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Happy 2021 everyone!

 

It's been a long time since I was last here... and I've missed it. 

So, I'm back, trying to write this on a tablet rather than a laptop as I used to, so please excuse the inevitable spelling mistakes and probably very short book reviews. 

 

So far, I have only read 2 books this year.

 

Dead Water by Ann Cleeve

I have very slowly been collecting the Shetland novels so I can read them in order. I read a lot of crime novels, and these are definitely at the cosy crime end of the spectrum, but also have bleakness about them, reflecting the landscape of the islands they are based in.  I enjoyed the writing and it was an easy, comforting  first read of the year. 5/5.

 

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel.

 

This was the exact opposite on the comfort scale. Reading a post apocalyptic novel where 99% of the population has been wiped out by the flu, in today's climate was never going to be easy, but the author manages to instill such a sense of dread and loss without being graphic I think I would have felt that way anyway.  Very understated and beautifully written. But I found myself sometimes reluctant to read on because I genuinely dreaded what was coming. The ending surprised me as I thought I knew where it was going. I think this book will live me long afterwards and definitely deserves a second read. 5/5

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Oh boy. I've managed to post this 5 times. Sorry folks. How do I remove?

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2 hours ago, ian said:

 

Oh boy. I've managed to post this 5 times. Sorry folks. How do I remove?

 

 

Tipp-Ex.

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2 hours ago, ian said:

Happy 2021 everyone!

 

It's been a long time since I was last here... and I've missed it. 

So, I'm back, trying to write this on a tablet rather than a laptop as I used to, so please excuse the inevitable spelling mistakes and probably very short book reviews. 

 

So far, I have only read 2 books this year.

 

Great to see you back - you've certainly made an impact!  And what do you mean 'only' read 2 books?! 

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Nice to see you again, Ian!! How've you been?

Any favourite books you read in 2020 you want to tell us about?

 

I'm glad your first two books read in 2021, were both 5 stars!

 

 

8 hours ago, ian said:

Oh boy. I've managed to post this 5 times. Sorry folks. How do I remove?

 

You can delete posts you've made double but I don't think members can delete their own double posted topics. No worries, I'll take care of it :).

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Hi Ian, welcome back! :) 

 

I’ve heard good things about the Shetland novels before, I definitely want to give them a try. There really is something comforting about a good detective novel isn’t there?

 

I don’t think I could have faced Station Eleven right now though!

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I can thoroughly recommend the Shetland novels (I've probably said that before!), welcome back Ian.

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Hi Ian! :smile:

 

I have the Shetland novels, but haven't read them yet. I have read Ann Cleeves 'Vera' series, and LOVED them. 

 

Station Eleven was a nice surprise to me, as I knew little about it before I bought it. I really enjoyed it. 

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Thank you all for your kind welcome and your patience with my overposting!

 

2020 was a pretty good year for reading, although as I get most of my books from charity shops, that source of new reading was closed for the majority of the year. So, I turned to my kindle and read or re read a lot of classics. Also, really long books became a feature, although not intentionally. 

So, Dune by Frank Herbert, It by Stephen king were both re reads. I also read 2 Charles Dickens for the first time: Our Mutual Friend, and Nicholas Nickleby. All were 5/5.

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I love Dune and IT too, 5 stars both from me also. I'm glad you were still able to do some reading using your Kindle :). And it's kinda cool that long books became a feature unintentionally! Usually at least for myself, really long books can intimidate me so I don't pick them up as often as medium size books (then again, I have more medium size books on my TBR, than really long books.. but still). Yay for your experience with Charles Dickens! I've only read some of his short stories (with A Christmas Carol being my favourite by far), not any novel. I'm glad you loved both novels you read by him.

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I set myself the challenge of reading all of Dickens novels a few years back. I think it was the 200th anniversary of his birth?(2012), so I've really took my time! I think I only have Martin chuzzlewit left. I'm not currently considering Edwin android as it wasn't  finished.

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On 25/01/2021 at 10:33 PM, ian said:

I set myself the challenge of reading all of Dickens novels a few years back. I think it was the 200th anniversary of his birth?(2012), so I've really took my time! I think I only have Martin chuzzlewit left. I'm not currently considering Edwin android as it wasn't  finished.

I really feel like I should read it but it being unfinished puts me off too! I have heard of a version with an ending, written by someone fairly recently I think, but a lot of people didn't feel that it was how Dickens would have ended it, so that doesn't appeal to me much more either!

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On 1/25/2021 at 10:33 PM, ian said:

I set myself the challenge of reading all of Dickens novels a few years back. I think it was the 200th anniversary of his birth?(2012), so I've really took my time! I think I only have Martin chuzzlewit left. I'm not currently considering Edwin android as it wasn't  finished.

Oh well done. Most of his books are really long which puts me off somewhat. I'm reading A Tale of Two Cities at the moment, one of his shorter ones. Prior to that I'd only read A Christmas Carol and half of Great Expectations. I would like to have a go at David Copperfield at some point.

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19 minutes ago, ~Andrea~ said:

Oh well done. Most of his books are really long which puts me off somewhat. I'm reading A Tale of Two Cities at the moment, one of his shorter ones. Prior to that I'd only read A Christmas Carol and half of Great Expectations. I would like to have a go at David Copperfield at some point.

 

Please may I ask : why would a long book put you off?

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I do understand - long books can be off-putting. You just look at them, if you are reading a physical book anyway, and you know they are going to require a lot of your attention. And I always find with Dickens, whether it's his longer books or not, those first couple of chapters take some patience to get through. He takes a long time to come to the point!

 

 Having said that, long books have plenty of scope for character development, sub-plots and backstory. Always a winner for me.

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The Sentinel - Lee Child & Andy Child

 

This one was a Christmas present, and actually I didn't ask for it. I've read all of the Reacher books as they've come out, but I was a bit unsure about this, seeing as Lee Child has made the decision to stop writing them. He will co-author the next 2 or 3 with his brother. I wasn't sure that they would be the same.

 

OK, let's be honest - If reading books is like eating a meal, then these books would be fast food rather than a gourmet meal. But, sometimes you just fancy a greasy burger from a van! These books are like this and, to be fair, I can't see a great deal of difference between this one and the earlier books. They are pretty formulaic; Reacher drifts into a town, he gets caught up in a situation where some underdog needs help. Reacher helps, usually with his fists, and bad guys get their backsides kicked.  I really enjoyed it. 4/5

 

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The Farm - Tom Rob Smith

This one was a charity shop purchase. I picked this up because I have read his other books - Child 44 and the 2 sequels. I thought Child 44 was excellent, but the 2 sequels were a bit disappointing.

 

I almost gave up on this one. I didn't really like the narration style initially, which is based around a mother telling her son about a crime she believes has been committed while living on a remote farm in Sweden. However, her husband, also contacts the son and tells him that his mother is very ill and she shouldn't be believed.

 

After I got through the first third or so of the book however, something clicked for me and I ended up really enjoying it.

Who to believe? The mother - who thinks that a serious crime has been committed and a conspiracy to cover it up has occurred, including her own husband? Or  the father - who states that his wife is mentally ill and is imaging things?

 

Ultimately, this book doesn't go where I expected it would, which lifted it for me above the level of the majority of the  thrillers I read. 4/5

 

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1 hour ago, ian said:

I do understand - long books can be off-putting. You just look at them, if you are reading a physical book anyway, and you know they are going to require a lot of your attention. And I always find with Dickens, whether it's his longer books or not, those first couple of chapters take some patience to get through. He takes a long time to come to the point!

 

 Having said that, long books have plenty of scope for character development, sub-plots and backstory. Always a winner for me.


True enough. Dickens I find worthwhile enough to make the effort but that's just me. I do understand the physicality of reading a long book. I read the autobiography of Emma Goldman and it was so large that I got a sore arm lifting and laying it. That was 618 pages long but it was very tall. This year I bought The Children's War by J N Stroyar, which is 1,168 odd pages long but not as tall. I'll need to find a way of handling it that doesn't cause pain. I see it as the same amount of reading (I read constantly) one way or another so longer books don't bother me but I can see the commitment in a long book 

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Well, that's one of the advantages of a Kindle or similar - all the books weigh the same!

I was initially unconvinced of Kindles and e-books in general, but my mother-in-law got one when she developed neck problems and had difficulty in both holding a book, and reading smaller print. Seeing her use one convinced me, although I still read more physical books. The real advantage, for me anyway, is that Victorian books and older are out of copyright, so can be downloaded and read for nothing from various websites.

I'm currently reading Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith as a "real" book. It's 900+ pages long, and lugging it to work and back is a bit of a chore.

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58 minutes ago, ian said:

Well, that's one of the advantages of a Kindle or similar - all the books weigh the same!

I was initially unconvinced of Kindles and e-books in general, but my mother-in-law got one when she developed neck problems and had difficulty in both holding a book, and reading smaller print. Seeing her use one convinced me, although I still read more physical books. The real advantage, for me anyway, is that Victorian books and older are out of copyright, so can be downloaded and read for nothing from various websites.

I'm currently reading Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith as a "real" book. It's 900+ pages long, and lugging it to work and back is a bit of a chore.

 

I'm finding the same thing, not all of Emile Zola's Rougon Macquart series is printed, for example, but it is available on Kindle and you're right on Kindle they all weigh the same. I'm slowly coming around, I read mine on an Amazon Fire tablet which suits me better than the actual Kindle reader and I do have some nearly 90 Kindle e-books. I too still read more physical books and, as it turns out, The Children's War, J N Stroyar isn't available on Kindle. 

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No more reviews to post yet, as I'm reading Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith. It's over 900 pages so I'll  be awhile. 

 

But...Nice book problems to have: on the one hand, I'm really engrossed in the whole story so I always want to read the next chapter. But, on the other hand:I never want this book to finish!

 

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22 hours ago, ian said:

No more reviews to post yet, as I'm reading Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith. It's over 900 pages so I'll  be awhile. 

 

But...Nice book problems to have: on the one hand, I'm really engrossed in the whole story so I always want to read the next chapter. But, on the other hand:I never want this book to finish!

 

 

That means I probably have to read Troubled Blood as a physical book, rather than listening to the audiobook. I've listened to most of this series as audiobooks. Only I tend to get impatient because I can read so much faster than I can listen.. 

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Do it! I really can't recommend this book enough, and I haven't even finished.

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Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith

 

This is the 4th book in the series following  private investigator Cormoron Strike  and his now business partner Robin Ellacott.

The main story concerns a case of a woman that went missing in 1974, presumed to have been murdered by a serial killer that preyed that area of London at the time. As well as this, there are sub-plots involving a couple of other cases the agency have, Robin's issues with a sexist sub-contractor, and her ongoing divorce. Strike himself is also dealing with a close family member who has terminal cancer. And both of them are separately starting to question their real feeling for each other.

So, a lot going on, which in part probably explains the +900 page count for this book. However, not one sentence feels wasted. Galbraith weaves the sub-plots and scenes effortlessly. Few thriller writers are able to do both the main plot successfully, and still make the characters feel human and sympathetic (I would say only Michael Connelly & Ian Rankin do this as well). I really didn't want this book to finish, as I was enjoying being immersed in this world. Absolutely great stuff. 5/5

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