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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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Found 7 results

  1. Tim Marshall’s Prisoners of Geography

    I was fortunate to be enrolled into the SocialBookCo reviewer program and was sent Tim Marshall’s Prisoners of Geography to review. Growing up I was always a devout reader. I loved books, loved collecting books, loved locking myself in my room and allowing my mind to enter new worlds, understand new concepts and live in the life of the characters of my book. Reading is what helped me get through most of my rocky childhood. I usually stuck to science fiction such as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Divergent etc. Anything with action, adventure and a bit of suspense. When I received Prisoners of Geography I was super excited as I didn’t really know a thing about geopolitics. Tim Marshall did not disappoint. The book begins with a super power that every person on this planet has heard of before, a place where power and principles stand true today as they have in the past, Russia. My opinion of Russia and the culture and territory have changed in my 20s I must say the book has made me think extra hard of the plight Russia now faces. With its barren land, decline in population growth and restrictions from the other super powers of the world, the book made me feel a bit of concern and sincerity for Russia. By reading Prisoners of Geography, it sparked an interest to learn more and to research into what Tim Marshall describes as “six million square miles vast, eleven time zones vast; it is the largest country in the world”. Marshall begins each chapter by outlining the geographical barriers that influence the politics of the continent, the demographics and culture. He begins with the major bodies of water that help with foreign trade and go on to talk about deserts, mountains, plains, etc. Anything that affects the relationships of the country and its neighbors. He begins with Russia, which in my opinion was brilliant as Russia is so vast yet people such as myself from North America know very little. We know what history books have taught us and we know of the European countries as travel destinations but we don’t necessarily pay attention to the geopolitics of the countries and how it affects the country in which we live and their relationships. When we ask why it’s so hard to get visa’s, why oil prices fluctuate, why it’s cheaper to go to some places and not to others or why people are migrating it has to do in some sense with geopolitics and political ties that countries have made in the past. Marshall goes on to outline these very barriers and political outcomes for places such as China, United States of America, Western Europe and many others. The chapter that really peaked an interest, not that all of them didn't as each were enlightening in their own way but the chapter on Africa. Africa is a place in constant need yet sometimes we are not enlightened to why it has become the place we know today. Tim Marshall outlines the geographical barriers that Africa faces, the fight against diseases, the lack of medical information and supplies, the malnutrition and plight of about 75 million people and the ever existing internal wars that happen daily. Reading Prisoners of Geography has opened my eyes to each people's plights and fears and has provided me with an understanding of how much geography plays in the politics, cultures, immigration and safety of our planet. I did not expect much from Prisoners of Geography but I must say it has sparked a hunger for more information regarding geopolitics and has enticed me to research and learn more. That is what a great book does for its reader. It encompasses learning, the love for reading and affects the reader's’ feeling in some way. I appreciate SocialBookCo for sending me this book to review as I probably would have gone into a bookstore or seen this book on Amazon and not taken the chance on it. I am so glad I did through Social Books as now I am on a journey for more information, intrigued at the politics that will shape the world for our children and their children. I should’ve paid closer attention to geography class in high school, never knew it could be so interesting. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, you do not have to love geography or politics, but have the love for reading. This is definitely a great read and will spark an interest in history and political chess in which there is no definitive lines of the chessboard but instead mountains, bodies of water, deserts and forests. Any thoughts??
  2. It seemed like a good idea at the time..... Infecting 12 death-row prisoners with an ancient virus, in order to create human weapons. Instead, the virus turned them into ravening, unstoppable monsters. And when the twelve broke out of the underground compound facility where they had been born, all hell was truly unleashed. In a world now ravaged by the viral plague, humanity is reduced to stubborn pockets of resistance. But if the human race is to have a future, survival is not enough. Against terrifying odds, they must hunt down the twelve and destroy them in their lairs. ---------- This is the follow up to "The Passage". The first thing to say is that this is a much shorter book than The Passage. This is about 550 pages whereas the Passage was about 900 odd. I also went through quite a range of feelings about this book as I read it. The book starts five years after The Passage ends, with the survivors of the colony spread far and wide, but mostly residing in another colony in Texas. Just as you get into this however, the action slips back 97 years to the original outbreak (from a different viewpoint admittedly) for a good 100 pages. At first , I was irritated by this. It felt like going over old ground, covered in The Passage. Slowly however, the plight of the new characters started to grip me. Justin Cronin knows how to make you care about the lives of the people he's describing. The action then jumps forward again in two stages and finally we are moving ahead with where The Passage left off. I don't want to say too much more about the actual story as I don't want to ruin it for people, so I'll just give my thoughts. I felt the book would have benefitted by being longer. There were times, particularily towards the end when things felt a bit rushed. There are also some things that don't feel very well explained. I can only hope that they are all explained properly in the final instalment. So I'm only going to give it 4 out of 5 - and it probably only just scrapes that 4 as well.
  3. Although everyone in the whole world knows of Rowling, the same number of people must have anticipated her debut in adult fiction as they would a holiday in another continent, with trepidation, curiosity, fear (that they might have wasted their money), and excitement. Before I read the book, I was wondering whether I was going to regret it, reading a book by someone who was to me, up to that moment, a fantastic author, for fear of shattering my admiration and replacing it with regret. I need not have worried. Although this novel is as different as it could be to Rowling’s earlier masterpieces, it is also a very enjoyable story, with Rowling’s trademark well-formed characters. The story is set in rural England, in modern times. One of the council members, (who incidentally is one of few of this book’s likeable characters) drops dead on his way to his anniversary dinner, thus creating a vacancy on the board. The council had been split into two camps about a matter which was coming up for a vote, and this death was a great blow to the ‘for’ camp. The vacancy caused by his death, known as a casual vacancy, needed to be filled sooner rather than later. But the councillor’s death created more than a casual vacancy, it also opened a can of worms, and revealed a multitude of feelings which had been hitherto well hidden. The plot runs very smoothly, and the story is such a simple one, yet a very true portrait of everyday life. Most of the characters are really unlikeable, and a few of them downright horrible but very real - they could be anyone's own neighbours in any village around the world. The ending made me think that this is one of a series of novels about the village of Pagford and its inhabitants, and if that is the case, I will be looking forward to reading the next in the series.
  4. “Immensely charming, immensely uplifting, I would recommend it to everyone” Marian Keyes.   This is a snapshot of a nearly 60yr old’s life, told in the form of a diary, detailing the approach of & her 60th birthday & her refusal to grow old gracefully & accept the ravishes of time. She details her relationships with her family & friends coping from the mundane to the tragic. The synopsis on the back of the book reads as follows: ‘Too young to get whisked away by a Stannah Stairlift, or to enjoy the luxury of a walk-in bath (but not so much that she doesn’t enjoy comfortable shoes), Marie is all the same getting on in years - and she’s thrilled about it. She’s a bit preoccupied about whether to give up sex - Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! - but there are compensations, like falling in love with her baby grandson, and maybe falling in love with someone else too? Curmudgeonly, acute, touching & funny, this diary is what happens when grumpy old women meet Bridget Jones' I must say, I borrowed this from the library based on the synopsis & have never read any other Virginia Ironside’s books, but I was very pleasantly surprised - I devoured the book in a couple of days & loved every second of it - from the funny (using a thermometer to sign a cheque) through the dinner parties & the redecoration of her room - there was always a passage to lift the reader’s mood. I found that the character’s attitude to aging was refreshing (similar to a bucket of ice water to the face) & must admit I think I might adopt this attitude as I approach her age! I loved the fact that she grew in confidence - realizing that you can be yourself, you don’t need other people’s affirmation or approval. To feel happy & content with your lot in life. She hinted at a having led a very colorful life & that she was determined to continue to live her life the way she wanted to rather than bowing down to the pressure of ‘you can’t do that - you’re too old’ scenario. In conclusion, I loved this book & would definitely read it again! I’m also planning on searching out some more of Virginia Ironside’s books. I’m curious as to whether anyone else has read this book & whether they enjoyed it a much as I did?
  5. I need help on book review. I am a technician in Pakistan Air Force base Chaklala. I am expert in my technical profession. But don't have any experience on writing book reviews or documentary work. I am ordered by my officer commanding to write a book review and submit in-time otherwise I will be given explanation letter. Despite I am a very good professional in technical skills, my promotion will be stopped if I fail to submit in-time. Kindly advise me how to accomplish this work? How a book's review is written?
  6. Before The Dawn - An Autobiography. By Gerry Adams Published by Mandarin, 1996. How does one review a book like this? I grew up in the cosy English Midlands in the 1960s and 70s when The Troubles began once more. It was oh-so-simple in my youth. Gerry Adams and his cronies were the baddies; the British government were the goodies - and the IRA were committing atrocities on an almost daily basis that seemed to have no motivation other than pure evil. Gerry Adams still provokes strong reactions. Even as I read this book in England in 2012, my partner and others reacted with apoplectic fury that I should read it yet alone believe any of it. But even in my childhood I always suspected that the black and white simplistic version of events as described by the British press were "a bit more complicated than that". And when Mrs Thatcher outlawed Mr Adams and others from talking on TV (depriving him of "the oxygen of publicity") I suspected this was the last gasp effort of a bullying government which had long since lost the argument. I also realised that the politics of Northern Ireland would be something I'd have to read more about one day. But where to start? I picked up the Gerry Adams autobiography because of the censorship. What did he have to say that was so terrible we shouldn't be allowed to hear it? And if he was in any way responsible for the atrocities how could he even start to justify them? My real fear, however, was getting my head round the tangled web of Northern Irish politics. Fortunately, whatever his faults, Mr Adams can at least write. And with Google sat beside me, the book was reasonably easy to read. For most part he writes well. On occasion his writing is terrifyingly powerful - but that may be because the events he's writing about are so devastating. And, it has to be said, at times his writing is superficial. Since we start with his childhood and work through to 1996, this autobiography does at least give one person's chronological view of the events in Northern Ireland and the reasons for them. "Oh so you do believe him" my partner would be saying at this point . No, I don't 'believe' every word he says but I'm interested in what he has to say about Bloody Sunday, Bloody Friday (it only gets two paragraphs - did I mention his writing was sometimes superficial?), the hunger strikes and so forth. This is a book that makes you ask questions. Did we really think it was a good idea to do away with trial by jury? would be one of my first questions. It makes you think and makes you want to understand the conflict from all points of view. This is the start of a journey for me and establishing 'facts' is probably going to be a pointless task. Who do I turn to for solid facts about Northern Ireland? Wikipedia? The Daily Mail? Gerry Adams? But hopefully by asking questions and seeking answers I can at least start to understand what brought on this madness - and why it has hopefully come to an end. Mr Adams was born into a society of inequality, which boiled over into frustration and anger. And then very quickly developed into an armed struggle that resulted in 3,600 deaths. That's tragic enough but if it could have been avoided by people talking (and listening) to each other it would be even more desperate. And what's particularly chilling is that soldiers on the streets, bombs, schools turned into military outposts, people being snatched from their homes, internment and trials without juries all happened in a society which, just a few years earlier, had been just like ours. How quickly civilisation can fall apart - and how long it takes to put it back together. This book may not provide many answers but it certainly asks a lot of questions. And that's no bad thing. - Alan Cleaver
  7. "In tough times, crime is one of the few things that still pays, but even criminals are having to make cutbacks. So, for defence lawyer Mickey Haller, most of his new business is not about keeping people out of jail; it's about keeping a roof over their heads as the foreclosure business is booming. Lisa Trammel has been a client of Mickey's for eight months, and so far he's stopped the bank from taking her house. But now the bank's CEO has been found beaten to death - and Lisa is about to be indicted for murder...." My review. I've read a number of Michael Connelly books in the past, but only one in this series (The Lincoln Lawyer) before. I didn't feel that I was disadvantaged by not having read the whole series to date. What I like about the writing here is that everything isn't black and white. Even the protaganist, Mickey Haller, isn't painted as a whiter than white defender of justice: he isn't above cutting a few corners or palying a few dirty tricks in court to get his verdict. The same goes for the accused, who is fairly unlikeable, but as the case progresses, you come to think she is innocent. Despite most of the book being taken up with the trial, there is still plenty of page turning action as well as well observed details of court procedure - I was hooked from the first page. The characters are believable because they all exist in grey areas. If you've read any MC before then get this, as you will like it. If you haven't, still get it, as it's a good introduction 4/5
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