This book was AMAZING. I'd initially set it aside because of its length, and because I hadn't realised when requesting the galley that it was non-fictThis book was AMAZING. I'd initially set it aside because of its length, and because I hadn't realised when requesting the galley that it was non-fiction... well yes it was very long and yes it was non-fiction but it was also INCREDIBLE. Not dry and textbook-like at all. I found it pretty much un-put-down-able, so absolutely fascinating and enthralling. Yes it is essentially a 20th century history of Russia, mainly from the 20s to the 40s, and I definitely learned a lot, and it's made me want to read more. What links it all together is the tale of composer Shostakovich, who we return to every so often to give it that bit of grounding, so it's not JUST a plain history book.
Fascinating watching how sides can change so easily, how people will applaud him then denounce him then applaud him again and then denounce him again! Nothing and nobody was safe, Lenin was a madman, everything was just crazy. I wish the book had gone on, into the 50s and 60s, but I guess it was Shostakovich's story after all, not Russia's.
I just didn't love this one as much as I'd hoped to. It felt like none of the characters were all that vivid, they all felt very cardboard. AlongsideI just didn't love this one as much as I'd hoped to. It felt like none of the characters were all that vivid, they all felt very cardboard. Alongside that, the book is quite short and yet it raced through fourth form... and into fifth form... and then into sixth form! Way too much speeding forward without enough really happening. Also I know it was the second in the series, but there was almost no back-story for anyone, so without having read the first book I was a little lost at times. But then considering how flat most of it all was, perhaps the first book wouldn't have explained much anyway!
Also, wasn't King George VI still ruling England during world war two? This book is making me doubt my history lessons. But we came across WWII and Queen Elizabeth's coronation happening at the same time and... I'm so sure that's not right, lol. ...more
I can't say that I really loved this book. I was actually close to giving it only two stars but in the end it was decently enjoyable. I think the probI can't say that I really loved this book. I was actually close to giving it only two stars but in the end it was decently enjoyable. I think the problem was that it's the third in a series, and it really jumps right in with the expectation that the reader's already read books 1 and 2. There was a lot of dialogue without much narration or explanation, so it was a little confusing at first who everyone was! (That, mixed with the fact that the main character is Catherine with a C, but then nicknamed Kate with a K..)
Apart from that though... well, I can't say that I'm a huge fan of Joanna Lloyd's. She was very funny at times and I liked a lot of the ideas, it was just that the execution was incredibly distracted, and rushed. So much happened in such a short time, you'd leap from one thing to the next, and thus little was really gone into with any depth. The scenes would change abruptly, without warning, the point of view switched a million times - including within the same paragraph! A little maddening at times. It was as if she had so many ideas and not enough books to write them into. This could have been split into like six much more evenly paced books. We met four new girls, plus had the two other fourth formers to contend with, plus all the prefects, then there were two otherwise quite random girls in the fifth form whose quarrel turned the entire school upside down... argh! Too many! And it was difficult to get to know any of the characters that much, or care about them that deeply, when the perspective kept changing so suddenly. You'd get a little of Josie, then switch to Hazel. Then to Jill, then to Sheila... if the focus had just been kept on Catherine and Lalage (the most interesting of the new girls, but wtf is with that name?!) I think I'd have enjoyed this a lot more.
Btw I enjoyed how the girls would make fun of old-fashioned boarding school stories, and how the girls back then did flower arranging and stuff. All the while having a needlepoint monitor! How quaint :P
Also, holy crap for Jane's tirade at Lalage: "you will grow into one of those horrible old women, who live in hotels by themselves because no one else will live with them..." LOL! Talk about a dressing down for the new girl!
Okay, another thing I have marked, and this is a great example of how distracted the whole book was. Catherine has just found her brooch* which she had pinned to the wrong piece of uniform. "How careless of me! I really must try to be a little more careful in future. America must be a very interesting country." And end chapter.
UM, WHAT? That came out of NOWHERE. It boggles the mind. And so many of the chapters just ended abruptly like that as well. I really wasn't a fan of either - the way the topic would just leap around, or the random chapter cut-offs.
*I didn't like the way the whole missing-items mystery fizzled out so fast, it fell a bit flat.
Oh, I DID get a huge kick out of Catherine reciting lines from Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales, I LOVE that book :D Also, 21st century readers will also be tickled pink by Sheila taking "only two hours" to find out that Neville Chamberlain was Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1933. That was very fast of her. Makes you realise how easy we have it with google!...more
Oh my goodness, THIS BOOK. I need my own copy right now, because WOW. It's the tale of Lina and her family, Lithuanians who are taken away in the middOh my goodness, THIS BOOK. I need my own copy right now, because WOW. It's the tale of Lina and her family, Lithuanians who are taken away in the middle of the night by the Soviets and sent on a perilously long journey, first across the Urals and to a labour camp in Altai, just north of China - a trip which takes around six weeks all up, cramped into a train carriage with barely any food. They remain there nearly a year, living with a peasant woman called Ulyushka as they try and eke out a tiny living, digging holes and harvesting beets and making shoes. Then they're moved on again, this time heading north as well as further east, until they cross the Arctic Circle and end up in Trofimovsk, the North Pole. They have to build their own shelters - after, of course, completing the buildings for the NKVD. It's absolutely horrific and fascinating, especially when you look at the map at the start of the book and see how far they traveled. It's just insane.
I'm really interested in WWII books, and it was seriously fascinating to read this book which was set at the same time, but so different to what I am used to. It was definitely my first read that dealt with Lithuania, and I want more. I'm craving more now. Man, what a horrible fate befell the Baltic states during that time :/
The book was so beautifully written that it was amazing to know that it was a piece of fiction - based, yes, on true events, but not the author's own personal story. She was not Lina the narrator, but a descendant of deportees. Everything was just so vivid, this mixture of chilling and bleak and engrossing... I just couldn't put the book down! I was almost late for work because I kept going, ONE more chapter.
I loved how all of the non-family characters were described too, how some didn't even have names - or if they had names, they were used rarely. The people were the grouchy woman, the bald man, the repeater, the man who wound his watch... I was especially fond of the latter.
Oh god, and Kretzsky!! The boy absolutely made me cry at the end when he sent the doctor to Trofimovsk. I do wonder what happened to him.
My only gripe is that the ending was far too abrupt. I could have happily kept on reading for another 300 pages, I swear. Just their every day lives and survival was so interesting, that it was a bit of a let-down to have things suddenly finish and then read in the epilogue that Lina and Jonas had been imprisoned in Siberia for twelve years. TWELVE YEARS. It's difficult for me to comprehend how those people could have remained, forgotten there, for so many years. And I wish there had been more about the ten years after their mother died that we did not see - how they fared the second winter, how they fared after the doctor's visit, if he returned, if conditions grew better for the deportees, and then what happened at the end of the twelve years. Their release, their journey home, all of that. I would have loved to have read that. Also, Lina finding Andrius again, that I would have liked to have read. And if it turned out that her father was still alive. She left a trail of her artwork for him to find her, which was such a clever idea, but then we never find out if any of it even made its way back to him or not, which was a shame.
I also can't believe that the deportees were forced to remain silent for some forty years after their return home. I have no words.
I'd never even heard of this one until very recently, when I went through the list of Chalet School books thoroughly in order to mark off which I hadI'd never even heard of this one until very recently, when I went through the list of Chalet School books thoroughly in order to mark off which I had and had not read. It's very different to the usual fare - not set in the school at all! Rather it's about a quartet of infamous old girls: Joey, Simone, Frieda and Marie - all around 25 or 26 - who holiday together one summer in a place called The Witchens. There they meet and befriend their invalid neighbour Phoebe, and help to turn around a rather bratty piece of work with the name of Zephyr, who is hell-bent on obtaining Phoebe's late father's precious cello. So in the regard of Zephyr it was at least reminiscent of many other CS books, where a new girl to the school has to be taught a few lessons and turned into a proper young lady!
It was also interesting to meet young Reg Entwhistle for the first time. He was about thirteen to the triplets' three and in the end I had to google his name to find out why it was so familiar!
This one was very preachy, a bit more than most, but on the whole it was quite a decent read. However, I am pretty sure I wouldn't have cared for it at all had I read it the same time as most of the others, when I was only 13 or so. ...more
Interesting, and prettily written - or at least prettily translated! Sadly, the title is of course a major spoiler and really nothing does happen... iInteresting, and prettily written - or at least prettily translated! Sadly, the title is of course a major spoiler and really nothing does happen... it's more like a rambling memoir full of regret and introspection than anything else. But it's a quick read and while not exactly gripping, is still interesting enough to keep going with. Edle, the narrator, is very awkward and self-deprecating, at times this gets to be a bit too much but on the whole she's very calm and quiet and believable.
There isn't as much gay as lists mentioning this book, and the introduction would suggest. Really only a few brief mentions about how Edle loved Gro at the start, and then a few more at the end... there's a bit of angst about that too of course but not much. Really, nothing happens in the book... it could have been so much more dramatic and angsty and interesting but there are just a couple of thoughts that are then not terribly fleshed out. Okay, so it was written in 1948! But still, I was expecting a little more. There was much more on Edle's relationship with Hans Jørgen and she never went and thought of Gro when kissing him or anything. It was all a bit flat. Also, Hans Jørgen's full name was written out every single time he was mentioned! Never just Hans, always Hans Jørgen. It's not like there were other Hans', and no one else's last name was mentioned in this fashion. It kind of irked me. :P
The university setting was interesting and in so many ways familiar. I did like this book but it's not one to rave about. ALSO, omg ugliest cover ever!!...more
Another little book of the film. I saw this one for Phyllis Calvert... it was really quite awful. Incredibly politically incorrect these days! BoughtAnother little book of the film. I saw this one for Phyllis Calvert... it was really quite awful. Incredibly politically incorrect these days! Bought the book because it was there and it had pictures....more
Oh god, this made me cry so much. It was a little slow going at first but then definitely picked up, and was truly an enthralling read. It's so intereOh god, this made me cry so much. It was a little slow going at first but then definitely picked up, and was truly an enthralling read. It's so interesting to read a WWII story from a different POV to what I usually read. Emmy was a young girl in Vienna who was at first not really touched by the goings on in the late 30s/early 40s. When Hitler first came to Austria there were parades and the people of Vienna welcomed him, most believing this would end the Great Depression and help people find jobs. Emmy herself toyed with the idea of joining the BDM, mostly because of the holidays they seemed to offer. She didn't really understand - when countries fell, they were countries she'd never been to, it didn't affect her. She didn't know many Jewish people and I don't think really understood what was going on when the few she did know suddenly disappeared, and her parents didn't explain very much to her so all she really knew was that her father didn't like Hitler.
The book was as much about the war as it was her passion for ballet, and how when the bombs finally came to Austria, the clear path she had ahead of her was suddenly thrust into doubt. I wept a little as beautiful, old Vienna was bombed. Somehow this book, more than any other, showed how stupid and unfair all the fighting was. And poor, beautiful Sissy who should have been a ballerina. The last chapter or so, when the Russians came, was a shock to me - proving how little I knew about Austria's fate in WWII.
(Makes me want to track down this film too, to catch a glimpse of young Emmy in one of her extra roles!)...more
To be honest, I found this one to be a little bit silly... nice to read, but the story wasn't very meaty. Simply, Selina has a new party frock and shoTo be honest, I found this one to be a little bit silly... nice to read, but the story wasn't very meaty. Simply, Selina has a new party frock and shoes, but it's war time, so whenever will she be able to wear them? So the kids organise a pageant so she can show off....more
I actually own this edition, but a) the cover is hideous and 2) I'd rather have the book shelved under its original title because I'm a snob that wayI actually own this edition, but a) the cover is hideous and 2) I'd rather have the book shelved under its original title because I'm a snob that way and think it's silly how all of Noel Streatfeild's books were retitled to include the word "shoes".
All that aside, this is another of my favourites :) I bought it in New Zealand in July of 2000. Ahh, memories!...more
Naturally I snapped this up when I saw it at a school fete - more of Amy from Amy Moves in! I always liked this series, even if I often couldn't standNaturally I snapped this up when I saw it at a school fete - more of Amy from Amy Moves in! I always liked this series, even if I often couldn't stand the adults - so bossy and self-righteous, perhaps due to the time in which it was set?...more
I was always very fond of this one. Picked up at a school fete when I was seven or so. I liked how a time period was never specifically mentioned in tI was always very fond of this one. Picked up at a school fete when I was seven or so. I liked how a time period was never specifically mentioned in the books, so it just had that general 'a little old-fashioned' feel. An interesting slice of life to read about, although the adults were, on the whole, not very likeable....more
Read on the recommendation of my year 11 English teacher. Absolutely loved it - there really is something about awful childhoods and olden times thatRead on the recommendation of my year 11 English teacher. Absolutely loved it - there really is something about awful childhoods and olden times that makes for wonderful reading. It's just so bleak and, to me, foreign. However, my interest waned a bit once Frank was in his later teens....more
I grew up on the BBC TV series before I read the book. Loved both, but for some reason this is the only Narnia story I ever enjoyed! Tried a few otherI grew up on the BBC TV series before I read the book. Loved both, but for some reason this is the only Narnia story I ever enjoyed! Tried a few others and failed. I also never actually noticed any of the religious stuff in the book. I guess because I grew up without all that around me, so it just never occurred to me. I like it better that way.
Re-read 23/07/13 straight after finishing The Magician's Nephew :D Such a lovely old favourite. I do adore C.S. Lewis' writing style!...more
Beautiful, Australian classic that really ought to be much more well known. I love Seven Little Australians which we read in year 7 English; this bookBeautiful, Australian classic that really ought to be much more well known. I love Seven Little Australians which we read in year 7 English; this book would have been the perfect accompaniment....more