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Vanessa's 2011 Reads

Keep track of your reading for 2011 here! One thread per member, please.
User avatar
Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4230
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 » Mon October 31st, 2011, 6:02 pm

Here's my list for October

Patty Jane's House of Curl by Lorna Landvik 4
Set mainly in a hairdressing salon in Minnesota run by dysfunctional Patty Jane, whose even more dysfunctional sister, Harriet, plays the harp whilst clients are having their hair rearranged. Slice of life story where we meet husbands, prospective husbands, other family members, a daughter and a host of other characters who all have a part to play in the tale. I found it an amusing, poignant, easy and entertaining read.

The Editor's Wife by Clare Chambers 4
Student Christopher Flinders drops out of university to write his first novel and is taken under the wing of publisher Owen Goddard and his wife, Diana. Chris starts an affair with Diana which has disastrous consequences. Twenty years later a lecturer in English makes contact with Chris asking for help in researching Owen Goddard's life........... I enjoyed this book. Although there was a serious theme running through the story, it was written with a sense of humour. Nicely written, easy read.

The Haunting by Alan Titchmarsh 4
Dual timeframe story. In 1816 young housemaid, Anne Flint, dreams of a better life. She comes into contact with Lady Eleanor and her adventures begin, only to end with a misadventure and a drowning! Two hundred years later in 2010, teacher Harry Flint decides to give up his career, buys Mill Cottage and, in between jobs, decides to research his ancestory, linking back to 1816 which leads him to realise that the past is closer than he thinks! When he knocks through a wall in a bit of house renovation, he appears to release a ghostly presence. I've never read anything by Alan Titchmarsh before and so I was pleasantly surprised by this book. There are quite a few coincidences throughout the story, but nevertheless it's an easy, light and enjoyable read.

The Promise by Freda Lightfoot 3.5
Dual timeframe story. In 1948 Chrissie Kemp, recovering from the death of her husband in the war, discovers that her mother has been keeping her true family a secret. She decides to travel to the Lake District to visit her grandmother to try to find out the truth, only to uncover something quite shocking. In 1904 Georgia Briscoe begins a love affair with a sailor, Ellis Cowper, but finds herself unwillingly married to rich businessman, Drew Kemp, to further her family's fortunes. On the whole I enjoyed the story but the ending was a little too neatly tied off for me, slightly contrived and unconvincing!

The Warsaw Anagrams by Richard Zimler 4
After psychiatrist Erik Cohen moves in with his niece in the ghetto in Warsaw, his nephew goes missing and then is found dead with a missing leg. As time goes on other children are found dead with parts of their body removed. Erik believes that there is a traitor at large and decides to investigate by visiting 'the other side' of Warsaw, using secret codes and entrances. I found this quite a thought-provoking and moving read. It's also a little depressing as it's not the happiest of stories. It's nevertheless beautifully and vividly written with some good characterisations. I thought it was a very good book, but I can't say that I truly enjoyed it due to its subject matter.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger 4.5
Mirror American twins inherit an apartment in London which overlooks Highgate Cemetery. After moving in, they find that it is haunted by the ghost of their aunt whose lover lives in the ground floor flat. They also make friends with the resident of the top floor apartment who suffers from OCD. I can't really go into too much detail as I'd spoil the plot - it is a little bizarre! I really enjoyed this unusual and quite sad story, but did have to suspend disbelief. It's totally different from The Time Traveller's Wife which remains one of my all-time favourites. There's a great tour around Highgate Cemetery which I found fascinating and, morbidly, it made me want to visit it! Well worth the read if you are able to 'go with the flow'!

Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie 3.5
An elderly lady writes a letter to Hercule Poirot after she has an 'accidental' fall down some stairs, involving her dog's ball, and she suspects foul play. However, this letter does not reach Poirot for a few months and, by this time, the lady is dead of supposedly natural causes. Hercule Poirot decides to use his little grey cells, twiddle his moustaches and investigate the matter! Enjoyable gentle little mystery.
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: 4230
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 » Thu December 1st, 2011, 11:14 am

Here's my list for November:

The Cause by Cynthia Harrod Eagles 5
Twenty-third book in the Morland Dynasty series. This one starts in 1874 with Queen Victoria still on the throne. The Yorkshire Morlands are heading for bankruptcy whilst down south Lady Venetia Fleetwood, part of the London Morlands, defies convention, to become a doctor, and Henrietta Morland gets involved with Votes for Women. It's always interesting to find out what the Morlands have been up to! Eleven books to go. Sigh!

The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman 4
The story of the three Story sisters! When the eldest, Elv, is abducted after saving her sister, Claire, from a similar fate, it affects the rest of their lives. They create a dreamworld for themselves with their own language to block out the horror. After certain circumstances Elv goes off the rails and this leads to a train of events. This is quite a sad tale about death, love and loyalty. I enjoyed the fairytale intros to each chapter which related to what was going on in some way. It's a well written and moving story which ends on a note of hope.

The Night of the Mi'raj by Zoe Ferraris 3.5
Set in Jeddah, a young Saudi girl goes missing and then is found dead in the desert. A Palestinian desert guide, Nayir, and a forensic scientist, Katya Hijazi decide to investigate as they do not think it was an accident/suicide. I found quite an interesting story, especially culturally, as it dwelt quite heavily on the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia, although I think the author was trying to get her point across quite strongly. It had a fairly good plot-line and some interesting characters. However, the writing didn't flow for me and some of the story didn't follow on very easily. Nevertheless, I thought it was a worthwhile and enjoyable mystery.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet by Jamie Ford 5
Dual time-frame story set in Seattle. In 1942 a young Chinese boy, Henry, forms a strong friendship with a young Japanese girl, Keiko. When Keiko is evacuated to an internment camp with her family, Henry is bereft, resulting in him travelling to see her. Forty-four years later in 1986 Henry is recovering from the death of his wife, Ethel, and still thinks of Keiko every day. He notices that they are re-opening the Panama Hotel which brings back all his memories and he starts to search in the hotel's basement for a lost memento of Keiko. This was a lovely love story and a great tale all round. It's vividly told with some good descriptions of Chinatown, Japantown and the internment camps - it must've been quite a harrowing time. Highly recommended! Loved it!

The Redemption of Alexander Seaton by Shona MacLean 4
A thriller set in the 1620s in Scotland. An apothecary's assistant is found dead, apparently poisoned, in the school room/house of Alexander Seaton, a local fallen minister, presently a teacher. In his possessions are found several maps hinting at an invasion. When Alexander's friend is arrested for the crime, he sets out to try to prove his innocence and find out the truth behind the maps. I thought this was beautifully and atmospherically written, quite a page turner. An enjoyable read and I will certainly be reading the next one in the series.

The Silver Linings Play Book by Matthew Quick 3.5
Pat Peoples has just been released from a mental care home and is looking forward to ending his 'apart-time' from his wife, Nikki. He desperately tries to be a good person, but only seems to get himself further and further into trouble. He has a fascination with American football and a singer called Kenny G who apparently lives in his attic. He is befriended by another madcap, the depressed and widowed Tiffany, who seems to have an ulterior motive of her own. But he likes to think that behind every cloud is a silver lining. This is rather an odd book, but I also rather enjoyed it! I didn't understand much about the American football and let a lot of that go over my head. Other than that, it's an easy and light 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: 4230
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 » Sun January 1st, 2012, 5:38 pm

Here's my list for December:

A Class Apart by Susan Lewis 4
The story of four friends, all very successful but from different backgrounds. They all appear quite dysfunctional and have their own secrets, but throughout their friendship the remain supportive and protective. This results ultimately in tragedy for one. It's very 80s with some 'Dallas-style' aspects. Some of it is a little unbelievable and made me chuckle. However, it's fast paced and quite a page turner - I wanted to keep reading it. I would recommend it as a good beach read. Entertaining!

Game of Thrones by George R R Martin 5
Lord of the Rings meets the War of the Roses, the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. It's a tale of warring families set in the fantasy world of Westeros which looks a little like a weird, back to front Britain. I thought it was fast paced, compelling and very much a page turner. I loved it - I will definitely be reading the rest of the series. I will hopefully read A Clash of Kings before its adaptation is shown on TV next April.

Agatha Raisin and the Busy Body by M C Beaton 3.5
When John Sunday, a Health and Safety officer, decides that there will not be a Christmas tree on top of the church tower, this is just too much for one murderer or murderers unknown! He is found stabbed to death outside the Carsley Ladies' Society Meeting and so Agatha Raisin once again finds herself investigating. A fun read if a little too silly at times!

Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad by Bee Rowlatt and May Witwit 3
Told in the form of emails, the true story of how May Witwit escaped from Baghdad with her husband and came to the UK to study. Bee is a journalist and starts writing emails to May and this escalates into a strong friendship and a plan to escape Baghdad. I found May's emails the most interesting and were an eye-opener into what is going on in Baghdad. I can't imagine how dreadful it must be to live in a situation like that. On the other hand, Bee's emails were quite mundane and I found her a bit wittery and the things she had to say quite inconsequential. I did have to read it to the end just to find out what happened. Interesting but a little tedious at times.

Miracle on Regent Street by Ali Harris 4
Evie Taylor works in the stockroom of Hardy's department store in Regent Street in London. She feels that she is invisible. When Hardy's is under thread of being bought out, Evie decides to use her creative talents and become the store's Christmas Elf and give it a secret makeover, one department at a time. But she only has 3 weeks to do it in! This is a nice, gentle Christmas tale. It's a little predictable and silly at times, but that's what Christmas is about! I enjoyed it for what it was, nothing too taxing.
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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