I don't have time to write a satisfactory review of why I didn't like this book, so I will list here some of the reasons why.
* Random and hard to pron...moreI don't have time to write a satisfactory review of why I didn't like this book, so I will list here some of the reasons why.
* Random and hard to pronounce names don't constitute for an epic fantasy, especially if those names are in almost every single page.
* If you're going to write a lengthy fantasy novel, make sure it's worth it. Don't bother about geographic descriptions or descriptions that don't add to anything as it makes it hard for any reader to take your book seriously.
* Write simply and vary sentence length and sentence structure. Readers are not idiots. They will find a pattern. Also, stop using commas in every single paragraph. I want to read full sentences. Short sentences are great but if you them every single time, they lose their effect.
* Simplify your story. While lengthy fantasy novels may produce a kind of 'must read' effect, the truth is it really doesn't. Once we get out of the illusion that we're reading something worth spending time on, we will hate you for putting us into this kind of torture, and that goes for all future and current fantasy writers.
I'm sorry, I just didn't understand it at all, although the writing style is much preferrable than the "These Old Shades". Perhaps one day, I shall try...moreI'm sorry, I just didn't understand it at all, although the writing style is much preferrable than the "These Old Shades". Perhaps one day, I shall try it again.(less)
As my first Heyer novel, 'These Old Shades', clearly did not disappoint. The dialogue was witty, although at times I could not understand the French p...moreAs my first Heyer novel, 'These Old Shades', clearly did not disappoint. The dialogue was witty, although at times I could not understand the French phrases, but as I read on, I began to understand them.
The characters were brilliant and Rupert was such a joy to read about. Leonie, sometimes sounded too childish to me and that's probably why I didn't like her as much as I did Fanny. Or perhaps, it's because I voiced Leonie as an 'infant' in my head that she no longer had credibility as a character. The Duke on the other hand was very charming and I loved that he was omniscient. The tale that he told at the end was such a great scene! I felt like I was there witnessing it.
Although, I don't think it's quite my favourite, Heyer's novel certainly delights. I recommend it.(less)
Meh. It was nothing special. The first part of the book was sort of witty and it pulled me in a bit. Then, it just sounded like a dry, predictable mov...moreMeh. It was nothing special. The first part of the book was sort of witty and it pulled me in a bit. Then, it just sounded like a dry, predictable movie. The characters don't really have chemistry and the female protag feels too perfect while the male protag is so damned imperfect that he's so desirable. And there were loads of cliche lines that made me question whether people really dig this stuff. Oh well.
Read it if you like, it's not that bad but it's not that good either. (less)
I bought this book one day whilst surfing 'The Book Depository' website and thought, having glanced at the title, that this book would benefit me very...moreI bought this book one day whilst surfing 'The Book Depository' website and thought, having glanced at the title, that this book would benefit me very much. Indeed it has, and to a certain extent, should I remember it, (and I know I most certainly will) will benefit me in the future. While I haven't had the moment to use these skills listed here, I applaud Carnegie for his optimistic and thought provoking self-help guide.
His narration is brilliant and the stories included are inspirational. The sections are also nicely divided with witty titles and a summary of the skills learnt in each chapter. Quotes from notable persons are also utilised and helps to balance the book from becoming a sermon of what should be done or what one should do; instead Carnegie leads us his expertise and guides us to see that in leadership positions or any position of authority whatsoever, that tact and respect is what wins the most. This is true and I have learnt many skills here.
I know many naysayers will dismiss this book as unnecessary and just an opportunistic drivel of a book to what we as humans already know, however, don't believe them, instead, as shown in this guide, try and sympathise with them - they are missing out on a lifetime supply of happiness! Yes, it is true that this book can be summed up as just a 'Be nice' attitude to others, but to assume that mentality is to do Carnegie a disservice. This guide is more than that. It is a series of skills that you will learn that will benefit you for more years to come, and guided by Carnegie's sincere narration, you will become familiar not only with the techniques here but also with Carnegie himself, who, judging from his tone seems like such a nice man (shame he isn't alive anymore).
My one criticism stands, however, that this book's stories no longer reflect today's examples and that, readers can argue, is the only fault of this guide, especially for readers who require more explanation as to how and why certain tactics work. But, to completely rely on this guide is foolish; one must always try to experiment with techniques and see which works for him or her. This book is indeed 'timeless' in its merit and in its examples, and will certainly cater for those who require a little push in persuading people in business or in personal situations to do what they want. An important thing to remember is that these techniques only work if it comes from the heart.
And if you're reading this, I challenge you to give it a go. After all, I know you are a great reader and appreciate wonderful literature to read, so here is the opportunity. I bet you can't finish it one day!
Just saying that weird names for characters and places don't make a fantasy book. It's about the depth of the characters, for which I found none here,...moreJust saying that weird names for characters and places don't make a fantasy book. It's about the depth of the characters, for which I found none here, and the language that provokes thought and involves you in the creation of the world, which again, I found was poorly developed. Describing a place as having mountains is not a good description to be honest.
I found the concept ridiculous and did not even understand the plot. Now, this is probably the beginning of a sequel trilogy, so it's probably wrong of me to judge without having read her previous works, but really, this was just a mess of ideas.
There were too many conflicting events that happened and the solution of a marriage to create a union was, to me a plot device for the so called "romance" this book offers.
So not even half way in, I've given up. Read at your own risk. (less)
I did not like this at all. I thought purchasing it would help me with my grammar but it didn't. Rather,...moreI bought this book from The Book Depository.
I did not like this at all. I thought purchasing it would help me with my grammar but it didn't. Rather, I felt accomplished because I have finished the book and thus would be contributing to my reading goal for 2013. Whilst the book said that it contained "old school ways to sharpen your English" it should instead be called "old school ways to remember your English".
The authors sounded sarcastic about 99% of the time so instead of actually teaching us about grammar, they were left with making remarks about English usage and grammar. The writing is so casual that once they've briefly explained the concept they move on and no longer discuss the matter. The sentences and "quirky" comments do not work. I found myself to be frowning because it looks like the authors were trying to be funny, but, unfortunately, they do not succeed. How is anyone suppose to care about quirky remarks when they don't even know most of the concepts introduced? The information is also scattered everywhere, rather than explaining key concepts and expanding on them later. Instead, they tell you to go to page x if you don't understand the bland jokes that they make.
Twice, I've seen reference to Wikipedia -- "Wikipedia quotes"... I mean, if you're quoting Wikipedia then you're not doing your research right. That just means that the book is not credible and this really isn't. If you're looking for a book to help you with grammar, skip this because it just paraphrases explanations from others sources and spends a majority of its time sarcastically making remarks about the English language. However, if you're looking for a quick Saturday breakfast read, this might be it (or not).(less)
This book was purchased from The Book Depository. Rating 4.5 stars (5 stars really for enjoyment but since it's not perfect, it has to be 4.5)
Foster's...moreThis book was purchased from The Book Depository. Rating 4.5 stars (5 stars really for enjoyment but since it's not perfect, it has to be 4.5)
Foster's guide to reading literature like a professor does exactly that -- help us to see symbolism, meaning, preformed patterns and adaptations of those patterns in literature. He constantly refers to a variety of text to support his argument and tell us how to read literature like he does. And many of his examples are so easily seen that if you actually read the texts(I'm talking about the reference works and not his novel), you have a hard time finding what is it that he finds. Foster talks you through a variety of styles and explains where they are found in literature. What he misses though, is the purpose to why they are used as sometimes he skims over this and gives us an overall summary instead.
The chapter titles are quirky and the content is certainly delightful. It's as if he's there talking you through what you should be looking for when reading, like a teacher/professor. However, what he doesn't do is give us techniques on how to see what he sees. Sure he can give examples since he's already there but he doesn't give us a checklist of what we should be looking for as a whole while looking at text, although there are checklists for some symbolism but not as a whole. Instead, I think what he has in mind is to look for these things (symbolism, geography, season, etc) and ask ourselves questions on why the author has their character do what they do and be where they are as well as how they react to experiences along the way, which is hard because he expects you to already have some background into literature, which I'm sure, many won't.
At first, it was hard to get into but as you read further, you become familiar with his style. A bonus was also an example story from Mansfield where he has us to analyse it having finished reading all his chapters. Whilst I didn't do it (yep, I'm only just a little guilty), his explanations were definitely helpful as well as his student's interpretations. I wish that there were more of these exercises and or a checklist just to help me while reading but it doesn't and that is where I feel the book lacked a bit. This is because he doesn't tell us to ANALYSE. He shows us the outcome of analysis but never the process of it and this was what I was looking for when I bought it.
Though this was helpful and gave me new insight into literature, it definitely shouldn't be relied on as the only basis for reading literature as it is impossible to cover all aspects of literature, and because it doesn't. It's a great read. Foster also gives us references to his favourite works and works that he thinks we should read and could practise analysing with. Overall, for a $7 book, it was definitely worth it but if you, like me, are a literature student or just someone who likes reading and analysing books, you definitely can consult this as your first reference book and as an overview to the big world of literature but you should definitely not stop with this one. There are other literature books that can help you with your understanding but this book is foundation for further reading.(less)
As this is one of our major texts in English, I was forced to read it. The endless praise intrigued me as well as the first line but the "lyrical" pro...moreAs this is one of our major texts in English, I was forced to read it. The endless praise intrigued me as well as the first line but the "lyrical" prose was distracting as well as the attempt of retelling a story many of us has never even heard of. It's a good try but I found it too distracting to focus on as I was confused half the time to who was "he" (pronouns are used most of the time with little reference to who the sentence was about). To be honest, I found it too fantastical and I just didn't like it.(less)
McEwan's "Atonement" poses a compelling argument as to whether sins can be rightfully atoned. Briony's actions were unforgivable not only because she...moreMcEwan's "Atonement" poses a compelling argument as to whether sins can be rightfully atoned. Briony's actions were unforgivable not only because she had no idea as to the consequences of her actions but that she was convinced that what she had done was correct. McEwan's narration helps us to understand weight of sins that can forever change one's life, with drastic complications.
The answer, then to the question of whether Briony has redeemed herself from her younger, imaginative and conceited self, is no. A definite no. Her actions claimed the happiness of her sister and her lover, Robbie and robbed them of a life that they would have had together. Whilst, not the only culprit in the damning of an innocent man, Briony is most to blame.
Her attempts to atone herself fall short as she is still the same person albeit, one who has lost her enthusiasm and courage as she realised what she had done. Though her childhood misunderstanding was justifiable, this does not excuse her from her perceived notion of superiority and rightfulness. In short, she is a "prima donna" (said by Cecilia), who cares for no one but herself, a conceited girl who understands no more about what she had done. Even if she had promised to (view spoiler)[ withdraw her previous evidence and give an honest account of what had happened, she does not do this and cowardly runs back to the hospital she was training in. Although as it turns out she never met Robbie or Cecilia and that her confession was a part of her draft. (hide spoiler)] Briony's attempts of atonement was not enough to save her from her own prison, from her own deity, a God who commands words on paper and bows to no one. Though Cecilia and Robbie meet in her writing, this is nothing but a poor excuse and a late attempt to rewrite her wrongs and to truly atone for what she had done. Though she apologised, a mere "sorry" is not enough as Cecilia and Robbie were separated by a poor and unreliable witness who thought she knew everything.
To reiterate, Briony remains a coward protected by her ability to feign her accountability for her sins. To truly atone for one's sins is to place oneself in suffering proportionate to the victim's. Briony's life surrounded by little guilt and life is nothing but an excuse and a justification for something she could never change, something she could never atone for, something SHE has spent her life trying to avoid whilst convincing herself that she has actually tried to change or to correct her sins.
"Atonement" is simply one of the best books I have ever read, and McEwan's prose is something worth of countless praise as he satisfies readers with wonderful dialogue and heart wrenching details that will tug your heartstrings. Definitely recommended.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Year of Wonders almost taps into understanding the intricacies of human nature but fails to build strong characters to explore the changes within soci...moreYear of Wonders almost taps into understanding the intricacies of human nature but fails to build strong characters to explore the changes within society once a tragedy occurs. Modelled after the Plague city, Eyam, Year of Wonders is a story of how a woman witnesses the effects of the plague of her beloved city and how she deals with becoming the new healer, helping with the rector and her wife.
Though Brooks has achieved a believable setting, the novel is a mess. The events that occur do not happen fast enough and when they do, it does not reach its desired climax. The lack of characters makes the novel hard to empathise as we do not really know the characters and how they are changed by the plague. Except for the rector and his awkward personality shift towards the end of the novel, the characters do not change at all. The themes of religion, especially the rise of flagellants as well as witchcraft and good versus evil did not get enough exposure in the book. Brooks skims these heavy themes to focus on Anna's superficial thoughts that do not give any weight to the novel.
When a tragedy happens, it is normal for people to deliver goodness within each other or to incite competition to make of what resources they have to sustain their lives, or rather, what may remain of it. Brooks does not do any of this and if she did, they were perhaps too subtle to be noticed and in their subtlety served no purpose for the plot and its themes. What would have made this better is if there were character interactions prior to the novel (not just to one or two characters) so that we could compare how characters were and how they become after the plague. There needed to be more characters to solidify the purpose of this novel, which is, I believe, to show how people in those days acted and how tragedies change people, evidently showing that as humans we are like animals who are bound by our instinct and that we find it arduous to retain our morality in times of difficulty.
The problems and other events in the novel whilst important failed to reach their significance as they were outlandish and did not discuss the effects of their actions to one another. Certain characters, for example, the Bradfords, were underused as they could have really shown the power of influence and the demeaning social hierarchy at the time. There were also not enough characters to fully understand how characters change and there were little interactions to other characters, except for Anna and the Mompellions.
Also, Anna's sexual desire seemed unrelated to the novel and did not seem to play any significance. As with the ending and the beginning of the novel, Anna's craving for human affection, whilst somewhat justifiable regarding her losing her husband, later Viccars and her children, it could have been deeply explored and not just with sentences that declare her jealousy. She really needed to understand what love and affection felt like as she was robbed with the chance to have them. The ending and the rest of novel do not work together because it felt too different and did not justify at all the change of personality of Mr Mompellion. Though Mr Mompellion was a great man and had some flaws (shouting, having fight with Josiah Bont, losing his temper), his sexual advances with Anna and his secret of never having consummated his marriage with Elinor did not justify him as it felt out of character and it just wasn't believable. There was no reason for supporting it during the novel.
The awkward epilogue also questioned, for me, the timeline of this novel and the entire purpose of it, prompting me to ask my myself, "What the fcuk?"
P.S. I am absolutely enraged because I can't seem to find a bloody good book. Why do I always find books with great ideas but poor execution?! THIS could have been a beautiful novel, but it just wasn't great. Just a bloody piece of shit disguised in "poetic prose" and the plague cover story. Don't read it, you're better off reading a non fiction book about the plague. Skip it.(less)
(Once again, another wonderful thank you to Goodreads for providing me this copy)
Practice Perfect is in short a very helpful book about perfecting pra...more(Once again, another wonderful thank you to Goodreads for providing me this copy)
Practice Perfect is in short a very helpful book about perfecting practising skills and evaluating progress throughout the practising process. Whilst this was definitely an insightful book about techniques that aid us to practice our skills in order to hone them, Practice Perfect may seem to some unnecessary to read if they possess common sense or average intellect.
The division of the book into 42 rules with each rules into chapters was impractical. The rules weren't really rules but tips (tips are useful hints whilst rules are things that need to be followed. The word "rules" to me imposes a certain feeling that EVERYthing in this book needed to be followed, almost laws and that really distracted me as I'm not a big follower of rules.) and these rules were sometimes very vague, gave some helpful advice on the matter it was discussing and were then supported by case studies. Sometimes these case studies were vague and barely understandable and the constant reference to what these teachers did and the experiments they did with their organisation felt almost as if that we should have read their respective books or attended their teacher training programs. The book should have been left into chapters and without the numbers to indicate that they are rules. The numbers as rules were distracting and didn't really help for my understanding. It was very disorganised and I think I would have loved if the rules were broken into sub chapters.
I know I am not the target audience for this book although there were aspects of this book that is related to almost anyone, actually, the book is dedicated to teachers, trainers or anyone in a teaching position. Though is is non fiction, the book still needed to identify itself to an audience and explain why things are. Basically, because of the number of authors, I felt that the writing was quite messy, all over the place and really needed to be tightened. There were also a lot of references to Doug's Teach Like a Champion which to me felt like advertising within a book and I wasn't comfortable with that. There were a lot of misplaced commas and missing commas so I had to re read the sentences just to make sure I understood what it was talking about.
Moreover, Practice Perfect was a great read the explanation/advice for each of the rules enlightened my approach on practise and how to have effective practise sessions in honing skills. However, because of the poor writing and disorganised sequence of information as well as vague case studies and constant advertisement for Lemov's book, I would have to give this book 3 stars. It was a wonderful read and it helped me understand what I was doing wrong, but really, I already knew all of it (well consciously anyway). This is recommended but if you're going to buy it, buy a used one, or better yet borrow it from the library. (less)
The praise for this book is true to an extent, however, no matter how great Vickers may be in portraying realistic relationships and love, she still f...moreThe praise for this book is true to an extent, however, no matter how great Vickers may be in portraying realistic relationships and love, she still falls short.
I read this book without any bias and was happy reading the first four or so chapters, but then it went downhill from that. Though the start of the book was very joyous, it suddenly shifted with the focus on how relationships fail and why. Whilst she handled the idea that not all relationships are perfect, she failed to accurately address the role of both parties in the relationship. Instead, she portrayed women as controlling, manipulative and were shown to understand very little from the relationships. Especially the last ten stories showed women to be either the cause of failed relationships. They were the ones who encouraged for their partner to cheat because it was often their fault that they did not satisfy their needs enough.
When reading this, it felt like every woman in the story had no purpose and that they were just there because they had to be. The other party in the relationships were not addressed, and ultimately the breakdown of the relationships is often attributed to only one party and not the both of them. I felt that if she was to be truly portraying a real relationship, she should have shown both parties do wrong and not just blame one person. I also felt that she didn't really understand the importance of relationships because throughout the end (I guess only the last chapters stick with me because they were so horrible to read. Not that she couldn't write, but because she had so much potential that she could have utilised her writing skills better) the relationships no longer had meaning and the feeling of love was treated as if it's something that isn't really real.
Another thing that annoyed me was that her stories felt abruptly ended. Learning about Mansfield this year, I learnt that not every story had to have a concrete ending, but what Vickers achieves is a poor story that half heartedly addresses the issue of losing love. She quite often introduces the issue but does not fully address it. She doesn't explore how relationship works or functions. It feels as if she's just ripped a part from a novel and placed it in her collection.
I feel that stories, especially short stories need to infer more meaning than a novel because they are often short. Vickers did not exactly do this because there was no explanation as to why things happened but that they just happened because apparently that's how life works. In saying this, I definitely did like a few things, especially the first four stories. I'm sorry that I can't remember the titles but I've returned the book already and have not bothered at all to note down my favourite stories. That can probably alluded to the fact that I only liked her stories because they were the only good ones.
Actually, I've attempted to read one of Vickers' books and now I have been reminded on why I didn't finish it. I stand by the fact that I said that there was no bias in reading this--I was seriously open minded in reading her short stories collection. But what I can say for those of who are fans of her other work, Vickers has a solid hold in writing but she is a poor wielder of meaning. (less)