The Summer of Living Dangerously – Guest

LBC regular reviewer Michael has been reading again…

Thanks again Michael!

THE SUMMER OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY

JULIE COHEN

THE SUMMERAlice Woodstock is a writer, or more precisely making her income from writing technical reviews of industrial products. She sees a job advert for guides at Eversley Hall, who spend the day being an character from the hall’s history and answering visitor’s questions. For Alice, the offers an escape, not just from her rather dull freelance job, but from her ex, who for some reason has decided to come back to the England from the States and move in again, despite knowing full well that Alice is barely on speaking terms.

Eversley Hall in 1814 is not just governed by the class system of upstairs and downstairs, and the social niceties of what is Jane Austen world, but by the owner, James Fitzwilliam’s, need to stick to what the history of the hall says is what actually happened to his ancestors. That is, until Alice gets involved and, by virtue of covering for a fellow servant girl’s fag break, decides to go off-script, with interesting results.

Now, this novel is part contemporary suburban metropolitan, and part Pride and Prejudice, with some quirky humour as well, but there are some very unexpected really quite emotional chapters relating to Alice’s past which reveal why she split up from her ex, and why she is running away from reality.

Well written for the most part – there’s just one or two bits near the end where it seems to jump and miss a scene, but enjoyable.

7/10

* * * * *

Visit Michael’s Blog HERE

GUEST

Exciting News – My brothers first LBC review!

My little brother has graciously provided this stellar review of the SF epic Dune.

 

DUNE

FRANK HERBERT

Review submitted via facebook.

I’d provide a link for his twitter but he doesn’t believe in it. As in – he disputes its existence altogether.

Colm's first LBC review

 

LBC3 Reads – Mason and Dixon – the non-write up

Date:  19th of January 2014
Time:  11am – 1pm
Address: Unit 2
Munro House,
Duke St,
Leeds LS9 8AG



Book the 5th:


MASON AND DIXON
THOMAS PYNCHON
BLURB

Charles Mason (1728 -1786) and Jeremiah Dixon (1733-1779) were the British Surveyors best remembered for running the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland that we know today as the Mason-Dixon Line. Here is their story as re-imagined by Thomas Pynchon, in an updated eighteenth-century novel featuring Native Americans and frontier folk, ripped bodices, naval warfare, conspiracies erotic and political and major caffeine abuse.

We follow the mismatch’d pair – one rollicking, the other depressive; one Gothic, the other pre-Romantic – from their first journey together to the Cape of Good Hope, to pre-Revoluntionary America and back, through the stange yet redemptive turns of fortune in their later lives, on a grand tour of the Enlightenment’s dark hemisphere, as they observe and participate in the many opportunities for insanity presented them by the Age of Reason.

REVIEW

frentek_mason&dixonOnly one of us had managed to finish the book (and that might have been on a previous occasion), two of us has started it and found the experience akin to wading waste deep in rotting jelly and one had picked up the book, looked intently at the cover for a bit and then put it down and forgot all about it.

Honestly, we had tried but in the main, left it too late to make any traction. While we all continued to *want* to want to read the book…it didn’t happen this time round.

So we drank coffee, chatted about other books and comics we were reading, had our customary little foray into the Cumberbatch appreciation fandom and spent a merry hour or so nattering about nonsense. It was lovely.

 

And perhaps necessary. By the end of the hour we were all reinvigorated as a book club and very enthused to get stuck into our next book. Most of us have heard very interesting things about Zora Neale Hurston and her seminal novel There eyes were watching God. Perhaps more significantly, it’s not a huge tomb so shame alone should be enough to get us through it!

SCORE – WE SUCK

Pynchon-simpsons

BOOK CLUB MEET UP PAGE

 

Medusa LBC – Burial Rites Write Up


Medusa LBC

 
Date:  Wednesday 9th of July 2014
Time:  7:30pm
Address: 8-10 Town Street, Horsforth, Leeds 

Discussing: 

BURIAL RITES

HANNAH KENT
* * * * * S P O I L E R S * * * * *
* * * * * S P O I L E R S * * * * *
  * * * * * S P O I L E R S * * * * *  
BLURB (FROM AMAZON)

In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnúsdóttir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of her lover.

Agnes is sent to wait out her final months on the farm of district officer Jón Jónsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderer in their midst, the family avoid contact with Agnes. Only Tóti, the young assistant priest appointed Agnes’s spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her. As the year progresses and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes’s story begins to emerge and with it the family’s terrible realization that all is not as they had assumed.

Based on actual events, Burial Rites is an astonishing and moving novel about the truths we claim to know and the ways in which we interpret what we’re told. In beautiful, cut-glass prose, Hannah Kent portrays Iceland’s formidable landscape, in which every day is a battle for survival, and asks, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

REVIEW

burialrites

purtty

Confession Time: – I hadn’t actually gotten round to reading the book. So apologies in advance for any and all weird tangents!

Despite the somewhat morbid subject matter; this book was received very positively by the clubbers. While it could have been a mawkish affair, focusing on the murder, conviction and subsequent death sentence; the author chose instead to portray a familial story. Agnes –  is a woman pigeon-holed from birth into a particularly low social position. After she was convicted of the murder of a man she had loved, she was forced onto an unwilling family unit due to a lack of appropriate prison facilities. She lives with them for nearly a year, reflecting on her life, the seasons and her growing relationship with each of the family members. Completing this unit is her spiritual advisor – a priest she picked purely because he had once showed her a simple kindness (outside of a religious environment – which I’ve noted was significant but for the time being, I can’t remember why). For the first time in her life, Agnes is listened too. From what I could gather, this story is about her finding her voice, albeit towards the end of her life.

The writing was highly complemented, particularly regarding the descriptions of Iceland, the landscape playing a significant role in the tale. More than one member noted a similarity – with regards to subject matter – with Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, but all agreed that this story successfully survived the comparison. (While Grace spoke with a psychologist, Agnes found an audience with a priest. In fact, there is a passage apparently when the priest, several months into their meetings, is asked ‘have you prayed with her yet?’  and replies ‘oh no, we haven’t gotten round to that yet’. A starkly different tone from Atwood’s book.) This was further emphasised when a member revealed that this was actually a dissertation thesis and therefore début novel. Most indicated an interest in reading subsequent works by Ms Kent.

Structurally, not telling the story of the trial etc in real time, instead opening with letters before moving into telling Agnes’ story via her moral supporter Father Toti maintained momentum for our intrepid readers. One particularly optimistic member became more and more hopeful as Agnes was allowed to tell her tale. His delight at her story coming out led him to believe that there was a chance that she might receive a last minute reprieve. This despite knowing from the outset that she *was* the last woman executed in Iceland. Which lead to an interesting little side conversation about spoilers, the varying forms that they can take and whether they bother us (For the record, we tended to find the genera dictated our responses. Thrillers usually have twist endings so spoilers can be unfortunate. However in the main, the reading, the story is the point, not the ending). We also ended up comparing this with the superb Common which had recently been on telly.

The trial scene led to a pacey conversation about the variety of factors that lead to her being perceived so negatively by the public. Agnes was older, educated (to an extent – she could read) and came across as capable and intelligent – not ideal for someone who is supposed to be basically a serf. She was vilified while the 15 year old also on trial, the pretty innocent pliant and obedient feminine ideal, was acquitted. As the story revealed more of what had truly taken place; this became increasingly galling. Agnes’ victim was the most recent in a string of men who had abused and betrayed her. That her taking of his life was never in doubt meant that I was surprised by the humanity of the real motivations behind it.

The role of religion and superstition within the novel was also discussed in detail – however I’m afraid that absent of any context, I just got lost. Also – there was a brief discussion of the readers group question and answer section in the physical version of the book. Agnes’ surname also proved to be an interesting and significant point. Again – I knew nothing. So instead of elucidating on that – have a picture of Jennifer Lawrence – who will be portraying Agnes in the upcoming film release.

Hollywood's vision of the 35 year old plain killer

Hollywood’s vision of the 35 year old (plain) killer

There was an element of political ambition that seemed to me to be cold and purely self serving. Holding Agnes in the central place with no prison facilities purely because the prosecutor wanted the death sentence to take place in Iceland (rather than in Denmark) seemed particularly cruel. Indeed, the character of the prosecutor as a whole seemed just foul to me. The precarious nature of the lives of the working classes; their dependence on positive referrals and the  whims of the ‘master’  – the injustices throughout the book in fact began to wind me up a bit. Everyone assured me that it was a fascinating portrayal of a particular time and place; a journey that I would enjoy and learn from rather than read through clenched teeth.

Then they told me about the execution itself – decapitation by axe – wielded by a family member of her victim. It was a struggle to keep any faith in humanity at that point!! Although a passer-by hearing the roars of laughter from the other book club members would never have imagined it! However, it turned out that it was obvious brutal and horrific because…it couldn’t be described in any other way. What alleviated it from misery porn is that the life that Agnes lived in the immediate months before her execution mattered. The farm hands who had previously viewed her as a monster turned out to demonstrate their support and acceptance of her. It all sounded rather beautiful really.

PRONUNCIATION GUIDE

- Only one member seemed to put in the effort to read the names as they ought to have been pronounced, the majority finding that it was an unwelcome distraction. For some reason this lead to my learning that the welsh for microwave is Poppity-Ping. This is the GREATEST THING SINCE THAT OTHER GREAT THING!

ODD QUESTION

twiheights- If you could destroy one book from time and space, would/could you? And if you are monstrous enough – what book would it be?

Turns out that 3 of us are truly virtuous and couldn’t consider every destroying a book (outside of surviving in some dystopian nightmarish vision of the future).
Of the remaining 3, 2 of us were quite open to the idea of eradicating a book but couldn’t fix on which (though perennially loathed Medusa favourties Westwood and A Prayer for Owen Meaney were naturally mentioned). A Confederacy of Dunces and The Fault in our Stars came close to selection but we recognised that they were recent reads and our detestation might fade over time. twilight-book-cover

fifty-shades-of-grey

 

As for me – not only was I up for the challenge – I positively relished it! In face, I became downright devious.

I decided to remove Wuthering Shites…sorry Heights from history. That way – as an additional benefit – neither Twilight nor 50 Shades of Grey would exist and a whole generation of women might escape such poor yet oddly prevalent role models.

Score  
8/10
One last note – my book club are evil sods. These were our apparant choices for the month of September. Thank the skies they were only teasing me!
I hate my book club

I hate my book club

Gone Girl trailer – because it was very relevant for a second and a half there. Don’t ask me why.
For further details, please email me at leedsbookclub@gmail.com or tweet me @LeedsBookClub!
Contact the bar on @MedusaBar
And feel free to let us know your thoughts using #MedusaLBC!

New dates for LBCPuffins

Print

LBCPuffins choices for October November

As we won’t be meeting until August I have found a handy little app to help pick the last two books of the year. I have checked with Leeds Library catalog and they are both available or obviously you can purchase it.

So using the handy little website called random.org where you can type in a number/list anything and it picks it for you. Amazing!!!

This is what I tried inserting into my site but I have just created a link instead: random

 This is the list of unpicked books that I’m going with to give them a chance:

1. The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1) -by Lemony Snicket, Brett Helquist (Illustrator)

2. The Iron Man: A Children’s Story in Five Nights- by Ted Hughes, Tom Gauld (Illustrator)

3.  Goodnight Mister Tom- by Michelle Magorian

4. Northern Lights: His Dark Materials 1  – Philip Pullman

5. Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins #1)- by P.L. Travers, Mary Shepard

6. Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1)- by Diana Wynne Jones

7.  The Wuffler and the Querk - by Wendy Wharam

8. Tom’s Midnight Garden- by Philippa Pearce, Susan Einzig (Illustrations)

9.  Five Children and It (Five Children #1) – by Edith Nesbit

10.  The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (The Wolves Chronicles #1)- by Joan Aiken, Pat Marriott (Illustrator)

11.  The Graveyard Book – by Neil Gaiman

12.  A Kestrel for a Knave- by Barry Hines

13. The Castle of Inside Out -by David Henry Wilson, Chris Riddell (Illustrator)

14.  The Chrysalids-by John Wyndham

So the October one is

 Screenshot 2014-07-09 17.01.20

6. Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1)- by Diana Wynne Jones

image-medium

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye

and the November one: 

Screenshot 2014-07-09 17.12.59

Another amazing selection- 11.  The Graveyard Book – by Neil Gaiman

5499874After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family . . .

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

So there we have two great choices for Puffins!

October will be

6. Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1)- by Diana Wynne Jones

and November will be

11. The Graveyard Book – by Neil Gaiman

So there we have it! lets get reading pufflins

 

 

LBC Giraffe – a temporary hiatus

please noteIt appears as though the venue for our Dystopian book club #LBCGiraffe has become unavailable.

Or possibly closed.

As a result, I’m postponing our next meeting – currently scheduled for the 1st of July for a few weeks.

 

As soon as we have a venue sorted, I’ll let you know here, on twitter and via facebook!

Sharing Stories – The Rosie Project July 15th at Crowd of Favours

Sharing Stories

See more here http://wp.me/P2jfyL-z

Come and join us on the 15th to discuss:

The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1)

by Graeme Simsion
An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.(less)

LBCOutlaws next read – death at la fenice by Donna Leon

Image

 

LBCOutlaws next read on 10th July is death at la fenice by Donna Leon.The twisted maze of Venice’s canals has always been shrouded in mystery. Even the celebrated opera house, La Fenice, has seen its share of death. But nothing so horrific and violent as that of world-famous conductor, Maestro Helmut Wellauer – poisoned during a performance of La Traviata. Even Commissario of Police, Guido Brunetti, used to the labyrinthine corruptions of the city, is shocked at the number of enemies Wellauer has made on his way to the top – but just how many have motive enough for murder? The beauty of Venice is crumbling – and evil can seep through its decaying stones …

People of bookclub we need your help please vote now!

As Chief Puffin, I have offered to help update things and keep people informed.  Niamh is the one you need to email tweet, any questions or reviews need to be emailed to her and then she can filter them to me. I’m just the technician

LBCPuffins

Right guys, to the reason of this post, I’m having a few personal issues and as Silver Sword is one of my favourite books I want the meeting to be the best ever and I’ve seen certain book clubs have started to clash. I also want to restart White Swan as a monthly after the next meeting and wondered what people thought.

However what  I need from you guys is help,  please can I have dates and books for LBCOutlaws, Medusa LBCGiraffe and let me know what you think to Puffins being moved to the third Tuesday of the month along with restarting white swan monthly on the third or last Sunday of the month. I’ve tried adding a mini poll at the end for people to vote. and if you want to discuss in detail my email is isfromupnorth@gmail.com

Also before I forget, we will need choices for white swan and also at least 3 choices for Puffins at our next meeting

 

Scan0022 Scan0023

Also has anyone got any outstanding reviews that Niamh hasn’t got, So I can get them saved ready for Niamh to do her magic and add quirky things

 

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