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Vanessa's 2017 Reads

What have you read this year? Post your list here and update it as you go along! (One thread per member, please.)
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Currently reading: Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favorite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK


Postby Vanessa » Mon December 4th, 2017, 5:03 pm

Here's my list for November:

The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston. 4
I'm not quite sure if this is the first or the second in a series. However, I would class it as historical fantasy. The story starts in 1628 when Bess Hawksmith's mother is hanged for being a witch. It is her mother's dying wish that Bess go to Gideon Masters, the local warlock, for help but Bess soon learns that he is not the best person to go to for support. A game of cat and mouse begins, taking the reader on an adventure through time to the Victorian era and Jack the Ripper, into the trenches of Passcendaele and then to the present day. In the present day Bess befriends a young girl called Tegan and starts to teach her how to be a hedge witch but there is no escape from Gideon! I enjoyed this book, I think! I preferred the historical sections. I liked the inclusion of Jack the Ripper and the trenches at Passchendaele which were interesting. I found the present day sections a little odd sometimes, they even got a Little Harry Potterish with the witchy things going on. I definitely had to suspend belief. I will be reading the sequel, The Return of the Witch.

Strange Sight by Syd Moore. 4
Another fun read from Syd Moore. This is the second in the Essex Witch Museum mystery series. A chef is found brutally murdered in a London restaurant where there have been some odd ghostly sightings. Rosie Strange and Sam Stone have been asked to investigate by the owner. Although this is mostly a light hearted and amusing story, it is also definitely quite dark in places, beginning with a particularly nasty killing. I thought the plot was an intriguing and nicely paced one. I liked that the ghost is actually based on a person who did exist. The ‘will they won’t they’ romance between Rosie and Sam continues. I have to say that Rosie comes across a little like a lovelorn teenager, she still grated on me, and I’m starting to feel sorry for Sam. It will be interesting to read how the relationship develops in future books. It’s a murder mystery with a difference, containing some spookiness and sinister goings on but told in a jaunty and lively way. An entertaining and enjoyable tale to be read in the spirit in which it is written. No pun intended! Things are not always what they seem.

Broken River by J Robert Lennon 2.5
An unusual literary thriller. As a family flee from their home, the mother and father are murdered in front of their child who manages to escape and survive, disappearing into the mists of time. The house is left vacant for twelve years, going to rack and ruin giving it a cursed reputation, until a new family move in. Unfortunately, instead of being a new start, the past comes back to haunt them. I usually like literary style mysteries but this one didn’t really do it for me. I didn’t like the way it was written. I struggled with it on the whole, I thought it was quite slow and drawn out. It’s written in the present tense which doesn’t always gel with me, either. Although I don’t normally have to like the characters to enjoy a book, the ones in Broken River were mostly unsympathetic and unappealing. There’s also an abstract sort of character known as ‘The Observer’ which floats around doing just that - observing. I understood its point, like a fly on the wall, but found this a little odd and distracting. The story is described as part gothic horror but I didn’t find it scary or creepy at all. I think it’s a very cleverly and quirkily written novel. It’s full of philosophical thoughts and psychology, so a little deep! It’s not a bad book, quite original, but just not my cup of tea.

The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick. 5

The first in a trilogy about Eleanor of Aquitaine. At the age of 13 Eleanor marries Louis VII of France. The marriage is not a bed of roses and Louis is not a bundle of laughs. They have the marriage annulled some 15 years later. Eleanor then marries Henry II of England. And that’s where this books ends. I really enjoyed this first part of Eleanor’s life. It’s well written, well researched and easy to read. The author has used her imagination wonderfully to create a story from reading in between the lines.

Skylarking by Kate Mildenhall. 3
Inspired by a true story, this is the tale of a friendship between two girls living on a cape in Australia. Their fathers are lighthouse keepers. Their life is spent mostly isolation from the rest of the world. The story is mostly about the lead up to a tragic event but, at the same time, it’s a coming of age tale. It’s beautifully written and I got a real sense of the loneliness of living in such a place. However, I did find it a little tedious at times. I quite enjoyed it but it didn’t really engage with it fully.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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