To to a book down for what might be forever or simply a while is always hurtful and disappointing to me and I rarely do it, but I just must put "Le Mo...moreTo to a book down for what might be forever or simply a while is always hurtful and disappointing to me and I rarely do it, but I just must put "Le Morte D'Arthur: The Winchester Manuscript" by Thomas Malory down now. My copy hs over 800 pages and I am currently at page 426 and my concentration left me hours, days even, ago. I absolutely love the story about Lancelot, King Arthur and the sword in the stone, and Malory's version is indeed of importance, however, it is also very long with very short chapters that feel like fragmentations to me. It leaves very little to the reader when it comes to the characters as one hardly ever gets to know them; instead the all blur together in a humdrum mass of existence.
I do, however, acknowledge Malory's work a great deal. At the moment it is simply not for me. I want to spend time reading books I like to read as well as want to, and although I did want to read this, I now feel like I have to and that ruins the reading completely. Hopefully, some day I will be able to read the rest of this heavy brick, but for now it shall rest on my bookshelf along with my shame. (less)
The best way to sum up my feelings about "Under the Greenwood Tree" by Thomas Hardy is perhaps by the words I uttered right after I closed the books:...moreThe best way to sum up my feelings about "Under the Greenwood Tree" by Thomas Hardy is perhaps by the words I uttered right after I closed the books: "My, my, this was really good." I spoke these words repetly as I hugged the book to my chest.
“To dwellers in a wood, almost every species of tree has its voice as well as its feature.”
In the very first chapter of this short novel, Thomas Hardy describes how each tree stands out as an individual, which at first sounded abstracted, poetic and very romanticised, but in the end sums up this story in a epic conclusion: "Under the Greenwood Tree" is a vivid tale of multitude of personalities like trees in an idyllic wood. (less)
"The Phantom of the Opera" by Gaston Leroux is one of many books I have been meaning to read for a long time, and now that I have read it I am not sur...more"The Phantom of the Opera" by Gaston Leroux is one of many books I have been meaning to read for a long time, and now that I have read it I am not sure how I feel about it to be honest; first of all, which I am to blame for, I though it was a play, but it is actually a novel. the story about a phantom haunting a theatre in Paris, deceive one of the performers and falling in love with this person sounds like a solid story, however, the I did not find the phantom scary or ghostlike in any way, and the love-story between Christine and the phantom was psychotic and not romantic as I thought it would be.
“If I am the phantom, it is because man's hatred has made me so. If I am to be saved it is because your love redeems me."
I found the characters to be flat and illogical; neither of them could see the wood for the trees even when the mystical events were rather obvious. Christine for instant is very naive and a typical maid in need of saving, she was helpless and without backbone, where Raoul is an extremely jealous guy who is almost as bad as the Phantom for stalking Christine and watching her every move. Without spoiling the end, I can easily say that is was very anti-climatic; the story leads up to a epic ending, and then the problem is solved far too easy. (less)
"East of Eden" by John Steinbeck is an american novel about everyday life involving several generations. The story itself springs from the biblical ta...more"East of Eden" by John Steinbeck is an american novel about everyday life involving several generations. The story itself springs from the biblical tale of Cain and Abel, two brothers who made different offerings to God, eventually one of hem killed it other in a jealous rage and is then marked by God. John Steinbeck makes his "East of Eden" and ode and a tribute to this tale by making a similar story through several generations.
“I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.”
The story follows two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons. It is, however, the Trask family that represents Cain and Abel, with two sets of battling brothers. The are easily recognised from each other if the reader is familiar with the biblical tale about Cain and Abel, making both sets of brothers stock characters. The novel is long because of its structure, but the writing is delicate and rich and overall very enjoyable. (less)
The title of "The Diary of a Provincial Lady" by E.M. Delafield explains the concept of this book very well; a diary in which the reader follows a clu...moreThe title of "The Diary of a Provincial Lady" by E.M. Delafield explains the concept of this book very well; a diary in which the reader follows a clumsy provincial lady and her everyday life filled with simple duties as a mother, wife and friend, and the more, yet still simple, adventures of everyday life such as the sudden urge to buy dresses truly unfit for one and yet buying them, and the misadventures of dying one's hair.
“She is never alone when she has Her Books. Books, to her, are Friends. Give her Shakespeare or Jane Austen, Meredith or Hardy, and she is Lost - lost in a world of her own. She sleeps so little that most of her nights are spent reading.
Reading this was as simple as the structure of the diary itself; the grammar is never correct, yet always understandable like personal notes written in a hurry. Written in 1930 this feels almost as a forerunner to the very famous "Bridget Jones' Diary" by Helen Fielding with lots of the same themes in two different times. "The Diary of a Provincial Lady" is very amusing and witty with its many literary references (which can be seen in the quote above), buy underneath all this amusement lies a more critical feministic point of view which I enjoyed just as much. (less)
I tend to enjoy Diana Wynne Jones's work, but never more than that; her stories about "Howl's Moving Castle" moved me with its simpleness and yet comp...moreI tend to enjoy Diana Wynne Jones's work, but never more than that; her stories about "Howl's Moving Castle" moved me with its simpleness and yet completely new world of familiar and new magic, but the two sequels to the first book always felt a bit odd to call sequels as they never had Howl and Sophie as protagonists but always as minor characters which were to help the different protagonists rather than lead the stories.
“All she heard next of the strange conversation behind the sofa was Mrs. Pendragon saying something about sending Twinkle (or was his name Howl?) to bed without supper and Twinkle daring her to 'jutht TRY it.”
Saying I enjoy Jones's writing is true, also when it comes to "House of Many Ways" which is a witty written novel about a different kind of magic than the previous ones; one that can bend and bind times in small house on the country. The protagonist in this story is a grumpy and spoiled child named Charmain; her parents just let her to be with her books which means she does not know how to do the most simple things in her everyday life at the Wizard's house when she is to look after it for him. She gets grumpy at every character and every adventure she comes by, but also grows with these as she cannot just be in her books but also have to live her life fully. However this book feels more like a children's book compared to the previous books in the series. (less)
In the footsteps of Russian folk tales and world history, Catherynne M. Valente creates a marvellous tale set in the streets of St. Petersburg, where...moreIn the footsteps of Russian folk tales and world history, Catherynne M. Valente creates a marvellous tale set in the streets of St. Petersburg, where the protagonist Marya Morevna is the last of his sisters to marry. She marries Kozchei, also known as the Tsar of Death, and he lives on the edge of existence in a dark faraway kingdom. She follows him faithfully through good times and bad times, through war and love, even if it leaves her callous and heart cold.
“You will always fall in love, and it will always be like having your throat cut, just that fast.”
"Deathless" by Catherynne M. Valente is a complete collision of magical history and actual history that captivates the reader completely, and casts a spell with mythological tales as well. To write historical fiction and retellings can often be a half-hearted affair, because it is hard to add anything new to the otherwise very original stories, but Catherynne M. Valente makes it look effortless, when she uses her vast vocabulary and a imagination that has the sky as its limit.
“That night, she burned all the books in the attic for heat. She carried them down, one by one, because December ate up her strength. She lit them in the stove while they all huddled around and put out their hands. Last one in was the Pushkin, and she cried, but without tears, because you cannot have tears without bread.”(less)
"Brighton Rock" by Graham Greene is a crime novel but very different from typical crime novels. Instead of following the detective trying to solve the...more"Brighton Rock" by Graham Greene is a crime novel but very different from typical crime novels. Instead of following the detective trying to solve the murder case, we follow several characters including the murder and his many conflicts - also those which are not related to his crime. He is also only seventeen years old which gives a new perspective to the genre.
"I know one thing you don't. I know the difference between Right and Wrong. They didn't teach you that at school."
There were times when it reminded me of "The Outsiders" byS. E. Hinton which I enjoyed, but I just did not feel any connection to this book whatsoever. I tried really hard to let the words take me on a ride, but they did not, even though I tried to imagine how it would feel like if they did. I got bored and did not relate to any of the characters. Even though I can see why this is loved, this book just was not for me, sadly. (less)
I the last couple of years I have been meaning to read "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood, so when I came across a cheap paperback edition I dec...moreI the last couple of years I have been meaning to read "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood, so when I came across a cheap paperback edition I decided to finally pick it up and read it. It was both everything and nothing I expected from it; I was expecting a dystopian tale of oppression of females, but I did not get the ending I was hoping for, however, I do believe the ending is rather realistic. It leaves a door open for a debate that is still going strong.
“But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.”
I was expecting more depth the story, but I think this is to be found in the interpretation and symbolism. This part lingered in my mind for a very long time after I finished the last page, and so did the language: it was so vivid and poetic at times, it is sorrowful and reflects a life of survival in which there is not room for emotions and tears. This made the language the greatest surprise, which left me thinking how society can always try to oppress its people by rules and punishment, but one thing they cannot take away from the individual is the freedom of thoughts; one cannot control these, they wander to the far end of the world if they please, they make us the bird which can fly when the body is imprisoned in a cage set up by the power of others. The mind is the free spirit that keeps us alive with our hopes and dreams.
“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.” (less)
This is one of those rare moments where I must confess that I prefer the film to the book. "Bridget Jones's Diary" by Helen Fielding is a film a can w...moreThis is one of those rare moments where I must confess that I prefer the film to the book. "Bridget Jones's Diary" by Helen Fielding is a film a can watch over and over and still get the tingling feeling in my stomach every time Darcy enters the screen, and the laughs keeps coming whenever Bridget gets all tangled up in her own head.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces.”
The book, however, I somewhat different; Bridget is hysterical beyond comprehension, and her outbursts about graining a few pounds became annoying within a few chapters. Whenever Bridget weights 54 kilos she is utter perfection (but living very unhealthy), and when she weights 58 kilos she is a whale (but living more realistic). I know it is suppose to be happy that she is so dramatic about food, alcohol and cigarettes, but I did not find her to be so.
““But if you are single the last thing you want is your best friend forming a functional relationship with somebody else.”
Bridget is the mother of hypocrites, and even though she is funny, she is also hysterical, extreme and naive. Perhaps the extreme proves the points of Helen Fielding, at least it did not work for me. The ending, which is somewhat different from the film version annoyed me as well: the fact that Bridget was away by the right man instead of the one pleased me, but it annoyed me to no end that she seemed so passively about it. Despite that however, it is a funny, light read.(less)
"The Railway Children" by E. Nesbit is one of the books I wish I had grown up with but did not, and reading it now makes does not have the same impact...more"The Railway Children" by E. Nesbit is one of the books I wish I had grown up with but did not, and reading it now makes does not have the same impact on me as it probably would have if I had been several years younger, however, I did like its themes and characters. The three protagonists are rather easy-going and each still have their own personality.
“Also she had the power of silent sympathy. That sounds rather dull, I know, but it's not so dull as it sounds. It just means that a person is able to know that you are unhappy, and to love you extra on that account, without bothering you by telling you all the time how sorry she is for you.”
The plot it simple and delightful, but perhaps not revolutionary in any ways. It was sweet and delicate, but it is not a story that lingers on in my mind. I pretty much forgot it as soon as I put the book down, only remembering the tender feeling of the children's' adventures. (less)
Every little girl has once dreamed of happily every after in from of a fairy tales with true love, adventures and magical beast, but even though these...moreEvery little girl has once dreamed of happily every after in from of a fairy tales with true love, adventures and magical beast, but even though these things might happen they might not happened the way one would expect them to. "Wildwood Dancing" by Juliet Marillier is a sweet and delicate story of five sisters who finds a way into the Other Kingdom, filled with dwarves, fairies and wizard on the bright side, and the mysterious and pale living dead on the dark side. Every month the girls travels to this place in order to dance with all the creatures, but when love starts to bloom and their father falls ill everything changes.
Written in s simple yet almost poetic prose this novel is a delightful and easy read full of wonders and fears. Reading this was nothing I had hoped for, because it was something quite different from my expectations, and yet I enjoyed every single page, sentence and word. Mariellier is skilful with her choice of words and her characters slowly comes to life, even though I would have liked to get to know the younger sisters better. She manage to create a world of her own build on familiar feelings from fairy tales, but still she manage to make it her own. I truly enjoyed this with its simple plot and beautiful language. (less)
"Shades of Grey" by Jasper Fforde is a dystopian novel about a corrupt government and its endlessly many rules sorted by how much colour one is able t...more"Shades of Grey" by Jasper Fforde is a dystopian novel about a corrupt government and its endlessly many rules sorted by how much colour one is able to see, and these colours are not to mixed. Fforde creates a very scary and yet realistic story with lots of complexities and satire.
“The best lies to tell are the ones people want to believe."
Once I tried to read Fforde's "The Eyre Affair", but I found his writing a struggle, and his story so slow-moving that it only left frustration and the book unfinished. Some of these elements are in "Shades of Grey" too. The plot moves slowly and takes about fifty pages to get into before the story starts to unfold itself, and the information about this corrupt society is given. The plot is not always moving slowly and steady, but suddenly speeds up in the end of the novel, leaving the events almost rushed and unfinished, like the author ran out of pages.
“'Edward, Edward,' he said with a patronising smile, 'there are no unanswered questions of any relevance. Every question that we need to ask has been answered fully. If you can't find the correct answer then you are obviously asking the wrong question.'”
The writing was all right, and the promise of the novel quite interesting. I wanted to read the story, and I wanted to like it, however, several elements such as the speed of the plot and the writing left me only a little satisfied instead of being over the moon. At the end of the novel I still had a lot of unanswered questions about the society and its structure, and if I did not know that Fforde has decided to write a sequel to his dystopian universe I would be rather annoyed but the book entirely. All in all a nice read once one gets into the characters, the plot and its complexity. (less)
"The Woman In Black" by Susan Hill is a suitable read for Halloween with its dark tone and scary story. I found it to be rather horrifying to read onl...more"The Woman In Black" by Susan Hill is a suitable read for Halloween with its dark tone and scary story. I found it to be rather horrifying to read only by candlelight; the voice of narrator is strong and clear, and the premise of the story good, however, the ending or solvating of the mystery was not particular my cup of tea and seemed a little stereotypical for the genre; it was somewhat too simple for the lingering goosebumps it left on my arms.
“For I see that then I was still all in a state of innocence, but that innocence, once lost, is lost forever.”
I still found the story to be very well-rounded, even though I did not like the ending; there were no loose ends, and the only knots were the ones in my stomach from the thought of sleeping alone in the dark with monsters under my bed. The beginning of the story is rather slow and seems to take forever to get started, but it is also very much like fog; it slowly creeps in on you until you are completely lost in it. (less)