e17 book clubs – more needed?

ImageYou might have noticed that I post quite a lot of book reviews.  I also post whether I have read the book as it was chosen as part of our E17 Book Club.  I think that this has provoked quite a lot of publicity for our book club as I have received many requests over the last year or so by people who would like to join.

We are obviously a rather literary lot in Walthamstow!

Turnover of members of our book club is rather low indeed – we ‘allowed’ a couple of newbies in when one member left in September, but the number of people asking to join and being turned away is growing weekly.

There are other Book Clubs that I know of in Walthamstow, one that meets at The Mill, the Reading Group that meets at Walthamstow Library and Forest Book Group who meet in Peking Chef.

I am sure that there are probably others, and if you know of them please do let me know.

However, my point for this post was to suggest that maybe someone sets up another Book Club (or two!) in Walthamstow – there are obviously enough people interested to fill them (we have found that about 10 people at any one meeting is kind of the upper limit…and about 14 on the list tends to get 8-10 each meeting).

I have quite a large number of people ‘in my archives’, so, if anyone wanted to set something up, I would be happy to get back in touch with peopel that had contacted me in the past and asked to be put on our waiting list to see if they would like to join.

So, come on, is someone going to stand up to the mark and say “YES! *I* will start organising a new book club in Walthamstow!”.

(PS – we now have no idea who ‘runs’ our book club…once you get a few meetings out the way, the members kind of look after it as one.)

***UPDATE*** Someone has kindly taken on the mantle of setting up a new book club, which will meet once a month at The Chequers.  Let me know if you would like more details.

Also, as per Jenny’s comment below, there is a book club set up that meets in The Castle once a month!

We really, really are a well-read bunch in E17!

fallen idols – neil white

Fallen Idols

I recently read Lost Souls which I had picked up in a charity shop and realised part way through that it was 2nd (or maybe 3rd) in a series by Neil White.

So, I was pretty happy when I went on Amazon to order something, and saw that they were ‘selling’ Fallen Idols’, the first in the set, for the Kindle completely free of charge!  “I’ll have some of that!”, I thought…and indeed I did.

I must admit, I didn’t enjoy it as much as Lost Souls.  I’m not sure if it is because I already knew some of the story arc through having read the later book first, but the whole main killer-thriller story just seemed a bit too obvious.  And there were far too many coincidences for my liking too.

Don’t get me wrong, as far as detectiving and nasty-killer stories go, it’s easy to read, was entertaining and did what it said on the tin.  But I think Neil White has obviously become a better writer since this book.  The scene-setting was far more powerful in Lost Souls – I could almost smell the rooms described in that, whereas Fallen Idols relies a lot more on the characters themselves, who all seem to be larger than life, and therefore not as realistic.

Good beach read, probably – and definitely worth the £0 I paid for it! 🙂

lost souls – neil white

Lost Souls

I hadn’t read anything by Neil White before, and I picked this one up in a charity shop as I had finished my book on the way into work.  Part way through, I realised that this was a series book, and I had in fact missed Fallen Idols, which is the first.

However, that didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story.

If you want an easy to read mystery whodunnit kinda thing, then this book really does fit the bill.  think mark Billingham and you’re probably going to be on the right track.  It’s never going to win any awards (although after attempting to read The Famished Road, that’s probably a GOOD thing!) but it is well-enough written and the story is engrossing enough to make you want to know what happens.

The main characters are Laura (a DC) and her boyfriend Jack (a crime journalist – do you see what’s going to happen there) and Laura’s little son Bobby (*groan*) who have all just moved from London to ‘a sleepy Lancashire village’ (for reasons that are obviously explained in the first book).

Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a story if they really moved to such a sleepy area, and as with all killer-catcher types, they seem to be lucky enough to move somewhere that the crime rate and number of murders immediately escalates!

Someone is abducting young lads but returning them unharmed, and there has also been a young woman murdered in a most horrific way.  Can Jack & Laura solve these cases between them…you’ll have to read the book to find out.  Ahem.

I enjoyed it – it was a much needed entertaining break after the worthiness of Ben Okri!

pandaemonium – christopher brookmyre


I have said it before, and I will say it again, I am pretty sure that Christopher Brookmyre is my favouritest author ever.  Which is why I am absolutely astounded to report that this is definitely the worst book he has ever written.

That upset me a lot.

I had the usual screenplay running through my head.  there is the definite twin storylines going on that I have come to expect with him – with two disparate groups of people whose paths are going to cross, and the underdog shoudl come out on top.

My favourite Brookmyre (Be My Enemy) does this so slickly, and so hilariously and gruesomely – but there is something missing from this book…or maybe too much added in.  I can’t quite work out where it has gone wrong.

Basically the two storylines are:  a group of Catholic school teenagers have had an awful experience and they are being taken away to be able to ‘heal’ with the deputy head, a couple of the teachers and the school priest.  They are staying at a remote kind of ‘outward bound’ centre where the can get loads of fresh air and counselling if necessary – the kids are mainly focussed on drink, drugs, bitching and getting off with each other.

Elsewhere, there is a church/military/science experiment going on that is about to go horribly wrong.

There are a lot of theology arguments, and a hell of a lot of  ‘Half Life’ going on, but the build-up seems to go on slightly too long.  I kept wanting the action that you KNOW is going to occur to actually start.  And the ending was disappointing – not the last page or two, that was pretty genius, but the 10-20 pages before that, I wasn’t feeling it.

It’s a shame…but I wont let it put me off Brookmyre.  It was certainly still better than a lot of books I’ve read this year!  Perhaps he should just step away from sci-fi elements.

room – emma donoghue


There has been so much talk about this book recently that I decided to make it the first that I read on my lovely shiny new Kindle (the eReader that I said I would never buy and am now officially in love with).  I managed to get it for just £4.09 about 3 weeks ago from Amazon, which is great as they are now charging £6.74.  Yay me for being impatient!

So, for anyone who doesn’t know, Room is a story inspired by (not based on) the Fritzl case.

It starts on Jack’s 5th birthday.  He and Ma live in Room, which is 11ft x 11ft.  Old Nick comes in Door sometimes, usually at night, but Jack has to hide in Wardrobe and has never been allowed to meet him.  Everything that isn’t in Room is Outside.   Jack likes watching TV and knows that everything on TV is ‘not real’, unlike him & Ma and everything in Room.

Then, soon after his 5th birthday he & Ma are able to go Outside, and Jack realises that he has to come to terms with the reality that is the world outside Room.

I sped through this book – as it’s written from a child’s view, it is obviously extremely easy to read, laying an innocence on some extremely difficult subject matters.  We learn that Jack’s Ma was kidnapped at 19 and kept imprisoned in this one room for 7 years, but this isn’t her story, so the complete emotional torment that she must go through is only scratched upon occasionally.  this is totally Jack’s story – of what it must be like to have be born into such an environment, believing that your entire world is 121sq ft.

It was very clever and well thought out, although there were a couple of things that annoyed me.  Sometimes Jack would miss words out in his speech, which certainly made him seem more of a 5 year old, except a ‘normal’ 5 year old wouldn’t talk or think the way that he does, and he correctly uses extremely large words throughout.  It just felt inconsistent – either he was wise beyond his years and far more eloquent, or he wasn’t.

I think telling it from Jack’s innocent view made it a far easier read.  I didn’t feel any horror in the situation, because as far as he was concerned, it was all normal.  Even the ‘action part’ of the story (I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t read it) felt quite matter-of-fact.  I didn’t feel any fear for Jack particularly, perhaps because he couldn’t articulate such fear in his voice.  Telling the story from Ma’s point of view would be a completely different story – and one I would love to read too.

So, I thought it was brilliant, although the ending was a little obvious.

the seance – john harwood

The Seance

I got this book as I had really enjoyed John Harwood’s book The Ghost Writer and had a read a couple of positive reviews.

The first chapter of the story really drew me in – the idea of a young woman who’s mother had never got over the death of her sister over 15 years beforehand, and has decided to take her to a seance.

However, once the main part of the story kicked in after that, I got kind of lost.  There was a whole section that it took me ages to work out what relevance the story had to the rest of the book.

The introduction of a crumbling, spooky old hall with a morbid history could only be a good thing – whenever I read about such places, I always want to go and visit them!  I love spooky old buildings!

For me, the story always seemed to promise something around the corner, and yet failed to deliver.  I think that it could have been so much more than it was.

I enjoyed reading it, and I certainly got through it quickly enough, but it was just missing an element of depth and a bit of passion.  I definitely preferred The Ghost Writer.

the help – kathryn stockett

The Help - Kathryn Stockett

I first heard of this book when I was in the car, and it was being read on Radio 4 about a year ago.  I only heard one chapter though, and I didn’t actually realise this was the book until I started reading it.

This was so carefully written and the characters were so fantastically drawn that  I felt that the author was really basing them on people that she knew.  After seeing an interview with her, I’m wondering if perhaps she was Baby Girl, Moe Mobley.

The story is of three women in Jackson, Mississipi in the early 1960’s.  It feels like another world and is slightly scary to think that it is set less than 50 years ago.  Miss Skeeter is a white Jackson socialite who was brought up by her beloved black maid who went missing when she went to college. As a consequence of trying to find out what happened to her, she ends up speaking to two black maids, and with their help, putting together a book about what it is like to be a black maid working for a white household.

Of course, at this time, this was scandalous, dangerous and could have got all three of them into serious trouble – or worse!

I loved every moment of this book – right up until just a few pages from the end.  I found the ending extremely disappointing.  It felt as if the author hadn’t been quite sure what to do to bring a close to the story, and the passion had kind of tapered off.

Whereas I had been racing through the pages, completely drawn in by the scenes set before me, almost feeling like I was experiencing it for myself, the last 20 pages or so felt slapdash.  Hurried together.

It was disappointing, but didn’t spoil the enjoyment of the majority of the book.  I can see this easily being made into a film 🙂

the girl who played with fire, stieg larsson

The Girl Who Played With Fire

A friend bought me the first two of the Millennium trilogy, and I read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo back in February (you can read that review here).

I then lost the book, and only found it a couple of weeks ago.

I’m so glad that I did.  I enjoyed this far more than the first book.

Salander and Blomkvist are still the central characters, but this time under completely different circumstances.

The first part of the book was quite slow, but once you finish, you realise why you needed to have all the background story…and really, once the action starts, there is no let up.  My brain was pinging with new ideas and new information with every turn of the page.  It’s a little like watching a chase sequence in a film that lasts for an hour, rather than the usual 5 minutes or so!  It’s quite exhausting, but thrilling at the same time.

If I have a criticism, it is a similar one to that which i had about the first book – there are just too many characters.  It took me forever to get used to all of the names, associate them with whether they were a ‘good guy’ or ‘bad guy’ and what their role was.

I’m not sure whether I was pleased that I guessed the twist in the tale, but i certainly wasn’t disappointed as the getting there was a definite thrill.

Unlike with the first book, I didn’t feel that the climax was in fact an anti-climax.  I loved the book, raced through it and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’m now looking forward to reading the last one!

thirteen – sebastian beaumont

Thirteen - Sebastian Beaumont

Thirteen is a very very bizarre book, that I still can’t make up my mind whether I would recommend to anyone or not.  I”d probably read it again myself, but probably just so that I can be sure that I’ve really taken it all in.

It starts off with the story of a guy who loses everything and for very odd reasons, becomes a cabbie in Brighton.  He does permanent night shifts and ends up ‘zoning’ and seeing people/things that aren’t necessarily there and experiencing stuff that’s inexplicable – all connected to a house at 13, Wish Road which isn’t always there.

I am not going to pretend that I understood absolutely everything that happened but there were some good psychological messages in amongst all the weirdness.  It ended up going in a completely unpredictable direction, which personally I like as I don’t always like everything to be obvious from the outset.

If you are a fan of ‘odd’ books, then give it a go – you wont be disappointed.

how mysterious

My ticket to my own Twilight Zone

Something a little odd seemed to happen to me on Thursday.  I am currently reading this very ‘other’ book which is really good (I’ll review once I’ve finished) but deals with the weird, mysterious things that happen to a guy who is cabbing in Brighton.

Firstly, I have started playing an online war game (yes, I know – geek!) and om Wednesday I joined an alliance called Myrmidons – I am not ashamed to say that I have no idea what that is, I have never heard the word before, but due to the type of game, I’m assuming it’s something linked to the Greeks, a little like Sparta.

Anyway, I picked the book up on Thursday and the first thing that I noticed was that the publisher was Myrmidon Publishing…”How strange”, I thought.  I also noticed that the book is signed by the author (I assume it’s really his signature anyway!) and I hadn’t noticed that before. (Unless The Man has been pretend-signing all of my books and trying to sell them on eBay without me knowing).   To be quite honest, I don’t even know where I got the book from.  I’ve seen it in my bookcase for ages, and thought it was The Man’s but he said it isn’t his kind of thing, and anyway, it was published in 2008 and *I* have bought all of his books since then.

That’s not SO unusual though – I’ve been through my bookcases recently and pulled out 3 or 4 books that i don’t remember buying and definitely haven’t read yet.  But this one hasn’t even come from a charity shop (which the others usually have) – there’s no penciled price, sticker etc and the spine isn’t broken.  Odd.

So, I read it on the Tube on the way to work on Thursday, and then on my way home again, I got it out of my bag and went to read it again.  now, I love reading but don’t treat my books with much respect…I break the spines, I read them in the bath and most importantly, I don’t use a bookmark – I turn the corners over (shock, horror!).

So, I looked for the turned over corner, and there wasn’t one.  “How strange” I thought.  So I tried to find the page I was on.  Which I found…with a train ticket in it.  “How strange”  thought.  Then I looked at the ticket – Surbiton to Vauxhall.  A journey I have never made.  “How strange” I thought.  And then I looked at the date.  4 Jun 08  “How strange” I thought.

Now – how the hell did it get there.  if it had already been n the book, i would have seen it in the morning as it was on the right page.  It hadn’t been in my handbag as I’ve only had that bag for a year. Where did it dome from!!!

As you can tell, this little mystery has got to me a bit, LOL

Oh yes, and when I put it a few pages backward to carry on reading the book, I got to the exact page I’d put it in when I got off the train.  I think the ticket is some kind of personal magical bookmark.  Eek!

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: