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Mostly lists and information about award books and other interesting lists of books, color coded as follows:

RED–Read since ~2000
PINK–Read before that
BLUE–To Be Read and Added to Goodreads

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Catherine 's to-read book montage

The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden
Only You Can Save Mankind
Nice and Mean
Cruisers Book 1
The City of Ember
Crispin: The End of Time
Lost Goat Lane
Amelia Rules! Volume 1: The Whole World's Crazy
How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life
As Simple as It Seems
Wolf Brother
The Ogre of Oglefort
The Pickle King

Catherine 's favorite books »

Thursday, August 6, 2009

USA Today Book Roundup: Historical Fiction

By Jocelyn McClurg, Deirdre Donahue, Carol Memmott and Korina Lopez, USA TODAY.
In this week's mix: Love and war, the lives of nuns, a Dickens of a novel, and three British women with three different reasons for being in India.

Gifts of War
By Mackenzie Ford
Nan. A. Talese/Doubleday, 447 pp., $26

The best war stories are often love stories, and Mackenzie Ford has come up with a doozy. During the Christmas truce of 1914, a German soldier hands his photo to a young English officer, Hal Montgomery, with a request: Give it to his English girlfriend. After Hal is shot and wounded, he returns to England to find the girl, Sam, who has a baby son. He falls instantly in love and can't bear to tell Sam her German lover is alive. The tension builds as Hal and Sam and baby Will create a life — will the truth ever out? — making for an absorbing, morally complex read. — Jocelyn McClurg

Sacred Hearts
By Sarah Dunant
Random House, 415 pp., $25

With Sacred Hearts, Brit writer Sarah Dunant rounds out her trilogy about women during the Italian Renaissance. In 2003's The Birth of Venus, she dealt with Florentine noblewomen, and in 2006's In the Company of the Courtesan, Venetian prostitutes. Now she explores the lives of nuns in 1570 Ferrara. Alas, Hearts' plot lacks the narrative drive of the first two. A wealthy family imprisons their 16-year-old daughter in a convent against her will after an ill-advised love affair. The girl's rage upends the convent. But this tale about a cloister induces claustrophobia. — Deirdre Donahue


Girl in the Blue Dress: A Novel Inspired by the Life and Marriage of Charles Dickens
By Gaynor Arnold
Crown, 414 pp., $25.99

British novelist Gaynor Arnold, inspired by letters Dickens wrote to his wife, Catherine, spins a marvelously credible tale of what the Dickens marriage might have been like through the fictional story of Dodo Gibson, the wife of Victorian literary lion Alfred Gibson. The novel starts with the death of Gibson, who, like Dickens, was a 19th-century superstar. Arnold provocatively imagines what it must have been like to be married to a man who thought as much of himself as his fans did — and how a determined wife might have made the best of it. — Carol Memmott

East of the Sun
By Julia Gregson
Simon & Schuster trade paperback original, 512 pp., $16

It's 1928. British colonial grip on India is slipping. India, torn between the opposing forces of Gandhi, Muslum traditions and Western influences, struggles with its identity. In the midst of it: three women who have left their native England for different reasons. Naive Rose is betrothed to Jack, a stoic army officer. Brash Tor is desperate to find a husband so she won't have to return to her mother in England. Mysterious Viva, haunted by the past, seeks closure and a career as a writer. Julia Gregson expertly weaves their stories together in this vivid tale. — Korina Lopez

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