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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
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.

Everything Is Illuminated

Everything Is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer Ok, so I didn't finish. Recently I have pushed through with books I haven't been enjoying, as I feel that they can develop and improve as the story goes on. I just couldn't do it with this one though. I have looked up how the story ends and honestly I don't think that I'm missing out. I like the concept of interwoven stories, but I didn't feel they were executed very well here and after 100 pages I had no interest in any of the characters. I have read a LOT of recent fiction and real life accounts of WW2 and the holocaust and this was poor in that field. I hated the writing style, in all chapters, but especially the thesaurus writing of Alex. I also often struggled to stay awake. Disappointed by this one, as everyone else seems to love it, but I guess we all have different opinions and that's what makes sites like GR so interesting. On to another book for me.
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini This could possibly be 5 stars, but I'm being harsh. I've read the criticisms with this book, mainly complaining that it's cliched and it is a little at times, but I don't think that detracts from what an amazing story it is. Obviously Khaled Hosseini has drawn heavily from his childhood experiences in Afghanistan and I found the early chapters were the most powerful and well written. This book provided a glimpse of life in Afghanistan, from Hosseini's memories and I liked that aspect to the story and the parallels that could be drawn between his real life and those of the characters. Yet, this is a work of fiction, not a history book and I don't think people should get too caught up on just the political messages. Quite aside from the content, I found the writing style absorbing from the first page and I loved the character development. I felt truly invested in each character and I loved how complex Amir was, right to the end of the book. I think if this book was written 50 years ago, it would already be a modern classic and on many a school syllabus. Perhaps one day that will be the case in Afghanistan.
A Study in Scarlet -  Arthur Conan Doyle It's Sherlock, what more is there to say! I didn't use to consider myself a Holmes fan. I've seen the diabolic film with Robert Downey Junior and some of the much better but ridiculously minuscule television series with Benedict Cumberbatch and thought it was okay, but not amazing. Now this is my third Sherlock book, but of course the first one written, which introduces us to Holmes and Watson. It isn't my favourite - Hound of the Baskervilles wins that honour so far - but I really liked finding out how Holmes and Watson met and teamed up to work together. The murder mystery in the book is pretty interesting too, although I definitely enjoyed the second half of the story more than the first.So all in all, I think I'm becoming a bigger Sherlock Holmes fan with each book I read. The Sign of Four is next for me!

The Men Who Stare at Goats

The Men Who Stare at Goats - Jon Ronson So many emotions. This book wasn't quite what I thought it would be...a humorous account of crackpot guys doing crazy things, such as trying to stop a goat's heart by the power of the mind. Okay well it was that. It also detailed events surrounding Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, 911, Waco, MK-ULTRA and the 'War on terror'. Jon Ronson wrote this in 2004 at a time when Iraq was just being handed back from coalition forces to the new Iraqi government (which of course has been a great success on all sides and everyone has moved on rapidly since then) This was also a time when recent press stories had circulated photos showing U.S. soldier Lynndie England parading an Iraqi prisoner naked by a dog leash. This book delves a little deeper, not so much into the rights or wrongs of the war, or the conspiracy theories, but into the bizarre tactics used by special forces within the U.S. Army, which may have led to such events. All of which is of course highly hush hush and top secret. However Jon Ronson has interviewed many people for the book, from several retired military servicemen to an innocent Guantanamo Bay detainee, as well as others and they all have incredible stories. Obviously some were more tight lipped than others. For me this book ended up not being the amusing read I was expecting, but it was definitely intriguing, shocking and fascinating. On the whole though it has left me feeling quite angry (but take note, if your allegiance is more right wing and pro war on terror, this book may annoy you for completely different reasons than it does me) It has also increased my understanding of why so many people develop conspiracy theories. I'll leave this review with a great quote from near the end of the book - 'Remember that the crazy people are not always to be found on the outside. Sometimes the crazy people are deeply embedded on the inside. Not even the most imaginative conspiracy theorist has ever thought to invent a scenario in which a crack team of Special Forces soldiers and major generals secretly try to walk through their walls and stare goats to death'
Death Note, Vol. 5: Whiteout - Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata Still enjoying the series, this volume had some new characters and developments, so I'll be interested to see where it leads in book 6.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky 2 stars huh? I did like some of the things that happened in the book, they just didn't feel realistic to the character. One minute Charlie seemed like an autistic 8 year old boy, the next minute he was friend of the cool kids, experiencing everything that goes along with that. I feel like I'm the wrong target audience, not being a teenage boy, much in the same way that I didn't like The Virgin Suicides, because I'm not a teenage girl. Still, I had issues. This book would have rated higher for me, but I really, really didn't like the big reveal at the end that attempted to explain away Charlie's behaviour throughout. Just did not like that at all. There should have been a check box for how many controversial issues were thrown in by the end. Side note: If you liked The Catcher in the Rye, then I'd say there's a good chance you'll like this too. In ways it felt like Stephen Chbosky was trying to write a modern version almost 50 years later. Unfortunately I don't like either.
Animal Farm - George Orwell Simply brilliant.
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak I have mixed feelings about this one. The way the book is written took me a couple of chapters to get into, but I really loved the shorter break up of sections within each chapter, which keeps you turning the pages. The negatives for me, were the middle of the book dragging for too long which made me begin to lose interest and also I hadn't built up much of a connection or liking for the characters until very late into the book. On the plus side, I liked the relationships portrayed between them and I found situations as they happened to be believable, whether they were good or bad things taking place. I was very unsure about the use of spoilers in the headings and main body of the text, which revealed key factors before they unfolded, but by the end of the book I came to like this tactic. Oh and for me, the ending was pretty spot on and we all know how hard it is to write a good ending!
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro I liked the idea of this story, but I felt that it never really developed. I had no emotional connection to any of the characters, despite early glimpses of promise, I found them flat and not quite believable by the end (or was this the point?) I spent almost the whole book falling asleep, then in the last third when I felt that the story was going somewhere, it just sort of fizzled out. I wanted to like this so much more than I did, but it left me mostly irritated and underwhelmed.
The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick Loved it, going to watch the film now!
The Psychopath Test - Jon Ronson A real thought provoker. What is a psychopath? Are you a psychopath? How about your friends or co-workers? This book will leave you diagnosing everyone you know and becoming all powerful with your new amazing psychopath detection skills, just like Jon Ronson. The book really made me think about how mental illness is defined. Sure there are clear cut cases of insanity and sanity, but there's a huge area in the middle, with a range of diagnoses that are possible to be made and indeed are being sweepingly made and medicated for across the world. Quite apart from the issues of psychopath detection and detention, there were some interesting stories. A wide range of people were interviewed for his research and I was fascinated by several of their lives, whether they were the professionals, or the patients. This was my first Jon Ronson book and I haven't read any of his journalistic material so his style of writing is all new to me. I appreciated the humour and details about himself that were included, which broke up some pretty heavy content at times. I also liked how the book came full circle and re-visited the people at the beginning of his journey, which gave closure to their own stories. Much recommended and I can't wait to read more of his books now!
Death Note, Vol. 4: Love - Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata Only just 3 stars, definitely my least favourite Death Note Volume... so far. New character = weak, sexualised female. Ugh, something I was hoping to avoid with this Manga series. I will keep reading and hope that the series picks up again as the storyline was also starting to drag. Shame....fingers crossed for Vol. 5.
Divergent  - Veronica Roth Not really sure how to review this one. I have so many issues with it but can't really detail them without giving away the plot - which I don't like to do in reviews. I guess to sum up, I enjoyed the story, as it was a nice quick YA dystopian read. There were characters that I enjoyed but I didn't think they were fleshed out enough for me to really believe in them or care much about them. I found reveals too predictable, which is okay, but there were hardly any shockers and the story just sort of plodded along. I was waiting for something major and dramatic to happen and when it sort of did I just found it reminiscent of ideas from Mockingjay, although not as well thought out. On the whole this has left me feeling mostly disappointed and frustrated, but with enough curiosity to want to read Insurgent!
Death Note, Vol. 1: Boredom - Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata My first Manga and I really enjoyed this. Took me a few pages to get the hang of how to read it, but I liked the story and artwork. Now onto Vol 2, as I make my way through my daughters library!
Wonder - R.J. Palacio my thoughts:1. I loved it, couldn't put the book down until I finished2. Completely absorbed with the characters, felt emotionally invested in all of them3. 'Floating' made me cry