Once again @Mr_Hainsworth has been kind enough to write up our recent discussion at the delightful Medusa Bar. We were in full Olympic fever during this meeting and
THE BLURB (from Amazon)
A storm of the highest magnitude hits the small village of Acomb, little did nine cats of distinctive character by name know that their friendships were to develop as they tried to find their way home.
The 9 Lives of Seye, Lick, Fish, Nip, Nap, Astrophe, Arrh, Flap and Copy will take you on an adventure trail of humour, togetherness and strategy with a touching finale.
“A homeward bound and seven dwarfs coming together for all ages”
A first novel for the author with short stories of the cats to follow.
So, the write up. Once again I failed to finish reading the book, but I have an excellent excuse! Someone inconveniently placed a small two week sports day on the TV and I just loved watching it (the write up then took longer then I thought due to ANOTHER sporting event…). However I know a fair amount about the book as I met the author over Christmas, where I was introduced to the book, but I’ll come back to this.
So what was said about the book? Well, not a lot actually! One regular started of by saying something their mother taught them, ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’, another claiming that they felt the whole book was toooooooooooooo sweet, almost sickly sweet. However many tried to go into the book with no expectations to give a free rein on what they felt about it. It was also pointed out that the book was a charity project, and members were very behind the endeavour.
The main discussion then began with where the book was aimed at. From the look of it, it seemed young person, but many felt that the story lent itself more to young adult. There was also a feeling that the book could do with a further edit, it being difficult to follow and read other books while reading this, causing members with long ‘to read’ lists a bit of resentment. Obviously with all of the main characters being animals there was a large temptation to compare it to other books like this such as ‘Wind in the Willows’ and ‘Winnie the Pooh’, and with these comparisons the book starts to fall down. Members felt that there wasn’t enough ‘new’ in the book to catch and grab attention, but it was enjoyable. Many felt that being a book aimed towards the younger side of the market that it could do with illustrations, just to bring it more ‘alive’ for younger audiences. And then we once again came back to the audience for the book, would it work well in primary schools as a reading book, could it work as a bed-time story book with its relatively short chapters, would it engage young emerging readers, and the feeling was yes with a ‘but’. The ‘but’ is quite a big one though. It was felt that the book was not a thinking or demanding book so could engage some young people, but what about young people who read Harry Potter, Hunger Games, His Dark Materials. There was a feeling here that the answer would be no!
Moving onto the story itself, there wasn’t much to say. As a cat person, one member felt that it was a bit ‘too much’ for them. There was a feeling that the pregnancy storyline was a bit too ‘twee’ and many felt disappointed and a bit ‘facepalm’ (Google image this… I’ll wait…. good isn’t it!) with the female cat idolising the leader (male) cat. There was more face in palm (or is it palm on face) action when some of the cat puns were mentioned (the leader cat Seye has one eye…. cats eye… get it?!). Some were missed by some members, but it was felt that they didn’t work as well as might have been thought. The characterisation of the cats also slightly worried the members. The female cat idolising the leader male cat made most feel a bit ‘urgh….’. There was also a bit of a panic from one member with the character of Copy, who to start with felt a bit like an OWEN MEANY like character, but this subsided a little when Copy started to form their own character.So… that was about it really. There was talk about the Amazon reviews not doing it justice and then how could the book move forward. There was discussion about maybe there could be a series of books about the 9 cats, and maybe through these the stories and writing could improve. We then started to drift of with our discussions with mentions of other books. This started with the mention of a business parable stories book (I believe it was called ‘Who moved my Cheese’) which was similar to 9 lives, and then onto what we were all reading otherwise. Books such as ‘The Sisters Brothers’, ‘Princess Bride’ (the Arcadia book club book… which I finished!!), and the Phillip Pullman book ‘Good man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ’. We eventually moved back to take the scores before slowly sloping off home.
However before I sign of I should come back to me meeting the author. So it was a cold December day, I was out Christmas shopping and was in the Leeds Waterstones (other book shops are available, including your friendly neighbourhood local bookshop) and I saw a book about cats (and with my partner LOVING Simons Cats, I though ‘ah ha!!’). Mr Rusher was there signing the books so I went to get the copy signed (sadly, I think there might still be some signed copies left in L.W). After signing the book he then started to chat to me about it, and in the conversation he pointed out some points that were brought up in the book club. His main one though was that he would love to carry on writing the series with books about all the 9 cats…. So here’s hoping eh!
Anyway, thanks a lot for listening to my words, I wonder what I sound like in your head… see your thinking now (for future reference, I sound like Barry White…. ;p)
Venue: Medusa Bar