Thursday, 18 October 2012

Shutter Island - Questions

Hello everyone,

Here are some questions for you to think about for the next meeting on 25th October 2012:

- Both Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule arrive at Ashecliffe with different motives than their official one, which is to find a missing patient. What are their underlying reasons in coming the the asylum?

- How does Lehane make use of Teddy's psychic state to create tension and uncertainty and to drive the plot?

- The plot of Shutter Island is filled with cryptic clues, twists, turns, and complications. Looking back, at what point were you thrown off track? Was there any point when you began to fit pieces of the puzzle together? Or were you mystified from start to finish?

- What was your experience reading this book? Was it difficult to put down? Were you on the edge of your seat? Does Shutter Island deliver—does it live up to its reputation as a mystery-thriller? . . . Or did you find the story predictable and/or manipulative?

Questions from LitLovers

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Family Fang - Kevin Wilson

This was definitely a marmite book, people either loved it or hated it. Many people in the bookclub didn't enjoy it because they couldn't empathise with or understand the characters. This was probably because emotions weren't often described or discussed, leaving the reader to decide how the characters were feeling. They also felt that it was really predictable, they knew were the story was going so there wasn't any reason to keep reading. Also, the fact that it keeps hopping backwards and forwards in time was not something that some of the club felt was useful to the story. Although others felt that this gave us a little bit of back story, just enough to undestand the characters a little more.

The parents in the book made some people react very strongly as it was felt that they traumatised their children, they didn't really seem to love them as they should just when the children did something the parents felt was worthy in their artistic world.

Other members of the group felt that the parents did seem to care for their children in their own way and that they children would never have turned out to be brilliant actors and writers if they hadn't experienced what they had during their childhood. Also, the children would never have been as resiliant to life as they were if they hadn't survived their childhood, it made them much stronger as adults. We discussed the question of creating adults from our children and whether we should molly-coddle them or whether being harsher with them teaches them to be better adults.

We felt that the central themes of parents and children is very similar to a lot of the other books we've read during bookclub. It is something that many authors seem to enjoy exploring, trying to discover the perfect family perhaps?

There were a lot of really funny moments in this book as long as you are happy with the complete chaos surrounding them. We decided this book was like modern art, either you are happy with a picture that leaves you to decide how to interpret it, or you aren't. The same is true of this book.

Overall we gave this book 5.5 out of 10.

Book Picking for 2013


I've come up with an idea to make next year a little more interesting in the book club. Basically we're sticking with me sending out a list of books and you picking a certain number with the books with the most votes being the ones we then read. However ... the twist is that i will be sending out the list in a set of genres and you will need to pick one from each genre so we then end up reading one book from each genre. This is intended to stretch us all in terms of what we normally read.

What do you all think? Worth a try? If you can think of anything you'd like to see in the list give me a shout and i'll have a look at what you suggest.

The Family Fang - Questions


Here are some questions about the next bookclub book "The Family Fang" for discussion on 27th September.

- Are these parents cruel...or clueless...or what? How would you describe them and their style of parenting? Do you find the two amusing?

- At some point in all of our lives, we come to see our parents, not as demi-gods, but as human beings. When did that occur to you...and what precipitated the insight? Does the new understanding of one's parents lead to (or come from) maturity or disillusionment...or both?

- The book often alludes to who is “the favorite Fang” or “the best Fang” despite them saying that they’re all exactly alike. Who was your favorite Fang and why?

- What did you think of Wilson’s writing style and storytelling? What about the structure of the performance piece chapters interspersed with the narrative?

I hope everyone is enjoying this book. And don't forget that you can send me any suggestions for new books to look at in the next book choice list.

Questions from Litlovers and PPH Bookclub.

The Last Werewolf - Glen Duncan

Not many of the group finished this months book, this seemed to be because they didn't enjoy the writing style. They felt that the writing was very depressing, that it was all dragging on with no real reason so it came across as boring. The main character, Jake, did come across as very depressed, and considers his own mortality over and over again in the first half of the book.

Those that did manage to finish really loved the style of writing. They liked the fact that it was the complete opposite of so many of the urban fantasy novels out there. That the writing was hard to read made it feel like you had achieved something, giving a sense of satisfaction. They felt that the imagery and the descriptions were so vivid that you had to stop every so often to catch your breath.

Many people in the group mentioned that they prefered the writing style after the first half as various characters were lost to the story and others were introduced. It seemed to change the way that Jake felt, which then affected the style of the book.

There were definite changes in the writing style when Jake was a human compared to when he was a wolf. The wolf seemed to see things in a much cruder way with a lot more descriptions of death, sex, interspersed with a lot of swear words. We felt that this language was deliberate, that Glen was trying to jar the reader to remind them that a werewolf is an evil presence, and that Jake is clearly unhappy when in his wolf form. Even the descriptions of sex scenes were very different when you compared the human ones with the wolf ones, the wolf ones were much more animalistic not as soft or loving.

We had a short discussion about whether Jake was freer as a man or as a wolf. He seemed to be freer as a wolf, but he was compelled to carry out acts like killing humans, so maybe he wasn't that free after all. However, if he remained a wolf then he wouldn't feel the guilt that he has as a human who has just murdered someone, so maybe he is freer as a wolf.

We also wondered whether the fact that he is a wolf is incidental to the main story, that of trying to find meaning in life. We as humans try to do this on a regular basis, especially when faced with something life-altering like becoming a werewolf, or discovering you have cancer.

Those that finished the book felt that this book did have the feeling of being a first book, merely a prologue to the next in the trilogy. Having said that, those that enjoyed the book really would like to read the next one, just to see how everything pans out.

Overall we gave this book 6.5 out of 10.