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Showing posts from 2013

Christmas Magic - Cecelia Ahern

Short and sweet this one as its Christmas and there are so many things still to do and so little time

I didn’t like this book and to be honest I think I knew I wasn’t going to before I started to read it. A collection of short stories all based in Ireland some of which feature Christmas some don’t. Which was the first part I found strange. Why call a book Christmas Magic but then make it not about Christmas? Nobody is going to buy this book in July with a title like that so why not call it something else with a story or two in about Christmas? Since the meeting I have noticed a flood of Christmas books in the supermarkets which leads me to think this is probably another one that is cashing in on the season.

I was only present (Christmas book club – present get it? Sorry!) for the first half of the meeting as a Christmas Party beckoned. I didn’t really get chance to properly speak to people about the book but in the short time I was there I got the impression that I wasn’t alone with …

The Husbands Secret - Liane Moriarty. Warning this blog is a long one!

They say you should never judge a book by its cover but let us do just that in this case.

The cover is quite simple - a glass jar (not a box) holding a butterfly, a beautiful butterfly.

But oh how that simple jar and butterfly speak volumes (queue the media studies A grade A level student going into hyper drive)

Firstly the jar and how (as Moriarty was quick to inform us) it was a jar that Pandora opened not a box as so commonly quoted. And we all know that Pandora opened the box and let loose all manner of things. Cue Celia opening John Pauls letter

Secondly the jar is a glass one, designed to keep things in, yet so easy to open. Like an envelope.

Yet if the jar is smashed all we are left are its fragments that we have to try to piece back together, possibly injuring ourselves in the process only to find its not repairable. Like Celia discovering that really it’s impossible to recover intact from a secret like John Pauls

Next there is the butterfly, so fragile, so easily broke…

Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussman

I’m calling this book ‘the creeper’. It got under my skin without me noticing it and suddenly I put it down one day and thought, I love this book! It’s strange as nothing really happens as such – it’s certainly not a plot driven book – but I really thought this worked. The book lounged on like you would in the heat that the author so brilliantly described. Despite this, it is not a boring book and you do want to know how it all works out. So much so that one member of the group didn’t come to the meeting as she hadn’t finished reading the book and she didn’t want to find out the end! I give real credit to the author for not to make it another murder/thriller book which it so easily could have ended up being. Instead it was a brilliantly written book based around 5 main characters all of whom had a section in the book.

I will start with Nick as I thought she (yes she not he) was central to the book. One member commented that she was like gravity, everyone pulled towards her even if it …

The Little Village School by Gervaise Phinn. Warmth and Kindness

I read a quote, I think from Amazon when I ordered the book, that said this book was warm and kind and I think that’s a pretty good way of describing it. I was worried going into the meeting that we wouldn’t have much to say about it as let’s face it, we all knew the outcome before we had finished the first page. Usually with similar books we say ‘yes it was nice’ and then talk about X factor (or Strictly as it starts properly on Saturday don’t you know!) but no with this one we chatted away for ages about it.

I suggested whether, being a warm and kind book, we thought children could read it/enjoy it. It’s based in a school, it didn’t have sex or swearing in it and although there was a death I thought it was quite sensitively covered by Phinn. We decided yes, it would make a good book for children. Obviously older children who are up to reading a few hundred pages or so but in many ways a good cross over book for those not yet old enough to read true adult books but are looking for s…

The Affair - Gill Paul

My first instincts were that it wasn’t my usual type of book but as it was summer and seemed as though it would be fairly easy to read I stepped in without too much hesitation.

And I was pleased I did as I found myself quite enjoying it. It was refreshing to read a (sorry say it in small font chick lit) book based in Rome in the 1960s. Yes I was still reading about fashion and alcohol fuelled dates taking place in various glam parties and restaurants however this was 1960s fashion where gloves to the elbow were out and capri pants were in and margarita pizza and cornettos were considered the b all in food. By the way I have no idea where that phrase actually comes from or what it means. Anyone? Apologies if it means something entirely different to that I envisaged!

Yes hands up, I also really liked the Taylor/Burton romance. I liked the parallel between the two affairs and now really want to watch Cleopatra and research Taylor and Burton to see what was true. I found myself really …

And the Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini including rather surprisingly Maeve Binchy and Victoria Hislop!

Well I finished the book which at one point seemed unlikely. I was surprised when I was informed we were reviewing this book. We have already reviewed A Thousand Splendid Suns and from memory I believed most of the group had also read The Kite Runner which meant a full house for Hosseinis novels. Let me start by saying I absolutely loved Kite Runner (I cried) and I very much liked Splendid Suns so I approached with this with slight intrepidation as surely the high standards of Runner and Splendid could not be equalled a third time. (They will be called Kite and Sun next so keep up) Initially it appeared as though it was going to be identical to the other two books – a poverty stricken family in Afghanistan, with two children as the main characters where something heart breaking happens to them early on. Sound familiar? I must admit I was a little disappointed at this stage. I had read and loved two versions of Afghanistan heart break, I didn’t want to read another. How wron…

The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey

I missed this meeting as I was moving house. Looking back, this blog is also a really good way to record my momentous moments (second child, turning 30, moving house. Wonder what's next?)

I give the book a 7. I found it really easy to read and liked the fact the author left Fania open to interpretation as to whether she was real or made from snow. Whilst I liked the idea of the possibility that Fania was magical, I think coming down on this side for definite would have lost a few fans. I know when I was initially describing the book to people at the last meeting there were a few raised eyebrows when I explained that a childless couple make a snow child that comes to life but I'm pleased we stuck with it as trust me, its not that far fetched.

I also liked the way the book intertwined with the fairy tale that Mabel kept reading. I had a very vivid image of the book and really wanted to read it.

I think with this book that there was a main message to decide on - did the couple …

Half the Human Race - Anthony Quinn

I would say Half the Human Race was probably the least read book that we have reviewed in a while. When I say that, I don't mean it was a poorly attended meeting, it wasn't. Quite a few of us attended and quite a few of us had started the book, but a lot of us (including me by about 12 pages) hadn't managed to finish reading it by the time the meeting came round.

Now fair enough we all lead busy lives so time is always a factor. However you have to ask why when a book really isn't door stop size so many of us didn't get it finished. I have read books with just as many pages in mere days before. Books that despite working full time and having two children under 5 I would be willing to sit up until one in the morning to finish as I literally HAD to find out who ended up with who. It's fair to say then that a page turner this one was not.

When asked why people hadn't finished it the most popular answer was they simply couldn't get past the cricket! The fir…

Life of Pi Yann Martel

I've had waited a long time to read this book. It had been on my hit list for a while and had come to my attention again when the film was released so when it was suggested I jumped at the chance to read it.

The story for those of you not familiar, is about an indian boy whose parents own a zoo but decide to up sticks and move to Canada. On route to Canada the ship they are on sinks leaving the boy, named Pi, alone on a lifeboat with a zebra, an orangutang, a hyena, a rat, several cochroaches and a tiger called Richard Parker.

If I tell you that only 5 of 13 members turned up to the meeting it may give you an idea of the general opinion of the book. It took me until the night before the book club to finish the book and that was only because I went to bed at 9 and refused to close an eyelid until it was done.

As I was receiving the texts from people unable to attend I knew that I needed to salvage the meeting from the few who turned up simply saying 'didn't like it let&#…

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes

I had missed the last meeting as I was sitting in the Sky Bar of the Hilton in London overlooking the Gherkin and the Shard drinking very expensive but gorgeous cocktails. Sorry, boast over, but it’s not every day a girl turns 30!
Missing the meeting meant I had missed why this book had been suggested/chosen and as I had never heard of it before I was totally walking in blind. My initial thought was that it appeared to be almost chick litty - the title, the cover, the synopsis on the back, however it had quite a few more pages than usually found in that genre and the saying goes ‘never judge a book by its cover’.

Let me officially confirm that the synopsis and the cover totally totally don’t do it justice. For a start a book about a quadriplegic who is wanting to exercise his right to die in Switzerland is a way more gritty subject matter than I expected to come across. I guessed what was going to happen about 2/3rd of the way through but it still didn’t stop me from crying bucket lo…

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

Change of tack this month. In an effort to keep up with my blogging I am going to write this blog as I read it so I don’t end up with a big long thing to write later on and to give you my impressions as I go along rather than with the benefit of hindsight.....

My initial thoughts upon receiving the book -  too much like 'Before I Go To Sleep' granted this is American and you don’t know if the husband is the bad guy but the way it flittered between timelines made me grant the parallel.

Gut instinct I don’t like Amy – don’t like her pop quizzes, seems as though you are reading a magazine article rather than someone’s diary.  Too over romanticised (is that a word?) with the (literally) sugar coated first kiss and the single olive in joke. But then she is a writer for a magazine so could just be her style. 

RANT ALERT! I really really don’t like it when an author deliberately makes you think a certain person did it when they haven’t. It just feels as though it’s a complete waste …

Julian Barnes - Sense of an Ending

Januarys book was a Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.
A short book edged in black promising to be about a group of boys navigating sixth form, girls and exams. It turned out to be about a retired man looking back on his life
We all thought how unsatisfied Tony, the lead character, was with his life although he was at pains to show that he wasn’t even to himself. He kept referring to how his daughter was fine and how he was still friends with his ex-wife and could go on holiday with her if he wanted to. It was though he was trying to reassure himself. There is a brilliant passage in the book about how being a realist turns out being safe and how time turns all well thought out decisions in to wobbly ones at best (sorry massively paraphrasing). The reader really got the impression that he thought he had lived a good life but now looking back he was slowly realising that he hadn’t and was loathe to admit it.
We also discussed whether he couldn’t live the present life he had because …

Lets get blogging again!

New year – new beginnings
It’s time I started blogging again. I think I have been putting off blogging for so long as there are so many books now that have been missed out. I’m just going to have to face it I am never going to blog all the books that have been read since the last time I blogged. This is a shame as I liked having a proper record of the book club and what we had read. 
Amongst others, we have reviewed the following in my time in non cyber space;
A Christmas Mystery Jostein Gaarder – Our annual Christmas book. I hated it. It was so very boring. Lots of people loved it however and imagined reading it to their children/grandchildren. It was interesting to read about the geography but I wanted maps!!!
Northanger Abbey Jane Austin – I loved it, loved it, loved it but this book totally split opinion. We wanted to review one of her less popular books but we really ended up falling in to 2 definite camps between love and hate.
House of Silk Anthony Horowitz – A new Sherlock…