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Hayley

Hayley's Reading 2019

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On ‎02‎/‎02‎/‎2019 at 6:58 PM, Hayley said:

I'm already four books behind with my reviews so just a couple of quick ones to catch up...

 

Lies Sleeping.jpg

 

Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch

5/5 - I loved it 

 

I just really love this series. It's exciting to discover the magic, rules and various creatures as Peter (the main character) does. In this book particularly it's also really interesting to read various true things about the history of London, you can tell that a lot of research went into the plot of this one. Just as in all the previous books there's real tension and emotion but there's also humour and that combination provides an atmosphere that's so easy to get lost in and just read for hours (it's a bit dangerous, really).  There are various factors (that I can't really mention because they'd all be spoilers) that make this book a really tantalising precursor to the next. The next one is definitely going to be interesting!

 

Interesting. 

 

For spoilery reasons (that I won't go into here) I felt this book was a drawing of a line under the recent story.  

 

Given the synopsis for the next one, I definitely think series is going to go off in another direction (for a while, at least!).

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16 hours ago, Raven said:

 

Interesting. 

 

For spoilery reasons (that I won't go into here) I felt this book was a drawing of a line under the recent story.  

 

Given the synopsis for the next one, I definitely think series is going to go off in another direction (for a while, at least!).

There are two spoilery things I can think of that happen in Lies Sleeping that definitely imply the story is going in a different direction now. Although I suspect it's not going to be too wildly different... 

 

4 hours ago, Athena said:

I love the cover of Folk!

Me too! I'm sure I remember seeing that it actually won an award (that might have been the hardback version though).

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I haven't been reading particularly fast recently but I do still have three reviews to catch up on! So, first...

 

The October Man.jpg

The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch

4/5 - I really liked it

 

As some of you may have noticed, I really love this series. They always have a brilliant combination of history, magic and genuinely compelling mystery. Again, as some of you know, the books are usually set in London, but this novella takes us to Germany for the first time. This is interesting in a lot of ways. It shows us how magic is organised in other countries, how much Germany knows about Britain's magic systems, and hints at how their histories intertwine. I suspect, from this novella, that we'll be seeing more from different countries in future books, which is great.

On the other hand, I just didn't like the characters in this book as much. Tobias is our first person narrator in this one, instead of Peter, and I didn't really feel like Tobias had a strong enough personality stand out. There were moments when I actually forgot it wasn't Peter Grant narrating. I'm honestly not entirely sure whether this was intentional. There are a few plot elements that strongly link Tobias' story to Peter's, which suggests that we're meant to notice how similar they are, but I think it actually just made Tobias seem a bit boring.

The mystery and magic were great, as always, with very strong links to Peter's first case in Rivers of London (although different enough that it wasn't predictable). I would definitely want to read more about Tobias and Germany's magical community, but I just didn't love this book quite as much as the others.  

 

 

Hunted Down.jpg

 

Hunted Down by Charles Dickens

3/5 - I liked it

 

I think I mentioned earlier in this thread that I got my first kindle recently? Well, this is the first book I read on my kindle! First, I have to start with a comment that's not really the books fault. The description of this book (and the title!) suggests that this is a collection of stories, and of snippets from Dickens' novels where we see detectives. The kindle version, even though it has the same title, is not that book. It's actually just the short story Hunted Down.

Hunted Down is a short story by Dickens that I never even knew existed until I saw this book on kindle. It's a very typical Victorian mystery and very obviously inspired by Wilkie Collins. It's not actually as good as Wilkie Collins' mysteries though, which is why, I assume, this story isn't very famous. It's not a bad story. It's very short, has a really interesting narrator and use of narrative voice and I did enjoy it. It's just not very special, really. It doesn't do anything that Wilkie Collins and, later, Arthur Conan Doyle, didn't do better. Interesting if you already have an interest in Dickens, or in Victorian detective stories, but probably not really worth reading for the plot alone.

 

Infallible Justice.jpg

Fallible Justice by Laura Laakso

4.5/5 - I really, really liked it

I saw this book after following a post about an indie publisher (Louise Walters Books) on twitter. Then the publisher was having a sale and all the books were signed, so I got Fallible Justice and the sequel to it.

It's essentially a sort of urban fantasy crime novel. Think Dresden Files and Neverwhere but with a good dose of folklore based nature magic. The novel is set in a London where magical and non-magical people live side by side, but not very comfortably. The magical people tend to stay in the area known as Old London, and they are governed by a law system that is meant to be infallible. Their judges, the Heralds, are supernatural beings who can tell if a person is guilty. This strict justice system keeps the uneasy peace with the non-magical community. Yannia Wilde, our main character (and also narrator) is a private investigator and, when she's asked to investigate a murder for which a man has already been judged guilty, she has to work out how their infallible justice system could have possibly gone wrong. 

This is a very good mystery, nicely paced, with a host of very memorable characters. The book is divided into days, from Sunday to Friday, and that's something I really liked. I know it's not unusual for a book to be divided into sections, but having the days like that gave a sense of urgency to time limit Yannia has to work out the mystery before the wrong man is killed for a crime he didn't commit. The most impressive thing about this book though is the complexity of the world and its magic. Discovering the different types of magical people is part of the fun, so I won't give anything away, but I will say it's very rich and diverse. There's definitely a lot more to explore in subsequent novels and I'm very interested to discover more. Despite the obvious complexity though, it never becomes confusing. This magical divided London feels like it could be a real place, full of extraordinary people living fairly ordinary lives.

Again, I stopped just short of five stars because there are books I loved a tiny bit more this year, but this was absolutely my kind of book and a great start to the series. I'm glad I got the second one! 

 

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Great reviews! I hadn't heard of Hunted Down. I like the cover of Fallible Justice!

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9 hours ago, Athena said:

Great reviews! I hadn't heard of Hunted Down. I like the cover of Fallible Justice!

Me too! I got a postcard of it too, because I ordered directly from the publisher (I also got a mini story and all the books are signed!).

 

I just realised that I actually had four reviews to catch up on. I completely skipped Witchborn by Nicholas Bowling. I'll get round to that soon!  

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On 7/21/2019 at 11:09 PM, Hayley said:

I haven't been reading particularly fast recently but I do still have three reviews to catch up on! So, first...

 

The October Man.jpg

The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch

4/5 - I really liked it

 

As some of you may have noticed, I really love this series. They always have a brilliant combination of history, magic and genuinely compelling mystery. Again, as some of you know, the books are usually set in London, but this novella takes us to Germany for the first time. This is interesting in a lot of ways. It shows us how magic is organised in other countries, how much Germany knows about Britain's magic systems, and hints at how their histories intertwine. I suspect, from this novella, that we'll be seeing more from different countries in future books, which is great.

On the other hand, I just didn't like the characters in this book as much. Tobias is our first person narrator in this one, instead of Peter, and I didn't really feel like Tobias had a strong enough personality stand out. There were moments when I actually forgot it wasn't Peter Grant narrating. I'm honestly not entirely sure whether this was intentional. There are a few plot elements that strongly link Tobias' story to Peter's, which suggests that we're meant to notice how similar they are, but I think it actually just made Tobias seem a bit boring.

The mystery and magic were great, as always, with very strong links to Peter's first case in Rivers of London (although different enough that it wasn't predictable). I would definitely want to read more about Tobias and Germany's magical community, but I just didn't love this book quite as much as the others.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've seen this book being mentioned somewhere else and I thought it looked interesting. Can you read each book as a standalone or do I have to start from the beginning?

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You could read them alone and they would make sense, but I think you would miss out if you didn’t start from the beginning, since some of the plots are caused by earlier events (if that makes sense without spoilers!). So, if you start with the third book, for example, you’d reveal a huge big spoiler about something that happens in the first book. You could definitely read October Man without the others though, since it follows a completely different person to the main series. You just wouldn’t understand some of the references, but they’re not in any way important to the story. 

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Yes as Will says you do need to read the series in order, as the story arc does develop during the books.  I've only read one novella so far - The Furthest Station - which could probably be read as a stand alone book.

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I have a few reviews to catch up on (again) so I'll do a couple at a time!

 

Firstly, one that I've been putting off for a while:

Witch Born.jpg

Witchborn by Nicolas Bowling

3/5 - I liked it

 

I'm a little bit torn about this book. The concept at the beginning is great. After Alyce's mother is executed for witchcraft, she's locked up in Bedlam asylum, accused of being mad. All Alyce has from her mother is a note, which was given to her with the names of a place and a man, neither of which she recognises. Much of the story follows Alyce's attempt to solve the mystery and escape from the mysterious people pursuing her. All of this is genuinely interesting and the book is generally well written. 

On the other hand... as the book progresses, more and more real characters from history are introduced and with this I felt that it got increasingly unbelievable. I was expecting there to be a fantasy crossover, because of the witchcraft, but things got to a point that they just felt a little bit silly. It's hard to explain what I mean fully without spoilers but some of the twists in the later part of the book, rather than being shocking, just made me feel like '...really?' 

Overall this is a great concept (and really beautiful cover!) but, in my opinion, would have benefitted from keeping things a little bit simpler.

 

Burke's Last Witness.jpg

Burke's Last Witness by CJ Dunford

4/5 - I really liked it

 

(Note: I read this book on my kindle, the cover art is from Goodreads)

 I came across this novella randomly while browsing a sale from indie crime publishers Fahrenheit Press and I'm really glad I gave it a chance. It takes the infamous story of Burke and Hare and looks at it from a completely different angle, because at the beginning of this book Burke and Hare are already in prison.

Rather than focusing on the two murderers, we follow the police sergeant who's in charge of them (Captain Rose). Rose is a man who believes strongly in the justice system and the simple morality of right and wrong. The brutal actions of Burke and Hare confuse him, and he begins to visit both prisoners in an attempt to unravel and understand their motives. Tragic events in Rose's own family, however, combined with the contradictory accounts of the charismatic Burke and his accomplice Hare, only cause Rose to question the simplicity of his beliefs.

There's so much going on in this short space. Dunford manages to give us a cast of genuinely believable characters as well as creating a believable and immersive snapshot of Victorian working-class Edinburgh. Deeply psychological and compelling to the last page, this is definitely worth a read. 

 

 

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