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Vanessa’s 2019 Reads

What have you read in 2019? Post your list here and update it as you go along! (One thread per member, please.)
User avatar
Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4223
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

November

Post by Vanessa » Wed December 4th, 2019, 5:10 pm

Here’s my list for November:

Monkspite by S E England
Set in the Forest of Dean in the creepy (fictional) village of Monkspike, a dark and evil force has been unleashed in the form of a malevolent monk who wants revenge for some terrible events which occurred 900 years ago. When I first started reading this book I felt a little confused as I didn’t really understand what was going on. Then it became clear about halfway through the story and was quite the rollercoaster from then on. It had me on the edge of my seat. It’s definitely a scary and nail biting tale. Burdo the monk is the stuff of nightmares, the author describes him so vividly! :o . Some of the themes did remind me a little of Barbara Erskine’s work and could give Dennis Wheatley a good run for his money. Atmospherically written with some fascinating characters, the air of menace and foreboding is alway apparent and kept me on my toes. I always know I’m in for a chilling and hair raising ride when reading a Sarah England book and this one is no exception. Disturbingly enjoyable - best read with the lights on! :twisted:

Dead in Venice by Fiona Leitch
Told in the first person by best selling author, Bella Tyson, who is suffering from writer’s block. One day she receives a mysterious invitation to stay in Venice, along with a book about Venetian folklore. Deciding to take up the offer, she travels to Venice where she meets Will Carmichael, an Interpol agent. Together they end up trying solve some rather gruesome and bizarre murders which seem to link to the book Bella has been sent. What to say! It starts out really well. The writing style is engaging and the narrator’s voice, which is lighthearted and very conversational, pulls you in. The story is entertaining, fast paced and quite humorous. It’s an intriguing read and I was quite eager to keep turning the pages to find out what happened next. However, it does contain some ‘Hammer House of Horror’ moments (probably showing my age here) and then it gets a little dark, darker than dark! I wasn’t always convinced by some of the events and parts of the story made me cringe. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it in a weird way and the twist at the end was a surprise. Could there be a moral to this story? The descriptions of Venice are spot on, very easy to visualise. It’s a magical place to visit. Just don’t read any macabre mythological stories before you set off. You never know what might come true!

The Titanic Sisters by Patricia Falvey
Two disparate sisters get the chance to travel to New York on the Titanic to start a new life, one as a governess and the other as a maid. Disaster strikes and arrangements don’t go as planned. I am drawn to stories about the Titanic and was looking forward to reading this book. It’s beautifully written and the anatomy of an idea is there. I liked the way it was narrated by the two sisters alternately. On the other hand, I did find it quite slow and a little dull. There wasn’t much action. I didn’t particularly like any of the characters, they seemed a tad shallow. I don’t think enough of the story was set on the Titanic itself and I feel this part could’ve been fleshed out more. Some of the tale seemed contrived and predictable, especially towards the conclusion. The ending also seemed rushed. Nevertheless, it’s an easy, pleasant and gentle read, a great one for a cold night snuggled up by the fire. It does give a good insight into the era it’s set in. I was particularly fascinated by the descriptions of Dallas and Shotgun City! They were very vividly depicted and sounded amazing.

Midwinter Mysteries (Short Story Collection) by Various
An engaging collection of short mystery stories with a festive theme, eleven in total. I have read some of the authors but not others. It’s a good insight into the writers’ work if you are wishing to sample their books. I think my favourite is actually the last one, The Christmas Ghost by Linda Stratman, a tale about forgiveness - perhaps we could all take a leaf out of this little mystery! Entertaining and intriguing, the stories are all well written. If you like snuggling up to the fire on a cold winter’s evening with a cosy light-hearted mystery wrapped up in tinsel, you’ll enjoy this one.

Snakes & Ladders by Victoria Selman
The third in the Ziba Mackenzie thriller series. I haven’t read the first two books but it can be read as a stand alone, although the ending is left on something of a cliffhanger. A serial killer known as the PRK (Pink Rose Killer) is having a killing spree in London. Meanwhile another notorious mass murderer incarcerated in HM Wakefield Prison seems to know the killer’s real identity and is predicting what they’re going to do next. I read this story via the Pigeonhole app where the book is split into ten daily staves and I looked forward to receiving each instalment. I’m not a fan of serial killer thrillers but I was quite gripped by this one. It’s fast paced with some great characters. There is a puzzle to solve and coded clues to decipher which I enjoyed. It’s a cat and mouse game with a race against time sort of tale which kept me turning the pages. There’s not much more I can say without giving the plot away, so overall a it’s a good thriller which will appeal to fans of Thomas Harris and Robert Bloch.

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan
Set during WWII in a small village in Kent where a group of women decide to band together to form a choir. This story isn’t just about the choir, though, it’s about how the women take over whilst the men are away fighting, how they try to build up morale and stand together. There are some fantastic characters and lots of intrigue from espionage to baby swapping. It’s beautifully written and just a lovely read. Loved it!

The Death of Irish Nell by Karen Charlton
A short story in the Detective Stephen Lavender Mysteries. It’s like a little prequel to the next book, The Willow Marsh Murder, which is due to be published next year. A young woman’s body is found down a well and it’s up to Detective Lavender and his sidekick Constable Ned Woods to prove the culpability of the known killers. This is such an engaging, well written and entertaining series and, although I’m not always a fan of short stories, I really enjoyed this one. I love the main characters, they make an intrepid duo. I look forward to reading the next book!

The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir by Lesley Allen
I very much enjoyed this book. It’s quite a moving read about a young girl who is bullied. It gives a great insight into how bullying can wreck lives. Biddy was such a sad, believable and vulnerable character and her father was so inadequate, he just didn’t know how to deal with her. The ‘villain’ of the piece was perhaps a little over the top. However, it does get across the effects of bullying on a person and how it can sometimes destroy them. ‘Everyone’s a little bit weird’ - it’s what makes the human race all so interesting! :) An engaging, absorbing and touching read.
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
Posts: 4223
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

December

Post by Vanessa » Sun January 5th, 2020, 10:17 pm

Here’s my list for December:

The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton
This is a story about what happens when an accident occurs in a sports club, a lie is told and the subsequent events are not always as they appear. Misunderstandings and paranoia are the result amongst a group of ‘yummy’ mummies who chat on Whatsapp and at the school gates. It’s a compelling tale of friendship turned sour, how things can spiral out of control very quickly and the guilt which ensues. There is a fantastic and diverse cast of believable characters from the neurotic Sarah and the anxious Liza to the sophisticated Ella. Nobody is perfect in this book as, of course, no-one is perfect in the real world. It highlights our foibles and shortcomings and that, at the end of the day, we are only human after all. An engaging, absorbing and enjoyable page turner pertinent to today’s world. I read The Fallout via the Pigeonhole app. It’s not the type of book I would normally read, but I’m glad I did!

Lake Child by Isabel Ashdown
In a small town in Norway a young woman wakes up in an attic to discover she has been in a coma and has lost her memory after an accident. As she gradually starts to remember what happened, secrets are revealed and she begins to plan her escape. It took me a little while to get into this story, maybe a third of the way through it, but when I did I found it really rather gripping! It’s quite an intense read. The unease and trepidation mounts up beautifully and I was eager to pick the book up each time I had a spare moment to read on. I loved the setting. The descriptions of the landscape were very vividly depicted and it was easy to visualise. Lake Child is a well written and engrossing page turner, a rollercoaster of a psychological thriller. I can certainly recommend it!

A Typical Family Christmas by Liz Davies
A fun tale about one family who are all too wrapped up in themselves. It’s easy, entertaining and a little over the top as most festive stories are. There are some funny moments. It contains bolshy teenagers, a self-absorbed mother, an overbearing mother-in-law and an oblivious husband. There is something of a moral to the story, too, about not taking people for granted. A pleasant, lighthearted Christmassy read. 🎄🎄

Close to Home by Cara Hunter
A gripping psychological thriller which I read via the Pigeonhole app. It’s the first in the DI Hawley series. Eight year old Daisy disappears without a trace during a family barbecue, a family who appear dysfunctional. Just what happened to Daisy and who is really to blame? DI Hawley is on the case! There are so many twists and turns in this story that I never knew quite where it was heading. Plenty of cliffhangers and red herrings, too, which kept me on the edge of my seat. Just when I thought I’d solved it, something would crop up which would throw it all up in the air again. Working my way through the labyrinthine of lies was a bit a headache, I must admit! The old adage you reap what you sew sprung to mind at the end of the book. A well plotted and beautifully written page turner which I thoroughly enjoyed. I eagerly awaIted each stave every day. I look forward to reading the rest of the series - Cara Hunter is an author to look out for.

Josephine: Singer, Dancer, Soldier, Spy by Eilidh McGinness
I had heard of Josephine Baker but didn’t know much about her, so it was interesting to read a story based on her life. She really was a remarkable woman. It seems very well researched and it’s told via mostly short and compact chapters. However, the style of writing didn’t always work for me as I found it a little difficult to follow. It didn’t flow as I would’ve liked. I thought it was somewhat repetitive, too. Nevertheless, I feel I have gained some knowledge about this amazing and courageous lady who didn’t let other people’s prejudices get in the way of her success or her her chance to serve her adopted country, and from that perspective I enjoyed it.

A Christmas with the Dodger by Charlton Daines
This is an enjoyable little mystery featuring the ‘Artful Dodger’ Jack Dawkins from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist and his adopted son, Reg. One day Reg spots Jack’s sister-in-law who has been missing and this encounter leads him on a perilous path and into the criminal underworld. An atmospheric read with some fascinating characters, a great Christmassy story.

Paternoster by Kim Fleet
The first in the Eden Grey dual timeline conspiracy thriller series which I found hugely enjoyable. Paternoster is set in London and Cheltenham during the 18th and 21st centuries. In 2013 two skeletons dating back to the 1700s are unearthed in the grounds of a prestigious school, the deaths appearing to be by foul play. Two further murders then occur seemingly linked to the past. In 1795 a prostitute gets involved with an unwholesome group known as the “Paternoster Club” with tragic results. There is also the mystery of Eden’s past which runs along in the background, so you have to be on your toes when reading this one. Paternoster is a gripping story, very much a page turner. There is so much going on, it’s action packed, full of twists and turns plus the odd red herring. It’s brilliantly constructed and the two timelines link together seamlessly. I love the characters, they seem well defined and realistic. Eden and her boyfriend, Adrian, make a fantastic duo. It’s a Bertie Bassett type of a mystery, a bit of all sorts! Human trafficking, prostitution, fraudulent paintings, murder and debauchery to name but a few! It’s edge of your seat stuff, taking you on a rollercoaster of an entertaining ride. I loved it from beginning to end and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
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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