Shelves of multi-coloured books

Welcome to another update from the friendly members of the YCAA Book Club!

This get-together was fun and stimulating! We always have so many opinions to share on our chosen books and those that have been enjoyed as well, that the conversation was invigorating, as usual.

Book One: ‘The Old Woman Who Broke All the Rules’ by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg

This month our first book for discussion was ‘The Old Woman Who Broke all the Rules‘. This was an incredibly quirky, humorous and warm-hearted story about growing old disgracefully – and breaking all the rules along the way!

And so… our discussion began…

Sandra loved this book and she was the one who popped it into the Secret Santa pile. Siobhan was the lucky recipient, who described it beautifully, as “older people who didn’t want to become invisible”. They were justifiably rebelling about their care home and decided that the food would be better in prison. The reason for the plotting!

Mark enjoyed this tale as it was fun, and he particularly liked the prison scene. Whereas Bob enjoyed the beginning but felt it dwindled a little for him.

Carol read not only this fun book but also ‘The 100-Year-Old Man who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared‘, doing so after a very fruitful life. Both these books had real life humour and we all decided that humour was important.

Liz really enjoyed this author’s look at life, and it reminded her of Leslie Thomas’ ‘That Old Gang of Mine‘. That novel included a chandelier sketch that she’s sure fired the imagination of Rodney And Del Boy’s encounter with a similar chandelier.

Faye read it on Kindle, and we encouraged Theresa to read it after hearing all the good comments. A fun book!

Book Two: ‘The Wager’ by David Grann

Our second book of the month was an historical dilemma that grabbed everyone’s attention.

Chip wanted to read this one as his background was in shipping. HMS Wager is factual – true of the times. A grim but remarkable tale of happenings in the 1700s. This story has been told many times as an event that happened, and he enjoyed this account.

Liz started it but the font was small so she will continue with it on Kindle. Faye did not like aspects of it but persevered. The Fleet was confused and the horrible life on board ship with old and infirm sailors being press-ganged into sailing. A disastrous undertaking still surrounded with mystery.

Book Three: ‘Mad Blood Stirring’ by Simon Mayo

This month we had a third book, ‘Mad Blood Stirring‘ by Simon Mayo.

Theresa really liked this novel – Simon Mayo’s debut – as it revealed segregation on British soil, the Shakespearean play run by King Dick, also, the fact that after the war there was no money, so the market did not go into the prison. Life was hard.

Sandra really enjoyed this book.

Liz saw Simon Mayo talk about his first book at the Appledore Festival and was left intrigued. She also saw a talk on the history of Dartmoor Prison, so Simon’s book felt realistic and drew her into the time, place, and plot.

Eddie said Simon Mayo had done lots of research and it was well written. He thought the characters and the environment would benefit from development and that in reality the conditions were unpleasant.

Mark loved the concept of this novel. He thought the author could have made more of the play. He was left questioning what happened to the black prisoners when they went back home? It was factual and we all found it amazing that it ever took place.

Other Reads

Then we moved on to the other fiction we’ve read during the month.

Liz read ‘Conviction‘ by Jack Jordon. This held her attention as it was a dilemma that no one would like to be confronted with. Jack has written a few novels now, all involving a personal dilemma that challenges the main character. She will definitely read another by this author as others in the group had done so already and recommended him.

Siobhan read ‘Eye for an Eye‘ by M. Aldridge. This subject was topical. What did we think of child killers being released with new identities? We questioned if prisons were the best solution. A discussion regarding the sadness surrounding Brianna Ghey and what social media can do. This particular book was a disturbing read.

Faye read ‘The Memory Keeper of Kiev‘ by Erin Litteken. The story follows a Ukrainian family and their struggle for survival as the country is forced to go through Holodomor. Some of us had never heard of this or learned about this in school. Holodomor is a forced starvation from 1932 to 1933, killing up to 5 million people. It was carried out by the Soviet Regime.

This book had diaries written at two different times about the Stalin purge which was meant to break Ukraine. Comparisons with today’s struggle stimulated a discussion. Sandra, Theresa and Carol had all read this novel and they were very moved.

Siobhan read ‘I Will Find You‘ by Harlan Coben. A father in prison for killing his son. Was he framed? Fast paced novel stretching reader’s imagination. She mentioned Netflix – ‘Fool Me Once’ on TV.

Mark read ‘The Diplomat’s Wife‘ whilst on holiday. He said it was fun and good holiday reading.

Carol really enjoyed ‘I Captured the Castle‘ by Dodi Smith. An impoverished family and the tale set in the 1920s. She described it as a good read, a page turner after a rather good opening. She also enjoyed ‘Frost Falls at The Potting Shed‘ by Jenny Kanes. Jenny is from Tiverton, a friend of Chip’s in the same writing group. This book is described as an absolutely heart-warming and feel-good read to cosy up with in the cold!

Liz read Tom Hindle’s ‘Murder Game‘. We met Tom at the Yeovil Literary Festival and this novel certainly rates him as a successor to Agatha Christie – if that were possible – and his next book will definitely be read as his plotting was worthy of the great lady herself.

To conclude, Carol re-read ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird‘ by Harper Lee. The group gave a collective nod to this being one of the most remarkable books ever written.

Next Month

We have nominated two books for us all to read and discuss at our next catch up on 12th March.

  • Horse‘ by Geraldine Brooks (in paperback and on Kindle)
  • Carriage 451‘ by Barry Joyce. (Amazon or Kindle)

Our next meeting is Tuesday 12th March at 12 noon in the Westlands Entertainment Venue. See you there!