I have a bingo! Actually, I had a bingo about two weekends ago, but I've only just got round to doing a post. I'm now up to 16 squares filled, and only 9 to go. I'd like a blackout, and I've got a pile of books planned for filling most of the remaining 9, but whether I'll manage it before the end of the year is another matter.
The actual number of books that I've read in total this year is actually 25 (according to my 2018 reading list), but of course not all of these have fitted bingo squares. If they *had* I would have had a blackout already :-)
Anyway, on with the book reviews.
As You Wish - Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, by Cary Elwes with Joe Laydon. Fills the 'biography/autobiography square.
Biography/autobiography really isn't my thing, and for a long time I wasn't sure what I was going to read to fill this square. I nearly chose a book about Alexander the Great, but wasn't sure if that might qualify more as history than biography. And then I remembered about this book, which I had bought last year but which had languished on my to-read pile as I was never quite in the right mood for it.
It's not by any means a 'whole life' autobiography, or even 'whole career'. It's simply the story of the making of the film, The Princess Bride, told by Cary Ewes, who played the lead role of Westley.
The Princess Bride is, quite frankly, one of my all time favourite feel-good films, with so many quotable lines, and one of the best sword fights in film history. If you have never seen it, go and find it, right now!
Elwes covers the background to getting the film made - apparently it nearly didn't happen as the film industry at the time (the mid-late 80's) considered it to be the world's most unfilmable book, through to how he got the role. The rest of the book is largely a 'behind the scenes' of the making of the film, and about the other actors involved. Elwes talks a lot about Andre the Giant, and with great affection. In fact, he makes it sound like they all had a great time filming, despite Elwes himself having more than one serious accident during filming (he ended up in hospital on no less than two separate occasions).
There are several quotes and reminiscences from many of the other actors, the producers, the stunt men, and other people who were involved, so it's not just Elwes. In many ways this book feels like a small celebration of the film, and everyone seems to remember it quite fondly. In fact, the entire book is written with obvious and great affection for the entire film and the time they spent making it.
The filming of 'the greatest swordfight in modern history', and the amount of training that Elwes and fellow actor Mandy Patinkin had to go through, gets two entire chapters in the book, and I really enjoyed the amount of detail that Elwes provides in those chapters.
The same can be said for the entire book, to be honest. It's clear that large parts of the filming are skipped over entirely, and rather than give a brief skim over the entire film, Elwes instead goes into detail and depth on a few key scenes or moments or relationships with co-stars. This approach really works, and by the end of the book I felt like I had been there watching them make this film.
If you're a fan of The Princess Bride, I highly recommend this book. If you've never seen The Princess Bride, where the hell have you been for the last thirty years??!!
The Grieving Stones, by Gary McMahon. Fills the 'horror' square.
This is actually more of a novella than a novel. It's a short book published by Horrific Tales Publishing, which is a small independent press. I picked it up at Edge Lit (sci-fi, fantasy and horror literature event in Derby) last year. These sorts of literature events are among the few places where you can find these books by independent small presses apart from online, and several of them come to Edge Lit every year, so it's a good opportunity to browse.
The book itself is about Alice, recently bereaved, she is invited to a 'therapy retreat' with some other members of a grief counseling group. Once there, it's the classic setup of a small group of not-quite-strangers in an isolated location when strange things begin to occur. The 'Grieving Stones' are a nearby stone circle, associated with local legends about witches.
To be honest, I think what drew me to this book was the cover, which has a picture of someone wearing a deer headdress/mask type thing in a stone circle, and it made me think of the mesolithic Star Carr antler headdress. I'm sure there's a pertinent saying about books and covers and judging that I ought to have paid more attention to at this point...
I sort of enjoyed this book. The writing was very good, and the characters were realistic and engaging, and the slow burn development of the plot worked well for the first three quarters of the book. Unfortunately, as it moved towards the climax, I lost the plot of what was going on, or why, and several key events seemed to happen out of nowhere with little or no explanation. At the end I was left thinking, 'what? why? I don't get it', and it all felt a bit rushed and unsatisfying as well as confusing.
On the plus side, it was a novella, and didn't take more than a couple of days to read, so it's not like I invested loads of time in it, only to be disappointed. Because that really would be annoying :-(
lj book bingo card 2018