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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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Alexander the Great

Alexander's Reading 2016

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@Athena: I was very surprised too! It's indeed lovely to be surprised by books.

 

Het huis met de geesten review (English: The house with the spirits)

 

This is the first novel I'm reading in Dutch this year - obviously in a translation from the Spanish original.

 

Allende's writing style is unfamiliar for me and the slow, meandering story-telling took a little while to get into. But from the moment I was trapped in the novel, it didn't let me go. The characters are brought to life on every page and feel like very real people. It felt impossible to completely love or completely hate any of them, though I do have to admit Clara was the highlight for me.

 

It had a light fantastical touch, but that fitted in the story very well. I also came to appreciate the lack of any clear plot and the fact that the drama was in all the little dramas life offers.

 

I'm definitely going to be reading more from Allende, but this novel is one that needs a rebound to be read after it, since not any book could ever live up to it if read immediately after finishing this.

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Emily's Ghost review

 

This is a novel about the Brontë sisters - but really, mostly about Emily Brontë. I've seen the BBC adaptations of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, but haven't read them yet. I have copies, though, so I surely will!

 

I know almost nothing about the private lives of the Brontë sisters, so I couldn't get annoyed because of previous knowledge.

 

As a novel, I felt it built up for a long time and then it deflated. There was a long slow burn, but no climax. I also feel most characters were presented in a very one-dimensional way. Only Emily and Weightman escaped this fate, but not terribly so. I suppose as a rebound book, it was okay. I don't regret reading this, but wouldn't read it again or especially recommend it. 

 

The Stepmother review

 

I picked this book up from the library because I was intrigued by the premise. A woman is on trial for the murder of her husband's first wife, accused by her stepson. Did she do it or not? This novel was presented as a legal drama.

 

There are different timelines in this novel - the happier times, the time of the murder and then the court case. It took a while to get used to jumping around, there didn't seem to be much of a pattern or reason to why the time jumps were made. As if the author wrote each time set, then cut them up and mixed them up. 

 

While the stepmother definitely wasn't presented as a holier-than-thou person and the author went out of his way to point out her darker side, I found myself rooting for her at times, hoping she was innocent and would also be found not guilty. I think that's a pretty strong feat, for the author to write this character in a complex enough manner to accomplish that - since it would have been all too easy to make a caricature of her.

 

The characters were pretty fleshed out and I felt that the characters were stronger than the plot. 

 

The atmosphere in this novel also felt unique.

 

But overall, it didn't convince me enough to really recommend it to people.

 

May We Be Forgiven review

 

The blurb spoke of two brothers, the younger of which has always been troubled. He makes a fatal mistake and both brothers have to seek absolution.

 

The novel itself was very different than I expected, but I went with it.

 

It was absurd and a lot of parts felt almost too good to be true - almost every woman he meets, wants Harold badly, even though he's not supposed to be handsome and his personality is rather mellow, nothing to inspire such passion. Everything seems to work out too well for him at times. I think it has to do with the structure - all the grisly drama happens in the first thirty pages or so and after that, things only go up. I almost wished for them to come down again.

 

I liked the overall silliness, the black humor, but at times it was just too much, required too much suspension of disbelief.

 

I also felt that Harold dealt with emotions in a strange way, kind of ignoring or dismissing them, and I'm pretty sure nobody could do that without falling apart at some point. Certainly not in these circumstances.

 

This review might seem negative, so I do need to add that I enjoyed this in general. It was quite unique and I would recommend it, but not to everyone.

 

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The Pillars of the Earth review

 

Magnificent. Truly an epic novel. I'm still blown away. This is very hard to review - so much happens, entire lives are described. 

 

We get to know these people when they are young and we see them grow in life, achieve their ambitions, build on their own happiness.

 

Everything felt a bit rushed at the end, but it's still a great read I would recommend to any history fan.

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I'm glad you really liked The Pillars of the Earth. I loved the book, it was such a great read. My only complaint was that I didn't like some of the sex scenes (I don't like sex scenes in general, but these were worse than average), but despite that I really enjoyed reading this book. Very epic.

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I loved Pillars of the Earth as well. I've read it a couple of times, but that was a while ago and I mean to give it a re-read at some point.

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@athena and bobblybear: I greatly enjoyed The Pillars of the Earth as well and I'm sure I'll buy it if I come across it. It's one of those novels I know I will love re-reading in a few years.

 

World Without End review

 

World Without End is a sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, but set two centuries later. The characters are descendants from the characters in The Pillars of the Earth. Throughout the novel, I felt as if these characters were the same or at least very similar to the ones I already knew, and the family connection was not always an excuse because surely, not everyone has the personality of their ancestors, and because often the characters they resembled weren't even their ancestor. I think for almost every character in World Without End, I could point out a character in The Pillars of the Earth that they resemble.

 

Keeping that in mind, it was an unexpected surprise that I enjoyed World Without End even more than The Pillars of the Earth. I can't exactly say why, I'm not even sure if there were more characters or not, but this novel felt like it encompassed a more diverse look at Middle Age life. There were so many more angles. The pace was improved as well, compared to The Pillars of the Earth. I will definitely be buying this one as well.

 

Enchantments review

 

World Without End was so good, I felt I needed a rebound. 

I have mixed feelings about Enchantments, though. I'm fascinated by Russian history and the Romanovs are such an interesting part of that, but in Enchantments, the line between historical fact and imagination was so blurry I found it hard to really appreciate. The reader never quite knows whether something described is a dream, a story, or a memory. Sometimes, something could go on for pages and pages and you wouldn't know how much was in Masha's head. I'm sure loads of people like that, but it's not my cup of tea.

 

The sexual scenes were also quite disturbing, since Alexei was only 13 years old. The fact that Masha was 18 made it worse. The novel could definitely have done without that.

 

 

 

 

On to the The Lord of the Rings!

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Great reviews!

 

I'm glad you enjoyed World Without End too. I quite liked it as well.

 

Shame Enchantments wasn't so great.

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The Fellowship of the Ring

 

I tried to read this in Dutch about ten years ago and gave up around the time Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin met Tom Bombadil.

 

Ever since I was a little boy, I've loved reading books. The Lord of the Rings is such a classic I felt that I had to like it. However, I just didn't feel that enchantment, that hunger to keep reading, that deep wish for the story to never end. I resolved to try again later.

 

This year, I bought the books in English while I was in London. The first instalment took me 1.5 months to finish - I've finished books over twice as long in two or three weeks. Especially the first part of the journey was rather dull to me. I'm not a huge fan of nature and as a result, I lack the vocabulary to really paint a picture in my mind going by descriptions of nature. The Fellowship of the Ring is full of descriptions of nature and the journey. This novel is also quite heavy and sometimes, I wouldn't read in it for days at a time because it just wasn't relaxing the way reading usually is to me.

 

I have to say that it did get better. I was probably getting used to the language and the writing style and while I still didn't thoroughly enjoy it, it got easier to read. 

 

I'm almost ashamed to admit it, because this is such a classic, but I'm just not a fan. I've read the first novel now and I was actually relieved it was over. My original plan was to read the three novels, but I've started a completely different book because I needed the break.

 

It's possible I might try these novels again years from now and enjoy them better. I don't regret spending time on them, but my heart's not lost to Middle Earth. I wish it were different.

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Great review!

 

While I'm a big fantasy fan, Lord of the Rings is also not my favourite fantasy universe. I've seen the films - once, and it was hard for me to sit through 3 films split up into a total of 6 2-hour sessions (my dad had the extended editions). But then, I have trouble watching long films anyway (and at 3 x 4 hours they were long). I haven't read the books yet but I did read The Hobbit (and watched the movies, but I was less keen on The Hobbit movies). The book was nice but not amazing. It is impressive for the time it was written in, of course, but compared with other (newer) books I've read (which I read prior to reading The Hobbit), it is not one of my favourite fantasy books. Because of this I'm apprehensive to try the LotR books. I bought them in English. I know my sister tried to read one of them in Dutch when she (and I) was (were) a teenager, but she found the language too hard to get through. That said, my brother's girlfriend has read the whole trilogy in Dutch and she liked it. Opinions differ and I think it's perfectly fine not to like something that is liked by a lot of people. I have that too with some books. I think we all have it with some books eventually, though I sometimes find it hard to talk about it if my opinion is the 'unpopular' one (ie. if I don't like a book a lot of people do like). Well done on you for posting about it. I'm sorry the book wasn't so great for you, and I totally get about wanting to read a different book now. I hope your next read will be more enjoyable!

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I tried to read this in Dutch about ten years ago and gave up around the time Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin met Tom Bombadil.

 

This happened to me (except for reading in Dutch!)...I found it such a struggle to read. However, I love the movies, and have the extended editions on BluRay.

 

I know it's a favourite book for many people, but it just doesn't do it for me.

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Just catching up with some of these threads - Great reviews of Pillars of the earth & word without end. 

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I understand why people are not liking LOTR. It's not really that great compared to newer fantasy, not to mention that today we re really familiar with fantasy notions from movies, books and games. I love how it is written and the endless descriptions. The movies were good too, though sadly they missed so much from the book. I rate Tolkien as a classic, at least as far as the fantasy genre is considered but like all classics, there's nothing wrong in not liking it. I didn't like Les Miserables.  :D

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@Athena: I've seen the films in cinema and then I saw them again a few years later, but that must have been nearly ten years ago now. So I remember the rough plot, but not the details. I, too, have trouble watching long films - I can't seem to maintain my focus, a problem I don't encounter when reading books.

@bobblybear: I was determined to get past Tom Bombadil this time around. I have to admit, if you keep reading, you do get used to it. It just feels like you have to put an effort into reading this, which of course has its merits - but isn't so nice after a long day at work. I think if I do re-read these, it'll be when I have a few days off.

@ian: Thanks! I am always a bit conscious about my reviews because it's so hard to convey what a book meant to me. It also tends to change as my mind keeps digesting.

@MrCat: I don't mind descriptions in general. I also don't dislike all descriptions in this book - sometimes it just goes on a bit too long for me. I'm reading it as a classic too!

 

De truc review

 

After two months on The Fellowship of the Ring, I got through this novel in three days. 

 

The library in my hometown moved to a brand new building on October 1st. Being on the library council, I was invited to officially help move the last books and open the new library. This was symbolic, of course. I had to randomly choose a book from a small pile and chose this one without any good reason. While walking to the new library, I read the blurb and was interested in the story.

 

I loved it. The characters were atypical and heart-warming. The plot moved along nicely and even though parts of the novel took place in the past and others in the present, it never became confusing. It was interesting to see how the strange old man from the present became the way he is.

 

There were some clichés, but it didn't become cheesy. Everything was tied up very nicely, but I don't mind that. I like a clear ending every now and then.

 

Hersenspinsels review

 

This was the first non fiction book I read this year. The full title is Figments of the imagination: why we see, hear and think things that aren't there. This book was written by a professor in cognitive neuropsychiatry. It was an interesting read, but the structure was off. 

 

Often, I felt like the author was building up to something, but he didn't deliver. There's a lot of information here, but it's not always clear what the point is or how things are connected.

 

An interesting read, but not one of those must-reads.

 

 

I've started reading The Two Towers. Wish me luck!

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@Frankie If London is my first love, Finland is my second. I've considered studying Swedish-English for a long time, because in the third year you could take Finnish and I really wanted to do that. I ended up studying to be a teacher in English and history, then ended up not teaching but doing an office job (one that I like, though). So it's so great to hear how these titles are in Finnish.

 

I'm more than awfully late to reading these reading logs by other members, and I'm awfully sorry that I'm only now coming back to your comment from April :unsure:  

 

You could actually take Finnish in the third year?? Bloody hell. I didn't know that was possibly in any other place than Finland, and maybe, MAYBE Sweden, if it was some big ass language-orientated school. 

 

Since you work in an office, have you watched The Office by any chance? (UK or US version) :) 

 

 

Het huis met de geesten review (English: The house with the spirits)

 

This is the first novel I'm reading in Dutch this year - obviously in a translation from the Spanish original.

 

Allende's writing style is unfamiliar for me and the slow, meandering story-telling took a little while to get into. But from the moment I was trapped in the novel, it didn't let me go. The characters are brought to life on every page and feel like very real people. It felt impossible to completely love or completely hate any of them, though I do have to admit Clara was the highlight for me.

 

It had a light fantastical touch, but that fitted in the story very well. I also came to appreciate the lack of any clear plot and the fact that the drama was in all the little dramas life offers.

 

I'm definitely going to be reading more from Allende, but this novel is one that needs a rebound to be read after it, since not any book could ever live up to it if read immediately after finishing this.

 

Great review! :)  I once saw bits of the movie and it was also slow and meandering, but I felt captivated by it nonetheless. However, I decided against watching it as I had not caught it right from the start and I thought I'd watch it in full some day. I've been meaning to read the book, but so far ... I've not. I really should! 

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@Athena It is indeed nice to be on the library council! We only meet about three or four times a year, but it's nice to know the inner workings.

 

@frankie We could! It was the main reason I'd have studied that. The different options were basically the Scandinavian languages. Sadly, I haven't watched either version of The Office yet, but I hear I should!

 

The Two Towers review

 

After spending two months on The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers took me a month. This part of The Lord of the Rings is a bit shorter than its predecessor, but also reads a bit more fluently. There are still pages and pages of descriptions of every rock and mountain, every blade of grass, and at times it still became too much. 

 

I believe it takes a bit getting used to the writing style and the narrative style of LOTR, which is why this one was an easier read for me. I'm one of the seemingly few who didn't mind that the journey of of the remaining companions of the Fellowship and that of Frodo and Sam was cut in two, as it were. Both were an interesting read and I honestly think that this choice made the journeys easier to follow. 

 

At this point, though, I feel like the many descriptive pages kill the story so that you doze off a bit mentally and when something huge is actually happening, you almost miss it. The action doesn't stand out very much.

 

In short - The Two Towers was better for me than The Fellowship of the Ring. However, I will still be relieved once I've finished The Return of the King. I really want to like LOTR, so I will probably re-reading it in a few years. 

 

 

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@frankie We could! It was the main reason I'd have studied that. The different options were basically the Scandinavian languages. Sadly, I haven't watched either version of The Office yet, but I hear I should!

 

 

You say it, but I still can't believe it! :D That's sooooo absurd and random! You have a wonderfully inspiring and extraordinary school system over there :D 

 

I would totally recommend The Office! I personally prefer the US version, but the UK version is the original and other people would swear by it, so don't go by me, the Finnish bird :P:D 

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I found the 3rd part of LOTR ie Return of the King, the heaviest read, so good luck with it!

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I would totally recommend The Office! I personally prefer the US version, but the UK version is the original and other people would swear by it, so don't go by me, the Finnish bird :P:D

 

I think I prefer the US version too. It's a longer running series, so you get more attached to and involved with the characters. :smile:

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I think I prefer the US version too. It's a longer running series, so you get more attached to and involved with the characters. :smile:

 

Hurrah!!! :exc:  :flowers2:   You are the first person ever who I know has watched both versions and prefers the US version :smile2: It's good to have company! :D And yeah, one gets more attached to the characters. And there are more of them whom we get familiar with, than in the UK version. 

 

Oh man bobbly, your comment made me so happy :D 

Edited by frankie

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Glad to have made you so happy! :D  I really need to re-watch the US version. I've only seen it once, so I'm due a re-watch but I'm hooked on Gilmore Girls at the moment. :blush2:

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You guys are making me curious about The Office! I hope I'll have a chance to see it soon.

 

The Return of the King review

 

The Fellowship of the Ring took me two months to read. The Two Towers took me one month to read. The Return of the King took me one week to read.

 

I think that sums up my experience with The Lord of the Rings. It takes a while to get used to this kind of story-telling. As I read on, it does get easier to follow. But overall, I think the lengthy descriptions tended to take me out of the story so often that I would lose track. This was especially the case when describing the landscapes or long journeys. Those could have done with less detail. The insane amount of detail tends to drown the story.

 

I loved reading about the histories, the different species and their tales and I think Tolkien did really well with the battles. I'm usually not a fan of battle scenes - mainly because I'm not an action fan when it comes to films or books. But here, I could get through them. 

 

I'm not entirely convinced of The Lord of the Rings, but The Return of the King made me see what all the fuss is about.

 

The Return of the King is definitely my favourite part. I think I'll be re-reading them all again, but not for the first few years.

 

My reading plans for the rest of 2016: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, followed by The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and then The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmão by Martha Batalha.

Edited by Alexander the Great

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Hmm, I'm somewhat tempted to give The Lord of the Rings another try. I struggled through The Fellowship of the Ring, and haven't read the sequels because of that. I love the movies, but struggled so much with the first book. I may need to revisit it. :readingtwo:

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Glad to have made you so happy! :D  I really need to re-watch the US version. I've only seen it once, so I'm due a re-watch but I'm hooked on Gilmore Girls at the moment. :blush2:

 

The Office is definitely great re-watch material! I don't know how many times I've seen the earlier seasons :D   And of course I'm totally jazzed that you're now hooked on Gilmore Girls, which is another all time favorite of mine! :D 

 

You guys are making me curious about The Office! I hope I'll have a chance to see it soon.

 

The sooner the better ;):D

 

The Return of the King review

 

The Fellowship of the Ring took me two months to read. The Two Towers took me one month to read. The Return of the King took me one week to read.

 

I think that sums up my experience with The Lord of the Rings. It takes a while to get used to this kind of story-telling. As I read on, it does get easier to follow. But overall, I think the lengthy descriptions tended to take me out of the story so often that I would lose track. This was especially the case when describing the landscapes or long journeys. Those could have done with less detail. The insane amount of detail tends to drown the story.

 

I loved reading about the histories, the different species and their tales and I think Tolkien did really well with the battles. I'm usually not a fan of battle scenes - mainly because I'm not an action fan when it comes to films or books. But here, I could get through them. 

 

I'm not entirely convinced of The Lord of the Rings, but The Return of the King made me see what all the fuss is about.

 

The Return of the King is definitely my favourite part. I think I'll be re-reading them all again, but not for the first few years.

 

 

I've yet to read the whole thing... I'm already dreading all the detailed descriptions and songs and things. How would you rate the whole reading experience, from 1to 5, if you don't mind my asking? :) 

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Interesting as I found RotK the hardest one to read, even when I re-read the trilogy after the films came out. Oh and the endless discussions with the Ents in The Two Towers....zzz 

 

You could always skim-read the songs, battles and endless lists (which is what I do with Game of Thrones).

 

But overall I'd probably give the whole LotR trilogy 8-9/10.

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