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chesilbeach

Claire's Book List 2017

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I'm really happy you enjoyed The Reader on the 6.27! :smile2: It was so short but for me it had a great impact. Like you, I've come across some modern French stuff with quirky characters and it's the kind of thing that I do want to read at fairly regular intervals. I mean I might not get around to it, but it's what I'd like :D  Should you have any recommendations, I'd be happy to hear them out! 

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Thanks frankie :)

 

Some of the other French books I liked were:

 

The President's Hat by Antoine Laurain (which I think you may have already read?)

A Very Special Year by Thomas Montasser

The Secret Paris Cinema Club by Nicholas Barreau

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The President's Hat is on my wishlist, I've not read it yet! :) I don't want to read anything by Nicholas Barreau because I despised his The Ingredients of Love very, very thoroughly. I'm now going to check out A Very Special Year. Thanks chesil! :smile2: 

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You're welcome. :)

 

I didn't know Barreau had written other books, but I might have a look at The Ingredients of Love just to see what it's like. :D

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Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud starts with a team of psychic investigators trying to rid a haunted house of a malevolent ghost.  Although it's present day London, we're immediately in a setting where the country has been afflicted with the presence of spirits, and only children and young adults are able to sense them, whether it's through sight or sound or feelings.  Lucy has joined the Lockwood & Co agency, and as their story progresses we find out about Lucy's background, as well as those of her boss, Lockwood and his deputy, George, as well as how this initial investigation leads them to the most haunted house in England, and the case of the screaming staircase.

 

Initially, I found it difficult to place the period where the books were set, as it had a Victorian looking cover, and it wasn't immediately obvious that this was actually meant to be in the modern day.  Once I'd got my head around that though, I settled into the mystery of the ghost story.  Some of the elements of the ghosts and their manifestations were quite creepy, and I thought it was a thrilling story with spills and chills aplenty, and I was absolutely gripped by it.  I even read it late in the evening, which is a time I don't usually read, but I just wanted to keep going and find out what would happen next in the story.

 

I'll definitely be going on to read the next book in the series (of which there are currently five books with another due later this year) and hope that the cases that Lockwood & Co investigate will carry on in the same vein.  Most enjoyable. :)

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Thanks vodkafan, one of the first YA books I've read for a while, as I've been given and bought a lot of middle grade recently, but it does make me want to get back to some more YA once I've cleared down my TBR a bit. :)

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Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume is an odd book.  It's told by Ray, a late middle aged man who lives alone after the death of his father, and is told in the second person, so as if he's talking to the dog he adopts from a rescue centre at the beginning of the book.  The four words of the title are a word play on the seasons of the year, and are the titles of the four chapters of the book each corresponding to the timescale of the season it refers to.

 

It took me a long time to work out how I felt about the book.  Initially, I was intrigued by the story itself - why was Ray such a loner and what had happened in his earlier life to lead him to this situation he lived in?  However, as the book went on, I came to realise that although it might have been intriguing, it wasn't the story I wanted it to be.  Ray's father is a looming presence over him, and through the book, their relationship gradually reveals itself, but I have to say, I don't know if I was meant to see what was coming but I guessed it very early on, and so the slow unwinding of this thread started to irritate me more and more.  As for the story of the present day with Ray and the dog, that just got more and more unbelievable for me.  There's also a road trip which doesn't ring true, and just dragged on and on.

 

One other thing that puzzled me was the writing versus the setting.  At the beginning, I guess because of the use of "falter" as the substitute for "fall" in the seasons, I assumed it was American, as we don't really use that term over here, and so I was picturing small town America as the setting, but as it went on, I realised that this couldn't be right so I had to look it up, and found out it was set in Ireland, but I just hadn't made this connection myself and it grated on me a bit.

 

Now, I should say, I don't often get on with character driven books and much prefer a plot driven story to keep me turning the pages, so I guess I'm not the target audience for a book like this, and I suspect this is why I'm being so negative about it.  While it's good to get out of your comfort zone every now and again, that can sometimes pay dividends and other times be a complete washout, and this book for me was the latter.  It's got good reviews elsewhere, and has even been nominated for some literary awards, so I'm definitely in the minority.  To each their own, but for me, I'm going back to some exciting plot driven stories!

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I really enjoyed the first Poppy Pym book I got for Christmas, so it didn't take me long to get a copy of the follow up, Poppy Pym and the Double Jinx by Laura Wood.  After the first book had some scene setting to do, this second story was able to get straight into the action and the mystery that Poppy and her school friends get embroiled in.  With Poppy's adopted circus family and the boarding school setting, this feels very much Enid Blyton for the 21st century.  There's peril and mischief, and an exciting crime for Poppy to solve, and it's a great follow up to the first book.  One for the younger end of the middle grade age range. :)

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I didn't like Spill Simmer Falter Wither much either, Claire. It's one of those literary books the Irish tend as a culture to write and enjoy (I've discovered this with my Irish Counties Challenge) - personally a lot of the time I think it's like those moments when people are admiring an abstract painting in a gallery because everyone else is, but nobody actually really gets it but the artist is getting awards regardless. There are definitely exceptions to this, but some of them are just thin and abstract and decorated with flowery writing.

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I don't think I've read many Irish authors, but now you mention it, that is the style of the Colm Tóibín books I've read, but I did enjoy those, although perhaps that was because I was more sympathetic to the characters, which I just wasn't in Spill Simmer Falter Wither. :dunno:

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Thanks muggle not, although I actually quite like reading a book I don't like once in a while, as it makes me appreciate the good ones even more! :D

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Thanks muggle not, although I actually quite like reading a book I don't like once in a while, as it makes me appreciate the good ones even more! :D

I could probably give you a recommendation for one of those books. :)

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I don't think I've read many Irish authors, but now you mention it, that is the style of the Colm Tóibín books I've read, but I did enjoy those, although perhaps that was because I was more sympathetic to the characters, which I just wasn't in Spill Simmer Falter Wither. :dunno:

 

Colm is pretty much a literary treasure in Ireland, some of his books are on college curriculums - including mine, but I didn't read the book and still have never read a book by him hehehe! I own several though, so I really should get around to trying him. :lol:

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I read The Master and Brooklyn and enjoyed them both.  I remember that I loved the stye of writing in The Master particularly. :)  I think I'll read more of his in the future, but Baume - I don't think so, although I see that her next book has been announced - it's called A Line Made By Walking.

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We watched a documentary on the Virago publishers last night.  It was fascinating to see how this feminist publisher had started and the evolution of the company, to its current place in the business as an imprint of Little, Brown.  We have a shelf full of Virago Modern Classics from the 1970s and 80s, including the E. H. Young books I'm keen to read all of, as she was a local author.  My OH used to buy them and read before we met, and has probably about 30 or 40 of them in total. I think when we get our books out of storage, I'm going to have a look at them again, and read some of the ones I haven't already read.  The documentary was all about the women who ran the company and how it changed over the years, the impact it had on publishing, and was really engrossing.  It was actually on last year, but we've only just got around to watching it, but if it ever pops up on BBC Four again, I'd highly recommend it.

 

I do have a tendency to read many more female writers than male, and with my Persephone challenge and these Virago books, I can see it's going to be an uphill struggle to try and broaden my reading into more male authors!

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That sounds interesting Claire and the sort of programme I love. I'll keep an eye out for it .. hopefully it'll turn up on iPlayer at some point :) 

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It was called Virago: Changing The World One Page At A Time just in case you spot it.  I think you'd enjoy it, Kay, as it's about feminism and women's changing roles in the business world as well as the authors and the books, and obviously about the company as well.

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It was called Virago: Changing The World One Page At A Time just in case you spot it.  I think you'd enjoy it, Kay, as it's about feminism and women's changing roles in the business world as well as the authors and the books, and obviously about the company as well.

Definitely sounds like my sort of thing. I watch anything about books/authors .. even if I'm not keen on the author I watch because usually it's still interesting. Hope they do put it on again. 

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It sounds like my sort of thing too.  Thanks, Claire.  :)

 

You're welcome.  Most of the television we watch is either comedy or documentary, very little drama, so we end up watching quite a lot of BBC Four, and they have loads of one-off docs on different subjects, but I always enjoy the books related ones (and the maths ones too, but I doubt most people are interested in those! :giggle2:)

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The hero of Who Let The Gods Out? by Maz Evans is Elliot, who cares for his ill mum in their farmhouse which is under threat by their unscrupulous neighbour who wants to buy it to develop the site for profit.  One fateful day, Virgo who has descended to Earth on a mission, meets Elliot and the two accidentally manage to release a daemon who has been held prisoner beneath Stonehenge, and they have to call on the Greek gods to help save the day.

 

This middle grade book was a cracking comical story of Ancient gods and humans, with a quest at the heart of it, but all in a modern day setting.  While it is quite a funny book with a great adventure, there are some heartbreaking moments of Elliot and his mum, and it's lovely to see a young boy as a carer at the heart of a story, showing how tough it is to try to keep up with school and have to do all the housework, shopping and cooking plus the emotional strain of having to be grown up before your time.

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