• Gemma

BookCosy Reads 2018

Our tenth year of book club and having read 108 books we were all really excited to see what the year would bring.

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 Lies. Joe is a happily married man and father to William until the fateful day that he discovers his wife driving into a hotel car park when she should be at work. Confused and intrigued he follows her and his whole life falls apart around him. Joe finds himself in a web of deceit and being accused of a crime he hasn't committed. This psychological thriller was definitely a page turner, full of twists and turns. It was good to see a man being the naive, deceived one for a change rather than the stereotypical role reversal. The book was a bit predicable in places but an easy enjoyable read, definitely a crowd pleaser.

A promising start to the year with an average score of 7 out of 10.

Book number two, Wonder. This was a book I had my eye on for a while and was initially reluctant to pick due to the fact that it was classified as children's fiction. The story is about a boy called August who was born with a facial abnormality. Because of this abnormality he has been home-schooled and wears a helmet to cover his face when out in public. Now that August is Ten he is being sent to a 'real' school. The book covers issues of friendship, love, kindness, acceptance as well as loneliness, cruelness and anxiety. We all really enjoyed it and found it an uplifting and positive book, surprising given the subject matter. The book is developed through the different viewpoints of some of the characters which is heartwarming and adds realism to the novel. We gave it a group average score of 7 out of 10.

Our next book, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completly Fine. A charming book about a thirty something year old woman who goes to work each day, has pizza and a bottle of vodka at the weekend and is 'completely fine'. Eleanor doesn't know what it feels like to be happy as shes been in and out of foster homes as a child and has no family or friends, until she meets Raymond. Raymond an IT tech from work, befriends Eleanor and although their relationship is a bit strained at the beginning it blossoms into one that literally saves her life. Gail Honeyman captures the reader providing plenty of humour with this quirky novel. It is well written, tugs at your heartstrings and addresses issues of mental health. We absolutely loved this book and scored it an 8 out of 10. This is a book that will stay with me forever and has joined my list of favourite novels.

Book four, Kane and Abel. This book follows the lives of Abel Rosnovki and William Kane spanning over sixty years. Two men born on the same day on opposite sides of the world. One born to a world of luxury the other poverty. Both men very driven, ambitious, powerful and ruthless. Their lives run parallel throughout the book and intersect on several occasions always resulting in conflict and hatred. The ending was a surprise and although a very long book we each enjoyed reading it. It covered historical events such as the Great Depression and the First World War, giving insight into how they affected both the countries involved and the characters living through these eras. We all gave individual scores of a 7 or above, giving this an average score of 8 out of 10

A fantastic start to the year with four books down and good scores for each one. We all prayed that it would continue.

Our May read The Maid's Room. Set in Singapore it tells the story of modern day maids, cleaning houses and looking after the children of those much wealthier than themselves; earning money to support their own families back home in the Philippines. We see through their eyes how they are treated, spied on, disrespected, abused and how their strength of character, spirit and fight gets them through the days. As well as the maids we get an insight into the families they look after and although most are vile it showed how some are also struggling with what everyday life throws at them. Being in a privileged position doesn't mean free from stress and worry. We all agreed this was similar to The Help, a previous book choice which we all enjoyed. Our average group score was a 6 out of 10.

Book number six, The Keeper of Lost Things. Anthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things ever since that fateful day when he lost both his fiancee and a keepsake on the same day. Since then he has collected and kept a log of all the random lost items found throughout the years. Before he dies he asks Laura to try and reunite all the lost items to their rightful owners. Laura takes on this mammoth task with the help of Freddy, the gardener and Sunshine, a neighbour. Along the way they discover love, friendship and unlock secrets to the past that will lay spirits to rest. An enjoyable, easy read with an inviting cover. As a group the majority of us scored it an eight out of ten with one member giving it a five. Overall our average score was a 7 out of 10.

Our next book, The Summer of Impossible Things. This was an unexpected read. After Luna's mother dies both her and her sister Pea travel to Brooklyn to sell their mother's house. It's here where a series of strange events happen; Luna is able to travel back in time to when her mother was younger. Luna then takes the decision to try and save her mother from events from the past but in doing so she is also sacrificing her own existence. A bizarre story of time travel, what you would do for love and second chances. Our members enjoyed the links to Saturday Night Fever and the disco era. The concept of the book was unique to what we have read so far but a bit far fetched in places. Overall we gave it an average score of 6 out of 10,

Our July read, A Gentleman In Moscow. This is the story Count Alexander Rostov who in 1922 is condemned on the grounds of being an unrepentant aristocrat and put under house arrest in the Metropol hotel, across the street from the Kremin. The novel follows his life living in the hotel where he meets a whole host of colourful characters, including the 'serious' child Nina and later on her daughter Sofia. It is the relationship he has with these two characters that shows a completely different side to the Count and gives him joy and a purpose. The story is very well written but is long requiring stamina to get through it as it isn't always gripping. However, it is definitely an interesting and informative read with the last two chapters exciting and page-turning. It also has a great ending which we didn't anticipate adding to the enjoyment of the novel. Our overall score was a 6 out of 10.

Book number nine, Every Note Played by Lisa Genova. This is the second book we have read by this author so were familiar with her writing style and the concept that she normally writes about, medical conditions. This book focuses on Motor Neurone Disease. It takes you through the different stages of the illness, how it impacts Richard and his estranged family. The book is very informative and an easy read. The inclusion of love, family, regrets and forgiveness at times makes light relief from the medical heaviness and give this novel a more rounded feel. We had lots to discuss after finishing the novel and all had our own feelings towards the book. Overall we gave it a group score of 3 out of 10. Our lowest scoring book this year.

Our next book, The Man I Think I Know. A heartwarming tale of male friendship. James and Danny both went to the same exclusive public school and were expected to become high flyers. Due to a family tragedy Danny becomes a layabout and a recovering alcoholic. James whose future starts off bright suffers from an accident which results in him moving back in with his parents as he has an acquired brain injury (ABI). They are reacquainted again when Danny takes a job as a carer in a residential home and James is sent there for a week of respite. The pair end up living together and although one is the carer, the other the patient, both men end up helping and supporting the other through this difficult stage in their own lives. A quick easy read which we all enjoyed. Therefore, our group scored it 7 out of 10.

Our penultimate novel of the year, The Hearts Invisible Furies. This is a book by the same author as The Boy In The Stripped Pyjamas which was our joint favourite book of 2009. Excited were we to read another book by this author, one that is targeted for an adult audience rather than for children. The story starts in Ireland in the 1940s and gives a glimpse of what life was like especially for single mothers and homosexuals. It then move to Amsterdam, New York and then back to Ireland. The book covers the AIDS epidemic, prejudices, love, friendship, marriage and acceptance. It was humorous as well as graphic and heartrending in places. As a group we truly loved the book and didn't want it to end. Although a weighty novel at no time did we feel burdened by the size or story line. It was very different to The Boy In The Stripped Pyjamas but equally as enjoyable, if not more so. We scored it an 8 out of 10.

On to our last book of the year, The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle. Another time-travelling book but with a difference, body-hopping! This is a murder mystery story where the main character Aiden gets to spend eight days in the body of eight different hosts in order to solve the death of Evelyn Hardcastle. If he is successful he can escape the horrors of Blackheath and return to his formal life as Aiden, if not he will remained trapped there in the everlasting loop. What Aiden discovers is that he is not the only one fighting to solve the crime and that only one person can escape. Racing against time, knowledge, different identities and the man trying to stop him, Aiden must act quickly and efficiently making the most out of each host. This book was a brain teaser, very intriguing and totally original. As a group we were very divided on our opinions and scores, therefore giving this book an average of 5 out of 10.

Well what a year! Not only did we read twelve books but I can honestly say that I don't think we've had such a successful year in terms of a fantastic selection of book. Three members have given individual scores of 10 out of 10 for at least one of the books read this year, which is rare. Although, I haven't given out any tens this year I have given two 9s, have added some of these books to my personal favourite book list and found my 'wow' book in The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. Definitely some very memorable books this year.

Our best book of the year goes to Kane and Able, which was selected by Sandra. Although we had three books that scored an average of 8 out of 10, having ranked them by the decimal point Kane and Able scored 8.5, Eleanor Olliphant 8.4 and The Heart's Invisible Furies 8.3. All very close and deserving of being crowned best book.

The least favourite book of the year goes to Every Note Played.

To keep updated with our book choices for the upcoming year please check out our 'What we are reading' section on the BookCosy website along with our new blogs throughout the year. 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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