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      Summer Supporter Giveaway   08/31/2020

      Going on a Summer Holiday (Sort Of...)     The summer giveaway for Patreon supporters is finally here and this time we're doing something a little bit different. I want supporters to tell me where you would go on holiday, if you could go anywhere. The winner will receive a bookish prize based on their answer!   Terms and conditions are as usual. Patreon supporters will be automatically entered into the giveaway and selected at random. As we're a little late this year the draw will be held on the second weekend of September. If you aren't currently a supporter but want to be involved in the giveaway you can sign up to support us here:   https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum  
Janet

Janet's Log - Stardate 2014

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It's so nice you, Janet, and you, Alexi were able to meet! I'm glad you both had a lot of fun :).

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Sorry, Claire, I missed your post above. It's difficult when a book has so many mixed reviews. You're right that sometimes you just have to decide for yourself. I hope you do enjoy it. Are you still doing your Austen challenge? :)

 

I can't believe it's been over a month since I posted in here!

 

I met the lovely Alexi last night. We've been chatting online for a long time (maybe 8 years?) so it was lovely to finally meet. For me the time just whizzed by and I found her so easy to chat to. We didn't have any awkward pauses in conversation. We did discuss books and reading... a little! :giggle:

 

I have said it elsewhere but I thought I would add it was lovely to meet Janet last night. Time flew by and I'm afraid I forced us both into very late dinners because we were nattering! :D

 

It was brilliant to chat face to face after so long chatting online. It was really easy too, we had lots to say which was great and I was also privileged to meet Janet's husband who was also lovely! Had such a nice evening.

How lovely :) It's great to meet people from the forum isn't it? we are all kindred spirits :D (we love books .. how could we be anything but marvellous :D) Glad you had such a good time xx

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How lovely :) It's great to meet people from the forum isn't it? we are all kindred spirits :D (we love books .. how could we be anything but marvellous :D) Glad you had such a good time xx

How rude - I forgot to reply to this and I just wanted to say that yes, it's lovely to meet people with whom we've been chatting for a long time.  :)  We loved Manchester so maybe one day we'll go back and I can meet up with Alex again - although next time I might suggest dinner because we chatted for so long that it was 9.30pm before Peter and I went to Café Rouge and it must have been even later that Alex got her Chinese!  :giggle:

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044-2014-September-04-TheGalleryofVanish
 
The Gallery of Vanished Husbands by Natasha Solomons
 
The ‘blurb’
At thirty a woman has a directness in her eye. Juliet Montague did anyhow. She knew exactly what she wanted. She wanted to buy a refrigerator.
 
But in a rash moment, Juliet commissions a portrait of herself instead. She has been closeted by her conservative Jewish community for too long, ever since her husband disappeared. Now she is ready to be seen.
 
So begins the journey of a suburban wife and mother into the heart of '60s London and its thriving art world, where she proves an astute spotter of talent. Yet she remains an outsider: drawn to a reclusive artist who never leaves Dorset and unable to feel free until she has tracked down her husband - a quest that leads to California and a startling discovery.

 
I really enjoyed both Mr Rosenblum’s List and The Novel in the Viola so I was very much looking forward to this, Natasha Solomons’ third novel.
 
The Gallery of Vanished husbands, very loosely based on a true story, tells the story of Juliet Montague.   Whilst the name might imply that she married her Romeo the fact of the matter is that George, a Jewish immigrant from Hungary who she falls in love with after meeting him at the opticians, turns out to be something of a let-down. 
 
Things get off to a poor start on their honeymoon when he disappears at night to go gambling and before long it is not only George who goes missing, but also Juliet’s possessions.  Eventually George shows his true colours and deserts Juliet and their two young children altogether.  Juliet becomes an aguna, chained to her marriage and unable to divorce because under Jewish law a husband must be around to agree to the divorce – and as she has no idea of his whereabouts this is just not possible.
 
But Juliet decides not to be a victim.  All her life she has had a love for art and an eye for a good painting and so, after meeting a young artist called Charlie, she decides to leave her mundane job working at her father’s optical factory and set up a gallery in London.   As her parents struggle to accept Juliet’s new, unconventional new lifestyle Juliet thrives, but eventually she must track down George if she is ever to fully move on…  
 
I’m sorry to say that I didn’t enjoy it as much as her first two books – it hasn’t stayed with me in the same way that both of those did.  Despite this, it is still an enjoyable book.   What Solomons does well is to clearly evoke the period and setting of her books and this is no exception – there is a great feeling of melancholy that permeates the whole of this novel and helps add a feeling of authenticity to the time the book is set.   Despite not enjoying this as much as I’d hoped it was still a good read, although I have downgraded it slightly from four stars to three.   I will look forward to the next offering by Natasha Solomons and hope that it is, for me, a return to form.
 
The paperback edition is 352 pages long and is published by Sceptre.  It was first published in 2014.  The ISBN is 9781444736373.
 
3/5 (I liked it)
 
(Finished 04 September 2014)

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Great review! I have Mr. Rosenblum's List on my TBR. I'm glad you enjoyed it though it's a shame you didn't enjoy it as much as you'd hoped.

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045-2014-September-10-TheShockoftheFall_

 

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

 

The ‘blurb’

I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’

 

There are books you can’t stop reading, which keep you up all night.

 

There are books which let us into the hidden parts of life and make them vividly real.

 

There are books which, because of the sheer skill with which every word is chosen, linger in your mind for days.

 

The Shock of the Fall is all of these books.

 

The Shock of the Fall is an extraordinary portrait of one man’s descent into mental illness. It is a brave and groundbreaking novel from one of the most exciting new voices in fiction.

 

I first came across this book last year when I read about the author in a local paper. 

 

We learn right at the start of the book that Matt’s brother, Simon, is dead.  In the form of jottings, letters etc the story unfolds narrated by Matt who blames himself as he and his family struggle to deal with the fall-out of what happened one evening at a camp site.  Can blame really be laid at Matt’s door?  After all, he was only a child at the time.

 

The novel explores the mental health issues that affect not only Matt but also other family members.  His mother has suffered from depression and his maternal grandmother, affectionately referred to by Matt as Nanny Noo, has a brother who also suffers from Schizophrenia – an illness with the shape and sound of a snake [that] slithers through the branches of [Matt’s] family tree.

 

I don’t know an awful lot about the condition of Schizophrenia.  After finishing this novel I did some research on the internet but it’s a vast subject and one that I only touched on.  I have a distant relation who is a sufferer and he has terrible spells of depression too and has been institutionalised for long spells.  His mother and her brother both suffer from severe depression too.  Even looking from a long way away from the situation I can see what a horrible thing it is and how difficult it can be to get help.  I think novels like this will, hopefully, help to raise awareness but I still think that mental health is something that people find uncomfortable to talk about. I hope this bit of my review doesn’t offend anybody – they’re just my observations and that’s certainly not my intention.

 

Anyway, I thought this book was great.  It was a Book Club choice and led to a lot of really interesting and thought-provoking discussion.  If you’re thinking of reading this book, or already have it on your ‘to read’ pile then I would say don’t put it off any longer.  Despite the subject-matter it’s not a difficult read, but it’s a fascinating and thought provoking one. 

 

The paperback edition is 320 pages long and is published by The Borough Press.  It was first published in 2013.  The ISBN is 9780007491452.

 

4/5 (I really liked it)

 

(Finished 10 September 2014)

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Thanks, Gaia. :)Mr Rosenblaum... is great - I do hope you enjoy it.

Thanks Janet :).

 

Great review of The Shock of the Fall, Janet :). I really liked it too when I read it. I can imagine it made for some interesting discussion with your book club.

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Thanks.  We could have carried on talking about it but we ran out of time!

 

045-2014-September-10-TheShockoftheFall_

Incidentally, it's really irritating that the red circle isn't a sticker but is printed on the book so there is no chance of removing it.  I hate that.  :banghead:   Ugh!  :censored::002:

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046-2014-September-27-DaddyLongLegs_zps1

 

Daddy Long Legs  by Jean Webster

 

The ‘blurb’

A trustee of the John Grier orphanage has offered to send Judy Abbott to college. The only requirements are that she must write to him every month and that she can never know who he is. Judy's life at college is a whirlwind of friends, classes, parties and a growing friendship with the handsome Jervis Pendleton. With so much happening in her life, Judy can scarcely stop writing to 'Daddy-Long-Legs', or wondering who her mysterious benefactor is...

 

A friend told me that this was her favourite childhood book so I thought I’d give it a go.  I must admit that I hadn’t heard of it before but was pleased to find that it’s free on Kindle.

 

Seventeen year old Jershua ‘Judy’ Abbott has lived in an orphanage for most of her life.  Usually children only stay until they finish their studies at the age of sixteen, but Judy has been permitted to stay and helps out by doing chores around the home.  One day, one of the regular Trustees’ Visit Days, she is summoned and told that one of the trustees has chosen her to be sponsored by him.  She will be sent to college and her board, education and expenses will be provided.  There are two stipulations though – she must write regularly to him but her generous benefactor must remain anonymous.

 

Once she moves to college the book takes place in the form of letters from Judy to her patron whom she names Daddy Long Legs.  Much to her frustration he refuses to answer her letters but occasionally his secretary will correspond with her to give instructions – which Judy doesn’t always agree with.  Judy throws herself into her education and quickly makes friends.  She thrives and blossoms, turning from a slightly gawky girl into a confident young woman and determines to write a novel in order to one day repay his kindness, and maybe even get to meet him…

 

This was a sweet book.  It’s an easy read and I do enjoy books that take place in the form of correspondence.  This book is slightly unusual in that that all the correspondence is one-sided.  I enjoyed seeing Judy growing up and forming friendships but I did find the ending rather rushed and abrupt, hence the 3 star rating.   There is a sequel called Dear Enemy which I have also downloaded but I’m not really sure whether it’s about Judy or about the orphanage she once lived in.

 

The paperback edition is 208 pages long and is published by Puffin.  It was first published in 1912.  The ISBN is 978 0141331119.  As far as I can tell this version is unabridged.  I read the Kindle version.

 

3/5 (I liked it)

 

(Finished 27 September 2014)

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You've made both sound like Must Reads! Onto my Amazon wish list. Thanks. :)

 

 

Edit: Daddy Long Legs was free on kindle, have downloaded. Thanks, again.

Edited by pontalba

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Thanks guys.  :)   The Shock of the Fall has stayed with me (although doubtless my memory of the what takes place will fade in time).  The author trained as a mental health nurse so he knows his stuff.  He no longer works in that field - instead he lectures at Bath Spa in creative writing.  :)

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Incidentally, it's really irritating that the red circle isn't a sticker but is printed on the book so there is no chance of removing it.  I hate that.  :banghead:   Ugh!  :censored::002:

I'm with you there! 

 

I downloaded Daddy-Long-Legs for free on my Kindle. Great review :)!

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I finished The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood last week.  All I can say at the moment is WOW!  What a brilliant book - a definite 5/5.  :D  I am struggling to write a review that will do it justice.

 

This morning I finished The Moon's a Balloon by David Niven.    I'm not sure what I fancy next. 

 

I need to buy myself Cutting for Stone by Abraham 'Somebody-beginning-with-V' for my Book Club.  I think it's on the list of my World Challenge books too, so that's good.  :)  Unfortunately it doesn't appear to be available on Kindle, which is a pity.

 

ETA: Abraham Verghese!

Edited by Janet

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Thanks guys.  :)   The Shock of the Fall has stayed with me (although doubtless my memory of the what takes place will fade in time).  The author trained as a mental health nurse so he knows his stuff.  He no longer works in that field - instead he lectures at Bath Spa in creative writing.  :)

 

That book caught my attention a while ago and its one I think I may pick up before long.

 

I also hate that red thingy on the cover and as a side note all stickers on books/cds/vinyls that aren't easy peel should be outlawed :angry:

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I finished The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood last week. All I can say at the moment is WOW! What a brilliant book - a definite 5/5. :D I am struggling to write a review that will do it justice.

 

This morning I finished The Moon's a Balloon by David Niven. I'm not sure what I fancy next.

 

I need to buy myself Cutting for Stone by Abraham 'Somebody-beginning-with-V' for my Book Club. I think it's on the list of my World Challenge books too, so that's good. :) Unfortunately it doesn't appear to be available on Kindle, which is a pity.

 

ETA: Abraham Verghese!

I loved loved loved Cutting For Stone! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

ETA: really sorry for taking over your thread there! Clicked on the wrong link and though I was in the Book Activity thread!

Edited by Alexi

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Thanks guys.  :)   The Shock of the Fall has stayed with me (although doubtless my memory of the what takes place will fade in time).  The author trained as a mental health nurse so he knows his stuff.  He no longer works in that field - instead he lectures at Bath Spa in creative writing.  :)

I loved this too and Alan has just finished it and also loved it. I didn't write my review straight after and still haven't :blush2: I think I will just point people to your review of it Janet .. which is brilliant xx 

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That book caught my attention a while ago and its one I think I may pick up before long.

 

I also hate that red thingy on the cover and as a side note all stickers on books/cds/vinyls that aren't easy peel should be outlawed :angry:

I hope you enjoy it if you do.  :)  I really hate it when I peel a sticker off and it takes some of the shine off the book cover with it.  If shops must use stickers then they should be the kind that peel off easily!

 

I bought some glass candle votives for a friend recently which were orange in colour (to match the accessories in her lounge) and when I peeled the price label off, which the store in their infinite wisdom had stuck on the side rather than on the bottom, it took some of the colour off with it.  :angry: I rang the retailer (Cadbury Garden Centre) to tell them what had happened and they said they'd ensure in future that they put the labels on the bottom, but it was annoying as I had to buy some more from a different shop. 

 

I loved loved loved Cutting For Stone! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

ETA: really sorry for taking over your thread there! Clicked on the wrong link and though I was in the Book Activity thread!

Thanks, Alex.  :)  I haven't actually ordered it yet - I must do so as it's not available on Kindle and it looks like quite a big book.

 

I loved this too and Alan has just finished it and also loved it. I didn't write my review straight after and still haven't :blush2: I think I will just point people to your review of it Janet .. which is brilliant xx 

:blush:  I don't think it's brilliant, but thank you.  :)

 

I'm struggling to write my review of The Handmaid's Tale - it just doesn't seem to want to come out of my head!  :giggle:

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I'm struggling to write my review of The Handmaid's Tale - it just doesn't seem to want to come out of my head!  :giggle:

Awwww, does this happen more often?

 

I'm interested to hear what you think of the book. It seems to have mixed opinions on this forum.

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It rather depends upon the book and how much I've enjoyed it.  I do find it easier to put down my thoughts on books I've disliked.  :)

 

ETA: I haven't read anyone's reviews on here yet.  I shall make an effort to write my review and then go and look.

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047-2014-October-16-TheHandmaidsTale_zps

 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

 

The ‘blurb’

The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.

 

Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of twenty-first century America gives full rein to Margaret Atwood's devastating irony, wit and astute perception.

 

Imagine a world where everything is taken away from you and you are left as a complete non-entity with no rights over property, money or even your own body.  In The Handmaid’s Tale this is the reality for the book’s narrator Offred. 

 

Following a military coup, the Republic of Gilead is created somewhere in the USA – it is run by Christian fundamentalists. A new hierarchy is established.  At the top are the men who are Commanders.  They have a duty to procreate, but many of them are sterile as the result of an unspecified event that took place before the Republic was established.  They have wives but they also have Handmaids – women assigned to them whose duty is to get pregnant and to bear children for their Commander.   There are those known as Eyes whose job it is to watch and report any transgressions. Those who don’t conform are hanged at ‘The Wall’ or are sent to the colonies to clean up the toxic areas.

 

Offred is one such Handmaid.  She lives in a household with her Commander and his wife, Serena Joy.  She is not the first Handmaid to live in the household.   Also present in the household are the Marthas – women who are too old to have children but who are kept as domestic servants; and Nick, the chauffeur.   Offred is given limited freedom.  She is allowed out of the house to do shopping for the household and on these occasions she is sometimes able to surreptitiously communicate with others in her situation although conversation is not allowed.  However, the regime cannot prevent Offred from daydreaming about her past, and it is through these daydreams that we catch a glimpse of what life was like before everything was taken away from her, and, as the story unfolds we learn of Offred’s fate.  Or do we…?

 

I have really struggled to get down any thoughts about this book because I fear whatever I write will not do it justice.   It was chosen as a Book Club book and I must confess that my heart sank a little when the book was revealed.  As a club this is not the first Atwood we’ve read – we also did Lady Oracle back in 2011 and whilst I very much enjoyed it at the time I found that the story didn’t stay with me at all.  This, on the other hand, I think will stay with me for a long time and I am really pleased it was chosen.

 

This book is rather chilling in some ways because I don’t think it’s entirely beyond the bounds of possibility that a situation like this might take place!  It’s definitely a thought-provoking book and one that really surprised me – it’s now a definite favourite.  I thought the book had echoes of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four although I definitely enjoyed this more.  I do think that it would be better to be a Martha than a Handmaid!   

 

The paperback edition is 324 pages long and is published by Vintage.  It was first published in 1986.  The ISBN is 9780099740919.

 

5/5 (fantastic - I loved it!)

 

(Finished 16 October 2014)

 

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I know what you meant when you say that The Handmaid's Tale is very thought provoking. I had trouble when trying to write my review of it and I found myself thinking about it long after I had finished reading it.

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Great review of The Handmaid's Tale, Janet! It's on my wishlist, I'm getting the book from a friend soon :). It sounds like it is a thought-provoking read that's worth reading.

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