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    • Hayley

      March Supporter Giveaway   03/02/2019

      So March has crept up on us and I'm thrilled to finally show you the GREAT (he he...) March giveaway!     This time we have a gorgeous print of The Great Gatsby's most famous line from thestorygift.co.uk AND a Great Gatsby tea from the Literary Tea Company! This particular tea is Peach Blossom (which sounds delicious and I kind of wish I could keep it myself...) and the tin features another Gatsby quote.  If you'd like to see the other literary teas available (there are lots, I spent ages looking) you can find them both at the Literary Tea Company's etsy store (https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LiteraryTeaCompany) or at their own website, theliteraryteacompany.co.uk .   As always, supporters are automatically entered into the giveaway and if you're not a supporter but want to be included in this months giveaway you can become a supporter on patreon here... https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum .   A winner will be chosen at random on the last day of the month. Good luck!  


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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. The Last Film You Saw - 2019

    Can only agree with you about Free Solo (had to watch some of it through my fingers!), although I think I'm a bit unusual amongst the people that I know in slightly preferring The Dawn Wall. They are, of course, fairly similar in style, being both by the same directing team (I can thoroughly recommend Meru if you haven't seen that and enjoyed these two). Whatever, they have both been standout films for me recently too.
  2. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    Finished Jonathan Fenby's The History of Modern France earlier this evening. An interesting read that has still been a bit of a haul: 484 pages with much detail. 4 stars, review to follow. I feel the need for a solidly good story after a series of non-fiction books, or fairly dire pulp fiction for my reading group, and am trying Miss Buncle's Book by DE Stevenson, part of the Persephone Press series.
  3. Your Book Activity - March 2019

    Currently, and unusually, have two books on the go, even more unusual in that both are non-fiction: Having had a few days on the northern French coast at the end of last month, I realised how little I knew of modern (post-Napoleonic) French history, outside the world wars and a smattering of other bits and pieces - certainly no coherent framework. So started Jonathan Fenby's A History of Modern France. It's a solid and interesting enough read so far, although his style of writing is a bit abrupt for me, and because some of the names are unfamiliar, I have little handle on much of the detail. I am putting that freamework together though1 The other book is Charlie Pye-Smith's Land of Plenty, about farming and food production in this country - rather topical with the exercise in national self-harm swirling around us. Lucidly written, it's enjoyably educational!
  4. The Last Film You Saw - 2019

    Went to see Mary Poppins Returns with OH at the weekend. Actually surprised myself by loving it. Emily Blunt outstanding. Not sure about Ben Whishaw (I'm usually a bit of a fan), but the rest of the cast practically perfect (in every way!). Lovely homage to the original, whilst carving out just enough of its own space.
  5. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    I think my problem is that I find most thrillers somewhat predictable, by their very nature. It doesn't help that most sacrifice any depth of character to plot and the desire to create that thrill. Conversely, I quite enjoy thriller-style films, at least the once, but then they only require a couple of hours of investment, and holes are easier to gloss over.
  6. Your Book Activity - March 2019

    I surprised myself by loving Howards End (By the way, there's no apostrophe - something I only learned recently), rather more than A Room with a View, which is meant to be lighter. Haven't even tried A Passage to India yet. Sounds a bit of a challenge! Finished The Art of Not Falling Apart by Christina Patterson, for one of my book groups. Had looked forward to this as something a bit different to my usual reading, and blurb looked interesting, but sadly disappointing. Two stars.
  7. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    February Review A solid month's reading, with four books completed, and another into the last few pages, although I still fell short of my 2000 page per month target (in fact, only read 2000 pages over the first two months) - setting targets always proves fatal! Quality was rather mixed, ranging from 1 to 5 stars, with no books receiving the same grade. I just wish that my book groups would avoid choosing so-called thrillers - most of them are utterly predictable, and partly as a result, as dull as ditchwater, as they rely so heavily on the plotting. This becomes even more painfully evident when read in the wake of writers of the quality of Anthony Trollope! Figures are those for this month, unless stated otherwise, with figures in brackets being for the year to date. Books read: 4 (5) Pages read: 1560 (2150) Average pages per book to date: 381 Genre: 2 (2) fiction, 2 (3) non-fiction Gender: 2 (2) female, 2 (3) male Sources: 2 (3) owned, 2 (2) library Format: 2 (3) paper, 1 (1) ebook, 1 (1) mixed media TBR list: 1380 +2 for month, +4 for the year Books acquired for reading: Around India in Eighty Trains by Monica Rajesh Origins by Lewis Dartnell Faster by Michael Hutchinson Europe, A Natural History by Tim Flannery The Wild Life by John Lewis Stempel Along the Divide by Chris Townsend
  8. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    After a slow start to the year, two books finished in two days! The Big Necessity by Rose George *** Essentlally, a series of essays on how sanitation (or the lack of it!) affects people's lives, and various projects attempting to tackle what is a worldwide problem. Fluently written and easily readable, the author covers a fair amount of ground in a relatively small space; a considerable amount is pretty eye-opening (and eye-watering!) - there are many interesting and illuminating insights. Having said that, even in a relatively short book, it did become a mite repetitive, and the last chapter's brief overview of sanitation in space came as something of a relief in its different view of what is certainly a fundamentally important issue. Does make me realise how wasteful (in more ways than one!) our water based sewage system really is! The Widow by Fiona Barton * A psychological thriller read for one of my book groups. The story is based on the narrative of the widow of a man killed in an accident who had been accused of child abduction - possibly murder - told mainly from her perspective, but occasionally switching to that of a reporter trying to secure exclusive rights to her story and the detective in charge of the abduction investigation. Did he, or didn't he? What does she know? This is the sort of book that flies off my local library's shelves, with long reservation queues on first issue, and a large section of the library devoted to such crime/thriller novels. I have to admit that I find the vast majority of those I've tackled vastly over-hyped and anything but thrilling, and this was no exception. It was certainly an easy enough read - it took up a few hours one evening - but at the end I felt not the slightest jot of satisfaction nor any sense of it having been time well spent.
  9. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    I rarely rate a book straightaway as a six - most sixes have initially been graded five, then I see how I feel after a week or two, sometimes longer. For me, favourites are books that live with you, and I can't always tell straightaway how I'm going to feel long term. Having said that, much as I enjoyed this, think it's really well well written, and am definitely going to read more Trollope in the near future, it's not got anything that particularly makes it a 'favourite'. One measure I use is would I be happy to read the book again? The answer here is probably not, at least not in the foreseeable future. Up to five stars, these are the grades I'd give a book on, say, Amazon; a six is reserved for something that for me goes that bit further on a personal level (and it doesn't have to be a great piece of literature!) - it's all about gut feeling. This, good as it is, doesn't quite go there. But then, only some 120 or so books have ever done so!
  10. Just finished James O'Brien's How To Be Right...in a world gone wrong. Interesting, thought provoking, and illuminating. Chapters on Islam and Islamism, Brexit, Trump and others admittedly simply confirmed a lot of my opinions, particularly on unevidenced claims in our right wing press and the febrile atmosphere they deliberately create, but the chapter on 'The Age Gap' (especially being in an older generation myself now) really made me sit up and take note, as I needed to rethink some things.
  11. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    It's taken just over a month, but have at last finished The Way We Live Now. A great book, a monumental read, even if, perhaps, not quite making it onto the favourites list (so, 5 out of 6 stars). We had a brilliant discussion at my book group about it - almost two hours back and forwards, especially as so much remains relevant today - the mark of a real classic I suppose. Have now started something completely different, Jim Flegg's Time to Fly - an introduction to bird migration.
  12. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    In short, I'm loving it. I'm around 650 pages in, with around 200 to go. It's taken me longer than I expected because I've had a fairly huge project on, and been reading less than I've done for quite a few years. However,I've sent all the paperwork in today, so should be able to get back into it. It's quite like Dickens, with multifarious subplots, and of course all the Victorian characteristics (and the propensity to write big books!), but in this instance I find his characters more 'real' (Dickens tend to caricatures), especially his women. Dickens couldn't really write real women, and it's interesting that all those in my reading group - I'm the only man - said that Trollope was one of the few male writers who 'got' the female gender. The language, whilst still Victorian - which I like - is rather less convoluted. That''s neither good nor bad, just a characteristic (and I actually like the Victorian tendency to prolix). It's also a bit more satirical and a bit less worthy. None of which makes him better or worse than Dickens. Dickens is a long held favourite, Trollope is coming up on the rails. Whether Trollope matches him, or even gets a nose in front, I don't know, and actually don't really care, but what I'm glad about is that there's an awful lot more of him out there to read!
  13. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    January summary In raw terms, a pretty dire month, with just the one book completed, Stephen Moss's The Wren - my lowest total ever (for any month!) since I started recording my reading. I'm also about half way through another, admittedly the chunky The Way We Live Now, some 800+ pages worth, but even allowing for that, it's only just over 600 pages of reading for the month. Not a lot! In fact, very little. This is primarily because I've just been too busy doing other things - not least writing this annual bird report. It's been a far bigger exercise than I anticipated, largely because it's been the first one and I've had to do a lot of sorting out first, and have not had time to get any systems in place to make this work properly - I'm already plotting for next year! As I said before, fascinating stuff though. I'm not overly bothered by all this, partly because I want to do this project (unlike the rubbish I had to do teaching, when so much was a waste of time), and partly because I said from the word go that this year was about concentrating on fewer, bigger books. They don't get that much more substantial than a chunky Victorian classic (although LesMis is in a different league!), so that at least has got off to a good start. Book acquisitions have also slowed down this month: with just 7 books added to the library (and more removed from it). Four have already been listed in an early post, the other three are: The Favourite by Ophelia Field (the book upon which the film was based - great film too!) In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin (a nice Folio Society edition in a sale) Along the Divide by Chris Townsend (99p Kindle purchase) All non-fiction. I've virtually given up buying fiction, using the libraries more and more instead, and catching up on my own TBR.
  14. A review is only of any use if you know where the reviewer is coming from. And then you need to know how you relate to them. Thus there are people in my book groups who I know have a similar mind to me - if they have liked a book, then more likely than not, I will too, whilst there are others who I just know that if they've liked a book, I need to avoid it like the plague (and there are people who as soon as they say they've disliked a book, I know there is a good chance I will like it - depending on what they've disliked about it of course!). I've hated far too many bestsellers to go along with the mainstream or Amazon of Goodreads reviewing (Gone Girl? Girl on the Train? I Am Pilgrim? Man Called Ove? The Circle? Ben Elton? David Nicholls? Tim Moore? Four out of five Man Booker prize winners? Ugh, you get the idea!). Having said that, I will sometimes check out a non-fiction book, particularly history, before reading - these are generally less about personal appeal and more about their quality and rigour. But fiction reviews I tend to ignore until afterwards, when they can be very entertaining.
  15. Willoyd's Reading 2019

    Yes - a male. Woman from the BTO was on Radio 4 Today programme this morning, talking about their Tawny Owl survey. Trying to better establish how many there are as there is a fear that numbers are falling (as most of bird population in the UK is).