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Vanessa's 2009 Reads

What have you read in 2009? Post your list here and update it as you go along! (One thread per member, please.)
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Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4226
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 2009 Reads

Post by Vanessa » Sun February 1st, 2009, 11:35 am

Here's my list for January:

The King's Daughter by Sandra Worth 4
The story of Elizabeth of York, told in the first person by the lady herself. I found this a very well researched book and beautifully written, if a little flowery. However, the 'goodies' do have halos and the 'baddies' do have horns, so I definitely knew which side the author was on! It was a very interesting book and I enjoyed reading a tale about a lesser known queen, who by all acounts was a very good and kind queen.

The Last Good Man by Patience Swift 3
An odd and haunting tale about a man who lives overlooking the sea on the south east coast of England. He spends most of his time fishing and scouring the beach for 'treasures'. One day he finds a small girl washed up on the shore, whom he takes home and looks after. Elsewhere in the village a girl arrives home after 10 years to clear her mother's house out after her death. This is what I would call a dark fairytale, quite a sad one too.

The Colour of Heaven by James Runcie 3.5
Set in Italy in the late 13thC, the story of a young man's journey to find the perfect blue for the colour of heaven in a painting, which is to be a fresco in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. He is given the mission due to his short-sightedness and his ability to see so clearly close to. He has many adventures on the way and his travels take him to various places in the world, including Persia and Aghanistan. I found it quite an interesting book and felt it had something to say.

Niccolo Rising by Dorothy Dunnett 5
Set during the Renaissance in Italy and Bruges in the 15thC, this is the first book in a series about a young dyer's apprentice called Claes who gradually works his way up the mercantile ladder. It's a swashbuckling adventure story involving spying, banking, love and war. It's not an easy read and requires somewhere quiet to concentrate. There's a huge list of characters at the front of the book, which I decided to photocopy and use as a bookmark for easy reference purposes, as I was getting a little confused and this helped enormously. I have to say that the writing style does take some getting used to, but once I had, I was hooked and thoroughly enjoyed the story!

The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie 4
Manuscripts, letters, spies and jewel thieves are the themes for this typical Agatha Christie, set in a country house. There are a couple of dead bodies, of course! Enjoyable fun.

The Visible World by Mark Slouka 4
Set in Prague and New York and told in three parts by a nameless narrator, it's a story based on true-life events during WWII involving the assassination of one of Hitler's leading Nazi officials. There is a love story running through it, too. I found it a slow and poignant read. I enjoyed this beautifully written book.

Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh 5
A sea-faring historical adventure story set on the eve of the Opium Wars between China and the British East India Company. I thought this was a fabulous read with some very colourful characters. As well as adventure, there is mystery and romance. Some of the language used is a little difficult to understand, but as I read further into the story, the easier it became to get the gist of. It is written with a sense of humour and some parts had me giggling out loud. It took a little perseverance but once I'd cracked it, I found it hard to put down.

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson 3
Set in Finland, an insightful story of a grandmother and granddaughter who spend their summers together on an island. It's quite a sweet and magical little story. It's beautifully written and also an easy read, but I'm glad it wasn't a long book as I think it could have become a little monotonous.
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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Telynor
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Location: On the Banks of the Hudson

Post by Telynor » Mon February 2nd, 2009, 1:13 am

I am a Dorothy Dunnett junkie! I must have read the Lymond novels a half-dozen times through, and I've slogged through the Niccolo novels about twice. One day I will be brave enough to review them. You're right about the writing style, but they do hook you in, don't they?

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Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4226
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

Post by Vanessa » Mon February 2nd, 2009, 11:05 am

Yes, they do. :)
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: 4226
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 » Sun March 1st, 2009, 7:56 pm

The Mist in the Mirror by Susan Hill 3.5
A spooky, atmospheric Victorian ghost story. A man returns to England from having lived abroad and decides to write about a well-known explorer. Warnings, ghostly apparitions and crying boys are the theme. Enjoyable with some grey areas and not as good as The Woman in Black, in my opinion.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving 4.5
The story of a boy who is below average height and has a strange voice and who thinks he is God's instrument ever since he killed his best friend's mother with a baseball. This is quite a strange book. When I first started it, I wasn't too sure I was going to enjoy it. However, I did enjoy it - Owen is such an endearing character! It's well written, humorous and poignant. I look forward to reading more by this author.

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan 3
A story based on the love affair between a renowned architect and his client's wife, set in Chicago in the early 1900s. I thought it was fairly well researched with good use of imagination, but told in a disjointed style. There also did not seem to be much chemistry between the main characters. It was an easy read with a shocking ending, but I was a little disappointed by it.

The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald 5
This tale is set around a murder on a Canadian Air Force base in the 1960s. There are quite a few strands to the story which, apart from the murder, also involves the Cold War, Russian defectors and growing up. It is a slow read, mostly told in the present tense, and there is quite a build up to the murder itself. Well drawn characters, intriguing story with some tension - I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Behold, Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer 4
Old fashioned detective story where the head of the family is poisoned, followed shortly by another poisoning by the same unusual method. Amusing and clever with an atmospheric setting.

Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie 4
This mystery is set in Ancient Egypt, so not your normal Agatha Christie setting. The head man's concubine mysteriously falls to her death followed by another similar death. Familiar plot (after reading the previous book and this one, I think good advice would be to keep contact with family to the minimum! Family life seems very dangerous to me!), lots of family jealousy and loads of suspects. Enjoyable.
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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Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4226
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 » Tue March 31st, 2009, 7:23 pm

Here's my list for March:

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton 3.5
The story of the downfall of Lily Bart, set in New York in the 1890s. Beautiful Lily causes a scandal and ends up impoverished. A sad tale which I found quite hard to get into, but found it enjoyable once I did.

The Abyss by Cynthia Harrod Eagles 5
Eighteenth in the Morland Dynasty series. This episode begins in 1833 and includes the building of the York and North Midlan railway line and Queen Victoria becomming Queen. Excellent historical family saga.

The Seduction of Water by Carol Goodman 4
Intriguing and imaginative mystery with a fairytale link. A teacher-cum-writer decides to investigate the disappearance and death of her mother. I enjoyed the story - I thought it was atmospheric and the way it was written kept my interest throughout.

The Harmony Silk Factory by Tasha Aw 2.5
The story of Johnny Lim, textile merchant amongst other things, told in three narratives, that of his wife, his son and a friend, giving their individual versions of events. I found this quite a repetitive and tedious tale even though I know the idea of it was to give different perspectives. However, I did quite enjoy the friend's story (the last section of the book) which brings it all together and makes sense of the first two narratives.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde 3
Quite a horror story about a beautiful young man who makes a wish that a portrait would age instead of himself, leading to repercussions. Be careful what you wish for! Although well written, some of it I very much enjoyed and some of it I found quite waffly - in fact, I missed out a whole chapter! It did have an exciting finish, however.

Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie 3.5
Hercule Poirot receives a plea for help from France and ends up involved in a murder mystery near a golf course. The bodies line up. Enjoyable.

Hester's Story by Adele Geras 3.5
Told in two time frames, the story of a prima ballerina. Hester Fielding comes to Yorkshire to live with her cousins after her mother dies in France. There she meets Madame Olga who trains her to be a ballet dancer and Hester goes on to join the world famous Charleroi Ballet School. A love entanglement leads to tragedy and secrets. It was a pleasant enough read, but I found it predictable and a little sugary with a familiar plot.
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: 4226
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 » Fri May 1st, 2009, 11:12 am

Here's my list for April:

Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert 4.5
Intriguing and fast paced supernatural mystery/thriller about a computer hacker and two creepy sisters who live in an old house in London. A young man has disappeared and his father asks his wife's ex lover to investigate as not only is he a computer hacker, he is also a remote viewer - he enters people's minds! If you can suspend belief a little, it's an excellent read.

Cover the Mirrors by Faye L Booth 3.5
Set in Victorian Preston, a girl becomes a medium when her aunt dies leaving her 'the business'. Meanders along and is nicely written with a little bit of raunchiness! Quite an enjoyable debut novel.

The Hidden Shore by Cynthia Harrod Eagles 5
Nineteenth in the Morland Dynasty series. This book is set in the early Victoria era with philanthropy as its topic - trying to improve conditions for the poor and needy. It's a little lighter in tone than the previous two or three books, which were really quite dark, but nevertheless and excellent read.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer 5
Told in the form of letters, this tale is about life on one of the Channel Islands when it was occupied by the Germans during WWII. I found it enchanting, delightful and witty but also shocking and moving. I really got a feeling for what it must have been like - an excellent read.

Numbers by Rachel Ward 4
YA debut novel about a girl who can see what date someone is going to die by looking in their eyes. I enjoyed this book - it was fairly fast-paced with some interesting, if stereotypical, characters and it held my interest throughout. A little unrealistic at times but it does have a slight twist in the tale!

Affinity by Sarah Waters 4.5
I think I must be on a 'spiritualism' roll as this is the second book I have read on the subject this month!! Set in a Victorian women's prison in London, a confused young woman called Margaret Prior is a Visitor. She comes into contact with a spiritualist named Selina Dawes who is doing time for fraud and assault. Selina gradually casts her spell on Margaret and draws her into her web! Is Selina real or a fake..... Hmmm..... Quite a creepy and a very atmospheric tale.

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry 4.5
Told in two voices - that of 100 year old Roseanne Clear living in a mental hospital and that of psychiatrist Dr Grene. As the hospital is due to be demolished, Dr Grene decides to investigate the story of Roseanne, who was committed as a young woman. Roseanne herself keeps a secret diary and when these two stories are combined, a shocking secret unfolds. I found this book quite difficult to get into at first and was not sure whether I was going to like it. However, once I did, I found it an absorbing, poignant tale and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers
I abandoned this as I found it just too silly for words. It's very imaginative and clever but just not for me. Once I had got to the part where there was a character with seven brains and he didn't know where one of them was (although I could hazard a guess!!), that was enough for me.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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Ludmilla
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Location: Georgia USA

Post by Ludmilla » Fri May 1st, 2009, 12:54 pm

>this is the second book I have read on the subject this month

Funny how that happens! I find these coincidences happen more frequently in my reading than I would ever suspect.

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Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4226
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 » Sun May 31st, 2009, 10:51 am

Here's my list for May:

Firmin by Sam Savage 4
The adventures of a rat who devours books allowing him to read and who lives in a building about to be demolished. It's quite a quirky and witty little book. I loved the illustrations, the old book cover designs splitting up the chapters and the references to books, definitely a book about books!

Little Bird by Camilla Way 4.5
A two year old girl is kidnapped in France and hidden away in a forest. She is eventually found again, unable to talk, when she is a young teenager. She is looked after and taught to speak by Ingrid, a specialist, who has ulterior motives of her own. Tragedy strikes and the teenager goes on the run and comes into contact with all sorts of characters, but her past comes back to haunt her. I very much enjoyed this book. It was unsually written and the plot kept my interest throughout.

Ferney by James Long 5
Gally and Mike, a young couple, buy a delapidated old cottage in a place called Penselwood in Somerset. They live in a caravan whilst carrying out renovations. During this time they come into contact with an old man named Ferney, who seems to have some strange connection to Gally who has in turn some issues of her own. I found this a well written and compelling read. I especially enjoyed all the historical references. It started off slowly but I became more and more gripped until I could not put it down. A definite page turner for me!

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer 4.5
Teenage vampire love story set in modern day Forks in Washington. I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. I can quite see what appeals to young teenage girls as Edward is a 'bad' boy but such a hero too! I think the author achieves a good chemistry between Edward and Bella without being explicit. Although it's not great literature, it's a good fun, pacey and easy read.

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan 5
Excellent debut novel set in the Mississippi Delta in the 1940s just after the war. told in multiple narratives, it's a story of love, hate, racism and small mindedness. Henry and Laura McAllan begin married life on a cotton farm but rural life is not all that it seems. I found this a thought provoking and moving story with a dramatic and shocking conclusion.

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale 3.5
Non-fiction crime story. Set in a Georgian manor house in the 1860s, a murder is committed and members of the family are suspected. Detective Inspector Jack Whicher from Scotland Yard is called in to investigate, but the country is divided as to who actually did kill the victim. I found some of it interesting, for example the origins of some words, but some of it was a bit of a slog for me! The author has done a remarkable job with her research and it's very cleverly done but I found the style of writing overall very dry. I definitely much prefer fiction to non-fiction.

The Cat Who Played Brahms by Lilian Jackson Braun 4
Fifth in 'The Cat Who....' murder mystery series. Qwill decides to take a break in a log cabin in the country with his two endearing Siamese cats, Koko and Yum. Good fun little detective story.
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: 4226
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 » Tue June 30th, 2009, 4:25 pm

Here's my list for June:

The Winter Sea by Cynthia Harrod Eagles 5
The twentieth in the Morland Dynasty series set in Victorian times and involving the Great Exhibition, the Crimean War and the Valley of Death. Excellent historical family saga - I shall be so sad to read the last book.

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates 3
Set in Connecticut in the 1950, this tells the tale of a dysfunctional young couple who decide to try to change their lives with tragic results. Although it is a wonderfully written book, I found it a little depressing and sad and I am not particularly sure I would like to see the film.

The Summer of Katya by Trevanian 4
Set in 1914, a young doctor arrives in a Basque village to help the local doctor. There he meets a beautiful young woman named Katya, who he starts to fall in love with. As he gets to know her, he finds himself intrigued by her family's past who seem to be haunted by a dark secret. I found it a compelling, enjoyable and easy read. It was reminiscent of a gothic novel with a little bit of 'Psycho' (the film) thrown in!

The Time of Singing by Elizabeth Chadwick 5
Based on a true story and set in the 12thC, the story of Roger Bigod who tries to win back his earldom when his father loses the family lands after rebelling against King Henry II. He meets and marries the King's mistress, Ida, who has heartbreak of her own. Beautifully written with a great atmosphere - I loved it!

The Girl in Times Square by Paullina Simons 5
The story of a young woman who goes missing whilst her flatmate, Lily, has troubles of her own. Lily becomes drawn to the detective investigating the case, who also has his own demons to fight. A good mix of mystery and romance but it's much more than that. It has quite a powerful and poignant storyline. I thought it was an excellent read and a book I found difficult to put down.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood 5
The story of a young woman who becomes a 'handmaid' in the republic of Gilead, a totalitarian regime which takes over the US in the near future. I found this a scary and very disturbing book. I can't say I actually enjoyed it, but it's very cleverly and imaginatively written. It definitely gives food for thought and it is to be hoped it never ever happens. Terrifying stuff!
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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Telynor
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Joined: August 2008
Location: On the Banks of the Hudson

Post by Telynor » Tue June 30th, 2009, 5:23 pm

[quote=""Vanessa""]Here's my list for March:

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton 3.5
The story of the downfall of Lily Bart, set in New York in the 1890s. Beautiful Lily causes a scandal and ends up impoverished. A sad tale which I found quite hard to get into, but found it enjoyable once I did.

[/quote]


Have you seen the film adaptation of this with Gillian Anderson as Lily? Visually, it's gorgeous. But I do admit that I wanted to give Lily a good slap now and then!

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