Blog: Mel's Muse

Showing posts categorised as 'Book Club / Readers Group'

Book Club Discussion: The Screwtape Letters By C.s.lewis

Click here for the List of Questions

Suggested by a member of my Book Club, despite the fact that most of us had read it many years ago, The Screwtape Letters proved to have lost none of its appeal. Apart from one lady, that is, who abandoned it on page thirty,...

Posted at 11:36am on 14th July 2020

Book Club Questions: The Screwtape Letters By C.s.lewis

The questions below are those I raised for the Book Club I lead. Click here for the discussion we had subsequently. Quotes from the book are in bold italics.

CHURCH: Chapter II
One of our greatest allies at present is Church itself. Screwtape goes on to...
Posted at 11:28am on 14th July 2020

Book Club Discussion: I Am I Am I Am By Maggie O'farrell

We were nearly a full-house when my Book Club met, last night, to discuss our latest read, Maggie O'Farrell's memoirs, I AM I AM I AM: Seventeen Brushes With Death. We all thought it beautifully written, though there were those who found the theme somewhat negative, and others who...

Posted at 05:46am on 10th January 2020

In Her Words By Patricia St John - My Book Club Discussion

Although slightly reduced in number when my Book Club met this week, there was no less lively conversation and laughter. Especially when they discovered I'd bought Orange Club biscuits! The bottom line, though, was that we loved this book! A light, easy read, it nevertheless had plenty...

Posted at 09:34am on 15th November 2019

Book Club Discussion: The Storyteller By Jodi Picoult & An Elegant Solution By Anne Atkins

Talk about being a lousy leader!

'We might find Jodi Picoult's The Storyteller a lighter summer read, rather than the one I first suggested,' I wrote to my Book Club.

That email was closely followed by another saying, 'Oh, no! Perhaps not. Some of the reviews say it is...

Posted at 09:25am on 20th September 2019

What's Wrong With Human Rights? By David Cross - Book Club Summary

Quotes from the book are in italics.

Never, before, have I made so many highlights in a book! As my Book Club members said when we met yesterday evening, this was certainly a narrative that opened up debate, on a subject not often discussed. With so much material to...

Posted at 10:20am on 13th July 2019

Bodacious The Shepherd Cat By Suzanna Crampton

'What I love about Book Club, is that it makes me read books I might never, otherwise, have chosen.'

So said one member of our group when we met, yesterday, to discuss our take on Bodacious, The Shepherd Cat. How right she was! A book, supposedly written by a...

Posted at 09:43am on 16th May 2019

Catching Contentment By Liz Carter - Book Club Discussion

I first heard of Liz Carter's book, Catching Contentment, when I read, somewhere, that she had suffered a lifelong illness. Instantly, that resonated with me. Having undergone a similar experience, myself, I felt a closeness with Liz that belied the fact that we had never met, nor communicated...

Posted at 10:45am on 15th March 2019

Eleanor Oliphant Is Absolutely Fine - Book Club Review

Have you ever been aware of others talking about you behind your back? Perhaps when you've been standing alone, catching the flickering glances of a nearby group? Knowing, without doubt, that the whispered exchanges in some way refer to you?

So how did it feel? Especially if,...

Posted at 07:23am on 15th November 2018

Book Club: Sensible Shoes - Who Are You & Where Have You Come From?


You pick up the phone, an unknown voice asks: 'Is that the owner of the house?' Indeed, sometimes they may address you by name. And what is your immediate response? Mine is never to affirm the query but to ask, 'Who are...

Posted at 09:55am on 10th September 2018

Book Club: Sensible Shoes - Whose Do You Walk In? Who Are You?

Who are you? Whose shoes do you walk in? Is this a question you've ever ask? No. I don't mean do you ask it of other people. That's not British! Downright rude, in fact. So - who are you? Is this something...

Posted at 04:27am on 13th July 2018

In The Days Of Rain - Book Club Verdict 'a Rivetting Read'


If reading In the Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott didn't bring tears to your eyes, hearing the testimony of two members of my Book Club would certainly do so! Brought up in the Exclusive Brethren, they tell a tale of trauma of unimaginable scale: the...

Posted at 06:30am on 20th May 2018

The Book Thief By Markus Zusak - Book Club Discussion

Words, words, words. Too many of them thought some members of my Book Club. But words, and their critical importance for good and evil - particularly when used by Adolph Hitler in the lead up to World War II - were the theme of The Book Thief by...

Posted at 07:57am on 20th March 2018

When Helping Hurts - Book Club Discussion Summary

How does it make you feel when you help someone out? Or when you give to charity? Big time! Go on. Be honest. Inevitably, it makes us feel good about ourselves. Doesn't it? But what about when someone offers to help us...

Posted at 04:52am on 27th February 2018

Archbishop A Novel By Michele Guinness - Book Club Discussion Of Media Hysteria


One of the things my Book Club loved about this book, was the way humour was used to hammer home the truths we all need to know. With the enormous pressure upon her, newly elected Archbishop Vicky is all too aware of how little time...

Posted at 04:03am on 12th January 2018

Archbishop By Michele Guinness: Book Club Discussion On Personal Discipleship & Service

Personal Discipleship & Service

(Quotes from the book - with permission from Michele Guinness, below - are in italics)

There were a number of salient points in Michele Guinness's book when it came to personal discipleship in these troubled times, and we all agreed with Archbishop Vicky that it is only...

Posted at 04:53am on 13th November 2017

Archbishop By Michele Guinness: Book Club Discussion On What Constitutes Church?

WHAT CONSTITUTES CHURCH? (Quotes from the book are in italics)

With some members of our Readers' Group being Street Pastors and School Pastors, and all of us attending churches involved in outreach, the issue of whether church is a building or a people was one that resonated. Faced with...

Posted at 07:42am on 12th November 2017

Archbishop: A Novel By Michele Guinness

Another superb choice of fiction - so my Readers' Group and I enthused when we met yesterday evening to discuss it. One or two of us confessed to having found the first chapter somewhat overwhelming: a plethora of names, unknown characters and big words. But with that behind...

Posted at 07:59am on 9th November 2017

A Better Story: God, Sex & Human Flourishing By Glynn Harrison: A Must Read For Everyone

Before I start, I want to say that I have nothing against anyone who is genetically predisposed to the LGBT spectrum. I have personally known people in homosexual relationships, and always found them to be delightful. I also have a family member who is transgender, whom I love...
Posted at 07:41am on 17th July 2017

Mel's Online Book Club: The Art Of Hearing Heartbeats By Jan-philipp Sendker


The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker was, we all agreed, the best book we'd ever read. A beautifully and evocatively written love story, it was woven throughout with profundity and truisms: a tapestry of an unknown lifestyle, embroidered with recognisable threads.


Set in Burma, the story is...

Posted at 04:27am on 11th May 2017

Mel's Online Book Club: When We Can't, God Can By Catherine Campbell

When We Can't, God Can by Catherine Campbell was the book under discussion when we met for Book Club last night. Having met Catherine on several occasions at Christian Resources Together conferences at Swanwick, I was not surprised to see how well her lovely, caring personality came across in...

Posted at 05:51am on 9th March 2017

Mel's Online Book Club: Remember Me? By Lesley Pearse

I suppose I could say it was an attitude of quid pro quo that prompted me to suggest Remember Me? by Lesley Pearse as my choice for Book Club this month. After all, the honour of having a multi-million-selling author attend the book launch for my novel, Chosen? is...

Posted at 07:53am on 12th January 2017

Holy Habits By Andrew Roberts

What a great book! When I first suggested that we read it for Book Club, one of the members thought it looked somewhat 'heavy-going'. On the contrary, when we met to discuss it, we all felt it was an easy read and had much to say to...

Posted at 06:02am on 4th December 2016

National Poetry Day: My Poem, Picked For A Purpose

A seed, a weed, is sown and grown, This is your life, you know! The soil, the toil till it's full blown Bring happiness and woe. The root, the shoot, the stem and leaf The pain the rain of life, The sun, your joy, gives way to grief As struggles become rife. Nipped in the bud...
Posted at 03:49am on 6th October 2016

Would You Want Maggie Smith And Her Smelly Van Living On Your Neighbour's Drive?

QUESTION: Would you want Maggie Smith and her smelly van living on your neighbour's drive? Well? Would you?

Interesting discussion last night at the community book club I went to. The book was Alan Bennett's Lady in the Van, and one of the topics raised (by one of several people who...

Posted at 05:33am on 3rd August 2016

So You're Planning A Book Launch. What About Pre Launch Promotion?

In my last blog post, So you're Planning a Book Launch. Do you Know What You're Doing? we considered some of the forward planning that's necessary. Now, with mine so recently behind me, I'll continue to share my experiences. We've looked at Venue, Timing, and Ease of...

Posted at 03:25am on 2nd July 2016

So You're Planning A Book Launch. Do You Know What You're Doing?


With all the trauma of the British referendum to leave the European Union last week, I can't quite believe that it's now a fortnight since the launch of my latest book, Chosen? The second novel in the Evie Adams series, it is set in Devon as was...

Posted at 04:54am on 30th June 2016

The Elevator Pitch: What Defines What & Why You Write?

In my last blog post, What Makes A Writer Write,  I mentioned the World Book Night event at Stoke Lodge, in Devon.  Invited to speak, briefly, to an audience of forty-plus about my own writing career, I began by saying that someone had asked me, ‘What is an elevator pitch?’ ...

Posted at 01:48am on 3rd May 2016

A Book Club Thriller - The Jazz Files

I suggested we read The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith for our January meeting of the book club I lead, partly because I’d seen the film, Sufragette, starring Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter, and greatly enjoyed it.  Fiona’s book, the first in the Poppy Denby investigates series, is...

Posted at 01:45am on 26th January 2016

Book Club Discussion Summary: Naturally Supernatural By Wendy Mann

A good deal of laughter accompanied our Readers’ Group discussion last week.  The book we had been reading, which I had suggested some two months earlier, was titled Naturally Supernatural, and was written by Wendy Mann.  With a new senior minister joining us, in the meantime, we felt sure -...

Posted at 06:19am on 18th November 2015

Mel's Online Book Club Discussion: The Fight By Luke Wordley

I had the pleasure of meeting with author, Luke Wordley, and received a signed copy of his book.  In choosing to read The Fight for Book Club, we felt we were moving outside our comfort zone.  It was with some surprise, therefore, that all our members enjoyed reading it.  Some...

Posted at 12:07pm on 11th September 2015

Guest Blog With Author, Eleanor Watkins

I'm delighted to be able to welcome author, Eleanor Watkins to guest post on my blog today.  A prolific author, and well-known for her chldren's and young people's books, she's agreed to tell us a little more about her private life.  So here are my questions and her answers: Eleanor, what’s...
Posted at 05:28am on 2nd September 2015

Time To Shine - A Taster Of My New Book

I thought you might like to read a taster of my new book - a gentle psychological mystery - and see a photograph of the setting in Exeter.  The protagonist, Evie Adams, is the narrator in this passage, taken from Chapter 2

Arriving for work early one morning soon after my...

Posted at 04:20am on 29th June 2015

Mel's Online Book Club Discussion: The Light Between Oceans By M. L. Stedman

The Light Between Oceans is, I discovered when I’d finished reading it for Book Club, a debut novel.  I wish I had known that when I began – but more of that later.  For various reasons we were a somewhat depleted group when we met to discuss the book, and...

Posted at 09:12am on 25th April 2015

Does Glamorising Abusive Sexual Relationships Adversely Influence Society?

I came across this old post, Modern Morality: What is its Place in Contemporary Fiction, by chance and wondered if it had any relevance to the recent discussion on BBC Newsnight about the influence that the book, 50 Shades of Grey, might have in 'normalising' abusive sexual relationships.  While Friedman's...

Posted at 04:26am on 11th February 2015

Creative Writing: Book Launch & Signing For Time To Shine

Not the best of photographs, but this is me telling my audience, at my Book Launch, yesterday, about my creative writing journey.  My love of books began at the age of five, when my father used to read my favourite bedtime story, Oscar Wilde's The Selfish Giant from the leather-bound...

Posted at 14:59pm on 29th November 2014

Time To Shine - Another Excerpt From My New Psycological Mystery

Josh was still in his pjs, lying on his bed playing some computer game or other on his cell phone when Carl went to tell him the good news.  The boy seemed strangely lethargic.  Hardly surprising, Carl supposed, given the state of the room - a stinking fug of yesterday's...

Posted at 07:40am on 15th November 2014

Mel's Online Book Club: Questions For: Faith In The Fog: Believing In What You Cannot See By Jeff Lucas

FAITH IN THE FOG: by Jeff Lucas NB: Page numbers below relate to Kindle pages
Click here for Discussion Summary of Faith in the Fog   1. Time Trapped. 31-46 ·        Do we wish we could go back in time as the disciples went back to Galilee to fish? If so why? Isn’t our past shame washed...
Posted at 09:53am on 28th June 2014

Mel's Online Book Club: Discussion Summary Of Faith In The Fog: Believing In What You Cannot See By Jeff Lucas

Having prayed for absent book club members, particularly one, who is back in hospital on a second course of chemo, we started the evening with a general overview of Jeff Lucas’ book, Faith in the Fog. Without exception the group professed to having enjoyed it, though one person found his self-deprecation...

Posted at 09:36am on 28th June 2014

Mel's Online Book Club: Little Coffee Shop Of Kabul: A Debut Novel By Deborah Rodriguez

 FRIENDSHIP: One of the joys of a good book club has to be in the friendship that develops between members, and the freedom that this gives them to speak their minds.  And so it was that our discussion, yesterday evening, spiralled off in all directions, covering politics, faith v...

Posted at 10:01am on 29th April 2014

Mel's Online Book Club: Questions & Discussion Summary Of Simply Christian, By Tom Wright: Chapters 1-2

THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS & DISCUSSION SUMMARY ARE PROVIDED FOR MEL'S ONLINE BOOK CLUB and may be reproduced – see below.  Please leave your comments so that further discussion may be promoted.


More than a dozen of us gathered to discuss Tom Wright's book, Simply Christian. Most of us had read at least...
Posted at 07:49am on 12th May 2013

Mel's Online Book Club: The Generation Game By Sophie Duffy

Titles are important to me. As an author I find it necessary to choose a title I can work to: one that defines the theme of the book I’m writing. As a reader, I look to see how those themes unfold.

When one of the members of my real-time Book Club suggested that...
Posted at 00:58am on 31st October 2012

Mel's Online Book Club: Love Wins By Rob Bell - Part One

A daring choice for my real-time book club, given the controversy that surrounds it, Love Wins, by author, Rob Bell, attracted rather more people than usual to the discussion on Thursday evening. We'd teamed the book with Michael Wittmer's Christ Alone: An Evangelical Response... - half the group reading one title,...

Posted at 07:56am on 28th April 2012

Mel's Online Book Club: Room By Emma Donoghue

What could have been better, on an icy evening last week, than meeting with my Book Club in the home of friends, with a roaring fire, and a great book to discuss?  We'd been reading Emma Donoghue's novel, Room, and without exception we agreed that we had thoroughly enjoyed the...

Posted at 15:43pm on 6th February 2012

Online Book Club - Showing Of Love By Julian Of Norwich - Discussion Summary

Showing of Love, a book written by Julian of Norwich in the 15th Century, is not an easy read! OK. I admit it. Mea culpa. With much laughter, when nine of us met last week for Book Club, I was roundly - but affectionately - condemned...

Posted at 15:46pm on 6th December 2011

Online Book Club: Discussion Summary - Life Of Pi By Yann Martel

One of the great things about a Book Club, as I've said before, is that almost always there are aspects of the book we've read that strike people in different ways.   So while  all of us who met last Thursday confessed to feeling disappointed by the denouement of Life of...

Posted at 17:44pm on 16th October 2011

Online Book Club: Book Reviews & Questions - Life Of Pi By Yann Martel


At times profound, at others humorous, the novel, Life of Pi, is the story of an Indian boy who, because he is named after a French swimming pool (Piscine) and doesn't like the nicknames which result, shortens his name to the irrational mathematical number Pi - 3.14...  Pi...

Posted at 16:06pm on 14th October 2011

Edgy Christian Fiction: Books For Summer Reading

If you're anything like me, a book will be essential packing for your summer hols, the perfect partner for a picnic lunch, a bonus for the beach and a relaxing read for bedtime.  So here are four book reviews for sensational summer reads, all with a Christian world view that...

Posted at 20:59pm on 15th August 2011

Online Book Club Discussion Summary: A Time To Live By George Pitcher

Are you in favour of assisted dying?  Would you like British law to be amended to allow euthanasia?  Or is the risk of abuse to the elderly, disabled and infirm too great a concern?

Most of my real-time Book Club members admitted, when we met on 28th July, 2011, that they'd...

Posted at 11:00am on 3rd August 2011

Online Book Club Questions: A Time To Live By George Pitcher

QUESTIONS How did reading the book either confirm or change your previous opinions about euthanasia / assisted dying? What, in your opinion, were the most persuasive arguments put by the author against...
Posted at 09:29am on 2nd August 2011

How To Be A Writer Of Christian Fiction Books

Are you an established writer or aspiring author who is also a Christian?  Is there a novel you want to write (or have written) for which you are unable to find a publisher?  Do you enjoy reading mainstream fiction but find that Christian fiction books leave you cold?  How does...

Posted at 15:50pm on 24th June 2011

Book Club Discussion Summary: Suite Francaise

Suite Française
by Irène Némirovsky


Born in Kiev in 1903, Irène Némirovsky, was a Jewess who, with her family, fled the Russian Revolution.  She settled in France, married a Catholic, and became a best selling author.  Her novel, Suite Française is a keenly observed portrayal of French manners and...

Posted at 17:16pm on 29th May 2011

God On Mute - The Problem Of Unanswered Prayers: Mel's Online Book Club

As book club questions were included in the book, I did not compile any for my real-time reading group, who met last week.

A book on unanswered prayer is never going to be an exhilarating read, but God On Mute, by Pete Greig, surpassed expectation for all but two of...

Posted at 14:31pm on 17th April 2011

Mel's Online Book Club: Born On A Blue Day

The choice of book for my real-time Readers' Group / Book Club was, on this occasion, prompted by a non-member whose young grandson has been diagnosed as autistic.  Born on a Blue Day, by Daniel Tammet, is a remarkable book in many ways - not least because the author is...

Posted at 15:53pm on 19th February 2011

Online Book Club: Everybody's Normal Till You Get To Know Them - Part One

APOLOGIES! My admin/editing box keeps ditching quotation marks, dashes and apostrophes. This cannot be rectified until the New Year, and as I am having to reinsert them manually, in the meantime, I hope you will excuse any omissions.

Everybody's normal till you get to know them at Daves house. This was...

Posted at 18:05pm on 13th December 2010

Mel's Online Book Club: The Catcher In The Rye: Summary Discussion


Those of you who follow Mels Online Book Club will know that for the real time Readers Group that I lead, I usually compile a list of questions as a prompt. As a result, I have become adept at doing the one thing I was brought up never to do:...

Posted at 19:32pm on 1st October 2010

The Torn Veil By Gulshan Esther: Online Book Club Questions & Discussion Summary

QUESTIONS What strikes me, immediately, about the author is the sincerity and commitment she shows to her Islamic faith. Are the rituals she conforms to so very different to our own when seen through the eyes of a non-believer? She makes no complaint about her disability but has complete faith that she will be healed. Can...
Posted at 12:09pm on 6th August 2010

Plain Truth By Jodi Picoult: Online Book Club Discussion

This Online Book Club discussion is intended to be just what it says it is, as well as a resource for real-time Readers’ Groups. Whether you’ve read the book, or not, you may have very different views to those expressed here, or you may agree with them. Please leave your comments at the end...
Posted at 18:16pm on 9th May 2010

Return Of The Prodigal Son - Rembrandt Painting Inspires Author Henri Nouwen: Online Book Club Discussion

Without exception, members of my real-time Readers' Group found this an AMAZING book, and couldn't believe how much they got out of it. To read the Questions that inspired their Discussion, which follows, go to: UV READERS' GROUP & ONLINE BOOK CLUB QUESTIONS: The Return Of The Prodigal Son...

Posted at 10:19am on 6th March 2010

Uv Readers' Group & Online Book Club: The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Discussion Summary

My UV Readers’ Group met last Thursday, 21st January, to discuss The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid and, as always, we had plenty to say! First and foremost that we had found the book an enjoyable and compelling read, with the sinister elements evident from the start and building to a climactic conclusion.



Posted at 18:28pm on 29th January 2010

The Reluctant Fundamentalist Discussion Questions - Mel's Online Book Club

Hi! I’m really excited about this new Online Book Club, which is starting today, and hope that you will be, too. The beauty of being a member of a readers’ group is that it encourages you to read books you might not, otherwise, have picked up.

But reading can be a solitary pursuit. Half...

Posted at 12:30pm on 21st January 2010

Online Book Club (readers' Group)

I’ve decided to start an online Book Club! Well, actually, I can’t take credit for it myself; my online friend Lucy suggested it. Thing is, I already lead a real-time Readers’ Group and post the discussion summary on my Diary page (last one was Joanne Harris’s Chocolat if you want to read it) and...

Posted at 17:16pm on 27th December 2009

The Shack By William Young: Uv Readers' Group Discussion Summary

Is The Shack A True Story?

This was one of the issues raised when twenty-one of us met on Thursday to share our impressions of William Young's debut novel. Many of us found ourselves thinking of Madeleine McCann, the four year old who disappeared in Portugal whilst holidaying with her parents...

Posted at 22:50pm on 25th April 2009

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