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      Something Wicked This Way Comes...   10/09/2019

      The Autumn Supporter Giveaway!       Welcome to the very first of the seasonal BCF supporter giveaways! This month also marks one year since I took on the forum, so I want to say an extra huge thank you to all of you for keeping this place going. I have a little bit more to say about that later but, for now, let's get to the giveaway!     The Autumn Giveaway winner will be getting two Penguin Little Black Classics, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and To Be Read At Dusk by Charles Dickens. Both of these little books contain three atmospheric short stories, perfect for autumnal evenings. The winner will also get Mary Shelley tea (a lavender and vanilla black tea) from Rosie Lea Tea's Literary Tea Collection (https://www.rosieleatea.co.uk/collections/literary-tea-collection) and a chocolate skull, to really get that spooky atmosphere .   and...   A special treat for a special month. The winner will choose one of the following recent paperback releases from the independent bookshop Big Green Bookshop:       The Wych Elm by Tana French A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan Melmoth by Sarah Perry The Familiars by Stacey Halls  The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White   The winner will be chosen via the usual random selection process in one week. Patreon supporters are entered automatically. If you aren't a patreon supporter but you'd like to join in with this giveaway, you can support here: https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum.   I really hope you're all going to like this introduction to the seasonal giveaways. It's been a lot of fun to put together. Other chocolate skulls may have been harmed during the selection process…     
chesilbeach

Claire's Book List 2018

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4 hours ago, chesilbeach said:

 

I'm looking forward to the Wainwright Prize long list being announced which I think it usually early June which is not that far away now, but I've been reading some more nature books in preparation hoping to get a headstart, but we'll wait and see. :D

 

Always worth the wait!  I'm still catching up on some previous years, the latest being H is for Hawk, which was much better than I expected.  Of more recent ones, I was mildly disappointed with Linescapes and A Sweet Wild Note (but still enjoyed them - it's all relative!), but am looking forward to both Lewis-Stempel's latest (the two others I've read of his have been outstanding), The Wood, and Mark Cocker's Our Place.  For me, they, the authors, are both amongst the best, to the extent that I might even buy the latter in hardback (I've got a couple of L-S's paperbacks to read yet!).  Anything else to keep one's eyes open for?

Edited by willoyd

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14 hours ago, willoyd said:

Anything else to keep one's eyes open for?

 

I would say my two stand out nature books so far this year have been 20th-Century Yokel by Tom Cox and Hidden Nature by Alys Fowler.  Neither are out-and-out nature, but both have a strong element of nature writing in them, and I thought both were excellent and strike me as exactly the style of book that often ends up on the long list.

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On 4/19/2018 at 10:24 PM, willoyd said:

 

'Only'!

(I'm contentedly on 17).

 

 

On 4/20/2018 at 11:01 AM, Madeleine said:

And I'm on 13.

Sorry - I didn't mean to sound like I was complaining - it's just that Claire reads exceptionally fast.  I was just making a comparison - I'm happy with 21 (22 now)  :)

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On 4/20/2018 at 5:54 PM, chesilbeach said:

 

Don't worry about the numbers - you do all sorts of other interesting things with your time!  I can't quite believe how many I've read, to be honest, I think it's because I've been stuck without access to any sort of workspace in the house and can't do any crafts, plus I have extra free time since last year so I'm just losing myself in books at the moment. :) 

Yes, my life is very busy!  :)  I'm happy with the number I read - I'm just seriously impressed with the speed at which you read. :)

 

I hope you get to do some crafts soon - my Kindle cases are much admired.  :wub:

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I've been putting off writing reviews for a couple of weeks because the next book on my list was The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and I found it difficult to put into words my feelings.  I’d initially bought the book on sale on Kindle but when I started to read it, I kept finding my mind wandering, so I decided I’d try the audiobook instead but unfortunately that wasn’t much better either.  I found I couldn’t engage with the characters and kept losing track of where I was in the story and going back a few minutes (or more) and listening again.  I think it was because the writing felt like an external experience of what the characters were going through, instead of being there with them.  I felt a remoteness from the story that I couldn’t get over, and unfortunately, I only really kept going because it was on my Round Robin challenge list.

 

I was disappointed in myself for not enjoying the book more, as I often enjoy books set in Indian, and am fascinated with the multitude of different perspectives you can have and the variety of society and stories that huge sub-continent and its history has to offer, but unfortunately, this book was not for me.

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The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson is a middle grade book which really packs a punch. When Nate’s mum wakes him up in the middle of the night to take him on holiday, it immediately becomes clear to an adult reader, exactly what’s happening and why they’re running away.  While hiding out in the gardener’s cottage of a country house which used to belong to an old friend who’s recently died, Nate’s mum goes out to get some food from the local shop, but doesn’t return.  Trying to figure out why she’s hasn’t come back yet, Nate knows he must keep his whereabouts a secret, and begrudgingly makes friends with a girl from the big house.  As the story progresses and Nate’s increasing worry as where his mum is, the background of his home life is revealed.

 

This is the second book by this author, and another strongly grounded in reality which hides in plain sight the plight of a young person going through a tremendously difficult time in their life.  It comes across so effortlessly but you know that it incredibly considered and researched, and offers hope and compassion to those that might be in a similar situation and reveals the hidden lives that can be experienced behind closed doors of children to others who are lucky enough not to have experienced it themselves, without making it frightening or graphic, but allowing them to understand.  Another excellent book from Lisa Thompson.

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Back to a nature book next, and this time it was a A Wood of One’s Own by Ruth Pavey.  After living in London for many years, Pavey decided she wanted to be able to escape the confines of the city and find her own piece land in plant a wood.  The book follows her return to close to where she grew up in Somerset and buy a small plot of land where she can escape and be in and among the trees and the natural world.  It’s part memoir as she talks about her family background and the process of finding, buying and creating her own woodland, while also looking at the nature of Somerset and how man changes it for agriculture and development, and what she’s doing to return it to a conserved rural landscape.

 

I enjoyed this book as Pavey has a lovely writing style, and it reads very much as though it’s a diary of notes and sketches she kept while over the period the book covers that she has then fleshed out with family history, local history and more observations and opinions about the current state of rural towns and some environmental and agricultural policies today.  The only niggle I have, is that I sort of find the idea of someone from London buying a small plot of land to have their own piece of countryside rather self-indulgent and a bit selfish, but maybe that’s just me - it doesn’t stop it being an entertaining book. :)

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Following on from The Summer Seaside Kitchen and A Very Distant Shore, The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan takes us back to the Scottish island of Mure to catch up with Flora and her family and friends.  I’m definitely not going to use the diminishing term of chick-lit for the book, and I’m loathe to even call it a romcom, as it much more than either of those, but from the title and the cover, people will often dismiss these style of books in such terms.  While it is about love and romantic relationships, Colgan writes about life and the realities of the different types of relationships.

 

It’s definitely not all hearts and flowers, and no-one has a happy-ever-after by a long stretch, although there is such an affection for this island community and its inhabitants that there is always a sense of hope, and perhaps the odd soft focus shot or an occasional glimpse through the rose-tinted glasses to keep it being gritty or gloomy.  It’s an uplifting story for all its sorrows, and one I’ll definitely read again.  I’ve already pre-ordered the next book called An Island Christmas which will take me right back to Mure over the holiday period. :D 

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I’ve finished off the last few books I had left to read from M. C. Beaton’s historical romantic comedies recently.  They were Amaryllis, Quadrille and The Constant Companion.  I enjoyed Amaryllis as it was exactly what I was expecting from the romcoms, light and fun, easy reading and all topped off with a strong but a bit naive female lead with a dashing Marquess to fall in love with.  The other two, however, were not as good as I was hoping.  Neither had particularly likeable leads characters, and I didn’t feel quite the same sense of fun from them.

 

I’m actually going to go back and read again one of the others I’ve enjoyed much more, to end the collection on a high note, but I think it’s the end of, by my calculations, 104 books from these Regency and Edwardian romances, mostly written under her pen name of Marion Chesney, and on the whole, I’ve been thoroughly entertained and escaped from the real world for many an hour.

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19 hours ago, Janet said:

 

Sorry - I didn't mean to sound like I was complaining - it's just that Claire reads exceptionally fast.  I was just making a comparison - I'm happy with 21 (22 now)  :)

 

And I'm still on 17!  I know you weren't really - just goes to show how much we all love reading that somebody can in all sincerity say 'only' 21 books at this stage of the year at all.  Plenty of people I know who barely read one or two in a year. Can't imagine that!

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I’m working my way through the Anita Brookner catalogue and I’ve come to Family and Friends, a saga which starts with a wedding photograph and tells the tale of the family through their loves and relationships.  Actually, there’s not much of a tale, it’s much more of a character study.  What I usually love about Brookner is the wit and humour that infuses through the writing, but I found this had a much more serious and melancholy  tone.  There were a few moments of lightness, but on the whole a more sombre experience than I’ve come to expect.  I think that’s perhaps why I think this has been my least favourite of her books so far.

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5 hours ago, chesilbeach said:

I was disappointed in myself for not enjoying the book more, as I often enjoy books set in Indian, and am fascinated with the multitude of different perspectives you can have and the variety of society and stories that huge sub-continent and its history has to offer, but unfortunately, this book was not for me.

I love books set in India too.  If I'm remembering correctly, this one is quite a hefty tome?  I looked at it when it was the Deal of the Day but didn't download it in the end.

 

I hope your next Indian read is more to your taste (whatever it may be)  :)

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1 hour ago, willoyd said:

And I'm still on 17!  I know you weren't really - just goes to show how much we all love reading that somebody can in all sincerity say 'only' 21 books at this stage of the year at all.  Plenty of people I know who barely read one or two in a year. Can't imagine that!

I can't imagine ever reading one one or two books  year, but my husband doesn't read much.  He read more before he started his current job.  However, he's started listening to audio books in the car with me so from that point of view he reads more now. :)

 

We're working our way (slowly) through Le Carre's George Smiley books.  I've just downloaded the third for our upcoming holiday.

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I found two E H Young books in Clifton Village today, Claire, but sadly not the two you're missing!  

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April stats:

 

Books read: 20

Pages read: 6405

Authors: Female 16, Male 4

Fiction: 16

Non-fiction: 4

Format: Hardback 3, Paperback 5, Kindle 7, Audiobook 5

Round Robin challenge: 1

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On 4/2/2018 at 1:46 PM, chesilbeach said:

 I'd definitely recommend Storm in a Teacup by Helen Czerski, a book of physics in the everyday world, if you're looking for a female authors in the science world.

 

 

I've just bought this - it's only £0.99 on Kindle. :)

 

On 4/22/2018 at 9:59 AM, chesilbeach said:

I've been putting off writing reviews for a couple of weeks because the next book on my list was The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and I found it difficult to put into words my feelings.  I’d initially bought the book on sale on Kindle but when I started to read it, I kept finding my mind wandering, so I decided I’d try the audiobook instead but unfortunately that wasn’t much better either.  I found I couldn’t engage with the characters and kept losing track of where I was in the story and going back a few minutes (or more) and listening again.  I think it was because the writing felt like an external experience of what the characters were going through, instead of being there with them.  I felt a remoteness from the story that I couldn’t get over, and unfortunately, I only really kept going because it was on my Round Robin challenge list.

 

I've heard so much about this book, and the general sense is that it is a book one must read, but I can't recall many people who have actually enjoyed it! I bought it last year, and I've toyed with the idea of reading it but keep putting it off in favour of something else. :wacko:

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7 hours ago, bobblybear said:

I've just bought this - it's only £0.99 on Kindle. :)

 

I hope you enjoy it!  I think it's one I'll dip in and out of again in future. :)

 

7 hours ago, bobblybear said:

I've heard so much about this book, and the general sense is that it is a book one must read, but I can't recall many people who have actually enjoyed it! I bought it last year, and I've toyed with the idea of reading it but keep putting it off in favour of something else. :wacko:

 

I can sort of understand it.  I'm sure I've heard someone talk favourably of it, but my memory fails me as to who it was, but I found it a real struggle to keep interested.

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May stats:

 

Books read: 16

Pages read: 5969

Authors: Female 7, Male 9

Fiction: 13

Non-fiction: 3

Format: Hardback 2, Paperback 6, Kindle 7, Audiobook 1

Round Robin challenge: 2

 

Had a bit of a dip in the middle of the month due to life throwing me a curve ball, but back on track now, and enjoying my reading afresh. :D 

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The Wainwright Prize longlisted books were announced yesterday.  I've updated my challenge post with the list.  My attempts at trying to guess the longlist have been pretty good, and I've already read six of the books on the list.  This year, they've extended the list to thirteen books, so that means I've got seven to read before the prize winner is announced in August.

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4 hours ago, chesilbeach said:

The Wainwright Prize longlisted books were announced yesterday.  I've updated my challenge post with the list.  My attempts at trying to guess the longlist have been pretty good, and I've already read six of the books on the list.  This year, they've extended the list to thirteen books, so that means I've got seven to read before the prize winner is announced in August.

 

I wonder what the cutoff date is. Having just read Joe Shute's A Shadow Above, I'd have certainly had it on the longlist.  The Seabird's Cry was my favourite non-fiction book last year, but haven't read any of the others except The Lost Words, which was very pretty, attracted fabulous reviews, but didn't do an awful lot for me as an actual read (I've just got Lewis-Stempel's The Wood out of the library to read in the very near future).

 

Edited by willoyd

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10 hours ago, willoyd said:

 

I wonder what the cutoff date is. Having just read Joe Shute's A Shadow Above, I'd have certainly had it on the longlist.  The Seabird's Cry was my favourite non-fiction book last year, but haven't read any of the others except The Lost Words, which was very pretty, attracted fabulous reviews, but didn't do an awful lot for me as an actual read (I've just got Lewis-Stempel's The Wood out of the library to read in the very near future).

 

 

Like you, I thought A Shadow Above was fantastic, and I was surprised not to see it on the list so I checked the submission rules and it was eligible for the award this year.  I honestly can’t see why it wouldn’t make the list unless it wasn’t submitted by the publisher?  They don’t have any other books on the longlist and I can’t see any limitations on the number of books they can submit (as in they might have had to chose between a number of books), so I’m at a loss as to why it isn’t there.  Although I’ve enjoyed all the books I’ve read so far, I’d pick this one above at least three others so far, if not all. 

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Interesting Claire, and thanks for the information.  All in all, very surprising.

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On 08/06/2018 at 8:34 AM, chesilbeach said:

 

Like you, I thought A Shadow Above was fantastic, and I was surprised not to see it on the list so I checked the submission rules and it was eligible for the award this year.  I honestly can’t see why it wouldn’t make the list unless it wasn’t submitted by the publisher? 

 

I got in touch with Bloomsbury, who have replied today telling me that they did indeed enter A Shadow Above, and a couple of other books (unnamed) for the Wainwright.  I'm really surprised. I haven't read as much of the list as you, but of what I have, and what I've dipped into, ASA would make the list comfortably.  But then, I'm a bit surprised that, for a prize about 'nature' writing, there's no naturalist on the panel (unless one of the unnamed reps is one).

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On 12/06/2018 at 2:42 PM, willoyd said:

 

I got in touch with Bloomsbury, who have replied today telling me that they did indeed enter A Shadow Above, and a couple of other books (unnamed) for the Wainwright.  I'm really surprised. I haven't read as much of the list as you, but of what I have, and what I've dipped into, ASA would make the list comfortably.  But then, I'm a bit surprised that, for a prize about 'nature' writing, there's no naturalist on the panel (unless one of the unnamed reps is one).

 

Oh, that is interesting.  Thanks for letting me know.  I'd not spotted that there was no naturalist on the panel, in fact, looking at the panel, it's two television presenters, a book buyer and a business man - not much expert opinion in there.  The prize is actually nature and travel, so I can see how the two television presenters can cover those areas, but two business people does seem to be pushing it a bit, despite their personal interests in the subject.  They might as well ask you or me!  Such as shame that A Shadow Above hasn't even been longlisted.

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June stats:

 

Books read: 14

Pages read: 3941

Authors: Female 7, Male 7

Fiction: 8

Non-fiction: 6

Format: Hardback 4, Paperback 7, Kindle 3, Audiobook 0

 

Been an excellent month.  Favourites are easy this month - non-fiction is The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, fiction is A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood.

That brings my total books read this year to a nice round 100.  Have been online much less recently hence the lack of reviews and posts here, but also the increased reading!  

 

As we're halfway through the year, here are my year to date stats too:

Books read: 100

Pages read: 32493

Authors: Female 69, Male 31

Fiction: 78

Non-fiction: 22

Format: Hardback 18, Paperback 45, Kindle 28, Audiobook 9

Round Robin challenge: 9

Waterstones Children's Book Prize challenge: 12

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