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      Important Announcement!   07/28/2018

      Dear BCF members,   This forum has been running now for many years, and over that time we have seen many changes. Generalised forums are nowhere near as popular as they once were, and they have been very much taken over by blogs, vlogs and social media discussions. Running a forum well takes money, and a lot of care and attention, as there is so much which goes on behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly.   With all of this in mind, and after discussion within the current moderator team, the decision has been made to close this forum in its current format. I know that this will disappoint a lot of our long term members, but I want to reassure you that it's not a decision which has been taken lightly.    The remaining moderator team have agreed that we do not want to lose everything which is special about our home, and so we are starting a brand new facebook group, so that people can stay in touch, and discussions can continue. We can use it for free and should be easier for us to run (it won't need to be updated or hosted). We know not everyone has FaceBook, but we hope that those of you who are interested will join the group. We will share the link, and send invites as soon as we are ready to go. Added: We may as well get this going, find us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/195289821332924/   The forum will close to new registrations, but will remain open for some time, to allow people to collect up any information, reading lists etc they need to, and to ensure they have contact details for those they wish to stay in touch with.    The whole team feel sad to say goodbye, but we also feel that it's perhaps time and that it feels like the right choice. We hope we can stay in touch with all of you through our new FaceBook group.   I personally want to thank everyone who has helped me moderate the forum, both in the past and the present, and I also want to thank every single person who has visited, and shared their love of books.. I'm so proud of everything we've achieved, and the home we built.   Please visit the new section in the Lounge section to discuss this further, ask questions etc.
chesilbeach

Claire's Book List 2016

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It somehow managed to be both riveting and boring (though not at the same time obviously :D)

 

That's a great way of describing it. :D I didn't find the beginning slow, for me it was the trial section that dragged a bit. It made me want to rush to finish the book, which is a shame because the last couple of pages are so key to the story. I ended up re-reading the last few pages again the day after I'd finished it, and I'm glad I did, because it was so subtly written with so much ambiguity. I still can't come up with a valid conclusion though.  :doh:  :blush2: 

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Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

 

Synopsis:

When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows that something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry; her sister seems scared of her and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out.

 

Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In a quest find the truth she must travel into the terrifying Underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family - before it's too late . . .

 

Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. On the surface it seems like an old fashioned sort of fairy tale, but the quality of the writing, and the depth of the story elevate it above the ordinary. I loved the characterisation and the world described, which again, on the surface feels very real and grounded but as it develops, there’s that extra bit of strange that makes it that little bit fantastical adding to the fairy tale feeling. Lots of things to please, and I’ll definitely be coming back for more Francis Hardinge books. :smile2:

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Glad you enjoyed Cuckoo Song! I liked it a lot, but I don't tend to like 'faerie' stories, so it probably wasn't overly suited to me. There was a quote near the end about religion/faith that I loved, can't remember it now. Something to do with church bells? Argh. Why didn't I write it down.

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Great review of The Woman in White! I've had this on my TBR pile for years, and it's one that I'm certain I'll love, but for some reason I keep putting it off!

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As You Wish by Cary Elwes

 

Synopsis: (from Amazon.co.uk)

The Princess Bride has been a family favourite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

 

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets and backstage stories.

 

Review:

This was given to me for Christmas, and I had no idea it even existed before then! I don't read many celebrity books, but given this was just about the making of one of my favourite films, it's easy to see why someone would have chosen it for me, and I'm so glad they did.

 

For those who don't know, Cary Elwes plays Wesley, the hero of the film, which didn't actually make much money at the box office, but subsequently went on to become a firm favourite with video, DVD and television audiences. Elwes goes right back to the beginning, talking about the casting process, through the preparation and training required (for the sword fighting) as well as the actual filming and what has developed over the last thirty years.

 

With little snippets from other cast and crew members, what comes across is that this was a very special film for the people making it, and they worked hard, but had one of the best filming experiences, particularly the younger, more inexperienced actors working occasionally with the more established actors and comedians in the cast. An absolute joy to read the behind the scenes stories of a beloved film.

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The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

 

Synopsis: (from Amazon.co.uk)

Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella dreams of the faraway lands her cartographer father once mapped. When her friend disappears, she volunteers to guide the search. The world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland - and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.

 

Review:

This middle grade children's book is the second fairy tale style story I've read recently, but this one had a more mythical and fantastical feel than the previous. It's a proper old fashioned quest, and had the feeling of both being set in the past and the future at the same time, similar in feel to the time and place of Mister Pip (although incomparable in other ways!).

 

There's a feeling of the Shakespearean with the heroine having to disguise herself as a boy in order to fulfil her quest, with folklore monsters and dangers ahead of her, and the search for a lost friend. The book doesn't shy away from the horrors of life, with a young girl murdered at the beginning, and it's a little scary at times too, but on the whole, it's lovely storytelling with a not perfectly happy ending, but with a satisfying conclusion.

 

One of the things I should say, is that the book is beautifully illustrated. Isabella's father has imbued his love of maps onto her, and each page is bordered and includes lovely cartographic symbols and maps, adding an extra dimension to the experience of reading the book.

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Common Ground by Rob Cowen

 

Synopsis: (from Amazon.co.uk)

After moving from London to a new home in Yorkshire, and about to become a father for the first time, Rob Cowen finds himself in unfamiliar territory. Disoriented, hemmed in by winter and yearning for open space, he ventures out to a nearby edge-land: a pylon-slung tangle of wood, hedge, field, meadow and river that lies unclaimed and overlooked on the outskirts of town.

 

Digging deeper into this lost landscape, he begins to uncover its many layers and lives – beast, bird, insect, plant and people – in kaleidoscopic detail. As the seasons change and the birth of his child draws closer, his transformative journey into the blurry space where human and nature meet becomes increasingly profound. In bringing this edge-land to life, Cowen offers both a both a unique portrait of people and place through time and an unforgettable exploration of the common ground we share with the natural world, the past and each other.

 

Review:

Well this was just lovely. A perfect blend of memoir and nature writing, with each section focuses on a particular animal, bird, plant or insect. Cowen rediscovers a small wilderness of forgotten land when he moves back from London to somewhere closer to where he grew up, and through his discoveries of different species over the different seasons, we also get vignettes of other people's encounters with the land and how nature affects both him and them. Alongside that is the story of what's happening in the author's own life, as he and his wife become parents for the first time.

 

My favourite chapter was about swifts. I love watching and listening to birds when I'm out and about, and I'd only recently been watching the swifts coming back to our shores for the summer when I read this. I learnt so much about their migration, including how they sleep on the wing, and the extraordinary distances they fly, but none of this is told in a way that makes it feel like you're being educated, simply related but full of information. Just my sort of thing.

 

I absolutely loved reading this book. It's one of the books on the Wainwright Prize long list that I'm working my way through, and if this is an example of the quality of book I'm going to read, then I'm in for a fantastic summer of reading. One other little mention goes to the linocut prints that begin each chapter, which I've just looked up and were made by Cowen himself - only a small illustration for each, but beautiful nonetheless.

 

I've decided to rate the books on this list to give me a comparison for picking my favourites at the end, and this was easily a 9/10 as soon as I've finished it, but given time and reflection, it's edging its way towards a 10.

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Loved the review of Common Ground, not least because, having it on our shelves to read, it gives me something to really look forward to. Interested especially in your comments about the section on swifts, as I'm sat here at the kitchen table, watching the swifts through the window, feeding out of the back of the house - they're flying low today even though it's beautifully sunny. It's always a major landmark in our year when they return, overnight May 7/8 this year. (We've also just had a large swarm of bees fly right across our backyard, and along the back of our terrace, before disappearing around neighbouring houses - quite an exciting event!).

I'm not doing your challenge, but am really interested in observing your reading (!), and have just bought both Patrick Barkham's (in our local remainder shop - the hardback at £6.99), and Amy Liptrot's books (the latter is a reading group read for the autumn); I'm still likely to end up reading most of them! If you are enjoying these, then I can thoroughly recommend the book I've just finished this morning: John Lewis-Stempel's The Running Hare, where he recounts an experiment in turning a rented field in Herefordshire over to wheat grown in a traditional way (complete with a healthy dose of wild flowers etc, harvesting into stooks for good reasons, etc) - the resurgence of wildlife is extraordinary. Beautiful writing, and much to say about modern arable agriculture. He won the Wainwright Prize in 2015 with his book Meadowland, which I've now bought in the wake of reading this.

Edited by willoyd

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Thanks, I hope you enjoy Common Ground as much as I did. :)
 
I've got both The Running Hare and Meadowland on my future wishlist, but I'm going to try and read this years longlist first.  I'm very interested in modern agriculture, and having just read The Shepherd's Life which is about the life of a fell sheep farmer, so it'll be good to read another aspect of the industry.

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The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Great review - I nearly bought this last week.  I think I might treat myself to it for my birthday!   :D  It's a gorgeous book.  :wub:

 

I've been reading Meadowland in the monthly installments in which it's written since January.  The writing is gorgeous - I'm sure you'll love it when you do read it.  :)

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Caught up with my English Counties recent reads, and put the reviews in the respective threads:
 
The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
Tom Brown's School Days by Thomas Hughes
England, England by Julian Barnes

 
I've also reviewed some more of the Wainwright Prize longlist books and my reviews are in my challenge thread:
 
The Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks
The Outrun by Amy Liptrot

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I came in here to see what you've been up to and see if there are new reviews to read, and once again I stumbled upon the post on Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, as it sits there at the top. I've read Prep, years and years ago, and personally I didn't like it, and have therefore never been interested in anything other by Sittenfeld. Which made me even skip your review of the book, as I thought I wouldn't be interested... For some reason, though, this time I read the synopsis, and thought, holy heck :D This might actually be something I might be interested in. And... Cousin Willie!! No, please let's not call him that :D :D *fighting goosebumps*

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Met up with Janet for a chat and a coffee today, and we had a lovely time!!!  Lots of discussion about books and about our book groups too, which was fantastic, and then had a mooch around Waterstone's and came home with another book. :lol:

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It was lovely to see you, Claire.  :)  The time whizzed by!  I didn't buy a book but I have a few for my wish list! 

 

Thanks again for the gorgeous Kindle cover - I LOVE it!   :wub:

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Lovely review of Common Ground, and I have that one on my wishlist. I have a copy of The Running Hare, and I saw John Lewis-Stempel at the bookshop event last week, but haven't read it yet. At the moment I am reading John Wright's A History of the Hedgerow, which is really good. There seems to be so many wonderful books about natural history at the moment.

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Thanks Marie.  The shortlist for the prize has been announced now, and of the six books on it, Common Ground is one of my favourites so far.  I keep switching between that and The Shepherd's Life and can't settle on a favourite.  I still have two left of the short list and five of the longlist to read, so I might end up with a different favourite yet!! :D

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Hi Claire.  I know we discussed this when we met up recently, but I can't remember what you said! :blush:  I have Persuasion and Mansfield Park (and Lady Susan, but I think that's very short...?) left to read of Austen's completed novels.  As her resident expert, which one did you say I should leave until last?  :) 

 

Also, is it worth (in your opinion) reading Sanditon and The Watsons?  I haven't ever read an unfinished novel. 

 

Thanks in advance.:)

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Hmm.  I haven't read Sanditon, but The Watsons was interesting to read, just because it was when she was learning her craft so it's sort of an insight into how a writer grows.  I do plan to read Sanditon eventually, but you know what it's like ... too many books too little time! :D

 

Of Mansfield Park and Persuasion, I love both but Persuasion is my favourite, and more of a classic Austen.  MP has a more serious tone with very little of the wit most people associate with her, so I'd probably read that one first, and save Persuasion as a fantastic novel to finish on. :)

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Brilliant, thanks, Claire. :)  

 

I don't know how, but I had missed the fact (or perhaps forgotten) that Mansfield Park is a Counties Challenge book - I only noticed when I went to post a review of another book!  :blush: 

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I have had such a busy few weeks, I've had hardly any time for reading, and when I have, I haven't been able to settle on a book, so I've tried about half a dozen books without luck.  I don't go back to work until Wednesday, so I might try and find a quiet place for an hour tomorrow and attempt a decent reading session.

 

I've got two Wainwright Prize books left to read, and I bought some new novels last week too, so I've got plenty to choose from, I just need to find the right one now!

 

I'm so far behind with reviews, I might be skipping quite a few and just do ones for book on a couple of challenges I'm doing, and maybe a few short reviews ... and even then, I'm not sure when I'll get round to them, but I will try. :D

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I have had such a busy few weeks, I've had hardly any time for reading, and when I have, I haven't been able to settle on a book, so I've tried about half a dozen books without luck.  I don't go back to work until Wednesday, so I might try and find a quiet place for an hour tomorrow and attempt a decent reading session.

 

I've got two Wainwright Prize books left to read, and I bought some new novels last week too, so I've got plenty to choose from, I just need to find the right one now!

 

I'm so far behind with reviews, I might be skipping quite a few and just do ones for book on a couple of challenges I'm doing, and maybe a few short reviews ... and even then, I'm not sure when I'll get round to them, but I will try. :D

Haha .. we've got the review blues this year! The important thing though is to read yes? :yes: and not to stress too much on writing up stuff that people will only disregard anyway :lol: (if they have any sense .. oops .. I'm talking about mine of course :D:hug:

 

Hope you've found some books you love Claire or have got stuck into some good ones. Thanks for the tip off about The Chronicles of St Mary's short stories ... they're keeping me amused on my walks and, what's more, making my Goodreads target deficit a little less alarming :D Haha .. it doesn't know they're short stories!! 1-0 to me I think :D Sadly, I can't read any more until I've read #4 .. just waiting to get my next credit at Audible. 

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You're right, Kay, it is the reading that's the important bit, but I would love to be able to recommend some books, if only I could get my thoughts down! :D

 

Glad to hear you're enjoying the St Mary's books.  I've read the latest novel and short story now, and am feeling a bit bereft without another on the horizon!  I hope she plans to write more but if it is the end of the series, it hasn't let me down anywhere, so I guess I'd be fine with that ... but please let there be more! :lol:

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Thanks Janet!  I've definitely decided to listen to Barchester Towers.  The version on Audible I've chosen is read by Timothy West, so it should be a good narration.  I downloaded a free edition of the Kindle book, and because of that, it's linked it with the Audible edition for WhisperSync for only £3.99, so I'm going to buy that and choose another book to use my credit for this month.

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Thanks Janet!  I've definitely decided to listen to Barchester Towers.  The version on Audible I've chosen is read by Timothy West, so it should be a good narration.  I downloaded a free edition of the Kindle book, and because of that, it's linked it with the Audible edition for WhisperSync for only £3.99, so I'm going to buy that and choose another book to use my credit for this month.

I started listening to the first book in the series - The Warden (also narrated by Timothy West) on Thursday - but sadly it's going to pour down tomorrow morning, so no walking to work for me tomorrow!  It's only about six hours long though, so nowhere near as long as Barchester Towers

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