Wednesday, 29 June 2016

In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

It's not very often the words 'it's a generation thing' come from my lips. I'm lucky enough to still be of an age where 'it's a generation thing' usually refers to something/someone before my time and I am too young to remember. This month however I found myself saying those very words 'it's a generation thing' as the book was an adult version of the Point Horror books I used to read as a kid. When me and two of the other group members (both of similar age) commented on this, we were met with blank looks from the other slightly older members of the group. I did say slightly, please don't be offended!

For those of you who are slightly older (again slightly!) Point Horror was a series of very formulaic teen reads set in America where (a) A group of teens went off to camp/stay in a secluded house/break down in a remote area (b) someone injures themselves and is unable to move/the phone line is cut/they can't get a new brake disc until Monday and then (c) one by one they begin to die until only 3 are left - two possible suspects and the lead character. There is a big showdown, the hero is usually injured in some way, the killer is either killed or arrested and the other suspect is either killed or coupled up with the hero, all past thoughts of them being a possible multiple murderer forgotten (ah the memories!). And in describing your typical Point Horror book I have just described In A Dark Dark Wood to a T.

Most of the group didn't like the book finding it silly, unbelievable and not authentic to the Northumberland location. I, having read many a Point Horror in the past, took on a somewhat nostalgic view. I didn't (unlike most Point Horrors I can remember) really care for the lead character. I found her to have no warmth and I struggled to reconcile her decisions (going to the hen party, not leaving when she had the chance) with the adult she was supposed to be - this wasn't after all a bunch of teenagers but a bunch of middle class, arty, university graduated adults. I think that was the crux of the problem for me, what teenagers may do on their own is one thing but what engaged, house owning, washing machine familiar adults do is entirely different. This book didn't make the distinction.

I did read the book in record time - pretty much in 24 hours which for me is always worth a point when it comes to marking. All of the group read the whole book (which doesn't happen too often) and all found it easy to read. We commented on how the book again contained a group of middle class, university graduated, arty people which. Our last book The Versions of Us was set amongst a crowd of similar people as have a few the group have been reading lately. It certainly seems to be a trend reflecting the lives of the new batch of authors making their way on to the bestseller list.

My favourite quote about the book came from one of the group who described the book as "shit, entertaining but shit" and it kind of was. I enjoyed it for what it was, but if you start picking at it, it falls apart and if it had taken any longer than a day to read my rose tinted nostalgia may have worn to beige tinted boredom.

We tried the mean, mode and median method of marking the book this month as believe that sometimes the trusty 7 is not representative of the book. The results were 5, 5 and 4.9 so really - a resounding 5!

Next book is Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee (very excited to be reading it!)

Question of the month - Mean, modes and medians are not really for us book worms so next month we have decided to change the scoring method again, splitting the scoring into 4 categories. How much we enjoyed it and how well we thought it was written were 2 suggestions. What do you suggest for the other two categories?

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

A Storm of Swords Part1: Steel and Snow by George R R Martin Aka Game of Thrones

Where do you start reviewing the epically popular Game of Thrones? This was part one of the third book that I decided to read as an inbetweeny before our Book of the Month, A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. Yes I know it was an epic ask given the fact it's about 600 pages but I read DDW in record time (pretty much 24 hours) so thought if I was going to squeeze this one in at any point this was it.

Series 6 is currently showing on TV so my timing was perfect to help me with placing the various names to faces. It actually helped my understanding of the current series as when Lord Beric suddenly appeared I was able to recount to my husband exactly what had gone on between him and the Hound as I had just read it.

I really enjoyed the book and surprised myself by how quickly I read it, so much that I actually got to start another inbetweeny! (The Penguin Book of Classical Myths by Jenny March but more on that in another post once read). I do think the watching and reading at same time helped and I enjoyed revisiting the characters. I found myself arguing with Robb about the Frey’s and arranging the infamous 'Red Wedding' and willing Sansa to like Tyrion. I was surprised at how knowing what happens didn’t spoil my enjoyment in the slightest.

Overall I enjoyed being in a little Game of Thrones bubble and will carry on reading the series. Although I may give my arm a break from lugging about the doorstops that are Martins books (no before you say it I don’t need a Kindle!)

PS I don’t normally recommend things other than books but if you are familiar with Game of Thrones head over to YouTube and search for Game of Thrones The Musical. I first watched it probably a year ago now and it remains the favourite thing I have ever seen on social media.