March 20th, 2010


Book Reviews :)

Title: The Crucible by Arthur Miller [USA 1952]
Summary: Based on historical people and real events, Miller's classic play about the witch hunts and trials in 17th century Salem, Massachusetts, is a searing portrait of a community engulfed by hysteria. Written in 1953, The Crucible is a mirror which Miller uses to reflect the anti-Communist hysteria inspired by Senator Joseph McCarthy's "witch-hunts" in the U.S. [Source].
Review in 5 words or less: Very intense. Amazing pacing. Vivid characters. Must read. Shocking ending.
Personal Rating: ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ of 5.
For my review please follow the fake cut - and beware of spoilers! :).

Summary: It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. [Source].
Review in 5 words or less: Very intense. Elegant, poetic, unique style. Original idea & execution. Authentic feel. Scary due to the recurring realization that the backdrop of the story (World War II etc.) is real. Must-read.
Personal Rating: ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ of 5.
For my review please follow the fake cut - and beware of spoilers! :).
han shot first

Changeless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel (ARC) by Gail Carriger

Alexia Macoon, once again, has a few problems on her hands: supernaturals are losing their abilities all around London, ghost are being exorcised, and she can’t seem to keep her clothes on when her husband is around. The latter is, inarguably, the result of her new status as Lady Maccon, wife to Lord Conall Maccon, Earl of Woolsey and Alpha of the biggest wolf pack in England. The others are matters that must inevitably be explored in Gail Carriger’s second Parasol Protectorate book, Changeless.

When Alexa finds herself in a dreary and damp old castle in Scotland, with her dim, but sweet best friend and one of her impossible sisters, it’s more than just a social call. It’s a miracle her retinue managed to make the journey at all; what does one pack for a dirigible ride and will the food be up to Alexia’s rather generous, but hardly forgiving standards? What she meets upon arrival with hatboxes, suitcases, and brightly colored ladies flouncing about the Scottish Highlands in their English best, are the in-laws and an ancient Egyptian mummy. Neither are predisposed to the common courtesies, but Alexia is up to the challenge.

( Read the rest of the review & enter to win a copy--US Residents only)
  • quippe

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

The Blurb On The Back:

In Heart of Darkness unfolds the story of Marlow’s search for Mr Kurtz, the company agent whose “unlawful soul” has been “beguiled beyond the bounds of permitted aspirations” in his dealings with the natives of the Belgian Congo. Witnessing the colonial activity that Conrad elsewhere described as “the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience”, Marlow’s adventure involves him, as it had involved Conrad, in a crucial reappraisal of his own values. It is Kurtz, however, who in his hour of “moral victory” attains to a vision of the inexpressible, terrifying reality of the heart: a vision that has disturbed the thoughts of writers and poets throughout the 20th century.

Displaying masterful technical dexterity in his use of the fallible narrator and the continual testing of the possibilities of language, Conrad makes us fully aware of the deep mystery of truth in this extraordinary exploration of human savagery and despair.

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The Verdict:

A product of its time, the racism in this book makes for an uncomfortable reading experience (notwithstanding that Conrad is scathing about the westerners as well) and the slow pace takes some getting used to.

Cross-posted to books and bookworming.

The Ides

The Ides by Stephen Dando-Collins  256 pages
  Stephen Dando-Collins is one of my favorite history writers.  His books are about different Roman legions from their beginning until their end.  In his newest book he examines the murder of Caesar and it's aftermath.  The book covers from January,26 44B.C. to October 42 B.C. . I like the fact that he is easy to read but gives you a lot of information.  I found it interesting that Caesar was planning on reconquering certain lands while the plot to kill him was about.  And how Caesar put a "Please kill me" sign on his back through his words and actions.  The battle for the control of Rome with Anthony and Octavian going against each other was interesting.
      I liked it so much that I bought a copy of it.  If you are a history fan do yourself a favor and read this book (and try his other books because they are equally as good).  And if you are not a history fan give it a try.  I think you'll enjoy it.
  I give it 5 out of 5.

Coraline & Boy Overboard


Coraline is a children's fantasy/horror novel by by Neil Gaiman about a young girl who discovers a magical door which leads to a strange alternate universe.

This is one of those rare books which both adults and children alike can enjoy. The main protagonist -Coraline is incredibably realistic -she acts exactly the way you would expect a child to act in a story, something which lesser authors sometimes get wrong. The supporting characters are also very realistic. The alternate world Gaiman created is purely amazing which is a wonderful combination of both fantasy and horror. The writing is beautifully done -straight forward and easy to read- perfict for a children's book. There's absolutely nothing to critisize here, well done Gaiman!

Boy Overboard

Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman is about is about a young boy named Jamal who is forced to flee Afghanistan with his family after his parents were caught running an illeagal school. The title of the novel originates from the children overboard incident which occured near Australia.   

Boy Overboard is a well-written thought provoking political children's novel which is so realistic and suspensefull that it is difficult to put down without reading it from start to finish. The story provides a fantasic insight to what it's like living in a country terrorized by their own govement. The characters must also face smugglers, pirates, police and Australian forces. Definately recommended.  

Cheap Books!!!

So I live not too far from this book fair that goes on during the spring to fall months.  And this fair has super super SUPER cheap books.  So today I went with friends and I came out with six books (three in hardback) for Twenty-Five dollars!!!!  The best part?  They're not used.  These are 100% unread, still have that great smell, new books.

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Also, for all those that live in Virginia and want to partake in the cheap book goodness,  It tells you the location, how to get there and the dates they're open from.  They're only open a few weeks at a time from the months of March to December but, if you're anywhere near the location, it's completely worth the drive.  There is a HUGE selection (as you see from the variety I picked up) and I don't think there's a book over six dollars in the entire place.  Enjoy!