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It’s been a quiet but positive reading week for me. I have finished reading The Girl on the Train and I’ll have more to say about it when I post my review in the next day or so, but main impression is that it was a very enjoyable thriller but not the groundbreaker that marketing suggested it would be. But I did like it and who cares about marketing anyway?
I have now started reading They All Love Jack by Bruce Robinson (yes, the guy who directed Withnail and I). It’s a looong book about Jack the Ripper, a topic I have been unable to resist over the years, and I’ve made it through the first chapter which has left me with two distinct impressions (1) this author has some significant bees in his bonnet which he’s not afraid of sharing, and (2) I feel like I am being lectured by someone with the CAPS lock permanently on. I think I may have Thoughts about this when I finish it. It’s a book that may require reading in small chunks so I have identified a couple of others to bring me a bit of relief – Christopher Fowler’s book of Bryant & May short stories and Slade House by David Mitchell. The Bone Clocks was one of my favourite reads from earlier this year so I’m expecting a lot from this one.
No new books came into the house this week; feeling virtuous 😀
Against a background of young children turning on members of their families and killing them, Hesketh Lock is investigating a parallel series of incidents involving industrial sabotage across the world. Neither of these things make sense, but are they actually connected? What do you think? And who or what are The Uninvited?
Why did I want to read it?
What did I think of it?
This is the book that hopefully broke my reading slump of recent months. I found it fascinating and read it in a coupe of days which is quite something for me at the moment. Hesketh is a compelling character, a man with Asperger’s going through difficult times in his personal life and being confronted by two sets of mysteries which (not really a spoiler) are connected in a most unexpected way. How he reacts (or doesn’t) is central to the development of the story.
I don’t want to say too much about the plot other than that; how it all comes together part of the fun, if you can call the end of the world as we know it “fun”. But I have a particular fondness for books that describe the world falling apart (the literary equivalent of a disaster movie I suppose) and this very much fits into that genre, with the added bonus of really creepy children. It’s fast paced and an enjoyable read. I liked it.
I’m still reading The Girl on the Train and enjoying it very much. I can see why there have been comparisons to Gone Girl, but it feels like a different beast to me. Hope to finish it soon, but have been distracted by Jessica Jones. What can I say, a bright and shiny new thing with bonus David Tennant in full-on evil mode.
Only two new things of a bookish nature arrived this week; one was a Joyce Carol Oates short story and the other something I pre-ordered a while back, July in fact, The Promise of the Child by Tom Toner. Both for Kindle.
The book-buying embargo is otherwise holding as I submitted my Christmas wishlist to the Book God this afternoon. Some very very interesting things on there, wonder what I will receive 🙂
DI Antonia Hawkins is recovering from the events of her first outing (The Advent Killer which I reviewed here) and her anxiety to get back to work has her returning earlier than she probably should and straight into what rapidly becomes a new serial killer investigation, this time starting on yes, you guessed it, Valentine’s Day.
Why did I want to read it?
I enjoyed the first novel and wanted to see what the author would do with the characters. And I like nothing more than a good serial killer novel. Which sounds a bit creepy but you know what I mean. I hope.
What did I think of it?
It took me a month to finish this novel, some of which was to do with the reading slump I’ve been in for several months but a lot to do with the fact that although this is a solid read I felt that it did have some problems. Not insurmountable problems, but they stuck out for me nonetheless.
So to start with Antonia, her paranoia was really jarring to me; I get that she has issues about whether she will get her position permanently but it’s worth noting that some of those are down to how she handles the job in the first place. At least in this story there is some justification for her concerns as a high-flyer is lurking around making an impression on her superiors. The problem for me here was that what appears to be a significant subplot just sort of disappears without a proper resolution towards the end of the story.
Then there’s the title. Apart from the first body being found on the day itself the Valentine thing doesn’t really have much to do with the unfolding serial killer plot line so I thought that was a bit of a swizz (and possibly a marketing ploy); although it’s irrelevance is dealt with fairly early on it was still an annoyance.
I’m also getting a tiny wee bit bored with angst-ridden police officers. I know there needs to be drama but I would have thought the murders themselves would have provided that and we could connect with the main characters in a different way. It stuck out for me particularly because I’ve been catching up on an ITV series, Unforgotten, which has police officers whose private lives are there to show them as rounded human beings but don’t actually intrude into the story (I thought it was excellent by the way, you should check it out).
But having said all that, I did persevere with the novel and I’m glad I did because suddenly, about three-quarters of the way through, the story and pacing kick up a gear and I read that last chunk in a single sitting, and it was very satisfying. I had worked out who at least one of the people involved was likely to be quite early on, and I did wonder what if the purpose behind the murders was what it turned out to be (if that makes sense and avoiding spoilers), but it was more interesting than that, and all rather sad to be honest.
So, patchy but glad I read it and I will pick up further books in the series, but please give Antonia a break from the angst, she’s a good detective!
Well, not only have I finally finished the book that I’ve been reading for a month but I’ve read a second book from cover to cover and know exactly (and am quite excited about) what I’m going to read next.
It’s probably too early to say that the reading slump is really, genuinely over but it looks promising and I was so relieved to feel that pull from a really good book that keeps you hooked and you don’t want to put the thing down.
So, in terms of the books read:
- My Bloody Valentine by Alistair Gunn, the second in the DI Antonia Hawkins police series; another serial killer novel and not without its problems which I’ll talk about when I finally get around to writing up my review but quite satisfying nevertheless
- The Uninvited by Liz Jensen, creepy end of the world as we know it thriller, the third of her novels that I have read and the third that I have enjoyed so that’s all good
Books have still been creeping into the house but the book buying embargo is still holding. We visited our closes Waterstones yesterday (just to check it was still there) and we did buy the new Nigella Lawson cookery book but that doesn’t count because (1) my husband paid for it and (2) it’s a practical thing.
- The Straw King by Danielle Paige, another in the series of novellas attached to her Dorothy Must Die series
- Home by Nightfall by Charles Finch, the umpteenth Charles Lenox novel; I have loved them all, looking forward to this one but have graciously allowed the Book God to read first because I’m nice that way.
I will be finalising my (lengthy) Christmas wish-list this week, so that will be fun, and hoping to read at least one novel. Wish me luck!
The slump continues. I still haven’t finished anything though I did do a bit of reading this week, though not as much as I would have liked because there was a dinner, and then a champagne and cocktail evening, and lots of work and dentists and at the end of each day I just collapsed all of a heap and couldn’t concentrate on anything.
I haven’t even made up the Christmas list I mentioned last week, though I have ben mulling over what it will include.
I have, however, been receiving pre-ordered books this week, much to my excitement and this bodes well for getting my reading mojo back. I’m not abandoning the book that I have been reading for 3 weeks because I do actually want to know who the murderer is and why. But on to the new stuff.
These are both collections of short stories by two of my favourite authors.
- The Grown-Up by Gillian Flynn
- The Gameshouse Trilogy by Claire North (she’s brilliant, I met her at a signing, so lovely and enthusiastic)
These four are all novellas so I should have no excuse for racing through them.
I was also lent a book by my friend The Moff – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and once again I will be the last person in the known galaxy to read this, so don’t tell me what happens!
Well, that was a longer break from the Salon than I intended. I was a bit surprised to see that my last proper post was on 13 September and here we are on 1 November with Halloween out of the way, Guy Fawkes on the horizon and *whispers* Christmas just around the corner.
I mention Christmas only because today also marks the beginning of a book buying embargo. Because the Book God and I tend to buy each other books and DVDs and music for Christmas we have a deal that from 1 November until Boxing Day we don’t buy ourselves anything so that we can swap extensive Wish Lists. So, yesterday I bought the last book for myself before presents are exchanged, John Connolly’s Night Music: Nocturnes 2. I’m usually pretty good at sticking to this self-imposed ban, and the only exceptions are those books I’ve pre-ordered but not yet received, so new things will appear, just not unplanned purchases.
Since I last wrote a proper post I have read the princely sum of 2.5 books. Dreadful really considering that I was on holiday in Vienna for 10 days and I usually do a lot of reading when I’m away, but not this year. The reading slump is still fully in place but I’m beginning to feel vague stirrings that as the cooler weather arrives I will turn to books more and more.
And I want to blog more regularly too, so I really need to get the reading muscles exercised or I will have nothing to talk about 🙂
Vienna was fantastic, by the way!