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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

December – The Vanishing act of Esme Lennox

Merry Christmas lovely readers! This month we went for the triple again, two books as normal and a Christmas book. The Christmas book that I chose resulted in a spin off movie night watching ‘It’s a wonderful life’ in our pyjamas, whilst supping Mojitos next to the Christmas Tree, it was definitely a ‘wonderful’ night with the girls.

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox – Maggie O’Farrell

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When Steph chose this book, I happily added it to the list, I say happily because I had read it before. Ok time to confess…..not only had I read it before, but I had recommended it to many many people because…it is my favourite book. I did not tell the group this before the meeting, and I read it for the second time with a little trepidation. What if it wasn’t as good as I remember? What if, having read many more books since, it didn’t hold up? What if I didn’t even enjoy reading it the second time? There really was nothing to worry about at all.

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox is a wonderful book, it drags you in and holds you tightly with every turn of the page. The story is told from three perspectives (Esme, Iris & Kitty), and even though it doesn’t have any chapters, it doesn’t confuse at all. Esme is, when the book begins, an elderly lady, who has spent the last 60 years in an institution for those who were mentally ill. The institute is about to be closed down, and her next of kin is her great niece Iris, so she is contacted regarding the rehoming of Esme, the main problem being that Iris has no idea that she even has a great aunt.

The story covers the travesty of women in the 1930s being sent to institutions with no real reason, it covers Esme’s past life, Iris’s past and present relationships and Kitty’s (Esme’s sister) past. I was sad, shocked, horrified, I laughed, I almost cried and I simply couldn’t put the book down. I cannot explain quite how emotive this book is, I can only say that it just felt real, I went on the rollercoaster ride with both Esme and Iris, and I was so utterly satisfied by the ending that I did a little fist pump.

Here is an author that isn’t afraid to write the book that she wants to write, she wrote from the heart and I can only commend her for this. I don’t say this very often, let alone shout it but.. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK!! I happily gave the book a 5* rating, as did a couple of the others who came to the meeting, I think the group average was a high 4.5*, I hope that you read it and that you love it as much as I did.

Funny Girl – Nick Hornby

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Funny Girl is simply wonderful, I could not put it down, nobody writes characters like Nick Hornby. Well I say that, but this is the first Nick Hornby book I’ve ever read, however I feel like I know him from his films, ‘About a Boy’ has wonderful characters, as does ‘High Fidelity’. Here we have a story about a woman, a woman who knows what she wants, and is not willing to compromise, which, considering that she is young and the book is set in the 60’s is quite something. Barbara is a strong woman, in a man’s world, and she takes life by the balls and says sweetly in it’s face ‘You are MY life, I will make the decisions’, and I fell in love with this character.

The book begins with Barbara winning a beauty contest and promptly deciding that this is not for her, she does not want to be just a ‘pretty face’, nor does she want to be known for her bombshell body, she wants to be an actress, and make people laugh. This is not just a book about Barbara, the other characters have solid story lines, and I came to care for everyone (well maybe not Clive so much), and was invested in their lives. I loved the photos throughout the book, there are not many, but those that are there really add to the story.

The real joy of the book for me is that Hornby writes characters when they are young and when they are older, and does both beautifully. I just loved this book, I gave it 4* and the others in the group pretty much agreed.

The Greatest Gift – Philip Van Doren Stern

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or ‘The greatest disappointment’? I am totally glad that this wee story was written, and even more glad that some absolutely amazing scriptwriters took this very short story and made such an epic film based on it, but I was disappointed by the book. Firstly the book took about 35 minutes to read, it is such a small part of the story in the film ‘It’s a wonderful life’ and adds nothing to the story that I know and love. Secondly the book is quite expensive (if you don’t have a kindle), and it is so very short it is not worth buying. Thirdly, there is little in the story of how much George Bailey actually did for the town he lived in. In short, it’s too short. This is a great concept, the idea of showing someone the differences that they made on others by simply being in their lives, but the writing isn’t fabulous, and it lacks the heart of the film it inspired. My advice would be to watch It’s a Wonderful life, enjoy the wonderful performance of James Stewart, see, feel and hear Bedford Falls, and remember that it was inspired by this short story, but don’t bother reading it, because the film is just perfect, this story is not.

Happy Reading & Happy Christmas!

Mel x