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      Something Wicked This Way Comes...   10/09/2019

      The Autumn Supporter Giveaway!       Welcome to the very first of the seasonal BCF supporter giveaways! This month also marks one year since I took on the forum, so I want to say an extra huge thank you to all of you for keeping this place going. I have a little bit more to say about that later but, for now, let's get to the giveaway!     The Autumn Giveaway winner will be getting two Penguin Little Black Classics, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and To Be Read At Dusk by Charles Dickens. Both of these little books contain three atmospheric short stories, perfect for autumnal evenings. The winner will also get Mary Shelley tea (a lavender and vanilla black tea) from Rosie Lea Tea's Literary Tea Collection (https://www.rosieleatea.co.uk/collections/literary-tea-collection) and a chocolate skull, to really get that spooky atmosphere .   and...   A special treat for a special month. The winner will choose one of the following recent paperback releases from the independent bookshop Big Green Bookshop:       The Wych Elm by Tana French A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan Melmoth by Sarah Perry The Familiars by Stacey Halls  The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White   The winner will be chosen via the usual random selection process in one week. Patreon supporters are entered automatically. If you aren't a patreon supporter but you'd like to join in with this giveaway, you can support here: https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum.   I really hope you're all going to like this introduction to the seasonal giveaways. It's been a lot of fun to put together. Other chocolate skulls may have been harmed during the selection process…     

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  1. Today
  2. Muggle Not's Reading List - 2019

    32 - Land of Wolves : A Longmire Mystery - Craig Johnson - 3.5/5 - typical Longmire story but yet a very good read. 33. This Tender Land - William Kent Krueger - 4.5/5 - Excellent book that reminds one of Huckleberry Finn and Where the Crawdads Sing in one story. I really enjoyed this book. Story takes place in 1932 featuring 4 kids in ages 6 to about 15. They break out of a school for kids where everyone is treated terribly by a woman they nicknamed The Black Witch. Their journey takes them down a river where they encounter many hardships while The Black Witch keeps tracking them. A Prologue from the book: https://www.amazon.com/This-Tender-Land-William-Krueger-ebook/dp/B010MHAEGA/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=this+tender+land&qid=1573954176&sr=8-1 Reviews: Review Praise for This Tender Land “If you liked Where the Crawdads Sing, you’ll love This Tender Land by best-selling author William Kent Krueger. This story is as big-hearted as they come.“ —Parade Magazine “A picaresque tale of adventure during the Great Depression. Part Grapes of Wrath, part Huckleberry Finn, Krueger’s novel is a journey over inner and outer terrain toward wisdom and freedom.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune “Crafted in exquisitely beautiful prose, this is a story to be treasured – outstanding and unforgettable.” —Historical Novel Review "If you’re among the millions who raced through Where the Crawdads Sing this year and are looking for another expansive, atmospheric American saga, look to the latest from Krueger." —Entertainment Weekly "Long, sprawling, and utterly captivating, readers will eat up every delicious word of it.” —New York Journal of Books "Absorbing and wonderfully-paced, this fictional narrative set against historical truths mesmerizes the reader with its evocations of compassion, courage, and self-discovery. . . THIS TENDER LAND is a gripping, poignant tale swathed in both mythical and mystical overtones." —Bob Drury, New York Times bestselling author of The Heart of Everything That Is "More than a simple journey; it is a deeply satisfying odyssey, a quest in search of self and home. Richly imagined and exceptionally well plotted and written, the novel is, most of all, a compelling, often haunting story that will captivate both adult and young adult readers." —Booklist "Rich with graceful writing and endearing characters...this is a book for the ages." —Denver Post
  3. Raven's Reads

    Pretty good summary! It lost me round about the same time.
  4. Andrea's reading in 2019

    Well, I enjoyed it, but not everybody hear feels the same! However, it's what Gemma Bovery is loosely based on, which is why I mentioned it. I used to read the Posy cartoon in The Guardian fairly regularly (going back some years now!), and have read Tamara Drewe (based on Thomas Hardy). Yet to read Cassandra Darke.
  5. Raven's Reads

    I see what you meant now. Thought that was meant to be either 'Brett' or 'Rathbone' instead of 'Sherlock'.
  6. Raven's Reads

    The first series of Sherlock was very good and - with the excerption of Hounds - series two was as well. After that, however, it got a little up it's own bottom and went down the pan. Series three was poor and the Christmas special they did after that was a joke. I cannot tell you about series four because I haven't watched it.
  7. Yesterday
  8. Read-a-thon 2019

    Hope you have a great holiday @karen.d! @Athena might be the best person to answer this but, as far as I understand it, it’s basically signing up to focus on reading for those three days. By checking in here and updating the thread with how much you’ve managed to read it’s just a little extra motivation, a fun challenge to yourself to see how much you can read in that time. I like it because it gives me an extra excuse to read! When I might normally feel guilty about reading instead of doing something else I meant to do, I can think ‘well it is the read-a-thon’ and treat myself to extra time!
  9. Raven's Reads

    I’ve heard bad things about the Benedict Cumberbatch version before. You’re definitely not alone in thinking it was a poor take! I’ll have a look at the Rathbone one then, thanks @willoyd how brilliant that your dad led the walks for the London Appreciation Society! I spoke to someone recently who used to work answering the letters sent to Baker Street. I think it’s great that people love the books so much. Not many books, even classics, get that kind of attention!
  10. My very favourite book

    Not read Leviticus. I love Book of James atvend ofcthe NT. Only short but summarizes Jesus teachings. I just continue building my knowledge by dipping in as i want. Never to learn by rote or quote at anyone. Rather to underpin my faith and grow and enjoy the wisdom and beauty of the words.
  11. My very favourite book

    I can relate to that. In terms of the bible itself, there are bits of it I do love actually, Genesis for instance (in spite of its challenges) and there are some wonderful and really interesting things like Job and Ecclesiastes that I'm also drawn to, and some of the psalms. I could happily leave the law though. Leviticus. Ugh!
  12. Andrea's reading in 2019

    I'm afraid I haven't. Would you recommend it? Have you read any other Posy Simmonds?
  13. Last week
  14. Raven's Reads

    No, no typo! I'm talking about the Benedict Cumberbatch series Sherlock that was on a few years ago. Their take on HotB was... poor, to say the least. I watched the Brett version of it after writing the above and whilst I really like that series, I would have to say that their take on HotB was a pretty dry adaptation and very stilted in places. So, in summary, the best adaptation I think I have seen is the Rathbone one!
  15. How about the following? I've enjoyed them all at different levels. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger Doomsday Book by Connie Willis To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis Black Out/All Clear by Connie Willis 11.22.63 by Stephen King The Many Colored Land by Julian May (and subsequent books) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle King of Shadows by Susan Cooper Blitzed by Robert Swindells The Connie Willis books are all part of a series based on a single concept (historians travelling back in time from Oxford University), although TSNOTD is very different in concept to the others, being far more light-hearted. Black OUt/All Clear are two separate books, but a continuous novel They are all good stories, although some of the research can be a bit wobbly (BO/CA is set in WW2, but includes occasional faux pas, like 20 pieces and the Victoria Line!). Doomsday is set during the Black Death, and TSNOTD in Victorian times (intersecting with Three Men in a Boat!). Time travel features regularly in sci-fi. I suppose, to a large extent, any time travel book IS sci-fi, but these don't have that feel; other than..... The Julian May is the more fantasy/sci-fi than the others The last three are usually regarded as children's books, but they appeal to adults too.
  16. My very favourite book

    Hi Andrea Good to speak to a fellow christian. I don't read the Bible in any order, never have. I read what i am drawn to, perhaps an old testament section and a new testament book. Generally i read books by authors who are good at explanation. Selwyn Hughes is superb for instance. I don't like anything too heavy, i would rather be spiritually inspired and follow my own meandering path.
  17. A Book blog, 2019 by Books do Furnish a Room

    Thank you Willoyd, that's very generous of you. Reflecting Rogue: Inside the mind of a feminist This is a collection of essays, fourteen in all, which cover a range of topics, academic and personal. Some are autobiographical, as Gqola says: “There are reflections of and on living, loving and thinking as feminist. One feminist.” There are personal essays about motherhood, parents, education and essays about the issues within South Africa. Other essays cover those Gqola respects and reveres: all cover her experience with “racist capitalist patriarchy”. There is a brilliant essay on Femrite, the Uganda women’s writers association, an essay about a controversial art exhibition. She writes about feminists like Wambui Otieno with some interesting reflections on Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and the Nobel laureate and activist Wangari Maathai. Gqola speaks about, “rogues – unapologetically disrespectful of patriarchal law and order, determined to create a world in which choice is a concrete reality for all.” This is powerfully written and Gqola has better words to express what she’s about than I do: “ .. it is to reject the idea of writing as safe and rioting as dangerous; to recognise the power of women’s writing in our contexts. As African feminist literary scholars, we insist on reading imaginative agency in the material resisting cultures whether textual or embodied as theorising, partly in flagrant disregard for the pressure to reinscribe the Cartesian or Enlightenment logic that posits the body of knowledge docile to interpretation, which is an episemic reinscription of how African raw material is docile and ready for processing elsewhere to ready it for easy/ready consumption. It is not possible to hold on to an idea of writing as safe against the background of South African Miriam Tlali’s consistent banning or Egyptian Nawal el Sadaawi’s detention. These African feminists were not treated as people engaged in safe activity by the regimes that recognised how loaded and revolutionary their work was. Miriam Tlali buried dozens of books in her back yard in Soweto because she understood both how precious the written word is, and how deadly the consequences of being found with the wrong book could be in apartheid South Africa.” These essays work on a number of levels: they engage and stretch the mind, challenge assumptions, promote feminist justice, challenge racism, engage at a personal and emotional level and for me, give me a whole range of writers and thinkers to add to my reading. 9 out of 10 Starting The Periodic Table by Primo Levi
  18. Read-a-thon 2019

    Sorry if I've missed something obvious, but could you explain to me how a read-a-thon works? I've seen loads of references to it, but not got around to finding out more before.
  19. Andrea's reading in 2019

    I do agree! Have you read Madame Bovary? It's a while since I read both, but I remember the parallels were really interesting,
  20. A Book blog, 2019 by Books do Furnish a Room

    I wish there was some way to 'like' a review without necessarily having to comment. Just to say that I always read your reviews with great interest and enjoyment, even if the book doesn't appeal - your reading is generally somewhat different to mine, but I love the different and detailed perspective your reviews provide. And on occasions, they do inspire me to put it on my TBR list - On Chapel Sands is there based pretty much entirely on your review for instance!
  21. Raven's Reads

    I've been a bit of a Holmes fan since I first read the stories as a 12/13 year old back in the 70s, and followed my father round the Sherlock Holmes walks he led for the London Appreciation Society at the same time, although I've not read them recently. Overall, I think the short stories are vastly better than the novels (although Hound is the best of the novels), so I'd suggest giving them a go (I'm not normally a short story fan either). I think that's a typo! Which version? I've not seen Brett or Rathbone either for a long time, but generally, reckon the former as a very good Holmes, and the programmes pretty accurate to the books (never seen his Hound though).
  22. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    Reviews of October books (second half). I do seem to struggle keeping up with these - so another batch of mini-reviews to bring me up to the start of November. Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar ***** A biographical novel (or is that a novel biography?) of the Stephens sisters: Vanessa (later Bell) and Virginia (later Woolf) told through Vanessa's totally fictional diary (she never kept one) and other Bloomsbury Group letters, postcards etc - all equally fictional. This is important to remember, as it would be (and was) very easy to slip into believing this telling to be real. It isn't, very deliberately so, and tells the story of their relationship in the decade from around 1905 from a very specific point of view - Virginia's jealousy of Vanessa's marriage, relating it to her mental health issues and personal insecurity. Vanessa is very much the 'good' half of this relationship too. Having read Hermione Lee's substantial (and superbly readable) biography, this came as some surprise, but whatever the verity of this perspective, the book itself was beautifully written and enthralling - one I struggled to put down. I also loved the style (epistolary), and the piecing of the story together from the 'evidence'. Really only missed out on a full 6/6 because I did have concerns about the angle taken, and the danger of it being somewhat unfair to some of the characters involved. However, it was a fascinating take, and a lovely read. Icebreaker by Horatio Clare ***** The author spends some time on a Finnish icebreaker working the upper reaches of the Gulf of Bothnia midwinter. A fascinating insight into the work (both of icebreaker and the ships for whom they work), the lives of the crew, and the environment they work in, inevitably linked in with the increasing effect of climate change. Read in only a couple of sittings. Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey *** Read as a book group choice. Purporting to be the story of the 'rise and fall of an English dynasty', the research that went into this large (almost 500 page) tome was indisputably awesome, and the material presented was never less than interesting. A wee bit more accurately this should have been 'the decline and fall', as the rise occured decades well before the start of the period she covers. However, even then, this would not have been completely accurate as thrown in with the story of the Fitzwilliams and their loss of Wentworth Woodhouse was loads of other social history, centred on the surrounding Yorkshire pit villages and the coal mining industry in general. For me, the author wandered round far too much, diving off at tangents, getting bogged down in unnecessary and often trivial detail (often whilst 'painting' pictures), whilst overloading on the melodrama (and repeating herself). She had a good story to tell, but needed a good editor to help her stay focused - very much my feelings after reading her other big tome 'Secret Rooms' last year. I was in a minority in my group on this one, most of whom thought it excellent social history, although I never though it poor enough not to want to finish it - just more soap opera than history. Dolly by Susan Hill *** Read as a book group choice. Fairly slim volume. Bog standard, and rather cliched, ghost story fare: isolated and bleak location (fens)? check; grim weather? check; orphan? check; spoiled child? check; single elderly relative (aunt)? check; grim, suspicious housekeeper? check; spooky doll? check; mysterious toy shop? check; and so on and so on. Maybe slightly different combinations, but whilst this was never less than very readable (this is Susan Hill after all), it was all so utterly predictable. Three stars, rather than two, for the readability, but half a star for originality. Dissolution by CJ Sansom **** The first in the Shardlake series, and a reread as want to get my teeth into the series but couldn't remember how the story panned out (read about 10 years ago). Cracking read, lots of atmosphere, believable setting and characters. I like the fact that, by modern standards, Shardlake is at times somewhat unsympathetic (hardened Protestant reformer), whilst remaining a human being. If had any doubts about reading others in the series, this certainly removed them. Looking forward to the next one.
  23. Almost finished with The Falcon of Sparta by Conn Iggulden. I’ve enjoyed it a lot but with work being busy this week I’ve not managed to read it as fast as I would have liked.
  24. My very favourite book

    I'm a Christian too, although I must say the bible is not my favourite book. In fact I often struggle with it somewhat. I also don't really think of it as a 'book' as such but more as a collection of writings. I find it much less cohesive than an actual book, although clearly consistent threads and themes can be found running through it. I've been reading Alister McGrath's book, 'Christian Theology, an introduction' this year, and among other things it discusses the origins of the Christian canon and how it was put together. I've found that very interesting.
  25. Madeleine's Book Log - ongoing

    The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie - Mark Easterbrook is a writer, living in London in the soon to be swinging Sixties, when a chance encounter leads him to the Pale Horse, a former pub, now a home for 3 women, two of whom claim to be mediums. Mark is intrigued by the Pale Horse's connection with the death of a priest in London, who was found to have a list of names on him, all of whom have ended up dying, supposedly of natural causes, illness or accidents. But was the priest killed for the list, or did his last visit, to a dying woman, also lead to his death? Mark eventually attends a séance at the mediums' house, and whilst some of it can be passed off as theatrical illusion, he thinks that somehow these women are causing people to die without actually doing anything to them. It all sounds bizarre and indeed it is, as Mark, helped by Inspector Lejeune, coroner Jim Corrigan (there's a Corrigan on the priest's list), and his friend, Ginger, tries to find out exactly what is going on at the Pale Horse. It's years since I read a Christie, but I found this to be an easy to read, ripping yarn, well plotted and I didn't guess who the killer way, although once it's revealed, it's actually pretty obvious (maybe that was why I didn't guess it!) and very cleverly written, and the setting of a London of coffee bars and bright young things hanging out is well evoked. Enjoyable, with some humour too. 7/10
  26. Madeleine's Book Log - ongoing

    Strange Fascination" by Syd Moore - this is the 3rd in the Essex Witch Museum series, and begins with the relaunch of the Museum with it's new exhibits. The launch party is well attended, but trouble is soon brewing when property developers try to disturb the Blackly Be, a large boulder on the edge of the local woods which supposedly marks the last resting place of Black Anne, another unfortunate woman supposedly burned as a witch, and if you disturb her.....well. It's not long before the severed head of one of the protesters against the development is found perched on the stone, and once again Rosie and Sam find themselves at the centre of events, as strange things start to happen in the village of Adder's Fork - birds plummet out of the sky, and Rosie encounters a strange, veiled sort of creature which seems to hypnotise her. She's also trying to find out what really happened to her grandma, Ethel, who disappeared back in 1953 after walking out of her own séance. Despite the busy sounding plotlines, I thought this book took a long time to get going compared to the earlier novels, and although it was still enjoyable it wasn't quite as compulsive as the others. A fun romp, though, with plenty of humour and more of Rosie's family background is revealed. 7/10
  27. What's the weather like?

    Keeps trying to rain. I seem to have started a weird cold, which has gone straight from a sore throat yesterday, to a few sneezes today, and now a tickly cough which is so annoying!
  28. Madeleine's Book Log - ongoing

    The King's Witch" by Tracy Borman - it's the early 17th century, and Frances Gorges finds her happy rural existence shattered when her uncle arranges for her to be sent to London, to be of the ladies attending Queen Anne, wife of James, who succeeded Elizabeth I on her death. Frances was also one of Elizabeth's attendants, but James's reign is very different - for a start, he is on a crusade against Catholics, and also suspected witches, an obsession he brought with him from Scotland, where he was responsible for the torture and execution of many, probably innocent, women. Frances herself is a healer, but this of course immediately puts her under suspicion of witchcraft, and it's not long before she finds herself in the Tower of London, accused of witchcraft, following the death of the child of another lady at the Court, although by the time Frances got to attend the child, she could see that he was beyond help. However after a few weeks of (literally) torment, Frances is cleared and released and allowed back into the Royal fold, but she knows she is constantly being watched, both by her uncle and the odious Robert Cecil. She longs to return to the countryside but this is out of the question, and her only comfort, apart from a good relationship with her young charge, the King's daughter, Elizabeth, is her burgeoning friendship with lawyer Thomas Wintour. But there are many plots against the King, he's not popular both inside and outside the Court, and eventually Frances finds herself caught up in the most famous plot of all, as events move towards November and the re-convening of Parliamen, and she also discovers devastating news about her own family, as she tries to avoid persecution yet again. I really enjoyed this book, the witchcraft section was the usual horrible history of persecution, but once the Gunpowder Plot started to develop I was gripped. I haven't actually read that many books that feature this as a major part of the story, so it made a refreshing change, and also to see it from another angle. It really was an audacious plot. Frances Gorges did exist, and her family home still stands. This is the first part of a trilogy and I look forward to seeing what Frances does next. The author is a genuine historian who works for London's Royal Palaces organisation, this is her first novel and it's well-written and does bring history alive with it's vivid descriptions of life at Court, and all the intrigue and backbiting that goes on. 8/10
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