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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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diamondlil
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Posts: 2642
Joined: August 2008

Post by diamondlil » Tue June 30th, 2009, 8:45 pm

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


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![/quote]

So glad that you enjoyed The Time of Singing.

Paullina Simons is one of my favourite authors, even though I was a bit disappointed in the last book. This is my favourite book by her after The Bronze Horseman books.

I really didn't like The Handmaid's Tale when I read it.
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Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4293
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 » Tue June 30th, 2009, 9:23 pm

The Handmaid's Tale quite freaked me out!
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: 4293
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 » Wed July 1st, 2009, 8:25 am

[quote=""Telynor""]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![/quote]

No, I haven't seen it, Telynor. I will look out for it, though, as I would like to see 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: 4293
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 » Sat August 1st, 2009, 11:56 am

Here's my list for July:

The Believers by Zoe Heller 3.5
Dysfunctional family drama about love and faith set in contemporary New York. I found this a little difficult to get into, but once I did I quite enjoyed it. It has some good observances of human nature and is nicely written with some amusing parts.

The Little House by Philippa Gregory 2.5
The story of a young couple go to live a hop and a skip from their in-laws in the country, which is never a good idea in my opinion! The mother-in-law just can't stop interfering - rearranging cupboards, decorating the house, tidying up as she likes it, etc. All heading for a fall. I wasn't very impressed with this book at all. I found the characters irritating and the plot very contrived. It read like a fairytale with a wicked mother-in-law instead of step-mother. I was disappointed as I enjoy this author's historical fiction.

A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon 5
The sixth in the Claire and Jamie Fraser time-travelling historical adventure series. I'm glad I don't live in the 18thC - people just seem to be abducted all over the place! This couple definitely have more lives than a cat. Very exciting, though, and makes for great entertaining reading. Oooh, that Jamie is such a hero! :p

Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb 3
Quite an enjoyable and interesting cultural read about a white Muslim girl who returns to Britain from famine-stricken Ethiopia in search of her missing lover. It's told in two timelines - the 1970s in Ethiopia and the 1980s/90s in London - which inter-link. An easy read, but it does tend to get a little political at times which I found slightly boring and consequently a lot of it went over my head.

In the Woods by Tana French 4
A pschological mystery, set in Dublin, beginning with three children who go to play in some nearby woods, but two of them disappear and the third cannot remember what happened. Twenty years later the third child is now a detective and investigating the death of a child whose body is found near the same woods on a sacrificial stone. I found this quite an atmospheric and dark tale - I enjoyed the way it was written. Do not expect the ending to be neatly tied up, though!

Celia Garth by Gwen Bristow 4
Set in Charleston in the 1780s, this tells the story of a dressmaker who turns spy in the American Revolution. I found it an enjoyable and interesting tale. It's quite an easy read and is well researched with lots of historical detail.
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: 4293
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

August

Post by Vanessa » Mon August 31st, 2009, 7:07 pm

Here's my list for August:

Life of Pi by Yann Martel 3.5
The story of a zookeeper's son, Pi, who sets sail for Canada with his family and ends up shipwrecked on a lifeboat with a tiger, orang-u-tan and a zebra. It's a tale about survival with a twist at the end and it's open to the reader's own interpretation of events. I found it quite a bizarre book but very thought-provoking.

The Lost Daughter by Diane Chamberlain 4
A governor's expectant wife goes missing, having been kidnapped, and her remains are found 20 years later. One of the kidnappers is charged with her murder. He is innocent of the crime and only one person knows it. Enjoyable dilemma style relationship tale. It's an easy read and quite a page turner with a couple of grey areas.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton 5
A small child is abandoned aboard a ship sailing to England in 1913. In 1975 this same child, now an adult, makes her own journey to try to discover the truth about her past. Thirty years on in 2005 her granddaughter follows in her grandmother' s footsteps and makes her own investigation in the past. The truth does finally unfold. It's a book to concentrate on as it is told in several different narratives and goes backwards and forwards in time. It's an intriguing little mystery and I loved the way it unravelled - I thought it was fabulous. One for the top ten this year, I think.

Company of Liars by Karen Maitland 5
Set in 1348, a group of travellers try to escape the plague, one of whom is a child rune reader. Each member of the group has his own dark secret, which the child makes them reveal by reading the stones and encouraging them to tell their story. As they travel through England, one by one, members of the group die mysterious, quite gruesome deaths. I thought this was a fabulous book - it's well written (with a twist in the tale) and very different to what I expected. It's not so much historical fiction but more of a fable - a medieval fairytale containing a bit of hocus pocus!

The Peacock Emporium by Jojo Moyes 4
A family drama type story starting off in the 1960s with the marriage of spoilt debutante, Athene Forster, to a wealthy farmer. The action swiftly moves on 35 years, after the disappearance of Athene, to the life of her daughter, who opens a shop called The Peacock Emporium, having had to move back home from London. It's a story about family, friends and love. I was actually pleasantly surprised by this book and found it really quite 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

User avatar
Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4293
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 4th, 2009, 7:40 pm

Here's my list for September:

Love and Summer by William Trevor 2
A tale about an illicit love affair which starts up in a small Irish village, where curtains twitch and tongues wag. I was quite disappointed by this book and found it boring and bland. The story just didn't flow for me either. There seemed to be no depth to it - I prefer something a little meatier. The writing is very lyrical but I don't think this is an author for me.

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis 4
Time travel story set in 2055 and 1348. A young woman is sent back in time to 1320 but ends up in 1348, the time of the Black Plague, by mistake. I enjoyed this book and it's well researched, quite grizzly at times. However, it did seem quite dated, especially the 2055 parts, although they are fairly humorous. In fact, it reminded me a little of the 1970s version of Star Trek!

Wanting by Richard Flanagan 4.5
Set in the mid to late 19thC, telling the story of Sir John Franklin's life as Governor of Van Diemen's Land in Tasmania, his subsequent adoption of an aboriginal girl and Charles Dickens' part in trying to clear his name when Sir John's ship goes missing on an expedition. It's a tale of desires and their consequences. I found it a compelling and fascinating book and it was a pleasure to read.

The Clematis Tree by Ann Widdecombe 3
A family is devastated when their son is tragically knocked down in an accident and ends up handicapped. It's a story about how the family deal with the tragedy. There is also a political side to the story - the boy's aunt is fighting to have an euthanasia bill put through parliament, having lost her mother to cancer when she was a child. The subject matter is a serious one, but having said that, it is a very easy read although it is long winded and waffly at times! Not bad but not brilliant either.

The Winter Sea (aka Sophia's Secret) by Susanna Kearsley 5
A book within a book! Author Carrie McClelland travels to Scotland to write a book concerning the little known Jacobite rebellion of 1708, one of the characters being based on one of her ancestors, Sophia Paterson. As Carrie tells her story, she realises she has a rather unusual connection with Sophia. I thought this was a fabulous tale - I found it so engrossing and unputdownable! Just my sort of book.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters 5
A petty thief is drawn into a plot to con a young woman out of her inheritance, unaware of their connection. I thought this was an excellent book. It was a very atmospheric tale, quite a dark and exciting mystery with plenty of twists and turns. Very well written, 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: 4293
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 » Sat October 31st, 2009, 5:49 pm

Here's my list for October:

Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann 4.5
Set in two time periods, one during the 1990s and the other during the Great War of 1914-18. It tells the story of two men who have a connection, the first tale concerning a young man whose girlfriend has been killed in a tragic accident and the second relating the tale of the journey of a Polish soldier from Siberia to Moscow after his escape from a prisoner of war camp. I thoroughly enjoyed this book - I found it quite poignant, atmospheric and well written. However, I did find the journey slightly slow going which is why I rated the book 4.5 and not 5.

Guernica by Dave Boling 4.5
Set during the Spanish Civil War on the eve of WWII, this is really a family saga tale involving the tragic bombing of Guernica in 1937 and the devastation which is left behind. After a slow start, I found it quite a moving and compelling story. I also found it interesting and enjoyed the parts about the real-life characters such as Picasso and Richthofen. The ending may have been a little too convenient, but overall I was very pleasantly surprised by this book.

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran 5
Set in Ancient Rome, this tells the story of Queen Kleopatra and Marc Antony's daughter, Selene, and also her brother, Alexander after their capture by the Romans and Octavian's (better known as Augustus - Julius Ceasar's nephew) Triumph over the Egyptians. It's also something of a thriller with a Scarlet Pimpernel type person called the 'Red Eagle' causing murder and mayhem by campaigning for the end of slavery. I found this a very vivid depiction of the times, loved the characters and the descriptions of the food, clothes, etc, and thought it was a very entertaining and informative book.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 3.5
Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead, being the supposed victim of a family curse. Sir Henry Baskervilles returns to Devon to take up his inheritance but soon finds himself in fear for his life. I thought this book was quite enjoyable, in fact it was better than I expected! However, I didn't find it in the least bit scary and spooky.

Dissolution by C J Sansom 5
Set in 1537 in the time of King Henry VIII. Commissioner to Lord Cromwell, Matthew Shardlake, is sent to the monastry at Scarnsea, which is under threat of closure, to investigate a gruesome murder. Lots of monkeying around and twists and turns! Plenty of historical detail alongside the mystery element making for a very atmospheric read. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, which is the first in a series and shall definitely be reading the next.
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: 4293
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

November

Post by Vanessa » Tue December 1st, 2009, 10:53 am

Here's my list for November:

The Girl on the Landing by Paul Torday 5
A couple who appear to have a very boring and monotonus marriage take a trip to a friend's country estate, where the husband notices a painting and in this painting sees a figure which no-one else seems to see. From then on his personality undergoes a change and he has visitationss from a mysterious girl in a green dress. The wife then starts to fall in love with him with dramatic results. I started reading this book thinking it was a ghost story but soon realised that it was darker and more sinister than I thought. A compelling and excellent read.

The Outcast by Cynthia Harrod Eagles 5
The twenty-first in the series and set in 1857, in the reign of Queen Victoria, another exciting episode in the life of the Morlands, some of whom have left to live in South Carolina. This book's story is based around the introduction of the Divorce Act and the American Civil War. All fascinating stuff!

The Help by Kathryn Stockett 5
Set in the 1960s, in Jackson, Mississippi, this tells the story of black maids and their employers. It's told in three well-defined voices, that of two maids, Aibileen and Minny, and a young white girl, Miss Skeeter, who is secretly writing their story in the hopes of having it published. I thought this was a fabulous and atmospheric book, beautifully written with a sense of humour and well developed characters. The individual personalities shone through. Highly recommended.

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y K Lee 3.5
Set in Hong Kong and told in two time frames, one in 1942 during Japanese occupancy in WWII and the other in 1953 when a shy young woman accompanies her husband to HK and becomes a piano teacher to a local business man's daughter. Both time frames involve the same man who has a relationship with two very different women. This was quite an evocative, shocking (at times) and sad tale but I found the writing slightly disjointed. However, I did enjoy the story and thought it was a very good debut novel.

The Glass-Blowers by Daphne du Maurier 4.5
A fictionalised account of the author's ancestors set during the French Revolution. I found this a fascinating story with quite a moving ending. It was interesting to read about the French Revolution from a different perspective, ie from life within the countryside rather than within the city, and learnt a few facts which I did not know. Recommended for stalwart fans of Daphne du Maurier and especially those who enjoy history.

Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie 4
Hercule Poirot investigates a case of kleptomania which leads to murder in a students' boarding house. Enjoyable, light-hearted 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

User avatar
Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4293
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

December

Post by Vanessa » Fri January 1st, 2010, 1:55 pm

Here's my list for December:

Kept, A Victorian Mystery by D J Taylor 4
An unusually written and intriguing mystery with lots of interesting characters. It starts off with reports of two mysterious deaths occurring a year apart. Then the reader meets a fraudster, a lawyer, a mad woman, a serving girl and a mouse. Somehow they are all connected! The story has quite a Dickensian/Wilkie Collins feel about it. Enjoyable.

Girl in a Red Tunic by Alys Clare 3
Gentle medieval mystery set in Kent in an abbey. A villain goes missing and then his brother is found dead. It takes a nun and a knight to solve the mystery. It was a sort of Miss Marple in a habit type of story! Not brilliant, but not bad either.

The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark 5
Set in 1498 in Venice, a young boy, Luciano, is caught stealing a pomegranite from a market by the chef to the doge. The chef takes a liking to Luciano and gives him a job in the doge's kitchens. There the majority of the gossip is about an ancient book of secrets which could have the key to all sorts of powers, but the question is who actually has the book in their possession. I loved this book, It's a light-hearted read but it's also full of atmosphere. The food descriptions are brilliant! It's nicely written and I just wanted to keep turning the pages.

The Gift by Cecelia Ahern 4
Seasonal story/fairytale about an ambitious high-flyer who needs to be in two places at once and never has enough time for his family....... until Gabe comes along! I enjoyed this, my one and only Christmas read this year. I haven't read anything by this author before so was very pleasantly surprised. It gets a little whacky but it is supposed to be a fairytale and I shed a tear at the end!

I'm half-way through Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati which is a bit of a tome, so will list it with my January reads. However, I can say that I'm thoroughly enjoying it so far, a good adventure 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

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