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    • Hayley

      May Supporter Giveaway   05/03/2019

      It's May! The height of spring and a truly beautiful time of year so, when I saw this beautiful book cover, I knew we had to have it for the giveaway! May's winner will also receive the very first, completely unique, BCF bookmark!     As always, supporters will be entered into the giveaway automatically and a winner will be chosen at random at the end of the month. If you want to enter the giveaway but aren't currently a supporter, you can become one at https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum.

Hayley's Reading in 2018

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On ‎12‎/‎05‎/‎2018 at 10:30 AM, Athena said:

I'm glad you liked the first Culture book. I've only read the first few, I think my favourite is The Player of Games (so far). I've read the first four books, so I've got another six (I think?) left to read. I haven't read a Culture book in a while, must read another one at some point. I hope you enjoy the other Culture books :).


Thank you :) I thought The Player of Games sounded good actually so I look forward to trying that one! 


I have quite a few reviews to catch up on again now! I'll go through them in the order they were read...




No Name by Wilkie Collins

4/5 - I really liked it


Having read The Moonstone and The Woman in White by Collins, this wasn't exactly what I expected. The plot is essentially based on the complete lack of legal power women were allowed in the nineteenth century (which is actually also a big part of The Woman in White). When the two sisters of the novel, Magdalen and Norah, tragically lose both of their parents, they also discover that their parents were not married at the time of their birth. They become nameless, losing their home and everything belonging to their parents. The two have very different personalities though and so, while Norah throws herself into work, Magdalen sets off on a crazy adventure to take back what rightly belongs to her and her sister. 

Magdalen is a really brilliant character, it's impossible not to really get behind her as she fights to overcome all of the problems that stand in her way. She apparently wasn't quite as popular in the 1860s, when Collins was criticised for the "immorality" of the novel, but I think that just makes me like her more! It's quite an intense novel, although there are some more light hearted moments and characters breaking it up, the sense of serious injustice is always present and at times quite heartbreaking.

(Big spoiler relating to the end of the book)


I assume the fact that it's Norah who ultimately succeeds in winning their fortune back, just by being good and quiet and hardworking, was to appease the people who were criticising the immorality of the story. Although this was a little disappointing, I was satisfied with the fact that at least Collins still gave Magdalen the happy ending she definitely deserved.

 I would definitely recommend this. It's the first book I've read in a long time where I was really tempted to skip to the end to find out what would happen.

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The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zaphon

2.5 / 5 - I liked it


I feel quite mean only giving this 2.5, but I didn't enjoy as much as books I've recently given 3 to. I do think that this is technically a good book, but of all the books I've read by this author, it was my least favourite. This was the first novel Carlos Ruiz Zaphon ever had published and I think that shows in the fact that this plot seemed less adventurous, a little more generic, than any of his future books. There's a horror element at the center of the plot which does sometimes feel scary but at other times, particularly earlier in the book, the scare tactics are so obvious and generic that it takes all the scariness out of them. At the same time though there is still that brilliant, slightly magical atmosphere Zaphon captures in later books, the characters are good, individual, well-written and there's a sad but sweet message behind the plot as a whole about the second world war (although this is also maybe not as subtle as it might have been).   

It's a good, clever, interesting quick read. I think I just have very high expectations from this author that The Prince of Mist didn't quite live up to.


But I also recently read that the fourth book in his 'Cemetery of Forgotten Books' series is going to be published in English in September this year! I am very excited :D


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I'm so excited to be back here!!! :D 


I'm not going to post all the reviews I've missed, but I think this would be a good time for an updated list:


On My Shelf


Aaronovitch, Ben. The Furthest Station

Abercrombie, Joe. Best Served Cold

Abercrombie, Joe. Half a King

Abercrombie, Joe. Half the World

Abercrombie, Joe. Red Country

Adams, Douglas. The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Adams, Douglas. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Adams, Douglas. Life, The Universe and Everything

Adams, Douglas. So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish

Atwood, Margaret. Alias Grace

Ballantyne, R.M. The Coral Island

Banks, Iain. The Bridge

Banks, Iain M. The Algebraist

Banks, Iain M. Consider Phlebas

Banks Iain M. Excession

Banks Iain M. Feersum Endjinn

Banks Iain M. Inversions

Banks, Iain M. Look to Windward

Banks Iain M. Matter

Banks Iain M. The Player of Games

Banks Iain M. Use of Weapons

Barker, Clive. Weaveworld

British Myths and Legends vol. 1: Marvels and Magic. ed. Richard Barber

British Myths and Legends vol. 2: Heroes and Saints. "

British Myths and Legends vol 3. History and Romance. "

Brontë, Anne. Agnes Grey

Brontë, Anne. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Brontë, Charlotte. The Professor

Brontë, Charlotte. Shirley

Brontë, Charlotte. Villette

Butcher, Jim. Blood Rites

Butcher, Jim. Dead Beat

Butcher, Jim. Death Masks

Butcher, Jim. Proven Guilty

Byatt, A.S. The Children's Book

Carrell, J.L. The Shakespeare Curse

Christie, Agatha. Murder on the Orient Express 

Clarke, Susanna. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Cogman, Genevieve. The Invisible Library

De Muriel, Oscar. Mask of Shadows

Dickens, Charles. Nicholas Nickleby

Dickens, Charles. The Old Curiosity Shop

Dickens, Charles. The Pickwick Papers

Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Sign of Four

Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Return of Sherlock Holmes

Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Hound of the Baskervilles

Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Valley of Fear

Doyle, Arthur Conan. His Last Bow

Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Case-book of Sherlock Holmes

Dumas, Alexandre. The Three Musketeers

Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose 

Faulks, Sebastian. Birdsong

Fforde, Jasper. The Well of Lost Plots

Gaiman, Neil. Smoke and Mirrors

Galbraith, Robert. The Silkworm

Gaylin, Alison. Into the Dark

Grahame, Kenneth. The Wind in the Willows

Grossmith, George and Weedon. The Diary of a Nobody

Hardie, Titania. The Rose Labyrinth

Hardinge, Francis. The Lie Tree

Hardy, Thomas. Under the Greenwood Tree

Harkness, Deborah. Shadow of Night

Hodgson, Antonia. The Devil in the Marshalsea

Hoving, Isabel. The Dream Merchant

le Carre, John. A Most Wanted Man

Marston, Edward. The Excursion Train

Marston, Edward. The Iron Horse

Marston, Edward. Murder on the Brighton Express

Marston, Edward. The Railway Viaduct

Miéville, China. Kraken

Miéville, China. The Scar

More, Thomas. Utopia

Morton, Kate. The Distant Hours

Mosse, Kate. Citadel

Owen, Lauren. The Quick

Peake, Mervyn. Titus Groan

Peake, Mervyn. Gormenghast

Peake, Mervyn. Titus Alone

The Penguin Book of English Short Stories Ed. Christopher Dolley 

Pratchett, Terry. I Shall Wear Midnight

Pullman, Phillip. Lyra's Oxford

Ruickbie, Leo. The Impossible Zoo: An Encyclopedia of Fabulous Beasts and Mythical Monsters

Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men

Taylor, Jodi. A Trail Through Time

Tolkien, J.R.R. Tree and Leaf, Smith of Wooton Major, The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth

Verne, Jules. Five Weeks in a Balloon

Verne, Jules. From the Earth to the Moon

Verne, Jules. Round the Moon

Verne, Jules. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Wells, H.G. The Time Machine

Wells, H.G. The Island of Dr. Moreau

Wells, H.G. The War of the Worlds

Wells, H.G. The First Men in the Moon

Wells, H.G. The Invisible Man



Acquired in 2018:


Arden, Katherine. The Bear and the Nightingale

Arden, Katherine. The Girl in the Tower

Brennan, Marie, A Natural History of Dragons

Burton, Jessie. The Muse

Clarke, Susanna, The Ladies of Grace Adieu

Collins, Wilkie. No Name (library)

Connolly, John. The Book of Lost Things

Dickens, Charles. Christmas Stories Vol. 1

Evans, Claire. The Fourteenth Letter

Gaiman, Neil, The Graveyard Book

Garber, Stephanie. Caraval

Ghosts of Christmas Past, Ed. Tim Martin

Hill, Susan. The Woman in Black

Jemisin, N.K. The Obelisk Gate

Jemisin, N.K. The Stone Sky

King, Stephen. Everything's Eventual

Lynch, Scott, The Lies of Locke Lamora

Mirless, Hope. Lud -n-the-Mist

Perry, Sarah, Melmoth

Price, Steven, By Gaslight

Pinborough, Sarah, Mayhem 

Purcell, Laura. The Corset

Riggs, Ransom. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Russel, Craig. Brother Grimm

Setterfield, Diane. The Thirteenth Tale

Taylor, Jodi, And the Rest is History

Underdown, Beth. The Witchfinder's Sister

Vance, Jack, The Blue World

Vance, Jack, City of the Chasch

Vance, Jack, The Dirdir

Vance, Jack, The Dragon Masters

Vance, Jack, Emphyrio

Vance, Jack, The Eyes of the Overworld

Vance, Jack, The Gray Prince
Vance, Jack, The Green Pearl

Vance, Jack, The Houses of Iszm

Vance, Jack, The Languages of Pao

Vance, Jack, Lyonesse

Vance, Jack, Madouc

Vance, Jack, The Many Worlds of Magnus Ridolph

Vance, Jack, Rhialto the Marvellous
Vance, Jack, Servants of the fiddleh

Vance, Jack, Showboat World
Vance, Jack, Son of the Tree

Vance, Jack, To Live Forever

Vance, Jack, Wyst:Alastor 1716

Zafón, Carlos Ruiz. The Prince of Mist


So, I added quite a lot of books to my 'acquired' list... but I have now read, in total, 29 books so far this year. It's a long way from my target of 50, but already more than I managed last year (28). 


I'm reading two books at the moment, Heroes of Welsh History and The Devil in the Marshalsea, so I'm looking forward to getting back into reviewing with them! :)


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I hope that both books you are reading turn out to be very enjoyable for you.:friends3:

A thanks for keeping the Forum alive.

And a thanks to Michele.

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Great to see so much Jack Vance in your TBR lol !:yahoo:

and oh yes have some flowers :flowers2:

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I see that you have "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman on your acquired list. That is my favorite book by Neil Gaiman.


I also see that you have read The Bear and the Nightingale and have The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden on your acquired list. If you enjoyed The Bear and the Nightingale you will also enjoy The Girl in the Tower as it is even better than  her first book. I am anxiously waiting on the 3rd book in the Trilogy.

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6 hours ago, muggle not said:

I see that you have "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman on your acquired list. That is my favorite book by Neil Gaiman.



I loved this book and it's my favourite Neil Gaiman too. I found Bod a very endearing character.

Oooh ... and you have to read The Wind In the Willows! :wub:

Edited by poppy

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11 hours ago, vodkafan said:

Great to see so much Jack Vance in your TBR lol !:yahoo:

and oh yes have some flowers :flowers2:

I blame you entirely for that :P thanks!


I was so close to choosing The Graveyard Book as my next read! I went for The Devil in the Marshalsea instead because I felt bad about neglecting books I've had since last year. I love Neil Gaiman though and I'm looking forward to it even more now!


@muggle not I'm so glad you thought The Girl in the Tower was even better than the first book. I loved The Bear and the Nightingale and have been putting off reading the next book partly because I don't want it to be finished and partly from fear that I wouldn't love it as much as the first! 


@poppy The Wind in the Willows has been on my shelf for a long time. It was actually a present from my great aunt and I should really get round to reading it, especially as it shouldn't even take that long to read.


So many books, not enough time :blush:



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I agree with muggle not, I really enjoyed The Graveyeard Book, too! :smile2:


And of course the Jack Vance books must be vodkafan's influence :D  



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Devil in the Marshalsea.jpg

The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson

3.5/5 - I liked it


When I think of the Marshalsea, I think of Dickens and, to be honest, that's probably why I picked this book up. However, Hodgson makes a point right at the beginning of the book that this is not the Marshalsea debtors prison that Dickens wrote about, it was actually an entirely different building at the time this book is set (1727). As it turns out, the Marshalsea that Hodgson describes is even more intriguing.

The basis of the story is that a murder has been committed inside the Marshalsea debtors prison and Tom Hawkins ends up (after a series of unfortunate events which make for a great start to the book) sharing a cell with the prime suspect. Tom is actually the narrator, which is really nice in a way, because you really build a connection with him and, although sometimes he is really annoying, you can't help but feel for him. At the same time though, the Marshalsea is full of a great cast of characters (many of whom, Hodgson explains, are based on real characters from the records kept in the real Marshalsea), and sometimes it seemed that they didn't get enough time to develop as they just passed by Tom's notice. There were few occasions where I completely forgot who a character was, although it didn't take me long to finish the book, they just didn't stick in my head enough. The first person narrative also gives you a couple of those moments where you're thinking 'how can this character possibly not see that this is the wrong thing to do!?' 

But, back to the positives, the setting is brilliantly done. The Marshalsea is so intense and so rich in descriptions of smells, textures and sounds, that it has an almost surreal quality, like the book could tip over to magical realism at any moment.

The mystery is great and there plenty of twists and turns that leave you suspecting one character, then another. I didn't predict the ending at all, which is always nice. Overall a really enjoyable book and a good mystery. I discovered after I'd read it that it's the first in a series, although the ending of this one wraps up entirely, without leading to another book. I do think I'll read the next one, I'd like to find out what happens to Tom Hawkins next :)


As soon as I finished The Devil in the Marshalsea I had to start The Graveyard Book, after so many recommendations. It may have made me cry... but review of that coming soon :lol:

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Agree completely - it's a good read.  A bit of an eye-opener too: I knew the Marshalsea was grim, but quite how grim I hadn't realised.  The descriptions really brought the place all too vividly (!) to life (particularly in the poorer section).  Horrendous. Someone with a strong background in history once said to me that the one thing we probably wouldn't be able to handle if transportedback  in time would be the smell; this was about as close as a book is probably going to take me there!

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I loved Devil.... and the setting is almost a character in it's own right.  The sequel is quite good, and the 3rd book is excellent as well, new one due out next year, hooray!  I agree Tom is infuriating - his own worst enemy really - but I couldn't help liking him, there's some great humour too, I especially liked the bit about the ghost.

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@willoyd Absolutely! I didn't know the history of the Marshalsea before it moved to new buildings. The way prisoners were treated was truly shocking and the book portrayed that really well. I thought the cycle of debt they were kept in was also particularly cruel.   

@Madeleine It's good to know that you liked the sequel, and I didn't know there were more coming out! I will definitely keep a look out for them. I also thought the ghost was clever :)


I'm a couple of books behind on reviews now, so first of all...




The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

5/5 - I loved it


I have so much admiration for Neil Gaiman as a writer, this book is so beautifully written. At the heart of the story is Bod, a boy who's parents have been killed by a mysterious man and who ends up being raised in a graveyard by ghosts... and his equally mysterious new guardian, Silas. But that description really does not do the story justice. It is, essentially, a book about growing up. About making mistakes, realising that the world is really weird sometimes and figuring out how to cope with it. Despite being in third person, the unique perspective of childhood really shows and is perfectly executed. It is dramatic, fantastical, touching, and it made me stay awake until the early hours of the morning, at which point there may have been a couple of tears... It may be marketed for children, but this is a beautiful book to read as an adult too. 

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I'm glad you liked The Graveyard Book! My cover of the book isn't quite as pretty :P. My edition isn't illustrated as far as I know. I haven't read the book yet but bought it years ago.. maybe one day. Great review :)!

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Thanks @Athena :) There aren't a lot of illustrations in that edition, there's just one full page one at the beginning of each chapter. I do like Chris Riddell though, I agree the cover is pretty! I hope you like the book too when you get round to reading it! 

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I agree about The Graveyard Book! Gaiman does seem able to successfully straddle the minds of children and adults alike. Have you read American Gods? That is more "grown up" but also very poignant, I found.

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I have read American Gods, I've honestly never read a book by Gaiman that I didn't like. Neverwhere was probably my favourite and I can't wait for the sequel to be out!

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The only Gaiman I've read is Neverwhere and I really liked it but I do have lovely edition of American God's on my TBR that I should maybe bump up towards the top of the list.

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13 minutes ago, Brian. said:

The only Gaiman I've read is Neverwhere and I really liked it but I do have lovely edition of American God's on my TBR that I should maybe bump up towards the top of the list.

Is it the folio edition? That one is lovely. I think American Gods has a very different feel to Neverwhere. If Neverwhere has a sort of modern folklore theme, American Gods is more like modern mythology. 

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Yeah its the Folio edition so I can only really read it while I am at home, it's not the kind of book I would want to stick in my work bag.

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2 minutes ago, Brian. said:

Yeah its the Folio edition so I can only really read it while I am at home, it's not the kind of book I would want to stick in my work bag.


Know the feeling!  I do find myself sometimes obtaining the Kindle version, so that I can continue reading whilst away from home, and then luxuriating in the Folio version in the evenings!  I've done that quite often with the Patrick O'Brian series for instance. Seems a bit of a waste, but there are times when I really don't want to put the book down.

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That is a definite issue with buying special editions of books. The only time I really ever read two books at once is if there's one book I don't want to bring out of the house! 


To continue with my review catch up...


Night Lamp.jpg

Night Lamp by Jack Vance

4/5 - I really liked it


I'm finding it really hard to know where to start with this review because there is so much in this book, even though it's not particularly long at 380 pages. Actually, that may be one of the most notable things about Vance. The worlds he creates are so richly detailed that something that appears as a passing comment feels like it could be the premise of a whole new novel. The (very simplified) basis of this book is a child called Jaro. Two researchers on are on an expedition to another planet when they see Jaro being beaten to death. The child is clearly not originally from that planet, they have no idea where his parents are and, it turns out, he has no memories. The truth about Jaro's past forms the central (very compelling) mystery that needs to be solved. But there is SO much more. There's great satire about social classes, a scathing representation of economy and corruption, and some very interesting psychological aspects to a few characters. It's a book that really makes you think, without being remotely difficult to read. 

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