March – The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen 83 1/4 years old

Turn the page book club meeting in March 2019, where comedy and Sci-Fi meet. Incidentally, this is a sub-genre I would very much like to explore in my writing one day. I’m sure Rob Grant and Doug Naylor are quaking in their space boots at this news! 😉

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen 83 1/4 Years Old – Hendrik Groen

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Hendrik Groen is in an old folks’ home in Amsterdam. He has decided to keep a diary “to give the world a little taste of the real Hendrik Groen.” He says he has always been a people-pleaser, always avoided confrontation, but now he’s going to shock everyone with “an uncensored exposé.” The diary is indeed warts and all and has some lovely little stories buried in amongst the daily ramblings of a fairly dull old man. I loved the ‘old but not dead club’ and could definitely see myself starting a similar club with my friends when I’m older, but generally, this book is badly written and tedious. In fact, the best thing about it was that I could count down to finishing it as each month passed.

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen had four and five-star reviews and the blurb called it an international bestseller. Irresistible. Laugh out loud funny. I did not laugh out loud and chuckled only once whilst reading this book. Aside from the adventures of the OBNDC the book is overwhelmingly bleak, family only visit the residents of the home because it is expected of them. All of the old people stereotypes are covered in this book and it seems that the author expects us to find these funny. Hendrik’s best friend Evert is actually a bit of a dick, and Hendrik seems to have nothing but contempt for everyone apart from his small group of friends.

This book was recommended as being ideal for fans of  ‘A man called Ove’. It is not in the least bit comparable to that book which is wonderful, funny, sad and poignant. Hendrik is whingy which is annoying enough, but he writes a diary even when there is nothing worth writing about, and he leaves the parts of the story that might be interesting undeveloped (more about his wife and daughter). I finished it, I wish I hadn’t bothered but I did and I gave it 2.5* because of the OBNDC and because I enjoyed reading about his relationships with the two women in the group, but I wouldn’t recommend it to someone I like. That said the other members of the book club gave it 3.5*- 4* so maybe just maybe you’d love it?

Sweet Dreams – Tricia Sullivan

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“Charlie is a dreamhacker, able to enter your dreams and mould their direction”. This is how the blurb on the back of the book starts, sounds good right? Wrong! For such a great idea to be so badly executed is a massive shame. Forget all the typos and the glaring error in the blurb which says the story is set in 2022 (it’s actually 2027). As irritating as they were, I can cope with sloppy publishing if the writing is good but it just isn’t. The author has put so many ideas into one book and written none of them well, the result is that it is confusing and I just didn’t care enough to try and work it out.

The story revolves around Charlie, who has taken part in a medical trial which has left her with the ability to enter other people’s dream when she sleeps in the same room as them and has given her narcolepsy. She lives with ‘O’ who helps her to find clients who need help with their dreams. Early in the book, we get insight into a death that has happened and that somehow Charlie is involved with, this is in the form of a police transcript of an interview with Charlie.

Charlie’s client is a famous musician who is suffering from extreme nightmares that are beginning to affect her career. She is visited each night by The Creeper – a mysterious masked figure determined to cause harm. When the musician dies one night, Charlie finds herself under investigation for the death, but also the Creeper’s next target.  At this point, the book seemed like it could be pretty interesting, I wondered what had happened to the woman and wanted to keep reading. It did not take long for this to change and for me to wish it would end, the story makes very little sense and is not very well written at all, I would not recommend it and gave it 2* but others gave it 3*, so maybe you’ll like it?

Happy Reading!

Mel x

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