Cross Bones Yard by Kate Rhodes

About the book

Ray and Marie Benson killed 13 women before they were caught, tried and imprisoned. Five of their victims were never found. Six years later, psychologist Alice Quentin discovers a woman’s body on the wasteground at Crossbones Yard. The wounds are similar to the Bensons’ signature style. But who would want to copy their crimes?

Reviewed by Waterlooville Crime Reading Group

It was ok and I did read all of it because it was an easy read. My main problem was with Alice, who, despite being a psychologist with an understanding of people, was far too compliant to the wishes of others and didn’t assert her own rights or needs as a human. She doesn’t exactly tell ex-boyfriend Sean where to get off, or make a complaint against him or Alvarez for their unwelcome attentions. If the police want her to look at something, she drops her own work and goes straight away, although it doesn’t seem to be a formal arrangement of hiring her services as a psychologist. She also doesn’t have due regard for her own safety and is heedless of danger, running at night, despite the risks, and removing evidence from a police investigation. She lives in a two bedroom flat and has an expensive mortgage, yet one of the bedrooms is empty. I can understand her letting her friend stay free for a while, even if the friend can afford wine and to go out, but then she also lets the friend’s boyfriend make use of the facilities.
The scary bits of the book weren’t scary enough and the happy bits wernt happy enough. I didn’t worry about Alice (or care that much) as it seemed clear she would win though. I did care about her friend Lola, who seemed too good to be true – and only the good die young. I thought the portraits of her mother and her brother Will seemed reasonably realistic. I thought the explanation of why Alvarez was the killer was reasonable. It might have been better if there were a few more suspects in the book. There were only three people it could be, then two after Will ended up in hospital.
The description of London helped set the book in its location and added to the story.
The story was ok if you suspended your belief about Alice.

Star rating: ***

Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

About the book

One drowsy summer’s day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for ‘asylum’. Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking.

Reviewed by Everton

Mixed reviews although it did promote quite a discussion as to where our futures or more importantly our grandchildren’s futures would end. Most members found it a “bit of a slog” but it is well worthwhile to keep going to reach the end. Think it may be a while before we read another book by the same author despite the fact that he is an amazing writer with an even more amazing imagination.

Star rating: **

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

About the book

Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, father and daughter flee with a dangerous secret. Werner is a German orphan, destined to labour in the same mine that claimed his father’s life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering. At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home. But all around him, impending danger closes in. Doerr’s combination of soaring imagination and meticulous observation is electric.

Reviewed by Fareham 5:30

Read this book! Read it now. It is wonderful – for many of us the best book we’ve read.
The descriptive writing is haunting. Each short chapter is so beautiful part of you wants to linger. The story is interesting, particularly how he weaves the tow key charcaters’ lives. The book is full of well-rounded characters that you care about.
The book provoked a good discussion on the morality and horrors of war – especially useful as seen from French and German perspectives.
This is a haunting story. We would definitely read all books by this author.

Star rating: *****

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The Full cupboard of life by Alexander McCall Smith

About the book

Mma Ramotswe, who became engaged to Mr J.L.B. Matekoni at the end of the first book in this series, is still engaged. She wonders when a day for the wedding will be named, but she is anxious to avoid putting too much pressure on her fiance. For he has other things on his mind.

Reviewed by Solent U3A

Enchanting and enjoyable book, very descriptive with lots of warm characters and good humour.

Star rating ***

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The No 1 ladies' detective agency by Alexander McCall Smith

About the book

The No. 1 LadiesDetective Agency is one woman, Precious Ramotswe, working out of a breezeblock office in Botswana. A cross between Kinsey Millhone and Miss Marple, Precious makes an unlikely heroine as she embarks on a very African mystery.

Reviewed by Titchfield Abbey WI

We all enjoyed this charming book. It held our interest right from the start when Mma Ramotswe solved the mystery of the bogus “Daddy”. The details of Mma Ramotswe’s early life and that of her father’s was cleverly woven into the story. We liked the descriptions of Botswana, the atmosphere of the land itself, seemed quite magical – so different from our own. We look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Star rating ****

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The Accidental by Ali Smith

About the book

The Accidental is Ali Smith’s dazzling novel about a family holiday and a stranger who upends it. Arresting and wonderful, The Accidental pans in on the Norfolk holiday home of the Smart family one hot summer. There a beguiling stranger called Amber appears at the door bearing all sorts of unexpected gifts, trampling over family boundaries and sending each of the Smarts scurrying from the dark into the light.

Reviewed by Bridewell Beauties

The narrative didn’t flow. Virginia Woolf did it better. As a group we did not enjoy the book. A disappointment.

Star rating *

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Moo by Jane Smiley

About the book

Brilliantly funny satire set in a contemporary American university. Deep in the wheatfields of the American midwest, Moo University is in a state of disarray…In this witty and biting comedy of manners, Jane Smiley turns her wryly perceptive eye towards a community where men and women, the innocent and the cynical, thinkers and careerists, live and work together – in complete disharmony.

Reviewed by NWR

This is one of those books where there are so many characters and interweaving plots that it’s easy to lose one’s way. There are many interesting characteristics and observations of campus life and a good deal of humour but it is not an easy book to discuss in a group and a bit of a slog to get through.

Star rating **

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A Thousand acres by Jane Smiley

About the book

Larry Cook’s farm is the largest in Zebulon County, Iowa, and a tribute to his hard work and single-mindedness. His decision to hand the farm over to his 3 daughters is out of character, and Caroline, who has misgivings, is immediately cut out.

Reviewed by Friends of Farnborough

One person thought this was wonderful. A few thought it was quite good but most of the group gave it a two star rating. It was well written but the characters were not that believable.

Star rating **

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Ice road by Gillian Slovo

About the book

Leningrad, 1933. Loyalties, beliefs, love: all are about to be tested to the limit in one of the most crushing moments the world will ever know. Watching everything is Irina, who understands that simple loyalty to an individual may well be more powerful than blind loyalty to an idea.

Reviewed by Denmead Reading Circle

Divided opinion led to a lively discussion. Generally more members liked than disliked. Good for learning about Russian history. Individual stories of the characters relieved the overall depressing theme.

Star rating ***

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The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

About the book

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer whose cancer cells became one of the most important tools in medicine. Rebecca Skloot takes the reader on an extraordinary journey in search of Henrietta’s story.

Reviewed by Bookends

We found this book to be informative but not a page turner. An amazing story with insights into racist behaviour; lack of information at the time to give consent with the positive side of research which may not have happened otherwise. Well written and researched.

Star rating ***

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