The Rapture by Liz Jensen

About the book

In a merciless summer of biblical heat and destructive winds, Gabrielle Fox’s main concern is a personal one: to rebuild her career as a psychologist after a shattering car accident. But when she is assigned Bethany Krall, one of the most dangerous teenagers in the country, she begins to fear she has made a terrible mistake. Raised on a diet of evangelistic hellfire, Bethany is violent, delusional, cruelly intuitive and insistent that she can foresee natural disasters – a claim which Gabrielle interprets as a symptom of doomsday delusion. But when catastrophes begin to occur on the very dates Bethany has predicted, and a brilliant, gentle physicist enters the equation, the apocalyptic puzzle intensifies and the stakes multiply. Is the self-proclaimed Nostradamus of the psych ward the ultimate manipulator, or could she be the harbinger of imminent global cataclysm on a scale never seen before? And what can love mean in ‘interesting times’? A haunting story of human passion and burning faith set against an adventure of tectonic proportions, “The Rapture” is an electrifying psychological thriller that explores the dark extremes of mankind’s self-destruction in a world on the brink.

 

Reviewed by Book Lovers

“We thought the ending was improbable so rather weak, but it was a good read – each page had to be turned. Well written and exciting”

star rating ***

 

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The Good father by Noah Hawley

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About the book

America is rocked by the shooting of a presidential candidate and the young man arrested for the crime is Danny, the child of Dr Paul Allen’s first marriage – news which sends the family down a harrowing path of no return. Even if he is the only man in the world who believes in Danny’s innocence, Paul is determined to prove it.

Reviewed by Everton Reading Group

A well planned, well written but sad tale. This really pulled at the emotions and empathy for Dr Paul Allen and his experiences. It held the readers’ attention to the very end. A powerful book! For once we can believe what it said on the dust cover!

Star rating: ****

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The Story of my face by Kathy Page

About the book

A young girl grows up an outsider, then becomes drawn into the life of a local family with some curious beliefs. They treat her as a daughter and take her away with them to a religious holiday camp. It is here that she is introduced to the Finnish Envallist branch of Protestantism and here that events start to take a terrible turn.
Rejected by some of the sectarians for her non-commitment to their beliefs, Natalie creates a rift in the group which culminates in a climactic scene where she is gravely injured. Later, as an adult in Finland, she tries to make sense of what happened and to unlock the secret origins of Envallism itself.

Reviewed by Victoria Reading group:

A very mixed reception – from those who did not enjoy it and gave up reading after a few chapters to those who thoroughly enjoyed reading it and considered it a good read. However one member read it but found it so forgettable that the title and subject matter could not be recalled a week later!

Star rating: **

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The Innocent by Ian McEwan

About the book

The setting is Berlin. Into this divided city, wrenched between East and West, between past and present; comes twenty-five-year-old Leonard Marnham, assigned to a British-American surveillance team. Though only a pawn in an international plot that is never fully revealed to him, Leonard uses his secret work to escape the bonds of his ordinary life – and to lose his unwanted innocence. The promise of his new life begins to be fulfilled as Leonard becomes a crucial part of the surveillance team, while simultaneously being initiated into a new world of love and sex by Maria, a beautiful young German woman. It is a promise that turns to horror in the course of one terrible evening – a night when Leonard Marnham learns just how much of his innocence he’s willing to shed.

Reviewed by BBC Boater’s Book Club:

Generally it was considered that the book reflected the times well with good characterisations. It was well written and everyone wanted to finish it.

Star rating: *** to ****

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The Hidden Child by Camilla Lackberg

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About the book

Crime writer Erica Falck is shocked to discover an old Nazi medal among her late mother’s belongings. Inspired to dig deep into her past, she visits a retired history teacher for answers. Two days later, he’s dead.
Detective Patrik Hedström is on paternity leave. But his wife’s enquiries appear to have set off a chain of murders and he’s finding it hard to keep out of the investigation.
A terrible secret from the darkest days of World War II is coming to light – and their families’ histories are right at the heart of it.

Reviewed by North Baddesley WI group 2

Interesting mixture of domestic life, police and criminal activities. We learned about the affect of Nazi occupation of Norway and neutral Sweden and how past events affected lives in the present. A good read.
Star rating ****

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The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen

About the book

Nine-year-old Louis Drax is a problem child: bright, precocious, deceitful, and dangerously, disturbingly, accident prone. When he falls off a cliff into a ravine, the accident seems almost predestined. Louis miraculously survives – but the family has been shattered. Louis’ father has vanished, his mother is paralysed by shock, and Louis lies in a deep coma from which he may never emerge. In a clinic in Provence, Dr Pascal Dannachet tries to coax Louis back to consciousness. But the boy defies medical logic, startling Dannachet out of his safe preconceptions, and drawing him inexorably into the dark heart of Louis’ buried world. Only Louis holds the key to the mystery surrounding his fall – and he can’t communicate. Or can he?

Reviewed by Ace of Spades

Particularly gripping novel about a boy (Drax) in a coma. The power of the mind of somebody in that position was explored – in this case somebody highly intelligent with a very strong character. Very atmospheric (forest fires coming closer). Full of suspense as we are trying to find out what exactly led Louis to fall from the cliff!
Star rating ****

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Everything and Nothing by Araminta Hall

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About the book

A family near breaking point hire a nanny with secrets of her own in this gripping novel from an exciting new talent. On the surface, Ruth and Christian seem like an ordinary working couple with two kids – and a home in chaos. As the cracks in their marriage widen, they decide to get their very own super-nanny, Aggie. Quietly efficient, she brings calm and order, and the children adore her. But why is Aggie so eager to gain their trust? Is there something sinister about her efforts to create the perfect family? And what is she really doing in their home? ‘Everything and Nothing’ builds to a mesmerising climax in a story that is, at its heart, about thwarted and damaged love.

Reviewed by CC Readers Group:

A very ‘modern’ novel, written well and which became a comprehensive read. Reflected people today, especially working mothers, and all the problems of a hectic life. Shows the misunderstandings that develop between men and women. The ending was a little sudden and some readers wanted further news of how the characters proceeded.

Star rating: ***

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Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

About the book

When young, pretty Catherine Bailey meets Lee Brightman, she can’t believe her luck. Gorgeous, charismatic, and a bit mysterious, Lee seems almost too perfect to be true. But what begins as flattering attention and spontaneous, passionate sex transforms into raging jealousy, and Catherine soon discovers that Lee’s dazzling blue eyes and blond good looks hide a dark, violent nature. Disturbed by his increasingly erratic, controlling behavior, she tries to break it off; turning to her friends for support, she’s stunned to find they don’t believe her. Increasingly isolated and driven into the darkest corner of her world, a desperate Catherine plans a meticulous escape. Four years later, Lee is behind bars and Catherine—now Cathy—is trying to build a new life in a new city. Though her body has healed, the trauma of the past still haunts her. Then Stuart Richardson, her attractive new neighbor, moves in. Encouraging her to confront her fears, he sparks unexpected hope and the possibility of love and a normal life. Until the day the phone rings . . .

Reviewed by The Blank Books Reading Group:

Some of us finished it, one person only read 2 pages. Mixed reactions. One found it too disturbing but on the whole well written and gripping story and unputdownable.

Rating: 3 Stars

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Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris

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About the book

At St Oswald’s, a long-established boys’ grammar school in the north of England, a new year has just begun. For the staff and boys of the school, a wind of unwelcome change is blowing. Suits, paperwork and Information Technology rule the world; and Roy Straitley, the eccentric veteran Latin master, is finally – reluctantly – contemplating retirement. But beneath the little rivalries, petty disputes and everyday crises of the school, a darker undercurrent stirs. And a bitter grudge, hidden and carefully nurtured for thirteen years, is about to erupt.

Reviewed by Enjoying Books Reading Group:

Intriguing book – very clever though out plot. A really good page turner. Evil and enjoyable at the same time. Excellent author.

Star rating: ***/****

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Spies by Michael Frayn

About the book

In the quiet cul-de-sac where Keith and Stephen live the only immediate signs of the Second World War are the blackout at night and a single random bombsite. But the two boys start to suspect all is not as it seems when one day Keith announces a disconcerting discovery: the Germans have infiltrated his own family. And when the secret underground world they have dreamed up emerges from the shadows they find themselves engulfed in mysteries far deeper and more painful than they had bargained for.

Reviewed by October Book Club:

Very well written, giving a powerful and evocative view of a child’s world. Lots of ‘secrets’ gradually revealed keep the readers attention throughout.

Star rating: ****

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