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      Important Announcement!   07/28/2018

      Dear BCF members,   This forum has been running now for many years, and over that time we have seen many changes. Generalised forums are nowhere near as popular as they once were, and they have been very much taken over by blogs, vlogs and social media discussions. Running a forum well takes money, and a lot of care and attention, as there is so much which goes on behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly.   With all of this in mind, and after discussion within the current moderator team, the decision has been made to close this forum in its current format. I know that this will disappoint a lot of our long term members, but I want to reassure you that it's not a decision which has been taken lightly.    The remaining moderator team have agreed that we do not want to lose everything which is special about our home, and so we are starting a brand new facebook group, so that people can stay in touch, and discussions can continue. We can use it for free and should be easier for us to run (it won't need to be updated or hosted). We know not everyone has FaceBook, but we hope that those of you who are interested will join the group. We will share the link, and send invites as soon as we are ready to go. Added: We may as well get this going, find us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/195289821332924/   The forum will close to new registrations, but will remain open for some time, to allow people to collect up any information, reading lists etc they need to, and to ensure they have contact details for those they wish to stay in touch with.    The whole team feel sad to say goodbye, but we also feel that it's perhaps time and that it feels like the right choice. We hope we can stay in touch with all of you through our new FaceBook group.   I personally want to thank everyone who has helped me moderate the forum, both in the past and the present, and I also want to thank every single person who has visited, and shared their love of books.. I'm so proud of everything we've achieved, and the home we built.   Please visit the new section in the Lounge section to discuss this further, ask questions etc.
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Janet

Janet's Log - Stardate 2016

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005-2016-Jan-24-The%20Enchanted%20April_

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Armin

The ‘blurb’
A notice in The Times addressed to 'Those Who Appreciate Wisteria and Sunshine' advertises a 'small medieval Italian Castle to be let for the month of April'. Four very different women take up the offer: Mrs Wilkins and Mrs Arbuthnot, both fleeing unappreciative husbands; beautiful Lady Caroline, sick of being 'grabbed' by lovesick men; and the imperious, ageing Mrs Fisher. On the shores of the Mediterranean, beauty, warmth and leisure weave their spell, and nothing will ever be the same again.

Mrs Wilkins and Mrs Arbuthnot are members of the same London club but have never really spoken to each other. One day both women see the same advertisement in The Times – an advertisement offering a small castle in Italy that is available for rent for the whole of April. What starts out as a seemingly impossible fantasy becomes reality when Mrs Wilkins throws caution to the wind and suggests that the pair of them take up the offer. At first they come up with lots of reasons not to go, but eventually talk themselves into it. Mrs Wilkins has been saving her allowance but is worried that her curmudgeonly husband will disapprove, whilst Mrs Arbuthnot knows that sadly her husband won’t care whether she goes or not. To help spread the cost of their trip, they recruit a couple of other women to go along too – a young woman called Lady Caroline and ageing widow Mrs Fisher.

On arrival the Mrs Wilkins and Arbuthnot find that their companions have arrived early and bagged the best rooms. They are also aloof and things get off to an awkward start – will the charm of Italy help to improve things for these four women and maybe help relationships back home too…?

I’ve had another of this author’s books on my Kindle, Elizabeth and her German Garden, since 2013 but had admired the cover of this book in Waterstone’s, and after mentioning it to a friend she sent me her copy which was in a bag on its way to a charity shop! I really enjoyed this gentle book – there is a definite element of comedy in it – I didn’t laugh out loud as I have with some of Nancy Mitford’s books, but a lot of it made me smile. It’s quite a simple story really – and in fact for me, the study of the characters was as important as the content. It’s definitely made me want to explore Von Armin’s other books, so I shall look forward to reading the aforementioned book some stage. :)

The paperback edition is 288 pages long and is published by Vintage. It was first published in 1922. The ISBN is 9781784870461.

4/5 (Very good)

(Finished 24 January 2016)

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On a purely aesthetic note, this book is simply gorgeous with one of the best covers I’ve ever come across!

What a beautiful cover :)!

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Thanks for the info J :)

 

Our library also does e-audio books (?!) so trying to work out how I can download their Christie back catalogue! :D

 

I shall have to compare notes with you on the best to listen to.

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006-2016-Jan-25-Just%20William_zpsmrcg4c

 

Just William by Richmal Crompton

 

The ‘blurb’

In Richmal Compton's Just William the Outlaws plan a day of non-stop adventure. The only problem is that William is meant to be babysitting. But William won't let that stop him having fun with his gang - he'll just bring the baby along!

 

There is only one William. This tousle-headed, snub-nosed, hearty, loveable imp of mischief has been harassing his unfortunate family and delighting his hundreds of thousands of admirers since 1922.

 

Contents:

William Goes to the Pictures

William the Intruder

William Below Stairs

The Fall of the Idol

The Show

A Question of Grammar

William Joins the Band of Hope

The Outlaws

William and the White Satin

William's New Year's Day

The Best Laid Plans

"Jumble"

 

William is an endearing, cheeky boy who lives with his parents and older brother and sister. He has an enormous amount of freedom (unsurprising given the time it was written and set) and gets into some scrapes but he always seems to come out of the other side unscathed! He drives his father to distraction at times and his siblings are variously amused or annoyed at him. His mother is patiently tolerant of him! Some of the adventures in this book include him running away from home and ending up in service at a grand house, upsetting the household staff by throwing a party whilst his parents are away from home and leading a load of children at a Temperance group into temptation! In some of the stories he is joined by his friends Ginger, Henry and Douglas, who, with William as their leader are known as the Outlaws.

 

The book is illustrated by a man called Thomas Henry – the pictures are gorgeous. Some of the illustrations for the female characters remind me of my Grandmother – she was born in 1903 and so would have been 19 when this book came out! I particularly love these two pictures:

 

6.%20Just%20William_zpsfkmwbb3y.jpg

 

5.%20Just%20William_zps3vkarnoa.jpg

 

Richmal Crompton wrote 39 books about William Brown in total – this one, which is a collection of short stories was the first – and is the first one I’ve read. I did watch the most recent adaptation on the BBC (back in 2009 now!) starring Daniel Roche who played Ben in Outnumbered so brilliantly but obviously had nothing to compare it to at the time. I have to say that from what I remember of it, it was a pretty faithful adaptation and the character of William was spot on.

 

The book naturally is dated but it made me chuckle a lot! I’m not sure what today’s children must make of it, but the fact that it’s still in print means that it surely does stand the test of time! I don’t plan to read all of the books but I’m definitely going to read the next one!

 

The paperback edition is 272 pages long and is published by Macmillan. It was first published in 1922. The ISBN is 978 1447285588.

4/5 (I really enjoyed it)

 

(Finished 25 January 2016)

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I did watch the most recent adaptation on the BBC (back in 2009 now!) starring Daniel Roche who played Ben in Outnumbered so brilliantly but obviously had nothing to compare it to at the time. I have to say that from what I remember of it, it was a pretty faithful adaptation and the character of William was spot on.

Have you ever heard Martin Jarvis reading any of the Just William stories: he is brilliant at it. We attended a recording of two of them for the BBC when he read them at the Cheltenham Literature Festival some years ago - he was even better live!

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No, I haven't, but they have More William on audio CD from a nearby library, so I'll take it out and listen to it.  Thanks for the recommendation.  :)

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I've borrowed More William from the library, and the introduction is written by Martin Jarvis, and he says that the books are so funny to read out loud, that there have been times when he's had to stop recording as he's laughing out loud, or he's looked up into the recording booth to see the producer and engineers with tears of laughter streaming down their faces. :D

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It must have been a lot of fun recording it!   :giggle:   I picked my copy up from the library this morning.  I'm going to listen to it in the car on Tuesday.  :cows:

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The Watchmaker... looks and sounds fabulous! I've added it to my wishlist. :)

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Happy Reading in 2016, Janet !  :D

 

I have The Enchanted April on Kindle ( started reading it, then got distracted by something else - but I liked what I read of it. :smile: )

 

Aw , what a nice book buying story ! The B`ham Waterstone`s was my go-to place for books pre-Internet. They used to have a lovely water sculpture on the top floor, with big comfy sofas.  :smile:

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Happy Reading in 2016, Janet !  :D

Thank you. :)

 

I have The Enchanted April on Kindle ( started reading it, then got distracted by something else - but I liked what I read of it. :smile: )

I often find it hard to pick up books again if I put them down. I hope that when you do go back to it you enjoy it. :)

 

Aw , what a nice book buying story ! The B`ham Waterstone`s was my go-to place for books pre-Internet. They used to have a lovely water sculpture on the top floor, with big comfy sofas.  :smile:

I'm pretty certain I read somewhere that Waterstone's in Birmingham moved to a new store? I'm not sure if that's correct - the one I went to is by one of the entrances to the Bullring - by the giant metal sculpture. :)

 

You've just reminded me actually that although I asked them to respond to my email (I wanted to know they'd received my feedback) they didn't actually bother.  Hmmm.  I might email again to enquire!  I maybe should have written a letter, but I thought if I sent an electronic communication it would be easier for them to respond!

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I'm pretty certain I read somewhere that Waterstone's in Birmingham moved to a new store? I'm not sure if that's correct - the one I went to is by one of the entrances to the Bullring - by the giant metal sculpture. :)

You've just reminded me actually that although I asked them to respond to my email (I wanted to know they'd received my feedback) they didn't actually bother.  Hmmm.  I might email again to enquire!  I maybe should have written a letter, but I thought if I sent an electronic communication it would be easier for them to respond!

 

So, you asked for feedback to their feedback and they didn`t - er- provide feedback ?? :doh:

 

I had a look on Google Earth ; it all looks different around there, but I think we mean the same Waterstone`s ( the one next to The Pavilions , with a glass lift near the front door, a childrens` book basement and 4 or 5 floors ? ) There`s also a Waterstone`s near the New St. train station, at the right of the bottom of the ramp,  which used to be a Dillon`s ( and used to be a council hall oslt ). :smile:

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Yes, I sent my email on 1st Feb and said could they let me know that my feedback about his great customer service had reached the right people - or would they prefer me to put my feedback in a letter.  I've just posted on their Facebook page to ask them to confirm that I sent it to the correct email address and how long I should expect a reply to take, so fingers crossed they reply there! :)

 

Yes - we are talking about the same branch from that description.  :)  The New Street branch isn't listed in their branch finder any more.  I think I read somewhere that it had closed and that Apple were looking to take it over?

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Yes, I sent my email on 1st Feb and said could they let me know that my feedback about his great customer service had reached the right people - or would they prefer me to put my feedback in a letter.  I've just posted on their Facebook page to ask them to confirm that I sent it to the correct email address and how long I should expect a reply to take, so fingers crossed they reply there! :)

 

Yes - we are talking about the same branch from that description.  :)  The New Street branch isn't listed in their branch finder any more.  I think I read somewhere that it had closed and that Apple were looking to take it over?

 

Fingers crossed for Facebook now.  :D

 

That`s a pity if they`ve closed the New Street branch ; it was so handy.

 

Did you happen to come across any of the Druckers ( Austrian cakes )  branches while you were in Brum ? *Drools*

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No, sadly not!   I meet up with friends in Birmingham fairly regularly (once a year, generally), but we've already had our 2016 meet, but if I go back I shall be sure to look out for them.   Thanks for the tip!  :D

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007-2016-Jan-26-Love%20in%20a%20Cold%20C

Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford

The ‘blurb’
"Love in a Cold Climate" is the sequel to Nancy Mitford's bestselling novel "The Pursuit of Love". 'How lovely - green velvet and silver. I call that a dream, so soft and delicious, too.' She rubbed a fold of the skirt against her cheek. 'Mine's silver lame, it smells like a bird cage when it gets hot but I do love it. Aren't you thankful evening skirts are long again?' Ah, the dresses! But oh, the monotony of the Season, with its endless run of glittering balls. Even fabulously fashionable Polly Hampton - with her startling good looks and excellent social connections - is beginning to wilt under the glare. Groomed for the perfect marriage by her mother, fearsome Lady Montdore, Polly instead scandalises society by declaring her love for her uncle 'Boy' Dougdale, the Lecherous Lecturer, and promptly eloping to France. But the consequences of this union no one could quite expect..."Love in a Cold Climate" is the wickedly funny follow-up to "The Pursuit of Love".

The Pursuit of Love was one of my favourite books of 2015 so I was looking forward to this which is a sort-of sequel. Both follow pretty much the same timeline – like the former, this one is narrated by Fanny but instead of focusing on her cousin Linda Radlett and her family, this features Polly who is related to Fanny on her father’s side, although the Radlett family do also appear.

I did wonder if it would live up to the first one, but I needn’t have worried – it has the same great ingredients – a brilliant blend of humour, satire and also sadness. I just loved it. Mitford’s writing is just sublime and her witty characterisation is spot on! I have reserved the final book featuring Fanny - Don’t Tell Alfred - from the library and I hope it lives up to expectations. I shall definitely be reading more of Mitford’s works – I wish I’d tried her years ago!

The paperback edition is 256 pages long and is published by Penguin. It was first published in 1949. The ISBN is 9789780141043999. I listened to it on audio book.

5/5 (Loved it!)

(Finished 26 January 2016)
 

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Great review Janet of one of my fave books ever :wub: I always think that The Pursuit of Love just edges it .. but only just. They're both brilliant. I'm going to read Don't Tell Alfred this month :) I did start it once before and couldn't get on with it but I'm not sure I gave it enough time .. possibly I wasn't in the right frame of mind .. it was ages ago. 

Have you watched Part 2 of the drama yet? 

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Yes - I watched the whole thing on Youtube (I'm sure it shouldn't be there!) and loved it.  It was a really enjoyable adaptation, I thought - and great casting!  :) 

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We went to Bath today to pick up my new specs so we popped to Waterstone's.  I was considering buying Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz, having really loved The House of Silk, but although it said it was in stock on the app it wasn't in crime and I couldn't find it on the tables.  However, I read a lot of vintage crime in 2015 and really enjoyed it and so gravitated towards this book, purely based on the cover!
 
8.%20The%20Herring%20Sellers%20Apprentic
 
It's not vintage crime at all - it was published in 2007! :giggle2:  I haven't looked it up online as I don't want to read any reviews before I try it, but fingers crossed it lives up to its cover!  :D

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Looking forward to rereading  both Love in a Cold Climate and Pursuit of Love even more now!  Thanks for the review Janet; you've reminded me how much I enjoyed them first time round.  (I've never got around to Don't Tell Alfred either).

 

PS - if you ever get hold of the Foiio Society editions, the covers and the illustrations are absolutely perfect.

Edited by willoyd

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Thanks.  :)  To my shame I know surprisingly little about Nancy Mitford really (I know that her sister Diana married Oswald Molesley - and that another was the Duchess of Devonshire - if that's the correct title) so I'm planning to read some non-fiction about her and her sisters.  

 

I'm so glad you, Kay and Claire suggested the English Counties challenge - I've read so many great books that I wouldn't have otherwise picked up. :)  I had been thinking of doing a counties challenge myself but would probably never have got round to it if it didn't happen as a group thing.

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Yesterday I started Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton which a friend lent me some time ago and said it was one of her favourite books but it quickly became apparent that it wasn't the book for me.  

 

It's fantasy, which is not something I've read a great deal of.  It started off with a dying dragon who wanted to make a confession to his son - a priest dragon! (Incidentally a dragon with tethered wings to stop him flying).  But their religion changed and confession and absolution are now forbidden.   However, after saying he couldn't possibly do it... it's against the law... it's morally wrong... the son dragon changes his mind, gives absolution and then as his father dies, son dragon eats his eyes before allowing the rest of the family to feast on the dead carcass!    Nope, definitely not my thing!  :mellow:

 

I happened to see the book in Waterstone's yesterday in the fiction section, but it read more like a children's book to me?

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