The Monthly Book Club

Sadly due to lack of participation and time on my part, I have now stopped the online Monthly Book Club, but please feel free to read some of the books/reviews we have enjoyed to date.

The Monthly Book Club choice for November is:

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters.

The Night Watch

Having read ‘The Paying Guests’ by the same author at the beginning of this year,(which I adored and I think was my favourite book of 2015 ) I have been wanting to read another of her books.   I asked my book group which one they would recommend, and they said this one.

Set during World War II, it is about four Londoners and how their lives and secrets connect.   Described as: “Tender, tragic and beautifully poignant, set against the backdrop of feats of heroism both epic and ordinary, here is a novel of relationships that offers up subtle surprises and twists. The Night Watch is thrilling. A towering achievement.”

“This outstandingly gifted novelist releases her imagination into her most compelling depiction yet.” (Peter Kemp Sunday Times)

If it’s even half as good as ‘The Paying Guests,’ I know I am in for a real treat.

Now, with having read ‘a LOT’ of books this year, I am taking a little break to ease up on the reading over Christmas.  So there will be no book club choice for December or January.   The Monthly Book Club choice will reconvene in February 2016.   Thank you so much to those who have supported and commented on the blog since its inception.   I wish you Happy Reading!  Please do feel free to comment anytime about anything that takes your fancy!

The Monthly Book club choice for October is Brooklyn by Colm Toibin.  As mentioned in my recent blog post, the film starring Saoirse Ronan comes out on 6th November.  This book has been described as:  “A lovely, thoughtful book … alive with authentic detail, moved along by the ripples of affection and doubt that shape any life: a novel that offers the reader serious pleasure.” (Daily Telegraph)

Brooklyn          Product Details

Colm Toibin is a master of storytelling and this book is moving, insightful and will leave you wanting more.  A must read!  I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

The Monthly Book Club choice for September is:  The Good Girl by Fiona Neill

This was recommended by our regular contributor Corinne.  It looks like a great read and is described as follows:

Scratch the surface of any family hard enough and you’ll draw blood . No one can believe it when straight A student Romy Field finds herself at the centre of a scandal, least of all her mother Ailsa – who is also the head of her new school.  Ailsa is quick to hold Romy’s new boyfriend and his parents responsible for what has happened. But as mother and daughter reveal their very different version of events, a much darker truth emerges. It soon becomes apparent that Romy isn’t the only member of her family harbouring secrets and her disgrace becomes the catalyst for the unravelling of all those around her.

It takes a split second to make a decision that can alter the course of your life.

And a lifetime to undo the consequences.

Two families become embroiled in each other’s lives and long buried secrets are unravelled. Contemporary issues are tackled here with both humour and realism, making for an engrossing read’ My Weekly

The Monthly Book Club choice for August is

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. The Girl on the Train

Paula Hawkins was born and brought up in Zimbabwe.  She moved to London in 1989.  She worked as a journalist for 15 years before writing this, her first book.  A psychological thriller, it has become a bestseller and has been described in the following way: “Really great suspense novel. Kept me up most of the night. The alcoholic narrator is dead perfect.” (STEPHEN KING)

“A complex and increasingly chilling tale courtesy of a number of first-person narratives that will wrong-foot even the most experienced of crime fiction readers” (Irish Times).

Enjoy, and see my home page for additional information regarding August’s book club (more book choices, as it is holiday month!).

The Book Club Choice for July is ‘The Storied Life of A.J.Fikry’ by Gabrielle Zevin. the storied life“A.J. Fikry, the grumpy owner of Island Books, is going through a hard time: his bookshop is failing, he has lost his beloved wife, and a prized rare first edition has been stolen.  But one day A.J. finds two-year-old Maya sitting on the bookshop floor, with a note attached to her asking the owner to look after her. His life – and Maya’s – is changed forever.” “I read this book in one big greedy gulp. A charming and funny love letter to the written word – it will leave you smiling and with a large lump in your throat.” Natasha Solomons, bestselling author of Mr Rosenblum’s List and The Novel in the Viola. “Reminds us what saves us all from a life of loneliness and isolation: our sense of empathy; our ability to love and be loved; our willingness to care and be cared for. Gabrielle Zevin has written a wonderful, moving, endearing story of redemption and transformation that will sing in your heart for a very, very long time.” Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rai. The Book Club Choice for June is ‘H is for Hawk‘ by Helen Macdonald. Click on the title above to go to amazon link.   Read below for further details. This is a personal choice for me, as it deals with grief.   From the summary on the back it says: “As a child, Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer, learning the arcane terminology and reading all the classic books.  Years later, when her father died and she was struck deeply by grief, she became obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk.” “H is for Hawk is the unflinchingly  honest account of Macdonald’s struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk’s taming and her own untaming. This is a book about memory, nature and nation, and how it might be possible to reconcile death with life and love.” Described as ” A talon-sharp memoir that will thrill and chill you to the bone..Fascinating.’    It also won the Costa Book of the Year 2014. The Book Club Choice for May is ‘I am Pilgrim.’ by Terri Hayes. I am Pilgrim“The narrative is thrilling: the tension tightens with action…It’s a murder mystery, an illuminating account of contemporary international politics and a study of an unusual man……An excellent thriller which as a first novel is really remarkable” (Literary Review) I look forward to reviewing the book on the last Friday of May.

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22 thoughts on “The Monthly Book Club

  1. Hi fellow ‘I am Pilgrim’ devotees! What an amazing read!! Couldn’t put it down. Found it totally gripping from beginning to end, in fact, will probably read it again!! More later re characters, etc., but can’t recommend it highly enough. I suppose it’s also important not to spoil the story for others about to embark on the great advenrure! X

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Has anyone finished Pilgrim yet? Did you enjoy? I’m really interested to hear other people’s thoughts on it.

    I think it is one of the best books I have ever read. A real page turner! At points I literally couldn’t put it down, and would find myself still engrossed at 2am (way past my bedtime)!

    Thrilling, clever and at times gruesome / shocking…. I’ll say no more in case you haven’t got to that bit.

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    1. Hi Corinne, I am just over half way through. I have to admit I am enjoying it, but sometimes finding it hard going. It is fascinating yet gruesome. I am totally intrigued though as to how it is going to play out between the Saracen and the guy who is narrating the book. I feel it is a book I would have loved to have had on holidays, because I would have loved to have read it without so many breaks/interruptions! I am determined to dedicate some time to it over the next few days. I get into bed to read too late!! Anyone else out there care to comment. Please do. How are you getting on with it? Let us know.

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    2. Hi Corinne- It is the best thriller I have ever read- a book I probably wouldn’t have picked up, were it not for the book club recommendation. So a massive thank you! It had me glued from the first page and continued to keep me enthralled to page 703! a brute of a book. At times the horror of ‘what could happen in the world’ made me uncomfortable ,however he certainly knows how to keep a reader on board. There are many plots and various sub stories which only go to make it a book you can’t skim over.
      Loved it.
      Now Justine whats next ? can’t wait!!

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      1. I know exactly what you mean, Jan. I wouldn’t have selected it either if a colleague hadn’t recommended it. I couldn’t believe a book could be so addictive. I literally couldn’t set it down. Horrific events (particularly in the mountains) that made me squirm – but brilliantly written. Let’s hope there is a sequel soon.

        Loving the book club Justine. Keep up the good work. x

        Liked by 1 person

      2. OK, clearly I am missing something about how to read quickly! I am spending an hour a day reading and I am still only just over half way through ‘I am Pilgrim.’ I can’t wait to finish it but just don’t seem to have enough time! As it was May’s book club choice, I am not putting up a review until the end of May. However Jan, if you plan to follow the book club and you want June’s choice, I will give it to you now, so you can check it out online. It is ‘H is for Hawk’ by Helen Macdonald. This is a personal choice for me, as it is about a woman grieving the death of her father. It won the Costa Book of the Year award 2014 and came highly recommended. Check it out online! I won’t be putting it on the Monthly Book Club page till middle of May. After that I will go back to putting up other people’s choice for the Book Club choice, but this was one I felt strongly about. Happy Reading!

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  3. Hi Justine! Just finished ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ last night and though it took me some time to ‘get into it’, I did enjoy it eventually! Awful to admit, but I found Maud slightly irritating initially as I couldn’t understand where all her ramblings were leading! Can identify with you re Helen – she seemed quite cold and impatient – though am sure her job as main carer can’t have been easy! Very cleverly written from the dementia-sufferer’s point of view and definitely worth a read. Looking forward to starting ‘I am Pilgrim’ tonight!

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    1. Hi Kim. Glad you enjoyed the book in the main. I can understand your feelings completely re Maud, it is interesting how Helen gets irritated with her and as the reader it is hard not to as well. However as you read on, I feel you really get an understanding of how frightening and simply terrible it must be to suffer from dementia. So isolating. As I will be saying when I post my review next week, for me it was so hyped that I found it slightly disappointing in one way, but still glad I read it! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate it.

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  4. Hi Jan. Welcome here too!! The same stuff will be on both sites! It is amazing that you mentioned ‘Ladder of Years.’ I heard it recommended by some celebrity on a TV book show awhile back and always meant to get around to it. I have read ‘Back when we were grown ups.’ by her. It was fantastic. She has written a lot of books so plenty more to read! So excited that you are going to be sharing your vast reading knowledge with us!

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    1. Hi couldn’t resist putting in a small passage from ‘ladder of Years’
      This is Delia remembering her first ever dinner party as a young wife.
      her husband introduces the first quests -Joe and Amy Guggles ‘I slid into helpless cascades of laughter my breath dissolving into squeaks ,my eyes streaming tears,my cheeks beginning to ache-I laughter myself boneless ‘I’m so sorry I really can’t think what-‘ The next couple arrived ‘Hon these are my oldest friends ,Frank and Mia Mewmew
      Oh Lord.
      Still smiling at this!
      Jan

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      1. Fab! Love bits of a book that leave you laughing and smiling. I also love that feeling of helpless laughter where you become nearly hysterical and the more you try to stop, the worse it gets. I plan to read this book next if I can find the time!

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    1. Just started I am Pilgrim -wow – it certainly comes out of the blocks sprinting! I am scared to put it down incase I can’t get back on track!! Loving it!

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  5. Hi Debs. Now I really have to read I am Pilgrim. That’s it I think it will be next month’s book club choice. I read Perfume. Hated it!! Sorry! Will check out the other two. Want to see the film Still Alice too. Thanks for the recommendations. That’s what this is all about. Appreciate it. J,

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  6. Hi Justine- I haven’t read the monthly book yet- but can recommend “I am Pilgrim”- absolutely riveting crime novel- Appeals to both sexes- both R & I loved it & I gave it to a friend’s husband for Christmas and my friend apparently couldn’t put it down !

    I was given some books recently –
    “Perfume” a unique crime novel- H H Suskind
    “My Brilliant Best Friend”- haven’t read yet- just loved the title!
    Staying Alice- another dementia book (haven’t read it yet)

    Looking forward to the last 2.- but as I’ve just watched Pierce Brosnan in Evelyn on Netflix- I’m now reading the book “Evelyn” for the true story- couldn’t really recommend but I was just curious.
    I will try to read some of your monthly books as I am always looking for recommendations!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Debs
      just finished a book called Ladder of years by Anne Tyler ‘Vintage’ Funny yet sad book but has brilliant observations of life which made me laugh out loud.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Corinne. Thanks for those really interesting comments. I can see how it would have left you wondering about your grandmother, although I am sure every case is completely unique. I haven’t finished it yet, but what I am finding so far is that I am frustrated that Maud’s daughter Helen doesn’t seem to be taking care of her well enough. She is clearly very unwell and is wandering about and getting herself into all sorts of problems, and Helen seems not to be doing much about it. Although she has just taken her to the doctor (FINALLY!) so maybe that is about to change. Very much looking forward to seeing what happens with the Sukey character. You mentioned a book to me before called ‘I am Pilgrim.’ I am going to look it up. Perhaps it will be a future book club choice! Cheers.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean Justine. But I think Helen and Maud’s relationship is that’s what makes the book so interesting. We are frustrated that Helen doesn’t act. We feel that she continues to let Maud down, and consequently almost becomes the villain of the piece at times. But I had to ask myself, if I was in a similar situation, would I really behave any differently to Helen? I’d like to hope I would (particularly since reading this book), but in all honesty I’m not sure I would have seen the sense in the midst of apparent ramblings about flowers and a dead sister.

      I mentioned my grandmother earlier and think of the times she told me the same things over and over again, and how easy it was to reply rather too easy with a platitude. Not unkindly, but not with any great interest in trying to understand what she was really trying to say. I simply put it down to the weird workings of a broken mind. I am sad that a little more time or patience might have uncovered an interesting memory, family history, a funny story. I think Helen is guilt of being busy and not seeing that within the confused and jumbled mind there was more. If I am being honest, I think I am guilty of the same.

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      1. Interesting point and upon reflection you are as usual right! We don’t often think beyond what we see at face value….due to being busy or perhaps just not realizing, through no fault of our own. Helen does come good, that’s for sure. It was just at the point of the story I was reading where I felt Elizabeth was in danger. Thanks for posting!

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  8. Hi J, I have just finished reading Elizabeth is missing. Thoroughly enjoyed it…if ‘enjoy’ is the right word? It was an interesting exploration into the ‘mind’ of a dementia sufferer. My grandmother suffered from dementia, and I was left worrying that her last experiences of the world were the same as the main character… Confusing, lonely and frustrating… And for that reason I was left saddened. But to the author’s credit it was a fascinating concept, and the story unwinds very cleverly despite (or thanks to) the deterioration of mind/memory. Enjoy… I look forward to hearing other people’s thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

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