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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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About willoyd

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  • Reading now?
    Almost certainly!
  • Location:
    Wharfedale, Yorkshire
  • Interests
    birding, cycling (mainly touring), running, walking, family history.

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  1. Read-a-thon 2019

    Definitely, and thank you both. I've got a wee bit of extra possible reading time that weekend, so would like to take part if that's OK.
  2. Raven's Reads

    Pretty good summary! It lost me round about the same time.
  3. 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.
  4. Raven's Reads

    I see what you meant now. Thought that was meant to be either 'Brett' or 'Rathbone' instead of 'Sherlock'.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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,
  8. 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!
  9. 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).
  10. 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.
  11. Reached the halfway point, and can still thoroughly recommend it: the chapter on Margaret Thatcher (surprisingly one of the shortest) I found particularly illuminating, maybe because she's the first prime minister of my adulthood, so am now into the time period I'm most aware of.
  12. The Last Film You Saw - 2019

    Currently enjoying the Leeds International Film Festival. So far, have enjoyed to varying degrees: Ghost Tropic Cleaner Khadija falls asleep on the last train home in Brussels. Insufficient money and unfortunate events means that it's quite a long and adventurous journey home. Gently enjoyable if not particularly memorable. 2+/5 The Kingmaker Documentary about the return of the Marcos family to Philippines politics. One I was uncertain about going to, but found it absorbing and quite disturbing - particularly some of the parallels with the move to the right in Britain. 4/5 Days of the Bagnold Summer Heavy metal loving teenager Daniel, looking forward to a summer with his father's new family in Florida, is let down at the last minute and has to get along with his retiring, librarian, mother Sue for the next six weeks. Some beautifully observed touches in this fairly gentle (a good thing!) coming of age comedy. 3/5 Fire Will Come Set in the beautiful mountains of Galicia, convicted arsonist Amador returns home having served his sentence and, tries to settle back into the rhythm of rural life with his elderly mother Benedicta, but simmering tensions threaten. Moves from the elegiac to the dramatic. Worth seeing for the scenery alone, and the poetic nature of the narrative. 4/5 Judy and Punch Black comedy based on (surprise, surprise) the story of Punch and Judy, with a strong feminist twist, a lot to say on some less savoury aspects of human nature and some real bite. Loved it. 4+/5 The Report Dramatised telling of the story behind the Senate investigation into the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program that was created after 9/11. Almost, if not quite, a modern day version of All The President's Men. Riveting watching. 4+/5 The Fading Village A year in the life of a small, slowly diminishing, Chinese village, where only one inhabitant is under the age of 60, and the big city looms. This may be almost 3 hours long, but it's so beautifully filmed, people so sensitively portrayed, and the narrative so absorbing, that the time slipped past (felt a lot less than the next film anyway!). 5/5 The Cordillera of Dreams This film had some really important things to say, not only about the state of politics in Chile, but about broader political issues, but for me, whilst it superficially looked good, it failed to 'cut the mustard'. It appeared to start off as a film about the influence of the Andes in Chilean psyche, but then moved to focus on the Pinochet era and its effect on modern day Chile. Unfortunately, it relied primarily on just two 'witnesses' offering their own individual critiques, through extensive talk to the camera and archive footage shot by one of the witnesses (a professional film camerman and long term recorder of civil events), but little else. The issues were, and are, very important, but I found the arguments heavy on rhetoric (and some blindingly obvious truisms - 'the mountains have not moved') but with virtually nothing of any depth, however meaty they are in reality. Judging from the audience reaction at the end, I was in a distinct minority - most seemed to say how powerful they found the film- but for me this was all touchy-feely and no substance, in massive contrast to The Kingmaker, which was convincing as this one was not. 2-/5
  13. Currently reading Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, interspersed with chapters from Steve Richards's The Prime Ministers, so am in for the long haul (about a quarter of the way through the former)! Both thoroughly engrossing. I've borrowed the latter from the library, but I can see that I will want to go back and dip into it again - there's a lot to absorb, and I feel I'm gaining a lot insight into recent British political history - so may be after my own copy. The former is 'just' a really great read, everything it's cracked up to be in the numerous very positive reviews.
  14. I loved Lord of the Rings, mildly enjoyed The Hobbit (too much of a children's book for my taste), but found The Silmarillion dry as dust, and gave up after some pages (can't remember how many!). I definitely wouldn't start with it - it's one for the committed Middle-Earth fan.
  15. Novels That Shaped Our World

    I looked down that listing wondering how on earth that selection could be regarded as changing our world (some, yes, but most, no). However, I then read the blurb in more detail, and it's very much a personal selection of books that changed the panel's lives. Rather more parochial! Should still be an interesting programme to watch.