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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 Silent Companions by Laura Purcell & And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott (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

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 Silent Companions by Laura Purcell & And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott (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

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 Silent Companions by Laura Purcell & And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott (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

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

User avatar
Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Currently reading: The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell & And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott (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

April

Postby Vanessa » Sat June 2nd, 2018, 10:50 am

Here’s my list for April:

Hidden Lives by Judith Lennox 5
Dual timeframe set in the present day and the 1930s. When her grandmother dies Rose Martineaux inherits her house, The Egg, in Sussex. It’s so named due to its shape. As Rose is going through her grandmother’s possessions, she discovers she had a sister called Sadie who used to own The Egg as well as another house their father had built. As Rose digs deeper she discovers hidden secrets and learns why the sisters were estranged. I love a good saga and this one doesn’t disappoint. I feel I’m always guaranteed a great read when I pick up one of Judith Lennox’s books. Well written and thoroughly engrossing tale about family secrets and scandal.

The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent 3.5
One wintry night Fran Hall wakes up to find her husband absent and, after a frantic search, finds him dead in a ditch. As the police delve deeper into the case and Fran becomes the prime suspect, dark secrets are revealed. Just what was her husband keeping hidden about his life and is Fran hiding something herself? Nothing is as it seems! This was quite an intriguing psychological thriller, even though I wasn't particularly enamoured of the writing style. It seemed a little disjointed but I wondered whether it was trying to depict the main character's agitated state of mind. Nevertheless, I found it a compelling mystery. I was eager to read on to find out how it ended. There were plenty of twists and turns to keep me on my toes and a fair few dysfunctional characters to keep me interested. I was never sure who the killer was until the final reveal. This is the first book I have read by Christobel Kent and I enjoyed it enough to want to read another one!

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult 5
Ruth is a midwife in a hospital. When a young couple, who are white supremacists, are admitted to have their baby, they ask for a change of nurse due to the colour of Ruth’s skin. Whilst Ruth is on duty and there is no-one else to call on, the baby becomes ill. Ruth is in a quandary and doesn’t know whether to touch the baby or not. Her vocation overcomes her and she tries to give the baby CPR but the baby dies. Consequently Ruth finds herself on trial for murder. Enter Kennedy, her white lawyer, who is determined to have Ruth acquitted. I really enjoyed this book. It’s a typical Jodi Picoult story where she writes about a controversial subject. I found it quite cringe-worthy and scary at times especially the father’s parts. It’s astonishing that this sort of prejudice is still going on in this day and age. Great reading and ends on a note of hope as do most of Jodi Picoult’s books.

The Two Houses by Fran Cooper 4
After a mental breakdown Jay and her husband decide to buy a weekend home in Yorkshire. The house(s) is/are called ‘Two Houses’, so called because they used to be one house but a previous owner decided to remove the central part as he thought it was haunted by his wife! All is not as idyllic as Jay and Simon first supposed. The villagers are very distant with them, keep hinting for them to leave and when a horrible discovery is made during building work to bring the houses together again, things get even worse. This is a poetically, evocatively and beautifullywritten story with sinister undertones. I enjoyed it.

A Fractured Winter by Allison Baillie 3
A missing person mystery set in the Swiss mountains, Scarborough and Edinburgh. I thought the descriptions of the Alps and the surrounding scenery were wonderful and I found the Swiss traditions mentioned very interesting to read about. The mystery side of the story was quite well paced with a few twists and turns, but at times seemed a little bizarre and far-fetched. The actions of the main character for a supposedly intelligent woman were, I thought, quite harebrained and implausible. The constant questioning of herself became somewhat repetitive and I just wanted to give her a good shake and tell her to get on with life! The ending was neatly and satisfactorily tied up, perhaps too much so. Nevertheless, it made for quite enjoyable, pleasant and easy reading.

Last Letter Home by Rachel Hore 4.5
Dual timeframe story set in Italy and England during WWII and the present day. Whilst on holiday in Naples historian Briony Wood comes across a ruined villa in the hills and discovers a connection to her own family. She is given a bundle of letters between a young woman called Sarah Bailey and a half-German man called Paul Hartmann. As Briony investigates their story more, she uncovers some family secrets which could lead to scandal. Another great saga and another author who usually always guarantees me a fantastic read. Good storytelling and an absorbing tale.
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 Silent Companions by Laura Purcell & And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott (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

May

Postby Vanessa » Sat June 2nd, 2018, 10:52 am

Here's my list for May:

The House on Half Moon Street by Alex Reeve 5
A gripping Victorian murder mystery with a difference! It's the first in the Leo Stanhope mystery series. Leo is a transgender coroner's assistant and becomes mixed up in the murder of a prostitute. This a fabulous read with some fantastic and intriguing characters. The leading protagonist is very realistic, likeable and sympathetically drawn. It’s beautifully and evocatively written. There’s a good sense of time and place, so easy to visualise. There are plenty of twists and turns with the odd red herring. The plot is engaging and fast paced, it drew me in immediately. I couldn’t wait to read the next chapter. What more can be said! A thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining story.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. 5
This is the story of Eleanor Oliphant who has suffered tragedy in her life and as a consequence leads quite a lonely existence. She wears the same clothes every day, eats the same meal deal every day and drinks two bottles of vodka each weekend. One day she helps an elderly man who has fallen in the street and this little act of kindness starts to change everything. I thought this was a lovely story. I really liked Eleanor, she was a little twee and quirky! It was quite a moving tale, too, as well as some laugh out loud moments. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Blood & Roses by Catherine Hokin. 4
A fascinating account of the life of Margaret of Anjou beginning with her wedding to King Henry VI in 1445 at the age of 15, leading to her involvement in the War of the Roses and her eventual exile in France in 1481. I thought this was a well put together and nicely paced retelling of such an ambitious and formidable queen's role in history. The research and effort which has gone into it is admirable. The story is told in a straight-forward, uncomplicated and easy to follow style. I found it an entertaining and imaginative interpretation which kept me turning the pages. It certainly brought Margaret to life for me. A very interesting, absorbing and enjoyable read - it's an excellent piece of story telling! I think fans of Philippa Gregory and Jean Plaidy would like this one.

The Owlmen by S E England. 4
An atmospheric and creepy occult horror story about a young couple who buy Tanner’s Dell, a house with a sinister past, in the small village of Bridesmoor. They set about renovating it, leading to some strange and macabre happenings. This book is a follow up to the author’s ‘Father of Lies’ trilogy which I haven’t as yet read. Even though I think The Owlmen works well as a stand-alone novel, I wish I had read the previous books first (I will be remedying this) so I knew more about the back story. Nevertheless, I found it a gripping tale of suspense with vibes of Dennis Wheatley. I loved the vivid and descriptive style of writing which drew me in instantly. There are some fascinating and intriguing characters, good as well as wicked! It’s fast paced with just the right amount of menace but not too much gory stuff. It’s quite spine tingling, too, so I definitely won’t be walking in the woods in the middle of the night any time soon! Not that I do...... :twisted: :o :P

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (audio]
The touching story of how Lale Sokolov, a Jewish Slovakian, is transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, becomes the camp Tattooist, falls in love and survives against all odds. I thought this was a harrowing but moving story of survival, all the more so because it is based on a true one. Lale's story is incredible, he seemed to have had more lives than a cat. It's sad that he worried he would be thought of as a German collaborator. He did what he had to do to survive. It wasn't too graphic and just touched on certain horrific events. I'm glad I listened to it rather than read it. Thirty to forty minutes at a time whilst walking the dog was enough for me in a day. I thought Richard Armitage narrated it beautifully. He thanked Lale for letting him read his story which I thought was lovely. I also thought The son's 'Afterword' at the end was quite touching. He is quite right to be extremely proud of his parents.

The Beekeeper’s Promise by Fiona Valpy. 5
This is a thoroughly enjoyable and moving tale. It's set in France during WWII and the present day, telling two interconnecting stories of two different women, each with their own mountain to climb. Dual timeframe is my favourite genre and this one certainly didn't disappoint. Beautifully written and vividly told, there's a great sense of time and place. It's all so easy to visualise. The characters are well defined and realistic. I don't really have a favourite but if I had to choose it would be Eliane for her resilience during the German occupation of France. Both the women, however, overcome adversity and find strength they never knew they had. I also found the descriptions of the lives of the bees in their hives fascinating and this really added to my enjoyment of the book. A captivating and gripping page turner which I can highly recommend. "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about dancing in the rain."

Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer. 4
Two brothers suffering from the plague in 1348 make a pact with the devil. They are given the choice of staying with their families for the last six days of their lives, or time travelling six times 99 years at a time. They choose the time travelling option. I thought this was a very interesting story. It gives a quick glimpse into 1447, 1546, 1645, 1744, 1843 and 1942, showing how the world has changed or doesn’t change, and how divided we’ve become. Some things definitely don’t change! It was an absorbing, fascinating and enjoyable read.

The Hourglass by Liz Heron. 3
Venice is a city which I have visited and loved. It is one of the main characters in a tale about time and immortality. The writing is beautiful, eloquent and pictorial. The descriptions of Venice are wonderfully evocative and atmospheric. I enjoyed this element in the book as it took me on a trip down memory lane. However, I found the story lacking something. It didn’t totally engage with me, sadly. I found it a little tedious at times and quite heavy going. I found the characterisation somewhat flat, too. I don’t know very much about opera, which is one of the tale’s themes, so maybe this had something to do with my lack of enthusiasm. If you’re an opera fan, maybe this is a book for you. An interesting and unusual read, but at the end of the day not really my cup of tea.
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 Silent Companions by Laura Purcell & And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott (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

June

Postby Vanessa » Mon July 2nd, 2018, 6:51 pm

Here’s my list for June:

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay. 5
Set in 1880 in, as the title suggests, New York. A couple of witches open a tea shop in Manhattan selling magic potions, palm readings and cures for all sorts of woes. They hire a young woman as an apprentice witch but there is something a little different about her, she’s not your common garden witch. She can hear and see things no-one else can. Throw into the mix a talking raven and a couple of fairies and this combines to make a magical fable full of entertainment and fun. I thoroughly enjoyed it for a well written, quirky and engaging read.

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce. 4
This story begins in he 1980s. Stuck in his ways Frank owns a music shop in London and seems to know just what sort of music suits each individual person who walks into his store. A chance meeting with a German woman called Ilse signals a time of change. As the years go by, the interest in vinyl records declines, with CDs and then digital taking their place. Frank lives in the past and won’t be drawn into progression. Then comes the announcement of a development and his beloved music shop is in danger of being closed down. I thought this was a gentle, heartwarming and pleasant read, as well as amusing and a little sad. There are some interesting characters. I especially liked Ilse.. It got a little far fetched at times, especially the ending, but what the heck. I liked the musical interludes with Peg, Frank’s mother although she’s not the best at parenting(!). I even gained some knowledge. Music was not my strongest subject at school and I’m not a big music fan but I still enjoyed this book. I liked that in this book music brought people together and gave a good sense of community spirit.

The Poison Bed by E C Fremantle. 5
A gripping historical thriller set in the Jacobean court based on a true story. It’s a fabulous tale of murder, witchcraft, secrets, betrayal and deception. It’s beautifully written, well paced and full of intrigue. There are some amazing and colourful characters, one or two of whom are not as they seem and are easy to hate! Be warned! There are plenty of twists and turns and it had me on the edge of my seat with suspense. It’s an absolute page turner. An exciting and and captivating story which brings history alive. I can’t recommend it enough.

The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir. 5
Third in the Six Tudor Queens series, this one about Jane Seymour, one of Henry VIII’s wives and who died of natural causes after giving birth to Edward VI. This is a very well researched and informative fictional account of this demure queen’s life, but was she really as demure as history makes out? Kicking the previous queen off her perch and also knowing that this could lead to her death makes me wonder what sort of person she was. But, of course, I suppose that’s how it was in those days. Jane Seymour is not the most interesting of Henry VIII’s wives, I have to say. In this book she comes over a little too demure and pious for my liking. However, it’s a great read if you enjoy historical fiction and the Tudors in particular.

The Tall Man by Phoebe Locke. 5
A sinisterly compelling psychological thriller revolving around a menacing figure known as the ‘tall man’ who, legend has it, steals daughters. In this tale he is also thought to have connections to a murder and the disappearance of a young mother. This is quite an eerie and dark mystery where the tension builds up gradually - it’s very much a slow burner and there are some disturbing undertones. I really enjoyed how the story was told with the main multiple timeline narratives being interspersed with sections about a TV documentary. You definitely have to keep on your toes whilst reading this one. It’s all very ambiguous but it certainly drew me in and had me eager to read on. There are some great twists and turns and the ominous ‘tall man’ is something of an enigma. Is he real or a figment of the imagination? Is he a supernatural being? Perhaps we should all lock up our daughters! A gripping, unnerving and absorbing read which will keep you awake at night and is open to interpretation. Just don’t go down to the woods at night! I loved it.

The Dead Ex by Jane Corry. 4
A psychological thriller which kept me guessing until the end. Aromatherapist Vicki Goudman becomes a prime suspect for murder when her ex husband goes missing and is presumed dead. All is not what it seems and none of the characters are to be trusted! There were plenty of surprises in this mystery with twists and turns in every chapter. I never knew what to expect and found it all quite gripping. I read this book via the Pigeonhole app and was eagerly awaiting each stave to find out what was going to happen next. I definitely did not predict the ending which was something of a bolt out of the blue. Well written and suspenseful story which I very much enjoyed.

The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware. 5
Another excellent read via the Pigeonhole app. I loved the setting for this one, a creepy old house in Cornwall. There are definitely gothic vibes in this Daphne du Maurier meets Agatha Christie style mystery. Tarot cards, a surprise inheritance, family secrets and a possible mistaken identity are the key ingredients mixed in with a ladleful of dysfunctional characters. Even magpies have a role, ‘seven for a secret never to be told’. The collective noun is sometimes ‘a murder of magpies’ which is very apt in this story. It’s a fabulous tale of psychological suspense and it’s so evocatively written. I couldn’t wait to read more - it held my attention from page one and throughout. The tension is built up slowly and the clues are gradually disclosed until the final reveal. I did guess what the big secret was but enjoyed working it out. This is just an fantastic story. It’s my first Ruth Ware Book but it won’t be my last. Highly recommended.

The Disappeared by Ali Harper. 3.5
An entertaining and fun mystery about a pair of female amateur private investigators whose first case involves a missing student, drug dealing and a stash of cash. Surely a pebble in the ocean (or River Aire!) for the ‘No Stone Unturned’ Detective Agency? ;) . Although I did find this story quite engaging and very readable, it does get a little slapstick at times. The plot is somewhat madcap, not always believable, and the two sleuths seemed as daft as brushes (well, it is set in Yorkshire hence the phrase!). However, it does make for light-hearted reading, with one or two dark moments, and it contains quite a lot of humour. I can see it making a good TV series/adaptation. I was attracted to this book as it is set in Leeds, the city where I was born (Leeds Maternity Hospital that was) and brought up (Adel). It was great to recognise place names so that I could easily visualise where the action was taking place, even the seedier parts! All in all an enjoyable, undemanding and fast paced read which kept me turning the pages. A good debut novel.
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 Silent Companions by Laura Purcell & And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott (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

July

Postby Vanessa » Thu August 2nd, 2018, 4:51 pm

Here’s my list for July:

Descension by Shani Struthers. 5
Descension is the Fifth in the Psychic Surveys series where fiction is combined with fact. Although I have read a couple of the novellas which I loved, I haven't read the previous four proper books but this in no way hindered my enjoyment. Descension can definitely be read as a stand alone and I know I’ll be picking up the rest of the series from the beginning soon. In this story Ruby Davis and her colleagues are called out to the Brookbridge housing estate, formerly the site of a mental asylum with a shady past, and an ‘empty’ hospital block to investigate some strange phenomena. This turns out to be more of a challenge than as at first thought. I found this a fascinating, gripping and poignant read. The characters are well drawn and believable. I especially like Jed, the ghost dog who always accompanies Ruby! The plot is a compelling and absorbing one, is well paced and turns into quite the page turner. It’s awful to think what went on in institutions of this kind and this story highlights the horrific treatment of patients, especially those women who had a child out of wedlock (shock, horror) or who had an opinion of their own (how dare they!). To think that such practices were still going on in the last century is really shocking and abhorrent. A great, creepy tale where things definitely do go bump in the night and the walls have ears. A derelict asylum is not a place for the faint of heart!

The French Girl by Lexie Elliott. 4
A gripping psychological tale of suspense. A group of friends find themselves being investigated for a suspicious death when the body of a young woman is discovered at the bottom of a well. The body is believed to be that of a girl who went missing when the friends spent a holiday together in France 10 years previously. What happened to her, why did she end up in a well dead and why is she haunting the narrator of this tale? You will will have to read it to find out! This is is a beautifully written and well paced literary thriller. I read it via the Pigeonhole app and I was looking forward each day to reading the next stave. It’s one of those slowly unravelling types of story where little pieces of information are fed to the reader like a lure, so that you are awaiting eagerly to learn what happens next. Although I had my suspicions, I had no idea how it would end. It was an unusual conclusion but justice was served even if a little ambiguously! Great characterisation and internal analysis of thoughts via the narrator throughout added to the anticipation and tension. A very enjoyable mystery.

The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman. 5
Set in Australia during the first half of the 20thC, Tom Sherbourne returns home from the Western Front to begin work as a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock. Tom meets a local girl called Isabel, marries her and they begin married life on the Rock. After several miscarriages and a few years, a boat is shipwrecked on the Rock and inside is a dead man and a crying baby. They then take a decision which has far reaching effects. This is such a beautifully and atmospherically written moving story about love, forgiveness and hope. And there are some great, believable characters. I thoroughly enjoyed it, it's a tear jerker - be warned!

Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager. 5
A gripping psychological thriller set in a summer camp. Emma Davis has been invited back to Camp Nightingale as an art tutor. Fifteen years previously three girls disappeared in mysterious circumstances from the same cabin Emma was staying in as a 13 year old girl. Now 28, Emma agrees to return to the camp as she wants some answers to her paranoia, which include drawing the girls repeatedly only to keep painting over them. This is quite a disturbing and eerie read. As well as the missing girls, there is a legend about a sunken village and the land being haunted by those who inhabited it, which is a conundrum in itself. There are a few red herrings, an assortment of untrustworthy characters and an unreliable narrator! These all blend to make a riveting and intriguing mystery (or even mysteries) with an unforeseen ending. I really didn’t know and couldn’t even hazard a guess at what was going on. A sign of a great book! It's really quite the page turner. Another thoroughly enjoyable thriller, a tale of the unexpected, via the Pigeonhole app. I can highly recommend it.

Monsoon Summer by Julia Gregson. 4
A compelling tale set in England but mostly in India after partition and independence. Anglo-Indian nurse Kit Smallwood falls in love with and marries Indian doctor Anto Threkkeden, and they travel to Anto’s homeland, Kerala, to begin a new life there together - Anto as a doctor and Kit to help start up the Moonstone Home, a charity hospital for women. As with all good intentions, things do not always go smoothly and Kit finds herself in persistent danger and under constant disapproval. This is a very insightful read and extremely vividly told. The descriptions of India and its customs are depicted so evocatively and realistically, I could picture it all quite clearly in my mind - I almost felt I was there! It highlights the prejudices and attitudes towards women, plus the many traditions in such a culture. The subject of midwifery is touched upon quite significantly and is interestingly illustrated. There are some complex and fascinating characters who add to the richness of the story. It’s a slow burner but it’s quite easy to get lost within the engaging and colourful narrative. An absorbing tale about mixed race love, loyalty, courage to do what is right, determination and the importance of family. I very much enjoyed it.

The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola. 5
What a fabulous book! This is a great eerie mystery set on the Isle of Skye in 1857, an island idevastated at that time by the Highland Clearances. It’s a world full of superstition and fairy stories. Audrey Hart jumps at the chance to travel to Skye, the place where she used to holiday with her mother, when she is invited there to collect folk tales. However, it’s not long before a body of a young girl is found washed up on the beach and then Audrey discovers that another girl went missing a short while previously. She starts to wonder if these occurrences could be linked to her mother’s death. This is a beautifully written, imaginative and atmospheric story with an overtone of menace throughout. The crofters’ fascinating folk tales just add so much to the feeling of doom and uneasiness. I can quite understand how they would think that the tales would make sense of a world which must have appeared so bleak sometimes. The descriptions of Skye are so very vivid and dramatic, such a fantastic, moody setting! Plenty of twists and turns in this intriguing and well paced mystery, too, with a cast of complex and interesting characters. The Story Keeper is very much a page turner. I couldn’t put it down. I loved it! Can you tell? :D

The Road To Newgate by Kate Braithwaite. 4
A well researched and enjoyable historical thriller combining fact with fiction set during the reign of King Charles II. It's narrated by three of the main characters, Nathaniel Thompson, Licenser of the Presses, his wife, Anne, and their friend, William Smith, a disgraced school teacher. When the murder of a prominent Protestant magistrate occurs amidst the chaos created by tales, fabricated by Titus Oates, of a Catholic uprising known as the Popish Plot, Nathaniel decides to take matters into his own hands. And what a conman Titus Oates was! It beggars belief just how people believed his lies. I thought this was an impressive piece of writing. It's very vivid, gritty and atmospheric. The descriptions of life during such a tempestuous time time in history are fascinating and so easy to visualise. There is much attention to to detail. The murder mystery itself is gripping and intriguing, quite the page turner. The characters are well depicted, both fictional and real, Anne Thompson being my favourite, a tenacious and determined lady! Historical fiction is my favourite genre, especially when it's based on fact. I found The Road to Newgate to be a great example - it makes for compelling and interesting reading. I can highly recommend it.

Darling Blue by Tracy Rees. 5
This is a lovely, heartwarming family saga set during the 1920s in Richmond, London. It’s a story about love, courage, deception, guilt, forgiveness, hope and the importance of friendship. It’s beautifully and very descriptively written. It was easy to picture the setting in my mind and to also visualise the cast of fascinating and realistic characters. It’s well plotted and paced. It kept my interest throughout and I was eagerly awaiting the next stave via the Pigeonhole app each day. A sign of a good book! I have read a couple of the author’s other novels and really enjoyed them. I was hoping for a story just as absorbing and I wasn’t disappointed! I was totally immersed in this particular family’s life and was sad when I turned the last page.
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 Silent Companions by Laura Purcell & And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott (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

August

Postby Vanessa » Sat September 1st, 2018, 4:27 pm

This is my list for August:

The Mrs MacKinnons by Jayne Davis. 4
This is a pleasant and gentle historical romance set in the Regency era which pays wonderful homage to Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. Charlotte MacKinnon is a widow with a young son living peacefully in the Cotswolds, avoiding her father’s wrath. Major Matthew Southam is a traumatised soldier recently returned from India. Their lives collide but will they live happily ever afterwards? I very much enjoyed this heartwarming and well written tale. It’s a slow burner and it’s not one to be rushed. At nearly 600 pages I thought it was quite a feat by the author, especially as it is a debut novel. I really liked the characters, I found myself quite immersed in their respective stories and was rooting for them throughout. In fact, I wanted to bash their heads together at times! They always seemed to be getting the wrong end of the stick. The only thing which bothered me were the little asides, I’m not sure they were always necessary. Just a small point, though. An accomplished and absorbing debut. I look forward to reading more by this author.

The Liar’s Room by Simon Lelic. 3
A suspenseful psychological thriller set mostly in a counsellor’s office where a patient seems to know more about his therapist than she is at first aware of. And it all becomes quite sinister. This is a well written and well structured story. There is a great build up of tension with quite a few ‘edge of your seat’ moments. There is a certain incident after which I nearly stopped reading but I decided to persevere. I’m glad I continued because, although I’m not as wowed as some readers and found it somewhat predictable, I do think it’s quite a page turner even though the characters aren’t particularly likeable! A quick and easy but hard hitting tale which should get you biting your nails in anticipation of what happens next.

The Illumination of Ursula Flight by Anne Marie’s Crowhurst 5
This is such an entertaining and fun romp set during the reign of King Charles II. Ursula Flight is born on the night of a comet. She’s strong willed, grows up to be a budding playwright and, by all accounts, is a 17th century feminist. This is her story as narrated by the girl herself in her own special and unique way. I loved Ursula and her quirky voice. She’s a fantastic character with a great personality. She’s intelligent, feisty and determined. There is also a whole other cast of fascinating dramatis personae who all add to this engaging story and make it the lively and enjoyable read it is. I thought it was very original and quite unusual. I particularly liked the theatrical plays as written by Ursula as a parody of her life, along with the lists of various things, letters and diary entries which all combined to make this bawdy tale so delightful. It’s beautifully and thoughtfully written with both sad and amusing moments. A captivating, easy to read and enchanting drama which I applaud with vigour. I do so hope there will be an encore from this new author.

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena. 4
A gripping old fashioned 'whodunnit' style mystery, reminiscent of Agatha Christie, set in a remote hotel in the Catskill mountains. Ten guests check in but which way will they check out? A snow storm sets in, the power goes out and everyone is stranded, unable to leave. Then, the guests start being bumped off one by one......... I thoroughly enjoyed this atmospheric thriller where Cluedo meets a murder mystery weekend! Is the killer Miss Scarlet with a candlestick in the library or is it Colonel Mustard with a dagger in the study? The characters are really well developed and I could just picture them all creeping around the dark and creepy hotel hunting for clues. There is such a feeling of menace and peril! I loved trying to work out who the murderer was and why as all the guests seemed to have something to hide. This mystery has all the right ingredients for an entertaining and intriguing tale of suspense. Another exciting read via the Pigeonhole app. I will be reading more by this author.

House Swap by Rebecca Fleet. 4
Trying to rebuild the their marriage, Caroline and Francis take up the offer of a house swap in the outskirts of London, leaving their Leeds flat in the hands of the other swapper. The house is absent of any personal objects and feels empty. As the days go by, Caroline starts to feel unsettled as she discovers memories of herself there. And it gets creepier and creepier, especially as she realises that the owner us now occupying her flat. The story is told via three narrators. It's quite sinister and a little disturbing. I enjoyed it, though. It's well written and a compelling read with a couple of twists. I think if you were ever considering house swapping, this book could out you off!

The Stranger by Kate Riordan. 4
Set in Cornwall in 1940, the story starts off with a body of a young woman being washed up on the beach. The tale then goes back in time several weeks when three land girls arrive to start work at Penhallow Hall. Each of them has their secrets. Threat of invasion by the Germans builds up and tension rises amongst the inhabitants of the Hall and the local village. One by one the secrets keep tumbling out...... This is a beautifully and descriptively written book. There are definitely vibes of Daphne du Maurier in this one. It's a slow burner but I enjoyed it.

Did You See Melody by Sophie Hannah. 3.5
An intriguing psychological mystery. When Cara Burrows escapes her family to take time out in a luxury spa resort in Arizona, she believes she sees missing person Melody Chappa who is believed dead. This lets a whole lot of worms out of the can and puts Cara in danger. I found this quite an interesting and compelling story. It’s a little different! There are some benevolent kidnappers which I found quite bemusing. There are also some things which didn’t always add up for me. However, I did enjoy it. I like the writing style and I think it’s cleverly plotted even if there are a few grey areas. It has an artful and brilliant twist at the end which turned the book around for me and gives food for thought. I read this mystery via the Pigeonhole app and I think this added to the suspense, reading it over ten days in staves.

The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell. 5
This is such a lovely story! When her grandmother, Lillian, has a bad fall, Maggie Oberon returns to her family home, Cloudesley, in the Chiltern Hills to look after her. As Maggie helps Lillian to recover, secrets are revealed which help Maggie come to terms with her childhood and solve the problems in her recent past. I love a dual timeframe tale and this one just gripped me from beginning to end. Maggie’s and Lillian’s individual but interconnecting stories are wonderfully and seamlessly told. The descriptions of the rapidly decaying and neglected old manor house along with its grounds are so vivid and picturesque - it’s easy to picture in your mind, especially the peacocks! There is a great cast of varied and interesting characters, too, all of whom are realistic and well drawn. It’s a compelling and captivating story of love in all its forms, jealousy, courage and forgiveness. I absolutely loved it. Highly recommended.

Summer of Secrets by Nikola Scott. 5
A captivating dual timeframe novel about love in all its guises and about a house which is very much one of the characters in the story. Set in 1939 and the present day ‘Summer of Secrets’ revolves around two women, Madeleine who is living at ‘Summerhill’ in a world on the cusp of war and Chloe who is visiting the house many years later to take author photographs for a new and upcoming children’s book. This is a lovely tale with some dark and disturbing moments. The two women whose lives interconnect are great characters - they are well drawn and realistic. Chloe’s story is particularly gripping as she realises some truths about her husband. Madeleine also has her cross to bear as her past continues to haunt her. There is also a fantastic cast of peripheral characters, a couple not particularly pleasant. ‘Summerhill’ itself is just so enchanting! I could easily visualise it in my mind, near the picturesque cliffs and small bays of Cornwall. There is a great sense of time and place which adds to the atmosphere and mood. I found myself totally immersed in the two separate but linked tales. I very much enjoyed this engaging story about family, the importance of friendship and the courage to follow the right path.
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 Silent Companions by Laura Purcell & And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott (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

September

Postby Vanessa » Tue October 2nd, 2018, 9:24 pm

Here’s my list for September:

Daisy Belle by Caitlin Davies. 5
This is a lovely, delightful and inspiring story paying homage to champion women swimmers of the Victorian era. Daisy Belle has an ambition to be the best female swimmer in the world and under the tutelage of her father, Professor Belle, she becomes the star attraction, a rare thing during this era. Daisy, nick-named the tadpole amongst her ‘family of frogs’, is a brilliant character. She is so determined, fearless and single minded. I loved following Daisy’s story from her very beginnings in Margate, to when she started learning her skills at Lambeth Baths, to swimming in the Thames and to her journey to New York with all her trials and tribulations. There is a real sense of time and place, you almost feel like you are there with Daisy. It’s so atmospheric. There are some great photos of swimmers gone by - the costumes were something else! How on earth they swam in them beats me! I think Daisy deserved a medal just for wearing one. It’s a beautifully written, absorbing and well paced story combining fact with fiction. It was a pleasure to read from beginning to end. I can highly recommend it for all you mermaids and mermen out there, as well as us land mammals. Go on, dive in and submerge yourself in this wonderful tale! You won’t be out of your depth as I’m sure this book is going to make a big splash.

The Dry by Jane Harper 4
Set in Australia during a drought, a family are all murdered and the father is accused of the slaughter and then turning the gun in himself. Aaron Falks, a policeman, returns to the to attend the funeral. He finds himself investigating the murders and also confronting memories from the past. I enjoyed this story. It’s a slow burner, probably more of a literary mystery. It’s quite atmospheric the way it is told with the descriptions of the drought, the nearly empty town and the the claustrophia. I could just picture it. It sounded a bit like the Wild West! An intriguing and well plotted mystery with a few red herrings thrown in. I was quite gripped!

Different Class by Joanne Harris. 4
Set in a public boys' school in North Yorkshire, this tale is told via the voice of a school teacher and via letters written by a mostly anonymous student to another student named Mousey, and covers different time frames. It's quite a dark story and is something of a mystery as the reader tries to work out who is who! There's also a humorous thread running through it. It's a slow burner but very intriguing and well written. An absorbing read.

Strange Fascination by Syd Moore. 4
Strange Fascination is the third in the quirky Essex Witch Museum mystery series but it can also be read as a stand alone. When developers move a boulder known as the ‘Blackly Be’ which supposedly lies over the grave of a witch, strange things start to happen. Stir in a couple of bodies and a murder and the cauldron is bubbling nicely. This series of books is fun to read with Strange Fascination being no exception. There are some zany characters and they are written with a sense of humour. The mystery side in this particular book is very intriguing, although it takes a little time to get going. I like that there are one or two true facts contained within the fiction. The ‘will they, won’t they’ relationship between the two main characters, Rosie and Sam, continues. If I was Sam, I’d run a mile - Rosie is like some sort of man eater, she makes me cringe and roll my eyes at times with her euphemisms and metaphors. Just get on with it, guys! :P . There is also progress with another thread running through the series - an old family mystery, the disappearance of Rosie’s grandmother, Ethel Rose. All in all an entertaining, enchanting and enjoyable read. I look forward to more of Rosie and Sam’s witchy adventures.

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton. 5
What a wonderful and moving story! Kate Morton is one of my favourite authors and I was so thrilled to read this book. When archivist Elodie Winslow comes across a satchel containing an old photo and an artist’s sketchbook, it leads her to Birchwood Manor, a house with many secrets. The reader is taken on an adventure across time, weaving interconnected stories from the mid 1800s to the present day. This is such a cleverly crafted tale where a house is very much one of the characters. There are multiple first person and third person narrators, one of whom is a ghost. There are also multiple timelines and these are artfully and ingeniously linked together - this definitely kept me on my toes to keep up with what was going on. It's beautifully and evocatively written. The descriptions are so vivid and easy to visualise - I could quite picture myself on the river bank looking over my shoulder to gaze at the gables of Birchwood Manor. I felt transported into the lives of these fascinating characters and was so immersed that it was quite a shock when the story ended. I even shed a tear! Part mystery, part love story across and beyond time, I loved it.

The Corset by Laura Purcell. 5
A creepy, gothic Victorian novel told from the viewpoints of two very different women, Dorothea Truelove and Ruth Butterham. Dorothea comes from a wealthy family, has a fascination for the shape of people’s heads and visits female criminals in prison as part of her charity works.. One such female is Ruth who is awaiting trial for murder and who believes she has caused deaths via her sewing, a supernatural force. This is a dark and atmospheric tale with disturbing and ominous undertones. There are subtle hints of menace throughout which only makes it the more unnerving. It’s beautifully written with some brilliant characters, not all particularly pleasant to say the least! It drew me in from the first page and had me in its grip until the last. I was utterly engrossed, wondering whether there was a supernatural power at force or if events could easily be explained in a rational way. This is just such an absorbing and mesmerising story, it’s so cleverly plotted with an unexpected and excellent twist at the end. I loved it.

The Survivors by Kate Furnivall. 4.5
Set just after WWII in a refugee camp in Germany. Klara and Alicja Janowska are survivors of the horrors of war and find themselves living in Graufeld Displaced Persons Camp. Klara recognises a man from her past, someone posing as a refugee and therefore hiding his true identity. Klara believes that she and her daughter are in grave danger and she is left with a dilemma. This is an exciting and gripping story about greed and revenge. It’s quite the page turner, a rollercoaster of a ride. I was virtually on the edge of my seat on occasions! There are some great, well rounded characters, including a strong and courageous mother with an even feistier daughter. I’ve never considered refugee camps after the war before, all those people homeless through no fault of their own and living in terrible conditions but still finding something to smile about. It seems to resonate with today’s world somewhat, so a tale told from this perspective was interesting and revealing. The research which has gone into this book is admirable. I wasn’t too sure about the ending. I thought it was a little too neatly tied off but this is just a small point. I thought this was an excellent piece of storytelling, a must for those who enjoy historical fiction. I very much enjoyed it.

The Forgotten Ones by Steena Holmes. 3
A young woman finds out that the grandfather she has been led to believe was dead is actually alive but dying in the hospital where she works as a nurse. She starts to visit him and uncovers dark family secrets. I was a little disappointed with this one. I thought it was a little weird. It features the subject matter of mental illness which, in this book, has quite severe consequences. Some of it I didn't find very credible. I thought it was well written but the story didn't really grab me. It's a sad tale and quite gloomy. Just an OK book for me.
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 Silent Companions by Laura Purcell & And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott (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

October

Postby Vanessa » Wed November 7th, 2018, 5:09 pm

Here's my list for October:


Absolute Proof by Peter James. 4
This is quite a rollercoaster of a thriller. It takes a little time to get going and then it’s action packed. When journalist Ross Hunter receives a telephone call from a man saying he can provide absolute proof of God’s existence, this leads him on a cat and mouse chase in fear of his life. I thought this was an entertaining and thought provoking read, although I did have to suspend belief at times. I read it with a pinch of salt and found it was actually quite the page turner. It’s written with a sense of humour, too - I did find myself giggling in certain parts. I read Absolute Proof via the Pigeonhole app and I think this enhanced my reading experience quite a lot. This is the first book I have read by Peter James and it certainly won’t be my last. If you enjoyed the Da Vinci Code, you’ll like this one. It’s a fun and exciting read which will have you on the edge of your seat.

Transcription by Kate Atkinson. 4.5
This story is set within three time frames, 1940, 1950 and 1981 and is about a young woman called Juliet Armstrong who us recruited by MI5 to transcribe secret conversations amongst British fascist sympathisers, which in turn leads to her becoming a spy herself. This is an intriguing tale with a quirky and a somewhat sociopathic female protagonist.. There is more than a hint if humour running through it. It's not a fast paced book, but one to be savoured. Beautifully written with a big twist at the end which I didn't see coming. A very enjoyable read.

And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott. 5
Another gripping psychological thriller courtesy of Pigeonhole! This mystery is set on the south coast of England. In a house on the cliffs a couple are discovered covered in blood, one of whom is found dead. Is it murder or self-defence. There lies the conundrum! Cleverly plotted with plenty of twists and turns, I was never quite sure where the story was going to take me next. It’s a proper page turner with some excellent characters - I just didn’t know who to believe. I had great fun trying to work it all out! This thriller had me in its enthrall until the very last page. The ending is brilliant! Highly recommended.

A Suggestion of Scandal by Catherine Kullman. 4
An enjoyable Regency romance with an added touch of spice and a gentle nod at Georgette Heyer. It has all the usual ingredients you would expect in this type of story - a lord, a governess, a romantic rival and the odd secret. It's well written and the tale flows along at a moderate and pleasant pace. The characters are well drawn and mostly likeable (there has to be a villain in such stories! :twisted: :D ). The historical side is well researched and draws attention to how society perceived women in those days. What is good for the goose is definitely not good for the gander! The era is described quite vividly and authentically and I had no trouble imagining myself transported to the early 1800s. An easy, entertaining and pleasurable read, just right for a bit of escapism!

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell. 4
Dual timeframe story set in the 1860s and 1630s. During the 1860s widowed Elsie Bainbridge travels to her late husband’s house, The Bridge, to see out her pregnancy. The house seems to be harbouring a secret within a locked room plus Elsie is haunted by a collection of ‘silent companions’, lifesize painted and boarded figures. In the 1630s Anne Bainbridge is getting ready for a visit from King Charles 1 and his wife, for which she procures a set of ‘silent companions’ to amuse the queen. This is a dark, creepy and atmospheric tale. I’m not sure I would call it a ghost story as such, more of a horror. The ending is quite ambiguous so be prepared to make your own mind up. It’s well worth the read.

Skin Deep by Liz Nugent. 5
A dark and gripping psychological thriller following the trials and tribulations of a narcissistic sociopath from a small island just off the coast of Ireland, to London and then to the south coast of France. This is really quite the page turner! It’s almost like a fable, a sinister one at that with a wicked fairy as the main character. Liz Nugent has created a brilliantly complex and off the wall character in Delia Russell. You really love to hate her and she makes you cringe more and more as you progress through her story. I really wouldn’t want to meet her on a dark night! It’s a fast paced and compelling tale, which had me on the edge of my seat at times, with plenty of twists and turns. The ending is just fantastic and unexpected! I loved all the folk tales which are scattered throughout the main narrative. They add a sense of the macabre. A fascinating, imaginatively written and well plotted story which hooked me in from start to finish. Highly recommended.

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult. 5
This is a very thought provoking story about a contentious issue. Its set in an abortion clinic where a protestor enters all guns blazing, endangering patients and staff and taking hostages on the way including the police negotiator’s daughter. A Spark of Light is well researched, written in a sensitive way and it provides both sides of the argument. It brought to my attention the difference in attitudes and practices between the US and the UK and I found this quite astonishing. I always say never judge anyone until you’ve walked ten miles in their shoes. The story is written in the reverse which takes a little getting used to. However, once I got to grips with it, I found it a compelling and insightful read and found myself caring about the majority of the characters. The back stories of some of the women are interesting and I really did feel for them in their predicaments. Jodi Picoult is very clever at taking a controversial subject, developing and transforming it into a captivating and informed story which makes the reader turn the pages, Leaving them thinking about it long after it’s ended. I read this book via the Pigeonhole app. Having access to other readers’ opinions certainly enhances my reading experience. A Spark of Light is really quite the page turner and if you enjoy a provocative and absorbing read, I can recommend it.
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Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind


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