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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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I had absolutely the best customer service in Waterstone's in Birmingham yesterday!

 

On Tuesday I nearly bought a book by Ernest Hemingway in their Bath branch, but it was stickered as 'Buy One, Get One Half Price' and I couldn't find a second book I wanted in that deal!

 

I have also been looking at A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler (but hadn't spotted it last Tuesday).

 

Yesterday, the Hemingway wasn't stickered as being in the offer any longer (I think the deals vary by store?).   As I was browsing, a member of staff came over to see if I needed any help and we got chatting.  He spoke to me for ages, and he'd overheard me talking to my friend about Look Who's Back by Timur Vermes and about how I'd liked it but it had been left open-ended and I wasn't sure about the ending.   He asked me if I'd heard of A Whole Life as he'd read it and really enjoyed it - I told him that I had my eye on it, but that Hemingway was no longer in the offer and he said if I bought both, he'd do they as Buy One, Get One Free.  I thought he meant half price, but no - I only paid for one!  :o  :D  :exc:

 

He was such a nice man too.  He'd started as a Christmas temp and they've kept him on at the weekends. He's hoping they might eventually give him full-time hours.  I'm going to email them and give some feedback.   :)

 

A%20Moveable%20Feast_zpszzdb2khx.jpg   A%20Whole%20Life_zpsfdyuczt5.jpg

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That is such great customer service!! Those covers are nice :). I hope you enjoy your new books!

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Thanks, Gaia.  :)  I've written to Waterstone's today giving him some great feedback so I hope it might help him get more hours. 

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That was really lovely of him, but I'm very surprised a part-time worker who only started at Christmas has the authority to do something like that!

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I was too! I didn't mention that bit just in case I got him into trouble - just the fantastic service! :D

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001-2016-Jan-01-The%20Snow%20Sister_zpsz
 

The Snow Sister by Emma Carroll

The ‘blurb’
Ever since her sister, Agnes, died, Pearl has a tradition every time it snows. She makes a person out of snow. A snow sister. It makes Christmas feel a little less lonely.

On Christmas Eve, her father receives a letter about a long-lost relative's will. Is their luck about to change? In anticipation of a better Christmas, Pearl goes to beg credit at Mr Noble's grocery to get ingredients for a Christmas pudding. But she is refused, and chased down the street where she is hit by a hansom cab. The snow is falling so hard that they can't take her home. She'll have to stay at Flintfield Manor overnight, in a haunted room... Will Pearl make it home for Christmas?


Christmas is a sad time of year for Pearl and her family since the loss of her sister. Every year, Pearl makes a snow sister in memory of Agnes – it makes her feel close to Agnes. The family are quite poor so when her Pearl’s father gets a letter telling him of a legacy they hope that their fortunes may change. Pearl’s mother sends her to buy ingredients to make a Christmas pudding but a simple shopping trip goes horribly wrong and when Pearl flees she is knocked down by a hansom cab and taken to Flintfield Manor to spend the night in a haunted room…

I chose Emma Carol’s Frost Hollow Hall for Book Club last winter and everyone in the group loved it, including me. I have had my eye on her other two full-length children’s books since then and so when I spotted this on Kindle for £1.89 I had to snap it up.

I have to say that whilst I enjoyed this short story, I didn’t love it. The writing is good and the author’s writing is very atmospheric – and this is a Christmas (my favourite time of year) story set in the Victorian era (my favourite period of history) so I was disappointed not to love it. It’s only about five weeks since I read it but I find I can’t really recall what happened once Pearl arrived at Flintfield Manor in any great detail – the story has faded. My main disappointment with the book was the ending. I appreciate the reason behind the moral message, but it just left me feeling a bit meh! It hasn’t put me off reading her other books, but I’m glad I didn’t pay full price for it.

The paperback edition is 112 pages long and is published by Faber & Faber. It was first published in 2015. The ISBN is 978 0571317639.

3/5 (I liked it)

(Finished 1 January 2016)
 

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I felt largely the same about it, I had hoped to love it, but ultimately I just felt very meh about it. I didn't overly appreciate the moral of the story either, as someone who tends to struggle financially. There is a happy medium!!

 

I've read In Darkling Wood, too, and I really enjoyed that, though not as much as Frost Hollow Hall.

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I'm glad it wasn't just me being picky!  :D  I really like the sound of In Darking Wood (moreso than the other one, although that looks good too) so I shall definitely try another.  :)

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002-2016-Jan-02-The%20ABC%20Murders_zps2
 

The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie

The ‘blurb’
There’s a serial killer on the loose, bent on working his way through the alphabet. And as a macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim’s corpe the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place.

Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught – until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans…


Yet another Poirot narrated by Hugh Fraser (what am I going to do once I run out of these?!) which we listened to in the car.

Poirot receives a letter signed simply A.B.C informing him that a murder will take place on a specific date in the location of Andover. Sure enough, a woman is discovered dead in a tobacconist shop in the town. Under her body is a copy of the A.B.C Railway timetable. Soon after, a second letter arrives – this time, the location is to be Bexhill. A third letter arrives and Poirot establishes a common theme which he hopes will lead him to the killer. But all is not what it seems – will Poirot be able to stop this killer – and find out why he is murdering people in alphabetical order…?

Hastings delivers the account of Poirot’s investigation and each chapter is then followed by an account of a man called Cusp. Initially these seem unrelated but it soon becomes apparent that there is a relationship between the two narratives.

Once again Christie weaves a complex plot with plenty of red herrings along the way to confuse.


I thought the perpetrator was obvious this time, as Christie seemed to reveal whodunit in the middle of the book – but I should have known that she was teasing and wouldn’t make it easy for the reader to solve the murder!

 

 

The more Christie books I read, the more I understand why she has the reputation of being the Queen of Crime.

The paperback edition is 331 pages long and is published by Harper. It was first published in 1936. The ISBN is 9780007119295. I listened to an audio book.

4/5 (I really enjoyed it)

(Finished 2 January 2016)
 

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I love reading your Agatha Christie reviews, Janet. Coincidentally, of the many AC books on my TBR pile, The ABC Murders is one of only 3 I've added to my 'priority reading' list for this year. :)

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I haven't read that particular Christie, maybe I shall audiobook it on my drive to work :D

 

She really is a genius, although her mind is quite twisted. I bet she was a cracking liar :giggle2:

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How many Agatha Christie books have you read now, Janet :)?

11 so far - five paper books and six audio books. :) We have After the Funeral on our 'to listen to' pile, but we're waiting for a decent length trip in the car to listen to that one.

 

I love reading your Agatha Christie reviews, Janet. Coincidentally, of the many AC books on my TBR pile, The ABC Murders is one of only 3 I've added to my 'priority reading' list for this year. :)

Thanks, Kylie.  :)  I hope you enjoy it. 

 

I haven't read that particular Christie, maybe I shall audiobook it on my drive to work :D

I get my audio books from the library.  I love listening to them, either in the car (with the Christie ones) or out walking (ones that Peter isn't interested in).  I am seriously considering Audible now, but I also like to get them from the library as it helps them and (hopefully) means it'll keep them open.

 

She really is a genius, although her mind is quite twisted. I bet she was a cracking liar :giggle2:

:giggle2: That's very true!

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How do audiobooks from the library work?

 

Do you need special software? I have an audible subscription but wouldn't mind bumping up my library use - I borrow about 4 paper books each 9 weeks from my local library.

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Well, technically I guess what I do isn't very... legal in terms of copyright - I rip them into iTunes and put them on my iPod - but I don't share them with anyone else so it's really just the same as listening to the discs, but means I don't have to listen within the three weeks that they're on loan to me.  Our library charges £1.80 for an audio CD.   :)

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003-2016-Jan-10-Sense%20and%20Sensibilit
 

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

The ‘blurb’
Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor's warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love - and its threatened loss - the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

After Elinor and Marianne’s father dies, their home, Norland, becomes the property of their half brother John, and he and his wife Fanny move in. Initially the sisters and their mother plan to stay, but it soon becomes obvious that their presence is not welcomed by the haughty and arrogant Fanny and so they move to a cottage in Devon. There, Marianne meets a young man called John Willoughby and falls head over heels in love. An engagement seems on the cards… but then their relationship abruptly ends. Marianne is distraught and she and Elinor head off to London to stay with a friend. Elinor struggles to comfort Marianne whilst hiding from her the fact that she has suffered a disappointment of her own and the pair wonder whether they will ever find ever find true love…

I thoroughly enjoyed this, Austen’s first full-length novel. Like Pride and Prejudice it features sisters who are in need of finding suitors because their home is, or will be, left to a male family member – I half expected the stories to be very similar so I was pleased to find that whilst there are similarities the stories are definitely distinct. Elinor, the elder sister represents sense whilst Marianne represents sensibility. I particularly liked Elinor who conducted herself with immense kindness and compassion despite her own woes. I think I possibly still prefer Pride and Prejudice, but this was a very close second. I’ve watched a couple of versions of this since reading it but I think I’d like to read it again – I might see if I can get an audio book from the library. :)

The paperback edition is 368 pages long and is published by Penguin. It was first published in 1811. The ISBN is 9780141439662.

5/5 (I loved it)

(Finished 10 January 2016)
 

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Great review Janet :) I think I prefer Pride and Prejudice too but it's a very close run thing. I think the whole book (Sense and Sensibility) changes once they move down to Devonshire .. that's when it all starts happening and when I really love it. That dear little cottage (which they think a bit pokey :lol: .. and which is MY dream!!!! :D) in the rolling hills. It's all so romantic :wub: If it's a dull day with a patch of blue sky I always say to Alan .. 'there's some blue sky .. let's chase it' .. which of course is from the film and not the book at all but it does lift ones spirit up. Though we don't run .. ever! :lol: (it's the thought that counts!) 

I have got an audio (unabridged) Sense and Sensibility but it's on cassette sadly. I'll have to work out a way of getting them onto CD .. I've got so many and nothing to play them on now. 

 

Anyway, all the Austen's deserve repeated readings/listenings/watchings  :) 

Have you seen the version with Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield? Though that's got David Morrisey in it .. and he can be marmite  :blush2: Anyway, that's quite a good one. I've got a really old one where Tracey Childs (from Howard's Way) plays Marianne  :D It's a bit creaky but good in lots of ways (though nobody would want to marry THAT Colonel Brandon .. he did look a bit too 'flannel waistcoat' :lol: ) .. it's on video tape though so again I need to convert (though I do still have some means of playing it .. I think.) 

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I've seen the 1995 and 2008 versions since I read the book.  :)

 

I loved Linda Bassett's Mrs Jennings in the 2008 version - and dare I say it  (  :lurker:  ) - yes, I think I do... after consideration I think I preferred Hattie Morahan's Elinor!  I enjoyed both versions - but Alan Rickman was definitely the best Colonel Brandon!  :wub:  I have - I think a mixture of the two would be just perfect!  :D

 

I haven't seen the Tracey Childs version or Howard's Way though.   :)

 

Yes, their interpretation of a cottage is not what I think of as a cottage!  :giggle2:

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004-2016-Jan-19-The%20Watchmaker%20of%20
 

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

The ‘blurb’
In 1883, Thaniel Steepleton returns to his tiny flat to find a gold pocketwatch on his pillow. But he has worse fears than generous burglars; he is a telegraphist at the Home Office, which has just received a threat for what could be the largest-scale Fenian bombing in history.

When the watch saves Thaniel's life in a blast that destroys Scotland Yard, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori - a kind, lonely immigrant who sweeps him into a new world of clockwork and music. Although Mori seems harmless at first, a chain of unexpected slips soon proves that he must be hiding something.

Meanwhile, Grace Carrow is sneaking into an Oxford library dressed as a man. A theoretical physicist, she is desperate to prove the existence of the luminiferous ether before her mother can force her to marry.

As the lives of these three characters become entwined, events spiral out of control until Thaniel is torn between loyalties, futures and opposing geniuses.

Utterly beguiling, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street blends historical events with dazzling flights of fancy to plunge readers into a strange and magical past, where time, destiny, genius - and a clockwork octopus - collide.


Thaniel is a telegraphist in the Home Office – one day a wire is received warning that on a particular day there will be a bombing campaign in London that will have devastating consequences within the city. Thaniel heads home from his shift and on arrival at his rented room he discovers the door open – he tentatively goes inside fearing the worst, but far from being ransacked, the room has been tidied and an intricate watch has been left by his bedside. The watch later saves his life, and Thaniel determines who has sent it to him and why. He traces the maker – a man called Keita Mori.

Meanwhile, a young woman called Grace is studying at university and having to dress as a man to be allowed into the library at Oxford University – she is working on a project that she is desperate to finish but time is running out and Grace knows that if she doesn’t solve the problem before she graduates, she will be forced by her mother, who only just tolerates her daughter studying at University, to marry a ‘suitable’ man – but Grace isn’t interested in settling down. She also has a watch by the same watchmaker – and soon the worlds of the three collide. But Mori is a mysterious man who is always one step ahead of everyone else and Thaniel wonders whether he might be involved somehow in the atrocities that have taken place…

My friend Jess has a friend in France and the pair of them have a book club of two! She finds a book she loves and so she’ll send him a copy and he’ll read it – and he does likewise. He’d sent her this book and she popped it in her bag when she went to pick up her son from the airport. His flight was delayed and she read the book in one sitting and then immediately sent me a text saying she was going to lend it to me! :D

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is set in the Victorian era which is probably my favourite period of history so I had high hopes for it – and it didn’t disappoint. I’m no expert on Steampunk, but I think this book might fall into that category? But in any case, Mori is an interesting character and who couldn’t love a story that features an intelligent but mechanical octopus?! :D On a purely aesthetic note, this book is simply gorgeous with one of the best covers I’ve ever come across!

5d117eb2-b503-46ec-978b-218ae1bcd19e_zps#

This is Pulley’s debut novel and for a first book is pretty impressive. I shall definitely be keeping an eye out for this author’s next book.

The hardback edition is 336 pages long and is published by Bloomsbury Circus. It was first published in 2015. The ISBN is 9781408854280.

4/5 (I really enjoyed it)

(Finished 19 January 2016)
 

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It's lovely, isn't it!  :D  There is a hole in the front cover - the watch is the one from my second photo on the page when you open the cover.  And the cover itself feels lovely - almost like suede!   I borrowed this but I wish I owned it!

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I've seen the 1995 and 2008 versions since I read the book.  :)

 

I loved Linda Bassett's Mrs Jennings in the 2008 version - and dare I say it  (  :lurker:  ) - yes, I think I do... after consideration I think I preferred Hattie Morahan's Elinor!  I enjoyed both versions - but Alan Rickman was definitely the best Colonel Brandon!  :wub:  I have - I think a mixture of the two would be just perfect!  :D

 

I haven't seen the Tracey Childs version or Howard's Way though.   :)

It's worth seeking out .. if I ever manage to get it on another format I'll lend it to you (have you got anything to play videos on?) :) Though those older adaptations are a lot less fun (bit like watching The Forsyte Saga .. if you ever did.)

Yes .. a mix of the two would be great. I do like Emma's Elinor .. but Hattie probably does edge it .. just. Kate Winslet's Marianne though was just heartbreaking .. and the scenes between Emma and Kate .. were so moving .. I cried in the cinema :blush2: I liked the inclusion of Margaret too .. though Emma made most of that up! :D

Alan Rickman is definitely the definitive Colonel Brandon :wub: Genius casting!

 

PS: You didn't miss anything .. as far as Howard's Way is concerned :D 

Yes, their interpretation of a cottage is not what I think of as a cottage!  :giggle2:

Ha .. if they want to know what poky (pokey?) truly means .. they should come to mine. No room for an in-between maid here :D

 

I love the sound of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street .. I did consider it when I was trying to spend my last Audible credit .. but now I've seen it has a map in it .. well :wub: Might have to get the tree copy  :smile: Great review Janet!

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It's worth seeking out .. if I ever manage to get it on another format I'll lend it to you (have you got anything to play videos on?) :) Though those older adaptations are a lot less fun (bit like watching The Forsyte Saga .. if you ever did.)

Yes .. a mix of the two would be great. I do like Emma's Elinor .. but Hattie probably does edge it .. just. Kate Winslet's Marianne though was just heartbreaking .. and the scenes between Emma and Kate .. were so moving .. I cried in the cinema :blush2: I liked the inclusion of Margaret too .. though Emma made most of that up! :D

Alan Rickman is definitely the definitive Colonel Brandon :wub: Genius casting!

We don't have a video player any more, sadly.  I didn't watch the old Forsyte Saga.  I watched some of the remake - largely for Damien Lewis!  :blush:

 

I didn't dislike Emma as Elinor, but she was a bit older than I pictured her in the book.   I agree that Kate Winslet was brilliant!  If I had to pick only one version to watch for the rest of my life it would be the one with Alan Rickmam in though, just because of him!

PS: You didn't miss anything .. as far as Howard's Way is concerned :D 

Ha .. if they want to know what poky (pokey?) truly means .. they should come to mine. No room for an in-between maid here :D

My parents liked Howard's Way - but I think I was probably either in my room listening to AC/DC and Genesis - or I was in the pub! (I can't remember when it was on - I might not have been old enough to legally go the pub!  :giggle2:  Edit:  1985 - so I was 19!

 

Your home is so lovely.  :wub:  And who needs an in-between maid anyway?!  Me - I'd like one!  :D

 

I love the sound of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street .. I did consider it when I was trying to spend my last Audible credit .. but now I've seen it has a map in it .. well :wub: Might have to get the tree copy  :smile: Great review Janet!

It's so stunning.   I was tempted to buy it but I don't suppose I'll re-read it - but if I ever come across it in a charity shop and it's a decent copy then I will snap it up.  :)

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