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chesilbeach

Claire's Book List 2016

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Please stop - you three make me jealous of your meet ups! ;)

 

Oh, I wish you were close enough to join us too!  :friends3: 

 

It sounds right up my street and just perfect. :)  I probably won't read it until later in the year but I'm certain I'll enjoy it.  I didn't know she wrote crime novels so I've learnt something new.   I 'Wikipedia-ed' her and she had quite an interesting life!  :)

 

Definitely a good one to save until the next festive season. :D

 

I'm sorry you got so wet.  I wasn't too bad when I got on the bus (there was one waiting when I got there - perfect timing!) but I was glad I bought that hat!  :D

I think only full waterproofs from head to toe could have saved me! :lol: My umbrella didn't do too bad a job, but it's awkward trying to avoid other people on the pavement, and there was so much water around it was splashing up around my ankles as well as coming down from the skies, so I couldn't win really. No lasting damage done though, I'm a pretty tough cookie. ;)

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Got an absolute bargain in Waterston's today.  Picked up Beetle Boy by M. G. Leonard and Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford and they were on the buy one get one free offer, plus my stamp card was full, so I got £10 off, and got both books for just 48 pence!!!  :b7ydance:

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Just William and More William by Richmal Crompton

 

Synopsis:

Just William makes his mark in this hilarious collection of twelve classic stories. Whether it's trying to arrange a marriage for his sister or taking a job as a boot boy as step one in his grand plan to run away, William manages to cause chaos wherever he goes.

 

Review:

I never read the William books when I was little.  I think I was put off by the television series at the time with Bonnie Langford whose character I found incredibly annoying, so the books never made it into my reading.  However, a couple of years ago, there was a very good BBC adaptation which endeared the character to me, so when it came up as a choice for a group read, I definitely wanted to give them a go.

 

Both books are essentially a series of individual stories, one per chapter, so you get lots of William’s escapades to read about.  There’s something rather charming about William, despite how obnoxious he can be at times, and his mischief is sometimes just well intentioned play which grown ups have a somewhat different view point on! 

 

The stories are great fun, and I’m glad I’ve read a couple of the books, but I’m not sure I’ll read any more.  There are a couple of reasons - firstly, I’m not a fan of the way the children’s speech is written in almost a sort of pidgen English, and secondly, there was a bit of a lack of continuity between the stories, so there never feels like there’s any kind of character development or any sense that the world is turning and moving on, which gives a very static feel to the book.  I guess if you were a child reading one story a night before bed, it might be more enjoyable, but reading as a complete book, I find I’ve tired of it easily.

 

Definitely worth reading, and good fun to boot, but two is definitely enough for me … at least for a while! :D

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Happy Reading in 2016 Claire ! :D

 

I`m still reading the No1 Ladies`s Detective Agency, but got a bit fed up with the Scotland Street books around the 4th or 5th one. I still have a few in my TBR though...  :doh:

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Happy Reading in 2016 Claire ! :D

 

I`m still reading the No1 Ladies`s Detective Agency, but got a bit fed up with the Scotland Street books around the 4th or 5th one. I still have a few in my TBR though...  :doh:

 

 

Thank you :)

 

Do you know, I think I'm over Alexander McCall Smith, to be honest.  I had thought I might carry on with the Isabel Dalhousie series, but even they aren't tempting me any more.  I think I may have overdosed on him (well it's not difficult considering his output!), and I think it's maybe time to say enough is enough ... maybe after a loooong break, I might give him another go! :D

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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

 

Synopsis:

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles's mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

 

Review:

If asked, I’d always say I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, especially from this far back in history!  Ancient Greece is not my thing, but I’ve actually ended up reading a few books over the last year which have been partially or fully set in this time.  I wasn’t too thrown then, when The Song of Achilles was chosen for my book group this month.

 

The story is very well written, and unusually, I didn’t pick up on any American style or phrasing, which usually jumps out at me when reading an American author.  It’s a very human story, despite being set in a mythological society where the Gods and Goddesses are real, and that’s where I struggled.  It’s a personal thing, but I find it that when I’m reading a non-fantasy story that seems to be based in the real world but some characters are based in myth and yet interact with the humans as if normal, I’m always taken out of the story.  We were discussing it at my book group, and I’m the only one who felt that, and on the whole, almost everyone enjoyed the book a lot, some of them very enthusiastic about it, and only one who didn’t enjoy it (in fact, she gave up after about 10 pages).

 

The relationship between Patroclus and Achilles is brilliantly developed, and both individual characters are well rounded, and I believed their story.  It really got to me at times, and I felt an emotional connection to them.  When the story moves to the siege of Troy, the boys move from adolescence to manhood, and the realities and brutalities of a war that wages for 10 years make for fascinating reading.

 

I did enjoy reading it, and although it wasn’t entirely successful for me, I think I would probably recommend it to others, particularly if they enjoy historical fiction of this period.

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Thank you :)

 

Do you know, I think I'm over Alexander McCall Smith, to be honest.  I had thought I might carry on with the Isabel Dalhousie series, but even they aren't tempting me any more.  I think I may have overdosed on him (well it's not difficult considering his output!), and I think it's maybe time to say enough is enough ... maybe after a loooong break, I might give him another go! :D

 

I can read a few in a row from his Botswana books, then have to put them to one side for a couple of years. He`s such a prolific author, I can`t keep up with his work anyway.  ;) It is a bit ` too much of a good thing` at times. 

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Beetle Boy by M. G. Leonard

Synopsis:
Darkus is miserable. His dad has disappeared, and now he is living next door to the most disgusting neighbours ever. A giant beetle called Baxter comes to his rescue. But can the two solve the mystery of his dad's disappearance, especially when links emerge to cruel Lucretia Cutter and her penchant for beetle jewellery? A coffee-mug mountain, home to a million insects, could provide the answer - if Darkus and Baxter are brave enough to find it.

Review:
I’m probably going to cut down on my middle grade and YA books this year, but Beetle Boy has been on my wishlist for a long time, despite being the debut from writer M. G. Leonard. It’s a fantastic story, well-paced, and is a mix of adventure, thriller and quest, with the humour reminiscent of Dahl, and some fascinating entymology thrown into the mix too! I’m definitely getting a copy for my god daughter, and eagerly await the next instalment of the story. :smile2:

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Italian Ways by Tim Parks

 

Synopsis:

In 1981 Tim Parks moved from England to Italy and spent the next thirty years alongside hundreds of thousands of Italians on his adopted country’s vast, various and ever-changing networks of trains.

 

Through memorable encounters with ordinary Italians – conductors and ticket collectors, priests and prostitutes, scholars and lovers, gypsies and immigrants – Tim Parks captures what makes Italian life distinctive. He explores how trains helped build Italy and how the railways reflect Italians’ sense of themselves from Garibaldi to Mussolini to Berlusconi and beyond.

 

Review:

I loved reading two of Tim Parks books on his experience of moving to Italy in the early 1990s, and have been eagerly awaiting more, so was delighted to find this new book on the Italian railways a couple of years ago.  I actually started reading it not long after buying it but had put it aside for something else, and forgotten to come back to it, but funnily enough, I started reading again while on the train before Christmas.  It was a fascinating read, a mixture of the history of not only the Italian railways but also some of the social history of Italy since the railways started.

 

At one point, the Italian railways were the envy of the world, and the major employer in the country.  Parks compares this idyll to the modern business it has become today, and the bureaucracy involved in all aspects of travelling by train today.  We take a trip around the country with him in both work journeys and travels south, and find out about the different types of commuters, the tourists, the railway employees and even the idiosyncrasies of the ticketing system leading to an altercation with the train inspector.

 

I enjoyed this book so much, which was a pleasant surprise as I’d actually been a bit concerned after reading a similar book on the British railway system recently and found it dry and dull, but it just proves that in the right hands, the same subject can be engaging and entertaining.

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Beetle Boy sounds great Claire ... its cover has been calling out to me in Waterstone's .. but I was waiting for your opinion :D

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I know we chatted about this yesterday, but I'll answer here too ;)

 

I haven't read anything else by him, in fact, I'd never even heard of him before this book came up on the counties list.  I've just looked up his work on fantasticfiction.co.uk and see he was quite prolific!  They show The Old Wives' Tale and Anna of the Five Towns as part of a series, but from reading TOWT I suspect this it's just common settings and themes without being linked as an ongoing story.

 

I'm certainly intrigued, and think I'll look into some of his other book, as I thought TOWT was so good, and I'd like to read more of his work.

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I must admit I'd never heard of him until the challenge either - but when I got engaged last year my Mum started quoting Anna of the Five Towns at me.

 

I have The Old Wives Tale on my TBR and only length was bumping it down the list a bit but maybe it should be bumped up a little!

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Lovely to see you and Janet yesterday Claire :hug: .. I do believe you bought the sun to Cirencester :D Many thanks for the book recommendation (The Bees) .. Alan needed ideas and I'd run out :D xx 

I expect I'll be visiting Mr B's tomorrow .. but they always inspire. I'll be trying and failing to keep my money in my purse I expect :D xx

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The sun has been out here too for the last couple of days ... a complete change from the last time we met up in Bath! :D

 

Hope you like The Bees ... we read it for my book group a couple of months ago, and almost everyone enjoyed it, and it provoked a really good discussion, so I'll be interested to see what you make of it.

 

Enjoy Mr B's, I'm sure you'll find some inspiration there :yes:

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I must admit I'd never heard of him until the challenge either - but when I got engaged last year my Mum started quoting Anna of the Five Towns at me.

 

I have The Old Wives Tale on my TBR and only length was bumping it down the list a bit but maybe it should be bumped up a little!

 

It's definitely not one to be intimidated by ... in fact, it struck me while reading it, how modern the writing style was, didn't at all feel like a classic, if you know what I mean.  Hope you read it soon, Alex, as I can't wait to see what other people make of it. :D

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I've reviewed another couple of English Counties books over in their respective threads:
 
South Riding by Winifred Holtby (narrated by Carole Boyd)
Summer Lightning by P. G. Wodehouse
 
South Riding is another fantastic book on the list, but although I enjoyed Summer Lightning, it won't be even close to my favourite books on the list by the time we get to the end! :D

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Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey
 
Synopsis:
A short novel that was first published in 1932 by a niece of Lytton Strachey: in this 'sharp, unsentimental domestic comedy, the weather is something less than cheerful the day Dolly Thatcham marries the Hon Owen Bingham.
 
Review:
This book is sort of a “day in the life of” story, very much like a short story, but it just happens that the day in question is Dolly Thatcham’s wedding day.  It written with quite a light touch, and describes a middle class family home very much of the period.  If I’m honest, there’s not much to it … it has humorous touches here and there, but there is also a story of missed chances of words not said, yet at the end I felt like I’d got to know the characters.  I’d actually liked to have had the story expanded to a full length novel, or even this to be one of a collection of short stories, as I did enjoy Strachey’s writing.  As it stands it was definitely something I enjoyed reading, although not the best of the Persephone books, but I would never have read it had it not been one of their books.

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The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth by Katherine Woodfine
 
Synopsis:
THE HONOUR OF YOUR COMPANY IS REQUESTED AT LORD BEAUCASTLE’S FANCY DRESS BALL.
 
Wonder at the puzzling disappearance of the Jewelled Moth! Marvel as our heroines, Sophie and Lil, don cunning disguises, mingle in high society and munch many cucumber sandwiches to solve this curious case! Applaud their bravery as they follow a trail of terrible secrets that leads straight to London’s most dangerous criminal mastermind, and could put their own lives at risk . . .
 
It will be the most thrilling event of the season!
 
Review:
This is the follow up to The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow and if anything, I loved it more than the first book!  I love it when you read a second book and you already know the characters, but Woodfine does a good job by starting the book with a new character and a flavour of the lives of an immigrant Chinese family living in the London of the period, then bringing in the characters from the first book giving enough information about them for new readers, but not their whole backstory for existing ones.

The story moves between the poor and rich of the city, with Sophie and Lil bringing their sleuthing skills in to this mystery in order to investigate the case of stolen Jewelled Moth.  There’s lots of period detail, a fantastic new character in Mei, and a real sense of peril for the various young people as the mystery progresses.  I loved looking at the wider community around the department store where Sophie and the other work, and the villain of the piece is brilliantly evil and duplicitous.

I’m planning on reading less middle grade and YA this year, so am being careful in my choices, but this was one I couldn’t pass by, and I’m so glad I didn’t!

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The Little Shop of Happy Ever After by Jenny Colgan

 

Synopsis:

Given a back-room computer job when the beloved Birmingham library she works in turns into a downsized retail complex, Nina misses her old role terribly - dealing with people, greeting her regulars, making sure everyone gets the right books for their needs. Then a new business nobody else wants catches her eye: owning a tiny little bookshop bus up in the Scottish highlands. No computers. Shortages. Out all hours in the freezing cold; driving with a tiny stock of books... not to mention how the little community is going to take to her, particularly when she stalls the bus on a level crossing...

 

Review:

I needed a lighter read to go with one of the classics I was listening to on audiobook, so Jenny Colgan was the perfect fit.  I loved this story of a librarian who decides to buy a van and run a bookshop from it.  For completely understandable reasons, she ends up running it from the Scottish Highlands, and Colgan writes some lovely passages about her reconnection with nature, as well as this fish out of water story.

 

I loved Nina, how she grew through the story, and although there is some romance (it’s a romantic comedy, after all :D), this is much more about being brave enough to make a brand new start to follow a dream of a better life doing something you love.  And who wouldn’t love running a bookshop?  I know I would, and I actually think, this may be one of my favourite fictional bookshops ever.

 

Nina loves finding the perfect book for every customer, and it's wonderful to read a story where there are lots of booklovers, children introduced to books for the first time and especially people coming back to reading after having given up for years.  Perfect escapism. :smile2:

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Review:

This book is sort of a “day in the life of” story, very much like a short story, but it just happens that the day in question is Dolly Thatcham’s wedding day.  It written with quite a light touch, and describes a middle class family home very much of the period.  If I’m honest, there’s not much to it … it has humorous touches here and there, but there is also a story of missed chances of words not said, yet at the end I felt like I’d got to know the characters.  I’d actually liked to have had the story expanded to a full length novel, or even this to be one of a collection of short stories, as I did enjoy Strachey’s writing.  As it stands it was definitely something I enjoyed reading, although not the best of the Persephone books, but I would never have read it had it not been one of their books.

This pretty much sums up my feelings about the book.   When I came to review this book I couldn't actually remember much about it, apart from the business with the 'shocking sock choice'! 

 

I came very close to buying a copy of The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett from the Oxfam book shop in Keynsham on Saturday (which is another of the Persephone books) with the intention of reading it (it's on my Amazon wish list) and then passing it to you, but it was a really, really tatty edition, so I didn't buy it in the end.

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