If Poe had stuck to tales of mystery and imagination, I probably would have given this book 4*, because those short stories which were mysteirous and...moreIf Poe had stuck to tales of mystery and imagination, I probably would have given this book 4*, because those short stories which were mysteirous and imaginative were very good. There were some creepy little tales - mostly involving death, and a fair few involving bricking people into walls - including The Tell-Tale Heart which was very good but a lot shorter than I was expecting.
Unfortunately, he also turned his hand to crime-solving with a Sherlock Holmes-esque character. Only less exciting. It was pure exposition on the part of the detective and very little else. When you've got three of these stories one of the other...let's just say I found it a little tedious.
I started this book six weeks ago, and it never takes me that long to read anything. I mean, the first time I read Lord of the Rings at 12 i...moreIt's over!
I started this book six weeks ago, and it never takes me that long to read anything. I mean, the first time I read Lord of the Rings at 12 it didn't take me more than a month. So this says something about the density of this book.
The thing is, though, I actually quite enjoyed the story. So what's the problem then? That would be the fact that probably at least 50% of this book isn't the story. It's random asides about the different types of whale and going into great detail about things unnecessarily. I now know more about whales and 19th century whaling than I ever thought - or wanted - to.
But as I said, the story is pretty good. Ishmael decides to go a-voyaging, and never having been whaling before things it would be a good crack. He meets a cannibalistic savage and they decide to go searching for employment together, soon finding work on the Pequod under Captain Ahab. Everything seems normal until a few weeks into the passage when Ahab declares that he has decided the whole purpose of this mission is to find and kill Moby Dick - the whale who caused the loss of this leg. Nothing happens for a while, and just when I thought Herman Melville might be the biggest troll ever they finally find Moby Dick and battle ensues.
The writing of the story is easy to read, even if ye olde Englishe posed a few problems for me at times, and some of the philosophising was a tad tedious when it went on for paragraphs at a time, but the pace was just dragged to a near standstill by all the asides and it was quite difficult to get into it properly. But the quality of the story itself and the morals meant I couldn't find it in me to rate it any lower than 3*.
A good book? Yes. An easy book? Not by any means.(less)
I can, in all honesty, say that I did not understand what was going on in a fair portion of this book. Still, whilst not the easiest read in the world...moreI can, in all honesty, say that I did not understand what was going on in a fair portion of this book. Still, whilst not the easiest read in the world it was by no means unreadable, and I found some parts very easy to get through. But I like a smoother story, one where I know when it is in relation to other things that have gone on. I quite liked that he not every single aspect of Stephen Dedalus' life was chronicled, but sometimes a little more information might have gone a long way.(less)
Interesting story, but not quite what I was expecting. I remember the Peter Pan of Disney being a lot more fun-loving and fancy-free than the one depi...moreInteresting story, but not quite what I was expecting. I remember the Peter Pan of Disney being a lot more fun-loving and fancy-free than the one depicted here. Obviously, it's Disney and I kind of expected some artistic licence, but the Peter of the book is a lot more selfish and fickle. He forgets about people in a matter of days, or even hours and is constantly on the look out for trouble. He is stubborn and hates not getting his own way. Of course, he is a boy refusing to grow up so all these traits kind of make sense.
Still, the adventures were interesting (I wouldn't go so far as to say exciting) and I loved all the mothering Wendy gets to do, and it's particularly interesting when even John and Michael forget that she isn't their real mother.
There were times when it didn't strike me as much of a children's book - there is reference to a fairy orgy which I definitely wasn't expecting! - but for the most part it is a magical adventure of the kind all children dream of. It's survived this long for a reason.(less)
I have taken two things from my reading of this book: 1) Victor Hugo can waffle 2) Disney changed a lot. Like, a lot.
To expand on the first point, I hon...moreI have taken two things from my reading of this book: 1) Victor Hugo can waffle 2) Disney changed a lot. Like, a lot.
To expand on the first point, I honestly think a good 50% of this book could have been cut without any serious impact on the story. There was a heck of a lot of excessive description. I'm talking 30 pages describing Notre-Dame and Paris as it was in the 1480s, even though we don't really need to know any of it, and on top of this just general wordiness. To be fair, this did improve in the second half of the book when the story finally got going.
And when the story did get going, it was good. In part because I, apparently, had no idea what was going to happen. It was a lot darker than I was expecting, and most of the storylines and information had been cut from the Disney adaptation, but still very much enjoyable. Still not the easiest thing in the world in terms of readability, but I would not dissuade anyone from reading it by any means.
And given the precise nature of what has been cut, it is completely understandable. Prostitution, hanging, attempted rape and attempted murder are not so child friendly.(less)
The tales in this book are by turn amusing, entertaining, heartbreaking, educational and tedious, and the majority had some sort of moral to them. Mos...moreThe tales in this book are by turn amusing, entertaining, heartbreaking, educational and tedious, and the majority had some sort of moral to them. Most of them are very good, but some few I found to be a little on the dull side. The descriptions are all quite light, leaving it up to the imagination of the reader for the most part. The voices of the tale-tellers were all quite distinct, though I think the host was my favourite character - a pity, then, that he has only a very little input - usually breaking up disagreements between the travellers.
I really struggled with this book. While some sections were easier to read than others, there was never anything that grabbed me by it. The main probl...moreI really struggled with this book. While some sections were easier to read than others, there was never anything that grabbed me by it. The main problem being, for me, Bathsheba. Problematic given that she's the heroine.
Bathsheba inherits a farm, and one of her old suitors (who she rejected because he wasn't good enough for her) soon finds himself working for her. She is courted by two more, very different men and in general makes lots of very bad decisions. It was like one of those situations when one of your friends is dating a guy who know just isn't right for her but you just have to wait for her to realise it for herself because she won't listen otherwise.
The writing itself was good though. I didn't find it overloaded with superfluous stuff like older books can be, and there weren't too many references/things I didn't understand. Some classics I read I have to look up every other word because terms have changed, or the items just aren't in use any more.
An alright book, but not one that I'll be re-reading in a hurry I don't think.(less)
Our nameless heroine marries the man of her dreams. 20 years older than her, his first wife - Rebecca - passed away just 10 months earlier and upon th...moreOur nameless heroine marries the man of her dreams. 20 years older than her, his first wife - Rebecca - passed away just 10 months earlier and upon their return to his home she finds herself constantly in Rebecca's shadow. Everything is as she left it, the staff keep everything the same, and her husband is distant. She frets and panics and isn't comfortable, with in all honesty little to no support shown by her husband.
This book was very slow to start off with. I really struggled to get going with it, not because it was bad, there just wasn't really anything to hook me. Our heroine is a little bit dull, and this comes through maybe a little too well in the narration. She's much easier to read later in the book when circumstances change and she is forced to change with them.
In the second half of the book it was the exact opposite, and I found it a little difficult to put the book down. I wanted to know what had happened, what had brought things about, what else would be revealed or discovered and how this would change things for the new Mr and Mrs deWinter.
An ingenious story and one I look forward to reading again, for I'm sure that now - knowing the ending - there will be hints I missed the first time around.(less)
I feel a bit harsh giving this just 2*, but it really is entirely necessary.
A Christmas Carol itself was great and I really enjoyed reading it. It was...moreI feel a bit harsh giving this just 2*, but it really is entirely necessary.
A Christmas Carol itself was great and I really enjoyed reading it. It was the assorted 'Other Christmas Writings' which made this book such a chore, to the point that (in all honesty) I put it down with about 30 pages and 3 and a half to go. Because they weren't stories! They were Dickens talking about and describing Christmasy things.
And now I'm slightly worried because this is the first Dickens book I have read, but have seven more of them sitting on my shelf. A number of people said I was brave to buy them without having read anything and now I see how right they were. He is very fond of lists, and long run-on sentences with about 12 commas. Here's hoping the rest are more the the standard of A Christmas Carol than the other short stories included in this book.(less)
This book is, by turns, absolutely heart-breaking and completely heart-warming. Dickens displays the best and worse of human nature to wonderful effec...moreThis book is, by turns, absolutely heart-breaking and completely heart-warming. Dickens displays the best and worse of human nature to wonderful effect.
We have Nell Trent and her grandfather, utterly devoted to one another even if this sometimes doesn't always have the outcome they expected. Nell looks after him through thick and thin, and he is determined to do everything he can to see her set for life.
At the opposite end is the truly detestable Mr Quilp, simply one of the nastiest characters I've ever come across. He's not evil or anything, he's just mean. He takes a dislike to someone for some trivial reason and sets out the destroy them and is simply quite horrible.
The other characters range from the being lovable to amusing to contemptible. Some of the less nice characters do have their redeeming moments, but it's nice that not all the characters are completely black and white.
The story itself is wonderful, and you really feel for all the characters. There are moments of genuine tension and incredible sadness in the events that occur, and you can't help but root for Nell and her grandfather, Kit and his family, and hope nothing good for Mr Quilp and his associates.
I so wanted to really love this book. I watched the BBC adaptation...sometime...about a year ago I think... But the point is, I really enjoyed it. The...moreI so wanted to really love this book. I watched the BBC adaptation...sometime...about a year ago I think... But the point is, I really enjoyed it. The book, however, I struggled with quite a bit. I think in part it's because it's Dickens - there's a lot of extra stuff in there. Lists and descriptions and what-not. This slows the story down quite significantly in some places, and there are some chapters where it is all narration of the events rather than speech between the characters which I wasn't particularly a fan of. Add on top of this that I already knew the story, and I think there just wasn't enough there to grip me, intrigue me, as was needed to make this a quick read.
Of course, the characters are still good, and I liked all their little mannerisms. The ending is lovely, but there was just some spark missing for me.(less)
The blurb on my copy of this book says that it has never achieved the recognition of others of Dicken's work, and I can see why. There were some brill...moreThe blurb on my copy of this book says that it has never achieved the recognition of others of Dicken's work, and I can see why. There were some brilliant chapters that kept me reading and wanting to know what was going to happen next, but for the most part it wasn't particularly exciting and it was pretty obvious what was going to happen. Some nice ideas and good characters (though ridiculous names: M'Choakumchild? You are not going to let that man become a teacher with a name like that) but it could have been so much better. 2.5*(less)