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Hayley's Reading in 2022

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Welcome to my 2022 book blog! 

 

I'll be keeping things simple and up to date, using the same method of rating that I have for a while (out of five, where 5 is absolutely amazing, 4 is very good, 3 is good, 2 it was okay and 1 something I didn't really like).

 

Last year, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I read far less than I usually do, with a total (I think) of 16 books. As always I'll be setting a goal of 50 and we'll see how close I can get! 

 

Thread now open!

Let the reading begin :) 

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First book of the year (although started in 2021):

 

Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children 3)

by Ransom Riggs

(4.5/5) - I loved it

 

As with the previous two books, this was wonderfully imaginative and addictively readable. The more sinister themes of the series come to the fore in this third novel. There are overt references to torture and it very clearly indicates a connection between the 'bad guys' of the series and the Nazis. As a result, the stakes feel much higher and moments of danger more tense. 

Now, on to why I didn't give this one a full five stars. I really did still love it, I could happily have sat reading it for hours, but I just didn't quite love it as much as the previous two. I realise this is purely personal preference, not a fault in the book, but I loved the exploration and fantastical discoveries of the first two. For much of this one we are only following two characters and I missed seeing all the uses of various 'peculiar' abilities in the same way that I missed discovering the secrets of new 'loops' (essentially alternate worlds). Those things aren't entirely absent, but they aren't used anywhere near as much. I did get the impression that this book, especially at the end, was setting up for a new part of the story. It ties some things up and loosens the rules about other things which would have restricted the characters. With the ending in mind, I have a feeling that the next book might return to the stronger theme of exploration and discovery, and I can't wait to read it!

 

 

I'm now reading A Very Murderous Christmas and still dipping in to Silence in the Age of Noise by Erling Kagge :)  

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A Very Murderous Christmas

3.5/5 - I really liked it

 

This selection of Christmas-themed crime stories really was a mixed bag. It includes a variety of styles (though most could fairly be described as cosy crime) and, to my surprise, even featured a couple of familiar faces (like Sherlock Holmes and Morse!). There is an element of humour in a few and I thought that worked particularly well (like 'Camberwell Crackers', where the suspect is the owner of a Christmas cracker factory). I also really liked 'A Problem in White' by Nicholas Blake, which wasn't quite like anything I've read before. Almost more of a puzzle than a traditional story, the characters are described largely as though they are nameless pieces on a game board. The ending then asks the reader 'whodunnit?' and you can turn to the next page for the solution (I'm sure there's a name for that 'solution on the last page' style but I don't know what it is). Others fell a bit flat for me and were just very unmemorable. But they were a minority. It is definitely an entertaining seasonal read and I'm glad I picked it up. Also glad I managed to finish it (just!) before the end of January!

 

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That sounds good Hayley. I'm thinking that could make a good Christmas present for my parents who love their murder mysteries. The puzzle with a solution sounds interesting. I've never come across anything like that before.

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On 04/02/2022 at 10:46 AM, ~Andrea~ said:

I'm thinking that could make a good Christmas present for my parents who love their murder mysteries. The puzzle with a solution sounds interesting. I've never come across anything like that before.

It definitely would be a good Christmas present! (I would like to offer my copy for you to have a look at but a certain puppy managed to chew up one corner :rolleyes:). I've never read anything like the puzzle story either but I'd definitely read one again. I do kind of wish I'd realised that's what it was doing from the start though - it just seemed a bit weird to begin with!

 

Only one review to catch up on this month...

 

Silence in the Age of Noise by Erling Kagge

3.5/5

 

This is quite a tough one to review because my feelings about it shifted a lot as I read. I also do have a lot of thoughts about it though. If there's one thing this book is very good at it's achieving a sense of quiet. The sparse layout of the text, interspersed with lone images on some pages (always very simple, generally in shades of white and blue), combined with the very relaxed voice Kagge writes in, creates what I think could fairly be described as a 'quiet' reading experience. 

The blurb of this book is very misleading. It tells us, for a start, that 'Kagge shows us how to find perfect silence in our daily lives, however busy we are'. I just don't think that's true at all. This is more a collection of philosophical musings on the nature and definition of 'silence'. Kagge never even settles on a definition of what 'silence' is. The actual absence of noise, he suggests, isn't really 'silence' in the way he's talking about. Towards the end of the book he starts to consider various artists and musicians throughout history who've engaged in some way with 'silence', which was quite interesting but... this is where my negatives start to creep in. There were times when it just felt a bit pretentious to me.

One of the small sections of this books focuses on Elon Musk - who Kagge obviously admires. That section particularly annoyed me. He implies that musk single-handedly solved a problem which NASA had not even thought about ('NASA scientists were always convinced that space shuttles could only be used once [...] this continued all the way up until the moment when Musk informed them that there was no reason not to build a shuttle that could be launched multiple times [...]'). He says that Musk manages to be so brilliant by using the 'first principle'  -'instead of relying on sanctioned truths he uncovers what is fundamentally true in order reason from that basis. He disconnects from the world'. But then he mentions talking to one of the minds behind Musk's space programme, who says that the only time he gets to shut out the world is when he exercises, takes a shower or goes to the toilet - that's when he comes up with new solutions. So, as well as totally failing to acknowledge that Musk does not come up with these ideas all by himself by being very special and more intelligent than everyone at NASA, we're just going to ignore the fact that his employees are so insanely busy, they don't get time to practice this wonderful 'silence' themselves. Kagge then says that he also uses the 'first principle', like Musk, and starts to tell us about setting up his own publishing house. One day he just decides to start a publishing house while he's washing the dishes. He says that 'the entire book industry was dominated by an established truth that no one had thought to question: books of high quality were to be sold through booksellers and book clubs at a high price. Romance novels, on the other hand, have the monopoly in supermarkets'. Aside from being a massive oversimplification of the way publishing and bookselling works, it's just ridiculous to claim that nobody else in publishing had ever noticed these selling trends before. Kagge says at the end, 'I am not so stupid as to compare myself to Elon Musk' but... that was literally the point of bringing up his publishing company?

This brings me to the last point of my rant/review... Kagge is obviously very rich and very privileged but he does not acknowledge that at any point. Apart from just deciding one day to set up a publishing company, he also tells us that he has travelled around the world in his pursuit of 'silence'. At the beginning of one chapter, for example, he tells us that 'one summer I flew eighteen hours from Oslo to Sri Lanka in order to relax in order to relax, eat healthily and practice yoga in lush surroundings'. There's never any recognition of the fact that most people will never be able to travel so extensively in pursuit of their 'silence'. The blurb also tells us that Kagge 'once spent fifty days walking solo across Antarctica, his radio broken'. That's not entirely true either though. His radio was not broken. He was given ('forced' to take, he says) a radio by the company who flew him to Antarctica but he took the batteries out of it and binned them while he was on the plane. To me, that seemed like a stupid and selfish act. Clearly, they want you to take a radio for your own safety. How would the people who flew you there feel if you never made it home? That doesn't even seem to enter Kagge's mind.

AND YET. As much as those things did annoy me in the book, I actually do think it's worth reading. I don't agree with everything Kagge says, or his outlook on life in many ways (although I do agree that quiet in a noisy world is incredibly important), but there are lots of interesting concepts here. I've definitely learned a lot about different philosopher's I'd never come across before, for a start! And (when he wasn't making me feel outraged) it is actually a very relaxing, 'quiet' experience reading this book. 

 

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I'm starting my latest update with an obvious cry for sympathy because I have had a run of bad luck this weekend and I've barely read anything. First, I had a really busy work day yesterday (working from home) and was supposed to have somebody come to replace a window during an hour break in the morning - did he come at the right time? No. Then he left every single door open and let my puppy escape (thankfully she didn't go far and came back when I called her - but beagles are not known for having great recall and she's not even 6 months old yet). Then I stepped on a rolled up mat and a sewing needle went straight into the heel of my foot (and it was really stuck - making me cringe just remembering it). In between time I had to deal with a customer being really rude to me and I managed to stub my toe - hard - on the same foot I stabbed with a needle. 

 

Looking on the bright side - I did get to meet my nephew for the first time today, I saw a butterfly for the first time this year and I had hot cross buns for dinner. So, it's not all bad.

 

Now I've gotten that off my chest - review time :) 

 

Syren by Angie Sage 

4.5/5

 

I feel like I'm probably being repetitive with my reviews of the books in this series, but they really are always great escapist adventures. Syren explores a completely new part of the world, a collection of islands which are very different from the settings we've seen so far. I was initially worried that the alternative setting might mean this felt like a side-story, but it's actually linked to the previous books and overall plot perfectly. This book (the fifth in the series) also introduced some interesting character development and I'm looking forward to seeing where Angie Sage is going with those ideas in the next books. 

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2 hours ago, Hayley said:

I'm starting my latest update with an obvious cry for sympathy because I have had a run of bad luck this weekend and I've barely read anything. First, I had a really busy work day yesterday (working from home) and was supposed to have somebody come to replace a window during an hour break in the morning - did he come at the right time? No. Then he left every single door open and let my puppy escape (thankfully she didn't go far and came back when I called her - but beagles are not known for having great recall and she's not even 6 months old yet). Then I stepped on a rolled up mat and a sewing needle went straight into the heel of my foot (and it was really stuck - making me cringe just remembering it). In between time I had to deal with a customer being really rude to me and I managed to stub my toe - hard - on the same foot I stabbed with a needle. 

 

Looking on the bright side - I did get to meet my nephew for the first time today, I saw a butterfly for the first time this year and I had hot cross buns for dinner. So, it's not all bad.

 

Now I've gotten that off my chest - review time :) 

 

Syren by Angie Sage 

4.5/5

 

I feel like I'm probably being repetitive with my reviews of the books in this series, but they really are always great escapist adventures. Syren explores a completely new part of the world, a collection of islands which are very different from the settings we've seen so far. I was initially worried that the alternative setting might mean this felt like a side-story, but it's actually linked to the previous books and overall plot perfectly. This book (the fifth in the series) also introduced some interesting character development and I'm looking forward to seeing where Angie Sage is going with those ideas in the next books. 

You had enough luck to last a year. :)

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Oh yes beagles are great escape artists!  I hope your foot is ok.

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11 hours ago, Hayley said:

I'm starting my latest update with an obvious cry for sympathy because I have had a run of bad luck this weekend and I've barely read anything. First, I had a really busy work day yesterday (working from home) and was supposed to have somebody come to replace a window during an hour break in the morning - did he come at the right time? No. Then he left every single door open and let my puppy escape (thankfully she didn't go far and came back when I called her - but beagles are not known for having great recall and she's not even 6 months old yet). Then I stepped on a rolled up mat and a sewing needle went straight into the heel of my foot (and it was really stuck - making me cringe just remembering it). In between time I had to deal with a customer being really rude to me and I managed to stub my toe - hard - on the same foot I stabbed with a needle. 

 

Looking on the bright side - I did get to meet my nephew for the first time today, I saw a butterfly for the first time this year and I had hot cross buns for dinner. So, it's not all bad. 

 

That's a shame I hope that you are alright. I'm glad that you got to meet your nephew and things were not all bad.

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21 hours ago, Hayley said:

I'm starting my latest update with an obvious cry for sympathy because I have had a run of bad luck this weekend and I've barely read anything. First, I had a really busy work day yesterday (working from home) and was supposed to have somebody come to replace a window during an hour break in the morning - did he come at the right time? No. Then he left every single door open and let my puppy escape (thankfully she didn't go far and came back when I called her - but beagles are not known for having great recall and she's not even 6 months old yet). Then I stepped on a rolled up mat and a sewing needle went straight into the heel of my foot (and it was really stuck - making me cringe just remembering it). In between time I had to deal with a customer being really rude to me and I managed to stub my toe - hard - on the same foot I stabbed with a needle. 

 

Looking on the bright side - I did get to meet my nephew for the first time today, I saw a butterfly for the first time this year and I had hot cross buns for dinner. So, it's not all bad.

 

Now I've gotten that off my chest - review time :) 

 

 

Sounds like a hellish day. I would be panicking big time if I thought my dog had run off so I'm glad the puppy came back.

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21 hours ago, muggle not said:

You had enough luck to last a year. :)

Best to get it out of the way I suppose :D

 

13 hours ago, Madeleine said:

Oh yes beagles are great escape artists!  I hope your foot is ok.

She really didn't do anything - she just walked out of the open front door! She prefers breaking in to things... like the bin :rolleyes:. My foot is okay, thank you. I expected it to hurt for a lot longer but it's not even sore unless I push it today. I do feel very lucky that it was my heel and not the soft part of my foot!

 

12 hours ago, lunababymoonchild said:

That's a shame I hope that you are alright. I'm glad that you got to meet your nephew and things were not all bad.

Thank you, I'm alright. The nice things did balance the rubbish bits out. 

 

2 hours ago, Brian. said:

Sounds like a hellish day. I would be panicking big time if I thought my dog had run off so I'm glad the puppy came back.

Honestly, my heart when I realised all the doors were open... she got a lot of fusses and treats when she came back in for me!

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Oh my goodness Hayley!

My response, in order; dammit, oh no, ouchy and ouchy. Aww, pretty and yum. :flowers2:

P.S. So glad you have been enjoying the Septimus series. 

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On 23/03/2022 at 1:01 PM, Chrissy said:

dammit, oh no, ouchy and ouchy. Aww, pretty and yum.

That's a pretty good summary of my weekend actually! :D 

Thank you.

 

On 23/03/2022 at 1:01 PM, Chrissy said:

P.S. So glad you have been enjoying the Septimus series. 

The only problem is I don't want them to be over now!

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In which case, I will bring forward my next recommendation for you. Read on with the Todhunter Moon series, set in the same world. :) :readingtwo:

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1 hour ago, Chrissy said:

In which case, I will bring forward my next recommendation for you. Read on with the Todhunter Moon series, set in the same world. :) :readingtwo:

Whaaaat!? That’s going straight on my list Chrissy thank you!! 

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Just a note to say that I am behind with my reviews here but I am having a weird week (seems to be life recently!) - containing everything from a car crashing into the house next to mine and a seemingly great work opportunity that turned out to be extremely morally questionable, to my laptop (which I use for all my work) freaking out and not letting me edit any files (thankfully fixed now!).

 

Eventually I will sit down to write my review and nothing eventful will happen!! 

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15 hours ago, Hayley said:

Just a note to say that I am behind with my reviews here but I am having a weird week (seems to be life recently!) - containing everything from a car crashing into the house next to mine and a seemingly great work opportunity that turned out to be extremely morally questionable, to my laptop (which I use for all my work) freaking out and not letting me edit any files (thankfully fixed now!).

 

Eventually I will sit down to write my review and nothing eventful will happen!! 

Wow! That is some week! How did the car come to crash into the house?

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5 hours ago, France said:

Wow! That is some week! How did the car come to crash into the house?

It was stolen but I have no idea how the thieves lost control of it so badly. There was no sound of screeching brakes or skidding or anything, just a terrible crunch! They went through a road sign and planter (which apparently took a lot of the impact) and then into the house and ran away. Luckily, nobody in the house was hurt. The impact shifted the wall though and they had to have their front door sealed up because it wouldn't close any more. They only moved in a few months ago too!

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Cripes, Hayley you tend to get things all happening at once. I hope your feet stayed safe through this batch of misfortune!

Your poor neighbours. A car crashing into your house is not something many have to worry about. 

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On 17/04/2022 at 9:46 AM, Chrissy said:

I hope your feet stayed safe through this batch of misfortune!

Haha, they did, thank you! The worst thing I've done is papercut my thumb :blush:

 

On 17/04/2022 at 9:46 AM, Chrissy said:

A car crashing into your house is not something many have to worry about.

It was very shocking! This isn't even a very busy road! 

 

Getting back on track with my reviews:

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke 

5/5 - I loved it

 

This book was not what I expected and I don't want to reveal exactly why because I think the sense of discovery is partly what's so great about it. For the first few chapters I was utterly confused. Clarke introduces us to a very strange setting; a house containing tides and clouds and crumbling statues. It's also told entirely through the diary entries of a character who's equally hard to make out - but it works so well. Being broken up into the smaller diary-style sections makes the overwhelming strangeness of the concept far more digestible, although it simultaneously adds to the mystery of what this place is and why our narrator is there. Strange hints and mysteries gradually build up until, desperate to keep putting the final pieces together, I literally didn't want to put it down. Clarke is an immensely clever author and I so hope she has more books planned! 

 

 

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