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November 2012 Reading Round-Up

So November… I’m surprised I got any reading done at all. Various birthdays, holidays, early Christmas parties, I know I made a big effort to read but I’m still surprised. Lots to read before the new year, though I won’t say I’ll be able to achieve it all, because we all know that saying so often means it doesn’t work.

Incidentally I’m back and working on a post or two (or three) on the holiday.

The Books

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Keith Laidler: The Last Empress – Laidler presents his biography, from concubine to Dowager Empress. Not bad, but few sources are acknowledged, lots of time is spent on wars rather than the woman, and the printed errors are too many to ignore.


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Elizabeth Chadwick: The Champion – Monday wants a better life, as does Alexander, but a drunken night together changes everything and Monday makes a choice for both of them. One of the best books by Chadwick I’ve read so far.

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Laura Navarre: By Royal Command – Katrin’s widowhood leads to her uncle the King wanting to marry her off again, but she falls for the theyn sent to bring her home. A fine epic romance.

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Lee Martin: Break The Skin – two women tell their respective stories of periods of time before a crime happened. Not bad but the reveal isn’t big enough to warrant the time spent on the flashback.

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Roelof Bakker: Still – An anthology of short stories by various famous and up-and-coming writers, inspired by the included photographs by Bakker. A stirring and often harrowing collection of tales, spanning various subjects but linked by a basic theme.

Quotation Report

None this time.

Christmas doesn’t start until the Coca-Cola advert’s been on.


Belle Wong

December 3, 2012, 9:44 pm

Really like this reading round-up format – so much information, and a great list of books! STILL looks particularly interesting.


December 4, 2012, 7:42 am

Even with all those events you’ve manage to read more than me, I was rather lazy in November it seems.

Break the Skin sounds interesting, but if the reveal isn’t big enough I would probably feel disappointed.

I’ve not seen the Coca-Cola advert yet, I’m still upset the Toys R Us afdvert has changed. “There’s millons said Jeffery all under one roof”….


December 4, 2012, 4:30 pm

The cover for Break the Skin gives me the willies — ick!


December 4, 2012, 5:00 pm

November is always crazy busy isn’t it? December is always a bit nuts too ;) Heck, even October has typically been a busy least for this girl. Looks like you got some good reading in though, yay!


December 4, 2012, 5:35 pm

Considering you’ve had such a busy month, I think you’ve read a very respectful amount and really diverse too. I read a lot more in November than I thought I would.
I’ve already seen the Coca-Cola advert…but it was too early! I don’t start thinking about Christmas till December.


December 6, 2012, 2:56 pm

Nice post, Charlie! I have had ‘The Last Empress’ on my bookshelf for years and I took it out recently and was thinking of reading it. I don’t know anyone who has read the book or who even knew about it and so was pleasantly surprised to discover that you read it :) Sorry to know that the book has flaws and you didn’t like it as much as you expected to. I read the introduction to the book and I wasn’t very impressed either – I found that Laidler made casual generalizations and the introduction didn’t have the rigour that a historian might have brought to the table. I am all for regular people writing history books because they are more accessible to general readers, but when there are casual generalizations in the book, it annoys me no end. Five books in a busy month is awesome – Congratulations!


December 6, 2012, 7:07 pm

November has been crazy! I had four family birthdays in November, Thanksgiving, a wedding, and baby-sitting my niece and nephew almost full time – I can’t believe I read anything either. (And, well, I didn’t read much.)


December 7, 2012, 12:12 am

Belle: Hi! Thank you. It should be longer, with quotes included, but I’m finding less time to note them down nowadays :( Still is really excellent.

Alice: So far December is balancing it out :( The thing about Break The Skin, it’s interesting – there isn’t a big reveal but I’m wondering now if because the rest isn’t so thrilling maybe it fits. Toys R Us has changed? Loved that one, for the memories. It was almost traditional!

Audra: It’s really strange, quite icky. It fits the theme though.

Jennifer: True, and we’ll be longing for the busy times once January comes around with it lack of celebrations. I think your Octobers on the other side of the pond are more eventful than ours.

Jessica: That’s something I hadn’t thought of, actually. I did read a mixture. An early Coca-Cola advert, that’s new. They seem to get later every year, less used too.

Vishy: Thanks! That was my situation too, I bought The Last Empress during a phase of study years ago. I’ve only seen a couple of reviews and couldn’t find much information on Laidler himself. Yes, that’s it exactly, generalisations and, to be honest, I think it showed that his primary interest in China wasn’t history, but the wildlife (I think it was wildlife) documentary. He did try to be fair though, which was good. Generalisations do make it difficult when you want to study something in depth, whether for essays et al or just for yourself.

Liviania: Oh wow, compared to yours my November seems peaceful! If you didn’t read much it certainly didn’t show – you review such a lot of books!



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