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The Polar Express Chris Van Allsburg

I didn't actually read this book, it was read to me! Mine never arrived from Amazon (unusual) but luckily I went on the Polar Express train ride the Monday before where the hot chocolate serving chefs were kind enough to read to the whole carridge the book.

It's a very short book with one member reading it on the way to work the same day of the meeting (she gets the bus I hasten to add). We decided this worked in its favour as who has time over Chrismtas to read a door stop and who wants to read about Santa and his Elves in January? The book came in two sizes a cute little pocket sized version and a large (perfect to read to children) version. The pictures were gorgeous and we all commented it would make a perfect Christmas present and could easily become a family favourite to return to time and time again at Christmas.

I love the film, it's a big Christmas tradition for my family but that didn't stop me from liking the book although there were some differences. We w…

National Short Storey Week - Advent

Ok so it’s national short storey week and to celebrate it I have combined the one rule of book club (to read a Christmas book in December) with one of the groups suggestion that we write our own short storey and come up with my own Christmas short storey. Ok so it’s not very Christmassy and it’s not really a short storey, more like a first Chapter/Introduction but it’s better than nothing and it is called Advent. So if you’re sick of reading me banging on about how rubbish a book is then let’s turn the tables. Read it then critique away! Eek! PS don’t forget to let me know your #marksoutoften or #reviewinanutshell on twitter @crambookclub

Advent

Christmas is coming! It’s at last the first day of December, the first day of advent. While most people are waking up to chocolate shaped santas behind little foil doors Grace wakes up to a knife being held to her throat by a man she doesn’t know. She is bound, cold and doesn’t remember how she arrived at the dark room with the damp cement fl…

Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffenegger

It took me a long time to brave this book as I loved The Time Travellers Wife and thought that nothing could compare so why bother? Nevertheless it found its way under my bed and then into my next to read and low and behold before I knew what I was doing I had suggested it as Novembers book.

The book got off to a good start. I loved Martins storey witnessing him and his wifes struggle with his OCD (could have read a whole storey about this alone) and even Elspeth as a ghost didn’t put me off (The Time Travellers Wife had a husband who travelled randomly through time and that had me in tears so a little ghost wasn’t going to put me off)

There were also some really good moments - Elspeth going to hide/sulk in the drawer and then seeking warmth from the TV – traditionally seen as being so cold and causing lack of communication

I also loved reading about the cemetery and now want to go!

Unfortunately that’s where the plus points ended and not just for me but for all of the group.

We …

Only Time Will Tell Jeffrey Archer

I’ve been curious about Jeffrey Archer books for a while. I know very little about him other than he was a politician and he ended up in prison but he has been writing books now for some years and they seem to do pretty well. This isn’t the first one of his books I would have chosen but it was free on Kindle so it was the obvious choice for the group.

My over whelming thought whilst reading this book was this is ‘Paul Henke’s Tears Series’. With Henke you get a series of books following various members of a particular English family around the time of the Second World War. With Archer you get a series of books following various members of a particular English family around the time of the Second World War. Similar huh? I really enjoyed the Tears Series although haven’t completed the what was a trilogy and is now into I think book 5 or 6. I enjoyed Only Time Will Tell but it felt like I was going over old ground and that really spoiled it for me.

We all liked the characters, especial…

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. 7.66 recurring!

No getting round it The Goldfinch is quite a doorstop (over 800 pages) so I looked sharp, ordered the book the day after our last meeting and set about reading it the day it arrived. I even stashed it in to my hand luggage only suitcase when nipping to Mallorca for the weekend (how jet set does that sound!) Yes yes Kindle would have been lighter but I’m a fan of BOOKS!

Unlike some weighty novels though this didn’t feel wordy and didn’t seem to drag. The book could be compartmentalised into clear sections, before the museum, the Barbours, Las Vegas, Hobie, Amsterdam, Theo’s monologue, which moved the book along nicely and didn’t leave you bored or skipping pages. That’s not to say it I breezed through it, it took me right up until the day of our meeting to get it read but it wasn’t painful the way some books can be.

I did stop at around the 400 page mark and think how on earth is this 14 year old boy going to end up a man in Amsterdam by the time I get to page 800 but we got there in…

Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope

So I didn’t read this book as I was on holiday when meeting was on and despite being given the book for free I never got round to picking it up. I'm stuck in the middle of Huckleberry Finn and wasn’t really inspired to leave it for a book my mum gave up on less than half way through. It’s part of a project known as the Austen Project designed to update the works of Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice and Emma are receiving similar reworkings and are scheduled for release later on in the year.

My mums biggest problem with the book was the fact it was modern – asthma, Range Rovers and IPhones all of which are so NOT Austen. I get her point but really that is the whole point of the re-workings to make them modern. If you can’t get past that point then really the book is always going to fail.

To be honest it does sound like the type of book I normally avoid, not the fact that it’s a reworking but the fact that really if you take Austen away and stick it in the real world it’s kind …

More Warmth please it's August!

Sweet Tooth - Ian McEwan

I have to confess, I have read, but didn’t love Atonement. I know McEwan is considered something of a modern literary genius but I just can’t wax lyrical about Atonement. Having said that it’s the only book I have read by McEwan, it was a few years ago, I would like to think I am more intelligent with my reading than I was back then and I’ve spent the last month being exposed to people on twitter quoting their favourite McEwan lines of which I was impressed;

‘A person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn and not easily mended’

And so I went into this book really wanting to like it and appreciate it’s beautiful writing.

To start with it’s a bit like a love story but with thriller potential. Then it peters out and becomes a love story without real direction but with a twist at the end that supposedly makes the whole book brilliant. Can you guess that for me it didn’t?

I guessed early on that something was going on in the background with Tom and his …

Day 27 - Want to be one of the Characters'

I knew immediately who I would be when Book a Day turned to ‘Want to be one of the characters’.

I would be someone from the Rutshire Chronicles by Jilly Cooper. You know, Polo, Riders, Jump and so on. Why? Well they all live glamorous lives reeking of champagne, expensive perfume and designer dresses, but most importantly the bad guy always loses, the underdog always gets their day and they always always get a happy ending. Its fairy tales for adults and I love it!

Before We Met Lucie Whitehouse

We immediately found ourselves comparing this book to other ones in a similar vein - Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, both of which we have recently read for Book Club

The Silent Wife in particular had a similar female lead - isolated, didn’t have a job (or played at having a job), supposedly intelligent but very naive in other respects. Neither of which I warmed to. There were also similar male leads – alpha males, rich, expecting to get things their way. A popular trait at the moment seems to be books that centralise pretty exclusively on a husband and wife which this one did(and yep you guessed - Gone Girl, The Silent Wife and Before I go to Sleep also did). As well as those similarities I also thought there was echos of Kiss Me First where internet/technology was key – Hannah would possibly never have found about Nick if it weren’t for the internet.

I find this happens with books. One book on a seemingly new concept is written, The Da Vinci code for example and then a surge of simlar…

Should have sold more copies

Book a day today is 'should have sold more copies'

I have no idea how many copies the following books have sold. I’m sure in at least some cases they have sold millions and have been read by many more. However I think everyone should have awareness of the horrors that happened not so long ago and the individual acts of bravery that accompanied them. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose, Schindlers List/Ark by Thomas Keneally. There are many more I could list. They are based on trues stories, based on real people and if you stop to think about it, it’s mind blowing what they went through, suffered, sacrificed.

The ONLY book I haven't finished

Book a day today is ‘Never Finished it’.

Now you all know me. There’s not a one yet I haven’t finished. So I suppose I will have to nominate the one I am reading at the moment as technically I haven’t finished it yet. But I will! Current Book – Angelas Ashes by Frank McCourt.

Hooked me into reading

I’ve always read.

When I was younger it was Famous Five, Charlottes Webb, Narnia, Matilda or The Witches. I still want to visit Kirrin Island and search for treasure! As a young teenager it was the Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew or Sweet Valley High. As a middle aged teenager (14-15? I'm making things up as I usually do!) it was Maeve Binchy and I think Evening Class was the first ‘adult book’ I ever read. But the one I am going to choose as my book a day today is Lace by Shirley Conran.

From the first line ‘which one of you bitches is my mother’ I was hooked. It was the first slightly racy book I had ever read. Girls who drank ginger beer and had clean all American boyfriends that they simply held hands with were long forgotten in this book. Lace opened my eyes to the numerous other books that were out there. I suddenly stopped looking at the ‘B’ section of the library/second hand book shop and realised there were 25 who other letters that I could consider. You can tell with ‘C’ …

A brief appearance by William Shakespeare

Once upon a time my year 9 English class was visited by a Detective. He had with him a mat and when he unrolled it the outline of two bodies were revealed like those you would find at a murder scene. Yes two bodies had been found the Detective said and it was our job to work out how they died. Our only clues were a small dagger and a small empty glass vial. Cue much ridiculous guessing

‘They were shot’ No bullet holes
‘They were stabbed to death by gang members’ only one stab wound
‘They killed each other in a fight to the death’ They did not kill each other.


The Detective tried to give us a clue but in reality just asked more questions than answered*
‘Do we have a man and a woman, 2 men, 2 women?’
‘Who died first?’
‘If A died first why is their hand over the top of B?’

We guessed for ages not really getting anywhere until the Detective enlightened us with the big reveal. ‘These two are called Romeo and Juliet and you lucky people are now going to read exactly how they died. When…

The Husbands Secret - yes you are seeing right I am posting about this again it's my favourite cover

So for two days running I am banging on about The Husbands Secret. I apologise to those of you who have either read it and didn’t like it or who haven’t read it and have no intention to but todays book a day UK is ‘favourite cover’ and the immediate one that sprung to mind was this one.

Now if you have come here from Twitter (I’ve tweeted everyday this month you really should be coming here by now!) You have already clicked on one link to get here so if I were to turn around and say ‘I’ve already talked about this go to the previous blog’ I think I would be a little annoyed and give up. So to make it easy peasy for you here is what I said last time around about the cover;

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)…

Still can't stop talking about it!

Book a day UK for 19th is ‘Still can’t stop talking about it’ and mine is The Husbands Secret by Liane Moriarty. Boy did I love that book!

I want to try to say something different from my last blog about it (November 2013) but my blog was so long I’m struggling to think of a new angle.

It’s about secrets and choices, the many layers of love, and how it can cripple us if we don’t let go but equally if we don’t hold on.

It did take a little bit to get going but I loved everything about Celia. It was funny, heart breaking, full of suspense and had one of the best epilogues I have ever come across. I read some cracking books last year Tigers in Red Weather, Me Before You but this one just about tops the lot.

BE WARNED. THIS IS NOT ONE!!!!!

Book a day UK today is 'bought on a recommendation'. Mine is Wideacre by Philippa Gregory

I read this book about 3 years ago now and it wasn’t a book club choice so before writing I did a little search to refresh my memory. I came up with these two quotes

“The heroine is despicable in every possible way, yet the author clearly expects you to root for her à la Scarlett O'Hara. She commits multiple acts of murder, participates in very creepy incest, and betrays people who love her. She was horrid and I couldn’t stand her or the book.”

“Beatrice Lacey is by far the most horrible, hateful, despicable narrator I've ever read, but I found myself rooting for her throughout all her scandalous deeds- the conspired murder, the attempted murder, the committed murder, the incest, the hidden pregnancies, and on and on the list goes. I even found myself disliking sweet little Celia, as wonderful a woman as she was, simply because she was Beatrice's enemy. That, I think, is the …

It just screams future classic!

Book a day choice today is Future Classic and Cramlington Bookclubs choice for this is Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann

This was a book club choice in November 2013 but it’s one that has stayed with me despite over 6 months passing since.

It’s not topical, so it won’t date (there is no mention of Facebook taking over identities, or reality TV encouraging us all to want to be famous). It’s not trendy, so it won’t date (such as trilogies of soft porn are at the moment, tales of Irish poverty were around 15 years ago and secret Jesus codes were somewhere in between) and it’s not plot driven, so you don’t feel like you are reading it just to find out who did it only to never need to read it again as now you know who it was. You can totally read it again and get more out of it, then discuss it with a friend and see it from a totally different point of view (“yes but Ed is in love with Daisy that’s why he did that”)

The book has so much depth/so much to analyse. I can honestly see…

Can't believe more people haven't read

At the time of reading this book I thought without doubt it is the best book I have ever read. I cried bucket loads which for me is always a massive plus in a book (strange person I know). I bought it on a whim in JFK on my way back from New York. I hadn’t brought anything to read with me, I had just turned 21 (literally that day) and fancied treating myself to something to read for the plane journey. It was a hardback, not too big, not too long, not too expensive so to the till I popped.

I have never re-read it since, I always have so many other books to read that I never seem to have time to re-read ones but if I’m honest I’m a little bit scared to in case I have put on rose tinted spectacles over time and it’s not as good as I remember. I truly truly loved it when I read it though and can’t believe on my return to England no one had heard of it. Still to this day if I mention it I get a vague look. So unsurprisingly I say to you now, get out your pens and make a note of this one, …

Book a day weekend

So Saturday and Sundays topics were ‘An Old Favourite’ and ‘Favourite Fictional Father’

One did jump out immediately as an old favourite but I’m saving it for one of the ones later in the month. I have therefore decided to go for The Last Juror by John Grisham.

Grisham was a real change in direction of my reading. Up until then my back catalogue would have fit very comfortably in a retirement home given that they were all gentile Binchy type choices. My mum at the time was a member of one of those book clubs where they send you a catalogue every month you order say 6 books over 12 months then get a free one. The free one in this case was John Grisham – The Brethren. It was about law, something that I was developing an interest in at the time so I thought I would give it a go.

BAM I have never looked back.

I loved the fast paced world of the American legal system and quickly devoured everything he had ever written. Like Binchy, he too became quiet formulaic after a time (young rooki…

Books I pretend to read and that make me laugh #bookadayuk

Ok so blog was lost to me yesterday due to work commitments but I’ve managed to steal 5 minutes today to write about yesterday’s bookaday and todays.

Yesterday was a book ‘I pretend to have read’. Now regular readers of this blog will know I always finish a book once I start it so there isn’t an obvious candidate as if I waived about War and Peace on the bus but accidently started to read the first page then I would simply have to read until the end, which I did.

I’m not a snobby reader, well I tend not to like classic chick lit genre but I certainly love a good Jilly Collins, jumped on board with the Hunger Games and read all of the Shades of Gray series (really not worth it). So, whilst I would like some day to have read Ulysses, Paradise Lost, The Complete Works of Shakespeare and Les Mis. backwards twice. I have no desire to pretend that yes I have read them and weren’t they very good!

So what can my nomination be? Like a light bulb switching on inspiration hit. I have not one b…

Tweet Tweet

So Cramlington book club has now joined twitter @crambookclub and upon joining I noticed something trending under the hashtag ‘bookadayuk’ interesting I thought what’s that? It turns out it’s this;

https://www.boroughpress.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/BOOKADAY_June.pdf

And for those who can’t be bothered to click on the link (or just wanted to keep on reading this exciting post), for every day in June there is a different category of book. You then tweet your favourite of that particular category every day. Ever had a burning desire to know which book with a blue cover is the most popular? Can’t get to sleep at night without telling the world your favourite fictional father? Well panic no more #bookadayuk remedies that.

Todays category (11th June) is secondhand bookshop gem. Living up in Northumberland we are obviously honoured to have Barter Books on our doorstep – a very large secondhand bookshop in a converted railway station in Alnwick however my favourite bookshop h…

Kiss me First - Lottie Moggach. A strange one.

I genuinely had no idea how this book would pan out. I was about 2/3rd of the way through and still couldn’t tell what was going to happen. What made Leila go to Spain? How were the police involved? Was Tess really dead? How would the story with Adrian pan out? It’s not very often I read a book and have no idea where it is going to take me. I may not be able to guess the killer straight away but I know that the book will conclude with the killer being revealed. Here I didn’t know if I was going to read about Tess turning up alive and well, Connor and Leila falling in love or Leila being charged with murder and I really liked that about the book. I was curious and in a way it really built suspense.

It was a strange one though as I don’t think I ever reached the ‘can’t put it down stage’ which I thought I would given that I had such little idea as to the ending. As I missed the meeting I didn’t finish the book during the scheduled month so it took me ages to read including one week wh…

The Hidden Child – Camilla Lackberg

Ok so this book was mostly chosen because it was a £1 from Asda however it had all the ingredients of a good read. Scandinavian crime – check. World War 2 involvement – check. Different twist on the usual male detective on the brink of burn out – check. So far so good.

The book was number 6 of a series of books featuring husband (Detective) and wife (real life crime writer) who live in Sweden and solve crimes that land on their doorstep. I was a little concerned at first that as none of us had read an of the previous novels and so may not be up to speed however Lackberg made is very easy for new readers to slot in with some of the group not even realising this was a follow on book.

As I was new to ‘team Falck’ the no doubt on-going sub-stories were of no real interest to me and sometimes got in the way of the real story. I wasn’t really bothered about Anna and her relationship with her step-daughter or Ernst the dog obtaining coconut fluffs from his new owner. For me it slowed th…

The Cuckoos Calling by the Author of He Who Must Not Be Named.

The Cuckoos Calling – Robert Galbraith

We all approached this one knowing it was written by JK Rowling who of course wrote the Harry Potter novels or in this instance the He Who Must Not Be Named novels.

Much to my surprise we had a couple of members who had not read any Harry Pot… sorry… He Who Must Not Be Named and some who had read one or two but hadn’t liked them. Really?? Some of us had read The Casual Vacancy Rowling’s first effort at published adult fiction (not me) but nobody seemed overly impressed by it. So I was curious as to how this book would be reviewed.

We initially discussed why Rowling wrote under a pen name. I could certainly understand why she would want to – clean break, to prove to herself more than anyone that she can write successful adult fiction however we were all a little bit sceptical as to the leak to the press. It all worked out very conveniently in the end.

I was curious as to why she choose a male name – Robert. J.K. I suppose was open to interpreta…

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion

I wasn’t too bothered about this one when it was suggested to be honest. It looked a bit light weight and I generally don’t laugh out loud when my husband does at the Big Bang, The IT Crowd, the Inbetweeneers (Insert other similar funny things here) so thought a book described as ‘comical genius’ wasn’t really going to do it for me.

Nevertheless I bought it and proceeded to boldly go where I have not gone before and read my first comedy novel. And yes I did find it funny at times. I wasn’t wiping the tears from my eyes but it did raise a smile more than once.

I think it was because it was a very visual book and by that I don’t mean there are descriptions of scenery and starry skies. You could just totally see the dance scene taking place as you were reading it and the part where Don tries to buy Claudia a scarf in New York. We all decided it would make a brilliant play or even television show and reading the authors notes it does appear as though it was originally written with this…

Annual Review 2013 - plus chocolate

It’s New Year again already so time for a quick look back at the books we reviewed in 2013. Just a quick bonus blog as I’m very busy running and not eating chocolate (it is January)

The stand out books for me this year were without doubt Jojo Moyes – Me Before You and The Husbands Secret – Liane Moriarty. It’s hard to pick my favourite out of the 2 as they are quite different but I think for surprising me the most and teaching me never to judge a book by its cover I will choose Me Before You. It made me cry!


Must not eat chocolate

Worst book
We have had a few 5.5 looking back at the scores – Gone Girl, Sense of an Ending, Half the human Race but the lowest result from pretty much every one was Christmas Magic. Not about Christmas, too repetitive and predictable. Didn’t even give off a warm feel good Christmas glow that would have enabled us to give it higher marks.

I do not want to eat chocolate. Really. No I don’t.

Most attendance
We now have a massive 13 members and to be hones…

Double Trouble!!

New Year, new book club – we had to review TWO books this time which is a first and at first a tall order (or so I thought). However even when working right up until Christmas Eve and having more Christmas parties than you could shake a stick at, by New Year I had read them both and was in fact on my second post book club book(s) read. Trueman Capote in Cold Blood and Dark Fire CJ Sansom if you must know.

The Silent Wife – ASA Harrison was first on my list as I managed to sneak it in with the weekly shop at ASDA.

I read this book super quickly as I found Harrison had an uncanny knack of getting me to read the next chapter without me even noticing. Never the less I found the book dragged and wanted the plot to move on quicker.

I didn’t like any of the characters even Jodi which confused me. On the face of it why wouldn’t I like Jodi – a badly wronged wife who was having her home taken away from her by her cheating husband who had gotten a girl half her age pregnant? I should have be…