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Showing posts from 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 ab…

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 Rev…

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 an…

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. Fo…

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 y…

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 acti…

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 mur…

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 th…

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, ye…

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 …

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 th…

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…