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Vanessa’s 2019 Reads

What have you read this year? Post your list here and update it as you go along! (One thread per member, please.)
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User avatar
Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4172
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 2019 Reads

Post by Vanessa » Fri February 1st, 2019, 11:28 am

Here’s my list for January:

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak. 5
This is set during Christmas at the home of the Birch family. When the eldest daughter returns home from Liberia where she has been treating patients with a contagious disease, she has to go into quarantine for a week. Her family decide to spend the time with her and they all have their own secrets. I loved this book! The family dynamics are brilliantly portrayed and I think being cooped up would send anyone mad!

Melmoth by Sarah Perry 3
This is rather an odd book. It’s about a woman called Helen who did something which she can’t forgive herself for 20 years ago. Into her possession comes a manuscript about sightings of a strange being all dressed in black with staring eyes and bleeding feet who roams the earth looking for the lonely and the guilty. It’s beautifully written with some great descriptions but I found it a little disappointing, it didn’t really grip me for some reason. I loved The Essex Serpent but sadly Melmoth didn’t live up to it for me.

The Flower Girls by Alice Clark Platts 5
A gripping tale of suspense with a spine tingling ending! Twenty years ago a two year old girl was found dead after being abducted by two young girls. Ten year old Laurel Bowman was found guilty of her murder, whilst her six year old sister, Primrose, due to her age, wasn’t considered criminally responsible and was allowed to go free. These girls became known as ‘the Flower Girls’ Now another young child goes missing at a hotel in Devon on New Year’s Eve where one of the Flower Girls is staying under a new identity. Is she responsible? I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I read it via the Pigeonhole app in staves and found I was eagerly awaiting each stave to arrive every day. It’s very much a page turner where the question of ‘is it nature or nurture’ springs to mind, as well as how do we actually know if someone is telling the truth. To me this tale read quite like a horror story at times, or even an episode from ‘Tales of the Unexpected’, especially as I began to realise that all was not as it seemed. This is a cracking read which held my attention throughout, right until the chilling end. I look forward to reading more by this author.

An Abiding Fire by M L Logue 4
This is the first in the Thomazine and Thankful Russell historical thrillers set in Restoration London. In this enjoyable mystery Thankful finds himself under suspicion of murder and treason and the race is on to clear his name. An exciting and entertaining romp set during, in my opinion, a hugely interesting time in history. I love the characters of the spirited Thomazine and her stoic and lovable husband, Thankful The - they are a delight and very memorable! The style of writing is lively, engaging and amusing. There is also a good sense of time and place. This is a good introduction to what promises to be, I’m sure, a dynamic new detective duo and I look forward to reading more of the Russells’ fascinating adventures.

Hidden Company by S E England 5
A sinister but captivating dual timeframe horror story set in Wales. In 1893 a 19 year old girl is admitted into an asylum which has some dark, dark secrets, whilst in the present day a 41 year old woman takes up residence in the gatehouse to the same asylum to recover from psychic attacks only to be haunted by some disturbing visions. This is quite a scary, unsettling and creepy tale with ghostly elements. It’s also a story of superstitions, myths and the fae people. The writing is very atmospheric and it’s so easy to visualise the setting. There is an underlying air of menace throughout which kept me on my toes. What a horrific place this asylum is! If you weren’t mad when you went in, you surely would be by the end of your stay if you managed to survive! With some fantastic characters and a great twist at the end, this is another gripping, spine-chilling and nerve-racking read from Sarah England. Not for the faint-hearted or those of a nervous disposition!

You, Me & Mr Blue Sky by Elisa Lorene & Craig Lancaster 5
What a great little read! This is a lovely, heartwarming and gentle story about two confused and vulnerable people and their quirky guardian angel. Although it is in many ways quite lighthearted, there is a serious thread running through it and it has something to tell the reader about relationships and life. It’s beautifully and perceptively written with realistic and likeable characters. I found it quite the page turner. An entertaining and amusing but meaningful and insightful tale which I thoroughly enjoyed and can highly recommend.

The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent. 4
This is about a man who works in a book pulping factory and every day, on his train journey to work, he reads aloud those extracts he has rescued from the pulping machine to the passengers on his train. One day he finds a diary belong to a young woman and from then on he becomes obsessed with finding her. This is certainly a different and quirky story, but I enjoyed it. It’s an easy and amusing 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: 4172
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 » Sat March 2nd, 2019, 10:51 am

Here’s my list for February:

The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie 5
This is a multiple timeline and a multi-generational type of story, beginning in 1911 in the Singer Sewing Machine factory in Clydebank. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and thought it was well researched. It’s a great story and I liked reading about some of the history behind the Singer factory. I thought it was quite cleverly written and a little sad in places. I can recommend it as a very enjoyable little read, especially if you enjoy social history.

The Song of the Shuttle by Christine Evans. 4
This is an interesting family saga set mainly in a Lancashire mill town during the 1860s and partly in the American South, Washington and New York. It touches on the American Civil War, its impact on cotton production in Britain and how it affected the lives of the mill workers and drove them into poverty due to the British government’s opposition to slavery. Song of the Shuttle is written in quite a straightforward, ‘no frills’ way which made for easy and enjoyable reading. I found it an engaging tale and it held my attention throughout. The story deals with a part of history which I know little about and I feel as if I have learnt something! I liked the characters, especially Jessie, one of the mill girls, and Honora, a relation of a mill owner. Two spirited and forward thinking young women. If you like a saga which contains a hint of adventure, a splash of romance and a good smattering of historical fact, you’ll enjoy this debut, the first in a trilogy!

Gallowstree Lane by Kate London. 3
I read Gallowstree Lane via the Pigeonhole app in ten daily staves. I didn’t realise it was the third in a series so don’t know whether this fact affected my enjoyment as I haven’t read the first two books. I think this is an intelligent and interesting police procedural thriller about gang crime, but overall I can’t say it grabbed me. It’s written in a very realistic and gritty way, but I found it a little tedious in places. My attention kept wandering. I also didn’t particularly care for most of the characters. This book has some great 4 and 5 star reviews so I think, basically, it’s just not my personal cup of tea.

Murder in Park Lane by Karen Charlton. 4
This is the fifth in the delightful Detective Lavender and Constable Woods series set in Regency London. A man is found murdered in his lodgings, a locked door conundrum, and this leads our dynamic duo on quite a trail. I very much enjoyed this entertaining tale of suspense which has all the required ingredients for a great read. It has a clever plot, it’s fast paced, full of twists and turns, and has the odd red herring. There’s a great sense of time and place and the characters are well rounded. It’s not without its humour, either. An easy, engaging and intriguing historical mystery which will keep you guessing - I look forward to the sixth instalment!

Where the Dead Walk by John Bowen. 4
A creepy story about a supernatural TV show and the strange house the presenters are asked to investigate which appears to have a spirit contained within its walls. When I first started this book I thought it was going to be just a haunted house story. It ended up being a tale of the unexpected and entering into the realms of a Dennis Wheatley novel. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, I did! It’s imaginatively written and quite the page turner in its way. It’s mostly fast paced although some of it seemed a little repetitive. I liked the characters of the TV presenters, Kate and Henry - I thought they were well drawn and realistic. The house’s enigmatic owner, Sebastian Dahl, was suitably menacing and charming all at the same time. All in all I found it a compelling, atmospheric and unearthly, if a little fantastical, tale. It is sure to appeal to those who enjoy a little black magic mixed in with the odd ghostly element in their reading material. Beware! Some people are not always who they seem. 😱

One Minute Later by Susan Lewis. 5
Everything can change in a moment. Whilst celebrating her 27th birthday Vivienne Shager collapses from heart failure at a popular restaurant in London and this alters the course of her life. This is a beautiful and moving story written by one of my favourite authors. It takes the reader on quite an emotional journey which is both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. It combines fact with fiction and highlights the need for more people to get themselves on the organ donor list. It’s well written and researched with some realistic and likeable characters. It’s also a tearjerker so don’t forget your tissues! A compelling and gripping read which I thoroughly enjoyed and can recommend.

The Firemaker by Peter May. 4
The first in the Li Yan and Margaret Campbell thrillers set in China. It’s about genetic engineering and what could happen if scientists got it wrong. I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this one but I ended up being pleasantly surprised. I found it interesting and I loved the setting, I could picture it quite easily in my mind’s eye. I thought it was well written and researched. There’s an interesting plot line and I liked the characters. It’s quite a gripping thriller - it had me turning the pages anyway. I didn’t want to put it down at times.

The Girl Next Door by Phoebe Morgan. 4.5
A gripping psychological thriller set in a close knit community. When Clare Edwards is found dead in a ‘buttercup’ field, the gossips come out of the woodwork and rumours run rife. It’s all about keeping up appearances in this book. The Girl Next Door is a very good read, it’s full of twists and turns, a few red herrings and a surprise ending. There’s even a hint of creepiness. No-one is whom they seem and no-one can be trusted. The characters are mostly unlikeable but well drawn, so the reader can have a great love to hate relationship with them! It’s definitely a page turner and had me eagerly turning the pages, even though I had guessed who the killer was before the big reveal. Just don’t be lulled into a false sense of security! Captivating, enthralling and highly recommended - if you like a mystery with a bit of divergence, this is for you.
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: 4172
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 » Mon April 1st, 2019, 9:21 pm

Here’s my list for March:

Love, Honour & Obey by Valerie Holmes 3.5
The first book in the Yorkshire saga series. Despite its obscure title, it’s an entertaining tale of spies, smuggling and adventure during the French Revolution set in York and Whitby. It’s quick, easy and fast paced. There are some interesting characters and quite a good plot at its heart. As a Yorkshire lass myself, I quite liked the idea of reading a book set in areas I know so well. I enjoyed this aspect of the novel very much and also the historical side. However, I did feel the story itself could’ve been fleshed out a little more and I thought it somewhat disjointed at times. Nevertheless, I found it a fun and amusing romp of a read.

Sunshine by Kim Kelly. 4
An engaging story set just after WWI in Australia in a small outback town called Sunshine on the banks of a river called Darling. Under the Soldier’s Settlement Plan, returning servicemen could apply for tracts of land to farm on. This tale is about two such soldiers, a soldier’s wife and an aborigine. Sunshine is an enjoyable and well written story. There’s a good sense of time and place and the descriptions are very vivid - I could easily picture the setting in my mind. The characters are well drawn and interesting. Some of the events which happen to them are quite heartbreaking. It’s a short novel and a lot is crammed into it - I wish it had been a little longer. I read it via the Pigeonhole app and I looked forward to reading the staves every day. I was quite sad when it had finished, a sign of a good book!

For Richer for Poorer by Valerie Holmes. 3.5
The second instalment in the Yorkshire saga series. An inheritance, a stolen purse and a race against time sets the scene in this story. This is an easy, enjoyable and amusing tale with some interesting characters and an intriguing and fast paced plot. It kept me entertained throughout. It’s not a long read so I’d finished it before I’d even had chance to draw breath! If you fancy a quick, romantic adventure story to brighten up a few hours on a rainy day, this one’s for you.

Rosamund by Shani Struthers 5
The third novella in the Psychic Surveys companion series. This one gives the reader the background behind Rosamund Davis, Ruby’s great-grandmother. It’s a beautifully written, atmospheric and creepy tale where the house which is featured is also very much a character. The style of writing is very apt - there is a great sense of the era it is set in, the early 20th century. I was quite gripped by Rosamund’s story and I thought it was a fantastic addition to this fascinating series.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield 5
This is such a wonderfully engaging story. A girl is found drowned in the River Thames but magically comes alive again or so it would seem. She is very much an enigma to the rest of the people who live along the river. There is no date in time mentioned but my instincts tell me it is set in the Victorian era. Once Upon a River is written very much like a fairytale. It flows along beautifully, meandering its way through each of the many characters’ interlinking personal stories. The river is very much the main character and I could almost feel the water as I was reading! It trickled, ebbed and flowed through my mind just like the tale itself. It has a great sense of time and place. There’s an air of mystery and at times it becomes quite the detective story and at others quite mythical in nature . An atmospheric and enchanting read which had me totally absorbed right up until the last page. I loved The Thirteenth Tale by the same author and Once Upon a River easily lives up to it in my opinion. Just brilliant.

Crow’s Cottage by John Bowen 4
The second book in the enjoyable ‘Where the Dead Walk’ series, supernatural tales about a ghost hunting TV show. A haunted cottage, containing a mysterious secret which has been hidden for 30 years, is the subject for one of the episodes of the show. I was a little disappointed that a couple of the original ghost hunting team were absent. However, by the end of the story, I found myself liking the new presenter, Chloe, and thought she was a wonderful addition to the fantastic and diverse crew. There’s an intriguing plot which had me eagerly turning the pages, the right amount of spookiness to keep me entertained (but not too much to have me running for the hills!) and a great little twist at the end. All in all an engaging and spellbinding tale! I just hope there will be another sequel?!

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh. 5
Book one of a new trilogy, this is a gripping conspiracy style, dual timeline thriller set in the present day and in the 16thC. Archaeologist Dr Perdita Rivers inherits Marquess House in Pembrokeshire, a stately home with a mysterious past connected to Henry VIII’s fifth ill-fated wife. As skeletons in the closet are discovered, it becomes a matter of life and death to unearth the truth. I thought this was a well researched and written tale. I liked the writing style, it’s easy to read. It’s very exciting in places, so much so that I found it difficult to put down. I was eagerly turning the pages to find out what happened next. A lot of thought, imagination and effort has gone into this story. It skilfully combines historical fact with fiction. I did have to suspend belief at times as it does stray into the ‘Da Vinci Code’ arena but, nevertheless, I found it very entertaining. It’s a fabulous and impressive debut which I thoroughly enjoyed. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy, The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy.



Audio

A Keeper by Graham Norton. 4
I’ve recently joined a local book club which meets up in a local pub every six weeks on a Monday evening. I’ve been to two meetings now. The first book was The Tattooist of Auschwitz and the one we’re discussing next is A Keeper. There was a huge reserved queue at the library for it and the ebook and hardback are quite pricey at the moment. I had a spare Audible credit so I decided to listen to it. It’s actually narrated by Graham Norton so at times I was getting vibes from Father Ted! If I had to describe the listen in a short sentence it would be Father Ted meets Misery by Stephen King! It’s a dual timeframe story about a woman who is clearing out her mother’s house and comes across some letters which give clues to the past. It’s quite a dark tale, it’s also quite sad in places. It’s the first book I’ve read by Graham Norton and I was quite impressed. He can certainly tell a story and also narrate one! I enjoyed it.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

User avatar
Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4172
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 » Wed May 1st, 2019, 9:21 pm

Here’s my list for April:

The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin. 5
This is the story of Mercy Lavinia Bump, known as Vinnie, who was only 2ft8in tall. She married General Tom Thumb and joined the world of P T Barnum becoming very much a celebrity during the Gilded Age. It’s well written and researched, imaginatively filling in the unknown gaps. I loved it.

A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas. 4
A beautifully written and emotional story about a mother who is a mental health therapist with a son who disappeared two years previously, leaving her wondering why and what she did so wrong. Not a good mindset for her to have when a new patient reminds of her son. As their sessions progress, her sense of disquiet magnifies and things start to take a turn for the worse. I enjoyed this family drama, very much a tale of suspense. It’s quite dark in places and the characters are well drawn. It’s not the most cheerful of stories! It does, however, give a great insight into the world of the therapist and their patients. It’s a slow burner and fairly intense in its telling with a gradual build up of foreboding and uneasiness. I read it via the Pigeonhole app and it had me on tenterhooks at the end of each stave, looking forward to what the next day’s instalment would reveal. A thought provoking, engaging, and moving read which I would recommend to those who prefer something a little different to your usual chiller thriller.

The Lion Tamer who Lost by Louise Beech. 4
Set in England and Zimbabwe, a moving story about love in all its forms, loss, forgiveness and lions! It’s a well written book and I loved the bits set in Africa. The characters are well drawn and convincing. I did think there were one too many coincidences and I’m not too sure at how realistic it would be to have three gay members in one family. Apart from that, I enjoyed it. I thought it was a quick and easy read.

The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan. 5
This is a lovely, heartwarming dual timeframe story set in Cornwall during WWII and the present day. It’s a family saga, a tale of secrets and regrets. It fits all the bills for me with the two timelines, a skeleton in the cupboard and a fabulous setting. I love that it’s set in Cornwall. The descriptions are wonderfully written and easy to visualise. The story itself flows well and the two timeframes are woven together beautifully. The characters are well drawn and likeable. It’s a moving love story, but it also touches on the harsh realities of living on a farm, especially during a war. It doesn’t always hold back from the grimmer aspects of life but it does point out that there can be light at the end of the tunnel if one is only patient. There is a little surprise at the end which I wasn’t expecting! A captivating, engaging and uplifting story which I thoroughly enjoyed and can recommend wholeheartedly.

Blood on the Stone by Jake Lynch. 5
A gripping historical thriller set in Restoration England amidst political and religious unrest in the city of Oxford. Chief Officer of the Bailiffs, Luke Sandys, and his deputy, Robshaw, are tasked with the job of investigating the murder of an MP, a member of the ‘Green Ribbons’, an anti-Catholic activist group. I read this book via the Pigeonhole app and looked forward each day to the next stave. It did take me a little while to get into the story, but once I did I ended up loving it. It’s very much the page turner. There’s a great plot and some interesting, well drawn characters. I thought the sights and sounds of 17thC Oxford were wonderfully and vividly depicted. I was quite transported! The historical detail is excellent. A skilfully written, well paced and exciting mystery set during a fascinating time in British history. Highly recommended.

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. 4
According to Mexican family tradition the youngest daughter is forbidden to marry and has to look after parents. In the De La Garza family Tita is the youngest of for daughters and she falls for Pedro, a family friend, and as she is not allowed to marry him, he marries her sister, Rosaura instead so that he can be close to Tita. This is a story which combines food, magic and family. It’s quirky and unusual.

The Girl Puzzle by Kate Braithwaite 5
Based on a true story about a pioneering female journalist, told in the format of a dual timeline set in 1887 and 1921. Elizabeth Cochrane, aka Nellie Bly, desperate for a job on a newspaper, impersonates an insane woman in order to infiltrate Blackwell Island’s Asylum in New York and report back on care and conditions. Some thirty years later she is living in a hotel, running an adoption agency, with Beatrice Alexander as her secretary. Beatrice is given a manuscript to type up which revisits Nellie’s experiences in the asylum and this gives Beatrice a great insight into Nellie’s psyche. I’d heard of Nellie Bly but didn’t really know anything about her, so I found this book extremely interesting and also fascinating and compelling. It seems very well researched and conveys a realistic and shocking interpretation of life in an asylum during the Victorian era. It’s horrifying to think that some people were committed to such places just because they were a little confused or had fallen on hard times, they weren’t insane at all. It’s beautifully and vividly written. I think the author has done a fantastic job of filling in the gaps and elaborating on grey areas. The story isn’t always dark - Beatrice gives the tale a little lightness with her budding romance with Ernest Coulter, an employee of the Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children, fictional though it may be! If you enjoy fiction based on lesser known characters in history, you couldn’t do better than read this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can highly recommend it.

The Montgomery Murder by Cora Harrison. 4
This is the first in the London Murder Mystery YA series set in the Victorian era. Alfie and his four friends, including the dog, are orphans turned amateur sleuths. In this mystery they are investigating the murder of a wealthy man. It’s an entertaining tale with just the right amount of suspense, gore and action to appeal to younger readers, whilst adults should find it a quick, easy and engaging read. The main characters are instantly likeable and reminded me a little of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five! The sights and sounds of London are well described and give a good sense of time and place. It has an interesting plot which kept me turning the pages to find out ‘whodunnit’. An enjoyable and fun read.



Audio
The Man I Think I Know by Mike Gayle
I very much enjoyed this book about two young men with issues who become friends and support each other through as times. I listened to it and I thought the narrators were excellent. The two separate voices were brilliantl and portrayed each personality wonderfully. I thought it was both a funny and moving tale of friendship and I thought it showed that although life can seem very dark at times, there is light and hope at the end of the tunnel.
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: 4172
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 5th, 2019, 8:36 pm

Here’s my list for May:

The Deadly Fire by Cora Harrison. 4
The second in the London Murder Mysteries YA series starring the famous Victorian five! In this one, as the title suggests, there has been a fire in the Ragged School and a schoolteacher has died. Was it murder, though? I thought this was a good addition to this entertaining series and it should appeal to both children and adults alike. It’s a fun and easy read, whilst at the same time giving a good description of what life would’ve been like in the 19thC. There is a slight Dickensian feel to the story. It’s fast paced with interesting characters and contains plenty of cliffhangers to keep the reader turning the pages. I enjoyed it.

The Forgotten Sister by Caroline Bond. 5
Another great read via the Pigeonhole app! The Forgotten Sister begins with a call from the hospital to a mother about her daughter who has been hurt in an accident. The reader is then taken back in time to four months previously where Cassie, who was adopted as a toddler, finds out she has an older sister. This leads her on quite a journey, some of it disturbing. This is quite an emotional read. It brought a tear to my eye! It emphasises that blood is not always thicker than water and parenting is about more than biology. It also points out that keeping secrets is not usually a good idea as it can lead to bigger problems later. I liked the writing style, it’s very easy to read. The characters are realistic and believable. The story flows well and kept me engaged. At times it had me on the edge of my seat, keeping me on tenterhooks for the next stave to arrive. I liked that it ends on a note of hope. The Forgotten Sister is an excellent family drama. It’s thought provoking and compelling. I was thinking about it for quite a while after I turned the last page. Remember, love is all you need!

The Anarchists’ Club by Alex Reeves 5
This is the second in the Leo Stanhope series set in Victorian London. I’ve read the first book, The House on Half Moon Street, and absolutely loved it. The Anarchists’ Club is an excellent sequel. Leo makes an interesting and wonderful amateur detective with a difference and has a fantastic and determined sidekick in Rosie Flowers. In this tale a woman is found murdered in a club where anarchists congregate and this leads Leo and Rosie on a cat and mouse chase. All I can say, really, is that it’s another fabulous story which I read via the Pigeonhole app. It contains all the right ingredients for an intriguing and fast paced thriller - plenty of twists and turns and the odd red herring, along with bags of atmosphere. It’s well written and entertaining. In short, a gripping murder mystery which kept me engaged throughout.

The House I Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell. 5
This is the story of the dysfunctional Bird family, each with their own foibles. Each Easter they have a get together but one year a tragedy happens and it tears the family apart. But then they are forced back together again and return to the house they grew up in. It touches on the subjects of hoarding and OCD. I loved this book. I enjoy family dramas and this one hit the spot for me. I’ve never read a book by Lisa Jewell before, either, so will definitely be reading more. “You are all pebbles from the same beach. Look after each other.” Good advice!

The Disappeared by Amy Lord. 4
A thought provoking and disturbing tale set in near future Britain, a country governed by the Authorisation Bureau under the leadership of the First General. And it’s not good at all! Certain books are banned, previous histories are deleted and any rebels are removed, ‘disappeared’ as it were! This is quite a gripping and exciting story. It’s action packed and well paced, but be warned there is some violence and it also contains torture scenes, not usually something I particularly like in my reading. It did have me on the edge of my seat at times, definitely on tenterhooks to say the least. There are some interesting characters, one or two of whom are really quite scary. You would not want to be in a locked room with them! Say no more. Dystopian fiction is not my favourite genre but I did find this one very compelling and absorbing. I read it via the Pigeonhole app and I was eagerly awaiting each instalment in trepidation at what would happen next! A great read if you enjoy futuristic and gritty stories.

The Ghost of Hollow House by Linda Stratman. 4
This is the fourth in the Mina Scarletti Mystery series. I haven’t read the previous three books but The Ghost of Hollow House works very well as a stand alone. It’s a haunted house story and has all the ingredients you would expect - things that go bump in the night, ghostly apparitions, objects which move by themselves and even a hidden skeleton! . It’s a quirky, fun and entertaining book. Mina Scarletti is an unusual and determined lady, an author and amateur detective who investigates fraudulent mediums and spiritualists. I liked her! There is also a whole host of other fascinating characters. I liked the writing style, I thought it was atmospheric and in keeping with the Victorian era in which the story is set. It has a slightly madcap plot which kept me engaged and amused. There’s a nice little touch at the end with Mina’s version of the preceding tale being rewritten and refashioned under her pseudonym of Robert Neil. An enjoyable read which is sure to appeal to those cosy mystery lovers who also like a little spookiness in their reading material.

Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop 5
A compelling and moving story set mostly in Athens, centring around the Greek civil war. Elderly Themis is celebrating her birthday by gathering her family together and then telling them a story of her life from being a little girl caught up in an earthquake, to fighting for the communists, to being a prisoner of war and then to becoming a wife and mother. I know very little about Greek history so I found this tale enormously interesting. It’s really engrossing. Themis is a great character, she has such resilence. What she goes through is mind boggling. This is a wonderful story combining historical fact with fiction. It’s well paced and kept me eager to read more, quite the page turner in fact. The writing is vivid and gives a good sense of time and place. I almost felt I was there. Easy to read, gripping and captivating, I can highly recommend it. “Those who are loved, they shall not die.”

One Summer in Paris by Sarah Morgan. 4
An uplifting and enjoyable story about two troubled women, both running away from a family issue, who meet up accidentally in Paris and form an unusual friendship whilst staying above a bookshop. Paris and a bookshop! What is there not to like? Although it’s lighthearted, there is also quite a serious thread flowing through it. It covers such subjects as alcoholism, adultery, dyslexia, dysfunctional families and the odd secret! I thought it was a lovely, heartwarming tale. The characters are well rounded but also flawed as we all are, maybe a little stereotypical if I’m picky. There are some quite convenient and predictable moments in the story, but all in all it’s just a darn good, entertaining read. I can just imagine reading this book on the Champs Élysées whilst sipping a glass of wine.

Audio:

Our House by Louise Candlish
When a wife and mother returns home one day, she finds a removal van outside her house and someone moving in. As she delves further into this nightmare, she discovers her husband has been hiding quite a few secrets and has been digging a bigger and bigger hole for himself. I thought this was a rollercoaster of a book! I really enjoyed it even though it’s completely mad and quite incredible. I was very eager to listen to more to find out how the story unfolded and what the outcome would be. I liked how it was written, in the form of a blog and a word document in the two different voices. An easy listen!
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Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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