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Everything posted by Alexi

  1. Alex's Reading - 2017

    Hello! Welcome to another reading log. I was ready for another to be honest, 2016 rather got away from me. I have put some reviews of the English counties books in the relevant forum, but other than that I intend to start afresh and do better with updating this year. It was a brilliant year for me away from reading, but that did rather impact both on reading and BCF time! 2017 should be a little quieter. NewJob means less commuting time, good, but that also means less time for reading, bad. So let's see. Now we have made the decision not to move abroad (for the time being, at least, California will still be there in a few years!) I should be more stable in life and work. AIMS FOR 2017 I'm playing fast and loose with these, they may change. My TBR stands today at 325 books, which is ridiculous. I did however, successfully reduce the pile by THREE in 2016! But really, it needs to get to below 300 because this is ridiculous. I would like to finish the English Counties Challenge if possible, even though I am 18 away from that, so we shall see, and I need to get a few books off the list that have been languishing on the kindle or physical bookshelves for years now. Other than that, simply enjoy!
  2. Your Book Activity - July 2017

    Excellent! Can't wait! I have The Essex Serpent on my TBR but so many books so little time!
  3. Your Book Activity - July 2017

    Let me know what you think! I have this but I'm waiting until I've finished all seven series and the new episodes. (Currently halfway through season six so not much longer )
  4. Pubs in books

    There's a Moon Under Water in Manchester as well. There is also Peveril of the Peak, although it is not named after the Walter Scott novel. Worth a visit though just for how distinctive a place it is! I have also imbibed a few pints in the Angel, which featured in Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell.
  5. Willoyd's Reading 2017

    I laughed out loud at your review of the Eggers! Rubbish books always make for better reviews I find, both for reading and writing... Even if one does have to suffer through the pages first.
  6. Claire's Book List 2017

    You're rampaging through the books at the moment Claire Class sounds very intriguing - the phrase 'modern day Mallory Towers' almost certain to pique my interest!
  7. Your Book Activity - July 2017

    I read the latter for my South Korea book for the World Challenge, but it has been some years and I can't remember much about it I have just finished A History of Britain Volume 1 by Simon Schama. I have been reading other things alongside it but I thoroughly enjoyed it and will aim to ready volumes 2 and 3 in the not too distant future - perhaps as audiobooks. I am trying to read more British history, so I thought I would get an overview of the whole thing then dip into various bits in more detail. Schama does an excellent job of making things accessible while covering a lot of ground - from 3000 BC to 1603 in this volume. Now onto Tom Brown's Schooldays for the English Counties Challenge and I have started The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie on audio book on the commute.
  8. Alex's Reading - 2017

    So glad you enjoyed it as an adult on a first read! (And I also had no idea we had been doing the challenge that long!) The whole book is so beautifully written. It was definitely a great choice for the challenge. I still have Winnie the Pooh to read, which I never read as a kid. On another note: Just discovered, to my horror, that I had The Day of the Triffids out of the library for this challenge, but we are moving in two weeks and my books have been packed away in a box.. including the library book I left on the shelf. Fail.
  9. pontalba's 2017 reading list

    The Glasgow trilogy sounds very interesting. Wish list ahoy!
  10. Janet's Log - Stardate 2017

    Those covers are incredible J Reviews? What are reviews? I have just come up to the end of March myself...
  11. Alex's Reading - 2017

    Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J K Rowling Synopsis; The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later. It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places. (From Goodreads) Thoughts: I've avoided this for so long, desperate not to tarnish my memories of the Harry Potter series (which I shamelessly loved and devoured - the first one was released when I was about 12 and I read them as they were released). In the end, I was gifted the book and I picked it up with some trepidation. Were my fears founded? Well, sort of. This does not feel like an eighth book and I feel it's a mistake for people to be expecting that. It's a play, designed to be seen on stage and not read in one's front room (one of the reasons I rarely read plays), and there is a very definite shift away from the magical world of Hogwarts to something more character focused. This is a story focusing on the struggles of growing up, and the struggles of parenting, to a far greater degree than the entirely plot driven stories of the seven novels. There's something slightly delightful in seeing our old friends as adults - struggling with the adult world, growing older, etc. However, the plot is not nearly so well thought-out and constructed, the scenes without our old friends feel like we're waiting for their return (even though the character of Albus is interesting) and there is so left to be desired. I'd like to see this as a play some day, just to see how it is staged and how they fit that all together as much as anything, but I feel that's how it should have stayed, rather than the script being released in this manner. 3/5 (I liked it)
  12. Alex's Reading - 2017

    The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame I honestly couldn't really remember if I had read this as a child, or if the characters were just so familiar to me that I felt I had. (The identity of a recent quiz question was the identity of Mole's best friend, and I had to guess at Ratty!) But as soon as I began reading it all swept me away in a familiar rush. Of course I had read it and it all came flooding back within the first few pages. The characters of Mole, Ratty, Badger and Toad became instant companions again. We can shake our heads at the irresponsible Toad, who goes out without a care in the world only to find his property seized by the masses. As a kid, there is plenty of relaxing adventure to enjoy. As an adult, knowing that Grahame was writing in the early 20th century as the 'masses' became an increasing threat on the social order, there's some more take away from it. As a child and as an adult I got so much out of this. It stands the test of time (at least to this reader born in the mid 1980s) and is a classic of the genre. A pleasure to revisit for the English Counties Challenge. 5/5 ( I loved it)
  13. Your Book Activity - June 2017

    I've been so busy lately that reading has really suffered. However, half a day without power meant that I finished Career of Evil - the third in the Cormoran Strike series by J K Rowling Robert Galbraith. Brilliant escapism. Now starting On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin.
  14. My memory of the Girls In Love series (referenced in said Wilson rant) was one girl instantly having to forgive best friend for behaving exceedingly badly with her boyfriend when she hadn't apologised. Girl with ham thighs realised it was ok to have large thighs when another friend went anorexic IIRC.
  15. Willoyd's English Counties Challenge

    Congratulations on finishing the challenge Willoyd! I'm hoping to get it done by the end of the summer. We had similar thoughts on The Well of Loneliness and Cider with Rosie, but I really enjoyed the Cronin! Emma is possibly my favourite so far, with An Old Wives Tale also featuring near the top of the list.
  16. Alex's Reading - 2017

    So far behind on reviews I can't remember much about a lot of the outstanding books... Here's my attempt at something resembling the start of a catch up: Ashenden by W Somerset Maugham Synopsis: A celebrated writer by the time the war broke out in 1914, Maugham had the perfect cover for living in Switzerland. Multilingual and knowledgeable about many European countries, he was dispatched by the Secret Service to Lucerne - under the guise of completing a play. An assignment whose danger and drama appealed both to his sense of romance and of the ridiculous. A collection of stories rooted in Maugham's own experiences as an agent, reflecting the ruthlessness and brutality of espionage, its intrigue and treachery, as well as its absurdity. (From Goodreads) Thoughts: This is a collection of 'spy' stories - but it's a mistake going into this expecting James Bond. Two reasons for that - it was published in 1927, and is a lot truer to life than 007! This is a collection of short stories based around Maugham's own experiences with espionage during WWI. The characters are brilliantly drawn, and the short stories are drawn out perfectly to leave the reader wanting to know more. But that's where the trouble is - it doesn't always deliver on 'more'. A couple of the stories I was left wondering if some of the pages had gone missing in my copy. What I liked about this was the author's ability to make the characters leap from the page in what appears more a study of human nature during war time than adventure and spy japes. However, it does feel a little dated now that this genre has moved on so much. This is the first I have read by Maugham, but I intend to look out for more of his work. 3/5 (I liked it)
  17. Alex's Reading - 2017

    Agree totally - I adore much of what I've read of hers. It's comforting in a way to know I am not the only one that found this one a departure and a disappointment!
  18. Janet's Log - Stardate 2017

    I only bought the Essex Serpent for kindle two days' ago J! Great to read your review - and see the pictures!
  19. Willoyd's Reading 2017

    Great review Willoyd. I had some very similar thoughts that I need to put on paper/keyboard at some point. I actually found it a much more rewarding read than Middlemarch, which I rated, but a much harder read as well - if that makes sense!
  20. Your Book Activity - May 2017

    I've finished The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot which I ended up rating as a 4/5 after a slow start. Now started Pure by Andrew Miller and am going to make some sort of attempt at catching up with reviews...
  21. Your Book Activity - May 2017

    I'm also 25% of the way through (reading on kindle). All I know about the rest of the plot is my Mum told me it was depressing. Gee, thanks, mum!
  22. pontalba's 2017 reading list

    The Greg Iles one sounds very promising. To the wish list it goes!
  23. Bobblybear's Book List - 2017

    A Million Years has gone on to my wish list too! I have the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay on my TBR - hopefully I will be more of Frankie's opinion, but a 3.5 isn't bad on my marking scale.
  24. Willoyd's Reading 2017

    When I saw you had read an Ahern I was very surprised, imagine my surprise at seeing it get a 3! As you say, though, the joys of book club! I have this on my shelf as a gift from someone - I read a few Aherns years ago when I read more chick lit, a genre I very rarely dip my toe into these days unless it comes recommended by someone who knows my tastes, and I couldn't imagine anything further from what you normally read! I found the few I read hit and miss (although the two I did enjoy have predictably been made into absolutely TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE films). It's one of the reasons this has sat so long unread, but it sounds much more promising than I realised after your excellent review.
  25. Alex's Reading - 2017

    It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis Synopsis: A cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy, it is an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America. Written during the Great Depression, when the country was largely oblivious to Hitler's aggression, it juxtaposes sharp political satire with the chillingly realistic rise of a president who becomes a dictator to save the nation from welfare cheats, sex, crime, and a liberal press. Called -a message to thinking Americans- by the Springfield Republican when it was published in 1935, It Can't Happen Here is a shockingly prescient novel that remains as fresh and contemporary as today's news. (From Goodreads) Thoughts: This book was published in the 1930s, but has recently enjoyed a comeback tour for reasons obvious from the synopsis. Here's a few (non spoilery, they come from early on in the novel) extracts presented without comment: "My one ambition is to get all Americans to realize that they are, and must continue to be, the greatest Race on the face of this old earth, and second, to realize that whatever apparent differences there may be among us in wealth, ancestry or strength - though of course this does not apply to people who are racially different from us - we are all brothers..." "Doremus Jessup, so inconspicuous an observer, watching Senator Windrip from so humble a Boetia, could not explain his power of bewitching large audiences. The senator was vulgar, almost illiterate, a public liar easily detected, and his 'ideas' almost idiotic..." Written in the 1930s, when facism was taking hold in Germany and Italy, this was a response to the idea that it couldn't happen here - here being the USA. The system of checks and balances, geography, modernity, etc. Lewis wrote this to show just how easy it was for fascism to take hold during a depression, when people are struggling for work and to support their families. Fast forward to the current political climate, and it seems we are in for the 'modern' version. The UK has gone more right wing, France is in the middle of a very interesting election, and Donald Trump is US President. And a lot of the first half of this book rings as true today as it would have done in 1930s Europe. The second half is quite a frightening disintegration and is more relevant to the 1930s than now (we hope!) but it's an absolutely fascinating look at the political system through the eyes of a newspaperman in the US. I gave it a 4 at the time of finishing (cough, at the start of March, cough) but it has really stuck with me and I would thoroughly recommend it. 4/5 (I really, really liked it)