Welcome to the Historical Fiction Online forums: a friendly place to discuss, review and discover historical fiction.
If this is your first visit, please be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above.
You will have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.
To start viewing posts, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Madeleine's 2011 reads

Keep track of your reading for 2011 here! One thread per member, please.
User avatar
Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 5749
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: "The Long Call" by Ann Cleeves
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime, dual time-frame
Location: Essex/London

Madeleine's 2011 reads

Post by Madeleine » Sun January 2nd, 2011, 12:39 pm

January

"Agatha Raisin and a Spoonful of Poison" by M C Beaton - modern-day, light-hearted murder mystery set in the Cotswolds - a very quick, easy read, slightly far-fetched but quite amusing, especially the bit with poor Agatha's hair extensions! Finished it last night so it just counts as a 2011 read. 8/10

"Agatha Raisin: There Goes the Bride" - follow-up to the book mentioned above, more light-hearted murder mayham in the Cotswolds, and a slight change in direction as Agatha seriously considers giving up detecting. 7/10
Last edited by Madeleine on Thu January 13th, 2011, 1:56 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Currently reading: "The Long Call" by Ann Cleeves

User avatar
Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 5749
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: "The Long Call" by Ann Cleeves
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime, dual time-frame
Location: Essex/London

Post by Madeleine » Sat January 29th, 2011, 12:17 pm

January

"Martyr" by Rory Clements - 1st in a historical crime series set during Elizabeth I's reign and the run-up to the Spanish Armada. John Shakespeare (brother of William, who does make a brief appearance and was, at this stage, still an actor) is one of Walsingham's chief intelligencers and is investigating a nasty murder, and is also charged with protecting Sir Francis Drake, whose life is under serious threat. An enjoyable read, and a good introduction to a new series. 7/10
Currently reading: "The Long Call" by Ann Cleeves

User avatar
Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 5749
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: "The Long Call" by Ann Cleeves
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime, dual time-frame
Location: Essex/London

Post by Madeleine » Tue February 8th, 2011, 8:08 pm

February

Got off to a bit of an uneven start:

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscales - wall-banged yesterday after about 120 pages - boring! My first DNF in goodness knows how many years, I couldn't even be bothered to speed-read it, and googled the case instead. 1/10 (as there was a good book in there somewhere).

"Passion" by Jude Morgan - BOTM on another forum and, ahem, my choice, and after a shaky start I loved it. Byron, Shelley, Keats and their women - fascinating stuff. Generally I liked the way that it was written, although the author did occasionally switch writing styles eg suddenly there were a few pages where it read like a play, at other times a character talked directly to the reader; I thought this jarred a bit and didn't sit that well with the rest of the book, but apart from that I found it amusing and moving, especially at the end! 8/10

"The Janus Stone" by Elly Griffiths - second in a series set in Norfolk, combining crime with a bit of history and academia, but not dry at all. After a slightly wobbly start, it was a good read, and the characters (a forensic archaeologist and a policeman) are very likeable despite their flaws. 8/10

"The Bed I Made" by Lucie Whitehouse - woman-in-peril type thriller - the narrator moves to the Isle of Wight, UK, to escape an abusive boyfriend - their story gradually unfolds in flashbacks - meets someone new, gradually finds a new life etc - quite well-written although some of the descriptions made me cringe a bit and were a bit OTT, and the inevitable final confrontation between the ex and the heroine was, I thought, a bit silly, so it loses another point, but an easy read. 7/10
Last edited by Madeleine on Sun March 6th, 2011, 5:56 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Currently reading: "The Long Call" by Ann Cleeves

User avatar
Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 5749
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: "The Long Call" by Ann Cleeves
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime, dual time-frame
Location: Essex/London

Post by Madeleine » Sun March 6th, 2011, 6:00 pm

March

Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich - another instalment in the Stephanie Plum comic
detective series: it's getting a bit samey now, which is why I hadn't read one for a long time. However her books are still fast-paced, amusing reads, although I could do without her sister and her side of the family - this time round they only made a fairly brief appearance, and there is an interesting plot development in which Stephanie goes to work for fellow bounty hunter Ranger which has potential; although Stephanie's knack for walking into constant danger is becoming a bit tiresome, but as escapism, these books are fine. 7/10

Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay - finished this yesterday; an OK read, fine for a commute/journey/holiday - it starts off well with lots of twists and turns, but ultimately all the plot developments get a bit bizarre, until I found it totally unbelievable. But fine for an easy-to-read time-passer. 6/10

A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin - first in the Song of Ice and Fire series, it was recommended by a work colleague in advance of the TV series - I thought it was good but can't say that I enjoyed it as such, it's very well-written but there are so many characters it took me about 1/2 of the book before I finally established who was related to who and who was on who's side (in most cases), looking at the actors on the IMDB site helped. Many characters I found unlikeable, and several - Arya and all the Dothraki - I found downright irritating, and it could have done with a little more humour. However Mr Martin certainly isn't afraid to kill off his characters, there was at least one big shock about 2/3 of the way through! It's an unflinching novel, I suppose a bit like a very adult LOTR with a lot of Shakespeare's more violent plays thrown in, and like LOTR it exists very much in it's own world, which is vividly described - the Wall, for example, is almost a living entity in it's own right, and I'm intrigued to see how it transfers to the screen. 7/10
Last edited by Madeleine on Fri April 1st, 2011, 7:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Currently reading: "The Long Call" by Ann Cleeves

User avatar
Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 5749
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: "The Long Call" by Ann Cleeves
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime, dual time-frame
Location: Essex/London

Post by Madeleine » Sun April 3rd, 2011, 12:55 pm

April

A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore - nice easy read about an antiquarian book valuer/dealer who goes to Norfolk to value a set of astronomical books, papers and equipment; her family are originally from the area and she finds herself caught up not only in a family mystery of her own, but also a mystery from the past which unfolds as she digs deeper into old papers that she finds. A bit predictable and the characters were a bit two-dimensional, but a gentle read. 7/10

The Man Who Disappeared by Clare Morrall - a wife has to re-build her life when her husband goes on the run after being accused of money-laundering; the wife had no idea of this side to her husband, and faces losing her home, having to go to her parents for money, and having to take up menial jobs! The first part of the book concentrates on the initial shock, and how she and their 3 children gradually come to terms with the events, and make slightly different lives for themselves; we also find out how the fugitive husband is coping with his new existence. The second half is slightly different, but basically the husband starts to come back into his family's life, and yet again they all have to face changes - will they accept him now that their lives are relatively stable, do they even want to see him again after what he put them through? An interesting read, not totally believable, but well-written. 7/10

"The Night Watch" by Sarah Waters - I thought this was beautifully written, and very well-structured, but ultimately it didn't really grab me. I don't think there was that much of a story to be honest. I still really like her as an author, but I don't think this is one of my favourite books from her. 7/10

"Instruments of Darknes" by Imogen Robertson - first in a new historical crime series, where the detectives are an anatomist - Crowther - and a local lady - Harriet Westerman - who meet up when a dead body is found on Harriet's land. Their investigations lead to the "big house" and it's residents: the ailing patriarch, his beautiful (naturally) young wife, dissolute son from his first marriage, and young son from his second. Turns out the eldest son from the first marriage cut himself off from the family years ago; but now someone is looking for him which opens a can of proverbial worms, with the usual unsavoury family secrets threatening to burst out. It's set during the so-called Gordon riots of the 18th century, and takes place mainly in London and Sussex, with flashbacks to the War of Independence. I thoroughly enjoyed it, it's well-written and the main characters are likeable, and it looks like there will be a good supporting cast too. 8/10
Last edited by Madeleine on Sat April 30th, 2011, 11:46 am, edited 3 times in total.
Currently reading: "The Long Call" by Ann Cleeves

User avatar
Brenna
Bibliophile
Posts: 1358
Joined: June 2010
Location: Delaware

Post by Brenna » Sun April 3rd, 2011, 1:52 pm

[quote=""Madeleine""]March
A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin - first in the Song of Ice and Fire series, it was recommended by a work colleague in advance of the TV series - I thought it was good but can't say that I enjoyed it as such, it's very well-written but there are so many characters it took me about 1/2 of the book before I finally established who was related to who and who was on who's side (in most cases), looking at the actors on the IMDB site helped. Many characters I found unlikeable, and several - Arya and all the Dothraki - I found downright irritating, and it could have done with a little more humour. However Mr Martin certainly isn't afraid to kill off his characters, there was at least one big shock about 2/3 of the way through! It's an unflinching novel, I suppose a bit like a very adult LOTR with a lot of Shakespeare's more violent plays thrown in, and like LOTR it exists very much in it's own world, which is vividly described - the Wall, for example, is almost a living entity in it's own right, and I'm intrigued to see how it transfers to the screen. 7/10[/quote]

Oh I'm disappointed to hear you didn't like it so much! My husband and I were out to eat last night and saw the trailors for the TV show and so of course I had to look up the books and they sounded interesting. My husband is more into the fantasy genre than I am, but I was willing to purchase the first one. Perhaps I should wait??
Brenna

User avatar
Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 5749
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: "The Long Call" by Ann Cleeves
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime, dual time-frame
Location: Essex/London

Post by Madeleine » Mon April 11th, 2011, 9:17 am

I wouldn't say I didn't like it, I actually think it's much easier to read than LOTR, the writing style isn't quite so long-winded as Tolkien can be (especially in the 3rd book), and I'm looking forward to the TV series - I did, however (and I was warned about this!) find it slightly depressing, but it's certainly worth reading if you're into the fantasy genre - I found it very well-written and the characters believable, albeit most of them are pretty unlikeable and some are downright irritating! But there are some good guys (and women) in there too.
Last edited by Madeleine on Thu June 2nd, 2011, 10:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
Currently reading: "The Long Call" by Ann Cleeves

User avatar
Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 5749
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: "The Long Call" by Ann Cleeves
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime, dual time-frame
Location: Essex/London

Post by Madeleine » Thu April 28th, 2011, 11:55 am

I've now watched the first 2 eps of the TV series, and it's interesting to see how the characters are portrayed. Worryingly, I quite like the Lannisters in a weird way, they're definitely the most interesting!

And the Wall looks absolutely incredible, and the opening titles are almost worth a programme on their own.
Last edited by Madeleine on Wed May 11th, 2011, 7:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Currently reading: "The Long Call" by Ann Cleeves

User avatar
Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 5749
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: "The Long Call" by Ann Cleeves
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime, dual time-frame
Location: Essex/London

Post by Madeleine » Wed May 11th, 2011, 7:20 pm

May

A Time of Mourning by Christobel Kent - first in a new modern crime series set in Florence, this features ex detective Sandro Cellini as he tries to forge a new career as a private investigator, after leaving the force in disgrace a couple of years previously. His first cases seems straightforward - an elderly man who has drowned (suicide or accident?) and a missing English girl who was on an art course in the city. But as he investigates the two cases, it becomes increasingly apparent that they are connected, and are both much more sinister than he first thought they were. I enjoyed this; it's not particularly well-written but it's fast-paced and easy to read, and the backdrop of Florence at risk from flooding is well described. Cellini is a likeable, believable hero, and his little supporting cast of his wife and a former drug addict who they helped get back on the straight and narrow are also good characters. Looks like being a promising series.
8/10

"Pale as the Dead" by Fiona Mountain - a young woman asks genealogist, Natasha Blake, to help her trace her family, which proves difficult when Natasha discovers the young woman hasn't even given her her real name! All she has to go on is a journal, which belonged to the woman's grandmother, and her obsession with Lizzie Siddal; when they first meet, the girl is posing for a re-creation of the famous painting of Lizzie posing as Ophelia, it is after this session that the girl, Bethany, asks Natasha for help; however the next Natasha hears of her is when the photographer, and Bethany's bofriend, tells her that Bethany has left him, but left her treasured journal behind, and when Natasha finds a note inside which could be a suicide note, she becomes increasingly fearful for Bethany's safety. So using the journal as her guide, along with her genealogical knowledge and contacts at various institutions, she sets about unravelling Bethany's past, trying to find her true identity, and also her connection with Lizzie Siddal. I enjoyed this book, and it would certainly be interesting to anyone who likes genealogy, and of course the Pre-Raphaelites - and there's even a mention of William and John Marshal (the 12th century versions!) too. 7/10
Last edited by Madeleine on Fri May 20th, 2011, 9:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
Currently reading: "The Long Call" by Ann Cleeves

User avatar
Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 5749
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: "The Long Call" by Ann Cleeves
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime, dual time-frame
Location: Essex/London

Post by Madeleine » Thu June 2nd, 2011, 10:39 am

June

"An Expert in Murder" by Nicola Upson - 1st in a new crime series where writer Josephine Tey finds herself investigating a murder after a girl whom she befriended on a train journey down to London is murdered whilst still on the train at Kings Cross. It turns out that there are many connections to both the author's play, Richard of Bordeaux, which is currently enjoying a sell-out run in London, and the author's late lover, who was killed during WW1. It was an enjoyable read, with a few other real life people involved too, such as Sir Bernard Spilsbury (one of the fathers of modern day forensics), and quite well-written, with Tey an engaging character, plus an interesting relationship between her and the inevitable policeman, Archie Penrose. I also liked the supporting characters, such as the costume designer sisters who provided much light relief. 7/10

"As Meat Loves Salt" by Maria McCann - discussed in BOTM - 5/10

Snobbery with Violence by M C Beaton - 1st in a series (4 so far) of Edwardian-era set crime; very light but with a genuinely serious look at how women were valued back then. Lady Rose and her family have to decamp from their London townhouse to the Oxfordshire countryside after Rose very publicly dumps her current beau, accusing him of being a cad. In those days a man could recover quickly from such disgrace, but a woman, however much she was the innocent party, was condemned to social leprosy for a long time. However, Rose is invited to a house party and when one of the guests is found dead, she's convinced that there is a cover-up, and reluctantly joins forces with Boer War veteran, Captain Harry Cathcart - who is, of course, dangerously attractive and, of course, she hates him at first sight - to further investigate, especially when a maid mysteriously disappears, and there is an attempt on Rose's own life. I enjoyed this, it was an easy read and the denouement was genuinely quite exciting, albeit not exactly surprising. 8/10

"Never the Bride" by Paul Magrs - first in a series in which a woman with a mysterious secret, and her best friend who also, it turns out, has more than a few secrets up her sleeve, set out to investigate strange happenings in their home town of Whitby, when a rather unusual beauty salon opens for business. I enjoyed this, it was rather wacky, especially the first half, but then more secrets were revealed, our two heroines discovered their destiny, and some very bad things started to happen. It reminded me a little bit of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, but starring women of a certain age (!) and with a very English spin on things - the two ladies love going out for tea and going to their favourite fish and chip restaurant - although I could certainly see something like the Deadly Boutique setting up shop in Bon Temps after it's failure in Whitby. Barmy but enjoyable, and the leading lady, Brenda, is a wonderful creation. 7/10

"A Season of Storms" by Susanna Kearsley - set on Lake Garda, where I was lucky enough to be holidaying at the time which really enhanced the book - Celia is an actress who is invited to take part in a play being staged at a beautiful villa complete with it's own theatre, but ghosts from the past, including her namesake, actress Celia Sands who mysteriously disappeared, and threats from the present seem to be keen to de-rail the project. I enjoyed this, it was very atmospheric and after experiencing a couple of spectacular storms I thought the title was very appropriate! 7/10

"Murder in Steeple Martin" by Lesley Cookman - modern cosy crime, set in Kent (not the Cotswolds which makes a change); Libby Serjeant is helping to stage a play at the local theatre, based on real events, but a series of accidents look like someone is trying to sabotage the play - hardly surprising as the subject is a true story, and many of the people on whose story the play is based are still alive and not happy at family secrets coming out. Then a cast member is found dead, and even more skeletons come out of the closet. An easy read, and the first in a series. 7/10
Last edited by Madeleine on Sat July 2nd, 2011, 8:30 pm, edited 5 times in total.
Currently reading: "The Long Call" by Ann Cleeves

Locked

Return to “Member Reading Logs - 2011”