The fact that British actor Toby Stephens narrates this was definitely a nudge to check out this audiobook from my trusty library. Of course, I apprec...moreThe fact that British actor Toby Stephens narrates this was definitely a nudge to check out this audiobook from my trusty library. Of course, I appreciate the Arabian Nights, so that's another plus.
Overall, I was a tad disappointed with this audiobook. I enjoyed Ali Baba, Aladdin and the frame story about Scheherazade, but I was bored with the seven tales of Sinbad, and the tale about the greedy man who ended up becoming blind. They were too monotonous. I felt my mind wandering as I listened and did my Wii Fit exercises. I wish they had picked different stories besides these two for the collection, honestly. And I could have done with more narration about Scheherazade herself as well. At least I had Toby's lovely voice to narrate for me. Maybe a pet peeve for some, but all the voices sounded British, so it didn't feel as 'atmospheric' to me.
This will be a short review because it's kind of a ho-hum read for me. Nothing spectacular or really awful about it. Although I did like that they included Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade within the production. I love that music! I think my standard was higher since I read the Andrew Lang adaptation, and I absolutely adore the TV miniseries that came on ABC with Dougray Scott, Mili Avital, Rufus Sewell, Jason Scott Lee, and other great actors. I plan to read the huge, unexpurgated version of 1001 Arabian Nights someday before I die.(less)
Saw this on the shelf at my library yesterday when I was browsing the audiobook selection, and used my Goodreads barcode app to scan it in from when I...moreSaw this on the shelf at my library yesterday when I was browsing the audiobook selection, and used my Goodreads barcode app to scan it in from when I listened to it several months ago. I mostly enjoyed this, although I didn't love all the stories and I kept falling asleep on others as I listened (a hazard associated with listening to audiobooks at bedtime). Listening to 'The Little Mermaid' brought back that sense of sadness and poignancy of reading this much-loved story as a child. There are other stories in this volume that are equally sad, such as "The Steadfast Tin Soldier,' which gives me some serious heartache. Although Andersen's stories are for a younger crowd than say, Grimms', there are some adult subject matter and themes here. At the same time, that sense of awe and enthusiasm that marks Hans Christian Andersen's storytelling gives these stories a lighter feel than the often gruesome and dark tone of many the real fairy tales (not the Disney versions). But I honestly think that fairy tales are almost essential to giving a child cultural development. It's nice to know that there is the option to play some of these fairy tales as audiobooks, although nothing beats reading a book with a child.
I wasn't able to finish this, since it was due back, but I listened to the bulk of it, and I feel I should be able to count it as read. I was glad to see this at my library and that I had the opportunity to enjoy it.(less)
In order to have written the most successful review for this book, I should have started with Day 1 and wrote something about each entry every day. Sa...moreIn order to have written the most successful review for this book, I should have started with Day 1 and wrote something about each entry every day. Sadly, I didn't do that. So I'll just do my best to write a summary of my thoughts of this devotional over the year-long experience of reading it. I hope that any reader of this review finds that helpful.
Oswald Chambers is a man who definitely had an ongoing encounter with God. His thoughts tap into every aspect of the experience of following Christ and having communion with the Spirit of God. His words are at times an incredibly profound comfort to a broken heart. At other times, they are a prod to one's flagging determination to fight the good fight and continue that daily walk with God in a meaningful way. Other times, they convict the reader in the best way. The way that the Holy Spirit convicts a believer of complacency or willingness to settle for a life that merely pretends belief in God as opposed to a life-changing, ever-evolving relationship with God that affects every aspect of that person's life in the more meaningful ways. I do believe that God used Mr. Chambers powerfully in writing this devotional. I cannot count how many times I read an entry and I felt that God was talking directly to me. A person once said that we don't read the Bible, but the Bible reads us. I believe that Mr. Chambers was prompted by the Holy Spirit to write something that does exactly that. I found that questions I was struggling with that week were addressed so many times in the entries I read, and I saw the lightbulb go on inside my mind.
I would recommend this devotional to every believer in Jesus, and even to people who seek to know God in a deep way. I believe that the reader will feel touched deep inside and it will make them desire for more of God in their life. The good news is that God wants to walk with each and every one of us in that way and relate to us in a truly real way. God always rewards those who seek him. And "My Utmost for His Highest" is a good tool in that journey of discovering who God is and how intimately we can relate to him everyday. Definitely worth getting a copy of this and spending a year with Oswald Chambers.(less)
**spoiler alert** For starters, I did not enjoy this story, and I did not see why Edna's life was utterly miserable. I didn't care about her, really....more**spoiler alert** For starters, I did not enjoy this story, and I did not see why Edna's life was utterly miserable. I didn't care about her, really. And her plight didn't speak to me at all.
Everything is subjective, however, Edna has many more options and choices than some women ever have. More than anything she has safety and the ability to protect herself and her children. That in itself is more than many women have, even today. I can understand feeling restricted, but I think Edna was a very selfish woman. If anything, she should have thought of her children. I am not here to say that women don't have existences outside of their marriages, their children. I disagree strongly with that. But a woman has a choice to make. When she brings children into the world, it changes the decisions that she can make. She can be happy and she can have joy, but she has to make sure that her children are loved and cared for.
Edna was a pampered woman with an indulgent husband, and she had the means to go on a nice vacation every year. She had servants, and friends. A lot of women don't even have those things, but manage to get up out of bed everyday and live their lives. Yes, she felt that she was denying her inner self, and had to marry, although maybe she didn't want to. I cannot deny that must have caused some emotional angst, but there is no either/or. There is: Okay this is what I have, let's see what I can do with it. Make the best of what you have.
Edna continually made bad choices. She made a mistake and had an extramarital affair. Not the end of the world. I believe her husband would have forgiven her. Or she could have even lived apart from him and hopefully still be a mother to her children. (Maybe I'm being naive about this for the time period, maybe not). She could have stayed with her husband and had a friendship marriage with no physical involvement and painted. Even carried on her affairs as long as she was discreet. She had some choices. A lot of women, a lot of people don't. I just didn't buy the option that she took. I think she was a drama queen. Sorry, I just didn't have much sympathy for this woman.
I can see how this must have been an important work at the time it was written. However, it fails to speak to me of female empowerment in a world that allows women less power, choices, and equality. My rating is based moreso on this novella's failure to demonstrate what it set out to accomplish than my dislike of the story. I would read more Chopin, and I intend to do so.(less)
I will freely admit that part of why I read this book was that I enjoyed what I have seen of the movie so much. I actually didn't get to watch all of...moreI will freely admit that part of why I read this book was that I enjoyed what I have seen of the movie so much. I actually didn't get to watch all of it, as I caught it on Turner Classic Movies after it started and wasn't able to watch the whole movie. I made a note that I wanted to read the book and get the whole movie set on DVD at some point. Additionally, I am interested in the roots of the detective novel. You can't explore detective fiction without reading Dashiell Hammett. So here we go....
I liked this book. It starts out very well. I was instantly drawn into the story from the first sentence. The writing is crisp and ripe with that heady atmosphere of the early 20th Century (1930s). There is a cynicism apparent in the characterization and the dialogue that speaks of its noir tone. That makes sense in light of the fact that it takes place during The Great Depression and right at the end of the Prohibition years. I was quite surprised at the frank elements of sex, drug/alcohol abuse, and crime, and a hint of police corruption (clearly I haven't read much pulp/noir classic fiction). Sadly, the 'n' word was used, which I could have done without. I have to say I appreciated the unsympathetic portrayal of human nature more than the actual mystery. Hammett's lens of humanity (via Nick) is not at all rose colored, but it's very astute and the characters were well-drawn. Overall, this was very good. While it did have some good twists and turns, it was rather anticlimactic in the end.
Nick Charles is a suitably amiable narrator. He seems experienced and wise to the ways of the world, nobody's fool. Yet he isn't completely jaded or lacking in integrity and honor. People seems to like him and open up to him, but he's not a man to take advantage of. While Nick is now retired from private investigation, his acquaintances draw him into a case unwillingly. I think Nick's nose for a mystery leads him the rest of the way. Nick proves that his investigative skills have not weakened in his retirement. I must say that I enjoyed the fact that Nora's a very perceptive woman with a good brain for investigation as well, even though she serves in the capacity of a part-time sidekick to Nick. Available to give a helping hand and a word to point him in the right direction. Hammett teaches me how to write a novel in which the mystery is tag-teamed by two instead of where the main character works alone and always knows more than anyone else.
This novel had me laughing a lot initially. Hammett's writing was quite witty, albeit cynical. Nick and Nora definitely like their booze, and have strong opinions on good quality alcohol. Their constant drinking was a source of humor to me, although I did wonder what effects it had on their liver.
Not one of the characters in this book is what I would consider well-adjusted, outside of Nora, and possibly Nick. Nora as seen through Nick's eyes doesn't reveal a whole lot about her except that she is very observant and has a nurturing nature (shown in the way she cared for and fussed over Dorothy). She also seems to lack patience for gossipy types, considering her dislike of Tip, a hostess in their social circle. She clearly loves Nick and feels comfortable with him to say what she thinks. She doesn't coddle him, although she does see to his comfort and is affectionate. She keeps things real with him and tells him the truth when he needs to hear it. I enjoyed their banter. Nora seems like a woman of her times, but is neither overly submissive or dominant in a way that would be unlikely for her times. In comparison to other women in the book, she comes off as the ideal mate to a seasoned man of the world--attractive, accepting, intelligent, socially graced, and fun-loving. I found it amusing how captivated the police detective, Guild was with Nora.
Mimi, the ex-wife of the missing man that starts the case that this novel revolves around, is a negative contrast. She is calculating and emotionally unstable. Her cruelty towards her daughter and her tendency to manipulate others cancels out her clearly considerable beauty and physical charms. Nick's narrative suggests that she is envious of her daughter (who is described as gorgeous and beautiful for her young years by few of the male characters). Despite these negative traits, she's not quite the quintessential femme fatale one expects to encounter in noir fiction. Dorothy herself was hard to read. She seems to lack emotional stability, but that makes sense in light of the abuse she suffers with her mother, and the fact that she probably gets far too much and unwanted attention from men for her young age. She latches onto Nick and Nora as a substitute parental unit, as they represent stability that she has lacked in her family life. Other characters also have a rather vivid life, despite the shorter length of this novel. As any good mystery writer, Hammett gives the reader a healthy list of suspects from which to choose the culprit, and I didn't guess who it was until Nick reveals the murderer.
As I said earlier, I found the denouement rather lacking in tension, which did dim my enjoyment a bit. Additionally, this book falls into periods of expansive dialogue towards the end that felt a bit tedious. Despite those shortcomings, this was still an enjoyable book. I would have to agree that this book is quite different in feel from the movie. I wonder if that is because of the Movie Codes. I don't think they could have gotten away with putting some of the more frank elements in this novel in the movie version, so they played up the witty banter and humorous elements from the novel.
All in all, I enjoyed my first exposure to Dashiell Hammett. I felt truly immersed in this time period and I liked Nick and Nora as main detectives. I like reading about main characters who are married, and this is definitely one to recommend to readers who enjoy this theme. I will be reading The Maltese Falcon in the near future.(less)
A Christmas Carol was wonderful. It was just like seeing the movie, but better, because prose on paper really stimulates the imagination much more. Sc...moreA Christmas Carol was wonderful. It was just like seeing the movie, but better, because prose on paper really stimulates the imagination much more. Scrooge is a man who had lost his hope, and it showed in how his heart seemed to shrink, and his world with it. He got a second chance when he was visited by the three ghosts on a cold Christmas Eve. Just like the movie, this story made me cry. I guess some would call me sentimental. I don't know if that's the right word. But I love to see a person go from the dark to the light emotionally. This is the evolution we see with Scrooge.
5 Stars. If you love the movies, you really should read this story. I don't think you'd regret it. It is very readable and keeps your interest.
I can't really say that for The Chimes. This story moved pretty slowly, and it took a while to figure out where Dickens was going. At first, it read like a satire against the upper class and the government in its treatment of the poor and the working class. Then it seemed as though it was a story about being grateful for what one has and appreciating the time that you have with your family. It was an ambitious story, and I liked the elements of the ghosts of regret (I think) that manifested themselves as the chiming of bells that Totty, our protagonist, makes his daily routine around. Some parts were really tedious, and some parts were beautiful and poignant. At the end, I could only give this one 3.5 stars because it was a difficult and somewhat unrewarding read for this reader. If you have read The Chimes, I would love some feedback on what you believe was the point of this story.
I have started The Cricket on the Hearth, and it's really hard to focus my attention on the writing. I haven't given up yet! Soldier on!
Update: I've come to the conclusion that life is too short to keep trying to read The Cricket on the Hearth. It's dreadfully boring. I can feel my hair growing as I try to read it. I feel that I did my best with it, and I'm calling this one a day. I will have to give this one a rating of 1 star because it was too boring to finish reading.
So my overall rating is four stars, because of my love for A Christmas Carol, and my half-hearted enjoyment of The Chimes. I pray that Dickens' longer fiction isn't dry like this. I'd really like to read some of it.(less)