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Vanessa's 2017 Reads

What have you read in 2017? Post your list here and update it as you go along! (One thread per member, please.)
User avatar
Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Currently reading: The Stranger by Kate Riordan & Did You See Melody by Sophie Hannah (Pigeonhole)
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

November

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

User avatar
Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Currently reading: The Stranger by Kate Riordan & Did You See Melody by Sophie Hannah (Pigeonhole)
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

December

Postby Vanessa » Wed January 3rd, 2018, 6:09 pm

Here’s my list for December:

A Matter of Love & Death by Caron Albright 3
When telephonist Frances overhears a conversation plotting a murder, she finds herself in somewhat of a dilemma. Should she risk her job and reveal all to the police, or should she just keep quiet and pretend she never heard it? This is a cosy style mystery but it's mostly a family/relationship drama, in my opinion. The mystery seems secondary to the characters, their lives and their interactions with each other. It amounts to the overheard telephone conversation at the beginning of the story and the resolution at the end. The middle part is more about the romance blossoming between the two main characters, Frances and nightclub owner Jack, both of whom I really liked (although I have to say that ‘Uncle Sal’, magician extraordinaire, is my favourite!). I enjoyed the historical side to the story. It’s set in a bygone era and this is beautifully depicted by the author. I was effortlessly transported to 1930s Australia with its dress code, food ration books, the glamour of the nightclubs, alcohol temperance and the sense of community and ‘make do and mend’ attitude. It was easy to visualise in my mind's eye.

31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan 3.5
Inspired by a true story, an errand boy discovers the body of Dr Burdell in his bedroom. There were no witnesses and his wife is the prime suspect. I quite enjoyed this book. It took some time to get going, but some of it was quite gripping. I liked the characterisation. I thought it was well done. I loved the descriptions of 19thC New York. I really enjoyed the historical aspect of the story and the fact it was based on a true life crime. And I liked the author’s note at the back telling of what happened to certain characters and who was real and who was fictional. An enjoyable and interesting read.

Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland 5
What a fabulous book! At first I thought it was going to be quite a fun read but it turned out to be a bit of a dark horse! It's also quite sad in places. I loved all the book references, it’s a book about books. It made me want to bump certain titles up the reading pile!! There are some great characters, especially Loveday. She has a great voice and she’s very believable. There is something very endearing about her. Loveday works in a second-hand bookshop in York, she prefers books to people (I hear where she’s coming from!). The arrival of some donated books found within boxes left for her to sort out remind her of her past, a past which she is trying to forget. Is this just a coincidence or does someone know her secret and do they want to make contact? The story is quite enigmatic with hidden depths. It definitely shows you can’t judge a book (or person for that matter) by it’s cover. I found it very hard to put down, just one more page, just one more chapter. A lovely, heartwarming story about books, friendship, life, love and hope.

A Time to Change by Callie Langridge 5
I loved this book! When Louisa’s mother dies tragically, she blames herself for not being there to prevent it. For comfort she visits Hill House, a derelict old mansion, where she used to play as a child. As she explores the building, she finds herself travelling back in time to Christmas 1913 when Hill House was a spendid and grand building inhabited by the intriguing Mandeville family. This is a beautifully written story. The descriptions of both eras are very vivid, so easy to visualise. I could almost believe I was in Hill House with Louisa, walking through the grandiose rooms and drinking champagne. It’s very atmospheric. The house sounds wonderful. The time travel aspect is brilliantly and seamlessly accomplished. It's very convincing and there's something of a twist at the end! There are some well drawn and interesting characters, good and bad. I really liked Louisa, she's such a kind-hearted and generous person. There's something to please most readers - mystery, murder and romance. It’s quite the page turner, I found it difficult to put down. It even brought a tear to my eye and I was sad to turn the last page. An engaging, captivating and moving tale which I thoroughly enjoyed and I can highly recommend. A Christmas story with a difference!

Wish Upon a Star by Trisha Ashley 4
This story begins and ends at Christmas. In between times single mother Cally moves back to Sticklepond to live with her bohemian mother, so that she can save up to travel to the US for an urgent heart operation for her daughter, Stella. All sorts of fund raising events are arranged with the help of the local villagers and her new friend, Jago. It sounds a serious little read but it isn’t really, there’s lots of fun along the way. Whenever I start reading a Trisha Ashley novel, I always feel I’m entering an alternative world! A little bit of Christmassy magic!
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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