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Madeleine's Reads 2021

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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Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 5724
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: "The Moor" by L J Ross
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime
Location: Essex/London

Madeleine's Reads 2021

Post by Madeleine » Wed January 6th, 2021, 9:35 am

The Christmas Collection by Victoria Connelly - this is a set of 3 novellas, or longish short stories (about 60 pages each) set, naturally, at Christmas time and all are set in beautiful parts of the UK. In the first, Christmas at the Cove, Millie wants to spend the season on her own, and is thrilled when her aunt says that she can have her cottage in Devon, where she spent many happy holidays. But when she gets there, she finds a man already in residence - widowed doctor Niall has also been loaned the cottage by Milie's aunt (he's her GP) and planned to spend Christmas there with his young son. And when there's a heavy snowfall, both parties are forced to get along together. In Christmas at the Castle, the MacNeice family arrive at a remote castle in the Scottish Highlands - divorced dad Ian with his two daughters; his eight year old is sweet, but his older teenager would rather spend the season anywhere but in a freezing castle in the middle of nowhere with no mobile phone signal, like in California with her mother. the owner is a widow with a teenage daughter and young son of her won, and luckily the older girls bond, sort of. But it still could be an awkward Christmas for both families. In Christmas at the Cottage, Rowan also flees to her family's old cottage in the Lake District, following a messy break up with a work colleague. But her sister and her husband had also planned to spend the season at the cottage, on their own. Then Rowan's brother-in-law's best friend also turns up, so from having a solo Christmas she now finds herself with a housefull, and Nick is the last person she wants to see, following an embarrassing encounter at her sister's wedding. This wsa a quick, cosy read, and finished off the season nicely. 7/10[/color

A Winter Beneath the Stars by Jo Thomas - Halley is a courier, who delivers important packages around Europe and we first meet her kicking her heels at a Swedish airport, waiting for a connecting flight which has been delayed. Her job this time is to deliver 2 wedding rings to the happy couple, but when she finally arrives at her hotel she finds that she has picked up someone else's case instead of hers, containing the precious rings. So as the wedding party arrive at the hotel, she has to get her case back, as her job will be on the line too, but the only help is in the form of a surly man called Bjorn, who knows where the owner of the case lives and reluctantly agrees to take her there - except first of all they have to herd 300 reindeer down from the mountain to their winter pasture, along with a team of over excited huskies - and Halley is terrified of dogs. So it's with a fair amount of trepidation that she agrees to join Bjorn on the journey - no surprises what happens next, as Halley gradually learns to overcome some fears and let go of others. There are a couple of reveals in the book but I guessed both of them, however I thoroughly enjoyed it and several times wished I was on that sled with Halley - a sled pulled by a reindeer through virgin snow just sounds gorgeous! I've read a couple of Jo' other books but this is by far the best so far, it's a lovely book and a definite keeper. I want to be a reindeer herder! 8/10

the Chalet by Catherine Cooper - this book is set in 2 time periods, it begins with a ski-ing accident in 1998, then comes forward to January 2020, where 2 couples, Ria and Hugo, and Simon and Cass, are spending a week at a luxury chalet in the resort where the accident happened. Hugo is wooing Simon to be an investor in his leisure company, he desperately needs him on board, but Simon is a boorish man who bosses around his young wife Cass, who has recently had their first baby and is clearly suffering from depression. Ria can't stand him and is reluctant to play the perfect hostess, although luckily there are staff to provide food and hospitality. In 1998 we get the story of Louisa, who's on holiday with her boyfriend Will and his showoff brother Adam, who's brought his trophy girlfriend Nell along. Louisa is terrified of ski-ing but starts to learn, then there is an accident and only one brother survives. Back in 2020, a fierce storm causes an avalanche which reveals a long hidden body. The surviving brother comes over, reluctantly, to identify his sibling, and ends up staying at the chalet as well, but there are people in the village who remember him, and one of them in particular has a score to settle. I enjoyed this, it's a fast-paced thriller and it was fun trying to guess who is out for revenge, although it's easy to narrow it down to a few suspects. And judging by the ending, it looks like they're not finished yet! 7/10
Currently reading: "The Moor" by L J Ross

User avatar
Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 5724
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: "The Moor" by L J Ross
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime
Location: Essex/London

Re: Madeleine's Reads 2021

Post by Madeleine » Sat February 13th, 2021, 6:02 pm

February

The Devil's Garden by Aline Templeton - this is the third book in the Kelso Strang series, but the first I've read, and Kelso is a detective based In Edinburgh, but who works for the Serious Rural Crimes Squad, and in this book he's called to a small town in the Borders, supposedly to investigate a so-called County Lines drugs ring, but unofficially to look at possible police corruption in the small force there, to which he's been alerted by a former colleague. In the meantime local author Anne Harper is convinced that he son's drug overdose was not fatal, and when her daughter goes missing she is convinced that a secret from long ago is behind it all. Trouble is, the author is incredibly reclusive, only emerging to take a session at the writers' retreat which she runs every year, and as this is the week of the retreat, there are several possible new suspects too, including at least one prospective author with a grudge. However she is so secretive that not even the police know the full extent of the secrets she is trying to keep, until inevitably her past finally catches up with her. I did eventually enjoy this, although it took a long time - about 2/3rds of the book, before the action finally got going, and after that it was quite gripping. The arrival of the massive storm we had 3 years ago, the Beast from the East, also hampers the investigation somewhat when the residents find themselves snowed in. So after a slow start a good read, and I would probably read more by her (I do in fact have another of her books, but from a different series). 7/10

Now you see them by Elly Griffiths - this is the latest in the Brighton Murder mysteries and the action has moved on from the 1950s to 1964. It takes a while to catch up with the two main characters - policeman Edgar Stephens has been promoted, has married his sergeant, Emma Holmes, and now has 3 young children. Max Mephisto, the former stage magician, has gone to Hollywood, become a film star and is now married to an actress, lives in a fabulous house and has 2 young children. The friends are reunited at the funeral of their former fellow magician and friend, Diablo, and afterwards Max stays in Brighton and London, as he's considering making a film in England. Then young women and teenage girls go missing, and when one of them is found dead near the famous girls' school Roedean, Edgar finds himself in a race against time to save the other missing women from the same fate. his wife Emma is bored at home, and can't help getting involved too, and then Max's daughter, fellow celebrity Ruby, is also drawn in. After a slow start the pace really picked up and became quite gripping, although the ending felt a little bit like the old Nancy Drew books I used to read as a teenager! An easy read with likeable main characters. 7/10
Currently reading: "The Moor" by L J Ross

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