October – The watcher in the shadows

It was one of those months when I had already made my mind up about the books before even reading them. I KNEW I was going ot love the Zafon book, and I KNEW that ‘The reader’ would be a chore to read, but pre conceptions can be wrong…

The Watcher in the Shadows – Carlos Ruiz Zafon


The watcher in the shadows is not quite Zafon at his best, but it is a reasonable little read. For an author with the skill to write ‘The shadow of the wind’ and ‘The angel’s game’ which are utterly outstanding, this is a little disappointing. It is important to remember though that, although this book was published in 2013, it was written in 1995, six years prior to TSOTW, when Zafon was still perfecting his craft, and was written for a teenage audience.

Honestly the book isn’t great, there are holes in the story, and we are expected to believe the unbeliveable ‘but Mel’, I hear you say ‘it is a fantasy novel, of course it is unbelievable’. The genre isn’t what made it unbelieveable though, it was the fact that even in a fantasy novel, this storyline didn’t gel, it didn’t work. The creepy clockwork toys and evil shadows just weren’t enough to make it worth reading. I gave the book 3.5* but that is very generous, and based on the target audience (13 year olds might love it) and my general love of Zafon as an author. The group gave it an average 2.5* which is more realistic if I’m honest.

Don’t bother, read ‘Shadow of the wind’ instead!

The Reader – Bernhard Schlink


Three things I learned from reading ‘The Reader’ –

  1. I really love books with parts. Chapters are good, but when a book is divided into parts I actually love when one part ends and I really don’t know where the next part is going to take the story.
  2. I do not like book covers that are images from a film. I kinda knew this, but I actually couldn’t get this without a picture of Kate Winslet in the bath on the cover, this annoyed me intensely.
  3. Sometimes a book starts a bit meh, but it can still grab me. I also kinda knew this, and this is why I always try to get 1/2 way through a book before judging it, but this book reminded me.

I didn’t love this book when I started reading it, but I found it really easy to read, so I carried on. Part one of the book concentrates on the narrator’s youth, and a realationship that he had when he was a young teen with a much older woman. I found this part of the book uncomfortable (the relationship was a bit weird regardless of the age gap) and really didn’t want to read any more about this relationship, so was pleased when part 2 moved to another time in his life, and the subject matter (the concentration camps in the war) was fascinating, if incredibly sad. In the end I gave the book 4* and the group average was the same, it is definitely worth a read.

Happy Reading!

Mel x



September – The life we Bury

September started with good intentions, but for one reason or another nobody (myself included) managed to read both books this month. Rather than leave it, we have put the second book back by a month, so hopefully some of us will have had chance to read it.

Allen Eskens – The life we bury


This is a great story, a lovely premise, with the added ‘did he do it?’ apsect. Joe’s college assignment to go and interview a stranger, captured my attention, as a teacher I thought this was a great task. The fact that he ended up interviewing a man (Carl Iverson) with such an interesting back story is fabulous. Then there is the added danger to Joe and Lila, when they decide to investigate deeper into the murder. Joe’s family situation is fascinating, if very sad, with an emotionally manipulative, alchoholic mother and a brother with developmental issues, his background has not been easy. Lila’s relationship wih Jeremy (Joe’s brother) is beautifully written, it is lovely that she was able to accept and understand him so easily, and gives the reader a deeper understanding of her as an empath.

What started as a fairly well paced book about a young man with an interesting college project, and a man who had been jailed for murder, fast became an ‘edge of your seat’ thriller. As the book progressed I found that I really wanted to know what happened to Crystal, and how Carl ended up serving many years in prison for a murder that he may not have commited. This is a great book with so many interesting storylines, and a lot of tense moments, where as a reader you are literally shouting at the book. The change of typeface for Joe’s assignment in chapter 23 is a really nice touch, it does interrupt the flow, but in a good way. The whole group loved this book, and the average rating was 4.5*, which was also my rating. Give it a go, I doubt you’ll be dissapointed.

Happy Reading!
Mel x


August – 1984

The summer seems such a long time ago already. For me it was filled with day trips, live music and a whole lot of reading. The good news is that I had time to read all three books in time for this month’s meeting, as well as many others (I recommend ‘Alice’ by Christina Henry).

1984 – George Orwell


1984 is often high on lists of ‘books to read before you die’, it is a classic with a very dark theme, that actually made it a really tough read. Written in 1949, Orwell’s vision of a dystopian future in which humanity is quite frankly f*cked, features many predictions about the future that are scarily close to reality. There are many parallels to be drawn with the book and today’s society, and many lessons that could have been learnt. I was amazed by Orwell’s vision that a goverment would use technology to spy on people, alongside the recent  ‘investigatory powers bill’ which essentially removes the right to privacy from UK citizens, this seems particularly pertinent.

In Orwell’s vision of the world in 1984 people are brainwashed by the words WAR IS PEACE. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. The past is being rewritten continuously to suit those in control (the party), to deliver the message that they want to pass on to the rest of society. Party members work under the constant gaze of ‘Big Brother’ completing jobs that deliver the party message. They have no privacy and little freedom to escape from their rooms where the TV monitors their every move. Proles are the unwashed masses, kept uneducated, to keep them from challenging the system, or rising up against the party. They are kept numb and accepting of their reality with copious amounts of gin, which, along with Orwell’s descriptions of their homes and streets, paints a picture reminiscent of the poverty of victorian London.

I found 1984 fascinating, horrifying and really rather unsettling. It was an uncomfortable read from start to finish, and I found myself tied between wanting to put it down and pick up something a little lighter and desperately wanting to keep reading. I think it is unique in being beautifully written, yet so damn ugly that it hurts to look. What I would say is please don’t give up until you read a couple of chapters in part 2, as it does really grip you at that point.  gave 1984 4.5*  and would definitely recommend it, however it wasn’t for everyone and scores ranged from 2.5* – 5*.

Tell me three things – Julie Buxbaum


So it turns out this is a book for teens, didn’t check that when I added it to the list, but hey some teen books are good right? Yes, yes they are, and this is one of them. This is not a work of art, it will not change your life, and actually it’s a bit too predictable, but it has heart. The story follows Jessie, her mum died, then her dad has remarried and uprooted her from her home in Chigago. Her new life in California is tough, she is not rich like everyone else at her new school, she is not a Barbie doll like Cali teen, and she has a new step mum and brother to learn to live with.

Jessie hasn’t been in California long when she starts to recieve messages from ‘a friend’ with the name Somebody Nobody (which is shortened to SN quite quickly). SN sends messages of support and guidence, and soon forms a bond with Jessie, and keeps her sane in her new world. The secret identity of SN is finally revealed right at the end of the book, but as with any good ‘who could it be’ plot, there are several characters who could potentially be SN. The big reveal is not quite as well written as I would have hoped, but I was satisfied with the identity of SN.

There is a lovely part of the book where Jessie visits her best friend in Chicago, this is beautifully written and really was a turning point for me, the book went from ok to yay! I gave the boook 3.5* and that was the average score from the group, but I do think that it would score higher with a teen audience. It’s a nice easy summer read that draws you in and keeps your interest, it is not life changing.

The Humans – Matt Haig


The Humans is the story of an alien, who lands on earth and takes human form, think Mork and Mindy, except Mork didn’t intend to kill Mindy that I’m aware of. It starts beautifully with the alien ‘Andrew’ running around Cambridge naked, blissfully unaware of the fact that this is illegal, or in fact even strange at all. So our hero takes the form of ‘Andrew’ a Mathematics professor at Cambridge University and slips into his life and into his family. Andrew has a wife and a son, both of whom he has a strained relationship with.

This is a lovely book, with a lot of funny moments, but mostly with a lot of messages that remind us that life is precious and that we should be living it with more energy. There is a lovely part, about 200 pages in where alien Andrew tries to explain the week on earth to his superiors. He says that humans have 1 day that they repeat 5 times Monday to Friday, and 2 fun days, but he then goes on to explain that the 2 fun days are in fact only 1 fun day because ” Monday is to close to Sunday for Sunday’s liking” this made me love this book. The writing is great, some really great moments that made me think and some fantastic advice hidden within the text. My favourite quote is “I realised that if getting drunk was how people forgot they were mortal, then hangovers was how they remembered”

I properly enjoyed this book and read it in a day.I gave the book 4* and the group average was about 3.5* so it is defnitely worth a shot.

Happy Reading!
Mel x


July – Shtum

What can I say? July has been really exciting, this month saw the first discussion for our Facebook ‘online book club’. The group currently has 34 members and approximately 1/3 of those joined in the discussion. As for the meeting at my house, it was a big one, everyone wanted to discuss these books, so most of the group turned up. We laughed, we cried (welled up), we made plans for our own ashes (Saving June), and we shared our experiences of Autism. The meeting over ran, because we each had so much to add to the discussion, and I was reminded of how wonderfully diverse our fabulous group is.

Shtum – Jem Lester


Shtum is a tough read, it takes us on the rollercoaster ride with Jonah’s parents, who are trying to get the right support/education for a child with Autism. This was incredibly well written on an emotional level, only someone who had actually experienced Autism first hand, and the effect it can have on a family dynamic could have written this well. It was clear that Jem Lester understood both the difficulties of living with a child with Autism, and also the issues with taking on the system, and getting the help that you need for your child in this country.

I identified with this story so much, as my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at age 6, and I could see in Jonah a lot of my son at that age. My son is now 12 and is doing well in mainstream education,  but there was a time when I worried that he would not. The violence unleashed on his family when Jonah had a meltdown was all too familiar to me, having spent three years covered in bruises myself when my boy was young, and to be honest revisiting this when reading such a perceptive book was really hard.

The attempts by the authorities in this story to shoe horn Jonah into a school that was wholly unsuitable for him was heartbreaking. I have seen this sort of thing happen, it always comes down to money, and families don’t get the support that they need because some authority figure with a limited understanding of the situation, and a perfect little life makes decisions based mainly on what is best for their budget, with the child’s needs coming second. Why people should have to fight such long and painful battles to get their children what they need is beyond me, but this book reflected that beautifully.

The characters in the book are all flawed, which made them interesting, if not always likeable. My opinions of characters changed often as the first person narrative revealed more information about each of them. The groups, both at my house and online loved this book, giving it an average rating over all of 4.5*, I gave it 4* personally, as although the writing was good in the sense that it felt real, it wasn’t a beautifully written book. Shtum is certainly a book worth reading, and particularly if you know little about Autism, as the insight is fabulous.

Saving June – Hannah Harrington


Saving June is the story of Harper and her journey to California to scatter her sister’s ashes. June has committed suicide, and Harper is determined to take her to the place she always longed to be. Harper feels that this will, in some way allow her sister to finally be happy and that she must take her there, to atone for being nasty to June the last time she saw her. Driven by survivor’s guilt, and the knowledge that her relationship with her sister could have been closer, June sets off with her best friend and one of June’s friends.

This journey is both physical and spiritual for Harper, an outsider, who doesn’t usually take risks. Travelling from Chicago to California in an old van with a guy you barely know and your sister’s ashes in the back, didn’t seem like something Harper would do, but this was a pilgrimage that she felt she had to make. En route to California, they attend a protest march and a punk rock concert (where the story kind of takes an unrealistic turn), and Harper gets to know Jake, and learns about his past. Meanwhile back at home, Harper’s Mum and Aunt are left wondering where the hell she is and what is going on.

Notably, this book is young adult (teen) fiction, and as such does not have the depth that an adult requires from a book with this subject matter. Suicide is not explored fully, the absolute despair and devastation that it brings to those left behind are not felt by the reader. This being the case, the readers in the group felt that it was missing something, although we pretty much all agreed that it was not terrible and it didn’t offend us in any way, so we gave it an average rating of 2.5* (which is what I gave it). The online group also gave the book scores of between 2* – 3*, it is a good book, it is not great, and it is not really engaging enough for adult readers.

Happy Reading!
Mel x

June – Flowers for Algernon

The sun is shining and I can’t wait to get some serious Summer reading done. This month’s meeting was the smallest ever, with only three of us, but we had plenty to talk about, and a cool G&T so all is good. The two books that we read this month both pose a ‘What if….’ question FFA asks ‘What if we could make people more intelligent?’ and TFPCFH asks ‘What if we could talk to our dead loved ones?’ both very thought provoking.

In other news, I launched a Facebook version of our book club. With 30+ members already signed up on the first day, it looks like a winner! Members will read the same book as we do and discuss these in a virtual event at the same time as we have our meeting, I am really excited to be able to allow friends who don’t live close by to join Turn the page, and hope that it will keep growing.

Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes


Flowers for Algernon is a modern classic, it appears on a couple of the 50 books to read before you die lists, yet so many people (Bookish included) that I  know have never read it. The first thing I need to say about this book is “GO AND READ IT!” and I mean that wholeheartedly, it is an absolutely astounding book. Algernon is a mouse, the subject of a test operation to see if scientists could improve intelligence with breakthrough surgery.

Algernon becomes really intelligent after the operation, so Dr Neymur chooses Charlie to be the first human to undergo the same surgery. Charlie has a very low IQ and does not really understand the world around him, but he does know that he wants to be smart. This book is beautifully written from Charlie’s perspective, so we see first hand the results of the operation, and we see when all is not well.

Flowers for Algernon is a book that everyone should read, immediately after our meeting I passed it to my daughter, who is 17 and now absolutely captured by it. It is not an easy read, as it is very deep, a little dark and more than a little sad, but for me it is every bit as much a must read as ‘Of mice and men’, ‘One flew over the cuckoo’s nest’ or ‘To kill a mocking bird’. At the meeting, the three of us gave the book 4.5* & 5*.

Basically, if you do not read this book, you are really missing something wonderful.

The first phone call from heaven – Mitch Albom


From the author of ‘the five people you meet in heaven’, our second book this month was promising. I loved ‘the five people..’, so much so that I recommended it to everyone I knew, and I have to say, it doesn’t compare, the writing is inferior, as is the plot, so I am going to complete this review without comparing the two again. I was intrigued by the idea of the dead calling the living, it was an interesting concept, but it played out pretty slowly.

People in a small town in America start receiving phone calls from their dead loved ones.  The whole town is thrown into chaos, and we watch as some fully accept and believe this phenomenon, some blame the network provider and others remain sceptical. It is an interesting concept, but really not particularly well written and a little predictable. We gave the book 3* which was probably generous, it wasn’t awful, but I wouldn’t recommend it to a friend.

Happy Reading

Mel x

Almost 5* – Our favourite books so far

Hey! Did you know that Turn the page book club is 2 years old? I feel like we should have a party with Jelly and Ice cream and party games, but I can’t be bothered to make Jelly and my freezer is shite, so I have decided to celebrate by sharing a list of our favourite books. Here are the book that scored a collective 4.5* out of 5.

Holes – Louis Sachar

I gorgeous wee book, intended for kids, but written so beautifully that adults are charmed by it too! I gave this my first 5* rating.


Elizabeth is missing – Emma Healey

Fast forward to August 2015, and this was our 2nd book for the month, it was and unexpectedly beautiful wee book, and all who read it loved it.


Room – Emma Donoghue

A tough read, with a lot of heartbreaking moments, we fell in love with this book as we fell in love with 5 year old Jack, and wanted nothing more than for him to experience the world outside his room.


Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel

The book with the beautiful cover, this post apocalyptic story was a big hit with the group. It isn’t what I’d call gritty, but it does make you ponder the future.

9781447268963Station Eleven_4

A man called Ove

Wonderful with a capital W, my second 5* book came in December 2015 in the shape of Ove. I loved that cantankerous old git, and cared very much about his life and the fact that he was ready to end it. It was funny, it was sad, it was pretty damn near perfect!


The boy in the striped pyjamas – John Boyne

It will come as no surprise that we rated this highly, it’s always rated highly, and there is a reason for that, it is so utterly heartbreaking real that you cannot fail to be moved.


The language of flowers – Vanessa Diffenbaugh

It wasn’t heartbreaking, but had a lot of heart. It also had a lot of flowers, and we found ourselves hoplessly intrigued by the meanings of these flowers. It is not perfect, but I think that the best word for this book is spellbinding.


Stoner – John Edward Williams

It’s the book where ‘nothing happens’, well nothing significant anyway. Stoner simply lives his life, and we watch him do it. In theory this book sounds dull, but it really pulls you in. This is a remarkable book because it is is beautifully written that it doesn’t matter that there is no plot, we loved it anyway.


The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project is a joy, it’s funny, it’s full of heart, and it kind of succeeds in explaining to some extent what Asperger’s Syndrome is like from the perspective of someone with it. Think Sheldon from TBBT and you’re part of the way there, it’s just lush.


The Universe vs Alex woods – Gavin Extence

You’re 17 years old and you have just been stopped coming back into the country with a dead man in your passenger seat and a glove box full of dope, that’s how the book starts, enjoy!


The Kite runner – Khaled Hosseini

A gorgeous, beautifully descriptive book. The Kite Runner paints a thousand pictures, some are beautiful, exotic and romatic, others are dark and violent, but all evoke emotions. This is a roller coaster ride, and you will be glad that you got on it.


In cold blood – Truman Capote

This book is really chilling, it’s the story of real life story of Perry & Bobby, who killed a family in Kansas in 1956. The book is written as though it is a work of fiction, but it is not, it is a true life crime and the story was written after Capote spent many hours interviewing the two boys.


The vanishing Act of Esme Lennox – Maggie O’Farrell

One of my favourite books EVER! I read this years ago and loved it, then it went on the book club list and I worried that on reading it again I would feel differently, I didn’t. For me this is an easy 5*, I adore the characters and the plot is fantastic, the rest of the group loved it too luckily.


I let you go – Clare MacKintosh

A thriller that thrilled at long last! We were all absolutely thrown by the plot twist and just thought that it was so well written that we all gave it really high scores. There was one part of the plot which I didn’t love so I gave it 4* but it was a definite hit.


After 2 years and 50+ books we have fourteen 4.5* rated books, I’d say that was fairly successful. Of course we have read some utter crap, but I have only given up on 2 books and to be fair Karen even finished Lolita, so we are a hardcore group of bibliophiles. So, as long as people keep writing them, we’ll keep reading them, and who knows maybe one day we’ll find that illusive 5* book.

Happy Reading!
Mel x

May – My name is Leon

TWO YEARS!!! Turn the page book club is two years old! I am such a proud Mama!

My Name is Leon – Kit De Waal


Wow, what a ride! The story is written from the perspective 9 year old Leon. Leon is mixed race, growing up in London in the early 80s. His life is turbulent, his father has long gone, and his mother struggles with depression. Leon is a lonely boy trying hard to take care of his new baby brother, to keep the family together. When his brother Jake is taken away to be adopted and Leon is put into foster care, he misses his Jake terribly and dreams of seeing him again.

Leon is well written, we cared for him, and we wanted a more stable life for him. De Waal has managed to write Leon’s Mum so well, that in spite of her aparent neglect of her parental responsibilities, we feel sympathy for her. This is a woman who clearly has many many issues, it is difficult to judge her, though we do want her to get her life on track and get her kids back.

The race riots of the time are written with a great deal of honesty, and I did find myself feeling a little ill at a description of the police brutality aimed at blacks in London at the time. Leon is finding it hard to find his place in the world, and then he gets a bike, and his world opens up.

We all thoroughly enjoyed this book, with it gaining an average score of 4/5, and that is what I would give it too. A really lovely tale of growing up, finding your way in the world and building a ‘family’.

A Hologram for the King – Dave Eggers


What a strange book, to spend to much time reading about the life of someone who is waiting around for something that feels like it’s never going to happen is frustrating. It was reminiscent of ‘Waiting for Godot’ but without the humour, and with a few more characters, who mostly brought very little to the story. Did I hate it? no, I didn’t, but I don’t feel like I gained anything by reading it. It kind of just left me cold, I am struggling to find suitable adjectives to describe the story, I think books like this are maybe what the word ‘meh’ was invented for.

Ok so the plot, Alan Clay is waiting to see the King (King Abdullah) to sell him a sophisticated IT solution that he doesn’t need and can’t afford. Alan has pinned all his hopes on selling this hologram to the king, he is a 54-year-old failed American businessman in serious debt, evading his creditors and anguishing over how he will pay for his daughter’s next year in college. Here’s the thing I really didn’t care, I didn’t love Alan, he was a bit useless (I am being kind), and I just wanted to shake some sense into him.

I gave the book 2/5, and was alone in having read it. Honestly, there are many many better ways to spend your time, maybe jus watch the film and save yourself a few hours of tedium?

Happy Reading!

Mel x

March – I Let You Go

The March meeting has literally just finished and I am buzzing with excitement. Firstly, I am really touched that Steph chose to be with us on her Birthday, it shows how fantastic our wee group is, and how much of a bond we have built over the (almost) 2 years that we have been meeting. Secondly it was a big meeting with lots of members in attendance, and plenty to talk about.

I let you go – Clare Mackintosh


I knew ‘I let you go’ was a thriller, and I do like a good thriller, the problem is I rarely find a good one. On the back of the book it said ‘If you liked ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘Girl on a Train’, you’ll love…’ the problem is I didn’t, I really didn’t enjoy either of those books at all, so at that point I lost all hope. I picked it up anyway, because I always give the books a fair shot, and I was pleasantly surprised, the first few chapters were pretty good, so I read on.

This is a tough review to write, because for the first time in years of trying I found a thriller  that was not predictable, and I do not want to say anything to ruin that for potential readers. The story was beautifully written and totally floored me with a magnificent twist, I actually stopped reading and said ‘wait?……wtf?’ and then readjusted the plot in my mind and carried on. I literally could not put this book down, I was taken on an emotional rollercoaster and I did not want to get off.

I am actually not even going to mention the plot, the characters, the twists or anything about the actually content. What I will tell you is that with 9 members of the group that were at the meeting the book was rated a strong 4.5*, the lowest rating being a 4* and several giving it 5*. This book was a huge hit with everyone and that is rare, so I implore you to go and get a copy and give it a go, I seriously doubt that you will be disappointed.

Cinderella Girl – Carin Gerhardsen


I got myself in a muddle and read this a month early, so had to try to remember enough about it at the meeting to join in the discussion properly. With so much going on in the book that was tough, but I soon remembered the main storylines, if not all the character’s names. I struggle with thrillers, because I love reading them, and I want to feel all of the emotion involved in murder investigations, but usually I finish the book and am unimpressed. This was definitely not the case with Cinderella Girl, I read it over two days, I did not put it down for long and I was, again taken on a rollercoaster ride of emotion.

Cinderella Girl, I discovered after reading it is the second in a series of books by this author, this did not matter, the book stood alone well, although a couple of the stories running through this book look likely to carry on through the next. Was it totally believable? Not always, but there are several stories running through it and each had me hooked. At times I found myself yelling at the book, then feeling a little bit sick at some of the descriptions, and in the end, welling up with emotion (yes I very nearly cried at a thriller of all things).

There are several characters in the book that had my sympathy; Barbro, Petra & Joakim mainly, though I really wanted someone to offer some wisdom or guidance to Sandén, Elise and Jennifer, and I was terrified for Hanna right the way through the book. I have read so many books where I just don’t care what happens to the characters, to care so deeply about so many shows that this author has a great skill. I gave Cinderella Girl 4* and would definitely recommend it as an ‘edge of your seat’ thriller. The three other members of the group that read it gave it 4*, 3.5* and 2* so it didn’t appeal to everyone, but if thrillers are your thing, give it a go!

Happy Reading!

Mel x



February – Beloved

February has been cold, dark and dreary, the only joy of this is that it is perfect ‘snuggle up with a good book’ weather, but were the books this month good? That, as you will see, was very much a matter of opinion.

Beloved – Toni Morrison 


I expected Beloved to be epic, I expected it to be powerful, I expected it to blow me away ( in a ‘the color purple’ kind of way), I did not expect it to make me want to throw it in the bin and read something just a little less dire instead. Yes, I struggled with this book, I struggled with so many things that I just wanted it to end, I’ll try to explain.

Firstly the copy of the book that I have is printed really badly, the typeface is a poor choice and it’s really dark, almost like it’s all in ‘bold’ type, so it wasn’t pleasant to look at. Secondly it was hard work, the language and the way it was written meant that reading it was slow, the number of pages in no way equates the time you need to spend reading to finish the book. I did get used to the style of writing after a while and was able to pick up my pace a bit, but I didn’t like how it was written, and found it over complicated. Yes it’s a pulitzer prize winner, a modern classic and highly rated, but I am really glad that I have finished reading it, it really dragged on.

The subject matter is depressing, and whilst I realise that slavery was depressing, this book is intentionally heavy and dark. Some of the imagery is good, and very effective in evoking sadness in the reader, some is so confusing and left open to interpretation, that the four of us who rated the book all interpreted it completely differently. The story lunges from one character to another, back and forth in time and goes from being really descriptive  to leaving huge gaps in the information given.

I feel I should address the whole ‘Beloved’ baby ghost/reincarnated teenager thing, but if I’m honest I cant be bothered, because this is the thing that bothered me most about the book. I love a bit of supernatural fiction, magical, mysterious, thought provoking as it can be, this was none of those things, it was unbelievable and just detracted from what could have been a really honest, heartbreaking story of life as a slave. For the wonderful imagery (there was some) and the sensitive and honest tackling of the tough subject of black slavery in America I gave this book 2*. The group were completely divided by this book, with ratings from 1.5* to 5*, and having checked online reviews this seems fairly normal for the book, you either love it or hate it, I’m just glad I never have to read it again.

Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell


It is hard to explain just why I didn’t love ‘Eleanor & Park’, but I didn’t,  at times this book captivated me, at times it just didn’t hold my attention, but mostly it just didn’t annoy me enough to stop reading. I struggled somewhat with the fact that Eleanor was so obviously inspired by Andie from the movie Pretty in Pink, I rolled my eyes at the similarities between the two. I am not surprised that an american author born in 1973 would be heavily influenced by the movies of John Hughes, but I would have loved to see Eleanor as her own person, and not a second rate copy of a character that I know and love from one of my very favourite films.

The good: The development of the relationship between the pair was very sweet, I particularly loved Park’s turning the pages of his comic book more slowly to allow her time to read over his shoulder. The importance of music in the relationship and the inclusion of the mix tapes as a way of sharing music with each other, was very reminiscent of relationships that I had at that time, and made me feel nostalgic. I loved Park, and the way that he loved Eleanor, and yes I wanted life to be easier for them, but the complications of family were good, and it felt real.

The bad: To be entirely honest there was nothing really truly bad, but there were times when the writing was just trundling along, easy to read, but not compelling, for want of a better word a bit ‘meh’. On finishing the book I rated it 2.5*, personally I wouldn’t recommend it to people, but it was sweet and I don’t regret reading it. The others in the group rated it 4* so it might be worth a read when you don’t fancy anything too deep?

Happy Reading!
Mel x

January – A Spool of blue thread

It was difficult to read the books this month, mainly because I got myself stuck in the wonderful ‘Miss Peregrine’ trilogy over Christmas, but I did manage it. I spent two full days cramming the Anne Tyler book ready for what was another fairly small, but great fun meeting.

A Spool of blue thread – Anne Tyler


I have read several glowing reviews of Anne Tyler’s books, and I honestly thought that this was an author that I should take notice of. I am now wholly of the opinion that this is an author that I should avoid at all costs. I cannot believe this book won the Pulitzer prize, or any prize for that matter. It is only a few days since the meeting and already I have again forgotten the point of this truly forgettable book.

Let me start with the good, because frankly there’s not much of it. There is a really quite lovely chapter which is set in the past and tells the story of Junior and Linnie Mae, it came at a point in the book when I just wanted to quit reading, and I thought that maybe it would pick up from here, it did not. Linnie Mae is a woman with spirit, and she is the only character in the book that I had any interest in at all.

As for the rest of the book, it’s just utterly dull, I was bored, and while I was bored I was actually counting the hours of my life that I was losing to this book. It wasn’t well written, the characters were grey and dreary (apart from Linnie Mae) and nothing much happened. It started badly, it ended badly and it went on and on for 460+ pages. Denny who is one of the main characters is secretive about his life away from the house, which is ok, because I didn’t care much anyway.

I was worried that perhaps I was being a little cynical, or the fact that I had just read a very good book made this one seem so very bad, but when the rest of the girls agreed with me at the meeting, I felt justified in my dislike of this book and of Anne Tyler’s writing. It felt like she has under contract to write another book, so just sat down and wrote whatever came into her head to keep the publishers happy. I gave the book 2*, the group gave it 1.5* as an average, with Alex (who couldn’t even finish it) awarding the book a token 1* because ‘it was written’ which did make me laugh.

Honestly….don’t bother!

Alice and the Fly – James Rice


I read Alice and the Fly first this month and it was a real page turner. This little known book was a great wee discovery of mine, the subject matter was dark, but the book was beautifully written, with some really intriguing storylines running through the book. The story about obsessions was a difficult read at times, we watch as the main character, Greg struggles with a phobia that manifests itself in hallucinations that cause him to behave erratically and puts others in danger. The descriptions had the ability to make me feel empathy with this poor boy, who is struggling with his fear, and with his obsession with Alice.

His mother is not loving in a maternal sense, there seems to be no warmth in the family at all, but she does ensure that the home is cared for and that the family are fed (albeit the same thing for days at a time). His Father is obsessed with breasts, and as a plastic surgeon likes to share images of his work with his family, at utterly inappropriate times, like during a family meal. The rest of his time is spent in his locked office, or conducting affairs with women who seem to have no self worth. The narrative, which is mostly in the 1st person has the ability to evoke many emotions, at times the descriptions made me feel sick, and I had to remind myself it was only a book.

In amongst the narrative are some transcripts of police interviews, which give us a picture of what is actually happening from a perspective other than Greg’s, and that is a lovely addition to the story. The change of tempo and writing style in these sections adds a new dimension and keeps the reader interested. This is a fantastic book and I would happily recommend it to anyone looking for a gritty book with a lot of heart. We gave this book 4* at the meeting, which was also my rating, I believe it deserves some recognition.

Happy Reading!

Mel x