Sunday, January 21, 2007

This quarter's Editors' Choice books

As you may have seen (if you're on the main HistoricalNovelSociety Yahoo group), I've been doing some website updates this weekend. Reviews for the 19 books designated as HNS editors' choice titles for February 2007 are online now.

Some observations:

- So far I've read only three of them... Ines of My Soul, Mistress of the Art of Death and The Ruby in Her Navel. The EC decisions are made by the editors (ten of us) based on reviewers' opinions. I agreed on these three, though didn't feel that Ines is one of Allende's best (that one might not've made it on my personal list; I generally love her work, though felt this one dragged in the middle). I hadn't even heard of some of the choices, namely a few of the British titles, before the reviews were turned in to me.

- Whenever the books use different cover designs in the US and UK (and in the case of one of the titles, in Canada) I include them all on the website. For this issue, there were a number of these novels. The transatlantic differences always intrigue me, especially - in this case - the dual covers for Sam Barone's Dawn of Empire. I'm not sure if it's one of his, but the UK version looks like a Larry Rostant design with its classic "men's weapons" image; Rostant also did the covers for Tim Severin's Odinn's Child, with the Viking helmet, and those in Simon Scarrow's Roman series (UK editions). On the other hand, the US cover features an attractive, muscular woman facing a prehistoric city scene, as if the publisher was trying to reach fans of Clan of the Cave Bear-type novels in addition to male adventure readers. My ARC doesn't list the cover artist.

- Markus Zusak's The Book Thief - sold as a young adult title in the US, but adult fiction in the UK. Curious. The covers are also very different.

Anyway. Hope you enjoy the reviews. It's a quiet Sunday night here, or would be if football weren't playing in the background. I've finished up the Rutherfurd, which took me just over a week, and have started on a contemporary mystery set in northern New Mexico, Sandi Ault's Wild Indigo. Just for something different.


  1. Anonymous6:44 PM


  2. Heh. Agreed, but Chicago's secondary to the Patriots in this house. We are New Englandahs.

  3. Anonymous11:01 PM

    Ouch. Sorry. But at least it won't be a smackdown between them. Now you can root for the Bears without reservation!

  4. Anonymous5:08 AM

    Off-topic here, sorry, but I wanted to tell you that I've just received Where Nobles Tread, and it looks just as bad as you mentioned in a previous post! I've been randomly flicking through it, and noticed this fabulous line on page 75: "The Gascon eyes of Piers Gaveston blazed in a drunken wrath" followed some lines later by "Piers grinned sneeringly." Brilliant! :)

    Thanks for the tip, anyway - I'll always read any novel on Edward II, no matter how terrible! The Alesia de Lacy one is kind of odd, by the way - it doesn't seem to work as fiction at all.

  5. Anonymous8:33 AM

    Oh, a man is doing well when he can blaze in a drunken wrath and grin sneeringly on the same page.

  6. I suppose if I root for someone I should go by state loyalty, rather than physical distance. And I do like Chicago better than Indy, generally.

    Alianore and Susan - yes, it's truly a work of art, isn't it? Does he also sneer grinningly?

  7. Anonymous2:33 PM

    I really enjoyed Chadwick's The Greatest Knight so I was glad to see that The Scarlet Lion got such a nice review. I can't wait to read it!

    Even though I am not a football fan, since I live outside of Indy, I feel compelled to say "GO COLTS". Besides, to say otherwise would probably result in my husband filing for divorce!

  8. This is derailing the conversation even further, but I do love visiting Indy. Especially the Half Price Books stores on 82nd/86th. I'm there at least once a month. Saw the new stadium under construction last time I was downtown, too.

  9. Anonymous3:14 AM

    That's a great review for The Scarlet Lion, isn't it?

    From the description, e.g. "full of blood, slaughter and sex", it sounds like Dawn of Empire might resemble Auel in some ways, so it might suit its US cover.

    I'm afraid I know nothing whatever about football, so I'll sign off here :-)