2008 Recommended books Richard and Judy Book Club

Mudbound – Hillary Jordan

Mudbound won the Bellwether Prize in 2008, for addressing issues of social injustice, and was the first book selected for Richard and Judy’s New Writers Book Club.

Hillary Joran makes writing a novel seem really easy. Everything is written simply, but beautifully. She shows amazing writing skill by taking a relatively simple story, then structuring it in such a way that makes it into a real page turner.

The story begins in the Deep South of America, just after the end of World War II, with a family struggling to bury their father in thick mud, during a storm. The story then progresses through the eyes of several characters, until we finally find the cause of his death. I loved the way that small hints as to what was to come were dropped into each chapter. Seeing everything from each character’s perspective meant that you develop an empathy for them all, and begin to understand the reasons for their actions.

The book is very well researched, with the segragation and racism of post-slavery America coming across very vividly.

My only critism is that the book was a little short for me. I wish that some of the sections, which were skimmed over, could have been filled in. Adding a bit more meat to the bones of this story would have made it into an iconic book, instead of just a great read.

Despite this tiny flaw, it was very well written, and I’m sure that Hillary Jordan will win many more prizes for her writing in future.

Highly recommended.

Other Recommended books Richard and Judy Book Club Uncategorized

Top ten reads in 2008

2008 has been an amazing year of reading for me. Thanks to the Internet I have read many more great books than in other years. In fact about five of my all time top ten will come from books read (but not necessarily published) in 2008. In previous years, I picked books from the shelves of a bookshop, or library, based on the cover, and blurb on the back. I found some good books this way, but most were disappointing.

This year, thanks to sites like Story code, and through reading the recommendations of bloggers, with similar book tastes to me I have found a much higher quality of reading material.

My top ten for the year are:

1. A Fine Balance– Rohinton Mistry

2. Fingersmith – Sarah Waters

3. Random Acts of Heroic Love– Danny Scheinmann

4. Water for Elephants– Sara Gruen

5. Paperchase– Marcel Theroux

6. A Thousand Splendid SunsKhaled Hosseini

7. A Kestral for a Knave – Barry Hines

8. The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick

9. Middlesex– Jeffrey Eugenides

10. The End of Mr Y – Scarlett Thomas

Thank you for visiting my site in 2008! Have a happy, wonderful year of reading in 2009!

2000 - 2007 Recommended books Richard and Judy Book Club

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini

Books Before Blogging Review

It has been almost a year since I read this moving story about the lives of two women in Afghanistan. I was completely gripped from beginning to end. The two women, Mariam and Laila, were great characters – I was totally drawn into their world. The emotions in this book were very powerful, and as a result this became the most harrowing book I have ever read. I found it much more distressing to read than The Kite Runner, and some of the scenes will stay with me forever.

Highly recommended, but keep a box of tissues handy!

Recommended books Richard and Judy Book Club

Random Acts of Heroic Love – Danny Scheinmann

Books before blogging review.

It has been almost a year since I finished reading this amazing book, and I can still vividly remember the power of emotion it contained.

From the very first page I was totally hooked. It tells two, interweaved tales . The first is set in 1992, and follows Leo Deakin, who wakes up in a South American hospital to discover that his girlfriend has died in the bus crash he survived. As he begins to remember what happened, he is plagued by the guilt that he was in some way to blame for her death.

The second story is set in 1917, and follows Mortis Daniecki, as he escapes from a POW camp and makes an epic journey across Europe, to return to the love of his life.

The story of Leo, is semi auto-biographical, as the author, Danny Scheinmann, also lost his girlfriend at a young age. Mortis’s story is based on the real events of Danny Scheinmann’s Grandfather’s life, as explained in an epilogue to the book. I think that the fact the author has experienced a lot of the events described in the book really shows. The raw emotion is hard to ignore; it is the small, well observed details that make it all so realistic. I don’t think I have ever read a book which explores the issues of grief and love so well.

I highly recommend this book, it is one of my favourite books of 2008, and will probably be in my all time top ten. It is released in the US and Canada in 2009, so keep an eye out for it!

Other Richard and Judy Book Club

The Richard and Judy Book Club 2008

My 2008 reading started with the Richard and Judy book club. Overall I was very impressed with this selection of books. It contains some of the best books I have read this year. Although ‘Mr Pip’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ came very close, my favourite has to be ‘ Random Acts of Heroic Love’ for the raw emotion that the author has put on every page. I highly recommend this book. 

A Quiet Belief In Angels by RJ Ellory


8/10 Great story, with a very clever, fast paced ending. A few slow bits in the middle, but overall it was well worth reading. Recommended.

Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris


3/10 I could see where the jokes were, but I didn’t find it funny. It is just a tedious story about an average life. I couldn’t be bothered to finish it.

Notes From An Exhibition by Patrick Gale 


6/10 This book has a good story, but the characters are a bit flat, and the plot is slowed down by frequent skipping between people and points in time. It’s OK, but nothing special.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini


8/10 Gripping story that it is impossible to tear yourself away from, but this is the most harrowing book I have ever read, so I have removed two of the ten stars it deserves because it will probably cause me to have nightmares.

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones


9/10 Great story, with vivid characters and a very satisfying ending. My only regret is that I hadn’t read ‘Great Expectations’ (on which this book is based) more recently. Highly recommended.

The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon


7/10 Slow and confusing to start with, due to constant switching between year/location. Reasonably good story, but I was disappointed by the ending, as there were too many loose ends with questions left unanswered.

Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann


10/10 Gripping and moving from the first page. I couldn’t put down this amazing story. Fantastic ending – you can’t ask for a better book. Highly recommended.

Visible World by Mark Slouka


5/10 There is a great story buried in this book, but it is slow and difficult to follow. I loved the ending, but very nearly gave up half way through. Only read it if there is nothing else to hand, or someone else rewrites it!

Blood River by Tim Butcher – not read yet.

The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies – not read yet.