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Noll's 2016 Books and Cross-Stitch

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I hope you'll read some better books soon :(. I enjoyed reading your reviews though, for what it's worth :).

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Heheh it's entirely my own fault Gaia, what else can I expect picking up free thrillers off Kindle Unlimited? :lol:

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Can't wait to read your review of Under The Skin, Noll.  I was one of the people who couldn't finish it ... I read about 100 pages but it unsettled me and as I was on holiday at the time, that added up to an abandoned book and no inclination to pick it up again.  I've read quite a few of his other books, and enjoyed most of them, although one collection of short stories had another uncomfortable read in it, but other than that, he's been a good author for me to read.

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Can't wait to read your review of Under The Skin, Noll.  I was one of the people who couldn't finish it ... I read about 100 pages but it unsettled me and as I was on holiday at the time, that added up to an abandoned book and no inclination to pick it up again.  I've read quite a few of his other books, and enjoyed most of them, although one collection of short stories had another uncomfortable read in it, but other than that, he's been a good author for me to read.

 

Ooh this is intriguing. Any of his others you think I might actually enjoy? Other than Crimson Petal coz that's waaaay too long for this early in the year :lol:

 

Review will be coming in a little while :)

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#5 Under The Skin - Michael Faber

 

Genre: Dark Fiction (omitting other genres because spoilers!)
Synopsis: In this haunting, entrancing novel, Michel Faber introduces us to Isserley, a female driver who cruises the Scottish Highlands picking up hitchhikers. Scarred and awkward, yet strangely erotic and threatening, she listens to her hitchhikers as they open up to her, revealing clues about who might miss them if they should disappear. A grotesque and comical allegory, Under the Skin takes us on a heart-thumping ride through dangerous territory — our own moral instincts and the boundaries of compassion — to present a surreal representation of contemporary society run amok.

 

***

 

Review: This... was an odd book. Bizzare. I'm quite bewildered by it, and not at all sure how to feel. Though my 3-star rating means 'Liked it', I'm not sure I did. I'm just confused. Hm.

 

I knew the basics going in, so I didn't enter into the story completely unprepared, and yet I still came away utterly baffled by what I had just read. It's a very difficult book to review without giving away any spoilers - though I think I may actually have benefitted from knowing more rather than less going into it. That is because I spent so much of the book confused and trying to figure things out, that when things were revealed, it was more a case of 'oh, so THAT'S what it was', as opposed to any shock or horror about the revelation. Additionally, it packed a few different issues and difficult scenes into the one, ultimately aimless, story. There doesn't seem to have been any real endgoal to it, which also baffles me. With the kinds of topics addressed, you'd kind of expect some form of resolution.

 

All that said, there were elements I absolutely loved - the writing was just stunning, an absolute pleasure to read; there is no doubt that Faber is capable of manipulating the English language into doing precisely his bidding. I just... have no idea what his bidding was in this novel!

 

There's more I would love to say, things I see as glaring plotholes - but they're huge spoilers, so I can't say anything! Nyargh! A book that could have been great if it tried to pack in less and focused on just one or two of the myriad strands contained therein.

 

Rating: ★★★✰✰ I liked it (or in this case, felt 2 stars is a little unjust)

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Ooh this is intriguing. Any of his others you think I might actually enjoy? Other than Crimson Petal coz that's waaaay too long for this early in the year :lol:

 

Do you tend to read more longer books later in the year? I'm curious :). I've never really thought about it for myself.

 

Great review of Under the Skin. I'm not sure if it'd be a book for me, to be honest. It sounds like something too dark for me, too graphic and too confusing I loved The Crimon Petal and the White though, I agree with you that the author's writing is excellent. I'm glad there were some elements in Under the Skin that you loved.

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Do you tend to read more longer books later in the year? I'm curious :). I've never really thought about it for myself.

 

Great review of Under the Skin. I'm not sure if it'd be a book for me, to be honest. It sounds like something too dark for me, too graphic and too confusing I loved The Crimon Petal and the White though, I agree with you that the author's writing is excellent. I'm glad there were some elements in Under the Skin that you loved.

 

I just like to get a headstart at the beginning of the year, to keep my motivation up for reaching targets. I can relax when I'm ahead and tackle the longer books without feeling the need to rush :)

 

Yeah Under The Skin is quite dark - it's only really graphic in maybe two or three places, but it's definitely very dark.

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I just like to get a headstart at the beginning of the year, to keep my motivation up for reaching targets. I can relax when I'm ahead and tackle the longer books without feeling the need to rush :)

 

Yeah Under The Skin is quite dark - it's only really graphic in maybe two or three places, but it's definitely very dark.

That makes sense :).

 

Good to know!

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Ooh this is intriguing. Any of his others you think I might actually enjoy? Other than Crimson Petal coz that's waaaay too long for this early in the year :lol:

 

Review will be coming in a little while :)

 

I've just looked it up and realised I've read seven of his books, which was a surprise!  The two that most stand out (other than Crimson Petal) would be The Fire Gospel (224 pages) and The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps (304 pages), both of which I thought were very good indeed.

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I've just looked it up and realised I've read seven of his books, which was a surprise!  The two that most stand out (other than Crimson Petal) would be The Fire Gospel (224 pages) and The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps (304 pages), both of which I thought were very good indeed.

 

Awesome, thanks for the recommendations :D I actually didn't realise he had so many books, I've heard very little about him outside of Crimson Petal.

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I've just looked it up and realised I've read seven of his books, which was a surprise!  The two that most stand out (other than Crimson Petal) would be The Fire Gospel (224 pages) and The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps (304 pages), both of which I thought were very good indeed.

Wow- I've never heard of a lot of those.  You must like his work- heavy praise from Claire :)  Like Noll, I will have to look those up!

 

Noll- great review- you've peaked my interest even more!  Thanks for no spoilers!

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I've heard of The Fire Gospel, quite possibly from Claire. Had no idea it was Faber, though. 

 

No problem! :D

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#6 Our Endless Numbered Days - Claire Fuller

 

Genre: Fiction/Thriller/Survival
Synopsis: Peggy Hillcoat is eight years old when her survivalist father, James, takes her from their home in London to a remote hut in the woods and tells her that the rest of the world has been destroyed. Deep in the wilderness, Peggy and James make a life for themselves. They repair the hut, bathe in water from the river, hunt and gather food in the summers and almost starve in the harsh winters. They mark their days only by the sun and the seasons. Simultaneously, an older Peggy is reintroduced to her family and confronts the story of her return to civilisation.

 

***

 

Review: I've altered the synopsis somewhat, as it told literally the entire story except one bit at the end. It still tells quite a lot, but to be fair, the book tells you a lot itself from the outset - we know from page one that Peggy survives and returns to her mother's house in London - what we don't know, and ultimately discover is why her father took her away, and how she ultimately returned home 9 years later.

 

What a book. For the first two thirds or so, I thought it was going to be a 4 star read - the writing is phenomenal (particularly for a debut!) and while it was a genuine pleasure to read about how Peggy and James came to live in the forest, as well as how they survived there for years, the pace was quite slow, and I wasn't sure much was really going to happen. While there are elements of an idealistic return to nature, there are very dark underpinnings and implications throughout; a fascinating portrayal of madness viewed through a rose-tinted lens.

 

The final quarter (maybe third) of the book turns a lot of things on their head. The ending seems to polarise people - half seem to see it coming a mile off and feel let down, others are utterly bewildered at the very end. I was somewhere in the middle - at a particular point about 50 pages from the end I copped it, and I copped it all at once. Every slightly odd occurrence or minor detail I noted as particularly interesting throughout the book all snapped into place to form the most obvious, but perfect, ending, and my appreciation of Fuller's skill skyrocketed. This novel is most deserving of my first 5 star rating of the year.

 

Rating: ★★★★★ It was amazing.

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Ugggh I did a dumb thing. On my Blogger book blog, I have an A-Z of authors which is hand made - every time I review a new author I add their name and link to a page of posts tagged with that name.

 

I was adding Clare Fullers and somehow without realising I selected over 100 of the authors and relinked them ALL to Clare Fuller. And saved. Now I have to manually re-link them all back to the correct authors! :thud:

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Ugggh I did a dumb thing. On my Blogger book blog, I have an A-Z of authors which is hand made - every time I review a new author I add their name and link to a page of posts tagged with that name.

 

I was adding Clare Fullers and somehow without realising I selected over 100 of the authors and relinked them ALL to Clare Fuller. And saved. Now I have to manually re-link them all back to the correct authors! :thud:

Awwww, that sounds like a right pain :(! I feel for you :empathy:.

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I finished Wish Me Dead by Helen Grant, which started great but wound up being meh, and after the same experience with another of her books I think I'll pass on any others by her. Review to follow.

I've started Birdman by Mo Hayder, the first in a series of crime thrillers about a police detective named Jack Caffery. I swore off Hayder years ago after reading Pig Island and it being an all round terrible novel, but a lot of people who enjoy her other work agree Pig Island was a low point, so I want to give her another go, as her content is pretty dark and messed up, and I like that in my horrors/thrillers :D

Having a sort of read-a-thon this weekend as I'm sick - aiming to finish my two by Chris Hadfield and Brendan O'Carroll and get most, if not all, of this Mo Hayder one done.

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#7 Wish Me Dead - Helen Grant

 

Genre: Young Adult/Thriller
Synopsis: The funny thing is I never even meant the first one. Now I bitterly regret visiting the cursed witch's house, deep in the middle of the forest. It's where I made my wishes. I wished Klara Klein dead. It came true. I wished for the most gorgeous boy in town to finally notice me. It came true. I didn't mean for this to happen. Not me, Steffi Nett, the shy one who never says anything. But as the body count increases with every wish I make . . .who else could it be?

 

***

 

Review: Having previously read The Glass Demon by the same author, and having liked several aspects of it immensely while it ultimately fell short of noteworthy, I decided to give her one more chance. I'm glad I did, but only insofar as I now know not to read any more.

 

As with The Glass Demon, this novel started off promisingly, and I think even about a third of the way in, I was convinced it was going to be a four star read. But ultimately I think Grant gets an idea in her head, and forces it to work, by way of extremely unlikely events and cardboard characters who all serve no purpose but to further the plot. This means the characters are generally unpredictable, 2-dimensional and for some reason, all absolutely terrible people. Every man Grant writes (in both books) at least suffers from problems, if is not an outright sexual assaulter or murderer. Not that her women get away with much - the main character in this is extremely inconsistent, unlikeable and immature. Another female character is fat and gluttonous, another a busybody out to ruin lives, another is a sociopath - Grant must hate people! The plot started off well, but became quite ridiculous and largely impossible by the end.

 

It's a shame, because Grant definitely has the capacity to write interesting and absorbing prose - that's how I got through both books. Unfortunately, she really needs to work on her characters and on branching out from the one plot formula she seems to use in every book.

 

Rating: ★★✰✰✰

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Thanks! I loved the two novels that came before it, but felt they went on a bit with regard to context (usually set in an exotic land) so I'm looking forward to getting into some short stories which will hopefully be more to the point.

You may well know this, but if not, Holmes was originally written as a collection of short stories, and the novels only came later.  I've been a fan of the series since reading them all when I was 11 year old, and accompanying my father on themed walks he led around London which included Holmes (in the days before these became standard tourist fare!).  Even so, I can't say that I rate any of the novels in the same rank as the shorts, other than The Hound of the Baskervilles, so hope you enjoy The Adventures rather more!

Edited by willoyd

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You may well know this, but if not, Holmes was originally written as a collection of short stories, and the novels only came later.  I've been a fan of the series since reading them all when I was 11 year old, and accompanying my father on themed walks he led around London which included Holmes (in the days before these became standard tourist fare!).  Even so, I can't say that I rate any of the novels in the same rank as the shorts, other than The Hound of the Baskervilles, so hope you enjoy The Adventures rather more!

 

Awesome, that's great to hear!

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Having a sort of read-a-thon this weekend as I'm sick - aiming to finish my two by Chris Hadfield and Brendan O'Carroll and get most, if not all, of this Mo Hayder one done.

This sounds good :D! (not the sick part - the read-a-thon part). I hope you feel better soon :flowers2:!

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This sounds good :D! (not the sick part - the read-a-thon part). I hope you feel better soon :flowers2:!

 

Thanks Gaia! Falling a bit behind but determined to do a lot today! The flu isn't too bad but it's persistent, which is the worst. Had it since Wednesday and its spoiled any plans I might have had for the weekend!

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#6 Our Endless Numbered Days - Claire Fuller

 

Genre: Fiction/Thriller/Survival

Synopsis: Peggy Hillcoat is eight years old when her survivalist father, James, takes her from their home in London to a remote hut in the woods and tells her that the rest of the world has been destroyed. Deep in the wilderness, Peggy and James make a life for themselves. They repair the hut, bathe in water from the river, hunt and gather food in the summers and almost starve in the harsh winters. They mark their days only by the sun and the seasons. Simultaneously, an older Peggy is reintroduced to her family and confronts the story of her return to civilisation.

 

***

 

Review: I've altered the synopsis somewhat, as it told literally the entire story except one bit at the end. It still tells quite a lot, but to be fair, the book tells you a lot itself from the outset - we know from page one that Peggy survives and returns to her mother's house in London - what we don't know, and ultimately discover is why her father took her away, and how she ultimately returned home 9 years later.

 

What a book. For the first two thirds or so, I thought it was going to be a 4 star read - the writing is phenomenal (particularly for a debut!) and while it was a genuine pleasure to read about how Peggy and James came to live in the forest, as well as how they survived there for years, the pace was quite slow, and I wasn't sure much was really going to happen. While there are elements of an idealistic return to nature, there are very dark underpinnings and implications throughout; a fascinating portrayal of madness viewed through a rose-tinted lens.

 

The final quarter (maybe third) of the book turns a lot of things on their head. The ending seems to polarise people - half seem to see it coming a mile off and feel let down, others are utterly bewildered at the very end. I was somewhere in the middle - at a particular point about 50 pages from the end I copped it, and I copped it all at once. Every slightly odd occurrence or minor detail I noted as particularly interesting throughout the book all snapped into place to form the most obvious, but perfect, ending, and my appreciation of Fuller's skill skyrocketed. This novel is most deserving of my first 5 star rating of the year.

 

Rating: ★★★★★ It was amazing.

Great review Noll, I'll admit I did see some of the ending coming but there were still a couple of surprises to make it even more special that it already was.

I think this will make by all time top twenty! :)

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It was so so good! And the cover is beautiful, I read it on my tablet but it's gone on my list of books to buy in hardcopy!

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Thanks Gaia! Falling a bit behind but determined to do a lot today! The flu isn't too bad but it's persistent, which is the worst. Had it since Wednesday and its spoiled any plans I might have had for the weekend!

That is quite annoying :(. I hope you will recover soon!

 

It was so so good! And the cover is beautiful, I read it on my tablet but it's gone on my list of books to buy in hardcopy!

After this comment I had to look up the cover - and I have to say I agree with you, it is beautiful :)!

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