Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey

This month's book is:

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Meeting: Monday 14th April 2014, 19:30 - The Norfolk Royale Hotel, Richmond Hill, BH2 6EN (please ask at reception for our exact meeting location).

Book Description:

Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize 2013.

A bewitching tale of heartbreak and hope set in 1920s Alaska, The Snow Child was a bestseller on hardback publication, and went on to establish itself as one of the key literary debuts of 2012, and was a Richard and Judy Bookclub pick.

Alaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding: is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her?

Written with the clarity and vividness of the Russian fairy tale from which it takes its inspiration, The Snow Child is an instant classic.

Now an original comedy-drama series from Netflix, Piper's story is a fascinating, heartbreaking and often hilarious insight into life on the inside.

Buy on Amazon
Buy Kindle Version

Monday, 24 February 2014

Orange is the New Black - Piper Kerman

This month's book is:

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Meeting: Monday 10th March 2014, 19:30 - The Norfolk Royale Hotel, Richmond Hill, BH2 6EN (please ask at reception for our exact meeting location).

Book Description:

Not just a tale of prisons, drugs, crime, or justice; it is, simply put, a beautifully told story about how incredible women can be' Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love

With her career, live-in boyfriend and loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the rebellious young woman who got mixed up with drug runners and delivered a suitcase of drug money to Europe over a decade ago. But when she least expects it, her reckless past catches up with her; convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at an infamous women's prison in Connecticut, Piper becomes inmate #11187-424. From her first strip search to her final release, she learns to navigate this strange world with its arbitrary rules and codes, its unpredictable, even dangerous relationships. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with tokens of generosity, hard truths and simple acts of acceptance.

Now an original comedy-drama series from Netflix, Piper's story is a fascinating, heartbreaking and often hilarious insight into life on the inside.

Buy on Amazon
Buy Kindle Version

Saturday, 8 February 2014

January 2014 - The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

‘The future is not as loud as war, but it is relentless. It has a terrible fury all its own.' The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes follows the story of Harper Curtis, a time travelling serial killer and Kirby Mazrachi, one of his victims who not only survives but chooses to hunt down her attacker. The book was generally well received by the group although some found some of the content both disturbing and difficult to read. Most people felt this reaction was a credit to the author's skill at building tension and depicting such unsettling events.

It was felt that the author's ability to write believable characters was particularly strong. The character of Harper in particular was felt by most to be a vivid portrayal of a man with deeply psychopathic tendencies. His sense of compulsion and cruelty came across very strongly throughout the novel, lending no sympathy to his character but an unwelcome understanding of his mind. The house itself played its part as a character in this novel with a sense of it being almost sentient in its influence over Harper. Some felt that more of an explanation was needed as to the history of the house and its inner workings. Others felt that too much information on the myriad influence that it has on the characters would have overwhelmed or halted the flow of the novel, particularly with the complex ideas of time travel and fate.

One passage that the group felt particularly significant was when Harper discovered the wall of trophies of murders he was yet to commit. Another striking section of the novel was the attack on Kirby. Many members of the group found this a very difficult chapter to read as the author did not hold back on details, creating a vivid and disturbing chapter. The group felt that the author dealt well with the theme of violence by introducing us to Harper's victims very intimately in their own chapters prior to the attacks. By creating such complex and rich characters we see them as individuals and not just faceless targets. It was felt that the varied imagery of their respective 'trophies' echoed this.

When discussing the overall structure of the novel the group felt that it was generally easy to follow despite jumping through different time periods. Most felt that following the timeline of the killer rather than one of his victims was a clever way of building tension through the novel as the conclusion to the story remains unknown until the last chapter.

Overall the group felt that the novel had well written ending with some mixed views as to whether the author should have included a bit more information on the fate of the characters after the climatic events of the final chapter or if the feeling of uncertainty lent a certain freedom to characters who had so far been governed by a preordained line of events.

Average score of 7.8

Write up by Karen

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Our next book is... The Machine by James Smythe

This month's book is:

The Machine by James Smythe

Meeting: Monday 10th February 2014, 19:30 - The Norfolk Royale Hotel, Richmond Hill, BH2 6EN (please ask at reception for our exact meeting location).

Book Description:

Beth lives alone on a desolate housing estate near the sea. She came here to rebuild her life following her husband’s return from the war. His memories haunted him but a machine promised salvation. It could record memories, preserving a life that existed before the nightmares.

Now the machines are gone. The government declared them too controversial, the side-effects too harmful. But within Beth’s flat is an ever-whirring black box. She knows that memories can be put back, that she can rebuild her husband piece by piece.

A Frankenstein tale for the 21st century, The Machine is a story of the indelibility of memory, the human cost of science and the horrors of love.

Buy on Amazon
Buy Kindle Version

For free delivery without minimum spend you can also buy at Hive or Waterstones.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

November 2013 - Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

Ghost World is a graphic novel and tells the story of two teenage girls, Enid and Rebecca, who are trying to come to terms with their impending adulthood. The story also explores their apparent confusion over sexuality as they attempt to cope with the evolution of their complicated friendship post high school. A graphic novel was a new experience for a lot of our members and had a somewhat lukewarm reception. Even though it was relatively short at 80 pages, not everybody finished it with some saying they missed what was going on. We felt that to get anything out of the story it needed to be read in a different way to a novel and attention had to be paid to the pictures juxtaposed with the dialogue, similar to how you might watch a subtitled film.

There was general agreement that nothing major happened, which may be down to the subject matter. Rebecca and Enid weren’t exceptional in anyway and while this may have been intended to help the reader connect with them the general consensus was that the book felt flat and slow paced. We mostly felt that the characters themselves were believable and were impressed at how true to life the protagonists were considering the author is male. Some felt that the character of Enid especially, with her ‘devil may care’ attitude, would have resonated with a younger self, but reading as an adult she became more irritating. However, we felt it was strange trying to get to know characters purely through dialogue with no narration which went against many initial expectations that the illustrations would make them easier to understand.

The ending felt very abrupt as time seemed to speed up, and wasn’t satisfactory for some with the plot being ‘up in the air’. However, it did generate some interesting discussion with very different conclusions drawn. A number of individuals found it to be a very hopeful ending after quite a depressing tale, and took Enid’s departure to be a symbol for new beginnings. On the flip side, some believed this to be a metaphor for suicide.

The majority of the group would not read anything else by Daniel Clowes. However, there was a generally positive attitude towards reading further graphic novels with some being more interested in something else ‘true to life’ with others more interested in reading something at the Marvel end of the scale.

We had 12 members present and we gave the book an average score of 4.75/10 with 7 being the highest and 1 the lowest.

Write up by Byron

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Shining Girls - Lauren Beukes

This months book is:

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes


Monday 13th January 2014, 19:30 - The Norfolk Royale Hotel, Richmond Hill, BH2 6EN (please ask at reception for our exact meeting location).

Description from Amazon:

The jaw-dropping, page-turning, critically-acclaimed book of the year: a serial-killer thriller unlike any other from the award-winning Lauren Beukes. ‘GONE GIRL has not exactly gone. But THE SHINING GIRLS have arrived’ (The Times).
“It’s not my fault. It’s yours. You shouldn’t shine. You shouldn’t make me do this.”
Kirby is lucky she survived the attack. She is sure there were other victims were less fortunate, but the evidence she finds is … impossible.

Harper stalks his shining girls through the years – and cuts the spark out of them. But what if the one that got away came
back for him?

Link to Amazon:

Buy on Amazon

Kindle Version:

Buy Kindle Version

Friday, 18 October 2013

Shake up of the Rota!

The rota will be changing to a vote soon, to include a wider range of genres and give our growing number of members each a chance to have their say on what book they would like to read. The following names are the remaining few I have on the rota and will still get to pick their book, if you feel you should be on this list, please let me know ASAP (you must have been at two meetings within the last three months and class yourself as a regular member): 

November: Teresa
January: Vicki R
February: Ellie
March: Kelly
April: Joy
May: Sarah
June: Karen
July: Barbara

Apologies if I've missed you out, I've not been at many meetings this year and it's another reason the rota needs to change to keep it easier to maintain and fair on everyone. I can easily add you when requested 

If anyone on the list would like to forfeit their place it will take us into the vote system a month earlier