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      April Supporter Giveaway   04/01/2019

        "If you look the right way you can see that the whole world is a garden."   In honour of spring, the April giveaway is a print of this wonderful quote from The Secret Garden (thanks, once again to www.thestorygift.co.uk) along with a Secret Garden tea (Victoria Sponge flavoured!) from the  Literary Tea Company! (You can find them both at their own website theliteraryteacompany.co.uk and at their etsy store www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LiteraryTeaCompany ).   As always, patreon supporters will be entered automatically and if you don't support but want to be included in this month's giveaway you can join the patreon here: www.patreon.com/bookclubforum A winner will be chosen at random on the last day of the month!
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Hayley

Hayley's Reading 2019

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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:

 

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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! 

 

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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.

 

 

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

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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:

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

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