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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.
vodkafan

Vodkafan's 2017 reading experience

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I just finished Night Lamp.  It was typical Vance, with lots of flitting about between strange planets, a dash of romance and the parts of a mystery that is resolved near the end. Also at 380 pages, I was grateful that it was not over too soon so I could enjoy it over a few days.

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I saw a Jack Vance book in my local Oxfam a few weeks ago but I can't remember what it was now! I remembered him being mentioned on here but it was about the third book in a series so I didn't get it. I'll keep a look out to see if they put any more in there though  :smile:

 

Have you read Songs of the Dying Earth? If you haven't, it's a book of 'stories in honour of Jack Vance' by a lot of different authors and I'd be happy to send it to you. It came in the book bundle I got a couple of years ago but I've never read a Jack Vance novel and this is clearly for people very familiar with his work. 

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I've found quite a few Dutch ones in my local charity shop, that doesn't help you though. Shame they are so hard to find.

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I saw a Jack Vance book in my local Oxfam a few weeks ago but I can't remember what it was now! I remembered him being mentioned on here but it was about the third book in a series so I didn't get it. I'll keep a look out to see if they put any more in there though  :smile:

 

Have you read Songs of the Dying Earth? If you haven't, it's a book of 'stories in honour of Jack Vance' by a lot of different authors and I'd be happy to send it to you. It came in the book bundle I got a couple of years ago but I've never read a Jack Vance novel and this is clearly for people very familiar with his work. 

 

Hi Hayley, That is very kind of you. I have heard of it but never read it. I will take you up on that. Perhaps I might have something you are after and we can do a swap?

Edited by vodkafan

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I've found quite a few Dutch ones in my local charity shop, that doesn't help you though. Shame they are so hard to find.

 

It doesn't surprise me. Jack Vance has actually always been very popular in Holland and France. His stories must appeal to something in the national psyche!

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Thanks Bobblybear. I wish you a good one too. The book is At Home. It's about his home but also about what everybody else has done at home throughout history.

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I just finished Night Lamp.  It was typical Vance, with lots of flitting about between strange planets, a dash of romance and the parts of a mystery that is resolved near the end. Also at 380 pages, I was grateful that it was not over too soon so I could enjoy it over a few days.

I will have to add Jack Vance to my list of books TBR. I am not sure that I have read any of his works, or if I did, it was long ago and I don't remember.......old age again. :)

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I will have to add Jack Vance to my list of books TBR. I am not sure that I have read any of his works, or if I did, it was long ago and I don't remember.......old age again. :)

 

He wrote lots...about 100 I think, but only about half of those were SF or fantasy

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Thanks Bobblybear. I wish you a good one too. The book is At Home. It's about his home but also about what everybody else has done at home throughout history.

 

Ah yes, I've read this one. From what I recall it was pretty interesting. :smile:

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2/3 through At Home now. But have had hardly any time to get on here and talk about books last week or to look at other's book blogs..

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I am in Jack Vance Nirvana at the moment, as I have a clutch of "new" Vance SF stories and also the huge tribute anthology  Songs Of The Dying Earth which is a satisfying doorstop sized tome given to me by Hayley. 

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Night Lamp                     5/5

Jack Vance

 

This Vance novel was previously unknown to me, so I was very excited to be reading something "new" by my favourite author. It did not disappoint. Like many of his stories, this one takes the form of a Bildungsroman which follows the young protagonist growing up. A kindly scholarly couple doing fieldwork on a backward planet come across a small boy who is being beaten to death by ruffians. They save him from his fate, but it appears that he has previously undergone some even more terrible ordeal, the memory of which is tormenting him. In order to save his life the couple have his memory erased. Only his name Jaro remains.  He is taken to the home planet of the couple and adopted as their own, but Jaro is determined one day to find out about his origins.

There is much danger and mystery and romance and a few surprises along the way, and it is possible to completely forget the outside world when reading this and get immersed in the story.

Some of Vance's novels are quite short, but at 400 pages this one is nice and fat and satisfying.

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Space Opera        3/5

Jack Vance

 

Another Vance book that was new to me. Roger Wool's slightly batty Aunt Isabel is determined to export the musical culture of Earth to the rest of the galaxy. So she assembles a worthy opera company of the best classical musicians and opera singers on the planet and buys a spaceship to do an operatic tour of alien worlds. Facing the unpleasant prospect of having to take a job, Roger decides to accompany the tour when he meets the mysterious Welsh girl Madoc. The space ship is captained by the equally mysterious Adulph Gondar, the only person who knows the location of a planet which Dame Isabel is particularly interested in.

So these two mystery characters drive the slim plot, which is filled in with performances on various strange worlds that only Vance could imagine.

The book is quite short- less than 200 pages- and although I enjoyed it, none of the characters are very deeply fleshed out. In it's own way this is quite clever, as if Vance is actually having fun and laughing at the Space Opera genre itself by making the book actually about a space opera company!

It was a fun one-day read , but not of his best.

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Getting near the end of Songs Of The Dying Earth... just been reading one or two stories a week to make the book last.

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We are having new lockers at work. This has had a completely catastrophic effect on my reading! Because they have taken the old lockers away and we don't have the new ones yet, not only do I not have a place to store a stash of books,  I cannot take my trusty rucksack to work as there is no place to put it. I am reduced to just taking my lunch in a tiny haversack and there is no room even for a slim paperback.

This has forced me to the desperate expedient at break times of picking up the books that are left in a pile in the canteen. I read as much as I can of one and then put it back. Then over the  next breaks I will pick up the same book again until it is finished. In this way I have already got through two books and nearly finished a third.

The choice is limited. Most of the books are female oriented: young person chicklit and classic Mills and Boon , with a few thick Phillipa Gregory historical novels as well. I did look over the latter but in the end their very doorstep thickness put me off. I mean, a queen sitting on a throne can't get up to enough to fill a huge book like that surely? They must be full of filler and waffle.

There is a book about Uther Pendragon and his friend Merlin ( By a male author I was not familiar with) but that is a stupendous huge brick of a book. I was suspicious of that for the same reason as the Phillipa Gregory, it must be full of waffle.

 So by default I have read so far two old murder mysteries: Dead In The Morning by Margaret Yorke  and The Secret of Annexe 3 by Colin Dexter (an Inspector Morse mystery)

The book I am reading now is A Gull On The Roof. It is the true story of a high society London couple who bought a broken down 500 year old cottage in Cornwall and became flower growers. It is strangely compulsive reading although no-one has been murdered yet

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Dead In The Morning              2/5

Margaret Yorke

 

This was a quick read. I will quote the blurb on the back:

"If ever there was a candidate for murder, it was old Mrs. Ludlow. Arrogant, cruel, demanding, she dominated every aspect of her children's lives.

So when the housekeeper at Pantons was found dead, everyone-including the police-assumed that the fatal dose of drugs had been intended for her employer.

Dr Patrick Grant, Oxford don and amateur sleuth, knew that they were wrong. And he could prove it-but only at the risk of incriminating an innocent person..."

 

There is obviously a whole series of these with the same character, and they must have been written in the 50s or 60s because the currency is still shillings and pence, and there are the vestiges of a bygone way of life with housekeepers and cooks. I found the idea of the Oxford don solving crimes a bit unbelievable (which is the main reason for the low rating) but I got drawn in to the lives of the characters instead. Like an Agatha Christie story, they all had a little something to hide and it was fun to try to sort out who might have done the deed. I didn't see the end coming, so I suppose it was a success. 

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Finished Songs Of The Dying Earth. I must thank Hayley for what has been a magical reading experience I have enjoyed to the fullest. I will review this and a couple of other books Saturday to bring my reviews right up to date.

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April has been a really mixed bag. Have read one great book and some that I would not have normally picked up at all. Very behind on reviews.

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The 100                       1/5

Kass Morgan

 

I started this YA book, got half way through and gave up on it, then finished it last night while cooking dinner as it was still laying about. First off in it's defence I have to say that I am not the readership it is intended for. But, that's as far as I can go in defending it because it was abysmal. The SF component is minimal. The story is entirely teenage level about who is in love with who and who hurt who's feelings by kissing someone else. The flashbacks are annoying and the administration decisions of the spaceship colony don't make any sense.

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Gone Tomorrow              2/5

Killing Floor                     2/5

 

 

Lee Child

 

My daughter said I should read me some Jack Reacher. Well I tried. I read them in the wrong order but they were pretty much of a muchness to be honest. Gone Tomorrow was the more readable in terms of making me want to know what the mystery was, but it flagged a bit in the middle plot wise then got interesting again at the end. The Reacher character is not infallible and he does make mistakes, so I didn't feel the ending is a forgone conclusion. I read Killing Floor in two sittings, half on the train down to London and half on the train back next day. So only a three hour read, because it was very linear and I didn't need to think about it much.

I won't be reading any more of these.

Edited by vodkafan

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The Secret Of Annexe 3                   2/5

 

Colin Dexter                

 

A murder in a hotel . Inspector Morse is on the case. In this novel though the first chapter gives the reader who the murderer is, so what's going on? The delight of reading Inspector Morse is the banter between the grumpy sleuth and his sidekick Lewis, and the way they unravel how the dastardly deed was done, rather than who.

There is a good twist about 2/3 of the way in , but then 

Spoiler

the author destroys the fabric of his clever story by doing the unforgivable thing: he brings in a hitherto unknown character. I felt cheated by that. I spent 3/4 of the story trying to work out the details with the available cast. At least the Margaret Yorke book didn't do that.

 So only 2/5.

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Lies We Tell Ourselves               4/5

 

Robin Talley

 

This was in my opinion a good YA novel.  I got it for my daughter. It was engaging and quite disturbing in places. The year is 1959 in rural Virginia and schools are integrating. Ten black students are attending the all white Jefferson High School. They are basically being thrown to the wolves. There is a real sense of menace and danger here. As they span all year groups, there is usually only one in a class. It is one thing for adults to have to confront such situations, but eleven, twelve year olds? It is something I had not previously thought about and it was a shock to know it really happened. (The author includes some historical notes at the back of the book)

The main black character is Sarah, who is in the final year. She has been promised a place at college in Washington and only has to get through these few months. She soon comes up against Linda, the white daughter of the town's most obnoxious segregationist. Despite their differences, they are curiously attracted to each other and a friendship starts to build up that neither can acknowledge even to themselves. They think they might be gay.

So, this is a novel that is about confronting and breaking down various sorts of prejudice. The children are in some ways pawns of their parents on both sides of the civil rights divide.

The plot does have some weak points, which is why I couldn't award a 5/5.  .

The strong points are the dialogue between the two main characters as they work out political differences. The principal characters are quite well rounded and complex for a YA novel in my opinion.  Linda has to make the greatest changes to her world view, and it realistically doesn't happen all at once.  Linda is not completely obnoxious, as she does look after and protect her naive friend Judy who has a portwine birthmark .   Sarah's younger sister is a good character who is strong in her own way, and the difference of just a couple of years in age gives her  a totally different perspective on the situation.

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On 02/04/2017 at 1:11 PM, vodkafan said:

Dead In The Morning              2/5

Margaret Yorke

 

This was a quick read. I will quote the blurb on the back:

"If ever there was a candidate for murder, it was old Mrs. Ludlow. Arrogant, cruel, demanding, she dominated every aspect of her children's lives.

So when the housekeeper at Pantons was found dead, everyone-including the police-assumed that the fatal dose of drugs had been intended for her employer.

Dr Patrick Grant, Oxford don and amateur sleuth, knew that they were wrong. And he could prove it-but only at the risk of incriminating an innocent person..."

 

There is obviously a whole series of these with the same character, and they must have been written in the 50s or 60s because the currency is still shillings and pence, and there are the vestiges of a bygone way of life with housekeepers and cooks. I found the idea of the Oxford don solving crimes a bit unbelievable (which is the main reason for the low rating) but I got drawn in to the lives of the characters instead. Like an Agatha Christie story, they all had a little something to hide and it was fun to try to sort out who might have done the deed. I didn't see the end coming, so I suppose it was a success. 

 

Ooh, I think I might like that ; I have a bit of a thing for vintage mysteries and academic mysteries. Off to take a peek on Amazon. :D

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