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      February Supporter Giveaway   02/07/2019

      February already! And with February comes the next supporter giveaway. This month, with great thanks once again to www.thestorygift.co.uk , we have a brilliantly bookish set of 'storyteller' pencils (featuring famous first lines) and a retro library card notebook!      As always, you'll be automatically entered into the giveaway if you support the forum on patreon, or if your pre-patreon membership is still active. If you want to be involved in the giveaway but don't currently support, you can join the patreon at any point in February here:  www.patreon.com/bookclubforum . 
Madeleine

Madeleine's Book Log - ongoing

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You're welcome!  The L J Ross books are quite short - Angel was only 231 pages - so good for a quick read although I do think they can feel a bit rushed, but great settings and characters.  Fireside Gothic is a bit different to the usual Gothic stuff - not ghost stories as such, but with a spooky element (though not too scary!).

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Sleep no More by P D James - this is a collection of 6 short stories by the late great P D James, and I thought it was much better than last year's Xmas offering which was OK but nothing special. All these stories focus on some form of revenge, or come-uppance, and have a twist, including a man who takes his revenge on a rival who steals his secrets, a cuckolded husband (who nursed his grievance for far too long, I thought), a strange child who's obsessed with graveyards (my least favourite story), another man who wants his love (and work) rival out of the way, an unpopular uncle who's murdered on Xmas Eve whilst dressed as Santa Claus in a classic country house mystery with practically everyone a suspect, and my favourite, the final story in the collection which reads like an episode of "Midsomer Murders", and has a darkly humourous undertone and a neat twist. 7/10

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The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale - it's the beginning of the last century and Cathy Wray is her mid teens, pregnant and her mother has arranged for her to "go away" to have her baby, which will be given up for adoption. Cathy is having none of this, she loves her family but wants to keep the baby, and when she sees an advert in the paper for a job at The Emporium, it seems like the answer to her prayers, for a while at least. She duly gets a job, and the accommodation which comes with it, and moves in to the magical toy shop in Iron Duke Mews in London's Mayfair. It opens as soon as the first frost comes, and shuts when the first snowdrop blooms, but for a few magical months, it's a place of wonder for both staff and customers alike, as toys do everything except live and breathe. It's run by Papa Jack and his two sons, Emil and Kaspar, who are in constant competition to make the best toy, and of course impress, and maybe surpass, their father. And when Cathy turns up, an inevitable love triangle ensues, but then the First World War changes everything, including the Emporium and it's occupants. I thoroughly enjoyed this, at first it's reminiscent of The Night Circus, and for a while I did wonder where it was going, until the War came along, when the story became darker, and after that there were several twists and turns. It's a beautifully written, engaging tale with lots of magic (I want a patchwork dog!) and strong characters in Cathy and Kaspar, although I found Emil was a bit more of a cliche and his story almost seemed peripheral - I wondered why his sons were never named in the book for example. It's a lovely, Christmassy read, even if the ending is a tad whimsical. 8.5/10

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House of Christmas Secrets by Lynda Stacey - this is a sequel to the earlier House of Secrets, which I've got but haven't read, however due to being constantly reminded of what happened in the first book I almost feel as if I don't need to read it now! Anyway it's a year on from those traumatic events and the owners and residents of the Wrea Head Hall Hotel are getting their lives back together and preparing for a busy Xmas, as well as a wedding at New Year when one of the two half-sisters, Jess, marries Jack,who also works at the hotel. But their plans are thrown into disarray when a man claiming to be Jess's father turns up, complete with his daughter from a relationship with a woman who has now become a drug-addicted prostitute, who decides that the only way to get rid of her pimp (to whom she owes thousands of pounds) is to sell her daughter to him. No prizes for guessing where it's all going, and although it does get a bit nasty at times for such a cosy sounding novel, there's a certain predictability about it as well. I found the characters a bit clichéd, and not totally convincing, and the author's constant use of questions to push the story along became annoying after a while. An ok read but nothing special. And the hotel actually exists (it's in Yorkshire) and sounds lovely. 6.5/10

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The Christmas Card Crime & other stories- this is the British Library's annual, and it would seem traditional, collection of festive themed crime stories, and very entertaining it is too, with several stories ranging from 30 or so pages in length to just 8 pages in one case. Some are fairly standard crimes, a couple have a twist in the tale, one is more of a ghost story, and one or two are a case of "be careful what you wish for". Worth a read for dipping into in between the festivities! 8/10

The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan - this is set mainly in Norway, although it starts in Samoa, with Bo and Zac, a couple who live a seemingly idyllic lifestyle, being paid to travel around the world promoting leisurewear, whilst amassing millions of followers on social media and therefore generating publicity and sales for their sponsors. So for Xmas they land up in Norway, at a primitive cabin on the edge of a remote fjord, supposedly promoting a range of winter wear for yet another company. But Bo is beginning to tire of the lifestyle, despite escaping from a family tragedy, the antics of Zac, her boyfriend and now fiancé, and his slobby friend Lenny, who is their fixer and photographer, are losing their novelty, and when she finds herself attracted to their quiet, introverted guide Anders, she starts to wonder about her life. Meanwhile we also have the tale of Anders's grandmother, Signy, and what happened when she was a teenage girl, and went with her sister and friends up into the hills to look after their livestock during the summer grazing season in 1936. Bo is also being stalked, and things look grim when he seems to be in the same area as them, despite it's remoteness; although popular with tourists in summer, during the winter it's almost inaccessible. Overall I enjoyed this, although I did find some of the characters a bit annoying at first, but the setting was lovely, and the historical story was also very involving. It seems that everyone has their secrets, although I did find the ending a bit rushed, and the way in which the stalker was dealt with seemed a bit of an anti-climax. But not a bad read, and of course lots of snow! 7.5/10

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Happy new year everyone, and happy reading!:readingtwo:

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1 hour ago, Madeleine said:

Happy new year everyone, and happy reading!:readingtwo:

Happy New year to you too!

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Top 10 of 2018

 

The Miller's Dance (Poldark book 9) - Winston Graham
The Shadowy Horses - Susanna Kearsley
Sycamore Gap - L J Ross
Thin Air - Michelle Paver
How to Stop Time - Matt Haig
The Lost - Mari Hannah
Force of Nature - Jane Harper
The Toymakers - Robert Dinsdale
Lost for Words - Stephanie Butland
The Thief's Daughter - Victoria Cornwell

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Have you read Dark Matter by Michelle Paver? It was so creepy and atmospheric...one of the best 'horror' stories I've read. 

 

Have a great reading year in 2019. :)

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On 1/2/2019 at 4:51 PM, Madeleine said:

Top 10 of 2018

 

The Miller's Dance (Poldark book 9) - Winston Graham
The Shadowy Horses - Susanna Kearsley
Sycamore Gap - L J Ross
Thin Air - Michelle Paver
How to Stop Time - Matt Haig
The Lost - Mari Hannah
Force of Nature - Jane Harper
The Toymakers - Robert Dinsdale
Lost for Words - Stephanie Butland
The Thief's Daughter - Victoria Cornwell

I'd definitely put 'How To Stop Time' by Matt Haig in my top ten reads of 2018, a very good book.

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Thanks Athena and Bobbly, happy new year to you too, and happy reading !

 

yes I've read Dark Matter, and it was in my top 10 of the relevant year, very creepy, more so than Thin Air i think, as in DM there was a real sense that he was truly on his own (apart from the dog), and the cold felt very real too!:cold:

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The Insider by Mari Hannah - this is the second in the Stone and Oliver series set in Newcastle and Northumberland, and the new team that the detectives have inherited from some existing cases find they have a serial killer on their hands; and worse, it looks like one of the team is leaking confidential information to the Press. As well as inheriting a team who have to get used to a new boss, and are therefore unsure of their new leader's way of working, Stone has to contend with his partner Frankie's past bringing back bad memories, and we finally find out what demons are driving both Stone and Oliver, who have both suffered a tragedy in their respective pasts. Then the attacks take on a new dimension when it looks like one of the team may be responsible for the murders, as well as an attempt on the life of one of their own. It's a race against time to find the killer before he/she strikes again. This was another involving read, and the banter between the main detectives made it feel very real, however I didn't find it quite as gripping as the first book, but it's still an excellent series, with a great setting. 7.5/10

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I've decided to leave off "Little Women" for a while, as I'm finding it a bit twee, plus I know the story (I've just got to Amy's mishap on the ice), and instead am reading Ann Cleeves's "The Seagull", the latest in the Vera Stanhope series, as the TV version will be shown in a few weeks' time, and I want to read it first!

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There are lots of Ann Cleeves books on my kindle, (and I love the tv series of both Vera and Shetland) but I am yet to read any of them.  I usually like to read the book before I watch the film or episode, but I have come to them the other way around with Ann Cleeves. 

 

You may have nudged me in a Vera direction for a up and coming read! :)

Edited by Chrissy

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16 hours ago, Madeleine said:

I've decided to leave off "Little Women" for a while, as I'm finding it a bit twee, plus I know the story (I've just got to Amy's mishap on the ice), and instead am reading Ann Cleeves's "The Seagull", the latest in the Vera Stanhope series, as the TV version will be shown in a few weeks' time, and I want to read it first!

Having just read 'Little Women' myself just recently, I found that this book was too twee too. It's funny how book tastes change, as this used to be my favourite book.

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On ‎12‎/‎01‎/‎2019 at 8:02 PM, karen.d said:

Having just read 'Little Women' myself just recently, I found that this book was too twee too. It's funny how book tastes change, as this used to be my favourite book.

 

I remember Little Women from childhood as being rather too goody-goody too but really enjoyed the recent mini-series I watched. I was tempted to re-read it in case my opinion improved ... but maybe not :lol:

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The Black Friar by S G Maclean - this is the second in the Damian Seeker series, a historical crime series set during the turbulent years of Oliver Cromwell's "reign" following the execution of Charles I and of course the English Civil War. Seeker is called to a body which has been found bricked up in a wall at the old monastery of Black Friars, the figure is wearing a friar's robe but is soon found to have died only very recently, yes he was murdered and is identified as one of the many "agents" who were operating at the time, keeping an eye on the various factions who wanted to get rid of Cromwell and re-instal either Charles II to the throne, or Jesus, who the Fifth Monarchists were convinced was waiting to take his rightful place ruling the country. Seeker and his men have enough on their hands keeping track of all these groups, but when children start going missing it looks as if the murder victim had been trying to carry out a separate investigation of his own. Following a promise to a figure familiar from the first book, whose maid is one of the missing children, Seeker finds himself involved in what seems at first to be a missing children case, but eventually seems to also be connected to the various anti-Cromwell plots. Overall I enjoyed this, although the convoluted storyline was a bit hard to follow at first, but eventually all become clear. The setting is good and the characters are convincing, and it's well-written too, with a bit of dry humour. A good series which would appeal to fans of C J Sansom. 7.5/10

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The Seagull by Ann Cleeves - this is the latest in the series of novels featuring DCI Vera Stanhope (and on which the TV series "Vera" is based), and it's a solid police procedural, much like Vera herself who takes no prisoners and is determined to get to the bottom of any crime, regardless of who's toes she treads on. When one of her father's former colleagues, a corrupt cop now in prison, tells her he has some information on the disappearance of a man over 20 years ago, she's intrigued but apprehensive, especially as her father, a cop himself, may have been involved. And when another body is found along with the missing man's, it looks like a can of worms has been opened, and Vera steels herself for finding out some unsavoury details about her father and just what he and his so-called Gang of Four got up to in the 1990s. Now there are only 2 of the Gang left, and one of those is in the prison, and when another man, who used to do some "work" for the Gang, is also murdered, Vera and her team are desperate to track down the so-called Professor. Everything seems to lead back to the now defunct Seagull nightclub, but the more the team discover, the more threads there seem to be for them to unravel. I enjoyed this, Vera is very tetchy but cares about her team and her cases, and it's well-written, if a little more "earthy" than the TV series. 8/10

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Yes I've read most of the Shetland books and agree, I think I prefer them to Vera, although I've only read The Seagull so far in that series.

 

Final Shetland book coming out soon!

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Happy reading in 2019, Madeleine! ^_^ 

The Vera Stanhope series has been on TV over here, too, but on a channel I don't normally watch, so I've missed it. :/ 

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On ‎25‎/‎01‎/‎2019 at 10:41 PM, Madeleine said:

Yes I've read most of the Shetland books and agree, I think I prefer them to Vera, although I've only read The Seagull so far in that series.

 

Final Shetland book coming out soon!

 

I've been watching a series of Shetland on Netflix and thinking I'd love to read the books.

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Thanks Frankie, happy reading to you too.

 

The TV series is quite different to the books ,they filmed a few of the books but the later series are based on separate stories.  Saw a trailer for the new series the other night.

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