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Vanessa’s 2020 Reads

What have you read this year? Post your list here and update it as you go along! (One thread per member, please.)
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Posts: 4197
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

Vanessa’s 2020 Reads

Post by Vanessa » Sun January 5th, 2020, 10:20 pm

Here’s my list for January:

The Assistant by S K Tremayne
Firstly, if you’re thinking of buying yourself a virtual assistant, you might think twice after reading this book! It’s scary stuff, I can tell you! After her divorce Jo Ferguson moves into her friend’s flat in Camden which is managed by a home assistant called Electra. One night Electra starts talking to her as if it knows her personally and taunts her with a big secret only Jo and a couple of other friends should know about. From here on in things only get worse. Well, this is very much a page turner. It gripped me from beginning to end. It’s described as a psychological thriller - it’s more like a horror story! If I had a virtual assistant (which I don’t, I’m not that lazy. I don’t use Siri, either.), it would be taken to the electrical recycling centre immediately. Having said all that, although it’s an enthralling read, it is a little far fetched at times and I wasn’t totally convinced about the ending. Even so, it’s thought provoking and makes you wonder at all this quite invasive technology. Big Brother is definitely watching you. The Assistant is an edge of your seat and disturbing nail biter of a story. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can recommend it. It will haunt your dreams.

The Foundling by Stacey Halls
I loved this story! Set in London during the 18th century and told by two voices, that of a young mother and shrimp seller, Bess Bright, and a widow, Alexandra Callard, who lives with her daughter, Charlotte. Six years after leaving her baby, Clara, at the Foundling Hospital, Bess discovers Clara has already been reclaimed by someone professing to be her. Bess’ investigations lead her to the position of nursemaid. I was looking forward to reading this book so was very pleased when it became available by way of a competition on Pigeonhole. Having won my place, I eagerly awaited each stave every day and was sad when I received the last one, I didn’t want it to finish. It’s beautifully and atmospherically written with some wonderful and realistic characters. The Foundling is such an immersing read, so much so I was easily transported to Georgian London and I became totally absorbed into Bess’ and Alexandra’s individual stories. I was gripped from beginning to end. Historical fiction fans are going to love this one! I haven’t read The Familiars, Stacey Halls’ first book, but it’s on my ‘to be read’ pile and I’m impatient to start it!

Hitler’s Secret by Rory Clements
This is the fourth in the Professor Thomas Wilde espionage thriller series set during WWII. I haven’t read the first three but I thought Hitler’s Secret worked well as a stand alone. Tom is enlisted to smuggle a mysterious package out of Germany which leads to a cat and mouse situation. I found it gripping and well researched. It’s an exciting and action packed story where the pace doesn’t let up. The plot is intriguing and there are plenty of twists and turns, it’s quite a journey. I was eager to pick my Kindle up to read on. I loved the character of Tom Wilde and, therefore, look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau
It’s 1911 and rebellious heiress Peggy Battenberg is summoned to spend the summer with her family at the Oriental Hotel on Coney Island, not far from the the amusement parks. Wishing for her freedom, she soon comes into contact with Stefan, who is a Serbian artist, and starts to meet him in secret. Then the bodies of three young women are found and, as the temperature rises, the tension mounts. This is a tale of class division, family, forbidden love and murder. I loved Dreamland! It’s a fabulous read. I enjoyed the setting and era, the descriptions are very vivid. It’s beautifully written with just the right amount of suspense. I read this book via the Pigeonhole app and I was always eager to begin each stave every day. I definitely found it a page turner. An entertaining and magical historical murder mystery with some fascinating characters and an intriguing plot which I can highly recommend. Nancy Bilyeau is fast becoming one of my favourite authors.

When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
This is a lovely story set in London, Cornwall and New York about a brother and a sister and a rabbit named God spanning about 30 years. It’s a heartwarming drama about love in all its forms. It is a little dark in places and includes such themes as child abuse, kidnapping, family secrets and illness. However, there is plenty of humour to lighten the atmosphere. Just a great read.

The 24 Hour Cafe by Libby Page
A heartwarming story set in a cafe which never sleeps near Liverpool Street Station in London. It’s told by way of ittle glimpses into the lives of various people, those of the waitresses and customers who frequent the cafe, a little like a ‘fly on the wall’ documentary. I thought this was cleverly written with the relatable snapshots gelling together beautifully. The observations were spot on. It’s a tale about relationships, particularly the importance of friends, with themes such as loneliness, homelessness, mental abuse and post natal depression. The cafe sounded fantastic - I’d love to drop in and treat myself to a slice of cake and a café latte whilst discreetly tuning into the assorted conversations around me, the ‘ships that pass in the night’. It’s all very realistic. An absorbing and hugely enjoyable story. If you like people watching, you’ll love The 24 Hour Cafe! I shall miss the fun, even Ernest the Bear!
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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