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Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

I had read some great reviews for ‘Out Stealing Horses’, so was expecting a beautifully atmospheric tale of one man’s life in an isolated part of Norway. I was very disappointed. The writing style was too simple for me. I failed to be drawn into the book, and became bored by several sections.

 

The plot was OK, but there was nothing inspiring, and the only interesting bit seemed to be over in a couple of pages. Perhaps some of the magic was lost in translation, but when the story is this simple, the writing needs to be very good in order to compensate for a lack of momentum. I won’t be quick to pick up any of his other books, and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Disappointing.

 

Also reviewed by Fresh Ink Books

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Whit by Iain Banks

‘Whit’ by Iain Banks was my reading group’s choice for November, and I wasn’t expecting to like it at all. Science fiction is the one category of books that I just don’t seem to like. I thought Iain Banks was a science fiction writer (he has written a lot of science fiction books in the past, but this isn’t one of them) and the cover image reinforced this expectation.

The back cover didn’t help:

A little knowledge can be a very dangerous thing. Innocent in the ways of the world, an ingenue when it comes to pop and fashion, the Elect of God of a small but committed Stirlingshire religious cult: Isis Whit is no ordinary teenager.

When her cousin Morag – Guest of Honour at the Luskentyrian’s four- yearly Festival of Love – disappears after renouncing her faith, Isis is marked out to venture among the Unsaved and bring the apostate back into the fold. But the road to Babylondon (as Sister Angela puts it) is a treacherous one, particularly when Isis discovers that Morag appears to have embraced the ways of the Unsaved with spectacular abandon.

Truth and falsehood; kinship and betrayal; ‘herbal’ cigarettes and compact discs – Whit is an exploration of the techno-ridden barrenness of modern Britain from a unique perspective.

It just sounded weird!

So I picked up the book, expecting to have given up within a few pages. I was wrong! It did start off quite slowly, but I quickly began to like the main characters. It was very well observed, and even made me smile in a few places. The plot was a bit strange, but many aspects of it were very clever. By the end I was totally hooked, and will try to search out more books by Iain Banks in the future.

Surprisingly good.

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November’s reading plans

At the moment I’m reading ‘Bitter Fruit’ by Achmat Dangor. It has a very similar style to ‘Purple Hibiscus’. I’m about half way through it, and really enjoying it.

 

Then I plan to read ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’ by Brian Selznick. I ordered it last week, and when it turned up I was very impressed. It has to be one of the most beautiful books I have ever seen. It has gold page edges, and the illustrations are stunning. I can’t wait to read it!

 

I think I’ll then read ‘Amsterdam’ by Ian McEwan, as I have lots his of books in my too read pile, and so far I haven’t read any!

 

I’ll finish off the month with my book club read, which this month is ‘Whit’ by Iain Banks. This isn’t something I’d ever chose to read, and I have to admit that I’m not looking forward to it, but hopefully it will be much better than I’m expecting.

 

Happy reading everyone!

 

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The Arcanum by Janet Gleeson

‘The Arcanum’ tells the true story of the invention of European porcelain.  At first I found it very interesting, but I didn’t like the non-fiction writing style – it was like reading a text book. I like to see some emotion in the characters I’m reading about. I got bored by the continual facts and figures, so didn’t make it to the end. It would have made a great basis for a historical fiction novel – I’m hoping someone else picks up and the story, and adds some life to it. 

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Invisible Monsters – Chuck Palahniuk

I liked the look of this book, and so had a look at the reviews for it on Amazon. Everyone was raving about it, so I decided to give it a go. Unfortunately I was very disappointed. It was really weird. The writing style grated on me, and I couldn’t really follow it. I gave up very early on – I have so many things I really want to read now that I no longer have time to persevere with unpromising books.

stars1

 

 

 

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The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

‘The Red Tent’ is loosely based on the events that take place in the old testament of the Bible. It tells the story of Dinah’s life, and gives an insight into what life was like for women in this period of history.I was quite disappointed with this book. It is supposed to be a classic it is still in the top 4000 Amazon bestseller list 10 years after being published. I can’t understand why people are continuing to buy, and recommend this book to other people.

It was OK, but it lacked substance, and read a bit more like a diary than a novel. It was easy to read, but I got a bit bored with the continual births and long lists of who had which children. There was a good story buried in there somewhere, but it was underneath too much mundane information. There were too many characters to be able to empathize with them properly, and I’m not sure where the “Oldest love story never told” is?

I recommend you put this book to the bottom of your reading pile, and leave it there!

3 out of 5.