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    • Michelle

      Important Announcement!   07/28/2018

      Dear BCF members,   This forum has been running now for many years, and over that time we have seen many changes. Generalised forums are nowhere near as popular as they once were, and they have been very much taken over by blogs, vlogs and social media discussions. Running a forum well takes money, and a lot of care and attention, as there is so much which goes on behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly.   With all of this in mind, and after discussion within the current moderator team, the decision has been made to close this forum in its current format. I know that this will disappoint a lot of our long term members, but I want to reassure you that it's not a decision which has been taken lightly.    The remaining moderator team have agreed that we do not want to lose everything which is special about our home, and so we are starting a brand new facebook group, so that people can stay in touch, and discussions can continue. We can use it for free and should be easier for us to run (it won't need to be updated or hosted). We know not everyone has FaceBook, but we hope that those of you who are interested will join the group. We will share the link, and send invites as soon as we are ready to go. Added: We may as well get this going, find us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/195289821332924/   The forum will close to new registrations, but will remain open for some time, to allow people to collect up any information, reading lists etc they need to, and to ensure they have contact details for those they wish to stay in touch with.    The whole team feel sad to say goodbye, but we also feel that it's perhaps time and that it feels like the right choice. We hope we can stay in touch with all of you through our new FaceBook group.   I personally want to thank everyone who has helped me moderate the forum, both in the past and the present, and I also want to thank every single person who has visited, and shared their love of books.. I'm so proud of everything we've achieved, and the home we built.   Please visit the new section in the Lounge section to discuss this further, ask questions etc.

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  1. Today
  2. The last one to post here wins

    Kylie, we are waiting for your last post
  3. Yesterday
  4. The last one to post here wins

  5. Last week
  6. Madeleine's Book Log - ongoing

    The Witch-Finder's Sister by Beth Underdown - this is another take on the story of Matthew Hopkins, the self-styled Witchfinder General who briefly terrorised parts of Essex and Suffolk (and a little further afield) in the first half of the 17th century; he was after women who had been accused of witchcraft, and rounded them up for questioning and then for trial. But the story is told by his sister, Alice (who may or may not have existed) who is forced to return to live with Matthew in the Essex town of Manningtree after her husband is killed in an accident in London. She's also expecting a baby, but, because she's had several miscarriages, is too scared and superstitious to tell anyone about the pregnancy. So she finds herself generally friendless, and with a cold brother who seems set on his macabre crusade against alleged witches. Apparently this had happened before ,but previously the suspects were released without charge, after cooling their heels in prison for a while, and initially Alice thinks the same thing will happen this time. But once it becomes apparent that things are more serious, she starts to wonder who she can trust, and eventually has to admit that her once beloved brother is on a path of evil obsession, and when he takes her with him to help "search" the witches for suspicious marks, she comes close to despair. Only the thought of hopefully being able to help and maybe save some of the women keeps her going. This was a well-written book, although the subject matter doesn't really make it enjoyable, but it's a slightly different look at Matthew Hopkins, which tries to show him not totally as a monster, although sadly by the end even Alice has to admit that he has become one. A neat little twist at the end too. This is her first book and she's certainly a promising writer. 7.5/10
  7. The last one to post here wins

    The last post is reserved for Kylie.
  8. Earlier
  9. Madeleine's Book Log - ongoing

    Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard - this is one of Linda Gillard's early books, in fact I think it might have been her first, and whilst it's good and is well-written, I think her later books are better. It's set mostly on the Hebridean island of North Uist, where Rose Leonard has set up home following a traumatic relationship breakdown which led to her being hospitalised, and to years of self-harming. Gradually she builds a new life, making friends with Shona, her nearest neighbour, and then becoming increasingly attracted to Shona's brother Calum. But the ghost of her old love affair still lingers, especially when she realises that it's quite possible that Calum may have met her ex, as both men are keen mountaineers; to the point of obsession in the case of her ex, and there's also the fractious relationship with her adult daughter, who suddenly turns up, to contend with. It's a story of healing, and learning to trust again - Rose's ex was a total **** but even so I think her reactions were a bit extreme, but it's not hard to see why she's so hesitant to fall in love again. But Calum has his own ghosts and traumas to come to terms with, too. A nice story, with a glorious setting, and a fair bit of humour, with the author handling the issues of mental illness and guilt very well. 7/10
  10. The last one to post here wins

  11. You nearly had it, almost eight months without a post.
  12. The last one to post here wins

  13. Gosh, there might actually be a winner for this some day soon...
  14. Raven's Reads

    Thanks, and you too! I don't think I will be heading on to anywhere else, the other forums I've seen either seem to be winding down themselves, or just don't appeal. Annoying, because I've actually been reading more than usual this year!
  15. Raven's Reads

    Well done! I'm almost exactly one year behind you (Sep 24th), so sadly won't be able to celebrate my tenth here. It feels an even bigger loss now than when Michelle first announced - haven't found anything remotely as good to replace. Hope your reading continues to flourish!
  16. Raven's Reads

    Cheers! (to both of you!).
  17. Raven's Reads

    Aw, happy anniversary Raven. Happy reading and all the best for the future. xo
  18. Raven's Reads

    Congratulations! A decade eh? Holy macaroni. It would be 10 for me in December. That's a whole chunk of life for us.
  19. A 2018 Book blog by Books do Furnish a Room

    Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf One of Woolf’s non-fiction works and a follow up to A Room of One’s Own, published in 1938. This essay is structured as a response to a letter from a man asking Woolf to join him in trying to prevent the looming war and asking how war can be prevented. Woolf’s response centres on a number of things. She refers to two other letter: a request for money to help support a women’s college and a request to assist an organisation to help women enter the professions. This enables Woolf to take a close look at women’s education and women in the professions in constructing her response about war. She does not pull her punches in her assessment of the situation: "Behind us lies the patriarchal system; the private house, with it nullity, its immorality, its hypocrisy, its servility. Before us lies the public world, the professional system, with its possessiveness, its jealousy, its pugnacity, its greed." Woolf’s arguments are at times subtle and detailed but she focuses firstly on the difficulty that women have entering the professions, with mention of the lack of equal pay for men and women and secondly on the problem of education for women. It is certainly an anti-fascist polemic, but it is also a polemic which denounces imperialism, capitalism and patriarchy. Woolf goes as far as to argue that the roots of fascism lie in the patriarchal family. Three guineas is certainly an angry book. The original publication contained five pictures, not of fascist dictators, but of people Woolf felt represented patriarchy, people well respected and part of the establishment: former Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Gordon Lang, Lord Chief Justice Gordon Hewart, founder of the scouting movement and war hero Sir Robert Baden-Powell and finally the state trumpeters of the Household Cavalry. There is a photograph of each juxtaposed with their image from the back of cigarette cards which were very popular in the 1930s. The implication is that each of these are implicated in the perpetuation of war. The oppression of women in Britain is linked quite clearly to the perpetuation of war and to Continental fascism. Woolf, in talking about war speaks about photographs of dead children and ruined houses, photographs you might expect to see in a book opposing war. However they aren’t there and their absence is significant as is their replacement by the photographs included. It is almost as though Woolf is saying they are responsible for all this. Many editions of Three Guineas don’t include these pictures and that is a significant loss; they give the book an extra dimension. This is a powerful and well-argued polemic which is more radical than it first appears with a clear call for the destruction of patriarchy and its link to private property. There are reflections on religion and education as well as war and a close look at how their exclusion of women have contributed to the perpetuation of war. Powerful stuff. 9 out of 10 Starting Racism 101 by Nikki Giovanni
  20. Raven's Reads

    I didn't think I was going to get to post this, but I joined the forum 10 years ago today!
  21. Madeleine's Book Log - ongoing

    Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland - Loveday Cardew works in a second hand bookshop in York; she's had a traumatic past and grew up in care, and gradually we find out what happened, although it's not difficult to guess early on. Terrified that someone will find out about her past, she keeps herself to herself, especially following a disastrous relationship with Rob, who has mental health problems but is also quite a piece of work. Then one day Nathan walks into the shop, having dropped a book in the street, which Loveday happens to have found, and slowly the two of them form a sweet relationship, but Loveday is convinced it can't last, and when a mysterious box of books is brought into the shop one day, she finds that her past is finally catching up with her. Truth will out, but we also find out that it is possible to move on, with the help of the right people, even through tragedy. I thought this was a lovely book, and I liked the way Loveday's past was revealed. Annabel was a lovely character and so of course were Archie (the bookshop owner) and Nathan, and, despite another tragedy happening towards the end of the book, I liked the positive note on which the book ended. I've been to Whitby and it was nice reading about the Whitby bookshop and all the steps again. I thought it was well-written and well paced, and a bit deeper than some books which tend to get labelled as chick lit. It did remind me quite a bit of Eleanor Oliphant, but I prefer this book to Eleanor. A good choice and will be in my top 10 this year 8/10
  22. A 2018 Book blog by Books do Furnish a Room

    The Raven's Head by Karen Maitland This is the first Maitland I have read: it’s a piece of historical fiction set in the 13th century. The plot is quite convoluted and certainly rather gothic, focussing on the practice of alchemy, very prevalent at the time. The story involves three protagonists whose destinies gradually intertwine. The narrative voices are written in different ways (first person, third person etc.) and this doesn’t always make for smooth reading and makes the whole a little disjointed. The three voices are all young, Vincent (later Laurent) is an apprentice librarian in France (although he is English) he comes upon a secret which he tries to use to his own ends with disastrous consequences and he finds himself on the run with an intricate silver raven’s head. He ends up in a town in Norfolk, where we find Gisa. She is the niece of an apothecary who helps her uncle prepare his potions and to find unusual things for the local lord. She is then charged with going to the local manor every day to help Lord Sylvian with his alchemical experiments. The third narrative voice is Wilky, a young boy who is given by his parents to the White Friars to pay off a debt, in the same town. Wilky, now called Regulus, discovers that the boys who are there have a purpose, at night the head of the order carries out alchemical experiments on one or two of them. Sometimes those boys don’t return. The three lives are drawn together as the alchemists’ experiments become more sinister. The plot runs along fairly well, but Vincent is not easy to like or relate to as a main protagonist. The background is well set and I did like the writing. The twists and turns at the end take some suspension of belief and the twist on the last page didn’t feel right to me at all. I enjoyed it and will read some of her more well-known novels at some point. However it did send me off to sleep at night. 6 out of 10 Starting A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor
  23. A 2018 Book blog by Books do Furnish a Room

    Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson This is a dystopian science fiction novel set in the Toronto of the future, where the centre of the city has been isolated and abandoned following riots and is now ruled by a crime lord whilst the rest of society has moved out of the city. The inhabitants of the city get along by barter and people grow things and there is still some trade with the outside world. There is little law and order, plenty of violence and feral children roam the streets, some of whom periodically disappear. The novel revolves around Ti-Jeanne and her lover Tony who is a henchman of the crime lord Rudy. The plot is a little far-fetched and involves the harvesting of organs. Central to the plot though are strong female characters, all of whom are Caribbean Canadian. Ti-Jeanne and her grandmother have the skill of healing passed through the generations, they also have contact with the spirit world and practice Obeah. The novel is effectively a struggle between good and evil and the tension between use of Obeah powers for good or evil. This is Hopkinson’s first novel and was recommended by Octavia Butler, which drew me to it. There is some local and Caribbean idiom present, which isn’t off putting and isn’t difficult to understand. Hopkinson argues that science fiction is a good way of portraying the lives of outsiders and can provide hope because it suggests paradigm shifts which other genres may not so easily do. She feels science fiction offers hope of change: “I tend not to read what I would call ‘mimetic’ fiction or fiction that is imitating reality. In mimetic fiction the world is not reflecting me back to myself.… I grew up so depressed, I felt there was no room for me in the world. Reading mimetic fiction just feels to me like more depression.” It can be noted that Ti-Jeanne is a female version of Walcott’s Ti-Jean from his play Ti-Jean and his Brothers, but instead of a fraternal trio, there is a maternal trio. The women throughout are striving to make things better and are coming up against male violence and male structures. This is certainly a feminist reworking of Obeah, used for the good of society and in direct conflict with evil. There is some graphic violence and the ending is a little too well tied up, but this is a first novel. I have to ask, would I read more by this author and yes I would. She does interesting things with myth, reworking in a feminist way. 7 out of 10 Starting The Windeater by Kerri Hulme
  24. Madeleine's Book Log - ongoing

    The Loving Cup by Winston Graham - this is the 10th in the Poldark series, and carries on directly from the events of the previous book, again it focussed more on the offspring of the Poldarks and Warleggans, although the adults are still very much in evidence. There are marriages, and more schemes, and the fallout from the last book still exerts a hold over some characters, I can't say more without spoilers! Suffice to say this was another good read in the series. 8/10 Heavenfield by L J Ross - this is the 3rd in the DCI Ryan crime series, set in glorious Northumberland, and this time Ryan finds himself a suspect, when he's found standing above the dead body of a man who was a close friend of his girlfriend, Anna, with blood on his hands. Of course his team knows he's innocent, but there are people in the force who would love to see him go down, in some cases probably literally, and they have to fight to help him prove his innocence, especially as he's already been suspended from the force. Then members of the Circle, a clandestine group of men and women from all walks of life, start to die, including some who were imprisoned following the murder investigation in the previous books. Then their own boss is also attacked, and his wife disappears - the team know that he's involved, but can they prove it? And can they stop the Circle from removing everyone who gets in their way? This was another gripping adventure, with a thrilling, if slightly OTT, denouement, at Bamburgh Castle, and at only 250 pages it was a snappy read. In fact, I wish it could have been a bit longer! But the characters are developing nicely, although it would be nice if the story could move on from the Circle now. A great series, with a fabulous setting. 8/10
  25. Share your memories

    Bye Raven. And goodbye to anyone else not joining FB or GR. It's been a pleasure!
  26. Share your memories

    Missed this: Fforde stole it from me. Well, they do say the best things in life are free... (although in your case, I suspect that when you are sitting in your library, amongst all your books, that probably gets subverted to "The best things in life are dead trees." I'm not on Facebook, and no amount of money could convince me to join! (may be open to tests of my resolve if anyone has a million or two they aren't doing anything with, however...). So to everyone here who has made the place interesting and fun - and what the hell, as we're closing down - to all those who have been tedious and dull*, I guess this is goodbye. So, goodbye! *There weren't many of them and they didn't tend to stick around for long!
  27. Raven's Reads

    Perils of The Modern Reader #57 After a rather hectic couple of weeks I'm having a quiet weekend, so after finishing Redshirts, by John Scalzi, this morning I started reading Three, by Sarah Lotz this evening. Because the battery was flat on my Kindle, I had to resort to reading it on my phone when having a bath. What I have read of it so far is building nicely, but it is a little tense. What you don't want to happen when you are reading a tense book, on your phone, in a quiet house, when in the bath, is to get a Twitter like that causes your phone to vibrate in your hand. All I can say is I'm glad I was holding the case firmly, or a lot of swearing would have ensued...
  28. Saving content

    I've got all my stuff off. Not sure there's anything I need to save on here though...
  29. Saving content

    Thanks Andrea! Have fun saving your content! I've downloaded Libre Office on the recommendation of BF, it's supposed to be better. I hope it'll make things easier for me, was already having problems with Open Office again.
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