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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula (first edition cover), Bram Stoker's v...

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Wow this was not the ordeal I was expecting it to be. I always automatically regard older books as something that won’t interest me. I really don’t know why. This was definitely one of the best books I have ever read. Yes the writing is a little bit difficult at times but when I say a little bit, I mean a little bit. After the first few pages the difference in the older style of writing barely registered with me I was so engrossed in the actual storyline.

Dracula is the original vampire book really isn’t it? And since the literary world is over-run with vampire and paranormal themed books at the moment I though I should go back to the original that stemmed all the books that I adore. It didn’t let me down one little bit. It’s probably still the most original, the most scary and atmospheric than any of the vampire themed books I’ve read.

As I’ve said countless times before I love a book that deals in multiple narratives and this one does just that. All the characters are then well-developed and you get a personal feel for each and every one of them. Mina is a great strong female character and even though this book is over a hundred years old I felt she had her own very strong opinion and independence. Of course there’s the obligatory minding of her by the men as she is just a ‘weak woman’ but I don’t feel that this in any way went over the line of sexism, more just extreme chivalry. This actually surprised me. Also the men are all in all such kind and decent people you can’t help but forgive them some of their comments about protecting Mina’s innocence. By the way I did not know that Van Helsing was created in this novel.

The plot is fantastic and moves a long at a great pace. The problem with some older books is they can have pages and pages where nothing is happening but a character is having a long argument in his head about something or other. This does happen in Dracula but these seem to be contained to paragraphs rather than pages. Dracula himself is such an inherently evil and scary character that it makes the whole book more atmospheric just by him being in it. I also loved the character’s surroundings at the different points in the book such as Dr. Seward‘s lunatic asylum and the castle in Transylvania. Try saying Transylvania without doing the accent, bet you can’t!

Anyway to sum up this was one of my best reads, not just all year, but ever. I enjoyed it immensely and am forever indebted to Bram Stoker for creating a character so good it has survived through decades to live on in so many ways and forms, not just in the literary world but the film and tv too. Thank You!

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Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Book Review

 

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Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien No#2

The Lord of the Rings film trilogy

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The Fellowship of the Ring

So I’ve read the Lord of the Rings saga a few times now and every time I realise how much I absolutely love it. JRR Tolkien is without a doubt a master of fantasy. He has created this complete world down to the very minutest detail that just completely astounds me. To think that one man could invent an entire world not just including new characters, settings and creatures but also complete with new animal and plant species as well is just unbelievable. I’m not sure there has been author since to create something so detailed.

All the characters are amazing I especially love all the creatures such as the dwarf’s and the elves. If I have one flaw to point out it’s that of Frodo‘s character. Bilbo was a brave, funny and cheeky character in the Hobbit but Frodo just bores me silly, in both the books and the films. In the films I want to kill him but I can tolerate him in the books. However they are still an amazing series of books and are definitely classics!!

The Two Towers

This book is my least favourite of the trilogy. Even though its well written and at times well paced and interesting I find because it has no beginning and no end it can be an extremely difficult book to get through.

The first part when we are following Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli is by far much more exciting and easier to read than the second part concerning Frodo and Sams journey. The second part is so repetitive and drags on and on. Can Frodo bear the ring? Will it become too much of a burden? Will he give up? Blah blah… I love Sam however who is a much more entertaining character than Frodo and provides the much-needed light entertainment in the final part of this book.

A good book, but to me never matches up to the worlds and people created in the first book.

The Return of the King

As much as I adore the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Christ but does he drag out the ending of this book. Most of this book is just as amazing as the previous two installments, I especially loved the main battle chapters as Tolkien just has this amazing ability to draw you so well into the story you can really feel all the emotions!

The chapters with Sam and Frodo once again I found tedious at times and Frodo just gets on my nerves more and more as the story progresses. I love Sam and wish he’d get more credit towards the end as really he was the only reason the ring was eventually destroyed.

The final few chapters I found hard going this time round as I just find at times that a lot of the book could have been shortened as most of the happenings along the road on their journey back to the shire were unneccessary to the actual storyline. Sometimes I wonder was it just filling to bulk the book up a bit compared to the other two.

However despite these few flaws I love LOTR and they will remain always in my top ten favourite books list!

The Films

I just want to say a quick word on the films. I am usually a strong, strong believer that books do not translate well to screen ninety percent of the time. That, of course, you’re always going to be missing scenes you wanted to see, that to a reader it will appear jerky and disorganised but the Lord of the Rings trilogy was very different. I’m not sure whether it was to do with Peter Jackson and his love for the books or was it the actors or was its New Zealand‘s striking similarities to Tolkien’s description of Middle Earth but it worked. It worked so well that the Lord of the Rings movies could be argued to be better than the books. I’m not saying they are but even the fact that this point could be argued shows how well they translated to film. These films flowed like I’ve never seen book adaptations flow. It was probably the first time I sat through a book adaptation of a film and didn’t think “Aw, that’s not what I imagined at all”. Everything was how I imagined it, sometimes even better. I loved the films just as much as the books, maybe, just maybe, a little bit more…

 
 

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis. No #1.

First edition

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This is number one to tick off the 100 Best Novels List as read. I’ve read this numerous times over the years and I can’t deny that it’s a good book. It is. It’s got great characters, a great setting and a great plot. I love the Chronicles of Narnia, to me they’re up there with Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings.

However (you knew it was coming didn’t you) I don’t think that this is the best book in the collection. In fact I would go so far as to say that, excluding the Last Battle which I also found disappointing, this was maybe the worst. It was definitely the one I enjoyed the least. I adored Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the Horse and His Boy and the Silver Chair. These were all much better books in my opinion. Of course that’s not to say the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a bad book. It’s far from it. But out of the seven books it ain’t the one that jumped out at me.

Nevertheless it is the book that introduced us to the series most famous characters, Lucy, Susan, Edmund and Peter. They are all individually good characters and the fact that Edmund struggles to be as inherently good as the rest of them only made me like him more. Lucy is a sweetheart. It’s such a pity that kid characters like these aren’t written all that often any more. They are old-fashioned, yes, but they are what kids should be. Innocent.

Narnia is a wonderful world created by Lewis. It rivals the Wizarding world in Harry Potter and Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings for its details and beauty. I love Narnia, and if I had to choose between there and Middle Earth for a visit I honestly don’t know which I’d choose, that’s how good these books are. They definitely deserve a place on the 100 Best Novels List but I wish they had chosen to put them in as the Chronicles (the whole collection) like they did with Lord of the Rings, instead of just choosing this single instalment.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in 100 Best Novel List, Book Review

 

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Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger.

Cover of "Chasing Harry Winston (Thorndik...

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This is my second time reading this book but the first was years ago and I don’t like writing a review for a book that’s not fresh in my mind. However I do remember liking the book when I read it the first time and although my preferences on book genres and what-not have changed I still enjoyed this. I tend to try to read a book in the chick-lit genre every once in a while, mainly because they’re just such easy, carefree reads. I see my favourite genres of books such as paranormal romance, young adult and fantasy as gourmet meals for the mind. I see chick-lit as a tasty little chocolate bar! And this was enjoyable, it can actually be quite hard sometimes to find an author in this genre who doesn’t undoubtedly venture into the overly clichéd, sappy, lovey-dovey stuff. Weisberger doesn’t do this. Obviously her most famous novel is the Devil Wears Prada but Chasing Harry Winston is actually just as good a read. She has a good style of writing that keeps you interested in all the characters.

So basically this novel is centered around three women in New York who are trying to find happiness in their lives. Adriana is a self-centered, spoilt little rich girl who at thirty years old is desperate to find a rich husband who will look after her for the rest of her life. I found Adriana wearing most of the time. She epitomizes everything I hate. She had no independence, was so obsessed with her looks and was basically not a very nice person. But somehow the author made her likable. I don’t know how she did it either but she did. And the ending does give her some credibility as a good character so you don’t feel as guilty for liking such a shallow woman.

Emmy and Leigh were much more normal and relatable. Leigh was stuck in a relationship she didn’t want even though everyone around her told her it was perfect. And Emmy just decided to make a whore out of herself for a year as she (quite respectfully) had only slept with a couple of men before her current boyfriend ends it with her.

The morals in this story are a bit dodgy you have to admit but it is an enjoyable read. And you come away from it thinking, I must meet up with the girls for a night out. I liked it but didn’t love it.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Book Review

 

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Series or Stand-Alone Novels?

Cover of "A Thousand Splendid Suns (First...

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The debate on which I book I should read next is always a tough one. I have officially (let me just check fictfact.com, which by the way is a brilliant site recommend-to-a-friendworthy even) twenty series on the go at the moment. That’s a lot isn’t it? Well I’m up to date (which means I’ve read all books that are currently released from that series) with two of them. That doesn’t really improve matters much does it? Oh well…

The fact of the matter is I like series of books. And it seems I’m not the only one. I often wonder how I actually read books before the internet came along. I’m a member of shelfari, goodreads and now I also write this blog, all of which I find are fantastic ways of discovering more and more books, especially those in a series, to read. The danger is of course, what has clearly happened to me, over crowding. Some people might believe in reading a series in one go, one after the other. I could never do that with maybe the exception of the likes of the Chronicles of Narnia or Harry Potter. Narnia, because they’re such short books that really three Narnia books are worth one regular book for me. HP because I just adore them. I’ve read the whole series at least three or four times since the last book was released. Anyway other than these few exceptions, I personally believe you need a break to let the characters breath.

So my usual method goes something like this. Series, other series, stand-alone, another series, repeat. So usually I’m back at series number one after four books. However this rarely goes according to plan. I’m a sucker for a good book and if I come across one that just makes me want to cry and laugh at the same time I’ll probably want to read the follow-up immediately. Take JR Ward for instance. I’m in the process of reading her Black Dagger Brotherhood series and it takes all my self-control not to plough through them all one after the other at the rate of ninety. I’m doing well though and it really does help. You don’t get sick of a specific character, certain places or settings in a book don’t bug you as much and just the author’s style of writing remains fresh in your head instead of slowly wearing you out.

Lets just take a few minutes to have a word on stand-alone’s. I like them. Sometimes I’m a little more meh towards them than I am series but that’s to my own detriment I fear. Some of the best books I’ve ever read have been stand-alones. Take Khaled Hosseini‘s books, for instance, the Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns were absolutely fantastic. The Time Traveler’s Wife from Audrey Niffeneger was also quite moving, if a bit confusing.

The problem with me is I will always, and I mean always, buy the next book from a series I’m currently making my way through over a stand-alone every day of the week. It does pain me sometimes because I feel I do make myself miss out on books that are fantastic. My mother as been offering The Room to me for over ten months now and I still haven’t found time to lend it off her and give it a read. So on this train of thought I feel I need to do something to motivate myself to read some stand-alone novels. So on another page on this site I have posted the Times 100 Novels of All Time and my mission is to start making my way through that hundred. I don’t believe it will be an easy task and I think that it will probably take me (ye may laugh at this but I’m being realistic) a couple of years at least. However it would be an accomplishment I think I would be super proud of so I’ll do my very best to stay on track.

This does not mean I’m giving up my series by the way…

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Night Star by Alyson Noel

Hmm, this wasn’t as bad as I actually expected. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a little OCD when it comes to finishing series that I’ve started as even though I have only really truly enjoyed one book in this, the Immortals series, I find myself somehow buying and reading the fifth in the series before I know it.

However saying that, for the last few books Ever has annoyed the heck out of me but in this one she only slightly irritated me which was an improvement of sorts. And I actually liked Damen again by the end of this book. Before this instalment I was totally pro-Jude, anti-Damen. This books plotlines are dismally poor though, basically they don’t really have one and looking back now I wanted to do a brief summary of what went on. Problem. Can’t remember what went on. I know Haven got very bitchy and annoying and Ever acted like that was out of character for her which it actually wasn’t. She’s been a total bitch from the first book. Miles became a much better, more solidly decent character, as did Damen. We didn’t see much of Romy and Rayne who I missed. A lot.

I think other stuff happened as well. In fact I’m nearly sure it did. I don’t really care all that much though as this is probably one of the worst series to come out of the Twilight epidemic. And the little dig the author throws in about vampires? Don’t knock whats made you get the publicity that you don’t deserve. Again, I don’t know why I’m still reading it.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2011 in Book Review, Uncategorized

 

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Dark Lover by JR Ward.

Ooh, ooh what a find!! I’ve been constantly hearing about the Black Dagger Brotherhood series in all the paranormal forums and I have to say I was actually put off a little bit by how people loved it so much because I always find myself disappointed with a book when its recommended to me by loads of people. I suppose I shoot myself in the foot because I expect too much. However, this book lived up to all the hype and in a year when my reading pace has slowed incredibly due to work and whatnot, I finished this within a day or two.

I adore Wrath, he is just this wonderfully complex character who deep down is just a big softie. Beth was very likable as the main female character and she kept her independence and strength throughout the book which made me like her more. I loved all the other brothers, even Zsadist who I think will mellow out in future books. The plotline was original and still is even though the vampire genre has expanded dramatically since this book was released in 2005. Ooh I have to give a mention to Butch, cute or what? Please let him remain in future books!

I loved this and would rate it as definitely in the top ten of my favourite books, maybe even the top five but I’ll wait to see what future books hold. Oh and I very nearly forgot to mention the sex. Oh the sex people… If you’re in any way prudish stay clear but if you’re not (like me!) enjoy!!

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in Book Review

 

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