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      Signing Up   11/06/2018

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    • Hayley

      July Supporter Giveaway   07/01/2019

      It's Christmas in July! The winner of the July Supporter giveaway will receive this beautiful Barnes & Noble edition of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, as well as a special Charles Dickens tea by  theliteraryteacompany.co.uk .   I've been keeping this book a secret for so long (I couldn't wait until Christmas!) It's actually from a really lovely independent bookshop in Hay-on-Wye, the town of books. I'm so glad I finally get to show you! The picture doesn't even do it justice. A nice feature that you can't see in this image - the page edges are gold and (an extra surprise for the winner) the back is just as beautiful as the front! We also now have twice as much tea as previous giveaways!  (Thank you Literary Tea Company!)   As always, supporters are automatically entered into the giveaway and a winner will be chosen at random at the end of the month. If you want to enter this giveaway but you aren't a supporter, you can join in here https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum .   Good luck  

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  2. Andrea's reading in 2019

    I think it's only damning if one is focused on plot, which a lot of writers and readers are; thus the popularity of the thriller genre. I tend to avoid them nowadays, and have enjoyed quite a lot of books where 'not much happens'. Indeed, most of my one star books are plot driven novels (including both those so far this year)..
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  5. Andrea's reading in 2019

    I've heard of Anne Tyler but never read anything by her. Usually 'not much happens' would be a pretty damning review for a book but this sounds fascinating!
  6. Andrea's reading in 2019

    Reading your review reminds me that I really need to return to Anne Tyler. I've read a couple of her books, and both have been pretty much as you describe. No, nothing much happens (actually, in one it did, but it didn't feel like that), but that's not the point. She's so into character examination and development, that that is where the focus lies, and the plot is pretty much about how or why people turn out the way they do. Compulsively readable and thought-provoking.
  7. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    Some more mini-reviews I do seem to struggle keeping up with reviews, so another collection of shorter comments to at least keep up with the reading. The Rhine by Ben Coates **** Spotted this in the library, and it immediately appealed as we cycled the length of the Rhine from source to mouth a few years ago. Living in the Netherlands, he travels the opposite way. Unlike previous books on the same topic (I've tried both Patrick Leigh Fermor and Bernard Levin), this proved a thoroughly satisfying read. It never aspired to great literature, but it was very readable, a good balance between information and entertainment, and I enjoyed comparing notes and learning more about the cities along the way. If anything, that also highlights my main complaint - to a large extent it appeared he city-hopped his way along the river, each chapter generally focusing on one, and there was little about the sections in-between. Going back to my diary of the trip, our experience was that the cities had a relatively small impact, and we spent and enjoyed most of our time exploring the landscape and smaller towns/villages along the way. But maybe that just reflects our interests. Whatever, I'm certainly going to read his other (earlier) book about the Netherlands, and keep my eye out for future books. Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer *** Read for one of my book groups. The author is a journalist who, having reported on the American Memory Championships and been told that anybody can become competitive as long as they prepare properly, takes on the challenge and works towards competing in it. Along the way, he looks into the history of memory development, or, perhaps more accurately, looks into why our memories have so deteriorated through time (mainly because we've externalised memory to other forms of storage, like writing, printing, electronic etc). The sections on the history I found fascinating; those on his preparations I found increasingly tedious, particularly as the techniques, and their detailed explanations, became more and more complicated and specialised. This was thus a book of 'two halves', and if I could have split the halves apart, I would have done. As it was, I found myself glazing over whilst reading through the technical detail, then snapping back in at other times. There was a very good book on memory in society and how we use it, or don't, but it never quite took off. Incidentally, quite a few of our group found themselves rather put of by the slightly unpleasant first page - the author even apologises for it! You can see what he was trying to do, but it wasn't the best start. The Big Fat Surprise by Nin Teicholz ****(*) Another book in my exploration of diet issues relevant to diabetes development. This is an examination of the science behind the pre-eminence of the complex carb based, low fat, diet promoted by dietary authorities in the US and UK (mainly US), in particular the demonisation of saturated fats. It makes for extremely uncomfortable reading, as increasing levels of obesity and diabetes (a 2014 report published in the British Medical Journal suggested that 1 in 3 adults in the UK are prediabetic*) have coincided with the publication of this advice, and the author suggests that much of this advice has been based on poor science (or, at least, poor interpretation of the science). It's very interesting stuff, which turns so much of what is currently the norm and accepted practice on its head, although quite a few reviewers have found it heavy going; personally, I appreciated the depth of discussion. So, maybe saturated fat, cholesterol aren't quite the devils, and complex carbs and polyunsaturated fat not quite the godsends they are often portrayed. *the concept of prediabetes is itself somewhat controversial, mainly it appears because of the danger of making 'patients' out of healthy people, and certainly there is conflict between the views of WHO and the American dietary authorities on how it's defined and used. However, as a marker of the need for a wider population lifestyle change, it seems to still hold, although those changes many not be what are conventionally portrayed as necessary. The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey *** There is no doubt that Samantha Harvey can write - there's some beautiful material here. However, for me her plotting left a fair amount to be desired: the tracking backwards in time didn't quite work (I found it more confusing that anything else), and it never seemed to be going anywhere. Yes, one finds out what happened (to the victim), but much else? One learns about the relationship of church to village, the power pressures from outside, and several characters start to develop promisingly, but I reached the end feeling that things had never really got beyond the start. A pity, as this held so much promise. Still, the quality of writing suggests that this is an author worth following up, and I enjoyed much of it for that alone. I See You by Clare Mackintosh * A Richard and Judy choice which, at the least, usually indicates at least a solid read. It seems to me they misfired on this one though, although I have to confess that this is a genre I have increasingly little time for; I only read this as it was a book group read. It is promoted as a psychological thriller, and it certainly fits the recent mould, following a similar, well worn, path to the likes of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train et al. So if you liked these, then you may like this, but for me its unpredictability was in fact all too predictable and obvious, I didn't care about any of the characters, there were too many sterotypes, and too much suspension of disbelief was required. A thoroughly unpleasant (in more ways than one) and unrewarding experience.
  8. Giveaways - Have Your Say

    You're incredibly generous, Hayley, thank you very much. I didn't realise there were as few as 6 supporters so I really hope a few more people get on board. Patreon starts at $2 a month which is peanuts to pay. I think quarterly prizes are an excellent idea 😊
  9. Your Book Activity - July 2019

    On reflection (preparing review for book group), dropped to one star. Will cover in review on blog thread when I get round to it (soon!)
  10. But should I risk a guess that you say may be hazardous?
  11. I remember it was in 12th grade and black paper back book...all I remember...it starts out with it raining and thunder storming and a man comes to the door...I think he had a trench coat or briefcase trying to sell something....
  12. Yesterday
  13. Your Wish Lists

    I have a list in a notebook and one on my phone. But I've only recently started keeping a list, so I'm not sure how good it is.
  14. Your Book Activity - July 2019

    Bartleby, by Herman Melville, and The man that corrupted Hadleyburg, by Mark Twain, are among the joys within The Penguin book of American short stories.
  15. I agree with both comments above. If I'm carrying a book with a lot of other things in my bag, I try to put the book between two flat things. Like a notebook and my laptop, for example. If it's squashed shut then it shouldn't get damaged. I have actually seen book sleeves that you can buy to protect your book while travelling, but I can't recommend it as I've never tried one. The Story Gift shop sells them.
  16. Your Wish Lists

    Goodreads and Amazon for me too, mainly Goodreads. It would be nice if we could have wish lists on here. Maybe one day!
  17. Giveaways - Have Your Say

    That’s ok, this thread is always open to suggestions! I think seasonal prizes could be interesting, so there would be four giveaways a year? What does everyone else think about that? I realise reading your post Andrea that there’s some things I should probably explain about the giveaways and how I organise the forum costs! I don’t usually talk about the cost of running the forum because I feel like that shouldn’t be anybody else’s problem but mine, I knew that running the forum would cost money when I offered to take it on. But, especially for those of you who contribute to the forum costs with patreon, you should be able to understand how it works. If I explain simply here then just feel free to ask me anything you want to know: 1. The money you all donate through patreon goes towards the hosting cost, which we pay monthly. I would definitely not be able to afford this monthly cost by myself so you really are keeping the forum running when you contribute to the patreon. 2. Twice a year we have to pay for the software license. This is where the ads come in. I knew early on that patreon was not going to cover this cost as well. I’m happy to report though that so far this year we’re on track to pay for the software fully with Adsense! So, fingers crossed for that one but it’s looking good. 3. There are other costs, like renewing the domain, that are smaller and less frequent. I just cover those fully myself. 4. The giveaways. This is where I realised things got confusing. I plan out the money for the forum as shown above, but I don’t include the giveaways in that. I do not use the patreon money for the giveaway prizes, that money is entirely absorbed by the hosting cost, which I also add to. You should know that the prizes are always very low cost. You might have noticed that a lot of the things in the giveaways are from the same shops, which is because those places let me buy things at a discount in return for including a link to their shop on the forum when the giveaways are running. Some of them have even given us things for free. This small cost every month just comes from me and I genuinely don’t mind that. When I search for our giveaway prizes I feel like I’m shopping for presents for a friend. And yes that £5, for example, might be the difference between me buying a book for myself or getting myself a coffee or not but it’s absolutely worth it because it’s the way I feel I can say thank you to you all for keeping the forum going. I know, at the same time, that if I said I really can’t afford even a small extra cost this month, that you’d all understand, because you’re all genuinely lovely people. But while I can I want to do something to say thank you, because if you didn’t support we wouldn’t have a forum any more. (For the sake of being entirely clear, the book in this month’s giveaway isn’t from one of the usual shops, it’s from one of my favourite independent bookshops in Hay-on-Wye. When I visited there, months ago, they had a stack of them that were very heavily discounted, so I bought one in advance. I was going to keep it until December but then I was too excited to wait that long!) I do have some ideas for open giveaways, for everyone on the forum. I really like one idea in particular but there are still a couple of potential issues I need to work out before I announce it. But, everyone, do let me know your thoughts on seasonal, rather than monthly, supporter giveaways.
  18. I travel with books to and from work regularly and having a separate compartment in a bag for books definitely helps. Another thing you could do is put the book(s) in a plastic bag and wrap it tightly around the book, that way it is held shut so the pages shouldn't get damaged.
  19. Perhaps you could find a sturdy satchel-type bag with a large enough pocket that could hold a book, and keep it separate from keys, water bottles, etc., that might be likely to damage it?
  20. Your Wish Lists

    Same as you, I use Goodreads and Amazon. The two combined work very well for me, but I'll watch this thread with interest in case anyone comes up with a better idea!
  21. Hi Friends, i commute 1 hour to work so my commute everyday is 2 hours to and from work. I use this time productively as i always bring a book with me to read. A major problem i have is my books keeps getting damaged in my bag ( bents pages, scratches, leaking water onto pages etc..) Is this a common problem among book lovers? What are your fixes?
  22. Your Wish Lists

    Bit of an odd question for people. How do you keep your wish lists? I've tried the feature on Goodreads, I have a list on Amazon and I also have various lists written on notebooks but none of them seem satisfactory to me. I'm curious as to what other people use to see if I can make something work for me. Portability would be good so I am leaning towards creating an excel sheet but I'm not convinced that would work great either.
  23. Update time. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport (4/5) I read this book based off of an episode of the Rich Roll podcast featuring Cal Newport. I knew who Cal Newport is and have been really interested in his research and thoughts on focus and concentration. I've had one of his other books, Deep Work, on my TBR for a while but despite me feeling like I would benefit from reading it I still haven't got round to it. Too many books, not enough time, something I think we can all identify with. Anyway, the basis of this book is that we have far too many distractions to deal with in life as it is and this is made far worse by things like social media. Newport also explains that it's not really our fault that we become somewhat addicted to our phones and social media, they are engineered that way. He also delves into the importance of solitude and time spent thinking without distractions. All of this really makes sense to me and it was the final straw in me deleting all my social media. Most importantly I think is that he explains that social media isn't necessarily evil and you don't need to delete it but you should be careful to make it work for you and not the other way round. A Border Station by Shane Connaughton (2/5) I picked this up at the library because I liked the cover (yes I can be that shallow). The story follows a young boy and his family living and working at an isolated Garda station between Fermanagh and Cavan. The father is the local policeman and has to deal with a collection of petty crime. He is pretty negative towards the boy who wants nothing more than his father's approval. Things start to change for the family and this threatens the comfort of routine for the boy. I didn't really get on with this despite the glowing reviews it has. There is nothing wrong with it, it just didn't jive with me for some reason. The Distant Echo (Karen Pirie 1) by Val McDermid (5/5) On a freezing morning in the run up to Christmas four drunken students find the barely living body of a local woman. In the aftermath of the crime the four students are the prime suspects and despite being 'innocent until proven guilty' suspicion remains on them while the crime goes unsolved. Many years later a cold case review is opened up and we find out what has happened to the four students as the result of the suspicions cast on them for so long. This is a fantastic book and despite being fairly large I whizzed through it and just couldn't put it down, I loved everything about it. The build up is slow but because we good really good backstory for all the main characters is never feels slow. There are plenty of twists and turns and although I eventually worked out who was guilty it keep me guessing throughout.
  24. An English city, I think you may hazard a guess?
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