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Hayley

Hayley's Reading in 2021

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I usually start my reading thread with a list of books on my shelf but, to be honest, I usually forget to cross them off anyway, so let's do things a bit differently this year.

 

Every year I set my reading goal on goodreads to 50. I'm yet to actually make it to 50 but I do like a challenge. So 50 it is for 2021!

 

Total Number of Books read in 2021: 0

 

 

I also usually do a 'books acquired' list (and I've only just realised that 'acquired' makes it sound like I might be stealing the books... I actually just meant books that I've received as presents as well as ones I bought for myself!). I started doing that to try to make sure I was getting through the books already on my shelves faster than (or at least at the same time that) I was buying new ones. But 2020 hasn't really left me in the mood for being sensible about books. Honestly I'm planning to buy as many books as I can afford in 2021. And I'm going to make sure I give myself more time to read. I know this year is going to have many of the same challenges as 2020. Things aren't going to be easy. But I do also know that giving myself time to relax has a huge impact on how productive I am when I'm working. So reading more is a win/win decision :).

 

Here's to a year where we get to read more, relax more and look forward to better things :friends3: 

 

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14 hours ago, Hayley said:

Here's to a year where we get to read more, relax more and look forward to better things :friends3:

 

:I-Agree: Hear hear! I hope the same :friends3:.

 

Happy reading :readingtwo: in 2021!

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Happy 2021 in all things book related and not. I love your aim to buy as many books as you can in 2021.

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Thanks everyone :) 

 

I've finished two books so far (during the first 2021 read-a-thon!):

 

 One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde 

5/5- I loved it

 

I always love these books. Jasper Fforde has the kind of absolute madness crossed with skill and intelligence that Terry Pratchett has. If you try to explain the plot of the books to anybody they sound ridiculous, but they are brilliant. This is the sixth book in the Thursday Next series and for the first time we're following a fictional character from the book world, instead of 'real' Thursday. This means we get to spend a lot more time getting to explore Book World and finding out how the fictional characters who live there work.

I won't try to explain. I'd just recommend that everybody reads these. They are very much written for book lovers.

 

 

The Other World, It Whispers by Stephanie Victoire

4/5 - I liked it

 

I really wanted to love this, I love a bit of magical realism and the kind of folklore twist that this book suggested it had. I thought it had a lot of promise but, while I did genuinely enjoy some of the stories, there were others that I'm not sure should have been included. There were a couple of stories, quite close to the beginning of the book, that seemed as though they were the beginnings of longer stories, but they just ended. They really killed my motivation to keep reading the book, because they felt so unsatisfying. I would honestly be surprised if the author didn't intend them to be longer stories originally. There were also a couple of times where I felt that the story was a bit too overtly metaphorical / didactic. I could tell what the story was trying to do, but it made me not care about the characters at all, they just didn't feel like real people any more. Perhaps, again, they would have worked better as longer stories, with more time to build the characters. 

But I gave it four stars for a reason and that's because there were some genuinely good stories in it. Original, well-written, interesting. I can pick three off the top of my head that really stuck with me because they were great ideas. I don't think this was perfect but I'd definitely try this author's books again in the future. 

 

 

I'm now reading A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie. It's weird how old detective stories manage to be so relaxing, despite the murder. 

 

I also started as I mean to go on with the book-buying by using a National Book Token I got for Christmas to get Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (the only novel for adults that I haven't read by him, I think) and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

 

I was actually motivated to finally buy The Alchemist by a different Christmas present, a 'scratch off' poster of '100 books to read'. I haven't worked out where to put it yet but I'll post a picture when I do. I've read about 25 of the books on there already but I'm thinking I might re-read them before scratching them off. The Alchemist is one of the first books on the poster that I haven't read yet so I decided it was time to get it!

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On 1/9/2021 at 5:55 PM, Hayley said:

 

I'm now reading A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie. It's weird how old detective stories manage to be so relaxing, despite the murder. 

 

 

"Oh look! Major Pinkerton has dropped dead in the library - how ghastly! Now do pass me another sherry old boy..."

 

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12 hours ago, Raven said:

 

"Oh look! Major Pinkerton has dropped dead in the library - how ghastly! Now do pass me another sherry old boy..."

 

Oh you’ve read it too!? :lol: 
 

I couldn’t sleep last night so I finished A Murder is Announced. It was very good but I don’t think I agree with people who say it’s Agatha Christie’s best novel. 

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Review time! (yep I'm still on hold to godaddy if you saw my earlier post... just over an hour and a half now :roll: )

 

A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie

4/5 - I really liked it!

 

A classic detective story with a very clever plotline that leaves you wondering whether anybody is really as they seem. I have read a couple of Agatha Christie stories before but this is the first 'Miss Marple' one I've read and, to be honest, I was surprised by how little Miss Marple was involved in it! She was important, of course, but she didn't feel like the main character. Although, maybe that wasn't helped by the fact that there are a lot of characters in this book. My brain definitely wasn't functioning at full concentration while I was reading it but I did have to go back a couple of times to check who was who, especially when it switched from using someone's first name to 'Mrs [...]'. 

I didn't give it 5 stars because I didn't think it quite had that 'wow' moment for me that other, similar, detective novels have, but it was very good, very clever and I definitely enjoyed reading it.

 

 

I think I want to go for something completely different next. Probably Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (does anybody else go to type Random whenever they mean to type Ransom!?) because if it's similar to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children it will be gripping but easy to read. 

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Review catch-up time!

 

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

4.5/5 - I loved it

 

I like the whole concept of these books, with the story running alongside old photographs of strange subjects. Finding out what the next photograph will relate to, and what new 'peculiarities' people might have makes it so compellingly readable. They're also just really well written. The concept of the Peculiar world is actually quite complicated, but it never feels confusing. For something that has so many characters and so many totally different settings it's very easy to read. There's always a great atmosphere too, even when we're switching between two very different places / time frames fairly quickly, the author sets them up so perfectly with his descriptions that you're immediately there in that new place with the characters. 

I just bought the next two books in this series so I'm hoping I'll love them just as much :lol:.

 

The Cuckoo Wood by M. Sean Coleman 

4/5 - I really liked it

 

This is the first book in the 'Alex Ripley Mystery' series and I'll definitely be reading more in the future. Alex Ripley has become known as the Miracle Detective because she researches claims of miraculous events. In a small town in the Lake District teenage girls have been committing suicide and all claim to have seen an angel just before their deaths. Ripley has a friend in the police who asks her to come along and see what she thinks about the angel visions but, once she's there, she starts discovering some strange things about the past of the the village, and the residents don't seem happy about it. 

This is just a good mystery. Interesting concept, great tension and plenty of weirdness that keeps you guessing throughout the book. I'm interested to see what this author does next.

 

The Frightened Man by Kenneth M. Cameron

2.5/5 -  Parts were okay

Again, this is the first book in a mystery series. This one is set in the year 1900 and follows Denton, an American author who's moved to London after becoming famous for shooting four men in America. I was originally drawn to this book for two reasons. The first reason is that I was walking past WHSmith (pre-pandemic, that's how long it took me to get to this book...) and it was in a box of books for £1. The second reason is that I like nineteenth-century things. The blurb explains that a terrified man shows up at Dentons house one evening looking for protection because he believes he's being hunted by Jack the Ripper. Denton thinks the story is made up until he hears about the violent death of a prostitute the following day, when he decides he should go and tell the police what he knows. 

Now, I finished this book, so I didn't hate it. There were parts I thought were really interesting, particularly one character who was was accused of murdering her husband and now works in an institution where she helps women to find paid work. On the other hand, there was a lot wrong with it. On a very basic level it really could have done with stricter editing. There are large sections of description that are so completely unnecessary and drawn out. At one point it happens at what should have been a very tense moment and it just killed the tension completely. I think I mentioned elsewhere that it was taking me a long time to get into this book and, again, I think that was largely to do with all the lengthy descriptions that don't progress the story at all. And, despite all the description, I found it really difficult to care about Denton and his background story. Actually I found Denton's interest in the psychology of sexual violence off-putting very early on. I do see where the author was going with it, because there is an overarching theme of violence against women in the book, but it honestly made him seem creepy to begin with.

I won't be looking for the other books in this series.

 

The Fourteenth Letter by Claire Evans

3/5 - I liked it... but.

 

I'm disappointed that I'm giving this such an average review because I really expected it to be good. I'm just going to copy a bit of the blurb because then you'll see what attracted me to it:

 

'One balmy June evening in 1881, Phoebe Stanbury stands before the guests at her engagement party: this is her moment, when she will join the renowned Raycraft family and ascend to polite society.

As she takes her fiancé's hand, a stranger holding a knife steps forward and ends the poor girl's life. Amid the chaos, he turns to her aristocratic groom and mouths: 'I promised I would save you.''

Sounds good doesn't it!? Well, the general concept was good. Each chapter switches between very different characters doing totally different things, which then begin to link together. This is where the problem started for me. I felt like that idea should work for a mystery, should keep things tense and exciting and then cleverly tie everything together. What actually happened was I started to lose interest. Not just in the characters but also in that original shocking murder mentioned in the blurb. I'd get to the end of a chapter and then think 'I cant be bothered to start reading about what this next person is doing'. The characters themselves just didn't seem very believable to me either, they were all a bit like charicatures. Periodically something really shocking would happen (like rape, incest, mutilation), but I couldn't help feeling like those moments were trying to make up for an overall lack of tension (which really should have come from the brutal murder at the beginning of the book but Phoebe's death really fades into insignificance quickly). 

When the mystery started to unravel I genuinely was interested in how everything would turn out. It's for those moments that I gave this three stars. I highly suspect (without giving the plot away) that the author had the idea to write about the history of eugenics and everything else was formed around that idea. The overall result of that is interesting but not great, or very believable, fiction. 

 

 

I'm going to read Magyk, the first book in the Septimus Heap series, next :) 

 

 

 

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22 hours ago, Hayley said:

 

The Fourteenth Letter by Claire Evans

3/5 - I liked it... but.

 

I'm disappointed that I'm giving this such an average review because I really expected it to be good.

 

I got The Fourteenth Letter on the urging of a friend a couple of years ago and felt much the same as you do. It promised much and ended up being a bit meh.

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2 hours ago, France said:

I got The Fourteenth Letter on the urging of a friend a couple of years ago and felt much the same as you do. It promised much and ended up being a bit meh.

I'm glad it wasn't just me. I felt a bit bad for not liking it because the original concept seemed so good but yes, meh sums it up really!

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I wanted to update this more so I'm going to do it even though I don't have another review to post yet. I'm nearly half way through Magyk by Angie Sage and really enjoying it. It's very easy to read and one of the characters reminds me of Terry Pratchett's Rincewind. I would really love to just sit and finish the whole book but my routine has been so weird recently and there's been so many distractions, I'm just reading it in short bursts instead. Fingers crossed I get to finish it soon though, not only because I'm enjoying it but also because I have the new Ben Aaronovitch book to read afterwards!

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12 hours ago, Hayley said:

I wanted to update this more so I'm going to do it even though I don't have another review to post yet. I'm nearly half way through Magyk by Angie Sage and really enjoying it. It's very easy to read and one of the characters reminds me of Terry Pratchett's Rincewind. I would really love to just sit and finish the whole book but my routine has been so weird recently and there's been so many distractions, I'm just reading it in short bursts instead. Fingers crossed I get to finish it soon though, not only because I'm enjoying it but also because I have the new Ben Aaronovitch book to read afterwards!

 

I have read Magyk (and also the 2nd book in the series) but I can't recall much of it at the moment. Which character reminds you of Rincewind? (or is it a spoiler? we can use spoiler tags then). I hope you enjoy the whole book and that you enjoy the new Ben Aaronovitch book afterwards!

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7 hours ago, Athena said:

 

I have read Magyk (and also the 2nd book in the series) but I can't recall much of it at the moment. Which character reminds you of Rincewind? (or is it a spoiler? we can use spoiler tags then). I hope you enjoy the whole book and that you enjoy the new Ben Aaronovitch book afterwards!

Thank you! It’s not a spoiler, it’s the dad, Silas, who reminds me of Rincewind :). I know Terry Pratchett also used the 

Spoiler

‘Seventh son of a seventh son’ story in one book but I think it was in one of the ‘witches’ books, not one with Rincewind.

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39 minutes ago, Hayley said:

I know Terry Pratchett also used the 

  Hide contents

‘Seventh son of a seventh son’ story in one book but I think it was in one of the ‘witches’ books, not one with Rincewind.

 

I think it's the 8th of the 8th on the Discworld, and it's used in both Equal Rites and again in Sourcery.

 

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1 hour ago, Raven said:

 

I think it's the 8th of the 8th on the Discworld, and it's used in both Equal Rites and again in Sourcery.

Oh yeah so it is in one with Rincewind! I thought I remembered granny weatherwax being in it and that confused me, I was obviously mixing them up. The ‘seventh’ thing is from folklore I think, because the number 7 is supposed to have spiritual significance. Everything magical is based on 8’s in Discworld though isn’t it? From the first book where octarine is the colour of magic (I love that part) :) 

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1 hour ago, Hayley said:

 

Oh yeah so it is in one with Rincewind! I thought I remembered granny weatherwax being in it and that confused me, I was obviously mixing them up. The ‘seventh’ thing is from folklore I think, because the number 7 is supposed to have spiritual significance. Everything magical is based on 8’s in Discworld though isn’t it? From the first book where octarine is the colour of magic (I love that part) :) 

 

 

Ah, Terry; still very much missed, but I think his earlier books are better than his later ones (good though they were as well!).

 

Equal Rites was the book that sealed my love of the Discworld (although the first two were good, I feel they are a little disjoined...).  I have an idea Rincewind is in Equal Rites as well; I think there is at least one scene he bumbles through...

 

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15 hours ago, Hayley said:

Thank you! It’s not a spoiler, it’s the dad, Silas, who reminds me of Rincewind :). I know Terry Pratchett also used the 

  Hide contents

‘Seventh son of a seventh son’ story in one book but I think it was in one of the ‘witches’ books, not one with Rincewind.

 

Ah yes :).

 

14 hours ago, Raven said:

I think it's the 8th of the 8th on the Discworld, and it's used in both Equal Rites and again in Sourcery.

 

Yes!

 

11 hours ago, Raven said:

Ah, Terry; still very much missed, but I think his earlier books are better than his later ones (good though they were as well!).

 

Agreed, he is certainly missed! I have more fond memories of the earlier books rather than the later ones, though that could be a personal thing rather than related to the books themselves.

 

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6 hours ago, Athena said:

 

I have more fond memories of the earlier books rather than the later ones, though that could be a personal thing rather than related to the books themselves.

 

 

Whilst still well written and very entertaining, I think the later books lack the originality of the earlier ones, and I did get a bit fed up of everything in the main novels being centred on Ankh Morpork.

 

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On 31/03/2021 at 8:16 PM, Raven said:

Ah, Terry; still very much missed

Very much so :(

 

On 31/03/2021 at 8:16 PM, Raven said:

I think his earlier books are better than his later ones (good though they were as well!).

This got me thinking about which books came later and now I have the urge to re-read them again!

 

On 01/04/2021 at 7:36 AM, Athena said:

I have more fond memories of the earlier books rather than the later ones, though that could be a personal thing rather than related to the books themselves.

I definitely have preferences that are based on when I read the books, not how technically good they are. The Wee Free Men will always be my favourite because it's the first Terry Pratchett book I read. I was about 12 or 13 and I wanted to be Tiffany Aching :lol:.

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4 hours ago, Hayley said:

 

This got me thinking about which books came later and now I have the urge to re-read them again!

 

 

I thought you were!

 

4 hours ago, Hayley said:

 

I definitely have preferences that are based on when I read the books, not how technically good they are. The Wee Free Men will always be my favourite because it's the first Terry Pratchett book I read. I was about 12 or 13 and I wanted to be Tiffany Aching :lol:.

 

 

Now I feel old, my first Pratchett was The Colour of Money, in 1987 or 8! (not exactly sure when I started reading them, but it was around the time Sourcery came out).

 

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On 02/04/2021 at 3:59 PM, Raven said:

The Colour of Money

Is this one I don't know or is it a combination of The Colour of Magic and Making Money??

You have had a few years extra Pratchett reading time than me, but I had the excitement of discovering just how many books already existed in the Discworld series after I loved The Wee Free Men!

 

I actually have a couple of reviews to update my thread with this time :) :

 

 

Magyk by Angie Sage

4.5/5 - I really, really enjoyed it!

 

I heard of this series from Chrissy's thread and I have to agree totally with her praise of it. I believe it's aimed at older children, possibly young teenagers, so there's an element of simplicity to the writing, but it's very nicely done. The world and the characters remain vivid and interesting. There's humour running through the book that reminded me of Terry Pratchett, in the sense that it's quite silly in itself but fits with the magical world (like the marsh serpent who gets stuck around an island and thereafter always swims a little to the right).

It's just a good magical adventure, well-written and easy to read. With the world being so stressful at the moment it was nice to get lost in this kind of classic adventure story. I've started the second one already!

 

What Abigail Did That Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

4.5/5 - Again, really, really enjoyed it!

 

I'm going to get the one negative out of the way first and say that, if there's one thing I don't love about reading Abigail's perspective, it's that I sometimes find the use of slang a bit jarring. When she's actually talking to somebody I agree that it makes sense but occasionally, when it's just in the text, I sometimes feel like it's a bit much, even a bit cringey? But, anyway, that doesn't change the fact that this was a very good book. I love that we're getting to know more about the foxes and it felt like Abigail was really developed as an important character to the series as a whole. I'm really intrigued by where the story is going with her and what role she's going to have later in the series. I also thought [BIG spoiler so don't open unless you've read all the other books]

Spoiler

There was a bit of an echo of Lesley in the way Abigail is drawn to the idea of magic being able to save her brother. She thinks about it a couple of times and really considers the possibilities when the house offers to take her brother. I suppose it's the same idea of dealing with something deeply traumatic and saying 'if we have this power why not just fix this...'. Might we see Abigail being lured away from Nightingale's more careful approach by Lesley in a future book? (I don't think, personally, that she would go though).

 

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16 minutes ago, Hayley said:

 

Is this one I don't know or is it a combination of The Colour of Magic and Making Money??

 

 

Nah, I was thinking about Paul Newman.  Again...

 

16 minutes ago, Hayley said:

 

You have had a few years extra Pratchett reading time than me...

 

 

What a nice way of saying "you're really old..."

 

16 minutes ago, Hayley said:

 

What Abigail Did That Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

4.5/5 - Again, really, really enjoyed it!

 

I'm going to get the one negative out of the way first and say that, if there's one thing I don't love about reading Abigail's perspective, it's that I sometimes find the use of slang a bit jarring. When she's actually talking to somebody I agree that it makes sense but occasionally, when it's just in the text, I sometimes feel like it's a bit much, even a bit cringey?

 

 

Now that actually works for me, because it is her stream of consciousness.  If is wasn't written so, then I think it would have read too much like Peter again, which was a criticism I had of Oktober Man.

 

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On 17/04/2021 at 5:57 PM, Raven said:

What a nice way of saying "you're really old..."

:giggle2: I have no idea how old you are but I doubt that you are really old. I would quite like my age to be measured by reading time though, it sounds so much nicer.

 

On 17/04/2021 at 5:57 PM, Raven said:

Now that actually works for me, because it is her stream of consciousness.  If is wasn't written so, then I think it would have read too much like Peter again, which was a criticism I had of Oktober Man.

I definitely think it should be in there, to make the voice identifiably Abigail, like you say. I think it is generally really accurate too. I have a teenage niece and a nephew who's the same age Abigail is meant to be and they definitely do use most of the same slang. There's just very occasional moments (and I actually think there's a lot less in this one than the other short story from Abigail) when it distracts me slightly and I think '... are you sure that's how that word would be used?' or 'does this sound more like what an adult thinks a teen should sound like, than what an actual teen sounds like?'. There was one in particular that really stood out for me as weird context for a word but I can't remember what it was now. 

It's not a huge problem though, it didn't stop me from enjoying the book. It's just a little niggling thing that stops me getting totally engrossed in the story like I can with Peter Grant as narrator (although I also totally agree that Tobias sounded so much like Peter you could probably have interchanged them). 

 

 

  

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