Monday, 29 February 2016

The Unmumsy Mum by Sarah Turner

Another quick #inbetweeny for you before I review the book of the month for March. It’s The Buried Giant by the way and if you haven’t already started to read it yet there is still time. I’m only on page 5!

The Unmumsy Mum is my first experience of following a blogger right through to their first book being published and I was really excited to read it. Although maybe slightly worried that I would have read most of it before via the blog. This wasn’t the case - Ruth and fake tanned breast fed babies were nowhere in sight.

The book was really easy to read – nice short chapters (you can tell it’s been written by a mum right there) and made me laugh out loud on several occasions. I totally resonated with Turners true to life account of being a mum and recognised myself in so many pages. My only criticism would be that’s its very much a ‘you need to be experiencing it right now kind of book’. I’m not sure my mum would relate to references of baby sensory, Bubble Guppies and social media mumsy mum envy. I’m not sure whether even I would love the book as much as I do if I read it again in 10 years time when nappies, teething and weaning are all a rose tinted memory. I am however very much in the thick of toilet training, plank-esque tantrums and stopping the baby from choking on sylvanian family accessories and so give the book an 8 out of 10. That’s what blogging is all about after all ‘in the moment’

Yes it’s staying on the bookshelf (#shelfer). Whether it’s still there in 10 years time remains to be seen. It may be replaced with ‘How to be a brain surgeon’ and ‘A guide to the best Oxford colleges’ #socialmediamumcompetition

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

An inbetweener - The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

So I’ve been thinking one book a month equals only 12 posts a year (well 13 if you count the Big Review of the Year) which is good but I want to give you lovely people more reasons to come and read the blog. So I’ve decided to post about the books I read in-between the books of the months. These ones are read by only me and as at the moment I am reading The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry this seems like a good enough place to start.

It was a random Christmas present a couple of years ago that I re-found when stocking my new book shelves (Handmade by hubby - thank you!)
I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest I don’t think I would have bought it for myself and I simply wanted to get rid of all the ‘old’ new books I had that I didn’t expect to be staying on my bookshelves – only the best get to stay!

I read it after Hemmingway and although I didn’t race through it reading something with normal size print was a delight. It was also beautifully written with quotes scattered left right and centre. “It is very difficult to be a hero without an audience, although, in a sense, we are each the hero of a peculiar, half-ruined film called our life.”

It does take a little bit of concentration. I have to confess I have a pile of books that I just want read and I seemed to have brought my skim reading that I adopted with Hemmingway to this book requiring me to re-read certain parts as unlike with Hemmingway stuff happens that you need to absorb rather than fast forward through.

I liked the unfolding of each character especially how Roseanne told one story about herself and the facts told another. I was at times unsure how Dr Grenes story was going to unfold (calls in the middle of the night that his dead wife answered?) but Barry pulled it back before he teetered into ghost story territory.

I hated father Gaunt and wanted him to gain his comeuppance. I won’t spoil it for you by saying whether he did or he didn’t.

Overall it was gentile, interesting and easy to read, such a refreshing change from Hemmingway that I give it a 6. It won’t be staying on my bookshelf but it gave me more than I thought it would. I believe there is a film in the works for this but that it may be on-hold. Let me know if you hear otherwise.

#inbetweeny #noshelfer

Monday, 22 February 2016

For Whom The Bell Tolls Ernest Hemmingway

I was really interested to read this as I was still buzzing about Ernest Hemmingway from Mrs Hemmingway a book we reviewed last year. It was also set during the Spanish civil war and war stories always interest me.

I ended up buying the book on ebay as Amazon worked out more expensive than my usual budget and I certainly wasn’t going to find a book first published in 1941 from the best seller section in Sainsburys.

The book was old and the print was small but I wasn’t put off and set about reading it straightaway.

The language was difficult ‘I obscenity in the milk of your…’ being a particular phrase that the group had issue with. Characters were referred to as ‘the woman’, ‘the girl’, ‘the gypsy’ and I also found the use of Spanish throughout the book confusing. Yes I understand ‘hola’ and other basic words but odd phrases kept on appearing that I couldn’t translate without google and lets face it the average reader in the 1940s certainly didn’t have google nor had been to Spain several times on holiday picking up a smattering of well known phrases in return. ‘Dos cervezas por favor’

It also wasn’t always clear in a conversation who was speaking when and the group as a whole particularly struggled with this. I had however read books where style was an issue (Wolfhall springs to mind) and War and Peace had so many names for each character I began to think they were fighting a war against someone entirely different from Napoleon and resorted to google to check. Good old google! But in both of these cases the storyline won out and I was rapidly thinking this wasn’t going to be the case with FWTBT.

I struggled not so much with the style but with what was said, or more particularly what wasn’t said. I read a quote on Good Reads that said ‘His speakers leave the impression that a huge amount has been left unsaid’ and I totally agree with this statement. So many times I re-read a passage as I believed I had missed something only to find I hadn’t, it simply wasn’t there and I was supposed to be intelligent enough to work out what was going on. I got the general gist but only just and found it frustrating that I simply couldn’t be given more as a reader.

I’m aware Hemmingways style won awards for being simplistic. I’m not an expert from books of that period but the group certainly didn’t find it simplistic.

The plot was almost too simplistic as very very little happened. This is where it really lost my vote. I found myself skim reading, I couldn’t get to grips with who was fighting who and I began to think the bridge would never be blown up. The book did perk up towards the end when the calvary appeared, and various other things happened but for a lot of us that was too little too late.

We all had obtained various versions of the book and one member commented that the ending was revealed in the synopsis on the back page. Yes the book is a classic but there will always be new readers so why give away the ending? I remember being devastated at the ending of Romeo and Juliet but so many times their fate is referred to casually with the belief you should know what happens to them. We all have to read something for the first time and Romeo and Juliet wouldn’t have been the same for me if I approached it already knowing the end. The group felt the same – there isn’t much point in struggling with a book if we already know what happens.

I did some research as so often with classics they are better if not simply read but studied to work out the hidden meanings and representations. I came out with actually very little. The forest featured heavily in the book and it supposedly was meant to represent the futility of war. The trees will still stand the same. The pine needles falling on the forest floor represent the fallen soldiers that simply get swallowed up by the forest as new needles grow.

Hemmingway did seem put a lot of himself into the book. Robert was a journalist helping out in the war – Hemmingway too experienced this. Roberts father shot himself with a gun Robert inherited. Hemmingways father shot himself and I believe Hemmingway also inherited the gun. Robert seemed to fall in love instantly and from Mrs Hemmingway that certainly seemed to be the case with Hemmingway himself so these aspects were interesting.

I struggled to like this book, plot was slow, characters unlikeable and style hardwork. I wasn’t on my own and we gave it a 3 out of 10. On a different note one of us read the wrong book – A Farewell to Arms and one gave up on the book and watched the DVD. It was different to hear their input to the meeting albeit neither could shed any praise on either.

Next book is The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Question of the month. There is an expectation that as a book is a classic it is good, but often to a younger audience that is not the case. Do you agree? Tell us which classic you struggled with