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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.
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Janet

Janet's Log - Stardate 2016

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080-2016-Dec-13%20-%20The%20Santa%20Klau

The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay

The ‘blurb’
Aunt Mildred declared that no good could come of the Melbury family Christmas gatherings at their country residence Flaxmere. So when Sir Osmond Melbury, the family patriarch, is discovered - by a guest dressed as Santa Klaus - with a bullet in his head on Christmas Day, the festivities are plunged into chaos. Nearly every member of the party stands to reap some sort of benefit from Sir Osmond's death, but Santa Klaus, the one person who seems to have every opportunity to fire the shot, has no apparent motive. Various members of the family have their private suspicions about the identity of the murderer, and the Chief Constable of Haulmshire, who begins his investigations by saying that he knows the family too well and that is his difficulty, wishes before long that he understood them better. In the midst of mistrust, suspicion and hatred, it emerges that there was not one Santa Klaus, but two. The Santa Klaus Murder is a classic country-house mystery that is now being made available to readers for the first time since its original publication in 1936.

Sir Osmond Melbury is an autocrat who rules over his adult children by threatening to change his will if they don’t behave in a way that pleases him. Out of character one Christmas (as he’s not normally known for his Christmas spirit), he decides that the man he wants one of his daughters to marry should hand out the presents dressed as Santa, so he orders a suit to be delivered. It fails to turn up and so a second one is ordered. All goes according to plan and his grandchildren receive their gifts and Sir Osmond retires to his study… and is later found murdered. The last person to be seen near him is the young man dressed as Santa – but of the collective guests he is the only one with no reason to commit murder. Enter Chief Constable Colonel Halstock who must use his renowned investigative skills to work out whodunit, and why…

We went to visit my mum’s cousin Ken and his wife earlier this year, and in their town in Kent we came across a book fair and my cousin insisted he wanted to buy me a book, so who was I to argue! :wub: I chose this, having had it on my wish list for a while.

Each chapter appears in the form of a witness statement – some from the family members and most from the Chief Constable himself. There are a few red herrings along the way and although I suspected the culprit I didn’t work out why he committed the crime until the denouement. This author only published three books (in three successive years in the 1930s. It’s true that she’s no Agatha Christie, and although it’s definitely ‘of its time’ it was an easy and enjoyable read.

The paperback edition is 288 pages long and is published by British Library Publishing Division. It was first published in 1936. The ISBN is 9780712356305.

3/5 (I enjoyed it)

(Finished 13 December 2016)

 

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081-2016-Dec-15%20-%20A%20Christmas%20Ca
 
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
 
The ‘blurb’
Since it was first published in 1843 A Christmas Carol has had an enduring influence on the way we think about the traditions of Christmas. Dickens's story of solitary miser Ebenezer Scrooge, who is taught the true meaning of Christmas by the three ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, has been adapted into countless film and stage versions since it was first published.
 
The following was written last year and still applies!  :wub:
 
For the sake of continuity I am putting this in my blog, but as I read it every December and it’s possibly my favourite book ever there isn’t anything new I can add!  I love it – I love everything about it.  I love Scrooge’s redemption which shows that no matter how grumpy, miserly, disillusioned with life you are, change is possible if you really want to change.  If you haven’t read it then I urge you to do so – seriously – it rocks!  :D
 
The paperback edition is 160 pages long and is published by Puffin.   It was first published in 1843.  The ISBN is 9780141324524
 
5/5 (I will never tire of this – it’s probably my favourite book ever!)
 
(Finished 15 December 2016)

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It looks as though David Copperfield is a fair bit longer than Great Expectations, even if no-one knows the exact word count. That should make it easier for me to read - or at least to be willing to read. :blush2:

 

I've added Meadowland to my wishlist, as it sounds like my kind of book. We are out walking our dog daily, through fields and lanes and moorland. Even though we rarely see wildlife around, I was saying just the other evening to my husband that there were probably 30 creatures within 10 feet of us.

 

The Miniaturist is a book I intended to read this year, but it just never happened. :doh: I shall make a concerted effort to read it in the early part of next year.

 

Merry Christmas to you too, Janet. :grinhat:

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082-2016-Dec-22%20-%20A%20Christmas%20Pa

A Christmas Party by Georgette Heyer

The ‘blurb’
‘Tis the season to find whodunit …

It is no ordinary Christmas at Lexham Manor.

Six holiday guests find themselves the suspects in a murder inquiry when the old Scrooge who owns the substantial estate is found stabbed in the back.

Whilst the delicate matter of inheritance could be the key to this crime, the real conundrum is how any of the suspects could have entered the locked room where the victim was found, to commit this foul deed.

For Inspector Hemingway of Scotland Yard, the investigation is also complicated by the fact that every guest at Lexham Manor is hiding something – casting suspicion far and wide…


Nathaniel Herriard isn’t known for his love of Christmas, so when his younger brother Joseph, who lives with his wife Maud in Nat’s house, arranges a large house party it was always destined to be a disaster.  As Joseph tries to make the house – and guests – feel festive, his brother becomes increasingly grumpy and confrontational. Tempers flare and quarrels follow as Nathanial falls out with everyone. He is discovered on the floor of his bedroom, dead and there is no sign of the murder weapon…

The local policeman calls for a Scotland Yard detective and Inspector Hemingway arrives with his trusty, if slightly slow-witted, Sergeant called Ware and the pair investigate, but whilst they find plenty of reasons for the old man to have been killed they struggle to work out how it was possible for Nat to have been murdered in a room locked from the inside…

I’ve read quite a lot of vintage crime fiction this year and I think Inspector Hemingway is one of my favourite detectives (Poirot aside) as he exhibits a human side – he doesn’t solve the case solely by himself, instead consulting forensic experts, which made it seem somehow more true to life. Throughout the novel I felt we were being pushed towards one suspect, and yet that person seemed almost too obvious. I sort of worked out how Nat had been killed don't read the spoiler if you plan to read the book - although it only hints at the solution I'd hate to give anything away

largely due to an episode of the BBC’s excellent Sherlock!

Overall, an enjoyable read, but (Poirot aside, as we’re working out way through those on audio book) I will probably put vintage crime to one side for a few months. Big thanks again to Claire for buying it for me last Christmas. :)

The paperback edition is 400 pages long and is published by Arrow. It was first published in 1941. The ISBN is 9781784754686. It was originally published under the title Envious Casca.

3/5 (I enjoyed it)

(Finished 22 December 2016)

 

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It looks as though David Copperfield is a fair bit longer than Great Expectations, even if no-one knows the exact word count. That should make it easier for me to read - or at least to be willing to read. :blush2:

 

I've added Meadowland to my wishlist, as it sounds like my kind of book. We are out walking our dog daily, through fields and lanes and moorland. Even though we rarely see wildlife around, I was saying just the other evening to my husband that there were probably 30 creatures within 10 feet of us.

 

The Miniaturist is a book I intended to read this year, but it just never happened. :doh: I shall make a concerted effort to read it in the early part of next year.

 

Merry Christmas to you too, Janet. :grinhat:

I hope you enjoy Meadowland if you do buy it - it's certainly beautifully written. :)  I enjoyed reading it in installments and following the months of the year.  :)  I also hope you enjoy The Miniaturist - it was much better than I'd (for no actual reason I could put my finger on) thought it would be. 

 

I hope you had a good day yesterday. 

 

(Edit: ^ What a lot of hope!  :giggle2: )

 

Merry Christmas, Janet :grinhat:. I hope you have a wonderful celebration :xmassmile:.

Thanks, Gaia.  We had a great day.  Hope you did too.  :)

Edited by Janet

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083-2016-Dec-22%20-%20The%20King%20of%20

 

The King of Christmas by Carol Ann Duffy

 

The ‘blurb’

On a frosty winter evening, the Baron watches the snow fall. He is bored and worried. It will soon be Christmas and everything is too quiet. What can he do to bring excitement to the Manor?

 

His wife, the Baroness, has an idea: he can appoint a King of Christmas, a peasant to take his place. And so begin twelve days of chaos, anarchy and merriment . . .

 

Inspired by the medieval tradition of appointing a Lord of Misrule, Carol Ann Duffy's warm and enchanting Christmas poem takes us into a topsy-turvy world of festivity and celebration, where rules no longer apply. With beautiful full-colour illustrations by Lara Hawthorne throughout, The King of Christmas is the perfect gift this festive season.

 

I buy Carol Ann Duffy’s Christmas poem every year – usually after Christmas and I then wait until the following December to read it, but this year I bought it when I was Christmas shopping in November.  This one is based on a medieval tradition where someone in a position of power such as a nobleman would hand over the reins to a subordinate for the Christmas period and he would make all the arrangements for the festivities which often led to mayhem.  

 

The books are very short, but are beautifully illustrated and look so lovely as a set, so I shall keep collecting all the time Ms Duffy keeps producing them!   :)

 

Carol%20Ann%20Duffy_zpstpdyqyqq.jpg

 

The hardback edition is 48 pages long and is published by Picador. It was first published in 2016. The ISBN is 9781509834570.   

 

4/5 (I enjoyed it)

 

(Finished 22 December 2016)

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084-2016-Dec-23%20-%20The%20Christmas%20

 

The Christmas Book by James Reeves

The ‘blurb’
A feast of stories, poems, carols, relating to the twelve days of Christmas, this anthology is a beautiful book to be given not only at Christmas but at any time of the year: a treasure-trove for all the family to dip into.

Anyone familiar with James Reeves’s own work will be assured of the high quality of every piece, from Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear which can be read to the youngest member of the family, to descriptions of Christmas evoked from the childhoods of Dylan Thomas and Laurie Lee, which will delight any adult.

James Reeves’s own poems rub shoulders with Shakespeare, Tennyson, Herrick: the backgrounds range from Dylan Thomas’s Wales to Arthur Ransome’s Russia.

The endless variety of setting, style and period is captured in Raymond Brigg’s beautiful line drawings and charming full-colour illustrations. An anthology which will be a pleasure to handle and look at, as well as read.


My Mum borrowed this from her library and we liked it so much that we both bought a copy! It is a collection of stories, poetry and carols relating to Christmas. I knew a lot of them (there are excerpts from books such as Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee and one from one of the Paddington books by Michael Bond) but many were new to me, including Frost by Arthur Ransome and Christmas Presents by Susan Coolidge from What Katy Did. If that’s not enough, it’s also beautifully illustrated by Raymond Briggs!

I do have a couple of other Christmas anthologies that I haven’t read yet, so buying this and reading it first was a bit naughty, but I just couldn’t resist. :giggle2: I will definitely read this again in the run up to another Christmas!

The paperback edition is 192 pages long and is published by Mammoth. It was first published in 1968. The ISBN is 9780434958900.

5/5 (Loved it!)

(Finished 23 December 2016)

 

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085-2016-Dec-24%20-%20Lanterns%20Across%

Lanterns Across the Snow by Susan Hill

The ‘blurb’
An account of a country childhood in Wessex a hundred years ago. Evoking the delights and surprises of Christmas and the mood of the countryside in the bleak mid-winter, this is a nostalgic and lyrical story.

“Last night, the snow fell. And then I began to remember. I remembered all the things that I had forgotten. Or so it seemed.
But not forgotten after all. They were all there, stored away, like treasures.
Last night, the snow fell…”

Fanny is sitting by the window watching the snow, and as she watches she recalls long, long ago when she was a child living with her parents and brother in the Dorset countryside in the early 1900s.

Fanny’s father is a vicar and is busy with Christmas preparation and Fanny is beside herself with excitement as she watches the snow fall and anticipates the festive season with excitement. But it’s not all sweetness and light, as a tragedy befalls a villager of whom Fanny is very fond and she struggles with the ‘why him?’ question. But that same day a baby is born which demonstrations to Fanny that for everything there is a season.

I bought this book after to chatting to a friend about Susan Hill. I’ve read a few of her books and have enjoyed them, especially as she writes in quite a variety of genres, but I hadn’t actually come across this one before. With my love of Christmas it sounded right up my street. It’s a gorgeous story, set over a period of three days and not only are Susan Hill’s characters well-written, but the setting in the snow is very evocative of times gone by when life was much simpler. Very short at only 79 pages, it was nevertheless a very enjoyable read.

The paperback edition is 80 pages long and is published by Penguin. It was first published in 1987. The ISBN is 9780140125894. It is currently out of print, apart from on Susan Hill’s website (where it’s rather expensive!) and from Ebay.

4/5 (I enjoyed it)

(Finished 24 December 2016)

 

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You've been reading a lot of Christmas-themed books :xmassmile:.

 

Thanks, Gaia.  We had a great day.  Hope you did too.  :)

Thanks Janet, we did :).

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You've been reading a lot of Christmas-themed books :xmassmile:

Yes, I like to read Christmas-themed books in December.  :)  I didn't  manage to read all the ones on my shelves this year though.

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086-2016-Dec-31%20-%20The%20Snow%20Child

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The ‘blurb’
Alaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding: is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her?

When Mabel and Jack lose their unborn child, their grief makes them pack up the life they’ve known in Philadelphia and move to the wilds of Alaska where they plan to live off the land. But life is hard and lonely and the couple grow apart. One evening when it snows they build a snow child in their yard. Mabel gives it red gloves and a scarf – the moment brings the couple a kind of closeness that has been missing for a long time. The next morning, however, the snow child has gone, but during the course of the next few days the couple have a feeling that they are being watched. Eventually a young girl starts appearing at their homestead although she never stays long, and while Mabel looks forward to her brief visits she is still terribly lonely.

When the couple become friends with a family who live nearby, Mabel’s life improves slightly as she becomes friendly with the unconventional Esther, but as she speaks to her friend about the snow child who has come into her life, Esther worries that the woman is suffering from cabin fever. Meanwhile, Mabel realises that there are parallels between her and Jack’s snow child and a Russian folk-tale in a book her father used to read to her long ago…

I’ve had this on my ‘to read’ pile since 2012 and don’t really know why I left it so long to pick it up. I really enjoyed the story which was is so atmospheric – the wild Alaskan landscape and the snow are characters in their own right in the book which charts just how difficult life was in 1920s Alaska. Based on a Russian fairy-tale, it is a story of hardship and sorrow, but also one of friendship and hope.

The paperback edition is 448 pages long and is published by Tinder Press. It was first published in 2011. The ISBN is 978 0755380534.

4/5 (I enjoyed it)

(Finished 31 December 2016)

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2016 Stats

 

Books read – 86

Total Pages – 24,633

Average page count per book – 286

 

That’s an increase of 26.2% of pages read in 2015 and the most books I’ve read in a year since I began keeping a record (previous highest was 76 in 2012)

 

I abandoned just one book – Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton

 

14 Children’s / YA Books (six of these were for my Roald Dahl Challenge)

16 Classics (five are Sherlock Holmes/Arthur Conan Doyle – I’m not sure if they are actually considered classics or not)

45 Fiction

7   Non-fiction

2   Poetry

1   Play

1   Mixed genres

 

Most read authors

Agatha Christie – 6

Roald Dahl - 6

Arthur Conan Doyle – 5

Charles Dickens – 3

Elizabeth Gaskell – 3

 

Female Authors – 44

Male Authors – 41

Joint M/F Authors – 1

 

35 authors are still alive

51 authors are dead

 

Of the 86 books read I gave ten books 5/5 and one book 1/5!

 

Country of birth

Australia – 2

Republic of Ireland – 3

England – 52

Scotland – 11

USA – 7

Wales – 7

New Zealand, Nigeria, Sweden, Unknown – 1 each

 

The earliest publication was 1811 – Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

7 books were published in 2016

 

14 published in the 19th Century, 42 published in the 20th Century and 30 published in the 21st Century

 

The shortest books (4) had 48 pages (two Dahl Challenge books and two Carol Ann Duffy poems) and the longest book had 714 (The Stars Look Down by A J Cronin)

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Nice review of The Snow Child. I liked the book too, the atmosphere of the story was one of the best parts about it for me.

 

Nice statistics! It's interesting how you've split up the UK authors into the different regions :).

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I'm so behind on things - glad you enjoyed The Enchanted Places - it's a bit of an odd read, isn't it? Really tears the magic away, but it's fascinating to hear CR Milne's views. The part I found saddest personally was his complete detachment from the toys, and how he says something along the lines of, 'don't all men put away childish things'. I'm here at 29 thinking, nope! Still got my Pooh Bear from when I was a couple months old!

 

I haven't read the second part yet either, I must get it.

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Nice review of The Snow Child. I liked the book too, the atmosphere of the story was one of the best parts about it for me.

 

Nice statistics! It's interesting how you've split up the UK authors into the different regions :).

I read a sample of the author's second book but I'm not sure whether it sounds like something I'd enjoy.

 

Thanks - I didn't actually read any authors from Northern Ireland this year, I've noticed!

 

I'm so behind on things - glad you enjoyed The Enchanted Places - it's a bit of an odd read, isn't it? Really tears the magic away, but it's fascinating to hear CR Milne's views. The part I found saddest personally was his complete detachment from the toys, and how he says something along the lines of, 'don't all men put away childish things'. I'm here at 29 thinking, nope! Still got my Pooh Bear from when I was a couple months old!

 

I haven't read the second part yet either, I must get it.

It absolutely tears the magic away - that's such a good way to put it.   :yes:   And I totally agree - I still love Pooh bear and I'm sure I always will.  :)

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I read a sample of the author's second book but I'm not sure whether it sounds like something I'd enjoy.

 

Thanks - I didn't actually read any authors from Northern Ireland this year, I've noticed!

I just read the synopsis - I'm not sure it sounds like something I'd like either.

 

Maybe you'll be able to read more authors from Nortern Island this year (2017) :).

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Great stats, Janet!

 

You've read an impressive number of classics recently. I need to take a leaf out of your book! :) 

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Thanks, Kylie  :)  The English Counties challenge has definitely pushed the number up, but since I got over my fear of them I'm actually choosing to read more classics and generally I do enjoy them.  :)

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