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      Signing Up   11/06/2018

      Signing Up is once again available. New members are very welcome
    • Hayley

      Special Christmas Giveaway!   12/01/2018

      I am very, very excited to announce a special Christmas giveaway for supporting members! Thanks to https://www.secretbookclubuk.co.uk/ one supporting member will win a Secret Book Club Book Box on December 25th!      The winner will be able to choose between six great genres for their book box: Crime & Thriller Mind, Body & Soul Debut Novel or Self Published History Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy    See the 'Giveaways' thread for more details   


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About ian

  • Rank
    Constant Reader
  • Birthday 04/13/1970

Profile Information

  • Reading now?
    keep forgetting to update this, but definitely something!
  • Gender
    Not Telling
  • Location:
    Birmingham, England
  • Interests
    Rock music, hiking, Sci-fi

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2,181 profile views
  1. The Handmaid's tale by Margaret Atwwod Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now... (taken from Goodreads) My Thoughts I struggled with this. It is, of course, a very difficult subject matter. But I struggled anyway. I found I could only read a couple of pages at a time. Because there is so much going on, sub-text, that I found I had to take a break to consider it. The writing is beautiful. I loved how the words echo the calm, sleepy summer whilst still describing, almost without emotion, the horrific things that are being done to Offred and those around her. I also liked how the "Commander" is drawn. Lesser writers would have made him a monster. He is, of course, but he also seems oddly small; pathetic at times. At times I felt his wife was the more monstrous of the people in the house. The ending leaves you with more questions than answers, which was my one disappointment (at the same time knowing that this is EXACTLY how it should end). 4/5 Well timed as well, me reading this - I see that she has announced a sequel.
  2. Ooh, that's a big question! I love the short story "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank redemption" , IT, Cujo & Under the Dome. Taken as a whole - the Dark Tower books are excellent too. Not sure I could pick one book as an absolute favourite.
  3. I'd not heard that about Dreamcatcher. I read it some years ago, and I wasn't keen - not one of his best.
  4. I like the sound of both Fireside Gothic & the LJ Ross series. Thanks for the reviews!
  5. Frankie reads 2018

    Ah, the wish list - every readers nightmare! I've refused to make one for several years now. Of course, the result of that is; I walk into a bookshop and think " what was that book called? You know, the one by the author whose name I can't remember"!
  6. Great review! Moby Dick is one of my "didn't finish" books, but your review has made me want to give it another try! I'll also be interested to see your review of Don Quixote. It's another book on my "read it one day" list, but the size of it has out me off so far.
  7. In a House of Lies - Ian Rankin Everyone has something to hide A missing private investigator is found, locked in a car hidden deep in the woods. Worse still - both for his family and the police - is that his body was in an area that had already been searched. Everyone has secrets Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke is part of a new inquiry, combing through the mistakes of the original case. There were always suspicions over how the investigation was handled and now - after a decade without answers - it's time for the truth. Nobody is innocent Every officer involved must be questioned, and it seems everyone on the case has something to hide, and everything to lose. But there is one man who knows where the trail may lead - and that it could be the end of him: John Rebus. (Taken from Goodreads) My Thoughts I found this book to be a bit of a slow starter, but once it does get going, it had its hooks into me. I've read enough of these books now that John Rebus, Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox feel like old friends. Initially, I thought it might by unbelievable - Rebus has been retired some years now: how is he still able to walk into current investigations? Malcolm Fox, who at first looked to be Ian Rankin's choice of new lead has taken a more supporting character role. Siobhan Clarke seems the obvious choice as the new lead character - (perhaps Rankin doesn't feel he can write a female lead successfully?). But, apart perhaps from the final interview that Rebus gate-crashes - this felt utterly believable to me. All that aside, I found this to be an excellent read, and one that I was quite happy to stay up till after midnight last night to finish. 5/5
  8. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett The plot centres round Mary Lennox, a young English girl who returns to England from India, having suffered the immense trauma by losing both her parents in a cholera epidemic. However, her memories of her parents are not pleasant, as they were a selfish, neglectful and pleasure-seeking couple. Mary is given to the care of her uncle Archibald Craven, whom she has never met. She travels to his home, Misselthwaite Manor located in Yorkshire, a vast change from the sunny and warm climate she was used to. When she arrives, she is a rude, stubborn and given to stormy temper tantrums. However, her nature undergoes a gradual transformation when she learns of the tragedies that have befallen her strict and disciplinarian uncle whom she earlier feared and despised. Once when he's away from home, Mary discovers a charming walled garden which is always kept locked. The mystery deepens when she hears sounds of sobbing from somewhere within her uncle's vast mansion. The kindly servants ignore her queries or pretend they haven't heard, spiking Mary's curiosity. (taken from Goodreads) My Thoughts I find myself in two minds about this book. On the one hand, it's an uplifting tale about the restorative power of positive thinking and of nature, and also a warning perhaps to parents to treat their children with love and attention. It's an easy read and a light read, and its positivity can't but help to make you smile. But... how many chapters can you fill with descriptions of flowers growing? I did occasionally get impatient and want the story to get to the point and move on. Still, overall I did enjoy this book. 4/5
  9. Which classic best to read first? :)

    The problem with reading some classics - particularly ones like Dracula, is that the "brand" is so strongly represented in film, TV and popular culture, that going back to the original source can seem a little tame. I know I did this trying to read Frankenstein when I was 13. I actually did much better with those that were closer to films I'd seen of them - So A Christmas Carol would be a good choice IMO. I started making serious attempts at reading classic novel once I was in my 30s, which was much better for me, and I have found my favourites to be those that had not been "spoiled" by seeing a TV or film version before - so Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights & Pride & Prejudice all became favourites. Of course, having read them, I them immediately wanted to see the films I'd never seen, but that's another story!
  10. I was going great guns this year, and well on the way to beat last years total of 40...and then I decided to read Bleak House. Loved, it, but a 900 odd page book does set you back! So, at the moment I'm on 36 for this year so far and I'm trying to ignore the longer books on my TBR pile!
  11. Changes

    Personally, I think a few adverts is a very small price to pay for getting the forum back.
  12. One more thing I forgot to say - I'm pleased that I can again post here. I discovered that I didn't want to post book reviews on Facebook. Although everyone who knows me, knows that I'm always reading... well, I work in a factory and some people do look at me like I'm a bit strange, especially when they see me reading Austen. Reading is something women do , in their view. I can take all those type of comments in person (which I know are mostly light-heartedly meant - there is a rich vein of mickey-taking in our factory, which I wouldn't want to stop), but the possibility of reading them at home was something I wasn't prepared to ley myself open to. I'll be honest, that reaction surprised me. I thought I was beyond caring what other people thought or said. Clearly not!
  13. It's good to be back! Just before this site was temporarily down, I seem to have got out of the habit of posting reviews for the books I had read. Not just here, but also on Goodreads, which I was using just as a log of books read. As usual for me, that was fine while I knew that I could always come back, but once it looked like the site was closing, I was gutted! Now would be a good point for me to thank Michelle for all of her hard work on the forum up to this point, and to Hayley for taking over. And of course, for all the other Admins & moderators who keep this running. I won't bother trying to review all the books I've read since the last one I posted, but here's a list; The Venetian Game - Phillip Gywne Glass - 4/5 Life after Life - Kate Atkinson 4/5 The Fix - David Baldacci - 4/5 North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell 4/5 Demon Dentist - David Walliams 4/5 Jamaica Inn Daphne Du Maurier 5/5 Gone - Michael Grant 5/5 Hunger - Michael Grant 4/5 Lies - Michael Grant 5/5 Plague - Michael Grant 5/5 Fear - Michael Grant 5/5 Light - Michael Grant 5/5 Monster - Michael Grant 4/5 Bleak House - Charles Dickens 5/5
  14. Book 21 The City & the City by China Mieville Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad finds deadly conspiracies beneath a seemingly routine murder. From the decaying Beszel, he joins detective Qussim Dhatt in rich vibrant Ul Qoma, and both are enmeshed in a sordid underworld. Rabid nationalists are intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists dream of dissolving the two into one. My Thoughts This book, and indeed the author, only came to my attention because of the recent BBC adaptation. That TV show is significantly different from the book, but I'm glad I saw it first. Imagine two city states existing within one actual city. Like Berlin before the wall came down. Or Jerusalem, or perhaps Belfast to some extent. But instead of a physical wall or barrier keeping the two populations apart, there is nothing. Even the border is tenuous: some parts of the city are in Beszel, others are in Ul Qoma. Some are actually in both. And so the populations of both have to live ignoring the presence of the other: to do otherwise is a crime, called Breaching. No of which is explicitly explained in the book; it becomes apparent eventually. Which is why I was glad to have seen the TV show - I felt it gave me a heads up. Beneath all this strangeness, is a noir crime story. A good one. But it's that strangeness of the situation that drives the story. The ending I felt was a little confusing, and a little un-satisfying, but it certainly left me wanting more. 4/5
  15. Book 20. Missing You by Harlen Coben It's a profile, like all the others on the online dating site. But as NYPD Detective Kat Donovan focuses on the accompanying picture, she feels her whole world explode, as emotions she’s ignored for decades come crashing down on her. Staring back at her is her ex-fiancé Jeff, the man who shattered her heart—and who she hasn’t seen in 18 years. Kat feels a spark, wondering if this might be the moment when past tragedies recede and a new world opens up to her. But when she reaches out to the man in the profile, her reawakened hope quickly darkens into suspicion and then terror as an unspeakable conspiracy comes to light, in which monsters prey upon the most vulnerable. As the body count mounts and Kat's hope for a second chance with Jeff grows more and more elusive, she is consumed by an investigation that challenges her feelings about everyone she ever loved—her former fiancé, her mother, and even her father, whose cruel murder so long ago has never been fully explained. With lives on the line, including her own, Kat must venture deeper into the darkness than she ever has before, and discover if she has the strength to survive what she finds there. My Thoughts I started off not liking this very much, and very nearly gave up on it. I didn't, however, and I'm glad I did...just. My main problem with the first half of the book is that it concentrates more on Kat's ex-fiancé. I'll be honest, I didn't find that part of the story that riveting. Then there are the host of minor characters that seem to be there solely to be colourful, but add nothing much to the plot. Admittedly, after the focus of the book shifts to the crimes that are being perpetrated, it became much more interesting (to me at least). The reason for some of those colourful people becomes clear and the pace shifts up a couple of gears. I enjoyed it from them on, but I have say that I found the denouement a bit rushed. At that point, a chapter or two similar to the slower-paced start of the book would have made more sense. So overall - 3/5