Richard and Judy Book Club Spring 2013

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


Having been diagnosed at age 12 with stage 4 thyroid cancer, Hazel was prepared to die. Then at age 14, a miracle treatment shrunk the tumours in her lungs...for the time being. Hazel could live for years, or she could die at any time, but her days are spent tethered to an oxygen tank and under constant surveillance and treatment to keep the cancer at bay. Hazel is now 16. With her life in a constant holding pattern, Hazel meets Augustus Waters at a cancer support group. Augustus is gorgeous, sharp-witted, in remission and completely attracted to Hazel. As their relationship blossoms and grows, Hazel finds she has to re-examine her attitude about life and death, illness and wellness and love. Their brief journey together leaves a lasting legacy behind that will change everything. Full review...

Other Books We Read

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce


Harold and Maureen Fry were unremarkable: one long marriage, one adult offspring and a long retirement stretching out in front of them like a prison sentence. One morning everything changed. The catalyst was a letter from Queenie, an ex-colleague of Harold's. He knew he needed to respond and thought that posting a letter would suffice. However, a chat with a girl at the local petrol station made him realise that a letter couldn't be enough. He had to provide Queenie with hope... he had to walk. Full review...

The Dark Winter by David Mark


Just a couple of weeks before Christmas Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy was with his young son in the centre of Hull when he was alerted by screaming. The noise was coming from the church and McAvoy so nearly caught the man responsible. He'd brutally murdered a young girl who had already escaped as the only survivor when her family was slaughtered during the conflict in Sierra Leone. It's a difficult time for the police with a relatively new team at the Serious and Organised Crime Squad and it's a little while before the links to two other deaths emerge. Fred Stein had been the sole survivor of the loss of one of the three trawlers from Hull which went down in early 1968. He'd been part of a documentary about the loss but had disappeared - off Iceland - in the course of the filming. He was later discovered - dead in a drifting lifeboat. Full review...

The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen


Grace McCleen's debut novel, The Land of Decoration paints an original, unsettling, sometimes dark and generally rather wonderful picture. Narrated by ten year old Judith, raised by her father who is a fundamental religious follower of the end of the world is nigh variety, it looks at bullying, both at school and in more general society, faith and the possible rejection thereof and the strength of childhood imagination. Full review...

The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh


Frances Irvine enjoys a privileged lifestyle in Victorian England: a beautiful house, servants, rich gowns and all the trappings her position as the daughter of an industrialist demands. However, Frances' lifestyle proves to be a precarious house of cards balanced on her father's investment in the Northern Pacific Railroad in North America. When the Canadian terrain proves too much for the railroad construction to continue, her father's shares are rendered worthless. As this occurs just before his sudden death, Frances is forced to make a choice as her finery and home are auctioned off. Does she throw herself on the mercy of her lower class relatives or commit herself to a loveless marriage to distant cousin Dr Edwin Matthews? Full review...

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


There’s a distressing moment in any long-term relationship where you realise that, in practice, happily ever after looks a lot like an eternity of small, snarling arguments about who forgot to buy food, who should take out the rubbish and who is responsible for that mouldering pile of clothes in the corner of the bedroom. Domestic bliss is often more like very polite guerrilla warfare between two people who love each other so much that they want to spend the rest of their lives fighting about it. You and your partner are absolutely in each other’s pockets – but no matter how close you are, there’s always one last barrier you can’t break down. You aren’t them, and they aren’t you, and so you can never truly know what’s really going on inside that well-known head. Full review...

Gold by Chris Cleave


Novels that feature sport often put people off reading them, particularly if you are not au fait with the sport in question. However, while the characters in Chris Cleave's Gold are athletes, specifically cyclists aiming for the 2012 London Olympics, it's more about the characters themselves. In fact, if you are looking for a book to read to avoid the brouhaha of the Olympics this year but still want to get a taste of what all the fuss is about, this would be a superb choice. Full review...

Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson


The temptingly titled Jasmine Nights starts promisingly. Saba, a talented singer whose gift to the war is entertaining the troops, comes from an unhappy family background, and one that has little patience for the opportunities for women brought about by war. Dom, a fighter pilot who has sustained injuries, is feeling displaced - the war has changed his world forever. Full review...

The Good Father by Noah Hawley


Dr Paul Allen is more than happy with his life. His second wife, Fran, is efficient, a good manager, a good mother to their young twins and not overly emotional as Ellen (Wife No. 1) was. In fact you could say that his life runs like clockwork, which is just how he likes it. Paul hates chaos and the unexpected, but he's about to be visited by both. As the Allens sit in horror watching news footage of the charismatic presidential front-runner being gunned down, there's a knock at the door. Their real horror is beginning; the FBI believes the son he had with Ellen is the guy who pulled the trigger. Full review...

After The Fall by Charity Norman


It’s the middle of the night when five year old Finn falls from the balcony at his home in a remote part of New Zealand. Leaving his twin brother and older sister in the care of a neighbour, his mother Martha stays with him as a helicopter races him to the nearest hospital. But as he is rushed into surgery, she is taken to one side for questioning, with first nursing staff then the police and social workers raising concerns. Was Finn really sleep walking, something he is prone to do? But if so, how did he come to have suspicious bruises on one side of his body, not in keeping with how he landed? And if it wasn’t the accident Martha is saying it was, was his mother involved or is she covering for someone? Full review...