Saturday, 22 June 2013

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Book Club review

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was the Big Comfy Book Club's first book club choice. The Big Comfy Book Club got off to a storming start with nearly 50 people joining the online club. Out of the 7 choices available we voted for Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn as our first book. I received a lot of messages over the next 4 weeks telling me what they thought, where they bought it and what other books aill be in the future. It's been great already! But lets talk about the book itself. Beware, there are spoilers a-plenty.

The book has become a huge success both over in the USA and on our own Isles so the expectation by me and several other book-clubbers was high. A quick read of praise from the national newspapers on the cover gave it more gravitas too. So lets delve into it, did it excite and move me? Did it make a lasting impression on the club? In short. Not in the slightest.

The story revolves around Nick and Amy, a 'normal' couple living in New York. They have the great big posh flat, they are both authors and journalists, they met in a very meet-cute way. They are a Sophie Kinsella couple. But the story really starts after all this and how their relationship has dwindled due to the death of Nicks mum and his dads dementia. Amy has a huge trust fund from her parents, (Authors! Wow!) as their books are based around Amazing Amy, a fictionalised version of their real daughter. One day Nick gets a call from a neighbour saying his front door is wide open, so he returns home and sees that his wife has been involved in a struggle, and she's disappeared. She is Gone Girl. The resulting 250 pages are seen through the eyes of both Nick, at the time, dealing with what has gone on, the subsequent police investigation and the reveal of an affair, and Amy in the form of her diary written over the past 7 years. The format works to a degree but neither Nick or Diary Amy have many qualities to make you like them, Nick is weak and obtuse whilst Diary Amy is a pushover. I'm calling Amy Diary Amy as half way through there is a big reveal which I loved (the best part of the book). The format shifts slightly to the real Amy.

This shift kept the book alive for me as it was really starting to have that bad-movie kind of feel with very clich├ęd characters. The mum being posh and snooty, the dad being all 'hey sport' with the son-in-law, the good cop, bad cop couple. But really what I disliked was Nick. He's an idiot. He does the stupidest things for no reason. Only his twin sister Go (short for Margot) seems reasonable and normal. With the change in narration it gave a real insight into Nick from a different angle. But it didn't last long. The whole book was dragged to the finale. Gillian Flynn had written herself into a corner and had no way out and didn't have an ending. It was a frustrating, annoying read.

Once we'd all read it we had a long discussion on Facebook about it and nearly everyone agreed with me. We are still baffled as to why it has become such a best seller.

I've given it 3.5 on the comfometer. The lowest yet.

If you fancy joining the online book club then hop on over to the Facebook group and add yourself or alternatively if you're not on Facebook, just send me an email, tweet or comment on this blog telling me you're reading along. We've just started our next book, Neil Gaiman's American Gods.


Monday, 17 June 2013

Book club choice #2 - Neil Gaiman's American Gods

We've just chosen American Gods by Neil Gaiman as our book club choice. If you want to take part then beg, steal, borrow or buy a copy. Add yourself to the Facebook group if you want too or follow me on twitter @BigComfyBooks. Local bookshops are the best to buy from but don't fret too much if you don't have access to one. Get reading as you have til July 20/21 to get through it!

My copy comes from the fantastic local bookshop Astley Book Farm


Saturday, 15 June 2013

The Big Comfy Book Club choice

The first month of the club has gone great. 46 people are on the Facebook group and a few non-Facebookers have joined too. We read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and will be chatting (via Facebook) tomorrow at 4 about it. I've just added the 7 books to choose from for this month on Facebook. For those non-Facebookers please have a look at these and tell me your choice via the comments at the bottom of this post. Add your name too so I know you don't get two votes!

The choices are:

The Fault in our Stars by John Green
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Lighthouse by Alison Moore
Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
White Teeth by Zadie Smith


Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Nuneaton Carnival - My experience

Photo by Jonathan Coates -
This Sunday June 9th I took part in the Nuneaton Carnival by holding a stall on the Gala field.
The Nuneaton Carnival occurs every year and each year has a different theme. This years theme was 'A Book at Bedtime'. Local schools, groups and clubs hired floats and got in the party spirit by dressing as their favourite book characters. I couldn't actually see the floats as I was in the field but I was told by my wife that everyone looked great. It was nice that authors and book characters were given the chance to come alive, although how Shrek can be classed as a book character baffles me a little!

I was given a great pitch and was excited to use the large space. I could have bought twice the amount of books! I had a helping hand setting up then by 10.30 I was more or less ready to go. Up until 1.30 it was deserted, the odd few people passing, but this was expected as the carnival was in full swing in the town centre. Once 1.30 passed and the floats were finished the field was swarmed and people started buying books. I met some great people who had heard about the bookshop via radio, social media and this blog and came along to say hello.
My brother gave a helping hand in selling and promoting the shop and together we felt we had a good day. About 4.30 the crowd had dwindled so we packed up and left by 5.15, with help from my dad. A family affair! Along the way a lot of friends came by and said hello (some using the gazebo and shade I had plus chairs to ease their weary legs for half an hour!). Overall the day was a fun, sunny, great success.

My musical partner in crime Jonathan took along his camera and caught some great shots. See them on his photography website.

Someone walking their fox at the carnival
I'm in Coventry at the POD, Lamb Street tomorrow Wednesday 12th June from 12-2pm selling books then again in Leicester at the LGBT centre from 11-3pm. It's a busy week!

I also will hopefully have news on a property by the end of the week. Fingers are still crossed.


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

War of the Worlds by H.G.Wells

I recently read War of the Worlds by H.G.Wells on the Aldiko e-reader on my phone. I love the fact I can get out my phone wherever I am and read. Owning a book shop you'd think I'd discourage it, but I really do want people to read as much as possible! I only read the free classics on my phone and have already got through quite a few I would never have read if it wasn't for such ease.
I didn't mean to read War of the Worlds. I had a free half hour as my son was asleep on me and I couldn't move so I browsed the available titles and opted for the H.G.Wells classic, on the advice of a young local author Rae Gee who I met at the Nuneaton library for the World Book Night event.

It was a fine suggestion as right from the beginning it immersed me. The late 19th century setting could easily have been transferred to modern times as the way humanity reacted and coped with the aliens, I felt, would have been exactly the same. The writing was fast paced and the descriptive prose outstanding leaving me with the smell of London in my nose.

If I had to say one negative though it'd be the way the protagonists brother is structured into the story. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed and was surprised by the view of the brother, it just seemed it didn't slot into the story as comfortably as it may have done.

Overall it was a rousing success. I've gone for 7.5 on the old comfometer.

As always, let me know your thoughts.