I thought I was going to adore this right when I read the first line - "It was as black in the closet as old blood." Flavia, in theory, is an amazingI thought I was going to adore this right when I read the first line - "It was as black in the closet as old blood." Flavia, in theory, is an amazing character but after a few chapters she begins to be far too insistently precocious. My biggest grouse though, was with the plot and the climax could have been tied up at least ten pages earlier if the author hadn't wanted to be dramatic. I did however like the little historical anecdotes, about postage of course, but also the clameur de haro. And bonus points for quoting Ernest Dowson. It's still a good book and I'd want to check out the rest of the series....more
I first heard of The Wind in the Willows from its TV adaptation; I remember it vaguely because I was very young but there was a pleasant theme song aI first heard of The Wind in the Willows from its TV adaptation; I remember it vaguely because I was very young but there was a pleasant theme song and pretty countryside landscapes and talking animals including a frog (I didn't know of toads then) in a car and that was enough to convince me that I wanted to watch it.
Those vague memories - and I'm not going to lie, the fact that I found this book for 49 bucks - finally got me around to reading it. It was surprisingly less juvenile than I expected, perfect for any adult wanting to indulge in reminiscing about childhood.
Mr. Grahame's writing is lyrical and vivid and so very evocative of the rivers and woods that make up the home of his characters. I disagree with the introductory essay by Roger Sale that declares that some of his descriptions are embarrassingly breathless. Just look at this one - "Leaving the main stream, they now passed into what seemed at first sight like a little landlocked lake. Green turf sloped down to either edge, brown snaky tree-roots gleamed below the surface of the quiet water, while ahead of them the silvery shoulder and foamy tumble of a weir, arm-in-arm with a restless dripping mill-wheel, that held up in its turn a grey-gabled mill-house, filled the air with a soothing murmur of sound, dull and smothery, yet with little clear voices speaking up cheerfully out of it at intervals." It makes the whole scene come bright and alive right in front of you and it's a pleasure to read aloud. My two favourite stories were Dulce Domum, cozy and warming and Wayfarers All, in essence, the opposite of the former.
My copy also had lovely illustrations by Les Morrill that added another touch of magic to the stories (I loved the one that showed Rat in a deer stalker in a chapter where he performs a fine bit of deductive reasoning). I did have issues with Toad's change of character, which I thought could have been done less abruptly; the book seems somewhat hastily wrapped up. Then again, this is one of those stories that's more of a portal into an experience and I think I'll be picking it up again when I want to feel like I'm floating down a river in a boat on a summer afternoon....more
Artemis Fowl was all the rage when I was in school, but I never got round to reading it because I was far too invested in Harry Potter.
I did enjoy reArtemis Fowl was all the rage when I was in school, but I never got round to reading it because I was far too invested in Harry Potter.
I did enjoy reading this, it was funny and witty and I like the characters but I think I might have enjoyed this a lot more a few years ago. I love alternative depictions of fairies though, and this was a pretty unique one, even though I prefer a fairy world that's more like the Brothers Grimm than the Matrix, to be honest. I might follow up with other books in the series before I make up my mind on this one....more
The one hundred books I've read this year have all been very different but I wanted my 100th book to be something familiar and Anne of Green Gables isThe one hundred books I've read this year have all been very different but I wanted my 100th book to be something familiar and Anne of Green Gables is that, in a way, even if I never read the original story before.
Like many other classics, I feel like I always knew Anne and Avonlea because others spoke of it so much and because I did see the movie adaptations as a child. I do not regret putting this off for so long because this book seems written for grown-ups as much as children.
At the same time, an adult reader of the story can detect the less than shiny-happy subtext. Anne's removal to Green Gables from the orphan asylum might be a welcome change of fortunes and yet it reminds me of the often unfortunate fates of Home Children and Canadian orphans that I've read about in other books this year. Anne grows up in a society that can be often restrictive for all its warmth and intimacy. And it's still a world where women can't vote or aspire to the same professions as men.
Despite this, I liked the story and it's idyllic setting. One can almost see Lucy Maud Montgomery's nostalgia permeate the pages. Anne is a stronger character than expected. Naturally, I can relate very well to her, even if she is more of an optimist than I ever was as a child (I think I'm much more cheery now!). I liked the other characters as well, especially Matthew, although I think many of Anne's classmates are rather indistinct. I liked the evolution of Anne's relationship with Gilbert and the ending, the thought of a "bend in the road" was strangely comforting. Most of all, I loved the beautifully lush descriptions of Prince Edward Island from the trees to the sea, the "white and rosy winter afternoon" and the "chilly purple autumn twilights".
It was a pleasure to read this book during my own winter afternoons, in the light of my Christmas tree, and a very good way to wrap up 2011 :)...more
For some time now, I had been intrigued by what I read of this book on Goodreads, but didn't get around to it until I discovered the Strange GeographiFor some time now, I had been intrigued by what I read of this book on Goodreads, but didn't get around to it until I discovered the Strange Geographies column on Mental Floss and was surprised to find that the author was Ransom Riggs.
Despite the fact that Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is highly reminiscent of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters - among others - I did like the premise of this book, at least in the beginning. Towards the end, however, I rather lost interest. This was partly because I had little sympathy for Jacob. He's a rich kid whose parents display a believable amount of skepticism - any parent would, if their son claimed to have seen tentacle mouthed monsters. I don't see why he should whine and want to run away from his life. Besides, his narration sounds awkwardly out of tune with his age. He goes from making jokes about his friend's mother servicing truckers to quoting Dante's Inferno. I'm not saying that adolescents can't be well-read but what 15 year old says things like "Sisyphean suicide cult"?
For me, the best parts of the book were the found photos and even if Riggs can't always meld them smoothly to his storyline, they add atmosphere and a dark charm to the book....more
I liked this collection of Sioux folktales. Many of them felt familiar and I think I might have read a couple as a child myself, or perhaps it is justI liked this collection of Sioux folktales. Many of them felt familiar and I think I might have read a couple as a child myself, or perhaps it is just the wonderfully universal nature of folklore?
Of all the stories, I particularly liked the Sioux creation myths about the Little Boy Man and of Unktomee, who I was already familiar with as Iktomi thanks to a TV mini-series about Native American folklore called Dreamkeeper that I saw when I was younger (which is why every time Mr. Eastman talks of Unktomee, I picture him as Gary Farmer with sunglasses :P). I also liked The Beloved of the Sun and The Runaways which was surprisingly like the Scottish folktale of Nix, Nought, Nothing I remember reading as a child. I love how the distinction between man and animal is often blurred in these stories.
I liked the depictions of Sioux life, the importance of the story-teller described side-by-side with the stories themselves, with their delightful characters and the little one line "moral of the story" at the end of each was a nostalgic reminder of all the stories I read as a kid....more
Most of the stories in this collection are meant for children, but that cannot really justify the predictable and somewhat unimaginative writing.
I reMost of the stories in this collection are meant for children, but that cannot really justify the predictable and somewhat unimaginative writing.
I read this mostly for the quaint depictions of northern India and the Anglo-Indian vestiges of the hill stations. The first story A Face in the Dark is reminiscent of the Japanese Nopperabou and I grew up hearing a variation of the story myself. Of the twenty eight stories, I liked The Haunted Bungalow and Ghosts of the Savoy best, but like many others the latter might have been better off inserted as an anecdote in a longer story. Still, most of the stories are readable enough, good for a quick skim to pass the time....more
When I was about 10, a friend lent me an anthology of Satyajit Ray's stories after her praise for his chilling ghost stories got me interested. I remeWhen I was about 10, a friend lent me an anthology of Satyajit Ray's stories after her praise for his chilling ghost stories got me interested. I remember reading about an ill-fated attempt at a parapsychological experiment in a rural haunted house and a strange little story about a man who hung himself upside down from a tree like a bat. When I found this book, I bought it in hopes of re-reading some of those tales. The last one is not here, but the first, Anath Babu's Terror is, and is still delightfully frightening after all these years.
The horror stories, whether the horror is human or supernatural, are the highlight of this volume. There is the restless ghost of an English indigo planter in the title story, a ventriloquist's dummy which slowly becomes more and more like his estranged mentor in Bhuto (incidentally, the story that my friend told me about first), and in Fritz a grown man discovers his childhood plaything is more sinister than he imagined. Other stories are less typical in their horror: in Ratan Babu and That Man, the protagonist's initial delight at finding his doppelganger takes a dark turn and Mr. Eccentric details the story of a man in a sleepy hill town with a macabre hobby.
Also included are a few fantasy stories, a few others for children, a humorous Roald Dahl-esque tale called Bipin Chowdhury's Lapse of Memory as well as a couple of slice-of-life dramas. Of these Patol Babu, Film Star is a gentle look at a failed actor and his continued devotion to his craft. Ray's own career as a film maker makes this an insightful story and it is one of my favourites in the collection. Pikoo's Diary is an unsettling account of the breakdown of a child's family, written by the child himself.
The 21 stories are by themselves enchanting but the various genres - horror, humour, fantasy, drama - sit awkwardly together. It is jarring to finish reading about a murder and plunge into a humorous alien encounter. I would have preferred if the editor had decided whom the stories were meant for. It is true that Ray writes as well for children as for adults and his stories are often meant for both, but the book could have done with a more focused selection....more
While I grew up with Disney's television version of this classic, I never read Winnie-the-Pooh until I got my iPod Touch and received this book free wWhile I grew up with Disney's television version of this classic, I never read Winnie-the-Pooh until I got my iPod Touch and received this book free with iBooks and decided to read this first. It's a delightful story, made all the more enjoyable with E.H. Shepard's charming illustrations. I don't think you need to be a child to appreciate this: the endearingly absurd humour can sometimes be best understood when you're a little older.
It was nice to discover the same characters I knew as a child, yet subtly different (what, no Tigger?!!). This book made me want to catch up on all the children's classics I missed out on reading as a kid....more