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My Books and Me

I love reading. Which boils down to the fact I will read, to be honest, pretty much anything. I enjoy a wide range of genres, and prefer not to limit myself with preconceived notions about a book based on it’s genre. I do tend to gravitate towards fantasy a lot. I also find books with a political slant appealing, most particularly of the dystopian variety, but my interest is broader than that would suggest. I enjoy a lot of classics (well, who doesn’t – a book has to be pretty darn good to stand the test of time and remain popular with generation after generation of readers). I like historical fiction, contemporary fiction, sci fi, thrillers, mysteries, horror, children’s fiction, and even the occasional romance. Pretty much the only thing I actively avoid would be erotica. Of course, that doesn’t mean I like every book I read ever. It just means I will give most books a chance. Sometimes this can cause a lot of frustration, because I can end up reading a lot of not-so-great books. Particularly with so much self-published material out there these days. There are some real gems out there, but sometimes you have to wade through a lot of detritus to find them. And even some of the rubbish contains much to redeem it, and I find myself wishing the author had had the benefit of a skilled editor, because there is so much promise there that failed to deliver. I should make clear, I am no writer myself. I sometimes feel guilty judging the works of others harshly when it is still vastly superior to anything I could write. On the other hand, I think it does the author no favours to give false praise. I believe criticism is something we all learn from, and can lead us to better achievements. So when I review I try to err on the side of frank criticism where I feel it is warranted. This is not meant to offend, but inform. I may not be able to write fiction myself, but I am quite capable of assessing my own enjoyment of it – and that is what I intend to express.

Currently reading

Death Comes to Pemberley
P.D. James
The Ladies' Paradise (Les Rougon-Macquart, #11)
Émile Zola
Under the Dome
Stephen King
Son of a Witch (Wicked Years, #2)
Gregory Maguire

The Various Haunts of Men (Simon Serrailler #1)

The Various Haunts of Men (Simon Serrailler #1) - Susan Hill I generally enjoy murder mysteries, but it has been many years since I read one. This was definitely a good one to get back into the genre with.

As it is the first in a series of Simon Serrailler novels, I was somewhat surprised to find he was rather absent from the book – in many ways he was just an incidental character. But nevertheless I think it served as a good introduction to his character, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the second novel to learn more about him, and hopefully to enjoy a tale as engaging as this one.

I’ll be honest, it wasn’t perfect. The central character, a detective sergeant called Freya, was really well written, and I liked her a lot. So I’m a little disappointed that she isn’t the main protagonist of the series. I also found certain things about her to be hard to swallow – such as her sudden and overwhelming infatuation with another character. But, in the end, I couldn’t help but forgive it, as I think the story was ultimately richer for it.

I was also impressed with Susan Hill’s evocative descriptions. Sometimes I struggle to form a mental image of what I am reading about, which can pull me out of the story. That was not a problem here. I found myself repeatedly drawn in and completely immersed in the world that was created for me, no matter how often my husband interrupted me for silly things like wanting to eat.

I think this isn’t necessarily a novel for everyone. The narrative perspective kept shifting, and that is something I like, and is part of what kept me interested. That’s not everyone’s cup of tea though. I also liked the slow and gradual reveal, allowing me to correctly guess the identity of the killer relatively early in the novel, and not having to wait too long to find my suspicion confirmed. Others might consider that too obvious, and think there weren’t enough red herrings. It was just right for my tastes however.

Overall, this was a really enjoyable read that left me wanting more, so it gets an easy 5 stars from me. Roll on book #2!