bull That Thought, a powerful description of a fighting bull, written with whimsy and glory. **Most enjoyable Short Story I read in 2006
   I also thoroughly enjoyed
The House Surgeon, a ghost story that looks more deeply into the ranges of human emotion than ghost stories of today do. "They" delighted me with its gorgeous estate and elusive children, until it brought me up short at the end without satisfaction or understanding. The Gardener is astonishingly small for a story that covers so much ground so movingly.
   Then there was
Baa Baa, Black Sheep. Utterly ghastly account of a little boy's childhood. He starts out innocent and a bit full of himself, falls under the power of a vicious, self-righteous woman, and comes out sneaky and terrified to the point of attempting murder. I was appalled when I went back to the editor's Foreword and read that this story was autobiographical.
Nowadays we almost take this kind of childhood in stride -- as long as it is someone else's childhood -- but in Kipling's day readers must have preferred to pretend this story was never written.

Kay read: GOD'S TERRORISTS by Charles Allen
Charles Allen's God's Terrorists traces the history of the modern Muslim jihad movement from its origin in what is now Saudi Arabia in the 1700's. Two branches of Wahhabism grew from one root - one that stayed in Arabia and one that grew in the Indian subcontinent and was a near constant thorn in the side of the British. Both strains thought they were the only true religion, and thought that even Sunni and Shia branches of Muslims were wrong, and called for jihad against all other peoples, mainstream Muslim and other religions alike. Established branches of the Muslim religion thought, in turn, that the Wahhabis were completely wrong, and heretics. The two branches of Wahhabism reunited in Afghanistan in recent years to produce both the Taliban and al-Queda.

Kay read: THE SHAPE SHIFTER by Tony Hillerman
Tony Hillerman's The Shape Shifter is the latest in his wonderful series of mystery books set in the desert Southwest of the US, and feature members of the Navajo tribal police force as his sleuths. Joe Leaphorn is now retired from the police force. Someone from the old days contacts him to tell him that a priceless - and cursed - historical Navajo rug has turned up in Flagstaff. The rug had been thought destroyed when a craft gallery had burned to the ground in unusual circumstances in New Mexico many years before. The fire supposedly took the life of a drifter, who had turned out to be wanted by the FBI on many counts of murder. Leaphorn's friend begins to investigate how the rug came to Flagstaff, and then vanishes. Leaphorn travels to Arizona from his home in New Mexico to investigate what happened to his old friend, and finds a world of trouble.

Kay read: BIRDS OF A FEATHER by Jacqueline Winspear
Jacqueline Winspear's Birds of a Feather is the second of her Maisie Dobbs mystery series. Maisie is hired by a wealthy man to find his daughter, who has run away from home. It soon becomes clear that there is a lot more going on, as some of the woman's friends are being killed. Did the woman run away because she is afraid or because she is guilty? Who is murdering these women (at least two of whom are leading exemplary lives), and why? **Part of my Favorite Historical Mystery Series read in 2006

Kay read: UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN by Jon Krakauer
Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven tackles religious extremism and how religious extremists (in this case, fundamentalist Mormons who had been excommunicated from the LDS church for their extreme and unacceptable beliefs) can sometimes come to commit violence in the name of God (in this case the cold blooded murder of a fine young woman and her innocent baby because they thought that God told them to do it). While these two brothers just happened to be fundamentalist Mormons (and their actions were abhorred by Mormons who belong to the main church based in Salt Lake City), even one of the murderers can see the similarities between himself and the 9/11 terrorists in believing that they are killing for God and following the instructions of the person they believe to be their prophet. Chilling look at some pretty frightening people.

Kay read: DOMINION by Fred Saberhagen
Fred Saberhagen's Dominion was a very odd book. Dracula controls Chicago. When some other dangerous immortals move into his territory (Chicago and the northern Illinois countryside) to fight over a mystical weapon of great power, Dracula takes exception.

Kay read: THIRTEEN MOONS by Charles Fraser
Charles Fraser's Thirteen Moons is set in the nineteenth century in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. A young orphaned white boy is sent off into the mountains into Cherokee country (then not a part of the US) to run a trading post. He is eventually adopted by one of the chiefs, and goes on to live a pretty interesting life as a lawyer, an advocate for the Cherokee, a chief of the tribe, a Confederate officer, and a man haunted by a passionate first love.

Kay read: A MIST OF PROPHECIES by Steven Saylor
Steven Saylor's A Mist of Prophecies is one of his Roma Sub Rosa mystery series, set in ancient Rome. A girl called Cassandra and said to be a prophetess, dies in the arms of Gordianus the Finder, claiming she had been poisoned. Seven of the wealthiest and most powerful women in Rome turn up to witness her cremation. One of them is probably the murderer - but who and why? In a time when the fabric of Roman life was forever changing, and when Caesar and Pompey the Great were fighting a civil war in Greece, this was an interesting story about the intrigues of the powerful women left at home and trying to forward the interests of their husbands and families. **Honorable Mention for my Favorite Historical Mystery Novel read in 2006 **Honorable Mention for part of my Favorite Historical Mystery Series read in 2006

Kay read: THE DUCHESS DIARIES by Mia Ryan
The Duchess Diaries by Mia Ryan is a Regency romance that I could not resist, since my nickname is Duchess. A young and spirited girl who would prefer outdoor sports to dancing must go to London to find a rich husband to rescue her family from genteel poverty. A diary from her beloved grandmother, who had been a duchess, and written with her in mind, advises her in her quest.

Joy read: THE HEADMASTER'S WIFE by Jane Haddam
The 20th
Gregor Demarkian mystery. Mark's elite private school thinks he is constantly zoned out on drugs. Mark knows he isn't. When his roommate hangs himself, the only person Mark can think of to help him with the madness is his mother's friend Gregor. Haddam's characterization has so much momentum I can even read her books when I'm exhausted.

Carla read: THE REIGN OF ARTHUR: FROM HISTORY TO LEGEND by Christopher Gidlow

Excellent survey and evaluation of the historical sources and the evidence they provide regarding the existence of a king called Arthur in post-Roman Britain.  The book is a refreshingly objective survey of the evidence (refreshing because this is a field that too often descends into partisan arguments that generate more heat than light). Demanding of concentration but well worth the effort.  Review.

Joy read: A STILLNESS IN BETHLEHEM by Jane Haddam
The 7th
Gregor Demarkian mystery. Gregor, Bennis, and Father Tibor try to vacation in Bethlehem, Vermont, for the yearly Christmas pageant, but someone there is having too many hunting accidents. Funny because of its human observation. Review.

Joy read: BLOOD TRILLIUM by Julian May
Part of the
Trillium series she wrote with Marion Zimmer Bradley and Andre Norton. I found it slow and kind of claustrophobic. Most of the action was inside the minds of the triplet sisters. I never did take to this group of books.

Todd read: OLIVER TWIST by Charles Dickens

Joy read: SECOND SIGHT by Amanda Quick
This birthday present was a quick way to a relaxing afternoon. Quick/Krentz knows just what her readers like.

Joy read: MAJOR OPERATION by James White
The 3rd novel in the James White
sci fi omnibus that Kay just read. Dr Conroy's patient is the size of a subcontinent, and with no concept of surgery -- or of communication! How do they keep the necessary amputation from turning into a war? We meet fascinating new beings like the "tools," which are directed by thought, and their planet's disconcerting version of doctors.

Kay read: MY GREAT BIG FAT SUPERNATURAL WEDDING by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Charlaine Harris, L. A. Banks, and Jim Butcher
An anthology with stories involving weddings with supernatural elements. The highlights (to me) were stories by Charlaine Harris and Jim Butcher. The Jim Butcher story, while lacking a basic knowledge of Chicago geography, made me laugh my head off.

Kay read: BEGINNING OPERATIONS by James White
An omnibus of his first three Sector General science fiction books. A lot of fun, combining medical drama with mystery and space opera. Sector General is an unimaginably huge space station which functions as a general hospital for dozens and dozens of intelligent species, all of which need different sorts of care and environments. Great stuff! **Honorable Mention for Favorite Science Fiction Series read in 2006

Kay read: THE CONSTANT PRINCESS by Philippa Gregory
The latest of her historical novels set in the Tudor courts of England. This one tells the story of Katherine of Aragon, from her girlhood spent on the battlefields of Spain to her upbringing by Moorish servants in the harem of the Alhambra Palace, to her marriage to Arthur, the Prince of Wales, her impoverished widowhood, and her second marriage to Arthur's spoiled and selfish brother, Henry VIII. While Henry was in France, she personally led troops against a Scottish invasion army. Katherine begins as arrogant and ambitious, and has to realize some unpleasant truths about herself, and her fabled parents (Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain) before she can become likable.

Kay read: THE LADIES OF GRACE ADIEU by Susanna Clarke
A short story collection where most of the stories are set in the same magical England as her award winning (and wonderful) novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. The stories are very charming, and a lot of fun. **Honorable Mention for Best Short Story Collection read in 2006

Kay read: ODD THOMAS by Dean Koontz
A twenty year old kid lives in a town in the California desert and works as a diner cook. He has a wonderful girl friend and soul mate named Stormy. Unfortunately, he sees ghosts and evil spirits, and that greatly complicates his life as he tries to bring criminals to justice and to prevent tragedies. Odd is a gentle and loving soul, and he is a fun character to read about. **Honorable Mention for my Favorite Horror Book read in 2006

Lois read: HYPERION by Dan Simmons
First, you need to realize that you can't read just
Hyperion, you have to read the second book as well (The Fall of Hyperion), because the first one just drops you like a rock at the end, with no questions answered and many, many mysteries pending. So you're looking at 900 pages of very dense reading. I got about 2/3 of the way through just the first one in two weeks, realized it would take another month to finish them both, weighed my options, and ended up just skimming the rest.
   The writing is excellent, the intellectual puzzles and classical references (which abound) are superb, the action is gripping, the ending of the second book provides logical answers for all questions, and wraps up everything neatly and happily for those characters (maybe half) that survived the horror, terror, and depression of the preceding 900 pages.
   This pair of books is also way too long for anyone who works full time, quite depressing most of the time, and not fun to read. There are virtually no likeable characters. The only thing that kept me going for as long as it did was the intellectual challenge. The author is obviously "clinically" brilliant, but I did not enjoy the book(s).

By New York Times columnist Frank Rich. It was pretty damning towards the Bush administration, and towards members of Congress of both parties to let Bush get away with the lies he spun to start the Iraq war; and how everything began to fall apart with the lies and cronyism and incompetence that Katrina exposed.
   Anyway, the author has the especially damning timeline of what the administration knew as opposed to what the administration said online, if anyone would like to read it.

Kay read: THE JUDGEMENT OF CAESAR by Steven Saylor
Another of Steven Saylor's Roman Sub Rosa mysteries, set in ancient Alexandria, when Julius Caesar has to choose whether to support Cleopatra or her brother Ptolemy in the Egyptian Civil War -while he himself still wars with Pompey the Great in the Roman Civil War. Gordianus the Finder ends up right in the middle of the action, as he brings his very sick wife Bethesda back to Egypt, where she was born. **Honorable Mention for part of my Favorite Historical Mystery Series read in 2006

Kay read: ACCELERANDO by Charles Stross
A book that was nominated for the 2005 Hugo best novel, but I struggled with it. I tend to prefer character driven stories, and this was not one. It was well written, and those who like "cyberpunk" novels would probably like it. It tells of the future evolution of mankind, brought about through technology, and seen through the things that happen to three generations of one very dysfunctional family.

Kay read: LEARNING THE WORLD by Ken McLeod
An enjoyable science fiction novel of First Contact, told from the points of view from both the humans and the aliens. The contact makes both species learn again the universe and their place in it. For whatever reason I enjoyed the alien chapters more than the human chapters. This book was nominated for the 2005 Hugo for best novel, and it was a fun book to read. **Honorable Mention for my Favorite Science Fiction read in 2006

Kay read: THIS SCEPTER'D ISLE by Mercedes Lackey and Roberta Gellis
Mercedes Lackey and Roberta Gellis co-wrote a very enjoyable story set in the court of Henry VIII of England. The elves of Britain see a great vision where a red haired baby sired by Henry will become a great monarch and lead England to a Golden Age. The alternate vision is centered on a dark haired pregnant queen who will bring the Inquisition and all of its misery to Britain. The court of Light Elves, who feed from joy, send a pair of protectors named Denorial Silverhair and his twin Aleniel Silverhair to the bastard son of Henry, as Henry Fitzroy will do something of crucial importance to bring that red haired baby to the throne (though the elves have not been able to see what that will be). The Dark Elves, who feed off of misery, send the twins (same father, different mother) Pasgen Silverhair and Rhoslyn Silverhair to the court of Henry to make sure that his daughter Mary will come to the throne. Plenty of excitement and court politics - both human and elven - follow. **Honorable Mention for Favorite Fantasy read in 2006

Kay read: THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH by Robert Hicks
Tells the fictionalized story of a real life woman named Carrie McGavock, wife of a plantation and slave owner who lives in Franklin, Tennessee. Following the deaths of three of her children, Carrie sinks into a deep depression for years. When the Confederates take over her home to use as a field hospital during and after the bloody battle of Franklin, Carrie finds something to live for in caring for the wounded. After the war, a local landowner decides to plow up the field where thousands who died in the battle (including some of "her" boys) are shallowly buried, so Carrie decides to bring the dead home and bury them in her own yard so she can continue to take care of them. Interesting story that has been largely forgotten in the time since the Civil War.

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