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Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative
More a travelogue than a novel

Unlike our usual reading material, this book is not a novel; there was no “story” as such - we felt it to be more of a travelogue -which made it difficult to review from our book club’s point of view.
Varanasi is a colourful city on the banks of the Ganges river. The author had stayed there briefly previously and fallen in love with it but then had the opportunity to live there for a year.
The book was well written and easy to read in the main. However, there was heavy use of Indian words and terms throughout which some liked as there was a glossary to explain them but others found they interrupted the flow of the writing and would have preferred the English translation to be used in the text.
The stories and personalities he encountered were fascinating; however, the book was generally considered to be interesting rather than engaging due to his lack of personal involvement or interaction with his subjects. It was also notable that, although the book covered an entire year, there were no obvious markers to indicate the passage of time. We found it difficult to locate the area within India and felt that a map of the area and its surrounds would have been helpful.

Overall we felt that it was a competent travel book but lacked sufficient personal information about the author’s time there although one of the group felt it was one of the best books our book club had read!
We gave the book a mark of 5 out of 10.

 
Book Club Recommended
Addictive, Interesting, Dramatic
Burry Port Bookworms review

The group as a whole enjoyed the book. It was easy to get into, well written and an interesting and different storyline although some found the middle section a little slow. Some of us disliked all the characters although the plot was interesting, but others had a liking for Lily. Some admitted to having had interesting conversations with total strangers on long haul flights (though none about murder!) and could quite see that someone in a drunken ramble might admit to wanting to kill his wife, without really believing that anything was going to be done about it. The storyline did degenerate though, as all the main characters turned out to be quite laid back about murder, indeed serial murder. Some did feel that there was a strong undercurrent of misogyny in the book. The female characters are either evil temptresses (Lily and Miranda), sluts (Polly) or doolally (Lily’s mum) whereas the men are decent people who are basically victims who can’t themselves. One very small point – we were intrigued that the Inspector’s cat was called Pyewacket, named after a witch’s familiar spirit and would have thought that would have fitted Lily better! On the whole it was an interesting page turner although the detrimental effect on the Inspector’s career was lamented as it was felt that he was basically a good guy! Perhaps it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if one of the many murderers had gone against the tide and not carried out the deed? Altogether a very enjoyable, easy read and we gave it an overall mark of 7/10

The Prison Book Club by Ann Walmsley
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Optimistic, Informative
The Prison Book Club

The Prison Book club - Ann Walmsley

It was agreed that this book was fairly easy to read and enjoyable. In parts it did cover the same ground over again and this became rather tedious.
Several members commented on the relationship between Ann and Carol -It seems that Ann rather hero worshipped Carol. We would have been interested in their families and home life but we heard little of this.
Another lady commented that Ann and Carol worked long and hard for these book clubs, however, it was thought that there were more worthy charities to which time could be given. Many others agreed with this. Ann’s work was mainly an attempt to get over the trauma of getting mugged, and this seemed to work. It was agreed that many of the prisoners had been abused themselves and the book club could possibly help them to stop their offending. We were surprised at the lack of security Ann found when walking through the prison.
It was thought that if it had been a novel we would have found it rather unbelievable, as the prisoners were so articulate. We did not have a favourite prisoner as they all seemed so similar. We were aware that their names had been changed, but wondered if anything else had been changed about them. We also questioned the popularity of a book club in a halfway house.
Our members enjoyed the book reviews and found the book lists useful – some members have already purchased or re-read books from this list.
In all, most of us enjoyed the book and it scored 5.5 out of 10

From Mandi D:
I have just finished reading The Prison Book Club by Ann Walmsley and wanted to share my first impressions of it. I am pleased that it is a true story and that people like Carol exist. She sets a precendent when her team’s efforts establish a successful and popular reading group in a maximum security prison. Carol nutures her project and new groups in many other prisons build on the lessons learnt and skills implemented on the original project. I was impressed at the speed with which some of the Prison Group members read and yet absorbed the smallest details. The different and sometimes damning perspectives stem perhaps from the privileged backgrounds of Ann and Carol’s home-owning group of lady readers compared to the grim realities of the childhood of men. Amongst them were those who might remain locked behind bars until they died. It was an absorbing read that was designed to share a love of the written or typed word with all walks of life.

From Carolyn W:

I enjoyed this book. I
was intrigued by the idea of a book club in a prison. It felt like something
different.
.
I wasn't particularly drawn to any of the prisoners. I would have
liked to have found out more about them as for me it was the descriptions and
reviews which dominated the book. I liked this part of it a great deal. It made
me want to read some of them and it was good to have the book list at the
end.
I was impressed by the prisoners reviews. I thought it showed how
thoroughly they had read the books and how committed they were to the book club.
It was interesting that the book club seemed to help the author as much or maybe
more than the prisoners themselves.
It fulfilled my expectations in that it was
an interesting read and it gave an insight into how the prisoners thought. I'd
recommend it to anyone who likes to read about real people living in different
situations from most of us.

Sonia B:
I enjoyed the book for the most part but it would have been more interesting for me if the characters had been fleshed out a bit more - I was having some trouble distinguishing them from each other. (I think that probably reflected Ann's actual lack of interest in them as people rather than aids to her "recovery" and the raw material for a book). I was surprised at the type of book they read but that may be me being a literary snob! They must have selected their participants quite carefully for them to be able to read and critically review most of the titles that they read and they did seem to be more insightful than I would have thought most prisoners would be - presumably if they had had more insight they wouldn't have ended up in prison!. I would also have found it more interesting if I had actually read more of the books myself. I think I expected more of a difference between the prison book club and other book clubs which would have been interesting. I have to say that I found both Carol and Ann's attitudes (particularly Ann's) to be patronising and condescending and they seemed to have the feeling that they personally were lifting the prisoners out of their lowly lives and improving their lot by running the clubs. Not sure about their motives - Ann wanted to write a book and Carol was intent on building a book club empire - but perhaps that doesn't matter. Strangely, although the books reviewed were different in each chapter I began to find it repetitive too. Not as good as I had hoped but I have definitely read worse! I would have given it a 5 out of 10.

Rooms: A Novel by Lauren Oliver
 
Book Club Recommended
Unconvincing, Confusing, Interesting
Rooms

Our group agreed that this book was easy to read, although not very memorable. The characters were quite complex but not likeable. There were many things unexplained. The ghosts were not at all frightening and were written in a very ‘matter of fact way.’
The book was not plot driven but relied on the characters, which were well described. There were light-hearted parts to the book.
During the book Trenton changed and matured, Mina changed a little, but the other characters stayed very much the same.
The ‘plot’ was unpredictable, with time going back and forward quite easily. The author tried to make the house a character in the story, but did not really pull this off.
All the characters, including the ghosts were looking for closure of some type and the ending (i.e. the fire) was predictable.
Trenton knew about the ghosts from quite early on in the book this could be because he was going through puberty, or possible because he was slightly brain damaged as a result of the accident he had earlier in his life. This would have made him receptive of the supernatural.
We understand that the author had previously written for teenagers and this came through in this book. If we could ask the author a question, we would like to know if this book was based on her own experience in any way.
A likeable, easy to read book, our group gave it an average mark of slightly above 6.

Alice and the Fly by James Rice
 
Book Club Recommended
Unconvincing, Gloomy, Difficult
Alice and The Fly

Our book club had quite a wide diversity of views on this book with some really enjoying it and others finding it unmemorable. The explicit and violent parts were unexpected on the whole and felt to be unnecessary.
The inconsistent style of writing made it confusing and although the story was intense the main characters Greg and Alice were stereotypical and unbelievable. Their families are dysfunctional and every one of them has their own demons to fight.
Greg’s father is a plastic surgeon who escapes from everyday reality into the arms of his secretary. By studying x-rays of breast tissue at the kitchen table he can drown out the voice of his wife fully outlining her next majorly expensive decorating project, or pretend not to notice the meal has been exactly same and inedible for a week while she perfects her next dinner party menu.
Alice’s father is a butcher and Greg works in his shop. It is left to the imagination what awful things Alice has to endure at home, but it seemed clear that the relationship between her and her father was abusive. When Greg starts to spy on her at home it does not take him long to form his own damning conclusions.
Greg’s mental health instability seems to resemble epilepsy more than the diagnosed schizophrenia. We found it surprising that he was allowed so much freedom in spite of it. He is basically labelled a ‘Psycho’ by his schoolmates and his family who either ignore him or plead with him to be ‘normal’. He is allowed to travel to school and is left to get on with school life since he is academically sound, except a well-meaning teacher tries unsuccessfully to provide some help. This takes the form of after school talking sessions – “psychotherapy” for which she is not qualified.
There is a police transcript that explains a major incident through the responses of the different characters in the story. Without this most of the group’s readers said they would have struggled to finish the book. We wondered if its target audience who we thought might be young adults might have enjoyed it more than most of us did.
Average score 5/10

A Parcel for Anna Browne by Miranda Dickinson
 
Unconvincing, Romantic, Slow
A Parcel for Anna Browne

A benefactor with seemingly psychic empathy starts sending Anna Browne, a conscientious and introverted receptionist, luxurious gifts. Predictably, receiving anonymous parcels has mixed blessings and despite initially feeling good about being in the limelight, there are skeletons that Anna would rather leave in the closet.

Early on, and still with about 350 pages to go, some of our reading group had guessed the identity of the mystery philanthropist. We discussed the height of the reception desks in London tower blocks and whether the staff behind them were really visible enough that you could spot a new brooch at twenty paces. Anna’s friendly colleagues seem uncharacteristically enthralled by and attracted to each new addition to her appearance. It was disappointing at the end when the mystery gift giver is revealed but there is no explanation as to why she chose the gifts that so resonated with aspects of Anna’s past life – we felt that perhaps Anna read some special meaning into what were in fact very random presents


This was an easy-to-read, unmemorable adult fairy story. A good holiday read perhaps but on the whole not for our group

Average score 4/10

 
Boring, Slow, Unconvincing
Among the Ten Thousand Things

About 50% of our members managed to finish this book, although it was quite a struggle for most of them. In particular the extreme bad language at the beginning of the book most of us found offputting and unnecessary. It added nothing and seemed out of step with the rest of the book.
It was thought that this book was difficult to retain; the problem was mostly the changing of times, although some of our members do like this style of writing it was felt that it did not go smoothly in this case.
It was felt that the characters were not particularly likeable, leaving our members not really caring as to the outcome of the story. They had not been very well developed and were not easy to visualise.
The grandmother was a stereotypical Jewish mother and the mother seemed to be determined to stay married, whatever her husband did. As a couple they did not connect and the whole family were isolated from one another. Did the husband regret the affair? no we felt that he did not, he only regretted getting caught.
It was commented that the happenings in their lives were not really interesting and it seemed that the mother did not look after her children after the arrival of the emails. We felt that she would have been more caring towards them.
We did read reviews indicating that the novel was about loneliness, we did not agree with this; we felt it was more about isolation.
Although this book mirrored real life more than some books, we felt that the characters were not compelling. The time movement did not add to the story and we felt, was not particularly well done. The ending, which was in the middle of the book, fizzled out, we felt.
We also thought that health and Safety would have something to say about the art installation!
Our score out of 10 was 3½

Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Optimistic
Cold Cold Heart

Most of our book club members finished and enjoyed this book and we felt it was well written. The plot was strong and we were impressed with the personalities of the main characters. The book was easy to read from the start and was quite a page turner. Although it was not a quick read, we mostly felt that we needed to see what had happened.
No one liked Dana as a person, either before or after her experience. Her rudeness and disability was discussed and we did know of instances where some of this had happened.
There was one comment that the book was predictable and that Tim Carver was the obvious culprit. Others did not spot him as a suspect until later on, although there were questions about why he left West Point, and he was rather a ‘golden boy’
Mum was a believable character, who calmed down as the book continued. She was understandably over- protective of her daughter.
Roger again was not a likeable character and most of us felt that he may have been the father of Casey’s baby and her murderer.
John and his alcoholic father were red herrings, although John had a bad time as a child and he did not trust anyone. I think we all realised that the body in the barrel was John’s mum rather than Casey.
We felt on the whole that the ending was realistic and liked the fact that the author resisted any temptation to tie up all loose ends Out of 10 we scored the book 7.5

The Girls by Emma Cline
 
Graphic, Dark, Insightful
The Girls - not our cup of tea

Many of our group found the writing too flowery for their taste and there was general consensus that the writing style was not popular.

As we were all aware of the Manson story, we found ourselves waiting for something in a similar vein to happen and after waiting until almost the end of the book we found the events to be rather anti-climactic

This book focussed more on the personalities involved. Evie was not happy with her life, her best friend Connie had a new best friend and she felt excluded Evie wanted to be the centre of attention and did most things for the effect that they would have on others so it was not suprising that as a 14 year old she was flattered by the attention given to her by the older girls. This was to have a profound and mostly negative impact on her life.

We felt that the mother was odd as she was not in the least concerned about the whereabouts of her daughter and did not check on her. Evie’s father was too involved with his new life to be much help, he was more concerned with his new young wife.

Russell, who seemed to be the centre of the cult that Evie was introduced into, had the girls running around after him, but did not seem concerned with them as individuals.

When the events at the end of the book finally happened we were unsure of Suzanne’s motives in excluding Evie at the last moment. We could not make up our minds whether she was helping Evie by not allowing her to be there, or perhaps she was fed up with the younger girl and just wanted rid of her. Whatever the reason, as it turned out Evie was lucky not to be involved.

Altogether most of us found it an unsatisfactory book on many levels and most of our book club members would not want to read another book by this author. This was very disappointing as it was hyped up to quite a degree so expectations were high.

Out of 10 we gave the book a score of 4.5.

Dead Secret by Ava McCarthy
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Interesting, Dramatic
Dead Secret by Eva McCarthy

Most of our group finished this book and found it a quick enjoyable read. A well written ‘who-dun-it’
We were engaged immediately with the story, but felt it went downhill a little in the middle, mainly because of the amazing recuperative abilities of Jodie {the main character}. This made it a little cartoonish – as in Tom and Jerry. Her physical abilities after her hospital stay were rather unbelievable. Jodie was a powerful woman, perhaps too powerful to get our sympathies and none of us felt an empathy with her. We felt that we would like to have had more information on the controlling behaviour included in the book and felt that many things were glossed over with none of the characters really being “fleshed out” sufficiently. Perhaps Ms McCarthy was trying to include too many strands into the book. The ending was a surprise to most although many had already guessed that the daughter was still alive.
Whilst verging on the fantastic in some places the general consensus was that it was a well written, easy to read, page turner and we did enjoy the book. We gave it a mark of 7 out of 10.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Dramatic
The Improbability of Love

Most enjoyed this book thoroughly and liked the painting having it's own voice. Perhaps too many characters introduced who were not developed so could be a little confusing at times. On the whole a good read Score 7 out of 10

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Confusing, Interesting
Blue Light Yokohama

Blue Light Yokohama by Nicholas Obregon

The main comment about this book was the difficulty with the Japanese names. It was felt that a list of characters and possibly a map of the area would have been a welcome addition .
We did learn quite a lot about the Japanese way of life, particularly the pecking order in the police service but were surprised that the seemingly ultra-respectful language and behaviour masked an underlying cynicism and misogynism.
Most of us found the detective’s childhood interesting, but the fact that we did not link the child to the adult until it was clearly spelled out was confusing. The time frame went back and forth without warning and it was disjointed and made for difficult reading at times.
Most of our group were engaged immediately but less so as the book continued. Some found that the book lacked substance and therefore interest but others though that the plot was interesting for the most part.
The main character was complicated and quite difficult to understand and we felt that there were deliberate and unnecessary complications included in the story with characters and storylines that went nowhere.
The main theme, the cult of the black sun, was again confusing but the plot twists were unexpected and interesting for most.
We found the novel was atmospheric and we learned a little about life in Japan.
Our score out of ten was 6 out of 10

The African Equation by Yasmina Khadra
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Boring, Dramatic
The African Equation

The African Equation - Yasmina Khadra

Everyone agreed that this book was beautifully written and easy to read however the majority of readers did not find it particularly interesting.
Some of our members were gripped from the beginning and enjoyed the book to the end. They felt they had been transported immediately into the heart of the story and were kept enthralled up to the rather disappointing ending. Others were switched off at the moment of the kidnapping so opinion was very split on this one.
Many of the group did not like the main characters and therefore were not engaged in their stories
It was slightly disappointing for some that the obvious clichés of magical happenings and romantic interest had not been avoided and it was felt that they detracted from what was an extremely good story.
Out of 10 our average score was 6

The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells
 
Boring, Unconvincing, Confusing
The Beauty of the End


Those of our group who started the book, read on to the end. They found the plot weak and forgettable. It took a while to get into the book and was disappointing even when it got going.
We felt that April seemed to be an unlikely goddess and that Noah must have been in his own little world and rather drippy not to have noticed what she was like.
The characters did not change during the book. We felt that we would have liked to know more of the murder of April’s stepfather and also we thought that Ella could have been developed more than she was, as she was the real victim in the story. Will was the baddy from the start, so no surprises there.
It was felt that the storyline went to and from the past rather too often, and with no warning.
We were puzzled by the relevance of the title, but thought it was possibly something to do with the letter from April at the end of the book.
We felt that the book was disappointing and would not recommend it to others, although we understand from one of our number that the author’s first book is better.
Out of ten, we scored this book as a 6

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Confusing, Interesting
The Crime Writer

Most of our number, who started this book, did finish it, as it was quite an easy read. Some thought it became a little tedious at times, but it picked up again. We wondered how Jill Dawson managed to imply that Ms Highsmith committed a murder – or did she. It was not clear if the events were real or written as a dream sequence.
We all thought it was clever to have written the book in the style of Patricia Highsmith and we understand that many of the small details in the book were correct, for example, her fascination with snails and the fact that she went to a function with a rotting head of lettuce and snails in her handbag. She was a complex character and this came through in the writing. It appeared that she had a troubled childhood and did not get on with her mother. On the one hand Patricia was reported to be mean, cruel, unloved and unloving but on the other more positive side she was considered plain spoken, dryly funny, difficult, but a brilliant writer.
Most of the characters were really quite unlikeable but we did like the character Ronnie, as he came across as sympathetic to her, perhaps the only person in the book who liked her, not just for what she could give them. We were confused however as to how he became such a close confidante so quickly as she appears to have only met after recently moving to the village
To sum up, we quite enjoyed the book and did feel inclined to find out more about Patricia Highsmith. Writing in the style of the main character, we thought was clever. Out of 10, we scored it a 6.

The Cutaway: A Thriller by Christina Kovac
 
Book Club Recommended
Confusing, Interesting, Informative
The Cutaway

We had a mixture of opinions on this book. Many enjoyed it very much, as they liked hearing about the politics of the newsroom whereas others found that less interesting
The in fighting in the newsroom made some of the characters look perfect, but underneath they were interesting but flawed. We felt that the murder was just a hook for the story of the newsroom politics, although some of us felt that we would have liked to hear more about it.
We found the start of the book rather confusing, but that was probably because we were thinking too much about the missing person.
Although the main characters did not change we began to see them develop and realise their true colours towards the end of the book
The title was interesting but the relevance of it was not clear to everyone although some found it clever and the cover was eye catching but perhaps not as relevant to the story.
We liked the ending and for some of us it was a pleasant change to avoid the usual predictable sentimentality .
We found the book well written and fairly interesting, particularly the introduction of "dark money" and some of us would have liked to heard more of the story of Evelyn Carney.
Out of 10, we scored this book 6

The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern
 
Book Club Recommended
Optimistic, Insightful, Interesting

We found the characters in this book interesting and well drawn. It was easy to read, although perhaps a little slow to start. Most of us read the book to the end.
Fergus Bloggs has had a severe stroke and, going through his belongings, his daughter Sabrina finds boxes of marbles. This coincides with a rare day off from work for her and she sets about finding out more about her father and the marbles both of which were a mystery to her.
Fergus was a secretive man. He was ashamed of his family, even of his wife later in life so he invents a different life for himself, using the name of his idolised dead brother. He was a champion at marbles, but his family knew nothing of this side of his life. Sabrina’s character developed during the book as she was struggling to find out what had happened in her father’s life and what had happened to the two valuable marbles she had discovered were missing from his collection that she had found. It seems for a long time that these missing marbles had been sold – and indeed it seems that Fergus believed this to be the case as he had given them to his last love - Cat - to sell to make the money that he was desperately in need of but it transpires that Cat had not sold them and had given him the money herself. She knew how much the marbles meant to Fergus so kept them for him.
There were several passages that we felt were well written and that we enjoyed. We found the passage at the start of the book, where Fergus’ mother loses her longed for baby girl at birth, very sad and well written and we liked the fact that she got on with life after this tragedy. Fergus’ stroke and subsequent loss of memory was also sad but we found his brothers coming to the care home to see him in the end very pleasing and again well written.
Sabrina’s husband was interesting as he seemed t be making up for his extra marital affair by being kind and supportive during Sabrina’s search for her family history. Sabrina was able to let go of this and finally answer some questions about herself too. We felt that Sabrina would have been keen to search her family history, as she did have a rather boring job, although we did like the elderly man who kept trying to drown himself.
We found the story character driven and interesting, delving in to the subject of family secrets and lies. We learned about the games and making of marbles and felt that the loose ends were well tied up at the end if the book. Some of our readers were interested enough in the subject to Google’ Marbles as a game for adults,’ which we had not come across before, it being a game for children as far as we were concerned. One striking and perhaps slightly odd note was that although the cover makes much of the fact that the story takes place in one day we none of us felt that this came across at all in the reading.
Our score for this book was 6.5 out of 10

The Birdwatcher by William Shaw
 
Book Club Recommended
Dark, Interesting, Dramatic
The Birdwatcher by William Shaw

This book was well received by the majority of our readers. They felt the writing conveyed the bleakness and atmosphere of the area, Dungeness, very well and it was easy to read. The story of the investigation of a murder by a community policeman, William South, in conjunction with Cupidi a police woman new to the area was interesting and well written. South’s relationship with Cupidi’s daughter as they shared his passion for birdwatching was particularly well drawn. The murder investigation uncovered links to the murder of South’s father in Northern Ireland during the troubles. However we were unsure how Cupidi was led to connect the two murders and to determine how South was involved.
The overall feeling was that the first two thirds of the book were interesting and believable but that the final third felt rushed with too many bodies and conclusions reached with what appeared to be no real evidence. Having said that most said they would like to read more by this author and would recommend the book to others. We gave it an overall score of 6.5 out of 10.

The Girl in the Glass Tower by Elizabeth Fremantle
 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Interesting, Informative
The Girl in the Glass Tower

This is a story of a little known woman, Arbella Stuart, who was born as an heir to the throne after Elizabeth I died childless and of Amelia, a poet, who met her at court and later fell on hard times. For the most part we enjoyed the book and most of us finished it although some found it slow and a little boring with nothing much happening until the latter part.
The book showed the intrigue of the court and the people in power. No-one was a true friend or to be trusted and as Amelia found out it was easy to be banished from the court and left with nothing. really trust. Amelia found out how easy it was to be ousted from court, and left with nothing.
There were many interesting facts around the court and the times including how the ladies in waiting were expected to fund themselves and the – to us – unknown fact that anorexia existed in those times and is not merely a modern complaint.
Some of us found it difficult to follow as people were referred to very often by their title rather than their name which made it too impersonal. We thought Arbella’s life was rather sad. She was only of importance because of her links to the throne and once it was obvious that she would not become Queen she was cast aside.
The escape and the consequent happenings were interesting but we felt we would have liked to know more about what happened to Will Seymour. Most of us would like to read other work by this author and would probably recommend the book to others.
We scored this book 6.5 out of 10

 
Book Club Recommended
Addictive, Dramatic, Interesting
The Girl Before

This was a mildly disturbing and rather creepy book which, however, was very easy to read. Most of our members finished and enjoyed the book but did not like the characters. Those who did not enjoy the book very much did finish reading it because they had to know what happened in the end.
All of the characters had their secrets and the book kept us guessing as to what they really were which certainly kept everyone’s interest. The plot, although quite slow, was engaging, concentrating on how the characters reacted to events.
The flat was interesting, but we felt would be difficult to live in. We could not imagine getting rid of everything that makes us an individual. Emma did cheat, because she was at heart untidy, but she would accept any rules to live in a nice flat, in a good area, in the middle of London.
In answer to the question ‘what would you ask the author’ we wanted to know what sort of house he lived in, is it minimalist and modern as in the book, or cluttered and cosy, or somewhere in between. Also we wondered if there is going to be a sequel with the new girl.
Altogether we felt the book was well written, engaging and interesting and all of us wanted to know how it ended. Although we were mostly in agreement there was still plenty to discuss about the characters and the events.
Out of ten we scored this book 6.5

Spoonbenders: A novel by Daryl Gregory
 
Interesting, Fun
The Spoonbenders

This book provoked a majority of negative responses with the exception of one member who loved it. For that person it was a slow starter but once the characters and story were established they found it really interesting and engaging.
More of us did not get past the first 50-100 pages however and it was generally agreed even by those who did finish the book that it was a confusing and disjointed read, moving backwards and forwards from character to character and backwards and forwards in time too.
On the whole we agreed that Buddy was probably the only likeable character but he could not make up for the deficiencies of the book as a whole.
A very disappointing read as the cover “blurb” made it sound interesting and different – it was certainly the latter but not necessarily in a good way!
We gave it a score of 4.5 out of 10.

The Lost Girl by Carol Drinkwater
 
Poorly Written, Romantic, Interesting
The Lost Girl

This book divided our book club; some really liked it and others not so much.
Those who enjoyed it found it an easy read, very interesting enjoying both the stories. They enjoyed the different time lines and found both love story lines equally interesting.
Those who didn't found the writing style poor and both the story lines depending on too many unlikely scenarios and coincidences to be believable.
Most of the group finished the story as they wanted to find out what happened but unfortunately mostwere disappointed with what they considered an unbelievable ending. Both groups however would have liked to have more information about deserters.

The average score was 6 out of 10.
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Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Brilliant, Dark
Behind Her Eyes

Behind Her Eyes was a difficult book to get into but, once there, the majority of our members really enjoyed.
We found the beginning parts quite slow and tedious and it was difficult to keep track of who was who and what time zone we were in. None of the characters were particularly likeable and David seemed an almost shadowy figure compared to the others. However we found the story as a whole unusual and interesting and we all thought the twist at the end was particularly clever and unexpected.
We all thought it was well written but it was suggested that perhaps it had been written “backwards” i.e. the author had started with an ending and then written the rest of it.
We thought it was cleverly marketed and the cover was particularly striking and would have tempted us to buy off the shelf.
All in all we enjoyed it and gave it an average mark of 6 out of 10.

Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Fantastic, Interesting
The Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar



Most of our number finished the book and the vast majority thought it well written although the contents divided us with some thinking it was very good and others not enjoying it at all. Some felt that it took some getting into and that once in it was worthwhile whereas others found it an unrewarding slog. A few of us really enjoyed it from start to finish finding the subject matter interesting particularly the background of the astronaut and the nutella eating spider was enjoyed by all.
We found the contents amusing, if not laughing out loud funny. and the ending fitting . On the whole we are looking forward to further work from this author.
We gave it an average score of 7 out of 10.

 
Book Club Recommended
Unconvincing, Confusing
The Other Mrs Walker



This book had varying reviews from our book club. Some really loved it and scored it 8 out of 10 while others did not and scored it only 2. The story was confusing most of us felt, with times and characters moving backwards and forwards very rapidly – not just between the past and the present but between multiple time zones in each of those. The storyline was interesting but the characters neither likeable nor particularly well developed and it did not appear that any of the particular story threads were properly explored or concluded. It would have been helpful if the ending was less trite and better explained – some of us were left not really knowing who was dead and who wasn’t! The reference at the end to “the Other Mrs Walker” was not relevant some felt as that was not actually the name of the person being referred to. Overall it could have been much clearer and more interesting if the characters had been more defined and some felt that the number of coincidences made it a little less believable.

The average score was 6 out of 10

 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Optimistic, Interesting
The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr



Everyone in our club read, finished and enjoyed this book which is a recommendation and a rarity! It was well written, easy to read, funny and sad in equal parts and with an interesting story running through it. We thought the rules were those which most people automatically know and try to adhere to but even “normal/typicals” struggle with the one that says you have to adapt them to suit the situation. Not being familiar with this type of situation we were unsure whether the way the story developed was entirely realistic but it was very enjoyable. The parenting of both mother and father left a lot to be desired and Elvira managed to grow up and eventually function at a reasonable level in general society in spite of their efforts rather than because of them. In the case of teaching her the nuances of male/female relationships her upbringing left a lot to be desired and caused Elvira considerable difficulty.

The characters were well drawn and developed and the story drew us in making us want to know what happened next. Altogether a very enjoyable read and we scored it a very healthy 7.5 out of 10.

Copycat by Alex Lake
 
Fantastic, Unconvincing, Boring
Copy Cat by Eve Lake


This book divided the group into two distinct groups – a small group that really loved it and “couldn’t put it down” and another larger group who regretted picking it up! The “likers” thought it was exciting, gripping, and kept them wondering to the end. The “others” thought it formulaic, predictable and quite silly in its expectation that the readers would be intrigued. The characters were two dimensional at best and the “surprises” signposted and with a klaxon announcing them!
Those who liked it thought it was a timely and prescient book in this facebook world; those who didn’t had expected it to be timely and prescient but were sadly disappointed.
The few who liked it would seek out other books by this author and would recommend it to their friends; those who didn’t would not do either.
Unfortunately all those who professed to enjoy the book were unable to be at the meeting and had submitted their reviews by email so there was no opportunity to explore in more depth the reasons for and against which may well have led to a more interesting discussion.
The average score was 5.5 out of 10

The Invitation by Lucy Foley
 
Book Club Recommended
Unconvincing, Romantic, Optimistic
The Invitation by Lucy Foley


This book divided our group with some really enjoying it and others not so much! However all were agreed that it makes a good “summer read” and should be enjoyed as that. Those who disliked it found the characters and plot thin and the storyline was unbelievable, particularly the ending. Those who liked it enjoyed the glamour, setting and romance of the book although again most thought the ending a little rushed and contrived. No-one thought it really memorable. A good summer read but nothing more. The average score was 7 out of 10

City of Friends by Joanna Trollope
 
Pointless, Unconvincing, Boring
City of Friends by Joanna Trollope

Only 1 out of our book club group really liked this book and only she and one other would be interested in reading more by this author. Most were very disappointed by the storyline, lack of character definition and lacklustre writing, and most had been expecting much more from this book and this author.

We felt generally speaking that it was a bit of a “nothing” story – middle class affluent women, all with what appear to be very similar careers, experience a setback but triumph over this minor adversity and end up much where they started. The only exception to this was Beth the academic lesbian but the ending to her story left us all perplexed and unsatisfied. Unfortunately we neither liked nor sympathised with any of them and we gave it an average score of 4 out of 10.

 
Book Club Recommended
Graphic, Confusing, Interesting
The Fabulous O'Learys by Caron Freeborn


After some trepidation because of the very strong language and tricky subject matter this book was chosen for our book club to review and it proved to be an extremely good choice – although it divided opinion it also provided an enormous amount for discussion. One thing we were all agreed on was the strength of the writing both in style and substance.
Most of us found the different characters hard to identify at first and perhaps a family tree at the front of the book may have been helpful here. However, those who prefer character driven books found it extremely interesting whereas those preferring plot driven were left wanting. We all agreed that the characters were extremely well drawn (all with their own peculiarities and idiosyncracies) and also that we have our own strangeness – some more than others!
This was a marmite book but well worth trying and certainly well worth reading as a book club pick. We gave it a 6 out of 10.

Artemis: A Novel by Andy Weir
 
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Informative, Interesting
Artemis by Andy Weir


This book was of a genre not usually read by our members so it was with some caution that we chose it. However, most of us really enjoyed it once we had got past the “science” - I think most of us quite quickly realised that to enjoy the book properly it was necessary to “ignore” the “science” and concentrate on the story and this tactic generally0 paid off.

We all agreed it was well written and an interesting concept being set on another planet in another time . Although the central character Jazz was not particularly likeable, she (and that surprised most of us as we thought “she” was a “he” to start with) was interesting and the concept of the “slightly” crooked operator saving the planet from the “really crooked” operators was a unique one. We liked that although she did not make her fortune as anticipated in the beginning she kept going and was ever hopeful.
Most of us thought it would perhaps make a better film than a book where the “science” would be more easily understood.
Altogether an interesting and enjoyable read for most of us – we gave it an average score of 6 out of 10.

You Were Made for This by Michelle Sacks
 
Book Club Recommended
Dark, Interesting, Dramatic
You Were Made For This by Michelle Sacks


We all agreed that this was an easy read and most of us were interested and wanted to know how the story developed. Although none of the characters were considered likeable, it was intriguing to see their fairy tale lives unravel to show the darkness underneath for all of them. The ending was a surprise for most of us and we found the very last paragraph creepy and a little distasteful. Some of us loved the whole story but others not so much so overall we gave it 6 out of 10

 
Book Club Recommended
Unconvincing, Confusing
The Quality Street Girls by Penny Thorpe


Everyone agreed that this was a very suitable book to read over the Christmas period although not everyone enjoyed it as much as they had hoped. Those who did not like it thought the writing was not as good as it might have been and that there were just too many characters with too many different story lines to make a cohesive whole. None of the characters were particularly likeable and some thought that the portrayal of the role of women at that period of time was perhaps exaggerated. However, we all felt that the depiction of the living and social conditions prevailing at the time in which it was set was realistic and well described and we enjoyed the part at the end where the author displayed her knowledge of the real history of Quality Street confectionery itself. It was easy enough to read overall although it would not encourage us to read any other work by this author. We gave it a 6 out of 10.

 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Dramatic, Interesting
The Beguiled by Thomas Cullinan


There was a big drawback to the enjoyment of this book for many of our members which was that the type used was just far too small. Quite a few who started reading the book and who would have liked to continue just had to give up because they could not deal with the small text – what a shame.
There was one other factor which some of us found difficult was the number of characters and all their back stories which could make the beginning feel disjointed and confusing. However, those of us who did struggle on were in the main rewarded with an enjoyable story with enough in it to make it well worth while. We felt it was very well written invoking the feel of the south and the horrors of the ongoing battle with the north. Despite being written by a man we felt that he captured very well what it was to be a teenage girl in those times, isolated from the mainstream and with no men around. Johnny was believable as the dashing young soldier, wounded and in need of loving care and attention, and his effect on this feminine household was well depicted and believable. He found each one’s weakness and exploited it to the full whilst maintaining that they were the only one he really loved. The amputation scene, we felt, reflected the times they lived in and how they just had to deal with whatever life threw at them.
The story unfolded well and the eventual inevitable ending felt right and just given all that had happened and might still happen. The final part threw a different light on things and they may have acted differently had they known before but hindsight is such a wonderful thing!
We gave it an average mark of 6 out of 10 from those who were able to read at least the majority of it.

All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison
 
Slow, Unconvincing, Boring
All Among The Barley by Melissa Harrison


Our bookclub found this - with only one exception - to be a very disappointing book. The most often used adjective was “boring” unfortunately and overall there was very little of any interest in it for us. Even the farmers amongst us did not warm to either the characters or the storyline - the characters being one dimensional and the storyline uninspiring. The writing was good enough but sadly did not make up for the overall tediousness of the story. We gave it an average score of 3.5

 
Book Club Recommended
Brilliant, Interesting, Dramatic
You Let Me In by Lucy Clark


When this book was first given out as the book for review this month one or two were very doubtful if they would enjoy or even be able to read it based on the cover “blurb” and that it did not appear to be the sort of book they normally enjoyed. However, much to some readers’ surprise, this really turned out to be a page turner for most of the group – great build up of tension and well disguised protagonist and plot so very much enjoyed by most of us. One or two guessed the “baddie” but not the reason for their actions and all thought it well written with interesting, if not particularly likeable, characters. One of the group had already starting reading another book by this author and most of us would recommend it to others. Good choice for a book club and we gave it an average score of 7 out of 10.

 
Unconvincing, Dark
I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

This book was difficult for our book club to review. We were encouraged by the praise heaped on her first novel and expected much of this one. Almost all of us thought it was well written and wanted to read to the end to find out what happened; however, that is where the problems began. We enjoyed the narration of the different timelines explaining how events had led up to the current crisis - Aimee’s husband Ben has disappeared along with the contents of her bank account. It appears that she herself emptied the account although she knows that not to be true. There begins a tail of mysterious and puzzling events which Aimee struggles to understand until the final denouement explains everything: except it doesn’t. The whole group found the ending very rushed, disappointing and completely unbelievable. None of the characters were likeable unfortunately and some of the incidents from “Aimee’s” childhood were distinctly unpleasant but these could have been forgiven had the story blossomed into something more credible. We would not recommend this book to others sadly and the score given was 5 out of 10.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Dramatic
A Well Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler


Our book club thought this was a well written, interesting and enjoyable book. Although none of the characters were particularly likeable their stories were engrossing. The realities of the class system in America at that point in time – late 19th early 20th centuries – was a surprise to us as we had not expected that it was as important as it appears to have been. We were also surprised at how the women seemed to run the society with men appearing to just provide the money. Some of Alva’s actions in relation to her daughter seemed at odds with her later disregard for societal norms and her fervent belief and activism in the women’s suffrage movement but these sorts of contradictions in terms of what women are expected to do and what they really want to do still exist of course. Altogether an interesting and enjoyable read and we gave it a mark of 7 out of 10.

 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting
I Looked Away

We found this a gripping story and well written. Even though no-one character was particularly likeable the story itself we found interesting. Although the group had guessed some of the revelations at the end we all thought it was a little too neatly and quickly tied up. Kept us all interested to the end so a success as far as our group was concerned. We gave it a 7 out of 10 on average.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Insightful, Brilliant
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig


This book was loved by our book group. They found the writing easy and the story and characters interesting and enjoyable. Although the story constantly shifts back and forth in time they did not find this a problem as it sometimes can be . The different periods of history and the characters from them were well written and the consensus was that it was a fun, light hearted and entertaining novel.
Altogether one of our favourite group reads and it scored an average of 8 out of 10.

A Single Source by Peter Hanington
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Dramatic
A Single Source by Peter Hanington


This book split our group clearly into two camps; half of us really enjoyed it and the other half were not at all impressed. The 3 thread story for some was too confusing and disjointed but others found it very interesting, especially to see how all stories came together in the end: the reporters following the Arab Spring and the locals assisting them; the civil servants in London and the contentious arms sales; and the two Eritrean brothers being promised a golden future as refugees in the UK. A well written and easy to read book about events happening within our lifetime made for an interesting read for some but with not enough interest to engage the others. Overall we scored it a 7 out of 10.

This Little Dark Place by Hatch A. S.
 
Book Club Recommended
Dark, Dramatic, Interesting
This Little Dark Place

This Little Dark Place by A.S. Hatch
Steph
I quite enjoyed this book, and it’s the first book that I’ve finished in a long time. I liked the fact that it was quite a direct book and straight to the point. I don’t like the excessive use of flowery language and descriptions. I liked the description of the cabin and I could almost see it.  I’d even give this book an 8 I liked it that much

Gill
I enjoyed reading this little dark space as it was such a page turner
All characters I could relate to
My emotions keep switching from one character to another
I originally thought Lucy was going to end up being Dans inmate pen pal
Good ending in a way as it was quite dark but left you with hope for all their futures except of course poor Ruby
I’d give it 8

Chris
Quite enjoyed this book. The story line kept me interested and I liked the way the story was told through the letter although I did sometimes get a little confused about the time line. I did keep wondering where he was writing the letter from until nearly the end!
I didn't particularly like any of the characters but thought they were well described.
I felt that the Halloween preparation was a little over the top, I'm sure that he would have been found guilty with less evidence.
A good book that helped pass the time.
I  would give it  6.5

Mabe
I was drawn in from the word go.

It had so many twists and turns and the characters were well described and it was a big surprise to me that Lucy was in fact his daughter.

I felt sorry for Daniel life wasn’t brilliant for him his stepfather is a monster his wife walks out on him and then....  Ruby lands in his life, I had Ruby down as the baddie right up until she ended up in the trunk.

Very well written and I think it would make a good film.

7 out of 10

Carolyn
I thought this book was ok for a quick read but it wasn't very thrilling. There were a lot of red herrings like the bikers and Dan's first wife who was quite obsessive and I thought she had killed Oscar the parrot for a while.Then when Ruby came out of prison Dan was very suspicious of her. He seemed a very odd character as did most of the others.
I quite liked how the story was told by Dan writing to his daughter but it didn't come together very well.

I give it 4




Helen
I would give the book 5/10. I was interested enough to finish but didn’t like any of the characters at all, and found the bit where Ruby tracked him down and then when he locked her  in a box totally unbelievable.  Although the author tried to create a twist with Ruby it wasn’t very good! Can’t believe the parrot had to be a victim either - too predictable!! 
So not great really!

Eve
This was a dark psychological thriller, but became rather muddled at times.  This could be because I read it on a Kindle edition and was unable to turn back and forward as I would have liked.  The story was predictable and it did not take much to guess at the ending.  I quite liked the way it was written in the form of letter to and from a prison. I found the book easy to read, but perhaps it glossed over some areas.  I would mark it as a 7.

Michelle
I’ve just finished the book- read in 48 hours. It was a rocky start. I was getting confused by the women’s names and didn’t like the uncertainty of where Daniel was- in jail, in a mental institution, in a care home? Once I got past that and in to the build up of the characters though, it started to flow. I didn’t particularly like any of the characters and didn’t feel any sympathy for them. I found the fact that Ruby slipped in to the trunk to be unbelievable.  But how believable is Daniel as a narrator? Was his description of that part true? The curse of reading so many books is that there is rarely a “twist”. I had guessed that Lucy was Daniel’s daughter very early on, so Victoria’s bump at the court house was unsurprising. The biggest twist for me, I suppose, is that it wasn’t as crazy and frantic an ending as I expected. I expected a manic, knife wielding Ruby attacking a defenceless Daniel or Victoria. No such drama.

7 out of 10 from me. Considered 6, but I did read it quickly and I was kept engrossed and entertained, which has to be worth an extra point.

Margaret M
I enjoyed this book and found it surprisingly easy to deal with the different times 
It was good at holding my attention and I thought the unveiling of the motives and character of the main protagonists was well done
8/10

Arleen
Can't remember anything about it but I know I really enjoyed it and would give it an 8.

Sonia
I enjoyed this book - well written, good plot and surprising twists along the way. Really thought that Lucy was a prison pen pal as he, Daniel, had been earlier in the story. Although the baddie could only really have been one of two characters it was still interesting enough to keep my attention.  I thought all the characters were a bit flaky - particularly Daniel with his chopping and changing of who he considered to be his "true love" (which was a part of the book I found a little unlikely) it was all in all quite an interesting read, well written and went at a pace that was reasonable.  Interesting that his day job in politics played no part in his writing.  

I would give it - if I'm feeling generous - a 7 out of 10.

 
Dramatic, Romantic, Confusing
Her Last Promise

Michelle
I tried so hard to like this! I enjoyed Kathryn Hughes’ last two books. This one, I read as far as when the Spanish lad proposed (I can’t even remember his name ????) and I put it down. Picked it up again a few days ago to try again and I just couldn’t get in to it. I feel it wouldn’t be fair to give it a rating as I did not read enough. But on Goodreads.com I have it 1* because I could not finish it!

Helen
This is not the type of book I typically select but I was pleasantly surprised to find I enjoyed it a lot. It was very easy to read and with likeable (or dis-likeable as intended!) characters. I found it was a perfect book for an afternoon in the garden. I liked the jumps between time periods, I’m interested in the social history elements that were scattered through. Although the plot was to an extent predictable there were enough tiny twists to keep my interest. My mum would also have loved this one! 8/10

Chris
Not one of my favourite books, I managed to finish it but only because I wanted to see how it could all possibly come together. Didn't like the different time lines, found it confusing, and found the story very improbable.
I would give it a 4

Margaret M
I confess I read it as soon as I got it so it’s all a bit hazy by now
I enjoyed and and liked the different threads - do all books do this now rather than have a linear story?
I found the characters likeable and their strong relationships well drawn
Quite fancied the monk!
I’ll give it 8:10

Gill
The book is difficulty to read in short spells as time zones change and I think it’s taken ages to figure out the story line
I will finish it although not found it gripping as the cover says
So far I’d give it 5 but as I say I’ve not finished it

Mabe
It was an easy read, which in the times we find ourselves is a plus for me.
I wasn't blown away by it but having said that I was wanting to know how the Italian and Tara's story came to be linked. I liked Alf and her Man very much, I wish it had gone a bit further into the future and gave an insight of how things worked out between her and her Mum. I'll give it a 7

Yvonne
Her Last Promise was an entertaining, easy read which kept my attention throughout. The dates helped to keep me focussed on the characters and events as they unfolded. Tara and Violet's enduring bond was central to the book's theme and underpinned all subsequent events and developments which took place.
An excellent holiday read.
I give it a mark of 7.

Carolyn
A nice quick easy read and no loose ends. I give it 5.

Steph
I finished this book this morning. I’m slightly worried as it’s another book that I’ve finished. Initially I struggled, and was ready to give up, slightly too jumpy for me, but it all came together at the end and sort of made sense. Two things completely confused me though. The first was that monk Isidore, is he the one that found Leo and Gabriella at their engagement? But then he found violet and turned into Leo at the end? The other is Matteo and Leo we’re always close so I didn’t understand why Leo would kill Matteo by running him over in the car, it kind of spoilt it.
Think I’ll give it an 8

Eve
I found this book very light and easy to read, quite a page turner.
I did read it on Kindle, which was not a great idea, as at first the stories did get a little mixed up and there were times when it would have been useful to be able to flick back a few pages to check where I was in the story. However, the mixing of the time frames I found interesting and did not get who things were until the end, or nearly.
I thought the characters were likeable and did not change too much during the story. Even the ‘baddie’, Larry got his comeuppance in the end and there were no loose ends to wonder about. At the end of the book, I did wonder if there was some fault attached to Diablo, the horse, but it seemed that he lived a good life and was buried with love. The story about killing the child was sad and it is understandable that his brother totally blamed himself. I did feel that the mother was over the top in her love for him and should have been glad that his elder brother also loved him. I liked the character of Alf, who took them in and they became a surrogate family.
This was a light book, which suits me at the moment, so I would award it an 8

Arleen
Read it a while ago so couldn't remember much except that she loved it and would give it an 8

Sonia
I am afraid this was not my kind of book at all. I found the timeline difficult to follow, the characters stereotypical and the plot formulaic so definitely not an enjoyable read. Left to my own devices I would not have finished it but felt I must to be fair and to be able to comment. It promised a lot but delivered very little so I can only give it a 3 out of 10.

Average score : 6 out of 10

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