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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!
Raven

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Juliet, Naked

By Nick Hornby

 

julietnakeds.jpg

 

Tucker Crow is an American rock star who mysteriously withdrew from the public eye in 1986. Duncan is probably Tucker's number one fan - he has run a Tucker Crow web site and has written numerous articles on the significance of his work. Annie is Duncan's long suffering girlfriend and she is beginning to wonder why she is still with him . . . When an acoustic version of Tucker's most notorious album Juliet is released, a disagreement with Duncan over the merits of the work leads Annie to write a fairly damming review, that results in an e-mail from Tucker himself.

 

Nick Hornby once again delves into the world of male obsession and uselessness in this moderately entertaining novel.

 

The focus of the story is on Annie and her deteriorating relationship with Duncan and her developing relationship with Tucker. Lacking confidence, and bored with her life in the drab Northern seaside town of Gooleness, Tucker is her secret escape. Tucker, who is having problems with his latest wife, uses his communications with Annie to reflect upon the choices he has made in his life, and to exorcise some of his demons.

 

As you would expect from Hornby, the book is full of perceptive observations and excellent humour. The characters are interesting and convincing, but there is something about it that didn't quite click for me. Whether it was the way the story developed, or that it felt like it was running out of steam out towards the end, I am not sure. Also - and I don't know if this was me reading when tired or not - but there were several occasions where I found myself losing track of who was saying what in a conversation and had to go back and work it through.

 

Overall though this is a fairly good summer read, and one that will make you think a bit about life and the passage of time, but it is nothing amazing and certainly not in the same league as Fever Pitch or High Fidelity.

Edited by Raven

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Guest mcflash271
After the Quake

By Haruki Murakami

 

after-the-quake.jpg

 

In January 1995 the Japanese city of Kobe was rocked by a devastating earthquake that claimed the lives of over 6,000 people and left another 300,000 homeless. After the Quake, a collection of six short stories, is author Haruki Murakami

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Read Lev Grossman's The Magicians. You should enjoy it.

 

I'm more inclinded to try The Magician by Raymond Feist first, but I will bear that suggestion in mind.

 

after what happened to my celtics last night i REFUSE to read anything with the name KOBE in it.

 

You might enjoy this then, because it's about Kobe being hit by an Earthquake!

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It's been a long time coming, but I've finally got around to writing another review! (you can tell World of Warcraft is down tonight, can't you?).

 

**The following review contains some spoilers!**

The Hobbit
By J. R. R. Tolkien

Bilbo Baggins knows his place in the universe, and by and large it’s sitting in front of a roaring fire eating cake and drinking tea, but his world is thrown into chaos when someone vandalises his front door and a group of Dwarves crash his evening supper. After pulling an all-nighter, Bilbo soon finds himself being threatened by trolls, attacked by orcs, chased through dark tunnels, travelling through enchanted forests and fighting off giant spiders - and that’s all before he gets to meet the dragon!

The Hobbit is a book that has been a part of my life since I was a child, but this is the first time I have actually read it through.

My first encounter with the book was when my mother went into hospital for a couple of weeks and my older sister got lumbered with baby-sitting duties for my younger sister and myself. Every night she read a section of the book to two wide-eyed under tens - though unbeknownst to us at the time she omitted large chunks of the story and changed the ending!

A few years later, and I got to play a Hobbit (not The Hobbit) in a wildly ambitious school play, which - if memory serves - seemed to feature a lot of female Dwarves (but this wasn’t fetish forming and it didn’t inspire me to read the book).

Fast wind through a couple of decades and bang! Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth is unleashed on an unsuspecting cinema audience and the world goes Hobbit crazy. By this time I had wandered the paths of The Shire, however, as I read The Fellowship of the Ring before the first film came out. The Two Towers and The Return of the King followed in quick succession, and like a junkie who had it bad I was left casting about for more Tolkien to satisfy my new habit.

That’s when I made the mistake of picking up The Hobbit.

I say mistake because if The Lord of the Rings is the crack cocaine of Tolkien’s writing, The Hobbit is the sugar rush you get off fairy cake icing.

Suffice to say, I didn’t get on with it.

All the Dwarven singing at Bag End was bad enough, but by the time Rivendell appeared at the bottom of a valley and elves were hanging out of the trees to sing to the passing travellers my toes had curled though the tops of my shoes and it wasn’t long after this that I put the book down and didn’t pick it up again for a very long time.

Time, however, heals all wounds – or possibly just dulls the memory - and when the opportunity recently arose to go There and Back Again, I decided to give the book another try.

This time I did get on with it a lot better. Whether is was because I had a better idea of what I was getting into, or whether it was because enough time has passed for the comparison with The Lord of the Rings to be all but moot I’m not sure, but this time around I did, eventually, find myself warming to this Tolkien Lite version of Middle Earth.

Obviously, The Hobbit is a children’s book, and also a book from a different age to boot. As you read, it is very easy to picture Uncle Tolkien sitting by a fire recounting his tale with a glint in his eye, and that is very much the tone of the book; an adult talking down to a child in a friendly, but not patronising, kind of way.

The story is a quest; a group of Dwarves setting out to vanquish a dragon and reclaim their lost kingdom, but first they have to get there and as the story unfolds the group has to survive a number of adventures. At the start of the book the Dwarves are wondering why Bilbo is there, by the end of it he is probably wondering why his cut of the treasure isn’t larger, because he pretty much carries the lot of them from beginning to end (except when Gandalf is around to do the hero bit).

Bilbo himself is an excellent hero though, cut largely from a Boy’s Own piece of cloth (most likely a tweed of some sort), whilst Gandalf is the loveable old grandfather who pops up every now and again, usually just in time to save everyone’s bacon and eggs. In contrast though, the Dwarves - with the possibly exception of Balin - seem to be a pretty useless and sometimes dishonourable lot, and I found it hard to see why anyone would want anything to do the greedy little rabble!

The book definitely gets better as it goes along, and by the time the group reach Erebor, The Lonely Mountain (I do love that name . . .), where the villainous dragon Smaug sits upon his horde of plundered treasure, the book turns into a read page turner.

There is a lot here that shapes what comes later [in The Lord of the Rings], but this is an interesting and at times exciting tale in it’s own right, and one that I no longer view as being the poorer cousin.

(My one piece of advice to any potential new readers, though, would be to read The Hobbit before The Lord of the Rings!).

 

Recommended.

 

Edited to correct formatting problems (13/03/13).

Edited by Raven

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Wow Raven, excellent review! I thoroughly enjoyed every word of that. And I'm so glad you finally enjoyed The Hobbit once you'd given it another chance.

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Thanks!

 

Despite having it listed as the book I'm currently reading for the last week or so, I finally started The Death of Grass, by John Christopher this evening. It's like reading a dark and twisted Wyndham novel.

 

Very good, so far.

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Despite having it listed as the book I'm currently reading for the last week or so, I finally started The Death of Grass, by John Christopher this evening. It's like reading a dark and twisted Wyndham novel.

 

Very good, so far.

 

 

I bought this after Weave's great recommendation ages ago. I wanted to read it so badly (still do) but I just never seem to get around to it! Maybe you can tempt me to bump it up the TBR pile. :)

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Well, I'm not the fastest of readers, but I read over 100 pages last night (I finally forced myself to put the book down and go to bed somewhere around 3.15am!).

 

Very good so far, but pretty bleak - I get the impression it's probably not going to have a happy ending!

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That's another 50 pages down, just over 40 to go, but not tonight as it's time to go for a beer!

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Cracking review Raven. Glad you finally enjoyed it. I enjoyed the hobbit but have yet to read LOTR. It's on my to do list. I loved the films, but was put off the books by having them read to me as a child when I was probably a bit too young (and found them rather heavy going.) I had to tell my dad to give up a third way through book 1!

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Well, I've finally limped over the line of 12 books, so no matter what happens between now and the end of the year I've at least made it to the "one book a month" mark this year.

 

Disappointed that it's not the 24 book mark.

 

I'm no Chesilbeach . . .

 

 

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No!

 

Well, to be honest, most of them have been quite good.

 

I've already bitched enough about Black Sun Rising; Juliet, Naked was okay, but not great and The Man in the High Castle - which I've just finished - was a little disappointing (I don't think I really like Dick*).

 

On the plus side I did enjoy Wild Sheep Chase, as well as The Gum Thief, but my two novels of the year so far would have to be One Day and The Death of Grass.

 

*You can stop that sniggering now.

Edited by Raven

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*You can stop that sniggering now.

 

We are all serious book reading people here Raven, so there would be none of that on here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

:giggle2:

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We are all serious book reading people here Raven

 

What? Where?!! I thought this was a forum for making gingerbread men!

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Finished Dance Dance Dance in the early hours of this morning, very good indeed.

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M*A*S*H

By Richard Hooker

 

mash240.jpg

 

Korea, 1951, and a crack team of army doctors and nurses battle the horrors and boredom of a mobile surgical hospital posting in this outlandish series of adventures.

 

For most, M*A*S*H will need very little introduction, largely because of the high successful TV series and before that the Robert Altman film, but before both of them was this book by Richard Hooker.

 

Telling the story of a group of medical professionals who find increasing varied and humorous ways of letting off steam, the book is a linked series of short stories that focuses on the exploits of Captains’ Hawkeye Pierce and Duke Forrest as they serve out their time putting young men back together again.

 

Most of the familiar characters appear, and most of the stories in the book would be familiar to those who have watched the film or the TV series, but there is far more here than just the legacy the book sets up.

 

It would be easy to focus on the humour, but that would be missing the point. This is primarily the story of a group of dedicated, hardworking young people who had to deal with a very tough job in exceptionally difficult circumstances, told by someone who was actually there.

 

As a testament to the people who did it for real, I can think of no better tribute.

 

Recommended.

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After a good start to the year, my Mojo seems to have gone AWOL, and I can pretty much only blame Terry Pratchett for it as I have little or no enthusiasm every time I pick up Making Money.

 

 

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After a good start to the year, my Mojo seems to have gone AWOL, and I can pretty much only blame Terry Pratchett for it as I have little or no enthusiasm every time I pick up Making Money.

ahh poor Terry, as if he hasn't got enough to worry about .. now you're blaming him for your missing mojo .. I call that callous.

 

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Finally finished Making Money, I think I'm going to have a break from Pratchett for a while.

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