I think this will forever be one of my favourite books. I am so happy they made it into a movie because it was the push I needed to finally read it. AI think this will forever be one of my favourite books. I am so happy they made it into a movie because it was the push I needed to finally read it. And I loved every minutes of it.
No review I write can do this book justice, so all I can say is READ IT. So good. ...more
An engaging look at love - or "love" - and all its complications. Way more tragic then I expected it to be. Also shows you what happens when you don'tAn engaging look at love - or "love" - and all its complications. Way more tragic then I expected it to be. Also shows you what happens when you don't take a vacation!...more
Before reading Victor Hugo's classic whenever someone mentioned, The Hunchback of Notre DameThis review originally posted at Christa's Hooked on Books
Before reading Victor Hugo's classic whenever someone mentioned, The Hunchback of Notre Dame I usually thought of the Disney movie. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
It's actually quite shocking. These two ideas could not be more different from one another. (Although I would be lying if I said the Disney music didn't play through my head the whole time I was reading).
In reality, this book is much more gruesome than Disney would have us believe. There is much more violence than I would have expected. This is not to say that it is too much or that it is gory. But it is dark. There are few (if any really) bright and shiny scenes, where everything work out. In my opinion this makes it much more gritty and much more interesting. The characters are more human, they have more depth.
I found this version (i.e the real version) really helped you get to know the “villains” of the story. In particular Frollo. My previous opinion of him was a cold hearted, sadistic man, who cared for no one and nothing but himself. In actuality there is so much more to him than that. You really get to know him and his history. Though not pure by any means, he's not heartless either. He actually ended up being one of my favourite characters in the book.
The one tragic flaw of this book, however, is it's repeated history lessons. Be prepared for very long descriptions of French architecture, music, the printing press etc. Hugo spares no detail! These often went on for pages, and a couple of times I was very tempted to abandon the book because of them. But if you can survive them they will add a nice touch to the story, in that all your settings will be much more vivid and the class divisions touched upon will make much more sense.
All in all, this is a good book. It's longer than it needs to be, but the story is solid and the characters are well thought out. In true Gothic fashion it is dark and dreary but it's not that depressing. There's action, adventure and mystery. If nothing else it will ensure that visiting Paris and Notre Dame will be added to your bucket list. ...more
Lol Stein is a jilted lover. In one night she watched her love, Michael Richardson fall into love with another right in front of her face. As her life adjusts from the shock she finds herself married, with children but never quite the same. When she finds herself back in her hometown she is reunited with her old friend Tatiana, the only other witness to Michael's bretryal. She finds herself drawn to Tatiana in an obsessive, fairly creepy way. She succumbs to her voyeuristic urges and uses Tatiana's lover, John, as a way to get closer to the initmacy she really wants.
This book was beyond bizarre. Lol Stein's life is disastrous in such a way that you can't help but stare at it. It was like a car accident that you know you should look away from but just keep watching. Her obsession with Tatiana is creepy. That being said it's really well written so it's incredibly compelling Just as Lol is obsessed with Tatiana, you find yourself obsessed with Lol and her voyeurism. The book was first published in the 1960s, so I think it was probably pretty risque for its time. Lol is unable to act on her feelings and thoughts due to societal pressures, the fact that both women are married etc etc and it drives her to these acts of voyeurism. The emphasis on discrepancy from the sexual norm and the madness that accompanies it in this novel sometimes made me think of Lolita.
The one thing I really didn't like about this novel was John. Not only is he Tatiana's lover and her husband's best friend, he also finds himself in love with Lol and enagages in an affair with her as well. He's the narrator of this story, so all events are described from this twisted position. He makes these grand assumptions about what Lol is thinking or her motivations but its pretty clear that his understanding is limited. I found that it just made me frustrated having such an unreliable narrator.
This book is incredibly well written. It was my first experience with Duras but I'm dying to pick up The Lover now. If you are going to read it though you may have to prepare yourself for some uncomfortable moments. If in fact Lol loves Tatiana (and I'm not convinced that what was actually going on was love) then it is a dark and disturbing side of love. Duras does a great job of bringing you face to face with this more unpleasant side of human interaction. Do I recommend you read it? I'm not sure honestly, I'm still trying to process it myself (which could be a recommendation in itself)....more
It's hard to know where to start when reviewing this book. Primarily because this book is epThis review originally posted at Christa's Hooked on Books
It's hard to know where to start when reviewing this book. Primarily because this book is epic! It is a huge story and there are so many important elements, but also because it's just so famous. Most people are familiar with the story of Dantes and his series of unfortunate events and most people recognize this as a classic (and therefore probably worth reading). In addition this is my first audio review! So I hope you'll all hang on and bear with me as I try and navigate my way through this review.
The Count of Monte Cristo is the most classic revenge story. It begins with a number of different people going to great lengths to get Dante out of their way. Each has their own motives, none are justifiable. For the first part of the book, it seems as though Dantes lot in life will never improve. But then his luck begins to change and he concocts one of the most intricate and intense revenge schemes the world has ever seen. For the most part I found Dante to be a sympathetic character. He's likeable and determined and his life is just so unfair. What's really interesting is the way Dumas twists that sympathy for Dante as his revenge plot carries out. You know why he's doing it, and you understand his need for revenge but as the plan unfolds the sympathy just starts to slip away.
Though this is an amazing adventure story it is also so much more than that. There were a lot of great themes and issues explored in this book – loneliness, revenge, humanity, what is means to be happy. There are so many levels and plot twists. There are very few books written now-a-days that manifest the same quality of storytelling Dumas pulls off. The Count of Monte Cristo gets your pulse pounding but it also pulls at your heart strings....more
At a young age Maisie's parents decide to tell her they're getting a divorce. From that point on, life as she knows it will never be the same. She is traded back and forth among them and forced to put up with their constant bickering. So despicable are her parents they even use this poor child as a messenger to pass along insults. Fortunately, Maisie finds allies in her parents new spouses, Claude and Mrs. Beale and her governess Mrs.Wix, though their own motives may not be so clear. Throughout it all Maisie is simply trying to find her place in an indifferent and cruel adult world.
This book, though short, seemed to drag on forever! It is so verbose, disengaging and talk about run on sentences! It would often take me a couple re-reads through a sentence to figure out exactly what was going on. Even once I figured out what was going on I found the book couldn't hold my attention. Upon reflection I can determine this is only because I did not care about a single character in this book. I felt bad for Maisie because her parents are absolutely despicable and their spouses may love Maisie but there so shallow and self absorbed you have to wonder if they're really any better. Even Maisie herself wasn't such a great character. I found her annoying the way she automatically fell in love with everyone she met. She's supposed to be innocent but even innocent characters tend to learn something and by the end of the book I found myself wondering if she knew anything at all.
It is clear that James has an amazing command of the English language. But this particular book is a little disorientating and not one I found myself getting lost in. It does put forth some interesting ideas and is a disturbing look at how horrible and selfish adults can be. In actuality the book may actually have been enjoyable if it just wasn't so overwritten....more
I'm sorry to say that I don't think this book lived up to the hype.
Don't get me wrong I think that Capote writes beautiful prose and the story itselfI'm sorry to say that I don't think this book lived up to the hype.
Don't get me wrong I think that Capote writes beautiful prose and the story itself wasn't that bad. I just couldn't stand Holly Golightly. Her character was just so flighty and shallow. I couldn't relate to her and I couldn't understand other's interest in her.
The narrator on the other hand was a much better character. He was interesting and thoughtful and way more human than Miss Golightly. I cared significantly more about what happened to him but Capote seems to only take him to a certain level of development then stops.
The book was short,not much happens and the main character is annoying. Considering this is my first Capote book I was sadly disappointed....more
Having just completed The Name of the Rose I thought I would continue the monastery theme with the Monk. My naive self even thought they would be pretHaving just completed The Name of the Rose I thought I would continue the monastery theme with the Monk. My naive self even thought they would be pretty similar in content. Whereas The Name of the Rose is an excellent and well crafted mystery, The Monk is a creepy and suspenseful horror novel. The novel follows the story of two main sets of characters; the monk, Ambrosio and his love Antonia and Lorenzo and his sister Agnes. The two sets are connected in a variety of ways but for most of the story are kept separate. This is an excellent plot device as it juxtaposes the evil and corruption of Ambrosio and the honour and fidelity of Lorenzo.
Ambrosio is the hero of the city. A pious and highly respected monk, he is the model that everyone else looks too. Even heroes, however, can be tempted and Ambrosio gives in to these temptations. Before he knows it he is overcome by passions and moves further and further away from the man Madrid thinks he is. He attention becomes fixed on Antonia, a young virgin in the city and become intent on her corruption. Lorenzo on the other hand has just come to Madrid. He meet Antonia and is determined to make her his bride. Before he can, however, he gets caught up trying to rescue his unfortunate sister from her covenant, in order to reunite her with her husband-to-be. Lorenzo is only working for the good of his sister (and her fiancee) whereas Ambrosio is only working for the destruction of Antonia. It's hard to miss who the good guy and bad guy are supposed to be. The book isn't completely straightforward though! There are some good twists and surprises at the end.
The descriptions and dialogue in this novel, though flowery, are powerful and you can relate the settings and understand the motivation of the characters. Lewis' writing is poetic and I often found myself reading for much longer than I intended to. A couple times I found he got a little carried away and took the reader away from the main plot(s). The back-story of Agnes and her fiancee also seemed to go on for longer than necessary.
Overall a beautifully written novel with some heroic and very creepy characters. It's a novel that's going to sit with me for awhile and I think will reveal even more on a second reading. The depiction of Ambrosio fall for piety to ruin is truly disturbing and makes one question their own motivations and ability to resist temptation. ...more
Sometimes you come across a book that just blows you away. This is one of those books.
Kafka's and Nakata's adventures had me utterly addicted from theSometimes you come across a book that just blows you away. This is one of those books.
Kafka's and Nakata's adventures had me utterly addicted from the first few pages. It has been awhile since I have been engaged by such well developed and compelling characters. The two couldn't be anymore different. Kafka, a teenage runaway, was the “toughest fifteen-year old in the world” and Nakata, a mentally-blank senior. But Murakami's writing is perfect for both of them. They seemed so human that you found yourself cheering them on as they searched what they were looking for and felt their failure and success as strongly as they did.
Beyond the characters, the story itself was well crafted. There are quite a few twists and turns and it wasn't until the very last moment that I knew what was going to happen. There were a number of times I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen and having no idea where Murakami was going to take me next.
The writing wasn't difficult but the story is one that will make you think. The importance of relationships, the power of memory and the journey towards what you need to do (even if you don't know what that is yet). Heavy issues, but tackled in an accessible way. This will be one book that sticks with me for a long while. ...more
I picked this book up at a used book store, drawn in by it's unique title and remembering that it had made it on to one of the editions of 1001 BooksI picked this book up at a used book store, drawn in by it's unique title and remembering that it had made it on to one of the editions of 1001 Books To Read Before You Die. I found it incredibly funny, somewhat informative and at times a little tragic. Way more than I was expecting for a $4 paperback. The story follows a British-Ukrainian family during a time of family crisis. The crisis being that the father has decided to marry a much younger Ukrainian woman, who is clearly using him for money and a passport. His two daughters than join forces to save him from his unhappy fate. What made this book for me was the father, and his interactions with his youngest daughter Nadezhda. The father is quirky, old fashioned and conflicted. I can picture him perfectly in my mind. I can even hear his Ukrainian accent when I'm reading his dialogue. His antics are funny all of their own, but are made even funnier by his daughter's attempts to help a very stubborn old man. You can't help but love the father, he's the product of his history, his age and his daughters and he fulfils his role perfectly. In case you were thinking this book was a little too light hearted and fluffy, it is interspersed with memories of the families time living in the Soviet Union. Before moving to Britain the family did not have it easy, facing famine, work camps and the wrath of communism. These are serious undertones to a very funny book. I found them particularly interesting, as Ukrainian history is not one you generally hear about. Overall a nice book. It's funny, not too long and you learn a bit about the Ukraine at the same time. ...more
Upon arriving at the abbey, Brother William and his apprentice Adso are greeted with a lack of co operation and a number of warnings and mysteries. T Upon arriving at the abbey, Brother William and his apprentice Adso are greeted with a lack of co operation and a number of warnings and mysteries. The first death has happened before they arrived. Brother Adelmo is found at the bottom of the tower, from which he has fallen (or did he jumped? Or was pushed?). In their investigation they find that everyone seems to know something, but no one is willing to talk and they start running out of time as the bodies continue to accumulate and the Inquisitors are on their way. Eco has written a very dark but well designed mystery. Early on into the books I made up my own list of suspects, based on the many clues hinted at throughout the book. Despite my determination to figure out who was the cause of all the murders, the book kept me guessing until the end. As it turns out the culprit wasn't even on my suspect list! You are led through the mystery by Brother Williams young apprentice, Adso. A young novice Adso is both naive and intelligent. He is well versed in matters of theology (as are most characters in this novel- and they love to debate them!) but inexperienced when it comes to life. This makes him very human and relatable and in addition a reliable narrator. You trust what he is telling you and never question whether he is leaving anything out. He is telling you the story exactly as he saw it. Eco is a very descriptive writer and it is easy to lose yourself in the setting of a monastery in1327. Alternatively, however, there is a great deal of time spent on the politics of the time. At this time, when the fear of the Inquisition was felt all over, politics meant theology. Eco writes in detail about some intense theological debates, such as the poverty of Jesus. As a former student of religious studies I could follow some of these debates but even I didn't understand some of the references and arguments some times. These debates should not discourage anyone from reading the book, as it is easy enough to just the jist of them and continue of with the story. Overall an excellent read and a great mystery. Destined to be a classic.
Throughout this book there were a number of times where I thought “This book is exactly what I expected and at the same time nothing like I expected”.Throughout this book there were a number of times where I thought “This book is exactly what I expected and at the same time nothing like I expected”. Now that I've finished it I can think of no better way to sum up my feelings towards it. Burroughs penned this work while suffering from a very severe addiction to “junk” and as a result the book does not follow a traditional narrative and I often had no idea where he was going to take me next or whether or not what I was reading was part of the story or just a random thought that had materialized in his heroin addicted mind. Though this could make it difficult to read at times it also made it exciting and surprising. The parts I found the most well written and clear, often revolved around descriptions of fictional dystopian communities. I found these sections chilling and they effectively communicated how little faith Burroughs held in humanity (or the “human virus”). Of these sections the descriptions of the world Annexia and that of the Divisionists and their replicas were my favourite and the paranoid idea of the future held within those passages made me want to keep reading. I do believe that this book is an amazing piece of literature, even in the midst of chaos Burroughs manages to find moments of clarity which truly reveal the dark and twisted world he was buried in. For example on page 56, when he states “I woke up with someone squeezing my hand, it was my other hand”. Nevertheless, there were still parts that disgusted me or that I thought were unnecessary and although later a sober Burroughs tried to explain the satire of characters like the Mugwump, I am still not convinced. It is a book that you need to go into being prepared for whatever it will throw at you. It is one for which you will need to forget what a novel is supposed to be. It will most definitely shock and surprise as you follow Burroughs twisted “narrative” to...well to nowhere really. If you get the chance, the afterword written by a sober Burroughs later in life is a sobering finale which reminds us that this wasn't just a book but a living nightmare. At the beginning of Naked Lunch, Burroughs himself unknowingly provides us with, what I think is the most accurate way to describe his writing. He states “be just and if you can't be just, be arbitrary”. That is exactly what this book is, arbitrary and bizarre but at the same time the most accurate account Burroughs could give into the mind of a junkie.
I am the first to admit that I am a huge Margaret Atwood fan. She is by far my favourite writer and I could read her work over and over again. So I f I am the first to admit that I am a huge Margaret Atwood fan. She is by far my favourite writer and I could read her work over and over again. So I finally read Surfacing, after having it recommended to me a number of times,and though I went in with high expectations I found that the book wasn't as good as I had hoped. True to Atwood style the novel was beautifully written. Despite any reservations I may have, it was nothing if not poetic. Her description of the Canadian wilderness was incredibly vivid and made me want to hop in my car and drive a few hours north to get back in touch with my roots. The elements of survival and the fear over wilderness destruction were particularly well pronounced and made parts of the novel incredibly gripping and lifelike. Nevertheless, I just had some trouble really getting into the novel. One of the main reasons I had trouble getting into the novel was the characters. I found them all quite despicable and there were points where I didn't seem to care what happened to them, except for Joe whom I found too...innocent, for lack of a better word, to dislike. It is completely possible that I was reading the characters too much at face value but the fact of the matter is I just didn't like them. My opinion of the main character changed however at the point of her transformation. This in my opinion was the turning point of the book! Too bad it didn't happen until the book was almost over. My final thoughts on this book was that it was a little dated. In a way this made it an interesting read. It was first published in 1972 and its references to the Quebecois and Americans made me take a second to think about what was happening in Canada/America at the time. This was an incredibly dynamic time, with Trudeau trying to handle the separation movement in Quebec, the assassinations of R.F.K and Martin Luther King JR, and the juxtaposition of Nixon's elections and the hippie movement. It was interesting to read in Surfacing how this atmosphere could affect average Canadians, who though removed from the events were still affected by them. On the other hand the book being dated was also a bit of a drawback, as some of the references were hard to place or are no longer relevant/effective. This is a chance every book takes, however, when being read in a time period different from when it was written. All in all I didn't think this was Atwood's best work but I still found it an interesting and at times engaging read. Her writing is beautiful and it is an important piece of Canadian literature, that should be enjoyed by all who have an interest in Canadian history and identity...more
Like Water for Chocolate, is the story of a Mexican girl named Tita. She is desperately in lThis review originally posted at Christa's Hooked on Books
Like Water for Chocolate, is the story of a Mexican girl named Tita. She is desperately in love with Pedro but life, and her mother, have conspired to keep them apart. Instead of being together Tita has to watch as Pedro marries her sister and she is forced to live a life of servitude under her domineering mother. Told in monthly instalments this novel tracks the relationship (or lack thereof) of Tita and Pedro and how their love affects the people around them.
I thought this book was really clever. Not only was each chapter a month of the year, each was accompanied by a recipe. The chapter would open with an ingredient list and instructions on how to cook the dish. These instructions, however, would always segue in the central themes and conflicts of that chapter. I was amazed by how seamless some of these transitions were. It is a real testament to Esquivel`s writing that she could preform this feat twelve times over and still keep me interested in the story.
This book has been frequently described as a love story and while that's part of it, I think that is too simple of a description. Instead I would like to describe this book as a full out soap opera! Tita's in love with Pedro, Pedro is married to Rosaura, the other sister is running around naked, brides are throwing up on their wedding gowns and the mother is obsessed with making everyone unhappy. And to top it all off they're all living under the same roof. It's like Days of Our Lives meets The Bachelor Pad! Sometimes the absurdity of the situation just made me outright giggle. You'll find yourself reading on just to see what these crazy characters will get up to next.
Like Water for Chocolate, is a fun and charming novel. There are some really ridiculous – and at times down right weird – moments but there are also some really sweet ones. Esquivel uses some interesting and very unique methods to help the reader look into the life of one crazy family and I think her techniques are something to be appreciated. Definitely one to stick one the shelf and have on hand whenever you need a reminder there are families crazier than your own. ...more
Jane Eyre's youth has been filled with nothing but hard times. An aunt who doesn't want her, cousins who abuse her and a tight fisted school where sheJane Eyre's youth has been filled with nothing but hard times. An aunt who doesn't want her, cousins who abuse her and a tight fisted school where she has next to no friends. No wonder she can't wait to leave the school and set out on her own. This brings her to the new world of Thronfield Manor, owned by Edward Rochester. What she thinks will be an average teaching job turns into a whirlwind romance accompanied by dark secrets and impossible choices. It seems like everyone has read this book and with the new movie coming out it seemed almost criminal that I've never picked it up. I'm so gald I finally did though because I have fallen in love with this book. It really feels like Jane is talking right to you and as a result you are able to really connect with her, in a way that I usually don't with female characters from this time period. Bronte doesn't skimp on Jane's feeling and you feel her anguish, frustration and happiness right along with her. This book has everything. A great romance, that was intriguing, not cheesy, heartbreak, plot twists, a mystery and it even made me laugh. Mr. Rochester is so ridiculous and awkward you sometimes find yourself laughing out loud at the exchanges between him and Jane. All these elements come together to make a really great story with some really great and gripping characters and what more could a reader really ask for?...more