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Your Book Activity - May 2020

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On 10/05/2020 at 12:58 PM, willoyd said:

I absolutely adore the Aubrey-Maturin series, but always think that M&C isn't the greatest opener - I much preferred HMS Surprise and The Mauritius Command amongst his earlier books (I'm just over halfway through the series, so haven't read any of the latest ones yet), although it does lay some essential groundwork out.  A lot of people get put off, as well, by the amount and complexity of the technical sailing language.  I did actually get to grips with some of it later on (there's a couple of really good companion volumes written by other authors), but found the best way to start was to just let it flow over me, treat it as atmosphere, and gradually I would pick some of it up, but it didn't overly matter if I didn't - that did work until curiosity got the better of me!

 

I've contemplated reading them as well, so thanks for the heads-up!

 

I'm now 20 pages into Pinball, 1973, by Haruki Murakami.  Only the second novel he wrote, but the writing is still very good.

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Finished In the Woods by Tana French, the first in the Dublin Murder Squad series.  Really enjoyed this.  Off to find out if my library has the rest of the series.

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On 14/05/2020 at 2:32 PM, Marie H said:

Reading Pied Piper by Nevil Shute, and the shock of the beginning of  WW2 in France, as Mr. Howard and the three children try to escape to the coast, and then to England. And the shock was sudden too! :o.  But at the same time, Shute’s narrative is so subtle as well. This is a wonderful book. 

 

His is a name that seems to have dropped off the radar this century.  I remember reading several of his books a fair way back (in the 70s/80s), but hardly see books of his around at all now.  From what I recall, that is thoroughly undeserved - I remember him as both an excellent writer and great storyteller. 

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On 17/05/2020 at 6:50 PM, willoyd said:

His is a name that seems to have dropped off the radar this century.  I remember reading several of his books a fair way back (in the 70s/80s), but hardly see books of his around at all now.  From what I recall, that is thoroughly undeserved - I remember him as both an excellent writer and great storyteller. 

 

My Dad, who is nearing 90 and has considerably downsized his book collection over the years, has always hung on to his Nevil Shute novels.  Might have to borrow one!

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On 17/05/2020 at 6:50 PM, willoyd said:

 

His is a name that seems to have dropped off the radar this century.  I remember reading several of his books a fair way back (in the 70s/80s), but hardly see books of his around at all now.  From what I recall, that is thoroughly undeserved - I remember him as both an excellent writer and great storyteller. 

I first read On The Beach in the 80s. A wonderful (but chilling) book, as it was during the nuclear armaments/cold war at that time was very worrying. His storytelling is excellent, but sadly he has “dropped off the radar” these days.

 

Edited by Marie H

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Finished Nevil Shute’s Pied Paper. 

 

A wonderful book, it really was a page turner (sometimes I haven’t had for a while), and I loved Mr Howard and his band of little child....and the ways he managed to protect them. 

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Finished a couple of books for reading groups in the last couple of days, neither of which impressed me one jot.  The first was the worst: The House by Simon Lelic, a pretty standard 'thriller' (what's thrilling about these books for goodness' sake - they are utterly predictable and tedious), where I pretty rapidly resorted to skim reading just so I could talk some sense at the forthcoming meeting.  A Radio 2 book choice - we've had a few of these and I've yet to find one better than disappointing.  One star.

The second was Matt Haig's How To Stop Time.  I usually enjoy this sort of book, time-bending (not quite travel!), but it sadly proved to be rather formulaic with not a lot worthwhile to say, populated by a fistful of 2-d characters and lacking any real sense of place or time (atmosphere needs developing, not just dropping in a few names of famous contemporaries) - oh and a rather silly 'sinister society'.  Never developed any real interest in the protagonist nor, indeed, anybody in the book.  This is the second Matt Haig book I've tried, and I definitely won't be bothering again. Two stars, mainly for the initial good idea and because I'm feeling generous. It certainly wasn't quite as bad as the previous book. 

Edited by willoyd

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22 minutes ago, willoyd said:

Finished a couple of books for reading groups in the last couple of days, neither of which impressed me one jot.  The first was the worst: The House by Simon Lelic, a pretty standard 'thriller' (what's thrilling about these books for goodness' sake - they are utterly predictable and tedious), where I pretty rapidly resorted to skim reading just so I could talk some sense at the forthcoming meeting.  A Radio 2 book choice - we've had a few of these and I've yet to find one better than disappointing.  One star.

The second was Matt Haig's How To Stop Time.  I usually enjoy this sort of book, time-bending (not quite travel!), but it sadly proved to be rather formulaic with not a lot worthwhile to say, populated by a fistful of 2-d characters and lacking any real sense of place or time (atmosphere needs developing, not just dropping in a few names of famous contemporaries) - oh and a rather silly 'sinister society'.  Never developed any real interest in the protagonist nor, indeed, anybody in the book.  This is the second Matt Haig book I've tried, and I definitely won't be bothering again. Two stars, mainly for the initial good idea and because I'm feeling generous. It certainly wasn't quite as bad as the previous book. 

What an unlucky run of books! I hope your next one is better. What was the first Matt Haig book you read? I have The Humans on my 'to be read' list.

 

I'm (still, from April) reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I'd put it down for a while because I didn't feel like reading but I found it surprisingly easy to pick back up. For such a detailed novel the story is very easy to follow. I still have a few final chapters of Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters to go too. 

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My mum has been clearing out my grandad's house because he went into a rest home last week.  She gave me my grandmother's collection of Agatha Christie books.:exc:I cant' wait to read them.  I think she gave me 21, so still plenty more for me to add to the collection.

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On 18/05/2020 at 10:27 PM, Marie H said:

I first read On The Beach in the 80s. A wonderful (but chilling) book, as it was during the nuclear armaments/cold war at that time was very worrying. His storytelling is excellent, but sadly he has “dropped off the radar” these days.

 

I really liked On The Beach. I read it for the first time for English class as a teenager, and re-read it some years ago when here on BCF a bunch of us were reading it as a Reading Circle book in 2015.

 

I finished the 3 books I was reading. I finished Emma Smith-Barton - The Million Pieces of Neena Gill the day before yesterday, and then yesterday I finished Philip Pullman - His Dark Materials 3: The Amber Spyglass (buddy read) and Gail Honeyman - Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I really liked all three of these books.

 

I'll probably pick a new read later today.. not sure what yet. Tomorrow I start a buddy read, of the 2nd Artemis Fowl book (by Eoin Colfer).

 

 

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11 hours ago, Hayley said:

What an unlucky run of books! I hope your next one is better. What was the first Matt Haig book you read? I have The Humans on my 'to be read' list.

 

It's more to do with them being book group  choices than luck I think.  It's rare for me to choose a 1/2 star book for myself, although it does happen, but it's quite common with the groups.  With one group, we each nominate 2 books to make up a 14 month list, and there's one individual whose choices have never ranked above 3 stars for me - they keep choosing these Radio 2 Book group choices, and whoever selects them, they and I are on completely different wavelengths.  I'm not bothered, as that's the nature of book groups, and we also read a lot of really good stuff, often books I might well have never picked up myself.  With the other group, we're dependent somewhat on the local library's selection of books for groups, and I find it a slightly colourless list, heavy on bog standard middle of the road literary fiction.

 

Sorry to report, but my other experience of Matt Haig was The Humans. But do bear in mind that this is very personal, and my preferences, particularly in modern fiction, often run decidedly at odds with the majority. I know quite a few people who enjoyed it.

 

11 hours ago, Hayley said:

 

I'm (still, from April) reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I'd put it down for a while because I didn't feel like reading but I found it surprisingly easy to pick back up. For such a detailed novel the story is very easy to follow. I still have a few final chapters of Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters to go too. 

 

Yes, JS & Mr N looks pretty formidable, not least when looking at the writing style, but I found it eminently readable, and a fascinating premise.  Not sure I understood it all though!

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I loved The Humans when I read it years ago, but I haven't read anything else yet by Matt Haig.

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2 hours ago, Athena said:

I loved The Humans when I read it years ago, but I haven't read anything else yet by Matt Haig.

 

I read it back in 2015, so had to go and check my review at the time.  "I found it very entertaining (and thought-provoking) for the first half....but it all became somewhat predictable in the second half...[where]....I found it to taste too much of saccharine, and started to skim", losing me sufficiently to drop to a 2 star rating.  I think he has some great ideas, but I find the execution more problematic.

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Also reading The English Air - D E Stevenson (reading books with the theme of women in, or after WW2)

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On 5/19/2020 at 7:42 AM, Raven said:

 

My Dad, who is nearing 90 and has considerably downsized his book collection over the years, has always hung on to his Nevil Shute novels.  Might have to borrow one!

 

I managed to get his complete collection in Heron Books one time at a book fair, for only $25. Many of them look like they've never been read.

 

On 5/19/2020 at 8:39 AM, Marie H said:

Finished Nevil Shute’s Pied Paper. 

 

A wonderful book, it really was a page turner (sometimes I haven’t had for a while), and I loved Mr Howard and his band of little child....and the ways he managed to protect them. 

 

Really glad you enjoyed in Marie. Isn't Mr Howard such a lovely man? :smile:

 

On 5/20/2020 at 10:13 AM, bookmonkey said:

My mum has been clearing out my grandad's house because he went into a rest home last week.  She gave me my grandmother's collection of Agatha Christie books.:exc:I cant' wait to read them.  I think she gave me 21, so still plenty more for me to add to the collection.

 

How lovely to have your grandma's books and hours of Agatha Christie enthrallment ahead :smile:

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5 hours ago, Marie H said:

Also reading The English Air - D E Stevenson (reading books with the theme of women in, or after WW2)

 

I love books set in WW2, too Marie, particularly about England.  Do you have a list of recommendations?

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I started 2 new books last night Going Clear by Lawrence Wright and Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov.

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11 hours ago, poppy said:

 

I love books set in WW2, too Marie, particularly about England.  Do you have a list of recommendations?

My faves are:

 

A Chelsea Concerto by Frances Faviell - The author lived in Chelsea during the Blitz, and this a sort of memoir, and it’s excellent.

 

Faviell also wrote The Dancing Bear, set in Berlin during the four years after the end of WW2, and this one is even better, I think. The protagonist is the wife of a British officer stationed in Berlin, and the story of a German family she meets. The story is a real cracker! It’s very similar in style as Shute’s Pied Piper.

 

Crooked Hearts by Lissa Evans and The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchanan are ones I really liked too.

 Henriettas war: news from the home front 1939 -1942 -this one is  very witty and charming.

 

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On 20/05/2020 at 1:56 PM, willoyd said:

 

I read it back in 2015, so had to go and check my review at the time.  "I found it very entertaining (and thought-provoking) for the first half....but it all became somewhat predictable in the second half...[where]....I found it to taste too much of saccharine, and started to skim", losing me sufficiently to drop to a 2 star rating.  I think he has some great ideas, but I find the execution more problematic.

Thanks, I was going to try to find this. I will still give it a try, hopefully I fall into the category of people who love it! 

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I’m 43% listened to What Could Possibility Go Wrong? by Jodi Taylor. It’s excellent!

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On 5/22/2020 at 2:21 AM, Marie H said:

My faves are:

 

A Chelsea Concerto by Frances Faviell - The author lived in Chelsea during the Blitz, and this a sort of memoir, and it’s excellent.

 

Faviell also wrote The Dancing Bear, set in Berlin during the four years after the end of WW2, and this one is even better, I think. The protagonist is the wife of a British officer stationed in Berlin, and the story of a German family she meets. The story is a real cracker! It’s very similar in style as Shute’s Pied Piper.

 

Crooked Hearts by Lissa Evans and The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchanan are ones I really liked too.

 Henriettas war: news from the home front 1939 -1942 -this one is  very witty and charming.

 

 

Thanks for those, Marie :) I've taken a note of them all. I've read both the Henrietta's War ones and thoroughly enjoyed them.  D.E Stevenson's Mrs Tim of the Regiment  was in a similar vein but not quite as good, I thought. I'd like to read some more of hers though. 

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12 hours ago, poppy said:

 

Thanks for those, Marie :) I've taken a note of them all. I've read both the Henrietta's War ones and thoroughly enjoyed them.  D.E Stevenson's Mrs Tim of the Regiment  was in a similar vein but not quite as good, I thought. I'd like to read some more of hers though. 

 I loved Mrs Tims of the Regiment, and the second in the series Mrs.Tims carries on.  I think that I have quite a few of her ebooks, and The English Air at the mo.  At the beginning of this book I was worried that It was going to be too frothy, with some rather silly or scatterbrained characters, but it’s definitely improved. 

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Two cracking books completed in the last 24 hours.  First of all an ultra-quick read, no more than a couple of hours, was Raymond Chandler's Playback.  Typical Chandler with the hardboiled Philip Marlow, the femme fatale, slobs, hoods, and plenty of intricate wordplay.  It's a while since I read my last Chandler, and it's easy to forget quite how genre setting and beautifully written his books are.  5/6.

 

A complete contrast: Robert Morrison's The Regency Revolution, a history of the Regency period (1810-19), with extensions into the Regent's reign as the monarch George IV in his own right.  Essentially divided into four or five long chapters, each divided into a series of what were effectively mini-essays on a variety of linked topics.  Well written and as pacy as a good novel, without losing sight that its prime focus was as a history of the period.  It's a time of history I find very interesting, and it certainly added, enjoyably, to my knowledge. The American spelling (Canadian author) in a British publication was the biggest drawback in that it proved far too distracting - it was lazy of the publishers not to change it for the British market.

Edited by willoyd

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Listening 88% to What could possibly go wrong (the Chronicles of St Mary’s #6). Hope to finish it this afternoon.

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Two more books completed this weekend: Charlotte Runcie's Salt on Your Tongue and Dennis Pitchford-Watkins' (under nom-de-plume 'BB') The Little Grey Men.  Both good reads of their genre (the first a mixture of memoir and marine natural history, the second classic children's fiction).  4 stars (out of 6).

 

Later in day: also finished listening to Ned Boulting read his own book, How I Won The Yellow Jumper.  Really enjoyed it, another 4 star 'read'.

Edited by willoyd

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