• Gemma

BookCosy Reads 2012

Updated: Feb 14, 2019

After discovering our 'wow' book, Into the Darkest Corner last year, the challenge is on to find one that equals or tops this book.

Below is a list of the books we manged to read with a brief description about each one and our group's average score. There are no spoilers, so feel free to scroll through the list and perhaps chose your next novel to read? For more information about each book please see the individual blogs and what each individual member scored it.

Our first book of the year Left Neglected. The main character Sarah has it all, a successful career, husband, children and a second home. But one fateful day she becomes involved in a car accident and as a consequence loses the ability to process anything on her left side of her brain due to suffering a traumatic brain injury. The novel delves into this medical condition, giving insight into how it changes both her and the members of Sarah's family. Although the book is informative we felt that because Sarah is not a very likeable character we weren't drawn into the novel like we might have been if we felt more compassion and sympathy for her. Overall we gave it a score of 5 out of 10. If you enjoy reading about medical conditions in fiction then this will is the book for you.

Not bad for our first novel of the year but definitely room for improvement.

Book number two, Before I Go To Sleep. This novel was one that a few of us had our eyes on and were hoping to pick it for our own book choice. It was advertised in all the book shops and promised good things. We were not disappointed. Christine wakes up every day and has no knowledge of the day before or even events from her past. She relies on her husband Ben to shed some light on who she is and what has happened to her. Then she receives a call from Dr. Nash, a neurologist who asks her to find her journal which is hidden in the back of her wardrobe. She has been keeping a journal, recounting her sessions with the Dr, conversations with her husband and fragments of the flashbacks she is experiencing. As Christine gets closer to the truth behind her accident the more horrified she becomes. A gripping book, somewhat predictable but a good read nonetheless. We all enjoyed it and gave it a group average score of 6 out of 10.

Our next book, Girl Reading. When we first saw the front cover we were all excited, it looked so interesting. The novel is in fact a collection of short stories which are built around works of art where women are portrayed reading. Some of these are real paintings, (e.g. the first is the painting Annunciation, 1333 by Simone Martini) and others are fictional. The short stories progress through nine centuries, starting with 1333 and ending with 2060. Some of us liked the futuristic element to the last chapter whereas others hated it. The stories did have subtle links with one another but we had trouble trying to connect them. Like other collections of short stories we found each one to be isolated from the next and at times confusing. This in turn dampened our enjoyment of the book as a whole. As a group we scored it a 4 out of 10.

Book four, The Language of Flowers. This book tells the story of Victoria who up until the age of nine was passed from one foster home to the next. Luckily she gets taken in by Elizabeth, a single woman who lives on a flower farm. As their relationship blooms so too does Victoria's passion for flowers. The story alternates between the past and present day, where Victoria is now 18 and sleeping rough in a park. It is a story of love, family, forgiveness and second chances. A beautifully written book with a quirky flower dictionary at the back displaying the meanings of each of the flowers. We each enjoyed reading this book with individual scores of a 7 or above, giving this an average score of 7 out of 10.

Our May read (the first book in this series), Case Histories. Private investigator Jackson Brodie is faced with a trio of cold cases, a missing 3 year old child, a murdered young woman on her first day of work, and a mother who kills her husband to death with an axe. Seemingly unconnected these crimes, spanning thirty years, have subtle links and interweave. The author alternates between the three cases and the chronological order of each of the crimes, which did leave some confusion at times. The characters and plot were well developed and interesting. We all agreed it was an enjoyable book and would be interested to read the other books in the series. Our average group score was a 6 out of 10. If you enjoy crime/mystery books the this is one for you.

Book number six, Cuckoo. This is the story of Rose who opens her house to her best friend Polly. However, when Polly comes to stay strange things start to happen and Rose's world slowly starts to fall apart. But is it Polly behind these occurrences or just a coincident? Although the book is written from Rose's point of view you are not necessarily bias towards her. One minute you feel like you want to hug her, the next shake her. All the characters in this novel seem to have their flaws, which in a way makes it easier to see both sides of the story. The ending of the book was quite shocking and unpredictable. It caused disappointment and frustration with some members whilst others felt it was a fitting end. You reap what you sow. As a group we gave it a score of 5 out of 10.

Our next book, The Night Circus. This was a book like no other we had read before. Set in the late 1800s, two magicians decide to hold the ultimate battle whereby they each take on an apprentice, teach them their methods of illusion, magic and manipulation and after years of study pit them against one another. Unbeknown to the apprentices this is a game where only one will survive. The venue, Le Cirque des Rêves which only opens at night and appears without warning. As this book is a fantasy novel some of us found it hard to get to grips with, mainly having not read many books of this genre. Yes it is well written and there is a lot of detailed description which allows you to visualise the surreal setting of the novel. But, the characters fell flat (apart from Poppet, Widget and Bailey), and the plot was just not exciting enough. We did have a mixture of scores ranging from a couple of 7s to some 3s and the rest scoring somewhere in between. Therefore our overall score was a 4 out of 10, which does feel like a disservice to the book. I guess it is like Marmite, you will either love it or hate it.

Our September read, The Art of Fielding, written by the American author Chad Harbach and yes as you would imagine there is a lot of Baseball referencing. If this is not your thing I would avoid the book. The novel is centred around five college students, it is ultimately about friendship, family and commitment. I don't normally refer to the nationality of the author but with this book I feel it is important to do so. Due to the lack of experience, knowledge and interest in Baseball that collectively as a group we have, we just didn't enjoy the book. It wasn't that it was a bad novel it just failed to stimulate us. We found it too long, were left feeling bored at times and didn't appreciate the humour (I'm sure there was some). For this particular book I think the cultural divide between the UK and the USA was too great to get true enjoyment from the book. Our overall score was a 3 out of 10.

Book number nine, The Greatcoat. The year is 1954, the war is over but still has a lasting presence over England. Isabel and Philip are newlyweds and are renting a freezing flat in Yorkshire. Phillip is a busy GP and so Isabel finds herself alone frequently, trying to settle into her new life. One night she is so cold she hunts around the flat looking for a blanket and comes across an old greatcoat. Snuggling up to it she hears a knocking on her window and meets the owner of the coat, Alex, a RAF pilot who died in the war. And so begins a strange relationship between the two of them. An intriguing (ghost) story, great front cover, simplistic writing that hooks you from the beginning and very atmospheric. However, the ending was a disappointment with some very unrealistic occurrences that just left us shouting 'How ridiculous!!'. Having said that we did enjoy this short read and gave it a group score of 4 out of 10.

Our next book, The Bottle Factory Outing. Brenda and Freda are flatmates and the only thing that connects them is that they live and work together. They are as different as chalk and cheese. Working at the bottle factory they suffer daily from sexual and physical harassment by the male employees and management. They lead quite mundane lives until the day of the work place outing where something goes horribly wrong. Although this novel was humorous in places, had a murder plot to unravel and was set in London it didn't really hold our attention. We felt unconnected to the main characters and lacked any sympathy towards them. We all agreed that it was an easy read but one we would not recommend to others. Therefore, our group average score is a 2 out of 10 making this our lowest scoring book so far.

So with the previous four books scoring lower than a 5 we were anticipating what our last two books of the year would hold in store for us. Overall the year had been a bit of a disappointment with only a couple of books scoring above a 5.

So most of us were relieved when we received our penultimate novel of the year, The Sugar Girls. This book is based on the true interviews taken with the former workers of the Tate and Lyle factory between the decades of the 1940s to the 1960s. Although Britain is faced with plenty of hardships during those years the book focuses more on the female workforce and their everyday experiences. The novel centres around four main characters but recounts other individual stories as well. The book is well written, addictive and very informative of this era. It was a delight to read and we all felt that it was a slice of British history that we were glad to read about. As a group we scored it a 6 out of 10. It seems that at last we have broken the below 5 spell that the previous books had scored.

On to our last book of the year, Rivers of London. What a peculiar book this was, almost on par with The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and The Night Circus! It begins with Peter Grant, an officer in the MET, receiving crucial information on a murder investigation by an eyewitness (a ghost)! In turn he is then recruited into a small branch of the MET that deals with magic and the supernatural. DARE I GO ON? Peter is given two cases to deal with. One to find out what is possessing the general public and turning them in vicious killers, and the second is to negotiate peace between the two gods of the River Thames. The novel draws on some of the historical and mythological background of London and the Thames Valley. It has humour running throughout it and is very imaginative. If you like fantasy novels then this may be one for you. Unfortunately for us it was all a little bizarre. However, even though it scored a group average of 3 out of 10 some members have said they are interested in reading it again.

So there we have the twelve books of the year. A disappointing year really in terms of the group averages but a good mix of fictional genres as well as some unique reads. Definitely some very memorable books this year.

I am really happy to announce that the best book of the year goes to The Language of Flowers, which was selected by Pamela. This is the first time Pamela has chosen the favourite book of the year, she normally wins the award for the least favourite! Well done Pamela.

Our least favourite book of the year goes to The Bottle Factory Outing.

To find out all about the books read in 2013 please see the blog BookCosy Reads 2013. If you have any recommendations for future reads please get in contact with us at thebookcosy@yahoo.com and if you would like to add your comments/opinions on any of the books in our blog please do so by commenting below.

Happy reading.

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