Book Club the Sixth – Amended Order

Book Club the Sixth – BOOKELF – 05-05-2010
Agreed on: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (BookElf)
Discussed:
– The Island by Victoria Hislop
– The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland
– Dracula by Bram Stoker
– Millenium Trilogy by Steig Larsson
Right, down to buzz-y-ness.

As I only completed our first topic book after this session, I will add in my comments under the discussion notes.

BOOKN00B

  • has actually visited all of the places mentioned in the book, and only wishes that she had read this first!
  • loved it, though admits to preferring the overall themes as opposed to the writing style per se.
  • did not enjoy the Alexis storyline, finding it to be unnecessary.
  • Spinalonga is exactly as described in the book – there is an aura of sadness.

BOOKELF

  • agrees wholeheartedly, especially about the Alexis storyline.
  • the relationship between the two sisters was very affecting to her
  • and the modern history of Greece was fascinating.
  • would love to go and visit the island now (road/boat trip anyone?!)
  • liked the story of the boy who started off as a leper, but ended up a teacher. In a way, leprosy was a gift for some.

AVIDREADER

  • approached the book with some trepidation, which was not alleviated at all by the initial chapters. I found the present day storyline to be completely superfulous, only included as a rather awkward device to set up the actual tale.
  • thought that the history of the leper island was so interesting – and to discover that such an amazing and transformative discovery was made so recently, and literally changed our whole responses to a terrible affliction relatively close by…well, I found that to be very inspiring.
  • I found the structure of the timeline to be slightly offputting. The first year on the island is a good quarter of the book, and then there are jumps with longer and longer period seeming a little more cramped.
  • As I didn’t respond to the present day storyline, I found the morality tale within the tale to be a bit stuck in. The only reason for Anna to turn out to be so one dimersional was to explain why Sofia had never returned. On the other hand, it was interesting that her mother’s absense did impact on her behaviour very negatively, so I didn’t dismiss it out of hand.

In the end we voted as follows:

BOOKN00B             8.5/10
BOOKELF         7/10
AVIDREADER  8/10

As we had at this point all completed Karen Maitland’s third book, The Owl Killers, we discussed this next.

BOOKN00B

  • Based on this reading, decided to downgrade Company of Liars to 4/10.
  • Had to work hard to pretend that this novel wasn’t linked to the disappointment of the first, though fears only grew after the mysterious child was introduced into the characters list.
  • Quite enjoyed this books ending, and the book as a whole far more than our first.
  • liked the pagan aspects, but found it difficult to relate to events and people so far back in time; contrasted with the Shardlake series, where the links with Tudor times feel far more tangible – albeit an inherited famial link from her mother.
  • Also conscious that our scores need to find a natural form of moderation. While this book was enjoyed, it has miles to go to reach the dizzying heights of The Book Thief.

BOOKELF

  • First and foremost, whatever else may be wrong with the books, Karen Maitland does good cover. All the artwork seems to fit perfectly the moody vibe of her stories.
  • And this books is BEL’s type of story, so glad to be able to revisit this time period. After all, the first 2/3’s of Company of Liars was the sort of writing that dreams are made off – it was the jarring and grating finale that disappointed so completely.
  • Feels that the author is honing her craft.
  • Loved the religious community.

AVIDREADER

  • Hated myself for reading this. For almost the entire book, I was angry – that I had let myself get sucked into a book that is tonally exactly the same as it’s predesessor – tension builds, annoying child, superstitions, multiple voices…and evil magical beings. The relief that I felt at the end cannot be put into mere words!
  • To be fair, this book is far superior to Company of Liars, but it is clear that the author has found her schtick and will be sticking to it, though her endings are becoming far more coherant.
  • All agreed that Pisspuddle, Osmana and the educated women were the strongest characters, with the martyr and nutcase being the least developed.
  • Happy to end on a positive note, I will not be so keen to read another until at least some time has passed…but hypothetically speaking, I will read it!

Scores were:

BOOKN00B   6/10
BOOKELF    8/10
AVIDREADER    6/10
BOOKN00B also rated the most recent Daisy Dalrymple book (8/10), and enjoyed it very much.
She has also started Dracula – ploughing through the first five chapters. Loves it, loves it, loves it! From the gothic tones, to the characters and back again!
In fact, she proposes (and I second) a trip to Whitby.
BOOKELF has been on (yet another!) book bender, and has devoured the following in the last few weeks:
 
Bess of Hardwick (really liked)
Virgil Doomed Love (oooo)
The Twins – Tessa DeLoo

And lent the following books to BOOKELF:

Wendy Holden by the truckload
(Simply Divine – ok, Bad Heir Day – alright, Azur like it – bad, Beautiful People – the worst read of the year)
Right.
Now.
Can you keep a secret?
No seriously, this isn’t life or death, it’s potential spoilers, and that’s way worse!!!
Coz this next bit is to be kept from BOOKN00B’s eyes, as she hasn’t read them yet.
AVIDRREADER and BOOKELF
  • AR – Picked up on a whim (and a buy-one-get-one-free deal) when home over Christmas, I read the three books in about 4 days flat – unable to eat, drink or breath until I had finished them. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration, but seriously addictive reading.
  • Enjoyed all three – though the first book does seem to be more introductory than part of the final story. It feels a little like Stieg Larsson was finding his feet, and developing his world. The final two offerings in the trilogy offer a far meatier, interlinked and satisfying read, and are indeed one story, with two different branches, rather than two independent books, while the first is stand alone, aside from bring the characters to life for us.
  • The third book is easily the most satisfying tome. The build up is consistent and maintained, despite the sometimes meandering story, and the characters remain vibrant, and stubbornly elusive. Indeed we had quite the mini-debate on who exactly the main characters were (AR – I felt Salinder and Mickel – thought they are not the driving forces within the book, and much of the leg work is taken care of by others – they remain the lynchpin of the series. Others may start the stories, but its this duo that put the matter to bed! BEL on the other hand, feels that the other female characters are more worthy of the ‘main’ character title)!
  • Ok – now there was a lot of talk about the feminist themes, and role of the female and so on, and then about marketing and how trying to sell stuff is a bad thing, but to be honest, I think that Jess covered most of it in her blog on the whole thing, and I don’t want to get the whole thing backwards, so – I’m just going to note – feminist discussion here, and move on.

We voted 10/10 each on the final two books, and I gave the first one 7/10. Jess refused to rate it – purity of the reading experience and so on.
Don’t worry – at some point, she’ll be hungover and unable to move, and once paralysed, I’ll explain to her the importance of the whole scoring system – in mind numbing detail!!!

Now, off to read The White Tiger…

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About Drneevil

Blogger, podcaster, reader, knitter. Founder of Leeds Book Club; host of Culturally Fixated; co-host of Conversations with Geek People; tech support for Leeds Browncoats.

Posted on May 10, 2010, in All Posts, Avid Reader, Book Club, Books, LBC Book Reviews, Original LBC. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I understand the point of a scoring system, I just choose not to acknowledge it! The first book was good, as thriller and I did enjoy it, though the changing of the title made my blood boil! The reason I decided not to mark it was because you were asking me to do so in recognising it as part of the trilogy which I'm sorry I won't know. I don't see this as a trilogy, I see them as three books within a series, the second and third of which are acontinuos story line, which I loved! But I'm not going to give the firts book a mark as it would be quite low, and I think that would make people think I didn't like 'the trilogy'- which is rubbish! If it was a standalone book and I hadn't read any more of the series than I would have probably given in a 5/10, because I did stop reading it for about a week as I got bored. However, that would bring my scores for 'thr trilogy' as a whole way down because I gave the 2nd and 3rd one 10/10- which I fully believe they deserve! Oh it is compicated!

  2. Sigh,

    Communication is hard.

    J is right, I did say rate the trilogy. (Only cause that's what it's called – The Millenium Trilogy. I wasn't actually in eveeil world domination mode and deliberately being awkward)
    I didn't actually mean, rate as a set of linked books, just rate them all coz that's neater. (I have a thing for the neat and tidy. I never achieve it, but I do enjoy a bit of symmetry)

    Ok, in case anyone is wondering. We rate as follows.
    The book.

    So if you rate the book, that's the score that that book gets.

    If it happens to be in a series, or trilogy or stand alone, what you rate it, is its score.

    The only series that we've rated so far as a series was the Shardlake ones, otherwise, it's been book by book.

    All clear?

    Groovy!!!

  3. OK, well in that case you can give the Girl with the dragon tattoo series 5/10. I just want to make sure people know I'm not in any way linking that with my enjoyment of the Lisbeth Salander (for ease) series, or the charactres or owt like that- it is PURELY for that book.

  4. Also, in this spirit you can give the 4th Clan o' the cave bear 3/10 and the 5th 4/10. I am full of suspence for the 6th.

    Shardlake I'll have to think about.

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