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Vanessa's 2011 Reads

Keep track of your reading for 2011 here! One thread per member, please.
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Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4248
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 2011 Reads

Post by Vanessa » Mon January 31st, 2011, 8:37 pm

Here's my list for January:

The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly 5
Set in the early 20thC, India Selwyn Jones has just trained as a doctor and her dream is to open a clinic for women in Whitechapel. Into her life comes Sid Malone, a notorious gangster, when he is injured after a robbery. India already has a fiance in the form of Freddie Lytton, who is basically after her money and not a very nice man at all. The story takes us from London to Africa as we follow their inter-linking lives. This is an epic saga of a tale and is the second in the 'Rose' trilogy, the first being The Tea Rose. I loved it and look forward to reading the last one in the series, The Wild Rose, when it is published.

Snobbery with Violence by M C Beaton 4
First in an Edwardian mystery series by the author of the Agatha Raisin and Hamish MacBeth books. Lady Rose Summer is banished to the country when she falls from grace after a suitor is found dishonourable. She attends a house party and finds herself mixed up in murder and mayhem. She decides to solve the mystery herself with the help of Captain Harry Cathcart, a 'fixer' of problems for the aristocracy. A fun and entertaining story.

The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly 4.5
A psychological suspense tale about a group of students. Karen Clarke meets aspiring student actress Biba Capel and ends up being asked to move in with her and her brother, Rex, both of whom live very bohemian lifestyles. She finds herself drawn into their world and becomes a little obsessed with them. Of course, it all ends in tears as the story flips from present to past, leading to a dramatic conclusion. There are lots of twists and turns in the plot. I found it a compelling and intriguing read and one which I very much enjoyed, a page turner!

Passion by Jude Morgan 4.5
The story of the lives of the romantic poets and the ladies who loved them. I found this an interesting and compelling read. In fact, it almost read like a biography with conversation. It was poetically written and very well researched. I very much enjoyed it.

Destination Unknown by Agatha Christie 3.5
Leading scientists are disappearing without a trace behind the Iron Curtain, or so it would seem. When one of the scientist's wives dies in a plane crash, her identity is taken by another woman to try to solve the mystery. A little different to the normal Agatha Christie tale, but quite enjoyable nevertheless.

The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood 5
Based on Grimm's The Robber Bridegroom but with a 'bride' not a 'groom', it's the story of the evil Zenia, a manipulative and ruthless woman, who has designs on other ladies' husbands and who now is apparently dead. To make sure Zenia is actually dead three friends attend her funeral, but five years later she comes walking into the restaurant where they are having lunch....... I loved this quirky book and found it very much a page turner. Not action packed but it's the underlying dark atmosphere and feeling of dread/evil which makes compelling for reading.

Reluctant Queen by Freda Lightfoot 3.5
Set in 16thC France, this is the story of Gabrielle d'Estrees, mistress to King Henry IV of Navarre and France. I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the previous book in the series, Hostage Queen. However, I still found it an interesting, easy and pacy read about a lesser known character in history.
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: 4248
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 February 28th, 2011, 9:59 pm

Here's my list for February:

Stormcrow Castle by Amanda Grange 3.5
Gothic Victoria Holt-style tale about a girl who travels to Stormcrow Castle in Yorkshire to visit her aunt, only to find she has disappeared. There's a secret room and a lost key, masked balls and visits to the graveyard! Easy and fun read.

Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue 4
Set in the 1860s in London and Monmouth, the story of a young girl who falls by the wayside for the want of a red ribbon. After becoming a prostitute in London and finding herself in fear for her life, she flees to Monmouth where she ingratiates herself into a dressmaker's household. This is rather a seedy story, which is well written and easy to read but ultimately quite sad and harrowing. The story itself was inspired by a person who did exist and the author has done a very good job filling in the gaps.

The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger 4
Set in the late 19thC and based on a true story, this tells the tale of Lady Lucie Duff Gordon, who was the toast of Victorian London, but who suffered from TB. To try to cure herself she sets sail for Egypt with her lady's maid, Sally Naldrett, and once there they are helped on a further journey to Luxor by dragoman Omar Abu Halaweh. It's quite a slow read and also quite a short one being some 250 pages in length - I was fascinated to read in the author's notes that it took her many years to write! It is beautifully written and very evocative of the time and place it is set it with some good descriptions of Egypt, the people and their customs.

Speak to our Desires by Brenda W Clough 4
Mystery set in the 1960s about a young woman called Ellie who employs private investigator Tim Coates to find her missing mother. Ellie has a special gift which is revealed as the story progresses and adds quite a dark element to it. When I first started this book, I thought it was going to be a gumshoe-style novel but there's actually more to it than that and contains some quite serious issues. The tale is told in alternating voices, in the first person as Tim and the third person as Ellie. At times this is a little confusing as events do not always follow on from each other. However, I think this adds to the intrigue and I felt compelled to read on so that I could fit all the pieces together in chronological order. I enjoyed this book - I thought it was well written and quite quirky. The ending is a little odd and thought provoking, but I do not think it could have ended any other way.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson 4.5
A disgraced journalist and a computer hacker get together to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. I thought it was a gripping, compelling and atmospheric read. I did find the translation a little clunky at times - I think some of the phrasing was a little odd! But overall, I thought the story and plotlines were great. It did take a little getting into, but once I did, I found it a page turner.

Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie 4
A man who was convicted of murdering his mother and then dies of pneumonia in prison shortly afterwards is posthumously found innocent when new evidence comes to light. It appears that someone else in the family must be the killer, but just who is it? Enjoyable.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness 5
Twilight meets Lord of the Rings in this enchanting tale about a witch named Diana, who unleashes all manner of problems when she requests a certain lost manuscript in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. She joins forces with Matthew, a friendly vampire, to discover the manuscript's secret. But not only is Oxford inhabited by witches and vampires, there are daemons too, and they all want their sticky fingers on this elusive document. I thoroughly enjoyed this tome of a book. I thought it was a fascinating, compelling and intriguing read, quite a page turner. It was well written with an intricate and, at times, fairly complex plot. The main characters were likeable and believeable and I found myself being completely drawn into their world. It's very much an adventure story with a fairy dusting of romance. Wicked! :rolleyes:
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: 4248
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 » Fri April 1st, 2011, 9:12 am

Here's my list for March:

The Sheen on the Silk by Anne Perry 3.5
Set in Constantinople in the 1270s, a young woman disguises herself as eunuch and physician in order to find out what has happened to her brother after he has been found guilty of conspiring to kill a nobleman. Although I thought it was well researched and well written, I also thought it was long winded and maybe too philosophical. I got a little confused by all the characters, plots and sub-plots. Good job there was a list of characters at the beginning of the book otherwise I would've been totall mystified! All in all, a fairly enjoyable and interesting read, albeit a slow one.

A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French 4
Told in various voices in diary format, this is a slice in the life of a dysfunctional family called the Battles - mum, dad, teenage rebel daughter and Oscar Wilde obsessed son - and their dog called Poo! It's by no means a literary book but I did find it funny and could relate to certain parts. A light-hearted and entertaining read.

Death by Chocolate by Toby Moore 2
Mystery set in the future where to be f*t is a sin and eating of burgers, chocolate, cakes, etc is forbidden.. A woman, covered in chocolate or 'brown' as it is known in this book, is found dead in an illegal eateasy. Health Enforcement Agent Matt Devlin and Homicide Detective Ryan investigate 'whodunnit'. Although the premise behind the plot is imaginative and quite clever, this book didn't 'do it' for me. In fact, I found it a little boring and I had worked out who the culprit was by the end of the story. Not my cup of tea.

Room by Emma Donoghue 5
Told in the voice of five year old Jack, who is imprisoned in a 11ft by 11ft room with his mother after she was kidnapped 7 years previously. It's a tale about the relationship between a mother and son in horrific circumstances and also about survival. I found it a gripping and compelling read, and I thought the voice of Jack was so engaging - what a fantastic little chap he was!

House of Moreys by Phyllis Bentley 4
Set in the early 1800s. Eleanor Moreys, in whose voice the story is told, returns to Wool Royd in Yorkshire, the Moreys' family home, after her father dies who was mysteriously disinherited 20 years previously. As Eleanor Moreys gets to know the family, she decides to investigate the reason for her father's disinheritance, thus unearthing a whole can of worms. There are quite a few twists and turns to the plot leading to a satisfying conclusion, although a little sad. It's a beautifully written book even if the style of writing is somewhat old fashioned. There are hints of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.

Choral Society by Prue Leith 4
A heart-warming tale of three 50 something women, who meet when they join the same choir. None of them have anything in common but somehow they become good friends and join forces to revamp to decrepit hotel in Cornwall. Enjoyable and light-hearted with a serious thread running through it.

A Country Affair by Rebecca Shaw 3.5
A story centring around a veterinary hospital set in the fictional village of Barleybridge in Dorset. It's the first in a series of tales, this one mainly about the new receptionist, Kate, who has a dodgy boyfriend and falls for one of the vets. It reminded me a little of a cross between an Agatha Raisin (without the murders!) and the TV programme Peak Practice (UK), somewhat like a soap opera! It's by no means a great work of literacy - it's pure escapism - but it was a pleasant way to pass a few hours reading.

Third Girl by Agatha Christie 3
Hercule Poirot has a visit from a girl who thinks she may have murdered someone - she's not sure as she can't remember. Then, she disappears, leaving the Belgian detective to use his little grey cells to investigate the mystery. Not one of the author's best as I found the conclusion a little far-fetched.
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: 4248
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 2nd, 2011, 9:29 am

Here's my list for April:

Queen of Silks by Vanora Bennett 4
Set in the 1460s, this centres around the silk trade and two sisters who become mistresses to kings. One of the sisters, Jane Shore, did exist but the other one is fictional. It's also another take on the Richard III/evil uncle/princes in the tower mystery. I found this an interesting and enjoyable story - the changes in narrative weren't always clear but I'm not sure whether this was a fault with my copy of the book, but other than that it was an easy read.

The Lady's Slipper by Deborah Swift 5
Set in 1660 in Westmorland, Alice Ibbetson, an artist, becomes obsessed by a rare orchid, the Lady's Slipper, which is growing in the garden of recently converted Quaker, Richard Wheeler. One night she steal the flower and sets off a train of events, including murder. I loved this book - I thought it was beautifully written and very atmospheric of the period with a hint of suspense. This was the author's debut novel and I look forward to reading her next novel - a book I believe is about one of the characters in The Lady's Slipper.

Balthazar Jones & the Tower of London Zoo by Julia Stuart 4
A story about a Beefeater named Balthazar Jones and his wife, Hebe Jones, who works in the lost property office in the London Underground, who own the world's oldest tortoise. It is decided that the exotic animals given to the Queen as gifts are to be moved from London Zoo to the Tower of London and Balthazar Jones is to be their Keeper. The addition of these rather strange creatures which include a marmoset which looks like the Duchess of York and a zorilla which is a cross between a zebra and a gorilla, along with the rest of the inhabitants of the Tower, makes for quirky and fun reading. It's an unusual, easy and light-hearted read - I chuckled several times - with a sad and serious thread running through it. Very enjoyable.

Electric Brae by Andrew Greig 3
Set in Scotland mostly during the 1980s, this tells of a complex menage a trois and is told through a series of flashbacks. Jimmy and Graeme, who met whilst out climbing, fall in love and have an affair with the same girl, Kim, who is a very troubled character. Added to this Graeme's girlfriend, Lesley, also falls in love with her. It all gets terribly complicated and I just wanted to slap Jimmy round the face and tell him to find someone else! He was a glutton for punishment. The writing is very lyrical with lots of climbing metaphors for the meaning of love and life. I found it quite a difficult read and at times I felt like I was wading through treacle, but the story behind it was a good one, so I persevered with it!

East of the Sun by Julia Gregson 5
Set mainly in the late 1920s, Viva Holloway sets sail to India as chaperone to Rose, who is due to marry an officer, Rose's cousin Tor who is travelling as part of the 'fishing fleet', the name for those girls who go to India in hunt of an eligible husband, and Guy who has been expelled from school and has been sent back to his parents in disgrace. When Guy falls from grace again, Viva gets connected with Frank, a doctor also travelling to India - this provides a love interest. I loved it - I thought it gave a good sense of time and place. I don't know whether it's because I've been to India, but I could really visualise it all. It's a slow read and it's slightly long-winded, but I thought this was part of it's charm. I was sorry to have finished it.

Althea by Madeleine Robins 3
Regency romance about a young woman who 'escapes' from her father's estate in the country to live with her sister in London. There she gets entangled with two men who are both vying for her affections. Written in a similar style to Georgette Heyer (although not as good!), I quite enjoyed it. I received it as a Librarything Early Reviewers ebook - it has quite a lot of typing errors so it is in need of a better proof reader. I found this a little distracting, but apart from that I found it a fun and entertaining read.
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: 4248
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 1st, 2011, 10:06 am

Here's my list for May

House of Stairs by Barbara Vine 4
Psychological thriller involving the release of a woman named Bel Sanger from prison after having served 14 years for murder. As to why and whom she killed, this is revealed in a series of flashbacks as narrated by another bohemian resident in a house known as 'The House of Stairs', aptly named due to the 106 steps from top to bottom. I very much enjoyed this atmospheric tale and loved the writing style. Nice and creepy!

As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann 4.5
Set during the English Civil War, this tells the tale of a young man named Jacob Cullen who has homicidal tendancies and has to suddenly leave home on his wedding day. He joins the New Model Army where he begins an obsession with a fellow soldier, Christopher Ferris. This is quite a difficult and slow read, but one I found very atmospheric and compelling.

Travels With My Aunt by Graham Greene 3.5
The story begins with the funeral of Henry Pulling's mother, where he meets his aunt, a wiley old bird who he hasn't seen for at least 30 years. He is prevailed upon to accompany her on her travels and thus begins his adventures which include, smuggling, embezzlement and fraud! Nicely written, I found this an easy and amusing read, although some of it is a little cringe-worthy!

Mrs McGinty's Dead by Agatha Christie 4
Hercule Poirot is called in to investigate when a police inspector is not sure of a man's guilt after he is found guilty of a charlady's murder and is condemned to death. Enjoyable stuff and one of the author's better books.

Sugar Island by Sanjida O'Connor 4
Based loosely on the true story of Fanny Kemble and set in 1859 just before the American Civil War, this tells the tale of a British actress who unknowingly marries a plantation and slave owner. After her marriage and arrival on St Simons Island in Georgia, she is horrified by the conditions and life of the slaves and secretly writes a diary and pamphlets describing their plight. These pamphlets and diary entries to be later published in the North to help rally up support for the war. I found it a very easy read despite the subject matter. It's quite descriptive of the islands and animal inhabitants, particularly birds. It's well written, giving a good sense of time and place, and I quite rattled through the book making it something of a page-turner!

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewyka 4.5
Humorous story about an 84 year old Ukrainian man (meanie husband!) who is
bamboozled into marrying a 36 year old busty blonde (with Botticellian breasts!), a migrant who is only interested in his money, what little he has of it! It's narrated by one of his two daughters, both sisters not being at all pleased about the situation. The title is a little off-putting, I think, as the tale is not really about tractors, although there is a little of their history running through it. I found the book both funny and moving - on one hand it's telling an amusing story about a certain situation and on the other hand there is a serious side describing events which happened during the war and the gullibility of the lonely. It's a very easy read - it's quite compelling and I couldn't put it down. Highly recommended.

A Watermelon, a Fish and a Bible by Christy Lefteri 5
Set in July 1974 when Cyprus was invaded by the Turkish army, most of it told in the present tense and the rest the past. This story revolves around three main characters who are caught up in the middle of this period in time - Koki, a Greek Cypriot, Richard, a British ex-pilot, and Adem, a Turkish soldier. Their lives are interlinked in some way and as the characters look back over their past lives, secrets are revealed and a love story uncovered. I found this book a very compelling, evocative and quite moving read. Some of the scenes are a little distressing and it's a bit of an eye-opener as to what went on in this moment in history. It's beautifully and vividly written, I could almost visualise it. A page turner 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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Brenna
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Location: Delaware

Post by Brenna » Wed June 1st, 2011, 5:30 pm

I wish I could get myself organized to one: remember what books I read this month and two: remember how I felt about them. I prefer the way you and boswell list your books as oppose to how I do it (which is just to post when I'm finished :D )
Brenna

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Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4248
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 » Fri July 1st, 2011, 11:06 am

Here's my list for June:

The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark 5
Dual time-frame story set in India in 1947 and 1856. Evie and Martin Mitchel take up residence in Masoorla, a small village in India, along with their five year old son, Billy, where Martin, a historian, has been contracted to write about the Partition. Meanwhile Evie finds some letters written nearly 100 years ago hidden behind a brick in the kitchen. The author is a young woman who came to India as part of the 'fishing fleet', a group of single ladies on the look out for an eligible husband. And therein lies a mystery, which Evie is intent on solving. But as she investigates deeper and times goes on, cracks appear in her marriage as Martin cannot forget memories of the war. I found this a compelling and evocative story, which gave a good sense of time and place. Lovely, colourful descriptions of India! I loved it.

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher 4
Narrated by 10 year old Jamie, this tells the story of how he moves to the Lake District, along with his dad and sister, Jasmine, and how the whole family falls apart after a tragic event. Five years previously Jasmine's sister, Rose, was killed in a terrorist attack in London and this has had a terrible effect. Dad has no time for his surviving family and turns to the bottle, keeping Rose's ashes in an urn on the mantelpiece, not having the heart to scatter them. Jamie focuses all his love on his cat, Roger, and Jasmine just rebels. This is a very moving, sad story - Jamie is such a brave lad - and I did shed a few tears at certain moments.

The Shield of Three Lions by Pamela Kaufman 4.5
When her home is ransacked by maurauding knights, Lady Alix of Wanthwaite dresses as a boy and travels to London to seek audience with the king to regain her castle. She is accompanied by a cunning Scot, Lord Enoch Angus Boggs of Dingle-Boggs, who protects her from Magnus Barefoot who wants her dead. In London they meet up with a group of troubadours and find themselves on the way to the Crusades with Richard the Lionheart. This is a fun book, although at times it is quite serious. A lot of research has gone into it to combine fact with fiction. A bawdy romp of a read!

Foster by Claire Keegan 3.5
A young girl travels to a rural village in Ireland to stay with foster parents when her mother is having a baby. There she uncovers a secret, whilst at the same time finding security and love. I thought this was a poignant little tale and quite atmospheric. I also thought it was beautifully written and descriptive. However, it wasn't really 'meaty' enough for me but enjoyable nonetheless.

Black Rock by Amanda Smyth 3.5
Set in Tobago and Trinidad and narrated by a 16 year old, this is the story of Celia who runs away after being attacked by her step-uncle. She is taken in by a family after falling ill with Yellow Fever and she is treated by the local doctor, with whom she falls in love and has an affair. This is quite a sad little tale and I found the voice of Celia quite compelling. I thought the voice was well written and the characters well drawn. An enjoyable read.

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht 2.5
When Natalia, a young doctor, sets out on a journey to visit an orphanage in a war-torn village in the Balkans, she finds out her grandfather has died in mysterious circumstances. Natalia starts to reminisce over stories he told her about 'the deathless man' and 'the tiger's wife' which involve a copy of 'The Jungle Book' her grandfather carries about his person continually. I kept wanting to burst out in song with Stevie Wonder's 'Superstition' as this story was full of them! Although I think this was a beautifully written book by an author who is only in her mid 20s and whose first language isn't English, I'm afraid I wasn't particularly impressed with it and it just didn't grab me. Disappointing. Not my cup of tea, I suppose.

The Death & Life of Charlie St Cloud by Ben Sherwood 5
The story of two brothers, Charlie and Sam. When Charlie survives a car crash which kills Sam, he finds he has a special gift - he can still inter-act with his brother who visits him from the 'inbetween' world in the cemetary where he is buried. As Charlie blames himself for his brother's death, he finds it hard to let go. He then meets Tess............ but all is not as it seems. This was definitely quite a 'haunting' book to play on words and it's a story of second chances. I loved it. Just a great little story.

The Family Tree by Carole Cadwalladr 5
The story of three generations of one family told in a reminscing and nostalgic sort of style. The story in the early 2000s has Rebecca as the narrator and she's married to a geneticist (who finds her very interesting as a scientific experiment as her grandparents were first cousins and he subjects her to various tests). She looks back at her family's life from her grandmother's love affair with a black man in the 1940s to her own childhood with a manic depressant mother in the 1970s and 80s. I loved the way it was written with the chapters being divided into segments and headed up with words and their meanings which related in some way to the story. It has some laugh out loud moments and I thought the whole book was brilliant, so cleverly and well put together. This author doesn't appear to have written anything else since - I really wish she would as, in my opinion, she has a great talent. 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: 4248
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 » Mon August 1st, 2011, 8:17 pm

Here's my list for July:

Plague Child by Peter Ransley 4
Set at the beginning of the English Civil War, a plague cart driver in Oxford is told to pick up the corpse of a dead baby, but on finding the baby still alive, he takes him home. He names the baby Tom and brings him up as his son. When Tom gets older, he is taken into the care of Mr Black, a prosperous printer in London. All is not as it seems and Mr Black may or may not be protecting him. Tom decides to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding his birth as he finds himself falling deeper and deeper into danger. I found this an interesting and enjoyable thriller - I look forward to the second instalment being published, hopefully next year, in what seems to be a promising trilogy.

The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin 3.5
A boy named Jack sets out to the big city to seek his fortune. The big city just so happens to be Toy City and a serial killer is on the loose, killing nursery rhyme characters one by one, leaving a chocolate bunny as a calling card. Bill Winkie, Toy City's Private Eye, has mysteriously vanished, leaving his partner, Eddie Bear, to deal with the situation. So Jack teams up with Eddie to investigate the killings. This is a cleverly written little book and fairly amusing, but I found it a little silly so not really my genre. However, I did quite enjoy it.

Tides of War by Stella Tillyard 3.5
Set in Spain, Suffolk and London during the Peninsular War, this story centres around several fictional and non-fictional characters, including the Duke of Wellington. Harriet Raven travels to London from Suffolk, whilst her soldier husband goes off to war. There she stays with her aunt Cobbold and comes into contact with Kitty, Lady Wellington. She starts an affair with Frederick Winsor, creator of the central gas plant and underground piping, later to be known as the Gas Board. Meanwhile husband James also has an affair with a spy, all in the call of duty of course! Harriet is also trying to find out what became of her mother, her father having 'sent' her away when Harriet was a child. There are also all sorts of periphery characters, too, each with their own stories. I liked the parts set in Suffolk and London, but I wasn't so keen on the war parts - I found those a bit of a slog! But, all in all, I enjoyed it and I thought it was beautifully written.

The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell 5
Dual time frame story, one set in the 1950s and the other in the present day, with a connecting link. In the 1950s Lexie leaves rural Devon for London to set up home with Innes Kent, where she joins the Elsewhere magazine as part of Innes' staff. In the present day Elina and Ted have just had their first child. While Elina struggles with coping with motherhood, Ted is disturbed by flashbacks and memories of his childhood. Written in the present tense, this was quite a touching tale of love and deceit. It's wonderfully atmospheric and vivid - I loved it!

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier 4.5
Set in the early 19thC and based on a true story, the tale of two young women who meet in Lyme Regis and form a friendship which starts with their obsession with fossils. Their friendship transcends their different upbringings and they make some startling discoveries. I found this a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable read - Mary Anning was definitely a remarkable woman!

Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie 4
A woman lets it be known that she wants to get rid of/divorce her husband. The following day the husband is found dead stabbed in the neck. All clues lead to the wife, but was it really her? Hercule Poirot and his sidekick, Hastings, investigate. Enjoyable stuff.

Private Lives by Tasmina Perry 3
Set in the glitzy and glamorous world of movies, lawyers and the media, Amy Hart, a young party girl, is pushed down some stairs and her death is covered up to look like an accident. Meanwhile lawyer Anna Kennedy finds herself employed by Sam Charles, a movie star, to stop a libelous story being printed about him. Unfortunately someone leaks the story and Anna finds her reputation at stake. Anna is then asked to investigate Amy Hart's death by Amy's sister and ends up in danger herself. This is a chick-lit style thriller, so not really my genre. I thought it was far too long with too many characters who were far too perfect to be true. I can't even say whether it was particularly well written as it was a proof copy and there were numerous errors, including name changes, therefore the story didn't really flow for me. OK for beach reading.
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: 4248
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 » Wed August 31st, 2011, 7:26 pm

Here's my list for August

Pale as the Dead by Fiona Mountain 4
Genealogist Natasha Blake investigates the disappearance of a young woman whose past is in someway linked to Lizzie Siddal. Her only clue is a journal. I enjoyed this atmospheric and interesting mystery featuring fictional and real-life characters.

Queen by Right by Anne Easter Smith 4.5
Set during the early-mid 1400s, this tells the story of Cecily Neville, Duchess of York and mother to Edward IV and Richard III by way of flashbacks. I found this book very enjoyable, it was an easy and interesting read and I thought it was well written.

Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn 4
Set in Ancient Rome and told both in the first and third person, this is about a Jewish slave girl who catches the eye of the emperor but herself falls in love with a gladiator, the story culminating in an assassination plot. An entertaining, easy and enjoyable read. However, I did think the voices were a little too modern for the era it was set in. A good debut novel which contained both fact and fiction.

Brother & Sister by Joanna Trollope 4
David and Nathalie are both adopted and brought up as brother and sister. After Nathalie is contacted by a girl called Sasha who is working on a thesis about adoption, she decides she wants to find out who her birth mother is and insists that David do the same. An enjoyable relationship tale. Quite a light read even though the subject matter is not.

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson 5
Private Detective Jackson Brodie investigates three old cases, that of a missing child, an axe murderer and what looks like a spur of the moment killing. I loved this one. I thought it was well plotted out with a link between the cases in some way. It was also written with a sense of humour. I liked the character of Jackson - I had a lovely picture in my mind of Jason Isaacs who played him in the TV adaptation which was an added bonus! This is the first book I've read by this author and will definitely be reading more.

Rose, Rose, Where Are You by Rose Ellerbeck (aka The House by the Sea by Nicola Thorne) 3.5
This book has been on my TBR pile since 1978 and has since changed its title and author! Set in France on the coast, it's about a young woman called Clare Trafford who is taking a sabatical and a break from her marriage to write a biography on Joan of Arc. Whilst she is there she comes into contact with the de Frigecourt family. Clare finds out their chateau is built on the site of the Saint's prison and the family are descendants of the Burgundian dukes who put her there. She also discovers there has been a curse put upon the de Frigecourts and, of course, strange things start to happen - the nanny dies, the governess is just everso slightly odd and things go bump in the night. It's an old-fashioned gothic, supernatural tale. I enjoyed it for what it was. I think this book would appeal to Victoria Holt fans.
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: 4248
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 » Fri September 30th, 2011, 5:19 pm

Here's my list for September:

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch 4
An urban fantasy thriller set in contemporary London with detective and trainee wizard, Peter Grant, investigating the weird and wonderful world of vampires, river goddesses and ghosts! There's even a touch of time travel. Although this is by no means a literary work, I found it an entertaining, amusing and easy read. A little different and quirky.

The Generation Game by Sophie Duffy 5
The story begins in a hospital where 40 year old Philippa Smith has just given birth to a daughter. As she recovers, Philippa reminisces over her past life starting with her childhood in the 1960s, her teenage years in the 1970s and 80s, taking us through the 1990s and then onto her current situation in 2006. Along the way it touches on television programmes such as The Generation Game and Dallas and also historical events such as Charles and Diana's wedding and Diana's tragic death. Well, didn't Sophie Duffy do well! I thought this was an excellent book, a real trip down memory lane. I found I could really relate to this tale and found it an entertaining, amusing, at times moving and nostalgic read. There was a great cast of characters, including Wink, Captain the parrot and Bob Sugar (a marvellous name for a newsagent, I thought!). I liked the style of writing. It flowed easily and kept my interest throughout - definitely a page turner for me. So, to coin a couple of phrases, it was nice to read it, to read it, nice! And I will not be shutting the door on any future work by this author, in fact I am eagerly looking forward to Sophie Duffy's next book.

Sanctus by Simon Toyne 4.5
A conspiracy style thriller set in a citadel in Ruin in Turkey, where an order of monks are hiding a big secret. This secret to be kept at all costs. When one of the monks throws himself off a mountain, covered in curious scars, and a post mortem produces seeds with letters engraved on them, police detective Davud Arkadian investigates further. This leads to the monk's sister and the mysterious Gabriel. I thought this was a fast paced, good fun, imaginative read. I very much enjoyed it, although it is a little far fetched at times.

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton 5
When Edie Burchill's mother receives a long lost letter through the post from Milderhurst Castle, it opens a big can of worms. Edie is drawn towards the castle and its occupants, three weird sisters, and unravels loads of secrets from the past when her mother was evacuated there during the war. I loved this dual time-frame novel - I thought it was beautifully written, very atmospheric and the characters were well drawn. It's quite an intricate tale but I wanted to keep turning the pages and I really didn't want it to end, in fact I was quite sad when it did.

Black Ships by Jo Graham 4
Historical fantasy and a retelling of Virgil's The Aeneid, this tells the story of a young woman named Gull who is an oracle of the gods and has supernatural powers. She is the daughter of a slave taken from fallen Troy and chosen to serve the Lady of the Dead under the guidance of Pythia, another older oracle whose place she eventually takes. In a dream she foretells the appearance of nine black ships captained by an exiled prince of Troy. Gull has to choose between remaining as she is or joining the prince on a trip across the seas to be with her mother's people. And apparently only Gull can brave the gates of the Underwold itself to lead Prince Aeneas to his destiny, that of founding the Roman people. I found this quite an unusual read - I don't know anything about Ancient Greeks, legendary or otherwise, so it was very interesting from that point of view. I enjoyed it even though some of the 'modernisms' mixed up the more 'older' style of writing irked me a little.
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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