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Vanessa's 2013 Reads

Use this section to record the books you read in 2013. One thread per member, please.
annis
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Post by annis » Fri May 17th, 2013, 4:02 am

Apparently Katherine of Aragon (who was not the meek creature history paints her) wanted to send her husband Henry James IV's body as proof of victory, but was persuaded to send instead his bloodstained coat (or part of it). This letter she sent Henry along with the coat asks for his instructions on the disposition of the Scottish king's body.

This extract from the April 2009 BBC History Magazine article Strife after Death follows the trail of the body, which has never been found- scroll down to find the relevant piece.
Last edited by annis on Fri May 17th, 2013, 4:11 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4155
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh
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 » Fri May 17th, 2013, 9:25 am

Thanks, Annis. It all sounds very grisly!
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: 4155
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh
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 » Sat June 1st, 2013, 11:05 am

Here's my list for May:

The Memory of Lost Senses by Judith Kinghorn 4.5
A countess returns toTemple Hill, a large house in a small village in Hampshire, along with a novelist who is writing her biography. Local girl Cecily Chadwick, who is an aspiring author, is very intrigued by the countess and her grandson, Jack, and as she gets to know them, secrets are revealed. This is quite a slow burner but it's beautifully written and I very much enjoyed it.

The Island House by Posie Graeme-Evans 5
Dual timeframe novel set in the present day and 800AD. When archaeologist Freya Dane's father dies, she travels from her home in Australia to live in his house on the island of Findnar just off the coast of Scotland. As she starts reading through his notes and letters, she finds about life on the island in 800AD when it is inhabited by Picts and Christians, particularly that of a Pictish girl named Signy and her Viking friend, Bear. I found this quite a pages turner and I was fascinated by the whole story. Loved it!

My Policeman by Bethan Roberts 3.5
A love triangle with a twist set in the 1950s. A schoolteacher and a British Museum employee both fall in love with a policeman. Quite an interesting story, I enjoyed it but it didn't altogether grab me.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton 5
Dual timeframe story set in the 1940s and the present day. When 16 year old Laurel witnesses a murder from the treehouse in her garden in 1952, she never quite forgets the incident. In the present day she decides to investigate her mother's past and begins the unravelling of a secret. Another cracker from this author. I loved this! I just love Kate Morton's atmospheric style of writing, stories about secrets and families. It's a book which ticked all the boxes for me.

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire 3
A different take on the Cinderella story set in 17thC Holland amongst the tulips and artworld. I didn't enjoy this book half as much as Wicked by the same author. I was a little disappointed by it and thought it dragged somewhat. I didn't particularly like the style of writing which made it hard to get into for me. There's quite a good twist towards the end which made up for my lack of enthusiasm, though!
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: 4155
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh
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 » Mon July 1st, 2013, 11:14 am

Here's my list for June:

Life After Life by Kate Akinson 5
Ursuala Todd is born and then dies many times only to be reborn again. She tries to correct events which went wrong previously. I thought this was brilliant! A very clever book and excellent writing. An intriguing and imaginative concept about fate and what we would change if we could live our lives over again. Highly recommended.

The Carriage House by Louisa Hall 4
I enjoyed this gentle and thoughtful slice of life tale inspired by Jane Austen's 'Persuasion'. Set in suburban America, it revolves around The Carriage House' of the title and the Adair family - William, his wife Margaux who suffers from early onset of Alzheimer's disease, and his three daughters, Elizabeth, Diana and Isabelle. The Carriage House was built by William's grandfather but has now fallen into disrepair and is quite dilapidated. It is also the subject of a demolition order and the Adairs are determined to fight to retain their beloved property. There isn't too much plot and it's very character driven, but it's sensitively and well written with good insights into human nature.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce 4
Harold Fry receives a letter from an old friend informing him that she has terminal cancer. Harold decides to post her a note but on the way to the postbox, he decides to carry on walking as he thinks that he can save his friend's life by doing so. This leads to all sorts of adventures and he meets loads of different characters along the way. It's a thoughtful, moving and very human little story.

The Misbegotten by Katherine Webb 5
A compelling, absorbing and intriguing story about how secrets can come back to haunt us! Set in Bath in the 1800s, Rachel Crofton, a governess, marries a wine merchant and through him comes into contact with Jonathan Allen, a man who has suffered the horrors of war. He is also tormented by memories of his childhood sweetheart, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared whilst he was away fighting. With the help of Starling, Jonathan's servant and also Alice's close companion, they try to discover the truth - what really did happen to Alice? I thought this was a fabulous read and I thoroughly enjoyed it! An enjoyable and fascinating tale which contains a little bit of everything - murder, mystery and a hint of romance.

The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson 2
On his birthday, a centenarian decides to climb out of his window and go on an adventure. He meets all sorts of characters along the way and gets himself into a lot of tight spots. This was not my cup of tea at all. I found it boring as it just rambled on about nothing, was quite repetitive and the humour was childish, slapstick even.
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: 4155
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh
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 » Thu August 1st, 2013, 9:57 am

Here's my list for July, not as many this month!


Parrot & Olivier in America by Peter Carey 4
Set during the French Revolution, aristocratic Olivier travels to America on the premise of studying their penal system, but really for safety reasons. Travelling with him is Parrot who is keeping an eye on him on the command of his mother. They are brought together by a one-armed and mysterious Marquis. We follow their adventures as they discover America and its differences in culture and politics. I enjoyed this book once I got used to the writing style. It's quite unusual, almost Dickensian! It's not really an easy read as it requires some concentration. An interesting, observational and sometimes entertaining read.

The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney 4.5
Private investigator and half-gypsy Ray Lovell is asked to investigate the disappearance of gypsy girl Rose Janko by her father. However, he doesn't find it very easy as the Janko family are very secretive and at times hostile. It's told in two voices, that of Ray and also JJ, who is a teenager and one of the Janko family. I really enjoyed it and found the insight into the gypsy way of life very interesting. I liked the mystery and I thought the characters were well drawn. An easy and engrossing read!

The Golem & the Djinni by Helene Wecker 5
Set in 1899 in New York, sparks fly when the worlds of two mythological creatures collide, that of a golem, a woman built of clay, and a fire djinni. This is a wondrous and mystical tale with an intriguing and intricate plot at its heart. I absolutely loved it! It took me on a magical mystery tour which was beautifully written and graphically told. I was so sad when I turned the last page.

Agatha Raisin & the Day the Floods Came by M C Beaton 3
Depressed by the thought of her ex husband joining a monastry, Agatha goes on her travels to Robinson Crusoe Island to lick her wounds. There she comes across a strange couple who she is not sure about. When she gets back to Carsely, she meets another couple who give her similar forbodings. And sure enough, a dead body appears in the river in a wedding dress! With the help of her new neighbour, a mystery author, she decides to participate in a bit of her amateur sleuthing. Enjoyable but not one of her best.
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: 4155
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh
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 » Tue September 3rd, 2013, 9:28 am

Here's my list for August:

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie 4
The first ever Hercule Poirot mystery and Agatha Christie's debut novel. When the female head of the Inglethorpe family is found dead in her bedroom, a shattered coffee cup lying on the floor, with all doors leading into locked, foul play is suspected. Captain Hastings asks Poirot to investigate. Enjoyable.

Legacy by Susan Kay 5
The fascinating story of Elizabeth I, one of England's greatest monarchs, and the three men who loved her. The author has really breathed life into her. Silly King Henry wittering on about sons when he had such a brilliant daughter. Girl power! Highly recommended for those of you who enjoy historical fiction based on fact.

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen 4
Light-hearted tale centred around the restoration of The Blue Ridge Madam to its former glory, a building which was the centre of some scandal back in its heyday. When a peach tree is removed, a skeleton is unearthed along with a suitcase, which opens up a can of worms. Secrets are revealed but friendships are remade. I enjoyed it for its magical and undemanding content.

Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield 3
An unusual and disturbing story set in the Victorian era. When a young boy by the name of William Bellman kills a rook with his catapult, it sets off a tragic chain of events and a meeting in a graveyard with a mysterious stranger dressed in black. I absolutely loved The Thirteenth Tale by the same author but was a little disappointed by this one. Although it is beautifully written, carefully told, atmospheric and well researched, I did not enjoy it as much. Some of it I found quite dull and repetitive. However, it did pick up half way through and I got a little more engrossed in the plot. I will never look at a rook in the same way again!
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: 4155
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh
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 » Tue October 1st, 2013, 9:43 am

Here's my list for September:

Stormbird by Conn Iggulden 4.5
Combining fact with fiction, this is the first in an exciting new trilogy about the Wars of the Roses, telling the story right from the very beginning. In Stormbird Henry VI marries Margaret of Anjou to try to form a truce between England and France. As in all great tales, this goes horribly wrong and mayhem occurs. Although I do think this is basically a book for the boys, I still found it an engrossing and engaging read. It is full of adventure, action, battles and espionage with a smattering of romance. I have to admit that the battle and rioting scenes did seem to be never ending at times but I thoroughly enjoyed it nevertheless.

Coastliners by Joanne Harris 4
Set on a small island just off the coast of France, it's a story of two rival communities and the fight to stop the tide destroying the coastline. Local girl, Mado, returns to the island from Paris where she was living with her mother to try to help and she meets the mysterious Flynn. I enjoyed it but not as much as Chocolat by the same author. It's a slow burner but quite atmospheric and well written.

600 Hours of Edward by Craig Lancaster 4
This is about 39 year old Edward Stanton who has Asperger's Syndrome as well as OCD. He lives is a world of routine where he tracks time for doing certain things like waking up and visiting his therapist, recording the weather and watching his favourite TV drama 'Dragnet'. I thought this was a well thought out story and that Edward was a gentle and endearing character. A good insight into both these syndromes.

Annabel by Kathleen Winter 4
Set in Labrador, Canada, a child is born with both male and female characteristics. His parents decide to bring the child up as a boy and he becomes Wayne. Wayne grows up without the knowledge of who he is until he is 12 and it turns his world upside down. I thought this was a fascinating, insightful and thoughtful story. It's very descriptive and atmospheric, well written and quite lyrical in places.

Towards Zero by Agatha Christie 4
Several people descend on Gull's Point, a cliff side house, and then the elderly lady owner is murdered. Inspector Battle is called in to investigate. Quite a suspenseful and enjoyable mystery.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell 3
Margaret Hales moves from Helstone, a sleepy southern village, to Milton (aka Manchester), an industrial town in the north. She finds life very different and encounters mill owner John Thornton. I found the writing very dry and a little wordy. There wasn't much chemistry between the two main characters. I much preferred the TV adaptation.
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: 4155
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh
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 » Fri November 1st, 2013, 12:58 pm

Here's my list for October:

Sea Witch by Helen Hollick 5
A swashbuckling sea-faring adventure set in the 18thC about a pirate, a witch and a sea spirit, the first in a series.This book is published by an independent publishers and I bought it when it came out in 2006. I thoroughly enjoyed it for the entertaining read that it was. There is a fair amount of historical fact including real life people of the time. A lot of research has gone into a pirate's way of life in the 18th century and I found this very interesting. Of course, they were not as pleasant or as handsome as the hero in this story! So eat your heart out Captain Jack Sparrow!!

This House is Haunted by John Boyne 4
A Victorian gothic ghost story set in London and Norfolk. After her father's death a young woman takes a position as governess to two children at Gaudlin Hall where there is a malevolent presence. Things definitely do go bump in the night. An atmospheric, well written and enjoyable tale.

Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford 5
Set in the 1920s and 1930s in Seattle, a young Chinese boy is sent to live in an orphanage. On a birthday outing he believes he sees his long lost mother and sets out to find her again. Another fabulous and poignant story from this author - I loved The House on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

The Komandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff 3.5
Set in Krakow during WWII, a young Jewish woman assumes a different identity to survive after her husband joins the Resistance. She develops a relationship with the Kommandant for whom she works and is asked to spy on him. A readable and easy read. Quite gripping but the convenient ending spoilt it a little for me.

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley 4
Archaeologist Verity Grey takes up a position in a small village in Scotland to uncover what is hoped to be the Ninth Roman Legion. A local boy has seen a ghostly apparition of a Roman soldier and it is not long before Verity has similar visions. This is not my favourite book by this author but I still enjoyed it. It's an easy and pleasant read.

Brothers' Fury by Giles Kristian 3.5
Second in a series set during the English Civil War about the Rivers family where brother fights brother. There are some very realistic and vivid scenes in this book. Some of it is quite gory at times. I enjoyed it, although I did find some of the repetitive bodily functions a little tedious at times! Very well researched, 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: 4155
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh
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 » Mon December 2nd, 2013, 1:08 pm

Here's my list for November:

The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes 5
A heartwarming and engaging story about the trials and tribulations of a single mother living on the breadline, who meets a wealthy businessman, who gets into difficulties when he helps an old university friend out financially. When Jess' maths genius daughter is given the opportunity to enter a competition enabling her to win a scholarship to attend a private school, this leads to a fantastic adventure, taking the reader on a humorous, chaotic and zany journey from the south coast of England all the way up to Scotland. It's an easy, humorous and absorbing read which I thoroughly enjoyed.

My Lady Deceiver by Freda Lightfoot 3.5
Set in 1905. On her way back to England after being rejected on Ellis Island, young Rosie Belsfield befriends Lady Rosalind, a pregnant widow, who later dies on board ship. Rosie takes on her identity and arrives at the Tregowan family home in Cornwall where she receives a frosty welcome. A story of secrets and lies, this is a gentle and enjoyable tale.

Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moggach 4
When Buffy moves to a small village in Wales from London after inheriting a bed and breakfast business from an old flame, he decides to run some courses for divorcees. All sorts of characters find themselves enroll inch for one reason or another. This is a heartwarming, entertaining and fun read which I very much enjoyed. I'm looking forward to reading the novella Twin Beds by the same author set in the same place!

Mrs Robinson's Disgrace: The Secret Diary of a Victorian Lady by Kate Summerscale 2.5
Non-fiction set in the 1850s. Isabella Robinson is married to a very dull man but when she meets the charming Edward Lane, her passion is ignited. She writes all her feelings for him in a diary but unfortunately her husband finds it and reads it! This leads to a notorious court case where the contents of Isabella's diary are revealed to the world. Some of this book is quite interesting but for the most part I found it heavy going and tedious.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig 4
Set in the present day and during the French Revolution, the first in a series of fun espionage books. Whilst Eloise is finishing her history dissertation, she comes across some fascinating papers and she discovers some amazing information about the most elusive spy of all time, even more so than the Scarlet Pimpernel - the Pink Carnation! She is desperate to find out just who this secret agent is and finds herself immersed in the story. This is by no means a serious read, it's more of a farce or a spoof, but enjoyable nevertheless.
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: 4155
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh
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 3rd, 2014, 11:53 am

Here's my list for December:

Kate's Progress by Cynthia Harrod Eagles 3.5
Set in the present day in Exmoor, when Kate comes into some money she decides to move from London and buy and restore an old cottage. She meets the local residents, including some big landowners, the Blackmores. She gets entangled in the lives of the two sons. An enjoyable and gentle slice of life tale.

The Rose Garden by Marita Conlon McKenna 3.5
Set in Ireland, after her husband dies Molly is very unsure she wants to sell her beloved house and sets about restoring the old rose garden which gives her some hope. Very much a character based book. Enjoyable but a little too good to be true at times.

The Cry by Helen Fitzgerald 5
After a traumatic flight from Scotland to Australia, tragedy strikes a young couple. What has happened to their baby. This turns from a family drama into something a little sinister as the parents turn against other. I really enjoyed this. I thought it was fast paced and a page turner.

Twin Beds by Deborah Moggach 3
Novella which is a sort of sequel to Heartbreak Hotel set at Christmas. Buffy opens his B&B to those who want to escape from their usual celebrations. I didn't enjoy this as much as Heartbreak Hotel, probably because I'm not keen on short stories. I prefer something with a bit of meat to it!

Winter's Children by Leah Fleming 5
Set in the Yorkshire Dales, grieving widow Kay and her daughter, Evie, decide to rent a cottage over the winter and Christmas period and end up in the Side House of Wintergill. There are a couple of ghostly presences, one kindly and other a little disturbing. Their story is told by intertwining the past with the present, so it is not a dual time framed tale but a several time framed one! It is set around the festive season so it's just right for this time of year. Loved it!

The Magic of Christmas by Trisha Ashley 4
Festive fun set in a small village in Lancashire. The story actually starts in the summer when the ladies of the Christmas Pudding Club meet up to organise hampers and start rehearsals for the Boxing Day Mystery Play. As usually what happens in this type of tale, things do not go to plan! Enjoyable and gentle tale just right for this time of year.
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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