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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.
poppyshake

Poppyshake's Reading Year 2017

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Five Rivers Met On a Wooded Plain - Barney Norris 
 
Synopsis:
There exists in all of us a song waiting to be sung which is as heart-stopping and vertiginous as the peak of the cathedral. That is the meaning of this quiet city, where the spire soars into the blue, where rivers and stories weave into one another, where lives intertwine. One quiet evening in Salisbury, the peace is shattered by a serious car crash. At that moment, five lives collide - a flower seller, a schoolboy, an army wife, a security guard, a widower - all facing their own personal disasters. As one of those lives hangs in the balance, the stories of all five unwind, drawn together by connection and coincidence into a web of love, grief, disenchantment and hope that perfectly represents the joys and tragedies of small town life.

Thoughts: I listened to this on audio and it was excellently read by all five narrators. The character's stories are all quite mundane in a way, lives full of problems and difficulties .. loss, separation, grief, loneliness etc but I found it all extremely compelling (albeit depressing .. it's very downbeat but with small sparks of hope.) The narrative (and the narrator) of the flower seller, Rita, was the most riveting I thought. She's a bit of a flawed character who uses some very ripe (and crude) language so you have to be prepared for that before embarking but I just found her life fascinating and could have listened to whole books about her. 

I loved the writing and how the author really got under the skin of these characters. The army wife is writing down her thoughts in a diary. She means to show them to her husband one day .. but no .. it soon becomes clear that they can never be shown to him. These are lives stripped bare, nothing is hidden from us though plenty is hidden from the outside world. Salisbury is very much the sixth character in this book so it would make a good county challenge book too  :D (Wiltshire .. modern alternative.)

Reflective, perceptive and poignant. Not a book to be used for cheering up purposes though :D 4/5

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 So entertaining. 5/5 

Many thanks to lovely Janet for buying this for me :hug: 

Yay - I'm so glad you enjoyed it!  Phew!  :exc:

 

I bought '...Wooded Plain' when I met up with you, Alan and Claire at the beginning of the month so I've skipped over your review.  I'm considering saving it as a Book Club book following a recommendation from a member of Waterstone's staff, although I'm also considering something non-fiction, which we haven't done for a while.  :)

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Great reviews :)! I honestly thought My Family & Other Animals was fictional until I read those last few lines in your review. Somehow I hadn't picked up on the fact that the main character and the author shared the same first name :doh:.

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:wub:Oh .. I do love an officer in a red coat! :D  

Yes, it's quite becoming for some... :wub: (Coincidentally, I've started reading Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, but I don't think there will be any red coats in that :( )

 

I didn't find it difficult .. I just couldn't get enthused and that might well of been the fault of the production. I had hoped it might kick-start my interest in beginning the book .. but it did the opposite :lol:  

 

I didn't mean you found it difficult per se, I just meant you had a difficult time with it for the reasons you mention(ed). I hope it's the production that sucked. I do hope to like the book... :wub: But if you throw it out the window, I'm fine with that :D Might save you time and trouble and irritation... 

 

:o What have you done?? :lol: Oh well, it'll be interesting to see what you think.

 

It just happened!!! I think the computer did it on its own. I certainly didn't do it! :giggle2: It's a short-ish book, right? I do like the cover .. :blush: 

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There's a TV series of My Family and other animals, it was on last year, sounds like it stuck pretty close to the book.

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I've had my eye on Gerald Durrell's books for a while now (someone here recommended them last year, but I can't remember who it was now :(), so good to see such a lovely review of My Family & Other Animals. :smile2:

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Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
 
Synopsis:
A retired schoolteacher in a small coastal town in Maine, as she grows older she struggles to make sense of the changes in her life. She is a woman who sees into the hearts of those around her, their triumphs and tragedies. We meet her stoic husband, bound to her in a marriage both broken and strong, and a young man who aches for the mother he lost - and whom Olive comforts by her mere presence, while her own son feels overwhelmed by her complex sensitivities. A penetrating, vibrant exploration of the human soul, the story of Olive Kitteridge will make you laugh, nod in recognition, wince in pain, and shed a tear or two.

Thoughts: This is actually a series of short stories, thirteen in total, which are either directly about Olive or linked to her in some way .. some obvious, some subtle in which she's a mere fleeting presence but they build to give you a clear picture of this seemingly indomitable woman. The first character we hear from is Olive's husband, Henry, and the reader is soon in sympathy with him. He's long suffering and Olive is domineering and dismissive. All the same, Henry loves her wholeheartedly. This is a bit puzzling because Olive doesn't seem very lovable .. but perhaps we don't know her well enough yet. In fact I'm not sure Olive changes much at all but the reader .. or this reader .. changes their opinion about her. The stories all stand well on their own, the characters live and are believable but you do find yourself waiting (and eager) for glimpses of Olive. She's obnoxious, overbearing and stubborn but also so human, She got under my skin and I read the last two stories in tears. It's just so beautifully written, unsentimental but tugging at all your heart strings. So enjoyable. I'll happily read more from Elizabeth Strout :) 5/5

 

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Glad you enjoyed Five Rivers, the title caught my eye a while back and I added it to my wishlist. :)

Hope you enjoy it Noll :)

Yay - I'm so glad you enjoyed it!  Phew!  :exc:

:D It was never in any doubt .. I loved it before the end of the first paragraph.

I bought '...Wooded Plain' when I met up with you, Alan and Claire at the beginning of the month so I've skipped over your review.  I'm considering saving it as a Book Club book following a recommendation from a member of Waterstone's staff, although I'm also considering something non-fiction, which we haven't done for a while.  :)

 I remember you buying it, I think that's what bought it to mind when I was searching Audible's best sellers :) I think it would make an excellent book club book .. so much to discuss.

Great reviews :)! I honestly thought My Family & Other Animals was fictional until I read those last few lines in your review. Somehow I hadn't picked up on the fact that the main character and the author shared the same first name :doh:.

:D I think he has fictionalised his own story somewhat so you'd be both right and wrong :D Same as Cider with Rosie

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Yes, it's quite becoming for some... :wub: (Coincidentally, I've started reading Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, but I don't think there will be any red coats in that :( )

Awww :( .. shame! 

I didn't mean you found it difficult per se, I just meant you had a difficult time with it for the reasons you mention(ed). I hope it's the production that sucked. I do hope to like the book... :wub: But if you throw it out the window, I'm fine with that :D Might save you time and trouble and irritation...

The weird thing is, I took it off my TBR and I thought I had taken it off my shelf too but I noticed today that it was still there :o

Is this magic or just memory loss? :lol::D  

It just happened!!! I think the computer did it on its own. I certainly didn't do it! :giggle2: It's a short-ish book, right? I do like the cover .. :blush:

Is it short? It seemed long :lol:  

There's a TV series of My Family and other animals, it was on last year, sounds like it stuck pretty close to the book.

 I missed it somehow :( Lots of people have recommended it to me, I must catch up with it.

I've had my eye on Gerald Durrell's books for a while now (someone here recommended them last year, but I can't remember who it was now :(), so good to see such a lovely review of My Family & Other Animals. :smile2:

Thanks Claire :) I'll have to look into his other books, I had no idea he'd written more than this one  :blush2: 

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I have Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain and Olive Kitteridge on my TBR, must try and get to them soon, both sound right up my street though I hadn't realised that Olive Kitteridge was a collection of short stories, I tend to avoid them, but I won't be able to now! :D  I also have My Animals and Other Family, but that is a bit different to the Durrell one above! :) Sounds like 2017 has started well in a literary sense for you!  :readingtwo:  :smile:  :readingtwo:

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No Time Like the Past (The Chronicles of St Mary's #5) - Jodi Taylor
 
Synopsis:
Jodi Taylor's best-selling series The Chronicles of St Mary is back with a bang...St Mary's has been rebuilt and it's business as usual for the History department. But first, there's the little matter of a seventeenth-century ghost that only Mr Markham can see. Not to mention the minor inconvenience of being trapped in the Great Fire of London...and an unfortunately-timed comfort break at Thermopylae leaving the fate of the western world hanging in the balance. Re-join Max's madcap journey through time in Jodi Taylor's fifth inter-dimensional instalment No Time Like the Past.

Thoughts: Oh, these books are a treat :) I don't think I've reviewed any of them yet .. it's hard to put into words such brilliance but I'll have a go and I'm sure it'll all be as clear as mud by the end of it :lol: 

The books remind me a lot of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next stories which can only ever be a good thing, not as absurd or pun-orientated but they have something of the same flavour though, with these, we're jumping back into the past and not into the literary world. It's not time travel  .. definitely not! :no: The good people at St Mary's are investigating major historical events in contemporary time (so .. in other words  .. it IS time travel :yes: .. just don't let them hear you calling it that :lol:) This aspect makes the stories endlessly fascinating, you can be back in the Cretaceous period or Troy or Victorian London, travelling along with the unit, soaking up the sights and sounds of long, long, ago. These missions hardly ever go smoothly, Mrs Weasley's clock hands would be forever pointing at Mortal Peril :lol: You have to be prepared for your heart to be constantly in your mouth and for your emotions to be stretched to breaking point. 

The Thursday of these stories is Madeleine 'Max' Maxwell. She's intelligent obviously, feisty, courageous and intensely loyal. She's also vulnerable and has a heart breaking back story which is eventually revealed. She's an absolutely brilliant lead character.

  

Fast paced, funny, jam packed with plot, clever, emotional .. these books really do have it all (fantastically evil villains too :D)

I've always listened to the audio versions and they are excellently read by Zara Ramm. I don't think the stories stand alone (or perhaps they do but it would be like reading Goblet of Fire first .. you'd get the gist but miss out on so much) but starting at book one is no hardship. I've come to them late so still have another two to go and there's another due out this year I believe. I like being in that position, I think I might panic when I finally get up to date  :blush2: 

I've given this story 4/5 .. it could easily have been 5/5 but I'm just giving Jodi a bit of room to breathe :D The stories are consistently brilliant but there are always (like with Thursday and Harry Potter etc) stories that you love just a little bit more .. and so far, for me, that has been books three and four. But there's hardly anything in it .. I've never been disappointed .. not in the slightest.

Always a treat, you get so used to the characters, they're almost like family. Jodi has that knack of making St Mary's both a slightly intimidating place (certainly a dangerous place) and the workplace of your dreams. You may well find yourself in mortal peril but then there's always Mrs Mack's apple crumble to look forward to :D  4/5

 

** Just a note, in case you were wondering (what with my Harry Potter references and everything :D) These books are definitely adult :D 

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I have Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain and Olive Kitteridge on my TBR, must try and get to them soon, both sound right up my street though I hadn't realised that Olive Kitteridge was a collection of short stories, I tend to avoid them, but I won't be able to now! :D  I also have My Animals and Other Family, but that is a bit different to the Durrell one above! :) Sounds like 2017 has started well in a literary sense for you!  :readingtwo:  :smile:  :readingtwo:

They're not really short stories .. I've explained it badly :D .. or they're not disconnected short stories anyway. It's really just different viewpoints on that one central character and they do all lead somewhere and help you to understand Olive more. These are all characters from her hometown, though the timeline is all over the place :D Just think of them as chapters which essentially they are (is this helping? I've a feeling I'm making it worse  :blush2:  :D )

I've read My Animals and Other Family .. great book :smile:   

I'm fairly happy with the way 2017 is going and Goodreads are reasonably pleased. They'll never be overly pleased .. that would be too encouraging but they've gone quiet on the nagging front :lol: Hope your literary 2017 is going well too Hayley :hug: 

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Cogheart by Peter Bunzl
 
Synopsis:
13 year-old Lily has no idea why her father has worked so hard to keep her identity a secret. Having exhausted any number of governesses, Lily has been sent to the crumbling red-brick institution of Miss Octavia Scrimshaw’s Finishing Academy for young ladies, under the tutelage of The Kraken, a formidable witch of a woman who thinks young ladies should concentrate on learning to stand up straight and deport themselves properly.
Lily would far rather be reading the Penny Dreadful’s her father sends her in his monthly care packages, learning piracy and air combat but when Lily's inventor father vanishes after a Zeppelin crash, Lily is determined to hunt down the truth behind his disappearance.
Helped by Robert, the local clockmaker's son, and her wily mechanical fox Malkin she finds herself deep in a mystery she could never have forseen. But shadowy figures are closing in and treachery lurks among the smoky spires of London - along with a life-changing secret.
Be swept away by airships and flabbergasted by dastardly plots in this extraordinary and wildly imaginative debut, bursting with invention and adventure.

Thoughts: This book has such a beautiful, come-read-me, cover that if it hadn't turned out to be a good story I would have hunted the author down and bashed him over the head with it ;):lol: Luckily for him there were no worries. It's a Sunday teatime sort of book. Just the thing to accompany cocoa, a roaring fire and currant cake :wub: I loved the wintry feel of it and I loved the notion of a world that contained clockwork mechanical people and mechanimals. The mechanical cook, Mrs Rust, was just adorable .. she can come and look after me and feed me biscuits anytime. The two lead characters. Lily and Robert (not mechanical .. quite, quite, human :D) are great too. Strong willed, clever and pretty fearless, poking their noses into all sorts of dangerous corners.

Lily has been left alone in the world, her mother is already dead but now there is news that her father is missing, presumed dead. She has been left to the guardianship of her governess .. the evil Madame Verdigris. Until recently, Lily's pet mechanical fox, Malkin, had been travelling with her father but when tragedy struck, Malkin escaped, carrying a message for Lily. Unfortunately he is being pursued by evil men (with mirrors for eyes!! :hide: ) .. who are after one of Lily's father's inventions .. something that will change the world (but which will be terrifying in the wrong hands!) Malkin is hunted and injured but as luck would have it, he is observed by Robert, the clockmaker's son, who rescues him. Malkin tells him all about Lily and Robert sets out to find her to reunite her with her beloved pet who can then pass on the message.

He would have been better staying indoors, he's in it now up to his armpits and the consequences will be devastating but he's a book character so he's up for an adventure and he's not about to be scared off by a couple of villains.

The story really picks up pace once the two get together. They are the hunted and as such have to make their escape (scrabbling along the rooftops and hitching lifts in airships etc.) It's difficult to know who to trust. I worked out who the real villain of the piece was quite early on but then I had to remind myself that I'm not twelve :blush2: I remember when I was though and I never ever figured out the mystery before the Five Find-Outers so I'm very proud to have made progress and think this may be in part due to Agatha. In any case, it didn't spoil my enjoyment. Very readable, once I started I just wanted to keep reading until the end and I found myself speeding up as the plot thickened. There's a sequel coming out this year, hope it and its cover are equally as good. 4/5 

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Oh dear...I'm horrified that I haven't posted in your (not-so-)new thread yet (although I did read through your lists as soon as you posted them). I see that your reading year is already off to a cracking start. :) As always, I'll be keenly reading your wonderful reviews, both to add books to my wishlist, and for the sheer entertainment that your reviews provide. :D

 

Claire bought our Christmas presents with her, she made this absolutely gorgeous patchwork Christmas cushion for us :wub: :wub: You can see from the photos how gorgeous it is but it is even more fab in real life. She is so, so, clever! 

 

That cushion is gorgeous!! And it's so very 'Kay'. Well done Claire!

 

I meant to post this a while ago  :blush2: Diane sent me a beautiful Christmas card with book spines on it back and front and it was just too good to only display at Christmas so I cut it in half and framed them. Thanks Diane .. I love it :wub:  :hug:

 

That's so cute! You're very clever to think of doing that. :)

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It looks like you're reading some enjoyable books :)! I quite like the covers you posted, of the Jodi Taylor books and the Cogheart book. Nice reviews!

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I loved Cogheart too!  Like you, as an adult, I could spot the villain early on as well as some of the plot lines that came to fruition, but it didn't spoil it one jot for me.  I'm going to buy my goddaughter a copy for her birthday soon. :smile2:  Do you remember Janet mentioning the animated cover that Waterstone's had on their website?  The author is an animator and he made it himself - you can see it on his website --> http://www.peterbunzl.com/tag/cogheart/:wub:

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My Family & Other Animals - Gerald Durrell

 

Synopsis: Ten-year-old Gerald doesn't know why his older brothers and sisters complain so much. With snakes in the bath and scorpions on the lunch table, the family home on the Greek island of Corfu is a bit like a zoo so they should feel right at home...Gerald joyfully pursues his interest in natural history in the midsts of an unconventional and chaotic family life - all brilliantly retold in this very funny book.

 

Thoughts: I really loved this. Gerald's family are fed up with the grey skies of Bournemouth (and really I can quite empathise although I did read this in January so grey skies were to be expected) and they literally (well, so it says here .. I suspect Gerry used quite a lot of poetic licence) decided to up sticks and move to Corfu .. and in three weeks they had sold up and gone (could that happen now?? If so .. I'm off  :lol:)  Corfu in the 1930s is an absolute idyll and ten year old Gerald is in his element. There are some attempts made to educate him and tutors come and go but most of the time he is scouring the countryside and the coastline for all creatures great and small and really, you wouldn't want to be living in a house which contained Gerry  :hide: not if you are at all scared of creepy crawlies. You can't even read this and enjoy your dinner to be honest :lol: .. so many descriptions of insects devouring one another. Living with him would be a scream literally .. scorpions on the dinner table, snakes in the bath, mantids climbing the walls and geckos jumping from the rafters.

I couldn't exactly recommend this to an animal lover though, Gerald's curiosity does extend to egg theft and dissection etc which is only to be expected from a future naturalist plus on the absolute opposite end of the scale there is his brother Leslie (grown up) .. who likes to shoot everything that moves :( How these two managed to live together in perfect harmony was a bit beyond me but then I lived with my sister quite happily even though she did love Hutch and not Starsky :D 

The real joy of this book is Gerald's writing. He brings to life that idyllic five years with all its eccentric characters and blazing blue skies and he does it with wit and enthusiasm. So entertaining. 5/5 

Many thanks to lovely Janet for buying this for me :hug: 

 

I've read this SO many times over the years ... and the sequels (Birds, Beasts and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods ) ... and every other book I can lay my hands on by him :D Probably my all time favourite books. He's a wonderful writer. I tried to read something by his brother, Lawrence, but couldn't get into it at all.

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I've read this SO many times over the years ... and the sequels (Birds, Beasts and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods ) ... and every other book I can lay my hands on by him :D Probably my all time favourite books. He's a wonderful writer. I tried to read something by his brother, Lawrence, but couldn't get into it at all.

I will vouch for poppy's comments. She talked me into reading "My Family and Other Animals" a couple years ago and it was delightful :)

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They're not really short stories .. I've explained it badly :D .. or they're not disconnected short stories anyway. It's really just different viewpoints on that one central character and they do all lead somewhere and help you to understand Olive more. These are all characters from her hometown, though the timeline is all over the place :D Just think of them as chapters which essentially they are (is this helping? I've a feeling I'm making it worse  :blush2:  :D )

I've read My Animals and Other Family .. great book :smile:   

I'm fairly happy with the way 2017 is going and Goodreads are reasonably pleased. They'll never be overly pleased .. that would be too encouraging but they've gone quiet on the nagging front :lol: Hope your literary 2017 is going well too Hayley :hug: 

Not at all, it makes perfect sense, possibly reading it would be the biggest help!  :P  I must get around to My Animals and Other Family soon, if only to stop my Dad keep asking if I have read it yet!! :D

 

2017 is going well so far, slow but steady and I was very cautious with my Goodreads total this year so it will be a very bad year if I fail...famous last words!  :giggle:

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I meant to post this a while ago  :blush2: Diane sent me a beautiful Christmas card with book spines on it back and front and it was just too good to only display at Christmas so I cut it in half and framed them. Thanks Diane .. I love it :wub:  :hug:

Oh how lovely you did something pretty with the card Kay....thank you. :friends0: 

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Oh dear...I'm horrified that I haven't posted in your (not-so-)new thread yet (although I did read through your lists as soon as you posted them). I see that your reading year is already off to a cracking start.  As always, I'll be keenly reading your wonderful reviews, both to add books to my wishlist, and for the sheer entertainment that your reviews provide. 

Thanks Kylie, bless you .. you're always very welcome here  :hug:

That cushion is gorgeous!! And it's so very 'Kay'. Well done Claire!

Claire is a very clever bunny :yes: How does she do it and read all those books as well :o 

That's so cute! You're very clever to think of doing that. 

Thank you  :blush2:

It looks like you're reading some enjoyable books ! I quite like the covers you posted, of the Jodi Taylor books and the Cogheart book. Nice reviews!

Thanks Gaia :smile: The covers have gone weird :D Must be down to the upgrade :unsure: Perhaps they'll be back  :D

I loved Cogheart too!  Like you, as an adult, I could spot the villain early on as well as some of the plot lines that came to fruition, but it didn't spoil it one jot for me.  I'm going to buy my goddaughter a copy for her birthday soon. Do you remember Janet mentioning the animated cover that Waterstone's had on their website?  The author is an animator and he made it himself - you can see it on his website --> http://www.peterbunzl.com/tag/cogheart/

I do remember Janet saying about the animated cover .. it's brilliant :wub: The author reposted my pic of the book on Instagram  :smile: Mind you, he reposts everyone's pic of his book :lol: 

It's a lovely book for a child to read, or an adult  :smile: 

I've read this SO many times over the years ... and the sequels (Birds, Beasts and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods ) ... and every other book I can lay my hands on by him. Probably my all time favourite books. He's a wonderful writer. I tried to read something by his brother, Lawrence, but couldn't get into it at all.

  :DHardly surprising, Gerald wasn't like either of his brothers .. or his sister come to that. He had the writing gene that's for sure .. or the entertaining writing gene anyway. I'll definitely read this one again!

I will vouch for poppy's comments. She talked me into reading "My Family and Other Animals" a couple years ago and it was delightful :)

Bless poppy for a great recommendation  :smile:

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Not at all, it makes perfect sense, possibly reading it would be the biggest help!  :P  I must get around to My Animals and Other Family soon, if only to stop my Dad keep asking if I have read it yet!! :D

 

2017 is going well so far, slow but steady and I was very cautious with my Goodreads total this year so it will be a very bad year if I fail...famous last words!  :giggle:

I think you'll enjoy the Clare Balding book Hayley .. definitely .. Dad knows what he's on about  :D 

I went cautious this year too but I'm not counting my chickens :lol: 

Oh how lovely you did something pretty with the card Kay....thank you. :friends0: 

No, thank you Diane :hug: .. it's a joy to look at them  :smile:

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Hi Kay, five pages in already and I am only just saying hello this year...I can't keep up but I will try and look in more regularly. Olive Kitteridge looked sort of interesting...why did she get under your skin if she was so obnoxious? Will I like it? I owe you one for reading Blue World by Jack Vance...should I read this one in return? or something else? 

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Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

 

Synopsis: A retired schoolteacher in a small coastal town in Maine, as she grows older she struggles to make sense of the changes in her life. She is a woman who sees into the hearts of those around her, their triumphs and tragedies. We meet her stoic husband, bound to her in a marriage both broken and strong, and a young man who aches for the mother he lost - and whom Olive comforts by her mere presence, while her own son feels overwhelmed by her complex sensitivities. A penetrating, vibrant exploration of the human soul, the story of Olive Kitteridge will make you laugh, nod in recognition, wince in pain, and shed a tear or two.

 

Thoughts: This is actually a series of short stories, thirteen in total, which are either directly about Olive or linked to her in some way .. some obvious, some subtle in which she's a mere fleeting presence but they build to give you a clear picture of this seemingly indomitable woman. The first character we hear from is Olive's husband, Henry, and the reader is soon in sympathy with him. He's long suffering and Olive is domineering and dismissive. All the same, Henry loves her wholeheartedly. This is a bit puzzling because Olive doesn't seem very lovable .. but perhaps we don't know her well enough yet. In fact I'm not sure Olive changes much at all but the reader .. or this reader .. changes their opinion about her. The stories all stand well on their own, the characters live and are believable but you do find yourself waiting (and eager) for glimpses of Olive. She's obnoxious, overbearing and stubborn but also so human, She got under my skin and I read the last two stories in tears. It's just so beautifully written, unsentimental but tugging at all your heart strings. So enjoyable. I'll happily read more from Elizabeth Strout :) 5/5

Wonderful review!  Olive Kitteridge was my first read this year and so far has been the best read. I loved the book.

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