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Ian's reading log 2016

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It's such an easy read, which isn't to say that it's simplistic. It has a nice style that just makes it easy to read. I also get the sense of the joy that the author had writing it.

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I am guilty of using too many brackets too - and dashes!  And exclamation marks too, come to that!  (Ah well! :D ).

 

I've downloaded JS&MN but I don't know when I'll get round to it.   We tried watching the TV show but I didn't really pay attention and soon gave up.  Peter enjoyed it though so I might watch it after I get round to the book.  

 

I hope you have a great 2016, Ian. :) 

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Jonathon Strange and Mr Norell by Susanna Clarke

 

At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England--until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.
Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.

 

My Thoughts

I loved this book. Yes, it's insanely long; yes, you have to keep reading the footnotes; yes it's deliberately written with 19th Century spellings a la Jane Austen. But that very English humour kept me laughing at this all the way. Norrell is cowardly and insular, Strange is selfish and impatient. You couldn't imagine two people who would be so unlike each other, and so their friendship feels more real because of it.  Stephen Black is wonderful, and The Gentleman is seriously warped - perhaps one of the best villains I've ever read. This one is going to be a tough act to follow! 5/5 

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Great succinct review, Ian. :) I'm so pleased you enjoyed it!

 

I wanted to put a lot more, but the words in my head never seem to make it down my arm and onto the page!

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She's never coming back by Hans Koppel

 

When Ylva, a loving mother and wife, fails to come home from work, her husband is not initially suspicious. But as time passes he becmes frantic with worry. And by the time he finally contacts the police, he is almost hysterical. Given the mysterious circumstances of her disappearance, he becomes the number one suspect.

But what no one knows is that she's being held hostage in the celler of the house opposite her own.

A camera is rigged against her house and Ylva can only watch her family on the screen. They cannot see her - and they most certainly cannot hear her scream...

 

My Thoughts.

I was always going to struggle with the book after JS&MN - anything was going to seem a little superficial after a 1000 page novel.

This book does takes a slightly different slant on the usual plot device of a kidnapped woman held in a cellar, but unfortunately I felt that the author doesn't capitalise on them  and instead you get some unnecessary graphic sexual violence descriptions , and a bunch of characters I didn't really like.

I also ended up a bit confused about who the main character was; there is a millionaire who doesn't really do anything to progress the plot, I felt he could easily have been written out. His only function seems to be to talk to a journalist friend who becomes interested in an old unsolved murder. (Wait! Swedish book, millionaire, journalist, violence against women - isn't this all sounding a bit familiar?)

Towards the end it does pick up a little, but the tag-line on the cover; " The most terrifying crime novel I have ever read"? I don't think so!

There were some things I did like about this book - the focus on the husband trying to re-build his life were very well done - there's no doubt this guy can write - but I was left a bit disappointed. 3/5

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I think one of things I need to do is come away from reading quite so many crime thrillers - I'm starting to find them a bit same-y. Of course I'll have to get through what's on my TBR pile, but I obviously need to back-fill will some other genres. Although I didn't watch the BBC adaptation of War and Peace, it did remind me that other than an attempt on War and Peace in my early 20's - I got about 200 pages in and gave up - and Lolita, I've not read any Russian literature. Seems like a gap that needs to be filled, and any recommendations would be very gratefully received.

 

On top of that, the David Baldacci book I read earlier this years mentions Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" twice, and he came up in reference to an article I was reading about Harper Lee last week. So, I will get that at some point to read.

 

All of this is telling me I need to get down the library - I'm more likely to take a punt on a book when I'm not shelling out for it!

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The Witches by Roald Dahl

This is not a fairy-tale. This is about REAL WITCHES. Real witches don't ride around on broomsticks. They don't even wear black cloaks and hats. They are vile, cunning, detestable creatures who disguise themselves as nice, ordinary ladies. So how can you tell when you're face to face with one? Well, if you don't know yet you'd better find out quickly-because there's nothing a witch loathes quite as much as children and she'll wield all kinds of terrifying powers to get rid of them.

 

My Thoughts

 

I brought a book set of Roald Dahl books for my daughter a couple of years ago, and it occurred to me at the end of last year that I'd never actually read this one. James and the giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were two of my favourites growing up, so I decided it was about time. Typically Roald Dahl really - this isn't the "nice" children's fiction that I read a lot of to my kids - this is the actually quite violent and messy. I loved it!  4/5

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Jonathon Strange and Mr Norell by Susanna Clarke

 

At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England--until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.

Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.

 

My Thoughts

I loved this book. Yes, it's insanely long; yes, you have to keep reading the footnotes; yes it's deliberately written with 19th Century spellings a la Jane Austen. But that very English humour kept me laughing at this all the way. Norrell is cowardly and insular, Strange is selfish and impatient. You couldn't imagine two people who would be so unlike each other, and so their friendship feels more real because of it.  Stephen Black is wonderful, and The Gentleman is seriously warped - perhaps one of the best villains I've ever read. This one is going to be a tough act to follow! 5/5 

 

Great review Ian, it took me a few times to read 'Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell', I persevered and I enjoyed it so much. :)  Glad you enjoyed it :) 

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I had one of those serendipitous moments that make life interesting yesterday. Even though I have had a Kindle now for a couple of years, I very rarely actually buy books on it - I tend to use it for downloading old books that are out of copyright. But last night I was surfing around on the laptop and I went to Amazon's Kindle Daily Deals - a page I can honestly swear I have never actually gone to before. I was just intrigued to see what you could pick up and for how much.  

 

Well, I've been watching Shetland on Friday nights, and it's a great series, but it was only at the start of this series that I noticed that it's based on a series of books by Ann Cleeves. So I had it in the back of my mind to look out for them at the charity shop or drop some onto my birthday list. But there they were, staring back at me from the web-site at 99p each!

 

There were actually four or five of her books for that price, but in my haste and excitement, I only clocked the first one and through the magic of one-click payment downloaded it before you could say bookworm!

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I've read those books Ian.  I love them.  I didn't know there was a TV series.  But we often don't get British series like that here.

 

They are worth getting hold of if you can - they were always good, but the last couple of series someone took the decision to copy some of the Scandinavian crime drama elements and make it a bit darker and atmospheric, and it's got even better  

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Jonathon Strange and Mr Norell by Susanna Clarke

 

yes, you have to keep reading the footnotes;

Oh! I have got the book on audio book so that's not going to work. Hmmmm. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm determined to read it this year!

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Had quite a good day - woke up early, so I was able to get a good hour or so reading in. Then I took Amy to the library. We haven't been for ages. Saw a lot of books I fancied, but the book I'm reading at the moment (Insomnia  - Stephen King) is pretty long, and I've never been able to read two books at once. Amy picked up one though. Then later, when we went out, I had some stuff to take up the charity shop, and of course, I browsed the books there.  Picked up a copy of "Child 44" which I've seen a few good reviews of on here, and a Alistair Reynolds novel - sorry the title escapes me at the moment.  

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Insomnia is a great read. I've read it a few times and will read it again at some point.

 

Child 44 is a very good read too. Hope you like your new books. :smile:

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Had quite a good day - woke up early, so I was able to get a good hour or so reading in. Then I took Amy to the library. We haven't been for ages. Saw a lot of books I fancied, but the book I'm reading at the moment (Insomnia  - Stephen King) is pretty long, and I've never been able to read two books at once. Amy picked up one though. Then later, when we went out, I had some stuff to take up the charity shop, and of course, I browsed the books there.  Picked up a copy of "Child 44" which I've seen a few good reviews of on here, and a Alistair Reynolds novel - sorry the title escapes me at the moment.  

 

I finished Child 44 last week and thought it was a truly fantastic book. I hope you enjoy the rest of your books.

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Insomnia by Stephen King

 

You'll lose a lot of sleep. Ralph does. At first he starts waking up earlier. And earlier. Then the hallucinations start - the colours, shapes and strange auras. Not to mention the bald doctors who always turn up at the scene of  death. 

That's when Ralph begins to lose a lot more than sleep. When he begins to understand who his hitherto mild-mannered friend, Ed, is getting out of control - dangerously so. And why his home town is about to become the new Armageddon.

 

My thoughts

 

Everybody has a "go-to" writer - one who they know nine times out of ten will give them that great read. Stephen King has always been that writer for me. Yes, I found some of the stuff he did after TommyKnockers a bit less so, which is why it's taken me till now to read this. 

 

This is a great read. You start off in fairly normal territory - An old couple, one of whom is dying, the other is consumed with grief and so begins by taking long walks. Then the insomnia starts, and then the hallucinations - which of course, turn out not to be... Really, the way this book slowly turns from sadness to a fantasy landscape is amazing. And beneath it all are some quite serious questions & themes - fear of growing old (and all that it entails), the politicization of abortion and women's rights, There really is a lot going on.

 

One thing is clear - I need to pull my finger out and get reading the Dark Tower books! (yes, I hang my head in shame that I haven't read a single one of them) 5/5 

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Glad you enjoyed Insomnia.  I've read it a couple of times....I love it, and reading your review makes me want to read it again!

 

The Dark Tower is good but I definitely prefer the earlier books of the series (1-4 are my favorites). I started re-reading it a couple of years ago, but stopped at book 2. Not sure why, I think I just got distracted by other books! :doh:

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Glad you enjoyed Insomnia.  I've read it a couple of times....I love it, and reading your review makes me want to read it again!

 

The Dark Tower is good but I definitely prefer the earlier books of the series (1-4 are my favorites). I started re-reading it a couple of years ago, but stopped at book 2. Not sure why, I think I just got distracted by other books! :doh:

 

I heard a lot of people say that later book aren't as good - probably one of the reasons I haven't got around to them yet. But the references in this and other books are getting too many to ignore!

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I'm glad you enjoyed Insomnia :). It's one of the many Stephen King books on my TBR.

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Ubik by Philip K Dick

 

The novel takes place in the "North American Confederation" of 1992, where civilians regularly travel to the Moon, and psi phenomena are common. The novel's protagonist, Joe Chip, is a debt-ridden technician for Glen Runciter's "prudence organization", which employs people with the ability to block psychic powers (like an anti-telepath, preventing a telepath from reading a mind) to help enforce privacy. Runciter runs the company with the assistance of his deceased wife Ella, who is kept in a state of "half-life", a form of cryonic suspension that gives the deceased limited consciousness and the ability to communicate. (Taken from Goodreads)

 

My Thoughts

I love his short stories , but I'll admit that I find his novels a bit hit and miss. Nevertheless, when our local church bazaar and an collection of 5 of his books for 10p, well...it's a no-brainer  :P 

And I struggled with this. Yes, it is very clever, funny at times and interesting in the way he twists reality, but I'll be honest - at times it left me a bit cold. I came away feeling a little inadequate - like I am missing something because I'm just not intelligent enough to get it. 3/5

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10p?! That is a bargain :D. It's a shame this book wasn't so great :(. I have it on my TBR. I really liked A Scanner Darkly and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by the same author.

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