Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

About the book

When Elspeth Noblin dies she leaves her beautiful flat overlooking Highgate Cemetery to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina Poole, on the condition that their mother is never allowed to cross the threshold. But until the solicitor’s letter falls through the door of their suburban American home, either Julia nor Valentina knew their aunt existed. The twins hope that in London their own, separate, lives can finally begin but they have no idea that they’ve been summoned into a tangle of fraying lives, from the obsessive-compulsive crossword setter who lives above them to their aunt’s mysterious and elusive lover who lives below them and works in the cemetery itself. As the twins unravel the secrets of their aunt, who doesn’t seem quite ready to leave her flat, even after death, Niffenegger weaves together a delicious and deadly ghost story about love, loss and identity.

 

Reviewed by Enjoying Books

star rating * ½

 

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The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

About the book

THE FIRST SNOW WILL COME. A young boy wakes to find his mother missing. Their house is empty but outside in the garden he sees his mother’s favourite scarf – wrapped around the neck of a snowman. AND THEN HE WILL APPEAR AGAIN. As Harry Hole and his team begin their investigation they discover that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years. AND WHEN THE SNOW IS GONE… When a second woman disappears it seems that Harry’s worst suspicions are confirmed: for the first time in his career Harry finds himself confronted with a serial killer operating on his home turf. …HE WILL HAVE TAKEN SOMEONE ELSE.

Reviewed by Everton

“A gripping novel with some twists in the plot. Rather gruesome with graphic description and spine chilling flight through the night time forest. A thrilling climax with the hero prevailing yet again”

star rating ****

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The Leopard by Jo Nesbo

About the book

YOU ARE ALLOWING THIS KILLING TO GO ON. The crime scenes offer no clues, the media is reaching fever pitch, and the police are running out of options. IT’S TIME THIS WAS STOPPED… There is only one man who can help them catch the killer. But Inspector Harry Hole doesn’t want to be found. …BECAUSE I HAVE APPOINTED THE NEXT VICTIM.

 

Reviewed by Everton

“Wiith so many characters with ‘strange’ names to us it took some time to navigate. Some macabre details but probably no worse than in real life situations which make the headlines. It became ‘un-put downable’ as you read through and held all of us as readers”

star rating *** ½

 

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12 years a slave by Solomon Northup

About the book

Born a free man in New York State in 1808, Solomon Northup was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., in 1841. He spent the next 12 years as a slave on a Louisiana cotton plantation, and during this time he was frequently abused and often afraid for his life. This is his detailed description of slave life and plantation society.

Reviewed by The Benches

Interesting and almost a horror story. Too much detail in some parts but an easy read and it uncovers slavery from the inside. Most of our readers rated it 3 stars and the rest 2 stars.

Star rating: ***

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Starter for Ten by David Nicholls

About the book

The year is 1985 and Brian has just started his first term at university, armed with the obligatory CND membership and a complete set of Kate Bush albums. But he also has a dark secret – a burning ambition to appear on University Challenge and now it seems the dream is about to become reality.

Reviewed by Museum Reading Group

Difficult to award a star rating as the responses were so mixed! One member gave up after a few pages as she found the book so irritating; two more found it “all right” and two of us thoroughly enjoyed it and found it a particularly telling picture of the adolescent male from the naked-strapping-to-the-pier-with-laxatives to Spencer alone with his hand to hid forehead. for myself I particularly enjoyed the middle class labrador who probably had £grade four piano”!

Star rating: no agreement

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Love Rules by Freya North

About the book

Is love ever enough? Thea – sensible and cautious – has always believed in old-fashioned romance. Her best friend Alice is more of a ‘fun first, think later’ kind of girl. But just recently they’ve both been behaving out of character. When Thea Luckmore falls head over heels for a man she meets on Primrose Hill and Alice Heggarty marries her best friend Mark, both women are blissfully happy – for a while. But it’s not long before Alice admits to herself she likes the thrill of the chase more than the easy pace of married life. And then Thea makes a shocking discovery – one which forces her to rewrite her rules for everlasting love !

Reviewed by Everton Reading Group:

This book fails to engage a reader. However, those who persevered found some story line and managed to the end. The language and sexual connections left some group members sceptical about the modern age while others glossed over these aspects. Not popular.

Star rating: *

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The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble

About the book

The Reading Group follows the trials and tribulations of a group of women who meet regularly to read and discuss books.Over the course of a year, each of these women become intertwined, both in the books they read and within each other’s lives.
Inspired by a shared desire for conversation, a good book and a glass of wine-Clare, Harriet, Nicole, Polly, and Susan undergo startling revelations and transformations despite their differences in background, age and respective dilemmas.
What starts as a reading group gradually evolves into a forum where the women may express their views through the books they read and grow to become increasingly more open as the bonds of friendship cement.
In The Reading Group, Noble reveals the many complicated paths in life we all face as well as the power and importance of friendship.

Reviewed by Enjoying Books Reading Group:

A good holiday reading with interesting issues. We found lots of discussion points on womens lives at different ages.

Star rating: ** ½

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Ringworld by Larry Niven

About the book

Pierson’s puppeteers, strange, three-legged, two-headed aliens, have discovered an immense structure in a hitherto unexplored part of the universe. Frightened of meeting the builders of such a structure, the puppeteers set about assembling a team consisting of two humans, a puppeteer and a kzin, an alien not unlike an eight-foot-tall, red-furred cat, to explore it. The artefact is a vast circular ribbon of matter, some 180 million miles across, with a sun at its centre – the Ringworld. But the expedition goes disastrously wrong when the ship crashlands and its motley crew faces a trek across thousands of miles of the Ringworld’s surface.

Reviewed by Sci-fi and Fantasy Reading Group:

A book that split the group along genre lines. Conceptually impressive but some felt the plot and characters were underdeveloped and lacked dimension. A mixed reception on the whole.

Star rating: ***

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The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh

About the book

Kien’s job is to search the Jungle of Screaming Souls for corpses. He knows the area well – this was where, in the dry season of 1969, his battalion was obliterated by American napalm and helicopter gunfire. Kien was one of only ten survivors. This book is his attempt to understand the eleven years of his life he gave to a senseless war.
Based on true experiences of Bao Ninh and banned by the communist party, this novel is revered as the ‘All Quiet on the Western Front for our era’.

Reviewed by Yateley Library Reading Group:

This book provoked very strong reaction. 50% loved it, 50% hated it. A good discussion was had. Generally people thought it provoked the pointlessness of war very well but was sometimes harrowing. Hard to read as it jumped between past and present and future. Worth preserving with.

Star rating: ***

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The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

About the book

This is the extraordinary love story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. In the face of this force they can neither prevent nor control, Henry and Clare’s struggle to lead normal lives is both intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

Reviewed by Robins Book Group:

Love story with a ‘twist’. A way of using a concept lie time travel to explore a story of love, passion and loss.

Star rating: ***

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