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Vanessa’s 2021 Reads

What have you read in 2021? Post your list here and update it as you go along! (One thread per member, please.)
User avatar
Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4305
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 2021 Reads

Post by Vanessa » Fri January 8th, 2021, 11:05 pm

Here’s my list for January:

The Coffin Maker’s Garden by Stuart MacBride
This is the third in the Ash Henderson series. I haven’t read the previous two books but can confirm that the Coffin Maker’s Garden can be read as a stand-alone. It took a little while to work out who was who and what was what, but I gradually got into the swing of things. There are two killers on the loose in this story. Human remains are found in a house which is teetering on the edge of a cliff whilst elsewhere there are children being kidnapped and later found dead. Although I enjoyed this on the whole, I did find it a little too gruesome and violent for my tastes. Having said that, it’s quite gripping and kept me on the edge of my seat/hiding behind a cushion at times. It’s vividly written - perhaps too many metaphors, though - and the dark humour does make up for the grisly bits somewhat. There are some larger than life characters, a little too large at times. Ash has more lives than a cat! He really is the Six Million Dollar Man. 😆. If you enjoy chiller thrillers, this one will definitely float your boat. Thanks to Pigeonhole for the opportunity to read this book.

Highland Lioness by Kristin Gleeson
Morag McGregor is sent to the Scottish court of 1559 after instigating a spot of cattle rustling and purloining Rory Campbell's horse. She sets out on a journey of revenge and finds herself involved in the world of spies, politics and royal intrigue. I enjoyed this historical romp come adventure story. It’s beautifully written with some great imagery of life at court. I liked that it combined historical fact with fiction. I felt I learned a little more about the machinations of the era. The main character is a very determined and courageous young lady, she has a sharp edge to her. She’s no shrinking violet! There is a love interest in the form of a nobleman who is not as he seems, he put me in mind of the Scarlet Pimpernel. All great ingredients for an entertaining and intriguing novel. An easy to read, well paced and plotted tale which should appeal to historical romantic suspense fans. It does form part of a series but can be read as a stand alone.

33 Women by Isabel Ashdown
When Celine and Pip’s dysfunctional mother dies, they meet up to organise her funeral and deal with the estate, bringing back memories of their sister, Vanessa, who died in mysterious circumstances 15 years previously. Another girl is found dead which seems to echo Vanessa’s death and both women have a connection to a nearby commune led by the enigmatic Seed. This is an intriguing and absorbing tale. It’s not a fast paced read. It’s a slow burner, gradually drawing the reader in, revealing little clues along the way. It’s told via two voices, that of Celine, who is desperate to find out what happened to her sister all those years ago, and that of Bramble, one of the founders of the commune. It also goes backwards and forwards in time, interweaving the strands, and then travelling towards the big reveal at the end. And what a reveal it is! It could be deemed slightly incredulous but all I can say is please read the book and make your own mind up! It’s well worth the effort.

The City of Tears by Kate Mosse
Second in the Burning Chambers series. The story begins in Puivert in 1572 where Minou and Piet are preparing to travel to Paris to attend a royal wedding. There is still unrest between the Huguenots and the Catholics. The visit all ends in disaster in the form of the St Bartholomew Day’s Massacre, the reappearance of an old enemy and the disappearance of a family member. This is a fabulous sequel to the first book, The Burning Chambers. The story really draws you in and is rich in historical detail. There are some wonderful, well drawn characters who I really cared about and the odd one or two villains who I wanted to stick with the pointy end! It’s a beautifully written and researched tale of adventure and suspense. There’s danger and excitement on every corner. I read this book via the Pigeonhole app and was gripped from start to finish, eagerly awaiting each stave every day. I’m so looking forward to the next instalment in this superb series.

A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion
A coming of age family drama set in the suburbs of Pennsylvania during the early 1980s. It begins with an argument in a car, resulting in disastrous consequences and opening up quite a few cans of worms within the neighbourhood. This is a slow burning story with some well drawn characters. The narrator is 15 year old Libby who I thought was particularly realistically described and scripted. Beautifully and evocatively written, it’s a tale of secrets, how they unravel and then affect those peoples around them. There is a certain amount of suspense and also a couple of dark and disturbing scenes, as well as some life affirming moments. It took me a little while to get into the flow of the writing, but once I did I enjoyed it. An engaging and thought provoking debut.

Along the Endless River by Rose Alexander
A wonderful historical family drama, spanning 20 years, set in Brazil and London. In 1890 Katharine and her husband, Anselmo, set off for the Amazon to build their rubber plantation business. Meanwhile Katharine’s sister, Mabel, is growing up in London and then becomes a ladies’ maid to the daughter of a rubber baron. As in all great stories, things don’t always go smoothly and there is quite the bumpy ride for them both! I thoroughly enjoyed this well written and book. The author brought the Amazon and the characters to life for me. It’s vividly described and it was all so easy to visualise in my mind. I loved Katharine, she’s a strong and resourceful woman. It’s well researched and the era is depicted superbly. I almost felt like I was there! A fabulous tale and easy to read, it will effortlessly transport you to another time and another place. It’s just right for reading in these uncertain times. Highly recommended.
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: 4305
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

February

Post by Vanessa » Mon March 1st, 2021, 10:08 pm

Here’s my list for February:

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
Elin and her boyfriend, Will, have been invited to her brother, Isaac’s engagement party at a newly refurbished hotel in the Swiss Alps. Isaac’s fiancée goes missing and then one of the hotel’s employees is kidnapped, later found dead. An avalanche occurs and staff and residents alike find themselves snowed in and stranded with a killer on the loose. Overall I very much enjoyed this book. It’s quite the page turner. There are plenty of twists and turns and the odd red herring. It’s atmospheric and creepy. At first I was wondering if it was going to be some sort of sci fi/fantasy thriller but as the tale moves on, it becomes quite different to that and really quite sinister. I think it does become obvious who the killer is towards the conclusion. I wasn’t convinced by the ending and found it a tad far fetched, if I’m going to be honest. Having said that, if you enjoy fast paced thrillers in an interesting setting, you won’t go far wrong reading this one.

The Favour by Laura Vaughan
Ada Howell is desperate to fit in with the ‘in’ crowd, the dilettantes. When her godmother offers her the money to go on an art history excursion to Italy, she jumps at the chance. As Ada’s aspirations and predilections mount, one of the group dies in suspicious circumstances and she finds herself embroiled in a peculiar turn of events of her own making. I really enjoyed the style of writing, it’s beautifully and eloquently scripted. The story itself, however, is a slow burner and quite unusual. I loved the beginning, it really drew me in and then I started to find it a tad tedious. It could be that it was a little too arty for me. The characters were well drawn but so shallow, I didn’t take to any of them. I loved the descriptions of Italy, especially Venice as it took me back to when I visited there some years ago now. It does have vibes of The Secret History by Donna Tartt, which I absolutely loved, but ultimately The Favour didn’t quite hit the spot for me.

A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy Jago
Set in the 17thC, this tells the story of a scandal which rocked the Jacobean court. It centres around two women, Lady Frances Howard and Mistress Anne Turner, and also involves the King’s favourite, Robert Carr, and the suspicious death of Sir Thomas Overbury. It’s narrated by Anne which gives an interesting aspect on the events related in this book, the title of which is very apt. I thought this was a fabulous read and a wonderful piece of historical fiction based on a true story. It’s well researched and atmospherically written. The descriptions of court life and life on the streets of London are very vivid. The characters are well depicted and seemed realistic. I loved the bond between Frances and Anne, they were both strong and courageous women. I did shed a tear or two towards the end but the epilogue does leave the tale on a note of hope. A powerful and heart wrenching story of the importance of female friendship when trying to survive in a very male world. I loved it!

Crow Court by Andy Charman
Set in Dorset during the Victorian era, this tale centres around the murder of a choirmaster. It chronicles the lives of those connected to this event in fourteen different interlinked chapters. These chapters are almost short stories in themselves. I thought this was a very clever book. It’s beautifully written in different styles throughout, for example, it begins with a section written in short, choppy sentences and there’s another section written in the local Dorset dialect. This in no way detracts from the story, but rather adds to the whole ambience. It’s a very absorbing tale and I was completely immersed in the lives of all the characters. And what an array of colourful and believable characters there are! The amount of research that has gone into this novel is admirable. The author has done a great job in creating the wonderful world of Crow Court. I’ll never look at a corvid in quite the same way again! A fabulous piece of historical fiction. It was a joy to read it!

Mythos by Stephen Fry
The Greek myths retold. I enjoyed this one and found it very interesting. I didn’t really know a lot about the Greeks myths apart from the well known ones like Pandora, Medusa etc, and reading a few retellings like Circe by Madeline Miller. Consequently, I really liked finding out about the others. Stephen Fry’s sense of humour shows through making it an entertaining read.

Dishonour and Obey by Graham Brack
The third in the Master Mercurius mysteries set in the 17thC. This one is set in England during the reign of King Charles II. William of Orange has decided upon marriage to Princess Mary, Charles’ niece, and so Mercurius has been sent as an ambassador to secure the match. However, not everyone approves and murder is afoot. Yet another well written and entertaining mystery. Master Mercurius is as brilliant as ever with his dry sense of humour. There’s always a great combination of historical fiction and fact in this series and Dishonour & Obey is no exception. All three books I’ve read so far have kept me turning the pages with their cleverly hatched plots. An easy, engaging and enjoyable addition to a great seriesx.
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: 4305
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

March

Post by Vanessa » Sat April 3rd, 2021, 5:01 pm

Here’s my list for March:

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
Autobiographical account of Raynor and Moth Winn’s decision to walk the 630 mile South West Coastal Path of England from Somerset to Dorset by way of Devon and Cornwall after they lose their home and Moth becomes terminally ill with cancer. I thought this was quite interesting, especially the fact that Moth‘s health seemed to improve as they went along. I did, however, find it a little repetitive and I started to lose interest half way. Although I did feel for their plight, some of their thoughts and actions seemed a little bizarre to say the least. At times they didn’t seem to have a clue. Hats off to Moth and Ray, though. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

The Castaways by Lucy Clarke
A compelling mystery about two sisters called Lori and Erin who have a very strong bond. After Lori’s relationship breakup with her partner, the sisters decide to take a holiday on a luxury island resort in Fiji. An argument the night before flying sends things awry and Lori ends up on the plane alone. The plane crashes and the nightmare begins. This is such a page turner. I was gripped from beginning to end. I read it via the Pigeonhole app and couldn’t wait to receive each stave every day. There are plenty of twists and turns and it’s full of suspenseful and tense moments. I always wondered what was going to happen next. If you enjoy stories which keep you on the edge of your seat and also with surprise endings, you’ll love this one although it might give you a fear of flying! This is the first book I’ve read by Lucy Clarke and it certainly won’t be my last.

Dog Days by Ericka Waller
This is a delightful story revolving around three very different people, Lizzie, Dan and George, and their various friends and dogs. Lizzie is autistic and living in a shelter for abused women, Dan is a psychotherapist and hiding a secret of his own, and George is just a grumpy and angry man who has recently lost his wife. All their lives interconnect in some way. The characters are wonderfully depicted. The author has done a great job with the way she has created them and making them feel so realistic. I’m sure we all have a Lizzie, Dan and George living near us in some form or another. The story itself is beautifully written, it’s quite an emotional read as well as having humorous moments which did make me chuckle. It’s not all sweetness and light as there is quite a dark side to the tale, some of which is heart wrenching. The dogs play a small but significant part in the story and they add a big note of hope. A dog truly is man’s best friend. Their intuitiveness, loyalty and joy for life really shines through,. All in all a fabulous read which I would have no hesitation in recommending to anyone who enjoys a character based, optimistic and feel good read. I loved it - I was so sad to turn the last page.

Canopy of Stars by Stephen Taylor
A courtroom style drama set in London and Germany at the beginning of the 19thC. A young Jewish man is accused of stealing a sheep and a woman wishing to follow in her lawyer father’s footsteps, decides to try to overturn his conviction. I thought this story was quite interesting, it started off well and gave a good insight into the plight of the Jewish community during this particular era. The machinations of court life were brought to life quite well and I enjoyed the writing style. It beggars belief that we would hang someone for such a petty crime. I have to admit, though, that the parts about pugilism didn’t always grab my attention. The characters didn’t seem fleshed out enough for my liking, either, as I would have liked to have got to know them a little better. Hence my rating of 3.5⭐️. All in all, an easy and thought provoking read which should appeal to those who enjoy historical novels set in the world of the justice (or injustice!) system.

Girl in the Walls by A J Gnuse
Have you ever wondered what causes those peculiar noises you can sometimes hear in your house? Well, after reading this book, you might feel even more curious! Elise has secretly taken up residence within the walls of her former home after her parents are killed in a car crash. At first the current owners seem unaware of her existence but soon the sons become conscious of her presence and events take an unfortunate turn. I found this gothic style story very unusual and imaginative. It’s atmospherically and vividly written with some fascinating characters. The house itself is the main character, I think, and from the way the author describes it, I could picture it quite clearly in my mind. At first I was never quite sure who or what Elise was so I was eager to read on to find out. There are some nail biting moments and there is a fair amount of suspense. There is also an eerie ambiance to the whole tale which at times was a little unsettling. However, the ending is a nice touch and leaves it on a positive note. This is such a bizarre and different read but oddly gripping, a story about grief and survival. I can wholeheartedly (with a little trepidation!) recommend it. I promise you’ll never look at the walls in your house in the same way again. 👀

Good Eggs by Rebecca Hardiman
An entertaining story set in Ireland about the antics of three generations of the dysfunctional Gogarty family. It’s humorous with some wonderful well drawn characters. Aideen is my favourite, the rebellious and troubled teenage daughter of the house. My other favourite is the grandmother, Millie, who is larger than life and draws attention to the trials and tribulations of the elderly. In fact, the whole family are ‘good eggs’ as suggested by the title. It’s very much a romp, a farce even. It had me laughing out loud at times, although I did think it got a little far fetched towards the end. A fun, lighthearted and enjoyable debut. A great pick me up in these uncertain times.

Lost Property by Helen Paris
A wonderfully touching story set mainly in the Lost Property offices of London Transport. It may seem a strange setting for such a tale but sometimes it’s not always objects which are ‘lost’. The main character, Dot Watson, is more than a little misplaced herself. This is such a beautifully and thoughtfully written book. Dot is a fantastic and caring character. She is so well drawn and believable. The story itself takes one on quite the emotional journey. It’s a tale of love, loss, grief and guilt and how to find a way through. As well as having its serious moments, however, there is some humour too. I loved the little ‘dijon’ item labels (so called due to the mustard colour) at the beginning of each chapter indicating their content. And I loved how dedicated Dot was to her lost property items! I adored every minute of reading this fabulous book and was so sorry to turn the last page. I can’t recommend it enough!

The Legacy by Caroline Bond
A drama story about a man who, suffering from a terminal illness, plans for his own death, leaving a Will with a legacy to be disposed of as his three children wish. It may sound uncomplicated but it’s not as easy as that! I enjoyed this slow burner of a tale . It’s very much a character based story, none of them at first seeming particularly pleasant. But, of course, as it progresses, we see them evolving. Family dynamics are really well depicted and the siblings’ individual journeys and their interactions with each other make for an interesting and tense read. I loved how they all came together at the end as well as the separate concluding chapters for each character. It’s not an action packed tale, more of what I would class as a ‘slice of life’ story. It definitely gives food for thought!

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone
When Cat’s twin sister, El, mysteriously disappears from her home in Edinburgh, Cat flies back from Los Angeles to try to discover what happened to her. This brings back memories of ‘Mirrorland’, the place the twins had invented as children, a dark place full of adventures with clowns, pirates and witches, an escape from the real world. But the games are not all they seem. This is such an unusual, original and strange story but gripping nevertheless. It has a very gothic feel about it and it’s quite a disturbing read as well. It’s cleverly written and planned out. I did feel as if I’d disappeared down the rabbit hole and gone on an adventure in Wonderland with Alice, the Mad Hatter and, of course, the White Rabbit! The fantasy world of Mirrorland is very bizarre and at first I couldn’t work out what was real and what wasn’t. It has a very complex plot, quite the brain sizzler! But I love a puzzle, so I stuck with it and ended up thoroughly enjoying it. The ending could be a seen as a little convenient and obvious, but I liked it as it ends on a note of hope. It’s fiction after all!

Vanessa

_._,_._,_
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: 4305
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

April

Post by Vanessa » Mon May 3rd, 2021, 3:27 pm

Here’s my list for April:

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
The first in the Arthurian Saga series about Merlin as a boy and the story of sling Arthur from his perspective. I’m a little disappointed with this book as I thought I would love it. Sadly, I thought it was quite tedious and a tad boring. It didn’t engage me, probably because it is a bit dated. It is well written, though, and I can see that some people would enjoy it. I enjoy Mary Stewart’s mystery suspense novels, but this one was not for me. We can’t all like the same books!

The Girls Inside by N J Mackay
Blue Sillitoe discovers she has been asked to looked after the young daughter of someone she grew up with in disturbing circumstances, and this brings back unwelcome memories. This is an enjoyable, if a little unsettling, psychological thriller. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader entertained. It’s an exciting read, quite the page turner, with some interesting characters. I particularly like Isaac, Blue’s platonic knight in shining armour. He seems a great guy, a hero you could say. I don’t know what would’ve become of Blue if he hadn’t come along with his ‘’Planet Rock’’ music shop and his words of wisdom. Some of the story’s content is somewhat harrowing as it deals with life within a cult so watch out for that! The ending is quite a sinister and ambiguous one and, therefore, won’t suit everyone. I liked it, though, and thought it it was a fitting conclusion to a dark and gripping tale.

What Dreams We Had by Phil Featherstone
Four teenagers who have formed a band are invited to play at a celebrity’s wedding in Tuscany, staying in a luxury villa with all expenses paid. However, when they reach their destination, they find the villa empty and it’s in a remote location with no internet connection or mobile service. Drugs, booze and strange dreams follow as they try to work out what on earth they’re doing there. I don’t know quite what to say about this story. I thought it was YA at first, but there were some adult themes which dissuaded me from this idea as I progressed through the book. It was interesting to read how they all interacted with each other as tempers frayed and the tension grew. I thought it was going to be about satanic worship or a witches coven initially, but it isn’t, it’s about human behaviour and how we react to certain things. I found it quite a strange but thought provoking tale. The ending wasn’t quite dramatic enough for me, though.

The Summoner’s Sins by Keith Moray
Third in the Sandal Castle Mysteries, this one is set in Pontefract where there has been a series of murders, including the royal executioner. Are they connected to the curse of a traitor? It’s up to the Northern Circuit Judge, Sir Richard Lee, to find out. This is an exciting historical thriller and a great addition to the series. I enjoy books which combine historical fact with fiction and I also enjoy books which are set in my home county, being a Yorkshire lass myself! It’s an entertaining mystery, easy to read with some engaging characters and some great villains. It’s well written and vividly depicted. I look forward to the next instalment.

The Dream Weavers by Barbara Erskine
A fabulous time slip story set in the present day and 775AD in Hereford near the English/Welsh border and Offa’s Dyke. Bea lives with her husband, Mark, who is Canon Treasurer of the local cathedral. When author Simon, who is writing a book about Anglo Saxon King Offa, hears a recurrent strange voice and has disturbing visions, he calls upon Bea for help. I’ve been a huge Barbara Erskine fan since I read Lady of Hay in the 1980s and when I saw that her latest book, The Dream Weavers, would be available via the Pigeonhole app, I was thrilled to bits. This is a wonderful dual timeframe story. As the title suggests, it beautifully weaves the two timelines together in a dreamlike style. I love the combination of historical fiction and fact with a little bit of fantasy and paranormal. It’s such a gripping tale and I was totally immersed in the lives of the characters, both modern and distant past. I particularly enjoyed following Elisedd and Eadburh’s journeys. I found myself completely transported to the time and place and was eager to find out what happened to them. An engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable read. A page turner. Highly recommended for historical fantasy fans.

The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan
Once there were four friends who called themselves the ‘wild girls’, all keeping their own secret, and then they became estranged. Two years later three of the wild girls are invited to the fourth’s birthday party at a luxury lodge in Botswana. But, as in all good thrillers, nothing is as it seems and murder is the name of the game. This is a brilliant, fast paced and creepy psychological thriller. It’s definitely a page turner. The name of the luxury resort is Deception Lodges and the clue really is in that name. It’s quite a tense story and there are a couple of great twists which I didn’t see coming. I was on tenterhooks throughout wondering what was going to happen next. It takes you on a real rollercoaster of a ride. Exhilarating!

The House of Hidden Secrets by C E Rose
I was drawn to this book by its glorious cover and also because I enjoy stories with a house as one of the characters. So a win win situation for me! It’s definitely a tale of secrets, too, and quite the family drama. I found this story a slow burner but at the same time intriguing and the action does hot up towards the end. Each character has a skeleton in their closet and each skeleton is gradually revealed. This gives the book an air of mystery and made me want to turn the pages. There are some little surprising twists and turns on the way and I liked the writing style. All in all an enjoyable and engaging read with an ending which I didn’t predict!

The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley
The first in the Seven Sisters series, loosely based on the Greek myth of the Pleiades and their constellations. Six adopted sisters are brought up in a castle called ‘Atlantis’ on the shores of Lake Geneva. When their father, affectionately known as Pa Salt, dies, he leaves each sister clues to their true heritage which takes each one on a journey. This first book is about Maia and her clue takes her across the world to delve into the life of her great grandmother, Izabela Bonifacio, in Rio de Janiero. I thoroughly enjoyed this dual timeframe story and was completely immersed in the characters’ lives. I found both timelines equally as engrossing but I did love the history behind the building of the famous monument, Christ the Redeemer. Historical fact and fiction are blended beautifully. The descriptions of Geneva and Rio are very vivid, it made me want to visit both places. Neither Maia’s or Bel’s journeys are always happy ones. There are trials and tribulations along the way. However, I’m glad that Maia found herself in the end and am hoping she will pop up again in subsequent books! A wonderfully engaging and absorbing read and I’m looking forward to reading The Storm Sister, the second book in the series which is about Alcyone or ‘Ally’ the next oldest sister. Double thumbs up from me!

Chasing the Italian Dream by Jo Thomas
Looking forward to news of a promotion at her law firm, Lucia decides to take her usual fortnightly holiday in Italy at her grandparents’ house. She discovers her grandfather is retiring and that he is thinking of handing over the family pizzeria business to her soon to be ex husband. This compels Lucia to rethink her own plans for the future but will they be realised? This is a lovely, lighthearted and well written read with some lovable and realistic characters. I loved the descriptions of Italy and the food. It made me feel hungry just reading it! I would love to visit ‘Nonno’s’ and try some of Nonna’s special tomato sauce. I could virtually smell the pizzas! It’s a charming story, one to get lost in. A great bit of escapism and very heartwarming - I always know I’m in for a treat when I read a Jo Thomas book.
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: 4305
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

May

Post by Vanessa » Wed June 9th, 2021, 6:00 pm

Here’s my list for May:

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner
A tense, slow burning and suspenseful psychological thriller centring around a group of friends, three of whom are siblings. One of them is befriended by a girl at an antenatal class and she appears to have an ulterior motive.... This is quite an exciting and gripping read, although I did have to suspend my belief at times. The behaviour of some of the characters is slightly incredulous. It’s told from three different viewpoints and I never knew who to believe. There are quite a few twists and turns, taking the reader on several different, interconnecting paths. My brain began to hurt with all the tension, trying to work it all out! All in all a compelling and enjoyable debut, it had me on tenterhooks a lot of the time. I loved the ending - it deserves a resounding cheer!


London’s No:1 Dog Walking Agency by Kate MacDougall
When I approached this book, I hadn’t realised it was non-fiction. I’m not normally an enthusiast of non-fiction but this one really drew me in. I was attracted to the cover as I’m a great fan of our furry friends and which fan wouldn’t love to read a book about dogs and their walkers! 🐕🐩🐕‍🦺. This is a very entertaining, humorous and heartwarming true story of one woman’s success. I loved all the animals - they are very vividly depicted and some of the owners are hilarious, not to mention the antics of the dogs! The author’s journey from working for Sotheby’s to owning her own dog walking business is an admirable one. It’s well written in an optimistic and upbeat way. An enjoyable, insightful, engaging and easy read which should appeal to dog lovers everywhere. Beware, though, you may shed the odd tear towards the end! A dog truly is man’s best friend.


Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz
Two girls descend on New York lured by adventure and bright lights, one from Wisconsin and the other from Melbourne in Australia. They are both running away from a relationship with the wrong sort of man. One of the girls ends up being murdered and it is mainly from
her ghostly perspective that this story is told. This is a thought provoking and moving tale about women and the perils they face during every day life. It’s beautifully and evocatively written but not always easy to read. It took me a little while to get into it as it has quite a reflective feel but once I did, I found it very compelling. The lives of the girls are brilliantly entwined and interconnected and their individual stories are gripping in their own right. A powerful and very impressive debut. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work.


The Reluctant Bride by Natalie Kleinman
A tale of two sisters and their cousin in the form of a Regency style romance. This is a gentle and enjoyable story reminiscent of Georgette Heyer’s work. It’s well written and nicely paced with some charming characters and a dastardly villain. The heroine is quite a feisty and likeable young lady and I found myself cheering her on on one or two occasions. The plot is quite predictable but this fact in no way detracts from the tale. It’s definitely a book where you can lose yourself in for a few hours to get away from the trials of everyday life. An entertaining and fun read.


I Couldn’t Love You More by Esther Freud
The story of three interconnected generations of women set in Ireland and London beginning during WWII and taking the reader up to the present day. This is a beautifully written and moving tale. I was a little confused at first as there are several different characters and the timeline skips about without warning. It needs some concentration. However, once I got used to the writing style, I found myself immersed in the lives of these three women - Aoife, one time pub landlady, then farmer’s wife, her daughter, Rosaleen, who becomes pregnant by a married man and then there’s Kate who is searching for her biological mother and ‘sees’ her everywhere. It delves into family relationships, particularly motherhood. Some of the story is quite harrowing. The treatment of unmarried mothers in the care of nuns within the Catholic church is heartbreaking. It beggars belief. I am so glad that women now have more choices. It’s not all tragedy and sadness, though, as there is more to it than that and it’s left on a note of hope which brought a tear to my eye. An enjoyable and thought provoking read.


The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
In a retirement complex four friends meet up every Thursday to investigate unsolved murders, a bit like a book club with a difference! When a local property developer is found dead, the friends are quite excited to find themselves investigating a live case. I loved this one. It’s so entertaining, if a little ‘spoofy’ at times. It’s humorously written with some whacky characters. There are quite a few twists and turns which kept me on my toes. I’m looking forward to The Thursday Murder Club book two which is due out later this year!


The Killing Kind by Jane Casey
Ingrid Lewis is a barrister and after defending a particularly crafty stalker, finds herself stalked by him herself. And then one of her colleagues is killed and Ingrid thinks she’s the intended victim. Is her stalker trying to kill her? You will have to read this book to find out! This is a gripping psychological thriller no doubt about it. There are plenty of twists and turns - it’s definitely a real rollercoaster of a ride. I never knew where it was heading next. I did have to suspend belief at times but I was desperate to find out where it was all heading. With a great cast of characters, an intricate plot and an engaging style of writing, it made for an exciting read. This is the first book I’ve read by this author but it won’t be my last.
Last edited by Vanessa on Wed August 11th, 2021, 8:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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: 4305
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

JUNE

Post by Vanessa » Wed August 11th, 2021, 8:55 pm

Here’s my list for June:

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
This is an unusual book as the narrator is a young teenage girl who has been murdered and is narrating her story from heaven. I thought this was a very sad and thought provoking tale. I loved the little insights into heaven. However, I wish the culprit has been arrested, convicted and a horrible time of it in prison. He seemed to get away with it too lightly, in my opinion.


Being Netta Wilde by Hazel Wilde
Annette Grey is not having a good time of it. She’s divorced, has been asked to leave the family home, been ostracised by her children and to crown it all she’s just been made redundant from her well paid job. This is the story of how Annette Grey finds her former self and becomes Netta Wilde again. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s well written with some dark moments but the humour is never far away. It shows how strong we can be when everything seems pitted against us. There is a great cast of quirky characters. I particularly liked the character of Netta, there is a certain resilience to her. I also loved reading about her journey on the road to recovery. She did a fantastic job. When the going gets tough, the tough get going! It’s a tale of true friendship, hope, belief in yourself and survival. This is a lovely read, a wonderful debut. It’s easy, engaging and entertaining. I’m looking forward to the next book in Netta’s World!


Two Women in Rome by Elizabeth Buchan
A dual timeframe story about, as the title suggests, two women in Rome during one of Italy’s turbulent times and the present day. Archivist Lottie Archer discovers some papers and a painting relating to the murder of landscape gardener, Nina Lawrence, in 1978 and decides to investigate into her death. Firstly, I thought this book was beautifully written, it’s very descriptive and it easily transported me to Rome of the 1970s and the present day. Sadly, I wasn’t as gripped as I thought I would be. The political side bogged me down somewhat and I found this part a little tedious. However, it was interesting to learn about the communist situation in Italy at that time, something which I knew nothing about. Consequently, it did take me a little while to get into this story and I found it quite a slow burner. The two timelines were woven together well and I liked Lottie’s character. So, all in all, I think it’s a good book but too political for my tastes as it can go over my head!


The Blue Hour by M J Greenwood
A dual timeframe story set in Cornwall during WWII and the present day. It begins with broken-hearted Ava taking on the job of carer for feisty, elderly Tilly Barwise who reminisces about life during the war and her passionate love affair with American GI Jack Turner. This such a lovely story. I loved the way the two timelines were blended together by way of letters and diary entries as well as narrative. There are some fantastic characters, especially Tilly. She is such a card - she has a brilliant and naughty sense of humour. It’s beautifully written with some fabulous descriptions of Cornwall. I could almost imagine I was there. A wonderful, heartwarming read with a moving ending which is sure to bring a tear to your eye.


Suspects by Lesley Pearse
A domestic drama set in a cul-de-sac where a murder has been committed and all the residents are suspects. This isn’t a thriller or mystery in the normal sense of the words but rather a story about what goes on behind closed doors and how not to get on with your neighbours! I have read a few of Lesley Pearse’s books before and enjoyed them. However, I don’t think Suspects is one of her best. It doesn’t seem to be up to the author’s normal eloquent style of writing. It’s all a little bizarre and the characters are somewhat stereotypical. I’m not going to say much more other than, having said all that, I did find it an easy and entertaining read. It made me chuckle a few times! If you would like to try an excellent example of this author’s work, I can recommend ‘Remember Me’ about Mary Broad, one of the first convicts to be transported to Australia.


The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker
A dark and disturbing story partly narrated by Chrissie, an eight year old girl, who has murdered a two year old boy and partly narrated by Julia, an older version of Chrissie, who now has a child of her own. I believe it’s loosely based on the Mary Bell case. It’s quite a harrowing tale but beautifully written. It’s also thought provoking as it brings to mind the nature vs nurture scenario. The author has brilliantly imagined and delved into the warped mind of such a tormented child, one who has been neglected and emotionally abused by those who are supposed to be caring for her. I found it an unsettling and heartbreaking read so I’m glad it ended on a note of hope.


The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
Basically this story revolves around six characters, all of whom have issues in their lives. One of them is so disappointed with his life that that he he puts his feelings into a small green notebook called The Authenticity Project, telling the truth about his life and leaves it in a cafe. Consequently this brings all six separate characters together. I really enjoyed this book and loved the idea. There is a great sense of humour running through it, too. It’s a feel good, heartwarming read whilst, at the same time, having something to tell us.


The Water Garden by Louise Soraya Black
A beautifully written multi generational family drama set in the countryside in South East England. This isn’t a fast paced story, it’s more of a character driven tale which I like. The descriptions of the area are so vivid and easy to visualise, the writing being very lyrical. The author has a great way with words to depict such a wondrous and dreamlike, otherworldly landscape. It’s a lovely, gentle read in which to immerse yourself. I really enjoyed it.
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: 4305
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

July

Post by Vanessa » Wed August 11th, 2021, 8:59 pm

Here’s my list for July:

The Girl with the Flaming Hair by Natalie Kleinmann
A very enjoyable Regency romance reminiscent of Georgette Heyer’s work. Lord Luxton comes across a young woman who has fallen from her horse. He takes her home to recover in the care of his mother and then discovers that she has a secret past. This is a well written story with some interesting characters, including a dastardly villain. I liked both the male and female protagonists and loved travelling on their romantic journey with them. There’s quite an adventure going on, too, with some suspenseful moments which had me eagerly turning the pages. An entertaining, fun and gentle read, great for taking you away from the trials and tribulations of the world as we know it at the moment. Highly recommended for fans of the historical romance genre.


The Girl Behind the Wall by Mandy Robotham
Twins Jutta and Karin are separated when the Berlin Wall goes up virtually overnight and this story follows their lives on either side of the Western/Eastern divide. Jutta eventually discovers a way through the Wall to find that Karin has made a life for herself with East Berliner Otto. So can Jutta persuade Karin to come home? I thought this was a wonderful piece of writing combining fact and fiction. It’s the first book I’ve read featuring the Berlin Wall and it’s quite shocking to realise that this event happened during my lifetime. The story gives a great insight into life on both sides of the Wall and how scary and restrictive people’s existence must have been in the East. It’s a gripping, exciting and suspenseful read and I found myself on tenterhooks during certain parts of the story. The characters are believable - I really liked the twins and wanted the best for them as I was captivated by their individual stories. If you enjoy a more recent type of historical fiction, you’ll love this one!


Down by the Water by Elle Connel
Seven friends from their university days meet up for a hen weekend in a castle on a loch in Scotland. During their first evening, after a few drinks, they decide to wander ‘down by the water’ to take some photos. Afterwards when looking through the photos, they discover something eerie in the form of a ghostly figure of a boy. The consequences of this vision has a strange effect on the rest of the weekend and secrets start to be revealed among the group. This story starts off quite slowly and it took me some time to get involved in the plot. It wasn’t until a little over halfway when I started to become more gripped. The characters aren’t particularly likeable - they all seemed to have their issues and seemed very wrapped up in themselves. I didn’t particularly enjoy all the drug references, it seemed a little excessive. I also found the ending somewhat disappointing and non-conclusive. On the plus side, however, there are some wonderful descriptions of the loch and countryside and the writing was quite atmospheric. A well written and slow burning psychological thriller centring on the intricacies of friendship.


The Ghost and Mrs Muir by RA Dick
When Lucy Muir’s husband dies, she moves to Gull Cottage with her children. The cottage is rumoured to be haunted by a sea captain and Lucy discovers this fact is true and she strikes up a special relationship with him. I thought this was a lovely, sweet and easy little read. It’s quite humorous with some likeable characters. I would class it as more of a novella than a novel as it’s fairly short at under 200 pages. Well worth the read, though,



Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvey
Thora and Santi become connected to each other through one encounter which, a few days later, ends in tragedy. But this isn’t the end, they are destined to meet again and again in different lives… until one day they work out who they are and discover the truth. At first I was quite intrigued by this story but, sadly, I began to lose interest as it progressed. I found it difficult to connect to the characters, there’s no chemistry between them, and I found the way it was played out quite confusing. I think I was expecting more of a love story, perhaps a little like The Time Traveller’s Wife. This is quite different. It’s more about a growing awareness of who Thora and Santi are and how they deal with it. Although I enjoy a time travel tale, I’m not a big sci fi fan. I appreciate the beautiful writing, though - it is without doubt wonderfully written and clever. This book has plenty of 5⭐️ ratings. It just isn’t really my cup of tea.


All Her Fault by Andrea Mara
When Marissa arrives to pick up her son, Milo, from a play date, she discovers that she has been given a bogus address and that Milo has been kidnapped by the other child’s nanny. This is quite a suspenseful psychological thriller with plenty of twists and turns and the odd red herring. It’s cleverly plotted with several interesting but dubious characters. I found it quite the page turner and was eager to turn the pages to find out what happened next. However, I did find it a little far fetched towards the conclusion - it seemed a tad convoluted. I really liked the ending, though, it’s a great twist! All in all, a gripping read.


Still Life by Sarah Winman
Set mainly in Florence, this is a saga of a story spanning four decades. It’s based around the friendship between Ulysses, a soldier, and Evelyn, an art historian. This is a lovely book with some fantastic characters set in beautiful surroundings. It’s not a fast paced tale, it’s very much character based. I was totally immersed in their lives, I felt they were like friends. There were both humorous (the parrot is a scream!) and poignant moments. It’s well written and absorbing - I loved it and was so sad when I turned the last page. Highly recommended.


Pivotal by Nikki Vallance
Four women receive letters containing news of a mysterious inheritance from an anonymous benefactor with a certain condition attached. To help each woman decide if they wish to accept the legacy, they enlist the help of a hypnotherapist. Through a process of self discovery relating to their pasts, they each come to their own conclusions and make their choice, a pivotal moment. This is an unusual story and I didn’t have a clue, really, what was going on at first. However, now I’ve finished it and understand the essence of the book, I feel it’s quite difficult to review without giving away plot spoilers! Suffice to say, I enjoyed it even if it made my head hurt at times. It’s an interesting and thought provoking concept. There are clues along the way which are not always obvious and the characters are all very different but with similarities! Confused already? If not, you soon will be once engaged in this book! An intriguing and perplexing read which is sure to get the grey matter tingling. I for one am still thinking about it. 🥴
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: 4305
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

Re:August

Post by Vanessa » Sun September 5th, 2021, 7:24 pm

Here’s my list for August:

The Sweet Shop of Second Chances by Hannah Lynn
When Holly Berry discovers her boyfriend has been cheating on her with another woman, she decides to head for Bourton in the Cotswolds, her childhood home. She finds out the sweet shop where she used to have a Saturday job is on the market and an idea forms. But, as luck would have it, someone is out to sabotage all her efforts to become the new owner. This is a lovely, heartwarming and, yes, sweet little tale. There are some delightful characters. I love Holly, even if her name does make me chuckle! Another favourite is Humbug the cat who adds a certain je ne sais quois. As is usual in most of this type of story, there’s a wily cad to be wary of, too, and he does make his presence known. The sweetshop also brought back memories of my childhood, walking to the local shop with friends to buy a bag of treats. Those were the days! Sherbet dabs and liquorice strings! A nostalgic, engaging and delicious read, just right for those with a sweet tooth, but don’t worry, it’s not too sugar coated! 😉. I’m looking forward to the sequel which I’m sure will be equally appetising.


The Heights by Louise Candlish
Ellen Saint is out for revenge again after seeing the man she thought was dead, the man who she believes killed her son. Is she a saint or a sinner? You will have to read the book to find out for yourself. This is a gripping psychological thriller. It’s full of twists and turns, it definitely had me on the edge of my seat at times. Ellen is not a woman to be messed with! I’m not sure I liked her, either, and I really felt for some of the peripheral characters. It takes you on a real rollercoaster of a ride with an ending I certainly didn’t see coming. Highly recommended.


Dear Grace by Clare Swatman
A heartwarming ‘slice of life’ story where age has no boundaries. It’s about the friendship between two women - Grace, a 94 year old widow, and Anna, a 39 year old carer. They go on quite a life changing journey together and learn lessons along the way. There is also a smattering of romance in the form of Tom, Grace’s great-nephew. This story is beautifully written with some realistic, believable and likeable characters. I found it quite a slow burner initially, but soon found myself becoming invested in the lives of Grace, Anna and Tom. I did think it was a little padded out at times, but even so I was eager to pick the book up and read on. It’s not all sweetness and light - there are some sad and poignant moments. It’s a moving, uplifting and inspiring tale which touches on the importance of friendship and the art of forgiveness. Life sometimes throws us lemons but we must put our best foot forward and realise that it’s never too late to start again. I enjoyed it.


The Dark by Emma Haughton
A locked room type of psychological thriller with a difference! It’s set on a research station in the Antarctic where thirteen people are confined together for several months. When one of them is found dead, they all begin to suspect each other of murder. This is an exciting and suspenseful murder mystery which had me gripped until the last page. It’s a real chiller thriller in more than one sense of the word! I love the setting, it gave me the shivers. The tension racks up beautifully, I was on the edge of my seat most of the time. It did get a little incredulous and unbelievable on occasions but, hey ho, that’s literary licence for you. I just think it’s a rollicking good read! Great fun and entertaining.


Invite Me In by Emma Curtis
Eliza Curran is unhappily married to a controlling but wealthy man, whom she is desperate to leave. Her life is turned upside down when she takes on a new tenant for the flat she is in the middle of project managing.. He quickly and charmingly inveigles himself into her family. Is he too good to be true? This is quite a slow burning psychological thriller. It’s well written, atmospherically so, gradually drawing you in to its murky and disturbing depths! None of the characters are particularly likeable. They all have their own peculiar issues. The plot is quite predictable, spiralling into madness sometimes, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. I really wanted to give Eliza, who is the narrator, a shake at times. She comes over as such a foolish person, she even made me cringe a little. I think the main gist of the story is really about what happens when a person with an agenda tries to insinuate themselves into your life and the consequences, rather than about how many dead bodies mount up. At the end of the day, however, this is an entertaining and engaging thriller which had me eagerly turning the pages to find out what happens next.


The Beekeeper’s Daughter by Santa Montefiore
A dual timeframe story set in Massachusetts in 1973 and Dorset in 1933 about a mother and daughter. They both fall in love with men from the same family, the mother has an affair with the father and the daughter has a relationship with the son almost 20 years later. This is a gentle and enjoyable story. Probably a little predictable if I was to nitpick and I think the ending is somewhat rushed. Well worth the read if you want to be swept away into a different world and time.


Freckles by Cecilia Ahern
Allegra Bird aka Freckles, so named for the constellation of pigmentation on her skin, is a traffic warden. She’s dedicated to her job and when a young man takes issue with her for constantly issuing him with parking tickets, he tells her she is the sum total of the five people she spends the most time with. Consequently Allegra decides to discover who her ‘five’ are. This is a lovely story and Allegra is such an endearing and eccentric character. It’s an uplifting and engaging tale of human vulnerabilities and friendships, how we must learn to be true to ourselves to experience inner happiness. Beautifully written with a sense of humour and a whole cast of entertaining peripheral characters as well as Allegra, Freckles is a joy to read. As a result I’m currently trying to work out who my own five are!


The Chateau by Catherine Cooper
Aura and Nick, along with their two children, move to France for a fresh start after an incident in England to renovate a chateau. They are accompanied by a film crew who are making a documentary for a TV programme. As time goes by, strange things begin to happen. It becomes apparent that things are not as they seem and that someone is out for revenge. I’ve read The Chalet by the same author, so was looking forward to reading The Chateau. Although I think I enjoyed The Chalet more, The Chateau is still an enjoyable psychological thriller, if a little implausible at times. None of the characters are likeable and some of their thought processes are somewhat bizarre. Nevertheless, I was quite gripped by it and found it a compelling read. It’s also a little creepy at times. It’s fast paced with a few twists and turns and the odd red herring thrown in. I read this via the Pigeonhole app and eagerly awaited each stave every day which I always think is a good sign!


Audio

The Serial Killer’s Wife by Alice Hunter
Tom and Beth Hardcastle seemingly have the perfect life but when police come knocking on the door about a murder they think Tom might be involved in, everything starts to crumble. This is a rollercoaster of a ride and it kept me gripped until the very last page. Wonderfully narrated, too.
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: 4305
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

September

Post by Vanessa » Sun October 3rd, 2021, 12:02 pm

Here’s my list for September:

The Secret Keeper’s Daughter by Samantha King
Holly and Jordan Mayhew live in a little cottage by the sea, along with their daughter, Marley. Everything seems idyllic in their world until one day Marley becomes withdrawn and begins to act strangely. Holly decides to create a ‘worry box’. And this opens up a whole can of worms. This is an absorbing and compelling story about family secrets and how we can often get the wrong end of the stick when coming across something we don’t understand. At first I thought it was going to be a psychological thriller with something dark and sinister at its core. However, it’s not as menacing as that and the end reveal could appear to be a little anti-climatic for some. Personally, I think it’s a beautifully written and gentle story about love and forgiveness in a world where hope is all we have. I very much enjoyed it.


Looking for the Durrells by Melanie Hewitt
When her father dies and after a broken engagement, Penny decides to embark on a month‘s long holiday in Corfu, an island she feels connected to through her love of Gerald Durrell’s book, My Family and Other Animals. She explores the places where the Durrells stayed during their time there in the 1930s, whilst at the same time making new friends and finding an inner peace. I enjoyed this gentle, engaging and light hearted tale. It’s beautifully and vividly written. The imagery it paints is wonderful. I could easily picture the island of Corfu with its many coves, tavernas and bars - I almost felt I was there. It brought back lovely memories of a holiday I spent there a few years ago. Luckily, I have read My Family and Other Animals so am quite familiar with the Durrells’ story, so it was interesting to ‘visit’ their homes and places of interest in this book. Even though I did find it somewhat twee at times, ultimately I found it a thoughtful tale about coming to terms with grief, finding yourself and following your dreams. I think it would make a great beach read, especially if holidaying on the picturesque island of Corfu. A worthwhile read!


I Have Something to Tell You by Susan Lewis
Jessica ‘Jay’ Wells is engaged as a lawyer to represent Edward Blake, who has been taken into custody after being suspected of murdering his wife. Jay is happily married to Tom and has two children. That is, until one day Tom comes home with some disturbing news which sets the cat among the pigeons! I found this murder mystery come family drama quite the page turner. The romance is a tad unrealistic, but, hey ho, it’s fiction! Anything can happen as I always say! Nevertheless, I really enjoyed it. It’s entertaining, gripping and even thought provoking. I’ve been a big fan of Susan Lewis’ work for many years and although this isn’t my favourite book of hers, it’s still an exciting and intriguing read.


Daughters of War by Dinah Jefferies
The story of three disparate sisters living in occupied France during WWII. The eldest sister is the mother hen, the middle sister is fighting with the Resistance in the form of the Maquis and the youngest sister is the dreamer, just yearning for peace and for the country to be returned to its former self. Secrets start to unravel as the road they’re travelling on takes a rocky turn. What a fabulous read! I was totally gripped and immersed in this story. I loved the different characters of the sisters, they are very contrasting but all very likeable. It’s beautifully written with some fantastic and vivid imagery, it really paints a picture in your mind of the delightful landscape of the Dordoyne. It’s also a very moving and emotional read. There are some quite sad and harrowing moments. It’s a tale about fighting for what you believe in - a tale of love and survival. And ultimately of courage and hope. A real page turner! This is the first book in a series so I am very much looking forward to the second instalment!


The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
It’s 1632 and Arent Hayes is accompanying Sammy Pipps to Amsterdam. Sammy is to stand trial for a crime he may or may not have committed and Arent wants to prove his innocence. But there are high jinks and bedevilment aboard their ship in the name of ‘Old Tom’ whose disciple is a leper. Strange symbols start to appear and the deaths start to mount up. Just who or what is behind these peculiar events? This is a dark but gripping murder mystery come adventure story. It really kept me on my toes. There’s a bit of all sorts going on including a hint of the supernatural and some witchcraft. But at the heart of it is an intricate and clever plot with some fantastic characters. There’s definitely a feeling of underlying menace and it’s quite creepy too. I did find it a little confusing at times as there are quite a lot of characters, some of whom had different ways of being addressed. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the Seven Deaths of Eleanor Hardcastle but still found it an exciting and intriguing read.


Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
This fascinating epic is told by way of three quietly interconnecting timelines, one set in the 15thC, the second during the 20thC and present day, and the third is set a little way into the future. They are all connected by an ancient codex, a folktale about a man who wants to be an owl, and it’s the journey to this connection which takes the story forward. I thought this was an amazing read, so thought provoking. I think it would be ideal to discuss at a book club. So much to talk about. It’s beautifully written and I loved how all the stories interweaved and connected, making me think. There’s that word again! But it really is about connections and also hope for the future, being thankful for what we have and being careful what we wish for. In a way it’s quite the adventure story, there’s some mythology and it touches on the ecosystem, deforestation. An imaginative, clever, absorbing and wonderful safari across time.
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: 4305
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

October

Post by Vanessa » Tue November 2nd, 2021, 2:41 pm

Here’s my list for October:

The Wind Chime by Alexandra Walsh
The first book in the Timeshift Victorian Mysteries series, this one is set in the present day in Windsor and in the late 19thC in Pembrokeshire. It’s a tale of family secrets which turns into an absorbing historical mystery. This is a fun and entertaining read whilst at the same time being quite the page turner. There’s something for everyone - romance, an intriguing mystery, a smattering of fantasy and a little bit of adventure. The two stories flow into each other seamlessly and I love the addition of Welsh myths and the sprinkling of fairy dust! It also touches on grief and mental illness, so it’s not all sweetness and light. With some realistic and likeable characters, factual and fictitious, and an engaging plot, The Wind Chime is a joy to read. I very much enjoyed it!

A Woman Made of Snow by Elisabeth Gifford
This is a wonderful dual timeline story set in Scotland in 1949 and the Arctic during the 19thC. Caro and Alastair Gillan have moved to Kelly Castle, a dilapidated family estate. Alasdair has been offered a post at St Andrews whilst Caro is asked by his mother to sift through the household genealogy archives, to finish writing up the family history. She unearths a long lost mystery concerning a missing wife and finds herself on a voyage of discovery where there may have been a murder. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was gripped from page one. It’s vividly and evocatively written. The segments set in the Arctic seem very well researched - the descriptions of the landscape are amazing. It’s such an engrossing and engaging read with some fascinating characters and an intriguing plot line. I didn’t know much about the Inuits and their way of life so I found this part of the tale very interesting and quite the eye opener. It touches on racial and class discrimination as well as there being a moving love story which is sure to bring a tear to your eye. Highly recommended.

The Five, the Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
The title is self explanatory as to what the book is about. I read this with my book group. I found it extremely interesting and very sad. I think this quote from the book says it all: “It is only by bringing these women back to life that we can silence the Ripper and what he represents…… The victims of Jack the Ripper were never ‘just prostitutes’, they were daughters, wives, mothers, sisters and lovers. They were women. They were human beings, and surely that, in itself, is enough.” An excellent and moving read. I’m not a big non-fiction fan either.

The Perfect House by R P Bolton
Ellie and Tom find their dream home and they move in with their new baby, Trinity. But all is not what it seems Strange things start occurring - Ellie keeps seeing a strange woman who doesn’t speak, she hears noises in the night and she can never find her keys where she thinks she left them. And just who is trailing mud through the house? Is it all in Ellie’s imagination or is there something darker going on? I quite enjoyed this story although I did find it disjointed at times and a little confusing. However, there are some well rounded and interesting characters and a plot line which kept me turning the pages. I thought it was well written and the underlying thread of unease was adeptly done. I thought it portrayed the effects of PTSD and the overwhelming exhaustion of looking after a new baby very competently. The ending is quite ambiguous - it’s left to the reader’s imagination. All in all a very good debut and well worth the read!

Masquerade by S E England
Masquerade is the first in a new series, the Beth Harper supernatural thrillers. This one is set in North Yorkshire where Beth has taken up the position of cook at the Cross Daggers Inn. Nearby is the dark and foreboding Scarsdale Hall and Beth becomes aware that there is something not quite right about it and she decides, alongside her spirit guide, Billy, to investigate its secrets. I have read quite a few of Sarah England’s books and have always enjoyed them. Although I did enjoy Masquerade, I have to admit I found it somewhat confusing. It seemed to skip around quite a bit and i didn’t always know what was happening. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to know!? However, I liked the characters of Beth and her spirit guide, Billy, as well as Gran Grace with her wolf, Yukon. They made an intrepid trio and I look forward to following their adventures in the next book. Definitely a tale where you have to suspend belief, it’s a sinister and atmospheric creepy read which should have you wanting to switch all the lights on! 👹

A Halloween Tale by Austin Crawley
A novella about five teenagers who decide to visit the local haunted house with disastrous results. I found this a little too ‘Hollywood’ for my liking. I prefer something more subtle. However, it’s quite a creepy read and has some scary moments. There are certainly a lot of ghosties and spooky goings on! An entertaining little tale.👻🏚

The Midwife’s Secret by Emily Gunnis
A multi timeframe drama story beginning in 1949 and taking the reader to the present day, based around two connected families and the disappearance of two little girls. What a fabulous read this is! It’s beautifully written and researched. The timelines are interwoven seamlessly. It’s a tale of injustice, discrimination, lies, the secrets we keep to protect those we care for and how those secrets reverberate over time and can affect the future. The characters are well drawn and very memorable. The class divide is depicted very well. Such a moving and engaging tale! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Highly recommended.
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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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