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Showing posts from 2010

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The snow was coating the ground like icing sugar falling to lie gently on a victoria sandwich. The temperature was below zero and underneath the snow lay a steely layer of black ice.

Could be the opening line of a Dickens book couldn't it? But no it was the weather conditions before our book club meeting and I was receiving cancellations faster than an airport at Christmas. 4 in less than an hour no less. Hmmm not a good start.

Nevertheless like a snow shovel those of us who did brave the arctic conditions ploughed on regardless (and it was arctic, I even had to wear my woolly hat to the pub)

I think I was most surprised at the length on this book. I read the childrens version as a child which was relatively short even including the beautiful illustrations. Being a 'proper' Dickens I expected the book to be lengthy but it wasn't and it was also not too far removed from book I read as a child.

The language was really easy to understand (yes for all those smart arses out the…

A Quiet Belief in Angels by R J Ellory

Ooh how exciting. I approached the table and there were not one, not two but three new members! Except, wait, no, two are standing up, they are actually walking away, come back!!!! I smile, firmly block their path and say 'book club?' 'No we thought you were going to talk about Angels and Angel Cards' ????????? I quickly side step to let them passed whilst frantically trying to remember whether I had put words 'Cramlington Book Club' on the signs. Yes pretty sure I had. In quite large font. They launch into a short speech about how much they love Angels and everything about them and I suddenly think this could go off track quite rapidly if I don't reign in quickly. (We still have one new member, what must she think, must impress!) 'Well you're most welcome to stay and talk about books if you want but we are definitely not talking about Angel Cards' I cut in and off they popped
Phew I had read A Quiet Belief in Angels by R J Ellorylast month so to…

Wedlock by Wendy Moore

Is a book good if you all liked it but can't find much to say about it? That was the case with Wedlock. A true story about Mary Eleanor Bowes' marriage to Captain Stoney, the violence she suffered at his hand and her subsequent struggle to obtain a divorce in the 1700's.

We started off fine, enthusing about how much we all liked it until suddenly we were talking about X Factor.

Ahem. This is a serious book club don't you know

Ok so lets have a serious conversation about all the local history the book contained. Oh yes we loved the fact that it was all about Newcastle. Didn't it make you want to visit Gibside Hall that is so close to us but that we've never been to. And Bowes Museum, we should have a field trip. Now PeshwariNaan Bread is far superior to Garlic...how did that creep in?!

A Chicken Chaat discussion later and we managed to discuss how easy the book was to read. Despite it being a period book there was no archaic language making it very accessible. Despi…

Empire of the Sun - J G Ballard

ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!! 7.35pm and only 3 people in attendance. Including me! Not a good start. However we had all read the book so there was nothing to do but to see whether we could actually make the meeting last for more than 10 minutes.



The book was suggested by a member of the group (who was in attendance) who had read it before a number of years ago. It is set in Shanghai during the second World War and is loosely based on Ballards early childhood experiences. I hadn't heard of Ballard until recently and hadn't read any of his books. This may sound strange but I'm an avid reader of books based around the second World War, I hadn't really come across any books that were based around China during the war and so was looking forward to reading it. As my husband said it was 'right up my street'.



As said above the book was based on real life but Ballard had apparently 'pumped up' the content and also removed Jims parents for most of the story. Despite this howe…

Ordinary Thunderstorms - William Boyd

I will be honest with you I was worried about this bookclub. It was the month of August and I knew before hand that at least 2 people were going to be on holiday. This may not be a lot to you but when your bookclub has a rolling total of 8 all of whom have never been in attendance at the same time it's a lot. I was so nervous that I arrived super early and then made myself even more nervous by having to wait for agggeeesss for someone/anyone to turn up.

What also added to my nerves was the fact that the notice I had put up in Sainsburys had been mysteriously taken down and having only just got back from holiday myself I didn't realise until the day before the bookclub. Argh!

My regulars didn't let me down however (thank you) and there were four of us in total reviewing Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd. This is Boyds tenth outing based on a man who after being in the wrong place at the wrong time finds himself the wrong end of a man hunt for murder and has to disappear …

A 1000 Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini

Book 3 for Cramlingtons newest book club was A 1000 Splendid Suns by Hosseini. This was Hosseini's second outing the first being The Kite Runner which is now (unsurprisingly) a film.

Most of us in the group had already read The Kite Runner, including me, however none of us had got round to reading this one. We all spoke so highly of the Kite Runner that we thought it would be worth giving this one a go.

It was easily available in paperback and about average length. As with 'Runner' it is set in Afghanistan however this time focused on the lives of two women - Mariam and Laila with the uprising of the Taliban inter weaved expertly in the background. The title comes from a Persian poem called Kabul and is really worth reading. I only read it after I had read the book and found that it shed a whole new light on the book. As well as talking about the beauty of Afghanistan (which despite the devastation that is going on around them Hosseini does manage to portray) it also relates…

The Road - Cormac McCarthy

Book 2 for Cramlington Book Club was The Road. It was suggested by me as my auntie had just read it and had said it was a really good book but not one to read if you were feeling depressed. Nobody had really heard of it before and I wasn't able to provide much details other than 'it's by the guy who wrote No Country for Old Men and its about a father and son walking, presumably on a road, through America'. I wasn't feeling depressed and had in my mind some sort of Road to Perdition esk book (well they both had Road in the title!) so it seemed like a good idea - Ah the benefit of hindsight....

Its basically about a father and son in post apocalyptic America. It was an Oprah Winfrey book club book by Cormac McCarthy responsible for the aforementioned Oscar winning film No Country. Its a relatively thin book with short paragraphs so doesn't take long to read. That's the good news.

The bad news is its very very grim. Not gory grim just depressing. Father and son…

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

When telling people which book I was reading for the book club I was surprised by the number of people who had already read it. Kind of like when you book a holiday to somewhere you have never heard of and suddenly everyone as been. Nobody had a bad word to say about it which is pretty rare so I was really looking forward to reading it.

My auntie very kindly gave me a copy so I didn't need to buy it however it was widely available in Asda, Sainsburys (I told you we didn't buy food only books in Cramlington supermarkets) and Amazon stocked it quite cheaply.

It was quite a large book - 500 odd pages but was a paperback, with short paragraphs and relatively short chapters. It was one of three, the others being The Girl who Played with Fire and The Girl who kicked the Hornets Nest known collectively as the Millennium Trilogy.

I was intrigued to find out that Larsson died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2004. He lived an interesting life that can perhaps be said to be reflected in this b…

Chapter One

I would like to introduce you to Cramlington Book Club. It has members that are not all related or previously known to me. It has had its first meeting and has even decided upon a book to review. More on that later.

I arrived at The Plough, my local pub that I had chosen as a venue, to find one person already there! Yipee I wasn't going to be on my own, this might actually work! There were 4 of us in total, all female but varied in age. I had asked everyone to bring along either their favourite book or the one they were currently reading as a starting point for discussion. I had brought along Kept, a Victorian Mystery by D J Taylor. I hadn't read any by Taylor previously and wasn't enjoying the Dickens wannabe. It was however A typical of the type of books that I read - 3 for 2 at Waterstones/best seller list at Asda. This seemed to be the general reading fodder of the group and most of us had heard of the various authors that each liked to read.

In the offerings of those th…

Once upon a time...

I'm the type of person who has to read the first page of a new book immediately after I have finished the last page of the one I was reading. If I am nearing the end of a book I will take two to work with me despite them both being doorstop sized hardbacks just so I don't have two stops on the metro without a book to read. It seemed logical therefore for me to join a book club.

So how does one join a book club? Well I asked at the library and was told there was a waiting list almost as long as one of the aforementioned doorstop sized hardbacks. Hmmm. I was stumped as to where else to try until, by chance, I fell upon a small poster in my local Borders advertising their book club. Excellent. Well it was, for a short time until one month only me and one other person (the organiser and member of staff) turned up. The month before that the only other person who turned up was a man who claimed that the Iraq war was all manufactured by the CIA to keep them in jobs, that it was pointl…