Friday, 20 November 2015

The Ice Twins - SK Tremayne

I read this book in 4 days. Which if you take in to account the fact I have 3 children (one of whom is a baby) its not bad going. For that reason I will give it an extra point when marking it out of 10. I love reading and get frustrated at the moment when a book takes me too long to read. I don't have much time to actually read and when I do I want to feel like I am making progress which I certainly did with The Ice Twins.

That's about where the positives end though for me with this book. It was neither a psychological thriller or a ghost storey but at times it tried to be both. I was reminded of Gone Girl (recently reviewed check out blog post!) where you start by seeing things from a very limited view point until the picture widens and you realise what you thought(i.e. what you had been told) is actually nothing like the real situation. I didn't like any of the characters and have written many a time about how poorly a book scores when the group simply don't care about what happens to whom. Angus was portrayed as an angry functioning alcoholic who was always seemingly on the verge of violence and at one point was painted as a paedophile. Yet at the end of the book he came out the good guy. We were however pleased that the dog survived - he was the only one we liked.

The issues of mental illness were poorly handled in the book - lets run away and totally ignore what has happened and when that doesn't work lets go along with the madness and pretend its all perfectly normal. I wasn't alone in thinking the second funeral was completely ludicrous.

All of the above is without actually mentioning what we thought about the whole is it Kirsty, is it Lydia? We went back and forth so many times I felt like I was on a see-saw.

As a side I will mention the pictures in the book. I read an article where the author explains he had to fight for them to be included as he felt they really helped the reader identify with the setting of the book. I am very familiar with the setting, I got married not too far away and so didn't really need them but one member of the group said its the authors job to set the scene not to add pictures which I thought was an interesting point - Pictures in adult literature, should there be more or not? Question of the month there people!

Anyway everyone was pretty much of the same thought however one member really liked the book and scored it a nine and one member agreed with all the points made but liked it anyway as it was an easy read. It averaged a 5 which I think from memory is one of our lowest scoring books of the year.

Next book is A Gift From Bob by James Bowen. One rule of book club folks - a Christmas book at Christmas!

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Revival by Stephen King

First off let me start by saying how surprised I was at how few of us had actually read a Stephen King book. I believe him to be quite a varied author and felt sure all of us would have had at least one or two of his books under our belts, but apparently not. I would say for at least half of the group Revival was the first time King had been purchased.

I really like Stephen King books. I enjoy the fact with him you never know what you are going to get. Yes he wrote The Shining and Salems Lot but did you also know he wrote Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile? It was also during this meeting that I realised he is practically the only author I have come across who can write a good short story. Why did we not think of him when attempting one previously? The brilliant Apt Pupil is an example that stayed with me for a long time afterwards so if you are thinking of sampling some King or want to read a good short story his collections of short stories are a good place to start.

Anyway Revival. I liked the setting (Maine, very King), the pace and the characters. I loved the first part of the book whilst Jamie was a boy and to be honest could have read a whole book just based around that era. One member commented upon why King pondered so long on this part of the story when the real action took place over many years not really involving many of the characters first introduced but I enjoyed it and wouldn't have had the first part reduced at all.

I also like how King dealt with the passage of time. Jamie was a small boy when first introduced to him and totally believable playing with his toy soldiers. Yet I also felt he was believable as a junked up late teen and then as a 50 odd year old still cycling 5 miles a day. Casual references to computers, Internet and how ones home town doesn't really change but totally does also helped with the passage of time.

I had no idea how the book was going to end and most of us didn't guess about Con. One member of the group suggested so much fell apart after Rev (Charles,Danny etc) died because the link he had with them somehow was gone. One member also suggested Jamie was so important to Rev because he was the first one he met in that town and perhaps the first one to be taken in by his electricity stunts (floating Jesus in the garage). But Jamie soon saw through these stunts like he did when the Rev started performing on people and someone brilliantly suggested that the beginning of the book where Jamie was playing in the mud and the Rev suggested adding water to make the holes better represented the book. Yes it did work for a while but afterwards the soldiers became buried by the mud and disappeared - Rev's fixes worked for a short time then basically messed people up and killed them. I love it when there are explanations like this tucked away in books. It always makes me wonder whether they are deliberate or whether us as readers are trying to find meaning because we want there to be.

Anyway I have managed to get so far without mentioning the ending and whilst I won't specifically give it away (but really if you read my blogs you should have read the book first as it's very hard to write anything in depth without some spoilers) the ending is where most of us fell out with the book, a step too far if you will. We went with the whole healing by electricity although I thought this was poorly explained in the book but what happened in the cabin was just too unbelievable. We drew similarities with Her Fearful Symmetry at this point. I also didn't like the fact King started off by saying something like 'you won't believe this but this is what I saw'. Have the balls to just say it is so rather than trying to qualify it or give yourself a way out. Our marking was reduced because of this chapter and it's a shame as I think it would have been a high scorer. We gave it a 7.

Do read Stephen King novels if you haven't read any before. Maybe not this one but no two are the same and they are worth it because even on an off day he's an enjoyable read.

I actually wrote the line 'floating Jesus in the garage' in this blog - not every day I write that! Which leads me to my question of the month - best line from a book?

Next book The Ice Twins by S K Tremayne

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Mrs Hemmingway by Naomi Wood

I have to confess I knew nothing about Ernest Hemmingway before reading this book so it was without presumption that I approached this fictional account based on the true story of his 4 wives.

First up was Hedley, meek, mild and with Ernest whilst he was a penniless nobody. In walks glamorous Fife (yes the names are silly) who makes a beeline for the couple, befriending Hedley and eventually taking Ernest to bed. One thing all the group couldn't get away with was the fact Hedley, despite knowing of her husbands affair, invites Fife to vacation with them which in reality lead to the end of her marriage. Why would you do that? WHY? We generally found Hedley too willing to roll over and just wanted her to slap Fife. She didn't though and when her marriage ended (having unsurprisingly given up on the 100 day seperation) she remained friends with both of them up until their deaths.

I admire Wood for the section that followed -Fifes. The reader was left hating Fife after Hedley and I really wasn't looking forward to reading her story. Nevertheless without making the reader fall in love with Fife, Wood gave an understanding to Fifes behaviour and at least she fought like tooth and nail when the inevitable newer woman appeared on the scene.

The third wife, Martha, appeared as though her story would be different with her section beginning with her wanting to divorce Ernest. She was much more career minded and her world didn't seem to revolve around Ernest like the others did. Yet she too fell for his charms and in the end their marriage only seemed to end because Mary his fourth and last wife arrived on the scene.

Mary was different and I wish Woods hadn't fast forwarded her story as she did. Abuse and serious depression were hinted at and it would have made a change to read about that as opposed to boy meets girl, falls in love, meets another girl and leaves. I really felt Marys sorrow once Ernest had died, her need to believe his death was an accident and then adding her effects to Ernests box of momentos, it was quite poignant.

We thought Harrys story was interesting and not knowing anything about Ernest I kept expecting the missing suitcase to make a reappearance. We decided Harry was a super fan bordering on stalker and I felt quite sad for him when he sat in the porch where Ernest died.

We all loved the settings of the book and the description which in parts reminded me of the very good Tigers in Red Weather (go read our post about it for more info).

Two of the group however made very good points. The first being that the book was very repetitive. In effect the same story happened over and over again. The second point was that none of the characters were really likeable except perhaps for Mary but as mentioned above her section was skipped over so we didn't really get a chance to like her. Ernest in particular appeared to be
a tortured genius who drank too much was childlike at times and extremely selfish. I've commented in the past how hard it is to like a book where none of the characters are likeable so it is to Woods credit that we liked the book as much as we did despite this fact.

It also massively wet our appetite for Ernest and his life. I had no idea about his circle of friends, his many wives, his drinking and his good looks and now am on a mission to find out more about him - question of the month! A Hemmingway book will perhaps be reviewed in the future. Watch this space.

The book got a 7 and next month's book is Revival by Stephen King. Happy reading.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Keep Your Friends Close

So I read this one whilst on holiday and as a result of said holiday missed the meeting. I found it to be a good holiday read ploughing through it but able to put it down at a drop of a hat when squealing children in swimming pool called.

I really liked the setting for the book having been to the lakes a number of times. It made a refreshing change from London and/or America.

Initially Natty, the main female character reminded me of Celia in The Husbands Secret - trying to keep everything together by obsessing on the small stuff and appearing bitch like or perfect to the outside world. However before the reader was given too much time to dislike Natty in walked Eve aka alpha mega bitch.

I remember being surprised that the reader was aware right from the start how much of a bitch Eve was and how deliberate her move on Sean, Nattys husband, was. Perhaps the suspense could have been built to a greater extent or a different angle pursued if Eves intent had been hidden from the reader. For example did Natty really injure Eve (possible given her past) or did Eve do it herself? The author did hint at this but didn't string it out enough (convenient cctv footage found two pages later) which I think was the main problem with the book. It was too fast paced, nothing was left to fester or to build as one bomb shell after another was dropped.

I liked the supporting cast especially Nattys father and understand that the book is one of a series featuring the police woman rather than Natty which is good as I think Nattys story was finished appropriately.

The group didn't really like the book, I gave it an 8 as it was the perfect holiday read but needed more bite and a moment or toe given to the reader to pause and absorb. The group, perhaps not drenched in Costa Del Sol sunshine and alcohol, didn't score as highly. The book averaged a 6.

Next book Mrs Hemmingway by Naomi Wood.

Question of the month - Eve was a total bitch in this book but there have been many over the years. Who is your favourite bitch? Fictional of course!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Colour of Magic Terry Pratchett

Can you really write a book review when only one of the group finished reading the book? Can you even really give it a mark out of 10? That is the problem I'm facing with The Colour of Magic. I had read it probably about 7 years ago, couldn't find my copy so decided not to re - read it. One member of the group had also already read the book but the rest of us were Pratchett virgins.

I had a feeling the book wasn't going to go down well. We have never reviewed a fantasy novel before and the group individually don't tend to read fantasy novels. I've read a few including Pratchett, Katherine Kerr and Trudi Canavan mostly and although I'm not a massive fan of the genre I don't have an aversion to them.

I was slightly disappointed that some people gave up after very few pages. I'm of the opinion you should always read a book to the end in case it turns out alright. I know everyone doesn't subscribe to this but surely a few pages just doesn't give you enough of a feel to make an informed decision to stop? Carry on a bit longer - even if it just gives you the ability to comment more during the meeting!

To be fair I'm not sure whether The Colour of Magic is the best introduction to Pratchett and his Disc World. The series does get better a few books in once he has found his pace and develops the characters more. There is a lot to introduce the reader to if your new to this series and The Colour of Magic does tend to try to squeeze everything in at break neck speed. Read the Death trilogy (my favourite character), Going Postal or even The Night Watchmen and give them more than a few pages. You never know you might surprise yourself.

Seems like I have managed to write a blog and I'm even going to manage a Question of the Month - what's the least number of pages you have read before giving up on a book? Which one was it?

Next book - Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Jamaica Inn Daphne Du Maurier

Did you know Jamaica Inn is actually a real life place? The story is made up but the Inn/Pub is real and still open for trade in Cornwalls Bodmin Moor. Not only that, it's on Twitter (I know because I tweeted them to tell them we were reading Jamaica Inn and they replied!) Random fact out of the way on to the story

In a nutshell - spirited but naive girl goes to live with aunt and treacherous uncle at Jamaica Inn in the 1820s. Wild terrain, smuggling and secrets follow with a dash of romance thrown in for good measure.

I had already seen the television adaptation a while back and so knew the story beforehand. I try to avoid doing this and think it was for this reason it took me a while to get in to story. I must admit though that once I was in it did capture me, even without any surprises awaiting.

Why? Well for a start it was very atmospheric. Du Maurier expertly describes the moors (one of our group was drawn to read Wuthering Heights straight afterwards for some more moor action). Some found the book a little slow, and I do agree that really not too much does actually happen. However I liked the fact the book wasn't so plot lead as others I have read recently. It made a refreshing change and I thought the pace to be quite in keeping with books from this era (published in 1936).

Some of us found the main character, Mary, annoying. She did tend to get into scrapes and be where she shouldn't be (when told 'whatever you do don't look out of your window' what does she do? Look out of the window of course) however I went with it and found her spiritedness interesting for a girl living in the 1820s.

I was reminded in some ways of Northanger Abbey, style and pace wise rather than story line and the book certainly fits into the gothic romance category. I also liked the fact that although there was a romance it wasn't the main part of the story as so many books of this era are. What romance there was wasn't really traditional, no rich misunderstood hero here. We all questioned whether Mary would live happily ever after? I'm drawn to the part (I'm relying on memory here so please correct if I'm wrong as it was a while ago I finished the book) where she tells a tale of lovers lane back in her home town and how quickly it turns once a baby arrives, the wife pacing upstairs with a crying baby whilst the man awaits his tea downstairs. Was she predicting her future? Is this her idea of love? We also questioned whether Mary would be happy with life on the road. She explains quite often that she is a girl of the earth and soil, not one for ever changing towns with no place to put down roots. How then can she/we expect a happy ever after?

We spent some time contrasting it to books currently in vogue right now that seem to be written with a film deal in mind. Every chapter needing to have a shock ending, octane pace and more twists and turns than a waltzer. We did question whether some of the classics would actually be hits in todays world if they were released for the first time today. Perhaps not, but we also questioned whether some of the current bestsellers trailing after Oscar glory will be around as long as these books have. Gone Girl anyone?

As for Characters, Joss was perhaps a little stereotypical. I do believe the ending for Patience was perhaps the best solution for her. She could never recover from how Joss had broken her and so she perhaps got the only happy ending left available to her. Some of us guessed the twist at the end, having seen the TV series it was hard to work out whether I would have or not.

Overall we enjoyed it and gave it a 7

Question of the month - As mentioned Jamaica Inn is a real life place, what's your favourite location from a book? Real or Fictional?

Next book The Colour of magic by Terry Pratchett.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Child 44 Tom Rob Smith

For those who don't know this book was set in Stalins Soviet Union where to the outsider at least life was perfect, there was no crime and the State was everything. To those on the inside life was very different. Unable to trust anyone, even family members, citizens lived in constant fear of the 4 am knock on the door from the secret police who would remove a person for being a traitor to the revolution. Reasons were never given why and the person was more often than not never seen again, tortured to death or sent to work the last of their days in a Gulag. So what happens when a crime, murder no less, occurs? How can you investigate a crime in a Country that refuses to acknowledge they occur?

I enjoyed reading about Russia during this period. One member in particular commented she was very interested to read about it as she had been taken in at the time Stalin was ruler and how different the global image was to the reality was shocking.

The book was very brutal - the killer murdered children quite horribly, torture and even quite a descriptive autopsy increased the gore content and on top of this there was the underlying brutality of life in Russia at that period of time. One member of the group hated the book for this very reason she said it felt like there was something violent on every page. I could see her point but don't think it was simply there for the word count. Did you know the killer is based on a real life killer? Not to give too much away certain circumstances and plot have been changed but Google it to learn more.

It did take a little while for the investigation to get under way which I didn't expect but the surrounding story was good enough to carry you until this point. At one point though I was wondering whether we would have to read through 44 murders before we realised there was a murderer on the loose. I liked Leo and Raisa and the development of their characters/marriage. I gasped out loud when Raisa revealed the truth about her pregnancy! I do think though that Smith could have capitalised more on the whole was Raisa a spy or not story line. The searching of the flat had me gripped.

Whereas the first half of the book did have me gripped in many places I do think it was a book of two halves. I loved learning about Russia, the description about the orphanage (and the statistics at the end of the book as to how many spoons per child) was truly harrowing. I quite liked the detective part and when Leo and Raisa got transferred to a new life in the country. Where I think it fell down was when suddenly everyone started to help them. Would this really have been likely in the world the author went to such pains to tell the reader was hell on earth? One member said she got why the people on the train helped as really they had nothing to lose but the people who were 'safe' in the towns and villages they travelled to. Surely in an environment where it was common for you to betray your own family (as Leo was asked to betray his wife) why help a stranger? Because torture of innocent family members is OK but the murder of a child isn't? It just didn't sit with me. Yes it was good that they were outraged by a child killer but equally these were people who had had their husbands, wives, mothers taken from them without saying a word.

I was also slightly disappointed to note that this is another book that has had a film made out of it. Well done to Smith, I'm not saying its undeserving but it definitely seems to be a trend at the moment - where are our original screen writers??? Are the books we are reading deliberately being written for the screen? If yes how does this change the book? Ooh think I may have my question of the month there! Another point that slightly let it down was the fact that its a trilogy. Again well done to Smith but I don't think I'm giving too much away when I say its a pretty sure bet that at least one of the lead characters will survive until at least book two.

Anyway the group really liked the book and it walked away with a 9 out of ten. By we are getting some high scorers this year! I gave the first half of the book an 8 and the second half a 7 so I guess I average 7.5.

Next book is Jamaica Inn by Dauphne Du Maurier

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Who is she? The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

A book about a dolls house that controls people's lives, Hmmm.

Set in Amsterdam around a trader, his household and his new wife. We all commented on how we found the historical parts interesting having not read widely on the era/area before and how we liked the characters. So it got off to a good start but then so far no all controlling dolls house.

Then a strange miniaturist starts to deliver unasked for furniture and life like dolls to fill the expensive replica of the traders house given to the wife as a wedding present. How does this person have such knowledge of the households inhabitants and why are the deliveries of items such as a crib being made? It made us curious as to whether there was a super natural element to the book or whether the miniaturist knew the family and wanted to help/revenge certain characters. There were certainly secrets hinted to that the miniaturist could have been involved with to give the concept a logical explanation.

Where the book fell down though was the decision by the author not to give an explanation of who the miniaturist was and why she did what she did.

Events such as lethal stab wounds and hidden pregnancies were only revealed in the dolls house after they were discovered in real life. So really the dolls house wasn't controlling its inhabitants but mysteriously changing to follow real life as it unfolded. The author could still have pulled it back though by giving an explanation even if it was a super natural one but the woman supposedly behind the creations disappeared and so did that part of the story.

We all couldn't get away with this point. We felt it distracted from the otherwise excellent story of the family, the sugar, Amsterdam, society and the quite tragic endings to the trader and his sister. If it had just been about this I would have given the book a much higher score and I think most of the group agreed. However some of the group scored it highly as they could get past the miniaturist and just enjoy the story. For most we either wanted more or less of the miniaturist and we're left shouting (big brother stylie for those who can remember Nikki) who is she???

Writing this blog a couple of weeks after I read the book I can't remember anyones names which I always think is a bad sign in a book. We gave it 7.3

Next book Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

Question of the month. One of the sub themes throughout the book was food. The selling of the sugar, the herring, the marzipan which got me thinking of other foodie books. Which books are your favourite foodie books? Not cook books but ones that are food obsessed. My answer is The Food of Love by Anthony Capella. Mmm, hungry!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

I'm going to science the shit out of this planet!

The Martian by Andy Weir

I had never heard of this one before and was a little dubious as the group had never reviewed a 'science fiction' book before. The premise was a guy gets stranded on Mars and is probably about to die. How on earth (sorry) do you fill 350 pages with just that? My immediate impression was it was going to be another 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy which really didn't go down well with the group (go see the review I did for it). Still Ridley Scott has decided to make a film out of it and Matt Damon has decided to star in it so there had to be something worth reading in those pages right?

Indeed there was. The Road was the most depressing book I have ever read, The Martian, although it had the potential to be, quite simply wasn't. This was down to Weirs brilliant lead character Mark Watney who just point blank refused to give up and die. Terrible things kept happening, he was isolated and he had to live off frozen potatoes for weeks on end, yet he never wallowed. Everything was dealt with by Watney's brilliant wit 'Started the day with nothing coffee. You get some hot water, add nothing to it and drink' (paraphrasing there).

The book was brilliantly paced, it drew you in, had unexpected twists and turns and genuinely had me on the edge of my seat at the end as to what was going to happen and whether he would survive. How many of you noticed the wording at the start of the last paragraph on page 3 that kind of gives the game away? Only one of our group noticed which I thought was interesting.

I loved the fact that although it was obviously set in the future, Weir didn't give you a set date and didn't go in to details as to whether we were driving around in floating cars like some books of this genre do. Often the author is at pains to tell the reader about how in 2050 we all live in pods and have mobile phones implanted into our ears. In some ways if it wasn't for the fact that people were being sent on missions to Mars and had been for some time the setting could have been present day. There was still a president, people still flew on aeroplanes and the media still reigned strong. I liked the fact Weir didn't bog down the story by painting a futuristic world. It wasn't needed and you just went with it whatever year it was set in.

There is no escaping it a massive part of this book is the technology, the science that Watney uses to survive. As Scott puts it in his script notes 'I'm going to science the shit out of this planet' which is pretty much exactly what Watney does. I could tell from the beginning that this would be a divider amongst the group. I really made the effort to read those often long parts and whilst I didn't understand the science I was able to get the gist with what he was doing and totally believed every word. Some of the group simply skipped over those parts and some just couldn't get past them and for that reason hated the book.

I loved it, it was refreshingly different which is always a plus with me, believable (think some people will disagree with me on that) and gripping. I am Pilgrim was a brilliant start the the year but this comes a close second.

As I referred to above you either love the science to it or you don't and if you don't, you don't like the book. The group were divided on this point and scores ranged from 2-9. It averaged a 7.18 (to be precise, it is a science book after all)

Next book is the Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Question of the month - Science fiction a fan or not?

Friday, 27 February 2015

Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. 20:20 vision and in need of someone to love!

A different one this month in that I didn’t like the book whereas most of the other members of the Group did. I wasn’t totally on my own there were another one or two who had issues, mainly with the fact that we didn’t like any of the characters. One of us went so far as to even not liking the baby!

One member commented she was sick of female authors writing about weak female characters. It was certainly an on trend book with comparisons being made to Gone Girl and The Silent Wife both of which had characters in we just didn’t care about.

Carrying on with the weak women theme we also picked up on the fact that Rachels flat mate seemed to have quite a controlling boyfriend as well – she was upset at one point as he was off visiting family and wouldn’t take her with him or introduce her to them. All the males in the book could therefore be viewed as having slightly dubious characters even the therapist who crossed the line with Megan.

We all seemed to struggle slightly with the book being told from different perspectives especially at the beginning and when Megan and Scott had different names thanks to Rachel. I in particular struggled with the different timelines and often found myself having to flick back to see what year/month a particular event happened.

I also felt like I was being drip fed information to make me think a certain thing when the author knows all along it’s not true. One of us thought it was really well written though and she is the knowledgeable one when it comes to this so maybe it’s just the style I don’t like rather than the quality of the writing.

I could appreciate the way Hawkins widened our knowledge of Rachel – at first she was a commuter on a train into London then you realised she was an alcoholic, unemployed and obsessed with her ex-husband who just happened to live a few doors down from the ‘perfect couple’ she fantasised about. It did feel like you were slowly being granted 20/20 vision (or like the energy saving light bulb in my kitchen being switched on to show me only after 5 minutes where the kettle AND the toaster is)

We talked about how isolated Rachel was and how easy it is to fall off the path of straight and narrow when you have no support. On the face of it she had family, friends, a job and a husband however she lost all of those things and ended up living with really an acquaintance rather than a good friend.

Apparently the film rights have already been sold and we had another conversation about how easy first time authors seem to be sell film rights now on the back of a half successful trendy release. Are books now always written with a film in mind? Is it a silly thing now not to do?

I as I said most of the group loved it, finding it gripping and suspense filled. The who dunnit element kept people guessing and it was quick and easy to read. Me I just prefer someone I can route for, someone to love!

We awarded it 7.6 with scores ranging from 10 – 5.

Next book is The Martian by Andy Weir.

Question of the Month this month is ………. In contrast to this book and a lot on the market right now what is your favourite book featuring a strong women?

Friday, 30 January 2015

Our highest scoring book ever! I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

I loved this book from really early on. In fact I haven’t spoken to anyone who hasn’t loved it and all the reviews on social media seem to be positive. Why?

It was fast paced, dotting all over the world yet it remained human (the 9/11 wheelchair story, the little boy on his bike racing to see if it was his father being executed). I found it believable and well thought out with every little thing linking in, even when at first you thought it was just a random memory designed to illustrate one point it often illustrated two or three further down the line. No story was superfluous which is important in a book with a large number of pages.

It has strong likeable characters. I particularly liked Battleboi and loved the idea of him setting a place at his table every year. Pilgrims relationship with his stepfather left you wishing he could have just had the chance to say ‘thank you, I love you’ all amidst the gun battles, torture and hatred that the book had plenty of. I liked the fact there was no love interest that these down and out heroes so often come across whilst saving the world. I liked the fact Pilgrim questioned himself, the life he had fallen into and the possibility of ever escaping it and living a ‘normal life’

There were lots of strands to the book and it was in danger of losing the reader especially when you seem to stray so far from the girl in the bathtub introduced at the beginning but Hayes walked the line just right and kept me on-board throughout.

There were negatives – I slightly got annoyed with Pilgrims comments at the end of chapters such as ‘that was a mistake I would pay for later’ ‘I should have realised at the time how important his eagerness was’ I have totally made these up as I don’t have the book to hand whilst writing this but you get the gist i.e. there is going to be more on this later so remember it. Hayes’ writing was good enough not to need these signposts and I think the reader would have got more out of it by realising themselves that the chapter you had read 50 pages back was knitting with the present one unexpectedly.

Looking back the probability of the two stories both randomly ending up in Turkey and the Turkish cops connection to the two stories was highly unlikely but I didn’t question it whilst reading it and am only trying to deliver a rounded critique.

It really did make you stop and think how easy it is for someone willing to play the long game to extract all kinds of hell, how life can sometime turn on a chance (the quicklime and the Australian soldier) and how much information is out there on the internet (gene splicing, whatever that is). I read this on the back of the Paris gun attacks and terrorism is such a massive topic that is going to affect us for years to come. How you stop it and how you ever catch even one proposed attack is such a large seemingly insurmountable problem. But anyway this is a book blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hayes did leave it open for another one. I’m not sure there should be one as this was really good, another one would tarnish it somehow like Dan Brown and his ‘how many clues hidden for thousands of years can one American professor unearth in a short space of time?’ You just feel like saying, really he is single handily saving the world again? So please Mr Hayes, you wrote a brilliant book, have the balls to keep it as a one off. You’re a brilliant writer, write something different, don’t cash in on Pilgrims popularity and have him saving the world again, it would spoil it.

The group agreed with the general opinion of the rest of the world and all enjoyed the book. We gave it a 9.5 with the lowest score being a 9 which is unheard of in this group. I think this makes it our highest scoring book ever (not counting the festive 10s we have given out over the years). It’s going to be a hard act to follow! Next book is Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Question of the month - Is there any books you feel strongly shouldn’t have a sequel? Which ones?

Friday, 2 January 2015

The one you have been waiting all year for - The Big Review of the Year 2014!

Another year has gone racing past which for the book club means 13 more books have been read and reviewed (No we don’t exist in some different calendar world, we did a double bill in January). In a nutshell these are the ones we read starting with January 2014.

The Silent Wife by ASA Harrison. Score 5.5. This had the widest split of scores (10 to a 4) but in general we hated the lead character which effected our overall enjoyment.

Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James. Score 7.5. Very English, didn’t stray too far from the original which we liked but not a brilliant crime novel when you think who the author was.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Score 7.3 liked by all, funny but with interesting points to discuss.

The Cuckoos Calling by Robert Galbraith. Score 7.5. We said it would make a good TV show and low and behold its going to be one! A successful second venture into the non-wizarding world. Looking forward to reading Silkworm

The Hidden Child by Camilla Lackberg. Score 5.5. Most disappointed by this one. It had the most potential but too many elements and a too unbelievable husband and wife team got in the way of a good story.

Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach. Score 6.5. Most thought provoking dealing with very of the moment issues.

Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse. Score 5. Easy enough to read but very similar to other books on the market right now

Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan. Score 5.5. Like an ice sculpture perfectly formed but lacking warmth

Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope 4.5. Introducing Marianne and Elinor to twitter was a step too far for us

The Goldfinch Donna Tartt. Score 7.66 recurring rounded up to an 8. The longest but in some ways the best.

Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer. Score 7.3. ‘Easy to read with good characters but it didn’t blow me away and I won’t remember it in 6 months’ time’

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. Score 5. Unanimously loved the beginning but thought it became more silly as it went on

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. Score a festive 9. Short, sweet and Christmassy.

Those were the books and these are the Cramlington Book Club Awards for 2014!;

Lowest Score – Sense and Sensibility

Highest Score – The Polar Express but if you take away festive cheer then it was The Goldfinch

Most Forgettable – Sweet Tooth. I had to read nearly all of my review before I remembered the storey.

Most Recommend – The Rosie Project. I look back with most fondness on this one.

Overall not as many standout books as last year and a few of them left me disappointed (Her Fearful Symmetry, The Hidden Child and The Silent Wife mostly). There were some definite talking points though (Kiss Me First) and as I got The Silkworm for Christmas there will definitely be a revisit to Comoran Strike, probably my favourite character of all year.