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Vanessa’s Reading Log 2018

What have you read this year? Post your list here and update it as you go along! (One thread per member, please.)
User avatar
Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Currently reading: The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer
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

Vanessa’s Reading Log 2018

Postby Vanessa » Sun February 4th, 2018, 1:58 pm

Here’s my list for January:

Plague Pits & River Bones by Karen Charlton 4
The fourth in the Detective Stephen Lavender mystery series set in the early 19thC. Murder, highway robbery, political intrigue and the slave trade combine to make a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable tale. A wonderful blend of historical fact and fiction, this story is well researched and well written. It kept me on my toes with plenty of twists and turns and hurtled along to an almost cliffhanger ending! I’ve already read book one, The Heiress of Linn Hagh. I will be returning to read books two and three and I guess I will have to read book five to find out what happens next. I think this will prove to be an excellent series.

Home Sweet Summer by Michelle Vernal 4
An engaging and heartwarming tale about finding yourself again. Isla returns to her roots in Bibury, New Zealand, after a failed relationship in London and a short spell in a Californian counselling haven. Life starts to look up as she begins to become part of the community again and joins in the planning of a fund raising ‘matchmaking’ event to renovate the local village (for want of a better word!) hall. This is a lovely little story. It’s nicely written and flows along. It’s quite humorous, it definitely had me chuckling a few times. There are some well drawn and vivid characters. I particularly liked Bridget who seemed to have everyone else’s interests at heart, whilst keeping her own secrets and conundrums very cloak and dagger! The ‘matchmaker’ is an interesting idea and I thought this added a bit of magic. A light-hearted and easy read which I enjoyed.

The Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart 4.5
A story about an autistic eight year old boy who lives with his mother and whose father is trying hard to connect with him and save his marriage. I thought this was quite a moving tale and loved how the father gradually came to understand his son more. There’s some humour, too, and I really liked how it was written. Quite a lot of it is centred around a computer game called Minecraft and I did find this bit tedious, not only because I haven’t heard of the game but because I have no interest in computer games! Apart from that, I really enjoyed it.

The Secret Wife by Gill Paul 5
Inspired by the life of Grand Duchess Tatiana Romanova and her affection for an injured Russian Imperial Guard, Dmitri Malama, who came into her care at the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo where she volunteered as a nurse during WWI. It's a dual timeframe story and is told through the eyes of Dmitri and also those of his (fictional) great grand-daughter, Kitty. I was totally captivated by this 'what if' tale. There's a fantastic combination of historical fact and fiction. I knew the fate of the Romanov family but not all the details. This book filled me in and I was quite horrified by their barbaric and brutal end. So cruel! This story was a wonderful imagining of what might have happened if Tatiana and her soldier had survived. It's beautifully told and all the characters felt so very real. I could just picture Kitty sitting outside her cabin, drinking wine and watching the sunset after a day's carpentry renovation! I really liked Dmitri but my favourite character has to be another lady who came into his life, Rosa. Such a colourful and Bohemian sounding person! And I loved the thought of (non-fictional) Ortipo, the French Bulldog, a gift from Dmitri to Tatiana, with her Fabergé dog tag! An absorbing and fascinating story. I just loved it!



Thirteen by Shani Struthers 5
Another great companion novella to add to the Psychic Surveys series. This one introduces Ness Patterson who is a Psychic Investigator. It gives a good insight into her character, how she is as she is and what makes her tick. Ness travels to the Isle of Skye to investigate spooky and sinister goings on at a lighthouse. Thirteen is unlucky for some and it definitely is in this tale! I loved the setting, just right for a ghost story - it’s very atmospheric and wonderfully described. I could just visualise the remoteness of the island and the unpredictable weather conditions. The characters are very believable and realistic. What more could you want from a spine tingling eerie read!? Just keep your lights shining! You never know what’s out there.

Coming Home to Island House by Erica James 5
This story begins in 1939 when Romily Devereux Temple returns home from a trip to France to find her husband, Jack, ill with a stroke. Jack tragically eventually dies. Under the terms of his will, his estranged children must spend a week together at Island House to try to build bridges, mend old wounds and put the past behind them. This is a lovely family drama and I got quite immersed in all the characters’ lives. It’s beautifully written and told. I enjoy tales set around a house and it’s occupants so it was right up my street. It’s some time since I’ve read a book by Erica James, so this one has put her on my list to read more of again! I loved it!



(The ‘spoiler’ book is one which I received to review but I’m not supposed to post until a month before it’s published. I don’t know why as I’ve seen reviews for it already! I’ve put it under a spoiler so it can’t show up on a search.)
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 Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer
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

February

Postby Vanessa » Sun March 4th, 2018, 10:00 am

Here's my list for March:

Blood Sisters by Jane Corry. 3.5
ThIs is about two sisters. In the present day one If them is disabled and lives in a care home and the other is a teacher. Severeral years ago there was a terrible accident. What really happened that day and why is someone trying to find the sisters? I enjoyed this book but thought it was rather far fetched at times. There were too many coincidences and quite a few grey areas. Nevertheless, there were plenty of twists and turns to keep me reading. There were also a lot of surprises. A fairly enjoyable read.

Missing Presumed by Susie Steiner. 4
An engaging psychological mystery about a young woman who is reported missing. She leaves behind her coat, mobile phone and a trail of blood. The hunt to find her is in the hands of the Cambridgeshire MIT team and a nationwide search begins. ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!’ The plot is quite a slow burner, it draws you in gradually and then the pace picks up. It’s very much character driven and delves into human relationships and psyche. I enjoy a mystery which has a human interest rather than one that contains gory murder scenes so this one fits the bill for me. I prefer a conundrum and this one was certainly puzzling! There are a few red herrings and the conclusion is a surprising one, albeit a little far fetched. An enjoyable and compelling story which had me eagerly turning the pages. I look forward to reading more by Susie Steiner.

The Year That Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly. 4
A heartwarming tale which begins with three women, Callie, Sam and Ginger, celebrating their 50th, 40th and 30th birthdays respectively on the same day. They are all on the cusp of a transformation in one way or another due to a knock at the door, a baby or a spiteful remark.. Life can change in an instant and it certainly does for these ladies! This is a lovely and captivating story with some great, well drawn characters. It’s about how even in the darkest of times, there is always usually a way through to the light at the end of the tunnel. These three determined and resilient women show remarkable strength and fortitude as they weather the storms of life with the help of friends and family. It's at times like this that friends do, actually, show their true colours. I am not sure I have a favourite character, but if I have to choose, it would be Callie. I think Callie had the biggest fight on her hands and the hardest journey. By the end of the book she travelled so far. A very enjoyable and uplifting read, which I can recommend to those who like a ‘slice of life’ drama about overcoming adversity and obstacles. Life isn't always easy as they say.

Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith. 3
This is basically about a block of flats in London nicknamed 'Corduroy Mansions' and its inhabitants. There are some interesting and eclectic characters, my favourite bring Freddie de la Hay. The plot meanders through certain aspects of their lives and their trials and tribulations, too numerous to mention. I enjoyed it but thought it was rather twee.

One Cornish Summer by Liz Fenwick. 5
I loved this book! It’s set in Cornwall and is about two women, both of whom have secrets. Hebe is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s, whilst her niece Lucy is fleeing from an unsuitable and scandalous relationship. Hebe retreats to her favourite place to buy Helwyn House and enlists Lucy’s help restore it. For Lucy, however, the house holds painful memories. This is a real ‘Bertie Bassett’ type of a story! It contains a bit of all sorts - mystery, history, romance and a stunning setting. It's beautifully written with some interesting, well drawn characters. I thought Hebe's parts of the tale were particularly vividly and poignantly written. They depicted so very well how devastating Alzheimer's is, how fragmented Hebe's mind was. This is just a great story! An intriguing and captivating read which I didn't want to end.
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 Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer
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

March

Postby Vanessa » Mon April 2nd, 2018, 11:00 am

Here's my list for April:

The Best Boomerville Hotel by Caroline James. 3.5
The Best Boomerville Hotel is situated in the Lake District. The resident holidaymakers are of a 'certain age', the 'baby boomer' generation, and they have booked into the hotel to put the spring back in their step. This is a light-hearted and quirky read with quite a few zany and colourful characters. Some of the humour is a little slapstick for my tastes and sometimes it reminded me of 'Fawlty Towers'. The plot has its bizarre and whacky moments. Nevertheless, it's well written and it does keep you entertained! If there ever was such a place, I wouldn't mind booking in myself if only as a fly on the wall! A fun and lively read just right for a bit of escapism.

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale. 5
Wow! I absolutely loved this book! The story begins in 1917 in London. Tucked away in the streets is the Toy Emporium, a completely enchanting shop where the imagination can run riot. Into this shop comes Cathy Wray who has run away from home and she is drawn deeper and deeper into its secrets. A wonderful and magical tale! It's beautifully, lyrically and fantastically written. I would so love to visit this store and see the life-like patchwork animals and toys which aren't what they seem!

Perception & Illusion by Catherine Kullman. 4
This is a very enjoyable Regency romance, with echoes of Georgette Heyer, about how misunderstandings can cause so much trouble and open up a whole can of worms. It’s extremely well written and plotted with great attention to historical detail. I loved the chapter headings giving an inkling to their content! I also found the author’s notes at the back of the book very interesting. There are some wonderfully vivid and realistic characters, most of them likeable and, of course, the odd one or two unlikeable ones! It’s a fun, nicely paced and lively read. What’s more, it kept me entertained throughout.

Someone to Look Up To by Jean Gill. 4
This is the touching ‘autobiography’ of Sirius the Pyrenean Mountain Dog. It’s beautifully, cleverly and imaginatively written. It also really gets into the head of this most wonderful and loyal animal, man’s best friend. Sirius’s voice is so very believable. There are both sad and happy times, as well as some amusing moments. It was such a pleasure to read! As a dog owner and lover myself, I can highly recommend this enjoyable book to canine fans everywhere.o

The Power by Naomi Alderman. 2.5
Set sometime in the future and I think the story ends 5000 years in my the future. Women have discovered that they have a skein across their collarbones which enables them to electrocute those who displease them, namely men. When I first started this book, I thought was going to enjoy it. It started off well and there are some letters between 'authors' which are intriguing. For me, however, it went downhill from there. Sci fi isn’t my genre and I also don’t enjoy political novels. I just couldn’t engage with the story, although I think it’s very imaginative and had something to say. It just got too nasty for me. An interesting concept and quite thought provoking, but ultimately not my cup of tea!

The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements. 4
Scarcroft Hall can be found high up on the Yorkshire Moors along the Coffin Path. Here lives Mercy Booth with her father. Strange and sinister events start occurring: three old gold coins go missing as does an inkwell and there are sounds of footsteps in an unused bedroom. And what is this shadowy presence that Mercy senses? And then Ellis Ferriby arrives.....Just what is his purpose? This is an enjoyable and creepy ghost story. It's beautifully and gothically written. I think it reads like a classic.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (audio). 4
Rachel catches the same train every day and she's a people watcher. Rachel has problems and she makes up lives for those she watches, in particular a young couple who she often sees as she takes her journey. She gives them the names of 'Jess' and 'Jason'. One day she sees something which shocks her and from then on her life takes a dangerous direction. I've already seen the film so I decided to listen to the audio book instead of read it! I enjoyed the story and like the three different narrator's voices. The film has kept quite true to the book apart from the location and the ending is a little different but not dramatically so.p
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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