The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen

About the book

My name is Judith McPherson. I am ten years old. On Monday a miracle happened. Judith doesn’t have much. The house she shares with her devoutly religious father is full of dusty relics, reminders of the mother Judith never knew. Bullied at school, she finds comfort in creating a miniature world in her bedroom – a world of wonder she calls The Land of Decoration. Perhaps, she thinks, if she makes it snow in The Land of Decoration there will be no school on Monday. Sure enough, when Judith opens her curtains the next day, the world beyond her window has turned white. And that’s when her troubles begin.

 

Reviewed by Everton

“Well written from the child’s perspective. This book posed many questions of religious belief and the effect of this on individuals. A compelling read with a definite ending. Enjoyed by most of the group

star rating ***

 

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Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman

About the book

After a long and murky career with the FBI, Brigid Quinn is trying to move on. She’s got a nice house. Dogs. A husband who knows nothing of her past. But the abduction and murder of a young female colleague still haunts her.

So when the girl’s body is finally found, and a man confesses to the murder, Brigid is desperate for answers. Yet the more she learns, the more convinced she is that they have the wrong man. Following leads that the Bureau ignored, she’s propelled straight into the path of a ruthless serial killer. One who has evaded the law for decades, and will stop at nothing to keep her quiet…

But Brigid Quinn is a woman to be reckoned with.

Reviewed by Dilkusha

“Quite graphic but on the whole quite a good read. Most of us enjoyed the last few chapters

star rating *** ½

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The Man Who Disappeared by Clare Morrall

About the book

What would you do if, out of the blue, your husband disappeared and you found out he was a suspected criminal?

When reliable, respectable Felix Kendall vanishes, his wife Kate is left reeling. As she and their children cope with the shocking impact on their comfortable lives, Kate realises that, if Felix is guilty, she never truly knew the man she loved. But as she faces the possibility that he might not return, she also discovers strengths she never knew she had.

Reviewed by Littleton & Harestock WI

A good, light read so it’s nomination for a Summer Read makes sense. Although some aspects seem contrived, the ending shows the complete change in the roles of the main characters because of the events”

star rating **

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The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee

About the book

Calcutta, 1967. Unnoticed by his family, Supratik has become dangerously involved in extremist political activism. Compelled by an idealistic desire to change his life and the world around him, all he leaves behind before disappearing is a note. At home, his family slowly begins to unravel. Poisonous rivalries grow, the once-thriving family business implodes and destructive secrets are unearthed. And all around them the sands are shifting as society fractures, for this is a moment of turbulence, of inevitable and unstoppable change.

 

Reviewed by EMS Valley U3A

“Only 2 of our members finished the book – the rest gave up ¾ way through. A very dense book. We all had mixed feelings. Interesting history of both the family and the terrorists, but very violent”

star rating **

 

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The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

About the book

1961: On a sweltering summer’s day, while her family picnics by the stream on their Suffolk farm, sixteen-year-old Laurel hides out in her childhood tree house dreaming of a boy called Billy, a move to London, and the bright future she can’t wait to seize. But before the idyllic afternoon is over, Laurel will have witnessed a shocking crime that changes everything.

2011: Now a much-loved actress, Laurel finds herself overwhelmed by shades of the past. Haunted by memories, and the mystery of what she saw that day, she returns to her family home and begins to piece together a secret history. A tale of three strangers from vastly different worlds – Dorothy, Vivien and Jimmy – who are brought together by chance in wartime London and whose lives become fiercely and fatefully entwined.

Reviewed by Jeannie’s Friends

“The group preferred the second part to the first. They did not like back and forward in time”

star rating ** ½

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The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

About the book

1913

On the eve of the First World War, a little girl is found abandoned after a gruelling ocean voyage from England to Australia. All she can remember of the journey is that a mysterious woman she calls the Authoress had promised to look after her. But the Authoress has vanished without a trace.

1975

Now an old lady, Nell travels to England to discover the truth about her parentage. Her quest leads her to Cornwall, and to a beautiful estate called Blackhurst Manor, which had been owned by the Mountrachet family. What has prompted Nell’s journey after all these years?

2005

On Nell’s death, her granddaughter, Cassandra, comes into a surprise inheritance. Cliff Cottage, in the grounds of Blackhurst Manor, is notorious amongst the locals for the secrets it holds – secrets about the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is at Cliff Cottage, abandoned for years, and in its forgotten garden, that Cassandra will uncover the truth about the family and why the young Nell was abandoned all those decades before.

Reviewed by Novel Characters

“A much layered plot but which keeps you interested until the end (not everyone agreed) Most really enjoyed this book and was sorry when it was finished. Would highly recommend!!”

star rating ****

 

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Dear Lupin….Letters to a Wayward Son by Charlie & Roger Mortimer

About the book

Nostalgic, witty and filled with characters and situations that people of all ages will recognise, Dear Lupin is the entire correspondence of a Father to his only son, spanning nearly 25 years. Roger Mortimer’s sometimes hilarious, sometimes touching, always generous letters to his son are packed with anecdotes and sharp observations, with a unique analogy for each and every scrape Charlie Mortimer got himself into. The trials and tribulations of his youth and early adulthood are received by his father with humour, understanding and a touch of resignation, making them the perfect reminder of when letters were common, but always special.

 

Reviewed by Museum

“Most of us found it very entertaining – witty and amusing, although one thought it trivial. Personally I was very impressed with his journalistic ability to pack so much into so few words”

star rating ** ½

 

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Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

About the book

July 1209: in Carcassonne a 17-year-old girl is given a mysterious book by her father which he claims contains the secret of the true Grail. Although Alais cannot understand the strange words and symbols hidden within, she knows that her destiny lies in keeping the secret of the labyrinth safe . . .

July 2005: Alice Tanner discovers two skeletons in a forgotten cave in the French Pyrenees. Puzzled by the labyrinth symbol carved into the rock, she realises she’s disturbed something that was meant to remain hidden. Somehow, a link to a horrific past – her past – has been revealed.

Reviewed by Milford U3A

“Enjoyable, different, interesting, informative, Good discussion. Verbose, needed editing. Timeshift worked well. Good historical interest”

star rating ** ½

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Citadel by Kate Mosse

About the book

1942, Nazi-occupied France. Sandrine, a spirited and courageous nineteen-year-old, finds herself drawn into a Resistance group in Carcassonne – codenamed ‘Citadel’ – made up of ordinary women who are prepared to risk everything for what is right.

And when she meets Raoul, they discover a shared passion for the cause, for their homeland, and for each other.

But in a world where the enemy now lies in every shadow – where neighbour informs on neighbour; where friends disappear without warning and often without trace – love can demand the highest price of all…

Reviewed by Bordon U3A Group 2

1)Took up to page 500 + to really enjoy / get into it 2) Ran on many parallel threads. 3) Very well researched and true to the truth. 4) Everyone finished it and liked it

star rating ****

 

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The One Plus One by Jo Jo Moyes

About the book

One eternal optimist . . . Jess Thomas, with two jobs and two kids and never enough money, wears flip flops in the hope of spring. And when life knocks her down she does her best to bounce right back. But no one told her it’s okay to ask for help. Plus one lost stranger . . . Ed Nichols is the good guy gone bad. He had it all, then one stupid mistake cost him everything. Now he’ll do anything to make it right. Equals a chance encounter . . . Ed doesn’t want to save anyone and Jess doesn’t want saving, but could Jess and Ed add up to something better together?

Reviewed by Alton U3A

“A pleasure not to be harrowed! A satisfying read”

star rating ****

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