Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • Hayley

      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…     
Sign in to follow this  
Hayley

Hayley's Reading 2019

Recommended Posts

Thanks @muggle not :smile:

 

I haven't been reading as much for the last couple of weeks but I do have two reviews to catch up on. Firstly:

 

The Corset.jpg

The Corset by Laura Purcell

4/5 - I really liked it

 

The Corset is divided between two narratives, one from a wealthy young woman (Dorothea Truelove) and one from Ruth Butterham, a poor girl who's in prison awaiting trail for murder. Along with the Victorian setting, this instantly reminded me of Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, which I loved. It's actually quite different, apart from the prisoner / prison visitor relationship and the question of insanity. The tone is much more gothic horror in The Corset.

This is one of those books that I'm finding it really hard to review without giving anything away... without saying anything that isn't already in the blurb: as Ruth reveals her story to Dorothea, she starts to wonder whether Ruth really is a murderer after all, because Ruth believes she has killed with nothing more than a needle and thread. In the mean time, we start to discover that Dorothea's life is more complicated than it appears on the surface. Both characters are brilliantly crafted. At the beginning I thought Dorothea was just there as a device for Ruth to tell her own story, but she really develops as her own very unique character throughout the book. There are some really shocking moments in the stories of both women and some very dark scenes. It really draws you in, both with the brilliant mystery of Ruth and the perfectly gothic atmosphere that Purcell creates. 

The one reason I didn't give five stars is I wasn't sure about the ending. I'm still not sure about the ending and I actually finished this book weeks ago. Partly this is because I think there's a point in the plot that's a little bit 'but why wouldn't they just have...'. The second thing is harder to say. So as not to give anything away, I'll just say this... I literally did not understand the ending until I read the author's explanation of it. And I'm not completely sure that's a good thing.

Overall though it was a really enjoyable read and, whether the ending was good or bad, it certainly stuck in my head! 

 

blood rites.jpg

Blood Rites by Jim Butcher 

3.5/5 - I really liked it, but it had some problems

 

I feel like I'm starting to develop a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Dresden Files. I really love the concept, the world, all the crazy characters and the unlikely supernatural scrapes that Dresden gets himself into but sometimes it just makes me want to cringe and roll my eyes. I don't want to say they're sexist but... at one point a female police officer has to have her trousers taken off to disarm a bomb that's potentially going to blow up some children, and afterwards she muses about how she felt in that moment because "it's been a really long time since a good-looking man took my pants off. I sort of forgot how much I enjoyed it" (see what I mean about the cringe?). It doesn't really help that in this particular book, a lot of it is related to the porn industry. And, of course, there were those unnecessary times, present in every book, where Dresden has to point out how much he can't stand to see women get hurt and how this triggers his protective instincts. 

But, apart from that, these are genuinely good books. We get to find out a little bit more about Dresden's past and his mysterious mother in this one, which was great because that mystery's been building since the first book. There are plenty of the great tense 'how's he going to get out of this one...' moments and a sufficiently tricky mystery to be solved. I'm looking forward to finding out what happens in the next book.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shame about the sort of sexism in Blood Rites :(. That kind of thing would annoy me too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This month has been a very slow one for my reading so far. I've been away from home a couple of times (although one of those was a trip to Hay-on-Wye, which is always exciting because it is literally a town full of books) and had a lot of work to get finished at the same time. I did buy a couple of books, both ones I've been looking at for a while: The Princess Bride by William Goldman and the first five books of the Earthsea Cycle by Ursula Le Guin. I've heard very good things about both so I'm looking forward to reading those!

 

I finished Rite of Passage by Alexei Panshin over the weekend, so a quick review of that:

 

Sphere-6685-a Panshin Rite of Passage.jpg

Rite of Passage by Alexei Panshin

3.5/5 - I liked it

 

This book imagines a future (2198 to be exact) in which Earth has been destroyed by wars relating to overpopulation. Humans now either live on colony worlds, which were hastily established and have very little of the technology previously available on earth, or in the ships which originally transported people from Earth. The ships have all of the technology and they use their knowledge to trade with the colonies. As part of the ships policy to avoid overpopulation, children aged fourteen are dropped off on a random colony world to fend for themselves (the Trial). If they can survive for a month, they come back to the ship as adults. The book is written in first person from the perspective of Mia Havero, who lives on a ship and is approaching her own Trial.

Mia isn't always very likeable. She's actually a bit of a bigot and, although this is intentional and related to her early life on the ship, it's sometimes a bit frustrating when she fails to see the obvious because of her own prejudices, especially when she's supposed to be very intelligent. However, maybe the book wouldn't have had the same impact if Mia didn't have the personality she does. 

There's a strong philosophical element to the story, but it doesn't come across as didactic and it still has good pacing and enough detail about the ship and the colonies to keep things interesting. Shakespeare's Sonnet 94 is printed at the end of the book (the one with the last two lines 'For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds; / Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds') clearly showing where the inspiration for the concept came from. I like the idea of exploring one of Shakespeare's sonnets in science fiction form, I think that's a really interesting concept and I'd definitely read something like that again (if it exists).

A good, interesting, read overall. While I wouldn't count it with my absolute favourites, I would recommend giving it a try.

 

I think I'm going to read Melmoth by Sarah Perry next.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really liked the first four Earthsea books and have read them several times. I hope you enjoy all of your new books :)!

 

Nice review of Rite of Passage :). I'm not too keen on books with unlikeable characters myself but it does make sense what you're saying about the book not having the same impact if Mia had had a different personality.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 18/04/2019 at 6:02 PM, Hayley said:

I think I'm going to read Melmoth by Sarah Perry next.

 

Will be interested to see what you make of this.  I loved The Essex Serpent, but I gather this is quite different.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Melmoth.jpg

Melmoth by Sarah Perry

5/5 - I loved it 

 

You know sometimes you get to the end of a book and just spend a few minutes sitting in stunned silence? This is one of those books. Most of the reviews I've seen of this book talk about the wonderfully gothic atmosphere and certainly has enough of that to give you goosebumps. There were two other things that I think stood out more than the atmosphere though, as great as that is. Firstly, the narrative voice is very clever. The book is partly made up of letters and diary entries but the main part of the story is first person with the occasional direct address to the reader, something which you would think breaks your immersion in the story, but it actually involves you more because this book is all about the idea of watching. That brings me to the second brilliant thing, which is the actual theme of the story. There are lots of intriguing mysteries and relationships but, ultimately, this is a book about the importance of what we witness and what we fail to witness. It's very much an emotional journey, one that takes you through different time periods (this is mainly the purpose of the diaries), forces you to see uncomfortable truths and leaves you shocked. As disturbing as some parts are, it's also a really beautiful book which, I think, perfectly displays a message that's as important to our own time as it is to the historical scenarios in the story.

 

I didn't know what I wanted to read after Melmoth but in the end I went for a very different, more lighthearted, option with Jasper Fforde's Something Rotten. I've loved everything I've read by Fforde so far and I don't think this one will be an exception :smile:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Melmoth sounds good! I think...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 20.04.2019 at 10:37 PM, willoyd said:

 

I loved The Essex Serpent

 

Is it good? Have it uploaded on my e-book for months, haven't decided yet if to read it or not .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Hayley said:

The book is partly made up of letters and diary entries..

 

On my way to find everything about it  :typing:  such an intriguing review!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/05/2019 at 12:01 PM, Busy_Bee said:

 

Is it good? Have it uploaded on my e-book for months, haven't decided yet if to read it or not .

 

Well, I think it is.  Rated it 6 stars, one of only 120-odd books I've given that rating to.  I only did a mini-review of it, as I was a fair way behind on my reviews at the time (summer 2016), so  perhaps rather limited in its usefulness.  Here it is anyway:

 

Set in nineteenth century England, recently widowed of a domineering perhaps abusive husband, Cora Seaborne moves out of London into coastal Essex to follow her interest in natural history, in particular to investigate a rumoured sea serpent, the stories of which are threatening to terrorise the local neighbourhood. This sounds like the basis of a Victorian mystery, but whilst the plot, and other sub-plots, bubble along, the real centres of focus are the characters and their relationships, particularly that between Cora and the Ransome family, Will Ransome being the local vicar.

I absolutely adored this book, wrapped up in it from the opening page. I loved the language (regarded as rather too florid by some, but to my mind simply wonderfully coloured and evocative), I loved the characterisation, and I loved the setting, all crowned by a series of plot lines that gently intrigued me. As close to a perfect read as I'm ever going to get from modern fiction - with the most fabulous dust cover to boot!

 

With a review like Hayley's , and a my experience of Essex Serpent, Melmoth has definitely moved on to my TBR list!

Edited by willoyd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎11‎/‎05‎/‎2019 at 5:50 PM, vodkafan said:

Melmoth sounds good! I think...

It is good! Definitely not a light read but, honestly, it is brilliantly written.

 

On ‎12‎/‎05‎/‎2019 at 12:04 PM, Busy_Bee said:

 

On my way to find everything about it  :typing:  such an intriguing review!

I think you would really like it, the letters and diaries are used very well. They give you little snippets of scenes in other places and other times, but they're always cleverly worked into the main story too.

 

@willoyd, The Essex Serpent has definitely moved up my TBR too!

 

I realised I haven't done an update for my new books. I got two books for my birthday, Folk by Zoe Gilbert and The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. I was also given some money for my birthday, so when I went into Waterstones and spotted a single signed copy of Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield, I had to get that! I don't know as much about The Silence of the Girls (I think I'll like it though because I always really liked mythology), but the other two books I've wanted since they came out. They also all have really beautiful covers, which I thought I'd share: 

 

 

Birthday Books.jpg

 

It makes me happy just looking at them :lol:

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 13.05.2019 at 11:40 PM, willoyd said:

 

Well, I think it is.  

 

 

Thank you! I'll consider it for my summer break reading!:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes they're gorgeous aren't they?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 19/05/2019 at 2:51 PM, Athena said:

@Hayley

 

Those are some really beautiful covers :wub:.

 

On 19/05/2019 at 4:54 PM, Madeleine said:

Yes they're gorgeous aren't they?

 

 

A third vote for the gorgeousness of the covers! :smile:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cover_Image_Silence_of_the_Girls.jpg

 

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

3.5/5 - I liked it

 

The Silence of the Girls is basically the story of the Trojan war told from the point of view of a woman, Briseis, who is given to Achilles as a sort of prize. I was expecting a little bit more mythology from this book, to be honest. There is a goddess who pops up very briefly as well as references to another god Briseis prays to, but it's definitely not a central part of the story. I'm not actually sure why I thought it would be based on mythology, so that's really my own mistake! But, anyway, enough of what it's not... It's interestingly written, told from Briseis' point of view with the occasional question from a mysterious second voice (it doesn't remain mysterious but I don't want to give that part away). The well-known story being told from the point of view of a woman who is essentially on the losing side, who has been captured and moved from a position of royalty to one of slavery, is itself interesting. Briseis also talks about the experiences of other women, which provides an interesting contrast of how various women cope with their new lives. 

It wasn't a perfect book. The main downside, to me, was that there were a couple of moments where it felt that the author's voice had overtaken Briseis. You know that old trope, 'show, don't tell'? Well, there were moments where the narrative voice overtly pointed something out, either about some historical point or to highlight the moral of something that just happened... and that sort of takes you out of the story. And, not only do you lose your immersion in those parts, it also made the book feel a little bit preachy at times. As though it was saying 'isn't this clever?' And, really, to be fair, it is clever. There were definitely parts where I felt like I just had to read one more page to find out what happened. It was genuinely enjoyable to read. But, it's a very self-aware novel, if that makes sense. I actually remember feeling the same way about Pat Barker's Regeneration though, that it was very good, but had an element of 'look, isn't this very literary and clever...' about it.  

I would recommend it, anyway, if you have an interest in Greek history or in alternative views of history. I liked it, but not as much as other books I've read this year.

 

I have a couple of books to add to my list: The Frightened Man by Kenneth Cameron (this was looking sad, and becoming slightly damp, in a basket outside WHSmith. Since it was only £1 I decided I had to save it - it actually sounds like quite a good Jack the Ripper mystery). Also, Company of Liars by Karen Maitland. Again, this was a bit of a random find. I don't know if anybody else has this problem, but if I go into a charity shop that's completely empty, I sort of feel like I have to find something to buy, because I feel bad that they aren't making any money. So, that was how I ended up with Company of Liars. It does sound genuinely interesting though, I think I'll like it.

 

My reading has been extremely slow for the last couple of weeks. I'm still making my way through Folk by Zoe Gilbert but I think I should be able to finish it this weekend. I am, according to Goodreads, ten(!) books behind schedule for this year, so I definitely need more reading time! Also new this week: I got a kindle! I'm very excited, especially about having access to so many classics for free, but I also want to explore more self-published and e-book exclusive novels, so any suggestions welcome!  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I loved Company of Liars!  Beautifully written, you got a bargain there.  Hope you like it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Madeleine said:

I loved Company of Liars!  Beautifully written, you got a bargain there.  Hope you like it.

Well that's good to know! Thanks Madeleine, I'm glad I picked it up now :) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/21/2019 at 5:03 PM, Hayley said:

 

My reading has been extremely slow for the last couple of weeks. I'm still making my way through Folk by Zoe Gilbert but I think I should be able to finish it this weekend. I am, according to Goodreads, ten(!) books behind schedule for this year, so I definitely need more reading time! Also new this week: I got a kindle! I'm very excited, especially about having access to so many classics for free, but I also want to explore more self-published and e-book exclusive novels, so any suggestions welcome!  

Check out your libraries to see if they have digital books for you to download to your new kindle. 

 

I did a little quick research and it doesn't look good for borrowing books to download from your library to a kindle. That is terrible. Wonder what it takes to get a license for your library. 

 

https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/50163/library_services/1550/ebooks_and_eaudiobooks_from_overdrive

Overview

This 24/7 ebook service is free and is designed to be used by library members outside the library. Due to licensing restrictions, this service is available only to members who live within the Birmingham City Council tax boundaries and have a current Birmingham library card.

You can download fiction, non-fiction and children's books to an e-reader, mobile phone, PC or tablet PC. We do not yet have a licence for use with a Kindle in the UK.

You'll find a list of compatible devices and which formats they can use at www.overdrive.com/resources/drc. We have bought the EPUB, PDF and some WMA formats.

 

Edited by muggle not

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My library doesn't have kindle books, but they do have ebooks. They have two apps you can download, Libby and Borrowbox, and you can download ebooks onto them.  The librarians have told me Amazon won't allow libraries to provide their books for free.  Maybe your libraries have something similar?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The libraries in the U.S. allow downloading to kindle. I get 95% of my books on kindle from the library.

 

Amazon must have an arrangement with all libraries in the U.S. I am not sure but I believe that poppy in New Zealand can also get library books from the library for her kindle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Congratulations on your Kindle, Hayley :)! I hope you'll enjoy it. I use mine mainly for reading short pieces (that aren't released in paperback) and e-book only / self-published authors. I don't often read from it, but it's very easy for travelling.

 

I hope you'll get to read some more books this year :).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎25‎/‎06‎/‎2019 at 1:56 PM, muggle not said:

The libraries in the U.S. allow downloading to kindle. I get 95% of my books on kindle from the library.

 

Amazon must have an arrangement with all libraries in the U.S. I am not sure but I believe that poppy in New Zealand can also get library books from the library for her kindle.

 

My library uses an app called Overdrive for downloading ebooks and I've downloaded that to my tablet. They are not able to be downloaded to a Kindle though, unfortunately.  My sis-in-law has also given me the password to her library (the largest one in our country) where I can get ebooks. Like you Muggle, popular books have a very long waiting list, but as I often read older books I'm hoping they will be more readily available. The one I'm reading at the moment was available straight away :)

Edited by poppy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for checking that for me @muggle not! It is frustrating that we can't get kindle books from the library here. I can only imagine that, like bookmonkey said, our libraries don't have permission from amazon to provide the kindle format. 

I have noticed that I can 'borrow' some books on the kindle, but I'm not really sure how that works, I'll have to do some research.

 

7 hours ago, Athena said:

Congratulations on your Kindle, Hayley :)! I hope you'll enjoy it. I use mine mainly for reading short pieces (that aren't released in paperback) and e-book only / self-published authors. I don't often read from it, but it's very easy for travelling.

 

I hope you'll get to read some more books this year :).

Thank you :) I have a few short stories on there already, I think I might read them for the next read-a-thon!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Folk.jpg

Folk by Zoe Gilbert

4.5/5 - I really liked it

 

I should say, first of all, that I think this is a really outstanding book and there's nothing else quite like it. The only reason I didn't give it a full 5 is because there a books I've liked a tiny bit more this year, but it's up against tough competition!

The blurb really didn't prepare me for what this book was. We get an image of 'May, the young fiddler who seeks her musical spirit' and 'Verlyn Webbe, born with a wing for an arm,' for example. There is something magical about the island of Neverness, it's a place where folklore is a very real part of life. But it is also so, so dark. I would go as far as to say that a couple of the stories are genuinely horrific. There's magic, yes, but there's also brutal tragedy and loss. And yet, the way that they're written makes them beautiful still. 

This is very clever writing by someone who is both very knowledgeable about traditional folklore and also incredibly perceptive about people and their relationships. Every new story is like a wonderful, if terrible, discovery about some part of the island or a resident. It's compelling, very original and fantastically well written. Also, I've said this before, but look at how beautiful the cover is!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  



×