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Emily Dickinson: Selected Poems
Emily Dickinson, Helen McNeil
Les Misérables
Victor Hugo, Norman Denny
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
Arthur Conan Doyle
Selected Poems
William Shakespeare
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Fannie Flagg
Decline of the English Murder - George Orwell It was okay. I'm assuming these 8 short works were written as newspaper articles or suchlike, as some of the pieces were very brief. I really enjoyed half of them, which were about prison, murder, sleeping rough and good bad books. I wasn't so keen on the articles about boys' weeklies, women's papers and novelty postcards. Overall a short and somewhat enjoyable read- you can't go too far wrong with Orwell.
Madame Bovary - Michèle Roberts, Geoffrey Wall, Gustave Flaubert This book seems to split opinions, with lots of both 5 star and 1 star reviews. I'm being harsh and giving it 4 stars. If you didn't like it what's wrong with you? No really, if you found the writing boring, or Emma annoying, I think you have a problem and we should probably not be friends. (I found it boring at 100 pages in, but think this was due to the translation. Unfortunately I'm an ignoramus who can't read French, so I take what I can get. Even with this fault it was a great book) If it's a classic on your TBR, then read it now. Especially if you're fed up with your husband.I can understand why so many women claimed to be the inspiration for Flaubert, but it's great to see that the world has moved on so much in the past 150 years that women no longer have to cheer themselves up from their mundane existence with affairs and shopping sprees...
Ariel - Sylvia Plath I'm lost for words. If you've just read it and need something to make you smile again, try this review instead by Paul Bryant
The Sexual Life Of Catherine M - Catherine Millet Another book remembered from reading a few years ago. I recall enjoying some of the stories and events, but think it became a bit repetitive by the end... much like all sex memoirs.
The Tiny Wife - Andrew Kaufman Short and sweet. This is my second Andrew Kaufman book and I really enjoyed it. He has some weird ideas for a story, but the underlying messages are endearing. Side note - I like a short book, but this was really short. 112 pages, plus lots of pictures, blank space and 20+ pages devoted to a preview of his new book (which I already own). This made the book look longer than it really was. I can't help but feel it should be bound differently to reflect its smaller stature as a very short story, rather than this page padding and price tag in comparison with 400+ page novels.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, #1) - Lewis Carroll, Peter Glassman, John Tenniel Curiouser and curiouser. What a strange tale...quirky, bizarre, insane, all words that spring to mind. Not sure that I really liked it that much. Bumped it an extra star, just for being so imaginatively original.
Ready Player One - Ernest Cline If you're a teenager who likes gaming, comic books, cult TV shows and 80s pop culture, then this is probably the book for you. Unfortunately I'm 36 (today- yes this is how I spend my birthday, stuck indoors due to flooding and writing GR reviews, exciting times kids!) so for me this was a bit like listening to my teenage son explain a very in depth game walkthrough. It was that fascinating. Ok so there were some good bits, just not enough. Of course you don't have to be a teenager to like this, all 40 year old Sheldons will surely appreciate it too.
If This Is a Man / The Truce - Primo Levi, Stuart Woolf, Paul Bailey This isn't really a book that can be rated. However, since that's how we catalogue our books here on Good Reads, I'm giving it 4 stars - not 5, but just because I wouldn't want to read it again and I can't honestly say it's one of my favourite ever books. Otherwise it's 10 stars. I was going to start this review with quotes from the book. However, after telling my Mother how good it was when she called round this afternoon, she appears to have left with it. I text her that its like living in Auschwitz, not being able to put anything down without it being stolen. Obviously a direct comparison with life in the camp. So how do you review a book like this? If you pick it up, or think of picking it up, or even decide not to try it, I think that decision is based on the content. A book about a concentration camp survivor is never going to be light reading and some people don't want to tackle such heavy topics. Understandably so. If you choose to read this, then you know what sort of book you're getting into from the outset. You're reading because you want to learn more. Yet what if it doesn't interest you? The introduction of my edition said something along the lines of there being a danger that people not only forget, but become complacent when talking about the holocaust. Everyone in this day and age knows what occurred and so much has been said about the war and concentration camps, that I think we become immune to the horror. We know what happened, we know that many died, we know it was horrific. So why read about it? In Primo Levi's words - “It is neither easy nor agreeable to dredge this abyss of viciousness, and yet I think it must be done, because what could be perpetrated yesterday could be attempted again tomorrow, could overwhelm us and our children. One is tempted to turn away with a grimace and close one's mind: this is a temptation one must resist"Yes this book is one man's memoir of 11 months spent in Auschwitz and the follow up story of his long journey home, but it is more than this. Primo Levi purposely wrote with an impassioned voice, so that he could document a true account of conditions, without seeming emotionally biased. He wrote 'If This is Man' within the first year of returning home. Why he decided to write and how he was able to do this, is amazing in every sense of the word. He was not a writer, but a chemist, yet the writing style in this book is extraordinarily beautiful and eloquent. If you have read it, I suspect that you found it tough going at times, it's not a book that can be skipped through in one sitting. If you haven't read it, for whatever reason. Here's some points that I hope encourage you to pick it up- The chapters are nice small bite sized chunks- While harrowing in content, it is not gratuitously graphic- The writing style is beautiful- There are interesting facts about camp life, not usually documented - Characters are well written and fascinatingThe second part of the book, Levi's return journey, is an aspect that I had not read about before. I knew that many people were stranded in camps after the war, but the journey home, documented in The Truce, was of a more mammoth undertaking than I had considered. In fact for many of the miraculous survivors, this next stage was even more hellish than the camps. This book was gruelling to read at times. It was also fascinating, educating, heartbreaking and absorbing, to name but a few adjectives. I would recommend the first story - If This is Man - to everyone who is human. To those who want to know more, continue by reading The Truce. I want to end with my favourite and most thought provoking passage from the book. I found the quote on GoodReads and 'liked' it, which doesn't seem to quite do it justice - “It is lucky that it is not windy today. Strange, how in some way one always has the impression of being fortunate, how some chance happening, perhaps infinitesimal, stops us crossing the threshold of despair and allows us to live. It is raining, but it is not windy. Or else, it is raining and it is also windy: but you know that this evening it is your turn for the supplement of soup, so that even today you find the strength to reach the evening. Or it is raining, windy and you have the usual hunger, and then you think that if you really had to, if you really felt nothing in your heart but suffering and tedium - as sometimes happens, when you really seem to lie on the bottom - well, even in that case, at any moment you want you could always go and touch the electric wire-fence, or throw yourself under the shunting trains, and then it would stop raining.” ― Primo Levi, If This Is a Man / The Truce
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury This was up and down for me. A really good start, then a lacklustre middle, with more ideas and action at the end. At times the story felt a little schizophrenic and having read the afterword by Ray Bradbury, now I realise why. The ideas within this book came from 5 different short stories by Bradbury, which were then woven together within a 9 day period. After much struggling for anyone to buy it, Bradbury agreed to flesh the story out with another 25,000 words, thus doubling the count. I think all this tells in the story. Ideas explored were really exciting....banned books, fire-starting firemen, a mysterious girl next door and zombified TV viewing wife. Then there was the narrative on why this was happening and whose idea it was to torch the books. Topics of knowledge, literature and history were pondered upon, but ultimately this ended in an apocalyptic tale. So while I found all of these themes interesting on their own, there was too much crammed into one short book, with no one idea really being fleshed out. What I did love more than anything, was Bradbury's writing style. He constructed sentences and paragraphs in a way that I don't think I've seen before and it felt fresh and new to me 60 years after writing. One word - Clarisse - I see now why Bradbury mentioned her in the 50th Anniversary introduction. He recognised that she should have played a further part in the end, which she did in the film and play version, although Bradbury resisted the temptation to later revise the text. Final note of interest. Once this story had its additional 25,000 words, Bradbury still struggled to sell the book. It was picked up by a young Hugh Hefner, to be serialised in the first few issues of his new groundbreaking magazine, Playboy. I'm wondering if Fahrenheit 451 is typical of it's content nowadays - something makes me think maybe not.
Looking for Alaska - John Green I liked this a lot, but it kind of trailed off a bit for me by the end. The first half was a good 4 star book and I was loving the plot, characters and quotes. The second half continued in much the same way, but the pace slowed and it became a little....gushy? ...pondering on life's big questions and I lost a little love for it. Glad I've read it, but don't think I'd feel the need to read it again.
Ozma of Oz - L. Frank Baum Ahh, so this is the book where we encounter many of the freakishly scary characters from the 80's film Return to Oz. I mean did anyone see that film? With the wheelers and the head swapping witch? Oh the horror and nightmares that caused in my childhood! Anyway, onto the book. It introduces a lot of new characters, such as Billina the hen and Tik-Tok the wind up mechanical man, whom accompany Dorothy on her journey. It also sees a return to the characters of the tin man, scarecrow and cowardly lion, although they have a lesser part to play in this adventure. Overall I enjoyed the book and found it quite endearing, again it's one that I would enjoy reading to younger children - although some parts may cause nightmares! Side note - there were aspects of the story and characters that really reminded me of The Hobbit. To such an extent that I wondered if Tolkien drew inspiration himself from these Oz books. Has anyone else thought the same thing? I mean there are some major similarities! hobbits/munchkins, the use of four lands/ farthings, each type of people having a specific colour assigned, lions drowsiness in the poppy field/ bomburs drowsiness in the stream of Mirkwood, good witch Glinda/ good wizard Gandalf and the similar adventure into the rock face and caves below the earth
Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote This was hard to rate. I liked the writing style and ease of reading this book and solely for that I've bumped it up a star rating, otherwise it might have only managed 2 stars. I liked Holly Golightly's character, but in the end I didn't find there was much depth to the story and it left me underwhelmed. In fact I think I'll quickly forget everything about it. Side note - I've never seen the film, but I simply cannot imagine Holly being played by Audrey Hepburn.
The Sign of Four -  Arthur Conan Doyle This is the fourth Sherlock book I've read and my least favourite so far. The plot is getting a little repetitive, which I guess these books are, but the mystery in this story wasn't so great. Plus Watson was irritating. Don't get me wrong, it's still good writing, just not my favourite.

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights - Ruben Toledo, Emily Brontë Firstly, this is not a love story. I'd heard that it was. If you think this is a love story then I think you have a fucked up perception of romance - 50 shades style. However, love story aside, I just didn't enjoy the book. I want to rate it 5 stars, because it's a classic and the ideas and writing were superb. Maybe too superb as I hated every character, enough to make me want to throw the book across the room at some points. So I guess at least it invoked strong emotions. Personally though I like to enjoy what I'm reading, not feel like I want to do serious harm to the characters. So with all that in mind I think I can only rate it 3 stars. Yet I suspect the book is a grower and I wouldn't be surprised if my rating goes up in the future and I find myself wanting to read it again. Glutton for punishment? Perhaps I should read 50 shades after all? No, but seriously, perhaps Jane Eyre next!
The Marvelous Land of Oz - L. Frank Baum, David McKee This second book in the Oz series was enchanting and I wish I had read the stories to my children when they were younger. It also had a few laugh out loud moments for me, with regards to how girls were portrayed, though I'm not sure this was meant to be funny in 1904. Favourite passage In which those silly girls who tried to rule Oz are dealt with - "At once the men of the Emerald City cast off their aprons. And it is said that the women were so tired eating of their husbands' cooking that they all hailed the conquest of Jinjur with joy. Certain it is that, rushing one and all to the kitchens of their houses, the good wives prepared so delicious a feast for the weary men that harmony was immediately restored in every family"Love it, though hopefully the next story, Ozma of Oz, will restore a little more girl power!
Down and Out in Paris and London - George Orwell Thoroughly enjoyed this memoir of Orwell's time as a 'down and out'. Lots of interesting points made about social class and glimpses of life below the poverty line in Paris and London. The more I read by Orwell, the more I am appreciating his work and feel like I need to read all of his writings.