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I am now fully back at work after my illness and unfortunately that’s coincided with a dip in my reading, probably because medication means that my brain is slower than normal and I can only manage one thing at a time so have focussed on getting back into the real world rather than losing myself in fictional ones.
I have also stepped back from any challenges though I’m hoping to re-read The Shining for the Horror Book Club meeting in August, partly because I haven’t read it in years and partly because it will also contribute to my tally for the 2015 Horror Reading Challenge and I do like a two birds with one stone scenario.
I haven’t been buying lots of books recently, but have picked up the following in the last couple of days, mainly as a result of going book shopping with friends who were stocking up on reading material for their holiday.
It would have been really impolite not to join in 😀
- The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters – everyone knows about this one and I’ll probably be the last person in the universe to read it and in a pleasant twist it was actually a present from my friend Silvery Dude
- Empty Space by M John Harrison – I know nothing about this book at all but thought it sounded intriguing and only when I got it home did I realise that it was the third in a trilogy; luckily we already have the first part and I will hunt down the second shortly
- The Rival Queens by Nancy Goldstone – as some of you will know the 16th Century is my thing and the Book God drew this to my attention; it’s the story of Catherine de Medici and her daughter Queen Margot and it looks fascinating
- The Fault in our Stars by John Green – a download recommended to me by a friend who thought I would enjoy it; I know a tiny bit about the story because of the movie version but that’s all, and I like YA so I’m definitely going to give this a shot.
I’m hoping to get my reading mojo back this week, especially as I have a business trip on Wednesday and will be travelling for 7 hours or so and thus will have no excuse.
I actually didn’t read that much non-fiction while I was away from the blog, probably because my fuzzy brain was incapable of dealing with anything too complicated. But I did manage the following:
These are the last volumes collecting together Hornby’s book columns from The Believer magazine. As I think I’ve said somewhere previously, whether you enjoy these or not will depend almost entirely on whether you like Hornby’s personality (at least as it comes across here) but I definitely do so I was very happy reading these. After all, this is a man who has been able to articulate why I have never got on with the works of Thomas Hardy, to wit:
Hardy’s prose is best consumed when you’re young, and your endless craving for misery is left unsatisfied by a diet of The Smiths and incessant parental misunderstanding.
It is worth mentioning that I never got The Smiths either.
Val McDermid’s Forensics (subtitled The Anatomy of Crime)
I love Val McDermid. I am ashamed to say that I have not kept up with her novels but I think she is just fabulous, and I will remedy the book thing at some point (I have at least made a note of what I haven’t read so that i can do the thing.) This was a fascinating book; I can’t resist this sort of thing as my dedication to watching CSI and related shows will testify, and this was a great introduction to the various techniques and how they have developed over time using key historical (and more recent) cases as illustration. So well written, I devoured this in a couple of sittings. You will notice that there is a fly on the cover. It appears in random places throughout the book and I can’t tell you the number of time I turned the page and forgot what it was and tried to brush it off the paper. Idiot that I am 😀
So the blog was on hiatus for a few weeks while I was dealing with some health issues which means that I have ten, count them, TEN book reviews to write and publish. But as part of my post-illness strategy is to not put pressure on myself, plus adjusting to the meds I’m now on during this period means things are a wee bit fuzzy, I’ve decided to write two posts, one each for fiction and non-fiction, with my short impressions of the books. So I can both satisfy the nerd part that wants everything recorded, while keeping the anxious part quiet. So here we go with *drum roll* fiction.
I read the bulk of this on a very pleasant train journey from Edinburgh at the end of May. It’s one of those books that everyone but everyone has been reading and reviewing so I’m not sure that I can add much that’s meaningful to all the words already out there, except to say that I really enjoyed it, Teddy is a wonderful character, it’s beautifully written, the parts about Teddy’s war service are astonishingly good and it was very moving. I’m not entirely sure that I understood the ending, and I think I may still (very slightly) prefer Life After Life, but this was a goodie.
This is sort of a sequel to The Three which I read and enjoyed last year. It’s another creepy horror novel, this time with a group of people stuck on a cruise ship where Something Goes Terribly Wrong in an is it aliens or something else we don’t understand but is out to mess with us kind of way. I liked it a lot.
There were lots of characters with no redeeming social features who got what they deserved but enough reasonable people to root for, and it was nicely done. And has reinforced my view that cruises are simply not for me.
The structure is the same as always, alternating viewpoints between Byrne and Balzano and the perpetrator, and there is definitely something to do with an asylum and their personal lives develop further and I know that I enjoyed reading at the time but that’s all I’ve got for you, sorry.
The eighth and as far as I’m aware the latest Byrne and Balzano story, this is the one with the dolls, obvs. And Byrne buys a house which used to belong to a convicted killer from a case he was involved in before. And the POV of the killer(s) is even creepier than you might expect from this series, which has been consistently enjoyable.
But again the details are a bit vague which is probably just as well as you really want to come to these fresh. By the way, I hate this cover SO MUCH.
This is the second in the Plague Trilogy; I devoured the first volume last year (my review is here) and was looking forward to this one being published and got my hands on the e-book as soon as it came out.
Different set of characters trying to deal with the sickness that has decimated the population and the impact that it has had on society. Violence and peril and alliances and danger and sacrifice. beautifully written, very compelling, I enjoyed it immensely and I’m already hankering after the third volume which I understand from a Twitter exchange with the author will have lots of jeopardy.
The novella by Clive Barker which was the basis for the Hellraiser moves, I was mildly astonished that I hadn’t read this before (honestly, call myself a horror fan?) and this was actually a book group read for a meeting I didn’t manage to attend. It’s a nasty little story full of blood and guts and torture and I thought it was great. Quite different from the film version though and *whispers* I think the story is better.
The most recent of the Laundry Files (well at least until this week when the next volume is published and before you ask, yes I have ordered it), this is basically about the bit of the civil service which deals with occult nonsense as described previously, but this time involves vampires. In the City of London. And other weird stuff.
I liked it a lot. I just really love Bob, the main protagonist, and his wife and the stuff he has to deal with and the endless bureaucracy and the fact that he doesn’t always have an answer for everything and bumbles along. I’ve seen a couple of mentions on Twitter and elsewhere that suggest others had problems with this entry in the series but I don’t exactly know why and I’m not sure I care enough to look. I am anxious about the fate of one of my favourite characters though…
So that quick canter through recent fictions reads brings me up to date. I feel a little guilty that I’m not giving these books the full treatment they probably deserve but the alternative was just to ignore them and I would have felt even worse about that, so there we are.