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  2. Claire's Book List 2018

    I’ve finished off the last few books I had left to read from M. C. Beaton’s historical romantic comedies recently. They were Amaryllis, Quadrille and The Constant Companion. I enjoyed Amaryllis as it was exactly what I was expecting from the romcoms, light and fun, easy reading and all topped off with a strong but a bit naive female lead with a dashing Marquess to fall in love with. The other two, however, were not as good as I was hoping. Neither had particularly likeable leads characters, and I didn’t feel quite the same sense of fun from them. I’m actually going to go back and read again one of the others I’ve enjoyed much more, to end the collection on a high note, but I think it’s the end of, by my calculations, 104 books from these Regency and Edwardian romances, mostly written under her pen name of Marion Chesney, and on the whole, I’ve been thoroughly entertained and escaped from the real world for many an hour.
  3. Claire's Book List 2018

    Following on from The Summer Seaside Kitchen and A Very Distant Shore, The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan takes us back to the Scottish island of Mure to catch up with Flora and her family and friends. I’m definitely not going to use the diminishing term of chick-lit for the book, and I’m loathe to even call it a romcom, as it much more than either of those, but from the title and the cover, people will often dismiss these style of books in such terms. While it is about love and romantic relationships, Colgan writes about life and the realities of the different types of relationships. It’s definitely not all hearts and flowers, and no-one has a happy-ever-after by a long stretch, although there is such an affection for this island community and its inhabitants that there is always a sense of hope, and perhaps the odd soft focus shot or an occasional glimpse through the rose-tinted glasses to keep it being gritty or gloomy. It’s an uplifting story for all its sorrows, and one I’ll definitely read again. I’ve already pre-ordered the next book called An Island Christmas which will take me right back to Mure over the holiday period.
  4. It's nice to be here.

    Hi vodkafan, and thank you! Well, my favourite Authors are: Charlotte Bronte; Emily Bronte; Wilkie Collins; and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (for the SHERLOCK HOLMES stories).
  5. Claire's Book List 2018

    Back to a nature book next, and this time it was a A Wood of One’s Own by Ruth Pavey. After living in London for many years, Pavey decided she wanted to be able to escape the confines of the city and find her own piece land in plant a wood. The book follows her return to close to where she grew up in Somerset and buy a small plot of land where she can escape and be in and among the trees and the natural world. It’s part memoir as she talks about her family background and the process of finding, buying and creating her own woodland, while also looking at the nature of Somerset and how man changes it for agriculture and development, and what she’s doing to return it to a conserved rural landscape. I enjoyed this book as Pavey has a lovely writing style, and it reads very much as though it’s a diary of notes and sketches she kept while over the period the book covers that she has then fleshed out with family history, local history and more observations and opinions about the current state of rural towns and some environmental and agricultural policies today. The only niggle I have, is that I sort of find the idea of someone from London buying a small plot of land to have their own piece of countryside rather self-indulgent and a bit selfish, but maybe that’s just me - it doesn’t stop it being an entertaining book.
  6. Your Book Activity - April 2018

    I finished The Constant Companion by M. C. Beaton on Friday, so that means I've now read all of her romance novels penned under Marion Chesney of which I think she wrote 104 books! On the whole, they've been fun and entertaining, and a perfect antidote to real life! Last night, I also finished Touch Not The Cat by Mary Stewart, which is one of my Round Robin challenge books, so I've now read six out of the nine books I was challenged with. I think I'm going to take a break from reading just for today, and try and catch up with my reviews. I've already written a couple but I'm still eighteen behind
  7. Claire's Book List 2018

    The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson is a middle grade book which really packs a punch. When Nate’s mum wakes him up in the middle of the night to take him on holiday, it immediately becomes clear to an adult reader, exactly what’s happening and why they’re running away. While hiding out in the gardener’s cottage of a country house which used to belong to an old friend who’s recently died, Nate’s mum goes out to get some food from the local shop, but doesn’t return. Trying to figure out why she’s hasn’t come back yet, Nate knows he must keep his whereabouts a secret, and begrudgingly makes friends with a girl from the big house. As the story progresses and Nate’s increasing worry as where his mum is, the background of his home life is revealed. This is the second book by this author, and another strongly grounded in reality which hides in plain sight the plight of a young person going through a tremendously difficult time in their life. It comes across so effortlessly but you know that it incredibly considered and researched, and offers hope and compassion to those that might be in a similar situation and reveals the hidden lives that can be experienced behind closed doors of children to others who are lucky enough not to have experienced it themselves, without making it frightening or graphic, but allowing them to understand. Another excellent book from Lisa Thompson.
  8. Your Book Activity - April 2018

    Reading Quiet Girl in a Noise World, An Introvert's Story by Debbie Tung. A graphic novel/comic, and it's lovely to read; very accurate for me as an Introvert
  9. Kindle and ebooks deals

    That's great! I have the 1st already, so I've just bought the rest of the series
  10. Claire's Book List 2018

    I've been putting off writing reviews for a couple of weeks because the next book on my list was The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and I found it difficult to put into words my feelings. I’d initially bought the book on sale on Kindle but when I started to read it, I kept finding my mind wandering, so I decided I’d try the audiobook instead but unfortunately that wasn’t much better either. I found I couldn’t engage with the characters and kept losing track of where I was in the story and going back a few minutes (or more) and listening again. I think it was because the writing felt like an external experience of what the characters were going through, instead of being there with them. I felt a remoteness from the story that I couldn’t get over, and unfortunately, I only really kept going because it was on my Round Robin challenge list. I was disappointed in myself for not enjoying the book more, as I often enjoy books set in Indian, and am fascinated with the multitude of different perspectives you can have and the variety of society and stories that huge sub-continent and its history has to offer, but unfortunately, this book was not for me.
  11. Wow Janet, what a terrible time you’ve had Glad to read you are on the mend and hope you are back to something resembling 100% very soon. I rrad Noel Streatfeild’s books as a child and I was only thinking about a possible reread of them last week. The autobiography sounds great - like you I love social history - so I must look out for that one. I am also impatiently waiting for the fourth Strike! The BBC adaptations have not made the wait easier
  12. What's the weather like?

    It was another beautiful sunny day in California, 78F/ 25C!
  13. Your Book Activity - April 2018

    Oh! I just finished Pachinco by Min Jin Lee and started The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. Pachinco was great.
  14. Your Book Activity - April 2018

    I'm glad you are reading this! I hope you enjoy it. It didn't seem like 800+ pages when I read it.
  15. Yesterday
  16. Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith The ‘blurb’ When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman's severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible - and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality. With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them... A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, Career of Evil is the third in the number one bestselling series featuring Cormoran Strike and his assistant, Robin Ellacott. This is the third book featuring Cormonan Strike's detective agency. Strike's colleague Robin receives a parcel at work which she opens without really thinking. Inside is a severed leg! The parcel was delivered by motorcycle courier and the box contains a note – an extract of lyrics from the Blue Öyster Cult song Mistress of the Salmon Salt (Quicklime Girl). The song was one of his mother's favourites and Strike thinks the perpetrator must be someone from his past with a grudge – and there are several options to choose from! Robin is in the middle of planning her wedding to fiancé Matthew at the same time and there are tensions between the two of them that come to a head, so Robin is happy to escape from London to travel first to Barrow in Furness and then to Corby, as she and Strike try to nail the killer before he strikes again… I always prefer to read a book before I watch a film or TV adaptation (obviously that's not always possible) so when I saw a BBC trailer for this a few days before it was due to be shown on TV, I quickly downloaded the book on Kindle. I told Peter we couldn't watch it until I'd finished reading the book and that we'd have to watch on iPlayer. However, I whizzed through more than half the book before episode one was broadcast and then finished the whole book before part two so we were able to watch it when it was actually shown! I really liked the characters of Cormoran and Robin in the first book and this has carried on through all three. Book three of the series was equally as good as the first two – it kept me guessing from start to finish. In terms of the TV adaptation, obviously it wasn't as good as the book – it would have had to have been much longer than the two hours overall length, but it was still very enjoyable. Whoever cast the two main characters - Tom Burke as Strike and Holliday Grainger as Robin - did a fantastic job! J K Rowling Robert Galbraith really writes a good story and I'm looking forward to the fourth one, Lethal White. Sadly there is no release date yet. Come on, Jo! The paperback edition is 592 pages long and is published by Sphere. It was first published in 2015. The ISBN is 9780751571417. I read it on Kindle. 4/5 (I really enjoyed it) (Finished 27 February 2018)
  17. What's the weather like?

    Same here - sunny and warm then it clouded over, had a few spots of rain but nothing much.
  18. Never Ending Book Titles

    Force 10 from Navarone by Alistair McLean
  19. The Last Film You Saw - 2018

    Finally watched Gone Girl during the week, it was ok, stuck fairly closely to the book from what I can remember, and I think Nick was slightly more sympathetic than he was in the book. Amy though - what a case!
  20. It's just so interesting reading about people's lives in the past, isn't it.
  21. Claire's Book List 2018

    Yes, my life is very busy! I'm happy with the number I read - I'm just seriously impressed with the speed at which you read. I hope you get to do some crafts soon - my Kindle cases are much admired.
  22. Claire's Book List 2018

    Sorry - I didn't mean to sound like I was complaining - it's just that Claire reads exceptionally fast. I was just making a comparison - I'm happy with 21 (22 now)
  23. Kindle and ebooks deals

    Yes, I`d recommend them too, most strongly !
  24. A 2018 Book blog by Books do Furnish a Room

    The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood I don’t remember buying this, but it found its way into the house somehow, given the subject matter perhaps there’s a more mysterious explanation! This isn’t horror, gothic may be a good description (nonsense may be another!). It deals with superstition and myth and is set in the mid nineteenth century. Albie Mirralls (the narrator, a rather irritating and pompous young man) meets his cousin Lizzie only once in 1851 at the Great Exhibition. Ten years later Lizzie is burnt to death by her husband who believes she has become a changeling. Albie travels to the Yorkshire village of Halfoak to arrange her funeral and try to find out what happened to her. A brief note to say the premise is that Lizzie may have been taken by the fairies (faeries or some other variation) who live under the hill near the village and a replacement put in her place. They live under the hill where it is always summer with lots of music and dancing. Now it is true to say that stories of fairies and changelings are part of English mythological tradition. Even when I was a child I was told such stories and the traditions go back a long way. The scene is now set so cue superstitious and surly locals, a wise woman living in the woods, Albie staying in the cottage where Lizzie was murdered (isolated and close to the fairy hill), midnight music, Albie’s wife turning up as a surprise, a secret journal, Wuthering Heights (remember the changeling themes in that and there are parallels), lots of mysterious doings with herbs, disappearing babies, marital strife, mysterious flutterings seen from the corner of the eye, a squire’s son who is a rake, jealousy, a hot and seemingly never ending summer in Halfoak and lots more written in a Victorian gothic style. There are some issues, the plot seems to lose its way during the second part of the book. The ending is not difficult to guess despite a couple of neat twists. The plot kept misdirecting in a particular direction which led this reader to look in the opposite direction. The dialogue and writing at times can be ponderous. Albie is annoying, but I am sure he was meant to be and it is clear that most of the time he has little clue what is going on. The atmosphere of a superstitious village is well captured as is the sense of unending summer heat. There are nods towards a number of genres, but no real satisfaction in any one of them. I think following the Wuthering Heights theme might have been more satisfying. I wanted to like this more than I did and I would read more by Littlewood as there were plenty of ideas here and the clash between rationalism and superstition is one aspect of the novel that does work well. 6 out of 10 Starting The Honey Month by Amal El-Mohtar
  25. What's Up In April? - 2018

    I love it when things like that happen. We are sitting at home waiting for a new tumble dryer to arrive. Our cooker packed up last night as well so we have to order one of them too, which is coming on Monday.
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