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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…     
Alexi

Alex's Reading 2018

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Reading review January 5 - 14

 

I have been on holiday this week, but not with much time to read! I completed my first (full) book of the year - Age of Anger by Pankaj Mishra. It's also my first non fiction read of the year. It's putting our current (global) politics in the context of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, from the Enlightenment onwards. I found it very interesting given it covers the likes of India, Turkey and Iran as well as the UK and US, and covers how and why people feel the way they do about politics and have felt down the years. 

 

I also read the next short story in the Chronicles of St Mary's Series by Jodi Taylor - Christmas Present. I do love this series - not as much the later books as the first three - but it remains a series I love coming back to and the short story was a perfect holiday read for the airport. 

 

Now onto my first Round Robin Challenge book - Joyland by Stephen King. In the spirt of the New Year, I do not intend to fully review the two books I have just finished, but this one will get one. I am 15% of the way through and thoroughly enjoying it, even if it is a departure of King's usual style (or feels like it to someone who has only read three of his books so far!). 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Alexi said:

It's a really varied and interesting list and I'm looking forward to tackling more of it. A lot of the books on the list I hadn't even heard of before beginning the challenge. 

 

It certainly looks it.  Intriguing to see our points of contact and separation.  There are a few books that you've included that my rules stopped me doing (no author more than once, all fiction*, all adult books etc), which was a bit of a regret in a couple of cases (especially Updike's Rabbit series), but they might just have to get read anyway!  It'll be fun comparing notes.

 

*I ummed and aahed about In Cold Blood, but I've read in more than one place that Capote did fictionalise it in places, and Capote himself described it as a novel, so I let myself allow it. 

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For me, In Cold Blood is much better than Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Well worth inclusion on that list I think - certainly one of the more famous books from that state. Hope you enjoy it! 

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Joyland by Stephen King

 

Synopsis: Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever. (From Goodreads) 

 

Thoughts: This was the first of my round robin books and I was thrilled it was chosen. I have read three books by King and enjoyed them all - and the material is all so varied. This one is certainly very different from the others again. 

 

I rattled through the first 100 pages. Devin is a likeable character, even if he is so lovesick over a girl we rarely meet but seems rather average! The setting of a 1970s amusement park feels delightfully nostalgic - although the idea that the park would be non-smoking in the 70s doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny. 

 

The problem is this book doesn’t know what it is. It’s written for the hard case crime line but it isn’t really crime. It’s a coming of age tale, featuring Devin, a disabled child and the child’s mother. 

 

My edition was 283 pages long. I reckon you could fit the crime/supernatural element into 50 of those pages. Because it is labelled as crime the book feels like it’s hurtling towards a big denouement that never quite arrives. 

 

It is extremely difficult to get any tension when a character is telling you about his fight with a man holding a gun when the narrator is the person themselves telling the story 40 years later.

 

I did enjoy the first 3/4 of this book immensely, but the ending let it down. I felt it should have stayed as a coming of age tale rather than throwing in a bit of crime that just detracts from that. But King tells a good yarn and it was an enjoyable, easy read. I have three more Kings on my pile and I will continue to look forward to all three immensely. 

 

3/5 (I liked it) 

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24 minutes ago, Alexi said:

For me, In Cold Blood is much better than Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

I agree with this!  :yes:

 

I have never tried a Stephen King.  There is something about his name, which puts me off, which I know is silly!  I think it's because I associate him with horror, which isn't a genre I particularly like. 

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Hi Alexi, good laid back plan as always. Still a Tsunami huge TBR  though, best of luck  :flowers2:

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7 hours ago, Janet said:

I agree with this!  :yes:

 

I have never tried a Stephen King.  There is something about his name, which puts me off, which I know is silly!  I think it's because I associate him with horror, which isn't a genre I particularly like. 

 

I have read a few Stephen Kings to their endings and abandoned a couple more. Can't knock his ideas at all and he deserves his success but there are better writers in my opinion. 

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14 hours ago, Alexi said:

For me, In Cold Blood is much better than Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Well worth inclusion on that list I think - certainly one of the more famous books from that state. Hope you enjoy it! 

 

I agree as well.

 

Nice review of Joyland, shame the ending let it down for you.

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Happy Reading in 2018, Alexi ! :)

 

Looking at your TBR, I see you`ve got Kimberley Rae Miller`s Coming Clean. I read it a couple of weeks ago and thought it was excellent ( I also read her second book, Beautiful Bodies - very good too ). Hope you enjoy it ! :)

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I hope you have a great reading year, Alexi!

 

I read Joyland a couple of years ago....can't remember the details, but I think I enjoyed it more than you did. :)

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Well, my plan to keep this better updated is not going well so far :lol:

 

Thank you for all your comments, interesting to read thoughts on Stephen King especially. I came to him via 11.22.63, because I am fascinated by American history and love books on time travel - which is a bit weird because I hate most traditional sci-fi and fantasy novels! 

 

I absolutely loved that and as a result tried some of his others, even though like Janet I am not a big fan of horror. I really enjoyed The Shining and Different Seasons is very interesting. It's a collection of four novellas - including Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption and The Body (made into the movie Stand By Me). Only one of those is really crime ridden, although that one is a bit disturbing! I intend to read The Stand at some point...

 

I am six books behind in terms of reviews, although I think only four will actually end up getting full reviews. 

 

I think the weekly reading reviews are definitely the way to go! 

 

In life related news, I start a new job next week. It's in the city centre, which means I am back on the train rather than driving. I've really missed that 30 minute each way read before work. It's been two and a half years of driving and I am ready to kiss that goodbye. More reading time is always good! 

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Heresy by S J Parris

 

Synopsis: Giordano Bruno was a monk, poet, scientist, and magician on the run from the Roman Inquisition on charges of heresy for his belief that the Earth orbits the sun and that the universe is infinite. This alone could have got him burned at the stake, but he was also a student of occult philosophies and magic. 

In S.J. Parris's gripping novel, Bruno's pursuit of this rare knowledge brings him to London, where he is unexpectedly recruited by Queen Elizabeth I and is sent undercover to Oxford University on the pretext of a royal visitation. Officially Bruno is to take part in a debate on the Copernican theory of the universe; unofficially, he is to find out whatever he can about a Catholic plot to overthrow the queen. 

His mission is dramatically thrown off course by a series of grisly murders and a spirited and beautiful young woman. As Bruno begins to discover a pattern in these killings, he realizes that no one at Oxford is who he seems to be. Bruno must attempt to outwit a killer who appears obsessed with the boundary between truth and heresy.  (From Goodreads)

 

Thoughts: This was my second book for the Round Robin Challenge and a great pick - this (and the sequel!) has been sat on my bookshelf for years. 

 

Our hero, Bruno, actually did exist, and his journey from Italy to Oxford fleeing persecution is one of the more interesting aspects of the story. I don't know a good deal about continental Europe  in this period so I can't speak to the accuracy of how Bruno is portrayed, but this historical novel is written in a very modern style and clearly designed to give the gore modern readers have come to expect from these types of novels. 

 

However, It is rather slow in places and there is a lot of religion involved (as to be expected, given he is visiting religious college in Oxford). The murders don't start til quite a way in, but I actually found the scene setting one of the more interesting parts of the book. The dinner conversations revealing the thoughts (and ignorance) of the era were very well done. 

 

In fact, the murder-solving is the less interesting part for me, with the context and tensions between Catholics and Protestants the really interesting thread. However, solve the mystery Bruno does (of course) and it's a satisfying enough ending. I am intrigued enough to read the second in this series and see how amateur detective Bruno gets on. 

 

3.5/5 

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Good luck with your new job today :)! I hope you can get some reading done on your daily train journeys. I used to read quite a bit on the train when I went to university.

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I've had the Bruno series for years as  well - good review Alexi, must get round to reading them sometime!

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4 hours ago, Athena said:

Good luck with your new job today :)! I hope you can get some reading done on your daily train journeys. I used to read quite a bit on the train when I went to university.

 

Thanks Athena! :) I find I arrive at work much more relaxed after a period of reading rather than battling idiots on the motorway. 

 

3 hours ago, Madeleine said:

I've had the Bruno series for years as  well - good review Alexi, must get round to reading them sometime!

 

Thanks Madeleine! I hope you enjoy them when your TBR allows you to ;) 

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