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Poppyshake's Reading Year 2015

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Hey, now I realized: your cunning plan of hoping to abandon books has to do with picking up a random book that you only got as a part of a book deal in the first place. Giving it a go and not liking it and then giving it away. Right? 

Yes .. exactly right. It could all go horribly wrong though .. like I might start thinking that if the jar says I should read it then I'd better continue. People often take advantage of me .. I doubt the jar will be any different :D

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Yes, the last minute gits!   :motz:   If you know what's good for you, you'd better not try and come between poppyshake and the book she's set her sights on!

:D I hope I'm successful .. there are more on there but I'd like to secure it TODAY!! :D

Oh but I'm not too fussed about cheating, I wouldn't feel any qualms about it :giggle2: Not with the book jar! :D

You naughty minx :D

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I can just imagine Alan walking into a room to find you staring intently at your bookshelves, trying to memorise each book's location.  :giggle2:

Sometimes I fancy the idea of taking all of my fiction books off the shelves and putting them back in random order. It would then be a lot of fun (or very frustrating, depending on my mood) trying to find a particular book! And then I could just add new books to the end of the line rather than having to shuffle everything along.

I try to keep the non fiction separate .. but I'm not always strict about that either :D It's a free for all. Actually I can see your predicament. If you have a library then you have to know where the books are .. it would probably drive you mad otherwise. I have books in different rooms and I tend to get to know them. If they were all together then it would be more tricky. Makes sense to have a system. I can see also that it's tricky when you add books in if you have a system. I just go 'ooh .. yellow spine .. wonder where that'll go' :D

That's because I push all the mess to the side so it's just out of the shot. :D

I do that too :D 

But yes, you're right about the library being the most important room!

I'd love to have a library .. I'd feel all Mr Darcey about it :D

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it was full of Christmas tree marshmallows and enough can't be said about the sterling effort he put in to empty it  :D 

What a lovely thing to do for you - what a star! :D

 

I love the lobster, Jänet, where'd you find it! =D And I love you guys for being so considerate towards your son's GF. I'm sure she really appreciated that! You are good folks <3

I snaffled the lobster for a forum somewhere (I can't remember where) just in case I ever needed a lobster emoticon. Who'd have thought... :giggle:

 

She's lovely. She's pretty shy, even after nearly two years of coming here, but she's very lovely and very sweet. :)

 

Anyway .. Waters intends it always to be lady business from what I can tell and I haven't got time to learn a new skill :D

:rolol: Haha!

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What a lovely thing to do for you - what a star! :D

Bless him .. it was good of him :D

I snaffled the lobster for a forum somewhere (I can't remember where) just in case I ever needed a lobster emoticon. Who'd have thought... :giggle:

Ha ha .. you must have known Janet :D

She's lovely. She's pretty shy, even after nearly two years of coming here, but she's very lovely and very sweet. :)

Awww .. how sweet .. and so nice that you make her feel comfy .. lucky girl :)

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Okay .. I've picked out my first book  :blush2: Was very nervous about it .. you'd think the jar contained an alligator :D

 

Not sure if it's been kind to me or not .. I'm a little daunted but the jar is right .. I would probably never have got around to reading it and I'm sure it's going to be fascinating. I remember I bought it at Hay-on-Wye which must have been three or four years ago  :blush2:

 

1st Pick From the TBR

 

A Writer at War: Letters and Diaries 1939-45 by Iris Murdoch 

 

Interestingly I pulled two out .. they had got tangled and I expect that'll happen a lot. I chose one .. but Alan opened the other one to see what it was before throwing it back in .. it was Wild Swans by Jung Chang .. I'm glad I didn't get that one this time as it's an absolute tome .. even though I've heard good things about it. 

 

The jar means business though I can tell .. I was hoping for another Pippi Longstocking :D 

post-5612-0-83728400-1421358088_thumb.jpg

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I love the warning label on your jar! :)

 

I wish I was as creative as you with my hands.

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Ooh, interesting pick! I bought this when I saw it cheap a few years ago, and I remember that I thought about getting it for you (I think you were reading Murdoch's fiction around that time), but I decided to check first whether you already had it, and you did. Luckily I hadn't bought it! The jar has certainly thrown up a challenging book to start with. Well, maybe it won't be 'challenging' as such, but I always think of letter collections as being slightly more 'difficult' books—I think because they're non-fiction, and perhaps reading letter after letter might get a bit tiring. That's probably just me though.  :blush2: I would need to choose another book to read alongside it.

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I love the warning label on your jar! :)

 

I wish I was as creative as you with my hands.

I have times when I can be quite creative but other times when my mind is just one big black hole :D I do like cutting out and sticking though etc ... never have grown out of that nursery phase. I felt quite odd cutting out the letters though .. like I was going to send a sinister letter :D must take people ages as I had my work cut out finding R E A D M E. I think my mind would have moved away from the crime by the time the letter was finished .. and onto cake most probably :D 

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Ooh, interesting pick! I bought this when I saw it cheap a few years ago, and I remember that I thought about getting it for you (I think you were reading Murdoch's fiction around that time), but I decided to check first whether you already had it, and you did. Luckily I hadn't bought it! The jar has certainly thrown up a challenging book to start with. Well, maybe it won't be 'challenging' as such, but I always think of letter collections as being slightly more 'difficult' books—I think because they're non-fiction, and perhaps reading letter after letter might get a bit tiring. That's probably just me though.  :blush2: I would need to choose another book to read alongside it.

I did read a lot of Iris at one point .. her fiction and biogs etc. This book was bought then but something came along and distracted me from it  :blush2: I've got a couple of other reads on the go .. one I'm listening to (The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters) and Printer's Devil Court by Susan Hill but nothing too taxing. This is challenging but it's started well. Iris was part of an (am dram) touring company called The Magpie Players and the first part of this book is her diary extracts from that time. The intro was absolutely killing though .. I thought, if it carries on like this I'll never get through it :blush2: .. happily as soon as it was left to Iris it immediately got more comprehensible. Phew! I think I'll be okay.

 

At the moment the title is misleading as war hasn't been mentioned but then we're in August 1939 .. so Germany hasn't invaded Poland yet. It'll be interesting to see how it affects her and what difference it makes to her day to day life. 

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Your jar is gorgeous.

 

I've seen a few people doing it, but I just know that if I picked out something I didn't feel like reading, I'd throw it back in and pick another one. It might be good for deciding I DON'T want to read something, but that's about it.

 

Good luck with it :D

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Many thanks to Brian for this idea :hug: I have made a TBR jar!!  :boogie:

Very time consuming as I had to write out 200 odd titles ... could have possibly read one of them in the time it took me  :D In theory .. I will pick a piece of paper out at random and read the relevant book. This may well lead to me abandoning books because some of them are only in the house because they were the third or second book in a Waterstone's deal or because they were part of a set bought cheaply from The Book People etc. I will attempt to give them all a fair trial though. It's a large jar .. I can thoroughly shake it for shuffling purposes and I intend to plunge my hand in (possibly whilst looking away) and do a sort of spin cycle movement with it before picking one. 

It will be very Russian roulette though .. not least because .... Carter Beats the Devil is in this jar :o !!! Alan wrote that particular slip so that I wouldn't know the colour and therefore couldn't cheat (I wouldn't .. but some people are suspicious little blighters :D) I have told him that if I find he has written it out several times then there will be sanctions involving dinner, making sandwiches and well .. other stuff!! :D I am working on the theory that the jar knows best. I will try and respect the jar's decision (whilst incanting 'Not Slytherin'  :D

It won't have lights on it all the time .. this is its debut and so I've gone to town a bit.

I will continue to choose books from the shelves so obviously if I pick out a title I've already read then I will pick again. I promise not to throw any fish back into the sea though :blush2:   

 

I suppose thanks must go to Alan who donated the jar .. it was full of Christmas tree marshmallows and enough can't be said about the sterling effort he put in to empty it  :D 

 

Wish me luck peeps .. the first grand draw will take place soon. When the results come in I'd appreciate it if you didn't laugh :D  

 

Mine took me what felt like ages and I had less than 100 to add. Your jar looks fantastic, I hope it treats you well.

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Your jar is gorgeous.

 

I've seen a few people doing it, but I just know that if I picked out something I didn't feel like reading, I'd throw it back in and pick another one. It might be good for deciding I DON'T want to read something, but that's about it.

 

Good luck with it :D

Thanks Noll :) I'm so frustrated that I can't get my TBR down that it called for drastic measures .. and if I don't get on with a book then I'll abandon it .. that's the idea anyway.

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Mine took me what felt like ages and I had less than 100 to add. Your jar looks fantastic, I hope it treats you well.

Thank you Brian and thanks once again for the inspiration .. I think good things will come of it  :smile: 

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manathelm.jpg

Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe

 

Synopsis: Not long after her parents' separation, heralded by an awkward scene involving a wet Daily Telegraph and a pan of cold eggs, nine year old Lizzie Vogel, her sister and little brother and their now divorcee mother are packed off to a small, slightly hostile village in the English countryside. Their mother is all alone, only thirty-one years of age, with three young children and a Labrador. It is no wonder, when you put it like that, that she becomes a menace and a drunk. And a playwright. Worried about the bad playwriting - though more about becoming wards of court and being sent to the infamous Crescent Home for Children - Lizzie and her sister decide to contact by letter, suitable men in the area. In order to stave off the local social worker they urgently need to find a new Man at the Helm.

 

Review: Well, for a start, any book with jam tarts on the cover has got to be good (and I didn't get far before there was a toast quote .. what more do you need!?!  :D ) I absolutely adored Nina's last book Love Nina .. possibly you'll remember this because I'm still going on about it  :blush2: Love Nina though was a memoir and I thought this was the sequel  :blush2: I didn't read the blurb .. I just saw that Nina had a new book out and directly asked for it for Christmas. It spent a few days under my 'non fiction' list of 'books acquired in 2015' actually .. before I picked it up and started to read. I then noticed straight away (well done me!! ) that it was actually a story .. Nina has written her first novel  :smile: 

 

She has written it in exactly the same style and humour which pleased me because that's what I wanted .. more of the same. Lizzie in fact could be a young Nina (which I suppose is to be expected .. she has sprung out of her imagination and didn't I read somewhere that most authors cast themselves in their first novel? ) Both Lizzie and her sister are wiser than their years .. well no, not wiser .. they make a bit of a hash of things actually but they've got old heads on their shoulders .. they worry about things and their chief worry is their mother. Their dad has left the marital home to set up with someone else and since then things have definitely .. and quickly .. gone to the dogs! One of the side effects of this is that their mum writes terrible plays .. just snippets really .. based on her tragic day to day experiences and the girls are often called upon to act them out.

Lizzie's sister thinks she knows the answer .. they need a man at the helm. They make a list of suitable men and set about tricking them into coming to the house (usually by writing a letter .. purporting to be from their mother .. inviting them to the house for spurious reasons connected with their professions.) They are pretty sure that once the men set eyes on their mother .. they will be instantly smitten. Things don't go to plan though and whilst their father's life is sailing smoothly on .. theirs is bewildering.  

 

I had my own crisis at that Sunday lunch table. I say crisis, though it was more of a philosophical meandering. I asked myself how it was that our lovely tall father had suddenly become the husband of a new woman and the father of a whole separate new baby who could already say 'more' and outdo Little Jack on the veg front. I gazed at the blond-haired baby. What would it make of us, I wondered, as it matured, its half siblings arriving every month or two and eating a roast dinner (badly) and being tutored in table manners and being irritable about it? The baby was sure to grow into a table manners expert and to be well rounded with our proper and funny ex-father as its man at the helm. As these notions floated around my mind I felt a surging wave of sadness for this little half-brother of mine. Imagine, I thought, having someone's ex-father as your own and having to see the unruly cast-offs for Sunday lunch every three months - it would be horrible, surely and really annoying. I felt sorry for him and hoped to God that our new man at the helm (when we'd secured one) didn't come with anything of that sort.  

 

Lizzie narrates this story in Nina's trademark (well .. I know she's only had two books out but I read her twitter feed as well :blush2: ) deadpan style .. it constantly makes you smile but can be sad too. You get the feeling .. as with Love Nina .. that you can't necessarily trust every word Lizzie says .. there's a slight Billy Liar feel about it but it all adds to the enjoyment. Apparently 'there's nothing quite like a jam tart to cheer a person' .. well there's nothing like a Nina book either :)

Loved it .. hope she writes more :smile:  

  

 

 

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Kay

 Love your new bookshelf. It's so pretty and so is your TBR jar ! It sounds like it is working well for you so far . You always make all the books you read sound so good , I'm constantly writing down the titles .

 I thought I got to everyone's book thread to wish them a happy reading year. Not sure how I missed yours unless it wasn't complete when I was in here last .

I hope you are successful with the clearing of your shelves and not forcing yourself to read books that aren't grabbing your attention. That'll make more time to the ones that DO !

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Thanks Andrea *takes a little bow* :D I do hope you enjoy it .. happy to send it to you if you'd like .. just pm address :smile:  

 

Aw Kay you're very kind :friends0: thank you so much but I wouldn't want to put you to the trouble. Plus I'm trying to get into the habit of only acquiring books when I'm ready to read them (excepting birthday and christmas pressies of course)

 

Your TBR jar looks great. I hope it's a great success!

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Kay

 Love your new bookshelf. It's so pretty and so is your TBR jar ! It sounds like it is working well for you so far . You always make all the books you read sound so good , I'm constantly writing down the titles .

 I thought I got to everyone's book thread to wish them a happy reading year. Not sure how I missed yours unless it wasn't complete when I was in here last .

I hope you are successful with the clearing of your shelves and not forcing yourself to read books that aren't grabbing your attention. That'll make more time to the ones that DO !

Thanks Julie :hug: Hope you have a great reading year too :) The thing about the TBR jar (though this is just the beginning .. these feelings might fade) is that it does make you want to get on with the book so you can have another pick :D Might make me get a wriggle on anyway .. here's hoping :D

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Aw Kay you're very kind :friends0: thank you so much but I wouldn't want to put you to the trouble. Plus I'm trying to get into the habit of only acquiring books when I'm ready to read them (excepting birthday and christmas pressies of course)

 

Your TBR jar looks great. I hope it's a great success!

Thanks Andrea :)

It would be no trouble at all so if/when you do feel like reading it drop me a line :hug:

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Printer's Devil Court by Susan Hill

 

Synopsis:  One murky November evening after a satisfying meal in their Fleet Street lodgings, a conversation between four medical students takes a curious turn and Hugh is initiated into a dark secret. In the cellar of their narrow lodgings in Printer's Devil Court and a little used mortuary in a subterranean annex of the hospital, they have begun to interfere with death itself, in shadowy experiments beyond the realms of medical ethics. They call on Hugh to witness an event both extraordinary and terrifying. Years later, Hugh has occasion to return to his student digs and the familiar surroundings resurrect peculiar and unpleasant memories of these unnatural events, the true horror of which only slowly becomes apparent.

 

Review: I wanted to read this over the Christmas holidays but it didn't happen. Alan and I decided to read it together so I had to wait until he was at home and in the mood. It's only a short story and not one of her best .. it's not a patch on The Woman in Black for instance but there's plenty of atmosphere and it's nicely chilling. Once we'd started Alan badgered me to keep going .. it definitely kept us both interested and he was fairly complimentary about it which is unusual as he generally is always disappointed in some way and particularly with endings. It feels more like a story that's written as part of a larger collection of short stories though .. not perhaps sufficiently detailed to be a stand alone story but then .. these particular editions are exquisite .. and they look so beautiful together (in fact I am missing one I think .. must put that right :blush2: ) and so it's a pleasure to look at and read from (some nice illustrations too.)

Liked it!   

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Great review of Printer's Devil Court. :) I've still only read The Woman in Black, and all of the reviews I've read of Susan Hill's other books are not as good, but I still think I'll enjoy them all, if only for the atmospheric writing. The books are just exquisite to look at (and touch), aren't they?!  :wub:

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writeratwar.jpg
Iris Murdoch: A Writer at War - Letters and Diaries 1939-1945 Edited and Introduced by Peter J. Conradi
 
Synopsis:
These never-before published diaries and letters will be a MUST for every Iris Murdoch fan...These collected writings, never published before, comprise a diary which Iris Murdoch kept in her last summer at Oxford, immediately before the outbreak of the Second World War, and her wartime correspondence with two men: the poet Frank Thomson, murdered in Bulgaria in 1944, and a teacher for the British Council, David Hicks. They reveal the young writer at her sprightly, original best - as gripped by her own affairs, and those of her friends and peers, as by the great affairs of the world; exuberant when in love, and yet remarkably philosophical even when love goes painfully wrong. Iris Murdoch: A Writer at War is a treasury of one of the great women writers and thinkers of the 20th century - a fascinating private memoir which sheds new light on a brilliant mind in development, but also a remarkable historical document of life behind the scenes during the Second World War.

 

Review:  The first pick from the jar!  :D Firstly I found the intro (actually there are three as the book is split into three parts) quite testing as it was fairly long and involved .. and I was just wanting to get on! Peter was a consultant on the film Iris but didn't feel that she'd been very accurately portrayed and seemed to take issue especially with the fact that neither Judi Dench or Kate Winslet (the old and the young Iris) had actually read any of her work. He says that the general opinion to be got from the film was that Iris was mad .. either sex mad when young or potty mad (with dementia) when old. Not sure that's the case. I saw it and liked it and didn't get that impression but still I get his point .. there is so much more to Iris.

 

I don't think he has delivered anything to make one understand her better though. Certainly the title is misleading. Apart from the fact that the journals/letters were written during the period of the Second World War there is not much else to connect them (except perhaps the last part) as Iris barely mentions the war. The first part contains her journal entries from her time in the Magpies .. an am dram theatre group who .. at the time of these writings .. were touring the Cotswolds. I quite enjoyed these diary entries .. the talk all about scenery and costumes and playing to frosty crowds in dismal theatres with not enough to eat and less than agreeable accommodation. The second part of the book was the hardest for me .. these are the letters she wrote to the poet Frank Thompson whilst he was serving in the Middle East. Their conversations centre around novels, writers, philosophy, socialism and communism etc although there are occasional mentions of mutual friends but I have to confess that the reason I didn't enjoy the letters was that the writer's intelligence soon outstripped mine and their words soared over my head  :blush2: The last set of letters I liked more though the subject matter didn't vary much from before, but I can't imagine it was ever Iris's intention that they be published. They're written to David Hicks .. also abroad on active service. Iris is more than a little smitten with him and the letters become increasingly more gushing not to say begging. It's an odd relationship .. without really knowing David's replies you get a strong impression from Iris that he's not all that interested though they do become briefly engaged at one point. One of the reasons I liked these letters more was that Iris talked occasionally about novel writing and her attempts thus far. In one letter she writes .. 'I am fed up with my novel, for the moment. My efforts to 'expel myself' from the characters and give them an independent life has resulted in their becoming thoroughly tiresome and unreal. For the central character, who is supposed to be a rather charming dreamy though ineffectual youth, I am developing a passionate hatred, and am almost ready to change the structure of the thing just so that he should jolly well not triumph over his difficulties in the end.' :D which absolutely tickled me pink. Though both Frank and David are on active service and Iris during the last part of this book is working for UNRRA .. helping displaced persons .. there is very little talk about what their day to day life entails. Iris is a little more forthcoming but nothing really from the men which is not unusual I know .. they had to live the horrors of it .. they didn't necessarily want to write it down in letters home and anyway secrecy may have been paramount (also .. we don't read any of David's replies .. and only a few of Frank's but can see from Iris's replies that she is being kept in the dark.) Sadly Frank died before the end of the war (a hero and posthumously decorated .. he has a Bulgarian railway station named after him.) David Hicks survived and stayed on friendly terms with Iris throughout her life. It would be a further nine years before Iris had her first novel Under the Net published.

I Liked it! Perhaps I might have abandoned if this was about anyone else .. it was too disjointed .. but it was worth ploughing on with in the long run though, to me, she's still a bit of an enigma. The jar has thrown me in at the deep end :D

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Yay, another one for the 'No Scores' club!  :giggle2:  :D

Yay!  :cows: I feel very liberated. Thanks for the nudge in that direction :)

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Great review of Printer's Devil Court. :) I've still only read The Woman in Black, and all of the reviews I've read of Susan Hill's other books are not as good, but I still think I'll enjoy them all, if only for the atmospheric writing. The books are just exquisite to look at (and touch), aren't they?!  :wub:

Thanks Kylie :) Yes .. that's the real joy of them and I think she's on to a money spinner here because I can't imagine not buying them all  :blush2: They're not rubbish though .. even I wouldn't be swayed by a lovely book jacket etc if that was the case (would I?  :blush2: possibly I might  :D )

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