9 October 2009

Don't Always Hit the Mark #2

This is a series that I began last week.
The general idea behind it is that even the best authors, or your favourite ones, don't always achieve the same rating with the reader.
There are of course many reasons for this - some of them lie with the author, some with the reader. You probably already recognise the factors that affect how you feel about a book - sometimes it is the plot, sometimes plot lines that don't quite come off, sometimes unconvincing characters, but sometimes too it is your mood when you are reading, factors in your life that the author could not have predicted.

Any way each of these posts will deal with an author or two, and the titles stored on my database as well as those I have reviewed on my blog. Last week I looked at Agatha Christie.

This week I am looking at Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine.

Here are my records in rating order:

Ruth Rendell

  1. NOT IN THE FLESH (2007) my rating 4.8
  2. END IN TEARS (2005) my rating 4.8
  3. THE FEVER TREE AND OTHER STORIES (1982) my rating 4.8
  4. THE WATER'S LOVELY (2006) my rating 4.7
  5. COLLECTED STORIES (2007) my rating 4.6
  6. FROM DOON WITH DEATH (1964) my rating 4.2
  7. PORTOBELLO (2008) my rating 4.2
My average rating of Ruth Rendell titles is 4.5 which makes them a safe pick for me.

Barbara Vine:
  1. THE MINOTAUR (2005) my rating 5
  2. THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT (2008) my rating 4.1
  3. NO NIGHT IS TOO LONG (1994) my rating 4.0
You can see that the Barbara Vine titles, admittedly there are only 3 of them on my list, although I've actually read many more, don't fare so well.

My general benchmarks are
    5.0 Excellent
    4.0 Very Good
    3.0 Average
    2.0 Poor
    1.0 Did Not Like
    0 Did Not Finish
Reviews on my blog:

Rendell, Ruth:

All my posts relating to and


Anonymous said...

Thanks for adding this feature, Kerrie. You're right that even the best authors, or at least those we like the best, don't always win our hearts with each book..

Janet Rudolph said...

I'm loving this new feature. So far you've rated books by two of my favorite authors. Who's next? Surprise me!

Belle said...

This is a great feature. I've only ever read Rendell's Wexford books - for some reason, I've never felt the urge to pick up any of her standalone titles, or her Barbara Vine ones.

Kerrie said...

Margot - one of the things you'll have noticed that really what my ratings say about these novels is that for me, they are really reliably Very Good +. Even bad experiences are not really bad.

Kerrie said...

Let's see Janet - I wonder what I'll choose? I am trying to pick authors where I have a number of records, so they'll probably feature in my "favourite authors" list too.

Kerrie said...

Belle, you should try one of the standalones or a Barbara Vine, I'm sure you will enjoy them.
Try The Keys to the Street, or The Rottweiler (2003, or Thirteen Steps Down (2004), or The Water's Lovely from the standalones; or from the Barbara Vine's: Grasshopper (2000),
The Blood Doctor (2002), or The Minotaur (2005)

Deb said...

Barbara Vine's "A Dark-Adapted Eye" is fabulous. "No Night Is Too Long" is also very good. One difference between the Vine books and the Rendell books is that the plots of the Vine books rely much more on coincidence, psychology, and the characters' subjective interpretations of what is going on around them. The Rendell books (especially the Rexfords) are very logical, with one piece of the puzzle being carefully fitted next to another.

Overall, I prefer the Rendells to the Vines--but that's because of my preference for "straight" mysteries over more impressionistic novels.

Dorte H said...

The Minotaur is fine, but some of my favourite Barbara Vines are The Chimney Sweeper´s Boy, A Dark-Adapted Eye and King Solomon´s Carpet.

Kerrie said...

Thanks for the recommendation Deb - I think I prefer the Wexfords, then the standa-alones, then the Vines, but I usually feel "safe" in picking any new one up.

Kerrie said...

Doret - I really liked THE MINOTAUR but from memory it was a bit of a slower read.

Philip Amos said...

With regard to the Rendell stand-alones, I would hugely recommend two: A Judgement in Stone, renowned for its rather extraordinary first sentence, and A Fatal Inversion. I've long thought those outstanding even in the context of Rendell's remarkable oeuvre, and I've noticed that I don't seem to be alone in that. Very good places to start for people who know only the Wexfords.


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