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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…     
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vodkafan

Vodkafan's 2019 reading blog

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 Better late than never! Welcome to my  2019 reading experience.


(k) denotes kindle ebook
® denotes book read primarily for research purposes
 keeping the same simple rating system this year:
1/5: I didn't like it
2/5: It was okay
3/5: I liked it
4/5: I really liked it
5/5: It was amazing!

 

Books read in 2019

February

Two Eggs On My Plate Oluf Reed Olsen  (re-read) 3/5

 

April

The Shivering Sands Victoria Holt 3/5

 

 

May

The Bloody Ground  Bernard Cornwell 3/5

Just Six Numbers  Martin Rees 3/5

The Dragon Jane Gaskell 3/5

Devoted Ladies  Molley Keane 4/5

Atlan Jane Gaskell  ABANDONED  :huh:

Holes  Louis Sachar         4/5

 

June

Hot Milk      Deborah Levy    5/5 :yahoo:

Her Fearful Symmetry  Audrey Niffeneger    4/5

Truth Or Dare  Celia Rees       2/5

Long Way To A Small Angry Planet  Becky Chambers  BOOK MYSTERIOUSLY LOST POSSIBLY STOLEN!

 

July

Great Expectations   Charles Dickens  4/5 

 

August

Normal People    Sally Rooney  2/5

 

September

The Viral Storm-Dawn of A New Pandemic Age   Nathan D. Wolfe  3/5

The Stationmaster's Farewell   Edward Marsden     2/5

If I Stay    Gayle Foreman     1/5

 

October

His Other Lover    Lucy Dawson  3/5

Edited by vodkafan
addition

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The TBR Pile organised!

 

Victorian authors, obscure works and classics

 

The Poor Gentleman                                     Hendrick Conscience    

Two On A Tower      

The Return Of The Native

A Laodician

A Pair Of Blue Eyes

Jude The Obscure

The Woodlanders

Far From The Madding Crowd                         all above by

The Mayor of Casterbridge                             Thomas Hardy 

Post Haste                                                    RM Ballantyne           

Autobiography Of Anthony Trollope

Lady Anna

Miss Mackenzie                                                4 above by

The Way We Live Now                                  Anthony Trollope       

Twelve Years A Slave                                    Solomon Northup         

Letters Of Two Brides                                       Balzac                   

Birds Of Prey

Charlotte's Inheritance

Run To Earth A Novel

The Doctor's Wife

Lady Audley's Secret                                    Mary Elizabeth Braddon 

Little Dorrit                                                    Charles Dickens

The Mill On The Floss

Madame Bovary

Tess of The d'urbervilles

Lady Susan

   Thoughts On The Education Of Daughters

The Last Man

Maria, Or The Wrongs Of Woman

Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman

The Perpetual Curate

Equality

Looking Backward 2000-1887

Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Picture Of Dorian Grey Oscar Wilde
Nicholas Nickleby Charles Dickens
The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow Washington Irvine

Shirley

Bleak House 
The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde 
The Moonstone 
The Woman In White 
Ruth

The Importance Of Being Earnest 
Basil
Les Miserables 
Mrs Oliphant

Confessions Of An English Opium Eater Thomas De Quincey 

Testament Of Youth                                        Vera Brittain
 

 

 

Books set in Victorian times by modern authors

 

Under A Cloud-Soft Sky

The Singing Winds

Shelter From The Storm

Snow Angels

The Road To Samarcand                                 Patrick O'Brian 

 

 

 

Reference works and 18th-19th century history, social history

 

London The Biography                                Peter Ackroyd

The Dictionary Of London

Raj Lawrence James

The Age of Revolution 1789-1848 
The Age Of Capital 1848-1875 
The Age Of Empire 1875-1914 

Slavery A New Global History Jeremy Black
Balti Britain - Ziauddin Sardar

Asians In Britain  400 years of History  Rozina Visram

 

 

       

 

Random must reads

 

 

 

Nice To See It To See It Nice                      Brian Viner 

It's A Small Medium And Outsize World  John Taylor

Connections

Rules For Virgins

The Life And Loves Of A She Devil

The Passion Of New Eve

The Haunted Hotel

Ten Interesting Things About Human Behaviour 

Slave Girl Sarah Forsyth  (autobiography)

The Man Who Loved Only Numbers Paul Hoffman (biography of Paul Erdos) 

The White Mists Of Power Kristine Kathryn Rusch         

I Think I'm OK

Undercover: The True Story Of Britain's Secret Police

King Solomon's Carpet  Barbara Vine

Good Behaviour  Molly Keane

Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
One Day David Nichols

Geisha Liza Dalby
In The Heart Of The Sea Nathanial Philbrick
Spycatcher Peter Wright
The Horse Whisperer Nicholas Evans
The German Invasion Of Norway Geirr H Haarr

Accidents In The Home Tessa Hadley
Devoted Ladies Molly Keane
A Fine Balance Rohinton Mistry
Lord Of The Flies William Golding
Rebecca Daphne Du Maurier
Untying The Knot Linda Gillard

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing,
Thursday Next First Among Sequels,
Something Rotten,
The Well Of Lost Plots,
Lost In A Good Book,
The Eyre Affair 
Jasper Fforde

Life Of Pi - Yann Martel
The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared - Jonas Jonasson

The Terror 
Round the Bend

Infidel Ayaan Hirsi Ali 
Nerd Do Well Simon Pegg
The Voyage Out Virginia Woolf 

The Dragon

Atlan

The City        all by Jane Gaskell

Renoir My Father Jean Renoir

Shopping, Seduction And Mr Selfridge  Lindy Woodhead

7 Trips Through Time And Space  anthology

Night Watch Andrew m Stephenson

 

 

 

 

SF

Out Of Time-Five tales of Time Travel

Strange Loops

The Time Travel Megapack

The Martian Way Isaac Asimov

The Green Brain Frank Herbert
The Steampunk megapack (26 stories)
Viridis
Lady Of Devices A Steampunk Adventure
Steampunk Erotica

Best New SF 25
Meeting At Infinity John Brunner

 

 




 

Edited by vodkafan

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Yay, new book blog! :lol:

 

I want to read quite a lot of the books on your tbr list too, particularly from the Victorian list! 

 

I'll be interested in what you think of Jasper Fforde when you get round to those. I love them but they are really quirky.

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Thanks Hayley. I need to get another kindle before I can read the Jasper Ffordes, and many of the more obscure Victorian ones on my TBR.

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I wish you happy reading in 2019, VF :readingtwo:! How are things in your life? I hope you are well.

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Hi Athena, thanks! I am just about to move in 3 days, but that's another story!

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On 5/1/2019 at 12:48 PM, vodkafan said:

Hi Athena, thanks! I am just about to move in 3 days, but that's another story!

 

Good luck with the move!!

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On 5/3/2019 at 8:35 AM, Athena said:

 

Good luck with the move!!

 

 Thanks Athena.  The move was a horrible long day  but went as smooth as can be expected.

My reading is creeping up again . Just finished a physics book Just Six Numbers which was quite interesting, although a bit out of date as some of the things the author discusses have now been proved, and some others disproved since it was written. 

I will try to catch up on reviews this weekend .

On 5/2/2019 at 1:21 PM, ~Andrea~ said:

Hi VF! Good luck with the move. Hopefully you're moving somewhere less eventful!

 

 Haha yes I won't miss the other occupants of that place. I didn't tell anybody I was leaving, which was perhaps a little mean, but The Murderer saw me loading the van up and said goodbye.  

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Life will be less dramatic, I'm sure, after leaving that lot behind. I hope your new place is much more peaceful and safe and that you're settling in nicely VF :friends0:

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Just Six Numbers                 3/5

Martin Rees

 

I picked this up ages ago in a charity shop without really knowing what it was about. When I finally got to reading it  and found it was about physics I found it informative and quite unusual in it's approach.

Everybody is familiar with the concept by now that we live in a "Goldilocks zone" in the Solar System; our orbit is not too close to the sun or too far away, everything is just right. Well this book shows that we also live in a "Goldilocks universe" . If the values of any one of the physical forces  (for instance, Gravity, or the Nuclear Strong Force that holds atoms together) were even the tiniest degree different then we would not be here.

This leads to the conclusion that there are (or in some cases were, because their lifespans would be short) other universes alongside our own that developed differently.

The book is quite a bit out of date, (late 1990s) as I knew when reading that some things the author had theories on had already been proven or disproved. But it was still a good read.

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The Bloody Ground             3/5

Bernard Cornwell

 

A friend passed me this paperback and said it was a good read. It is the fourth in a continuing series about a fictional character in the American Civil War, Nathanial Starbuck. He is very much like the Richard Sharpe character in the author's other more famous series of books; he is not a superman and has contradictory traits that make him interesting.

I haven't read any of the previous books in the series but that didn't matter. In this novel Starbuck is taken away from the Southern Confederate Brigade he has been fighting with and placed in command of a Punishment battalion, the "Yellowlegs". This formation got it's unfortunate nickname because it ran away in it's first battle. This appointment is also a sort of punishment for Starbuck, who is not well liked by some senior officers (another parallel with the Sharpe books) .

He finds the battalion depot is being run by officers that are corrupt, cowardly and in some cases criminal and the men's morale very low due to bullying and mistreatment.

Even though this scenario is a familiar and well-trodden trope I didn't mind . It was a fun read. Later on The Yellowlegs get to fight in the Battle of Antietam (which I didn't know much about before) and the author skilfully blends the characters into the real events and brings it to life so that the reader really understands the sequence of the battle. The descriptions of the ground are a strong point; you can clearly see it in your mind's eye. The battle chapters are rip-roaring stuff  and depict terrible slaughter.  The author is not making anything up: 23,000 men killed on a single day within calling distance of each other and at times by desperate hand to hand fighting with bayonets.

 

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The Shivering Sands   3/5

Victoria Holt

 

Another charity shop find, an old Gothic Romance from 1969. I was attracted by the cover art and the fact that it was set in the Victorian period.

A young widow takes a position as a music teacher to a disparate group of young girls at a grand house in Cornwall. She takes the position mainly to try to discover the reason for the disappearance of her sister, who had a connection with the same house.

I enjoyed this story, it was well written and the plot was full of clues and red herrings  ( a couple of which had me looking in the wrong direction right till the end). The romance is slow burning and  a bit predictable, but the mystery had more than enough interest to keep me reading.

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Glad to see you've enjoyed your last few books! Fingers crossed you get some 4/5's or 5/5's soon too though :) 

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2 hours ago, Hayley said:

Glad to see you've enjoyed your last few books! Fingers crossed you get some 4/5's or 5/5's soon too though :) 

 

Thanks yes It's all been a bit middling so far in....:unsure:

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I've read a couple of Victoria Holt's books over the years and enjoyed them, they're good yarns and as you say quite well-written.  I thought the writing style might have felt a bit dated but it didn't seem that way at all.  I have this one still to read so was glad to see your good review.

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On 5/13/2019 at 11:41 AM, Madeleine said:

I've read a couple of Victoria Holt's books over the years and enjoyed them, they're good yarns and as you say quite well-written.  I thought the writing style might have felt a bit dated but it didn't seem that way at all.  I have this one still to read so was glad to see your good review.

 

Nice! Hope you will get around to reading it soon and we can compare.  What are the other Victoria Holt titles you have enjoyed? Are they set in Victorian times? 

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Just finished The Dragon by Jane Gaskell.

Second part of her Atlan series. I read the first last year but have not reviewed it yet, I will wait until I have completed all four. The most remarkable thing is she was only 16 when she wrote them.

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2 hours ago, vodkafan said:

Just finished The Dragon by Jane Gaskell.

Second part of her Atlan series. I read the first last year but have not reviewed it yet, I will wait until I have completed all four. The most remarkable thing is she was only 16 when she wrote them.

Wow, 16!? I'm intrigued about this series now, I know you're waiting to review them but, have you enjoyed the first two overall? 

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5 hours ago, vodkafan said:

 

Nice! Hope you will get around to reading it soon and we can compare.  What are the other Victoria Holt titles you have enjoyed? Are they set in Victorian times? 

the others are Mistress of Mellyn (which reminded me a bit of a lighter version of Jane Eyre, similar sort of story) and Time of the Hunter's Moon, all set in Victorian times.

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10 hours ago, Madeleine said:

the others are Mistress of Mellyn (which reminded me a bit of a lighter version of Jane Eyre, similar sort of story) and Time of the Hunter's Moon, all set in Victorian times.

 

 Might look out for those, then. Thanks Madeleine.

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13 hours ago, Hayley said:

Wow, 16!? I'm intrigued about this series now, I know you're waiting to review them but, have you enjoyed the first two overall? 

 

They are a weird blend. Both unexpectedly adult (the sexual content would not be allowed to be published now, I feel) and at the same time in some ways a childlike fantasy. Can't knock the writing, good descriptions of places and action.

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Devoted Ladies           4/5

Molly Keane

 

 My first 4/5 book this year! Molly Keane (a pseudonym) was a name I kept hearing as a good author so ages ago I picked up a couple of her books. In the move, when most of my books got packed away in boxes, this one and a couple of random others (Oryx and Crake, Just Six Numbers) somehow didn't get in with the rest. So I decided it was fate and took these three to work to put in my locker.  But I couldn't get into Devoted Ladies immediately. I had to try three times. I didn't initially like any of the characters, who seemed small minded and deliberately nasty, jaded and decadent. Almost gave up but then hit a part where one of the characters is trying to write a novel and is using every excuse not to actually do any writing. It was hilarious. From then on I was hooked and devoured the rest of the book. It is wicked observational writing . The characters are often vicious to each other for their own amusement, but despite I started to warm to some of them and felt sympathy for their sad lives. 

The ending is brilliant and unexpected.  

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Yay, at last! Glad you enjoyed it :). Oryx and Crake is on my 'to-read' list so I'll be particularly interested to see what you think of that one. 

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