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

July – The Kite Runner

I didn’t choose this book, but I am very glad I read it, in spite of my initial reticence. The kite runner is not a book that I would have ever picked up, had it not been for our book club, and again, it made me grateful that all of these fabulous women chose to join the group.

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

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The first thing that struck me about this book was the beautiful descriptive quality of the writing. This was Hosseini’s first book and the first book that I have read by this author, however I am certain that it will not be the last. In my job as a college lecturer I have spent a lot of time with teenage asylum seekers from Afghanistan, and other war torn countries, and never really fully understood their journeys or their culture, I do feel that reading this book has taken me one step closer to that.

Amir tells the story of his privileged life in a pre war Afghanistan, the friendship that he has with his servant’s son, Hassan and the relationship that he longs to have with his father, Baba. Baba is very wealthy and therefore Amir’s upbringing is, we learn fairly early on in the story, not typical of the country at the time, however does have an honest feel about the life that Amir had, and the  lack of acceptance of his relationship with Hassan from his peers.

The ‘Kite running’ itself was a new concept to me, I have never heard of this, nor of covering the string of a kite with shards of broken glass, the thought of this tearing in to the young boys’ hands made me feel a little sick to be honest. I loved the imagery of all of the colourful kites darting around the sky at once, and imagined the clear blue sky filled with flashes of colour.

When the Taliban takes the country and thoughts turn to escape, it became more like what I know of Afghanistan, and the stories of life risking attempts to leave the country that they love is something with which I am very familiar. How hard those journey’s must be, and how strange to find yourself in a new country with a different climate, different culture, different language and a whole new way of life. The book deals with this well, and again I felt empathy for the main characters.

There is lots more to this book, relationships, deceit, danger…. but I will not spoil it, I loved the book and could not put it down, and highly recommend it, this seems to be how most of the group felt about it. the group gave the book an average 4.5*, with my rating being exactly that!

We have always lived in a castle – Shirley Jackson

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A strange wee book, easy to read and to understand, it might actually be a good one for young readers (12-15) to enjoy. The book opens with a teenage girl (Mary Katherine Blackwood) telling us that all of her family are dead, with the exception of her sister Constance and an uncle. It becomes evident quickly that Constance is suspected of the murder of the family by poisoning, and that the villagers do not trust her (even chanting a rhyme accusing her of the murder).

Mary Katherine aka Merricat exhibits very strange behaviour, stating in the opening passage that she would like to have been born a werewolf, she believes in magic, and is incredibly superstitious. Merricat mistrusts people, and avoids integration with anyone other than her sister, not surprising since the villagers are quite cruel to her on her trips to the shops.

It is a creepy little mystery, and it does keep the reader’s attention, however the plot twists did not surprise me and I really didn’t care enough about any of the characters to be glad that they survived the mass murder. The group gave this book a 4* rating, for me it was a 3.5*.

Happy Reading!
Mel