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Dr Jekyll and MR Hyde (Penguin Popular Classics)
Dr Jekyll and MR Hyde (Penguin Popular Classics)
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Edition: Paperback
69 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Intensely Sad, August 1, 2008
What an intensely sad moral fable. In some ways I thought it similar to 'The Invisible Man' by HG Wells. Both narratives express a keen interest in science, and warn in their own way of the danger of transgressing the borders or what one may call moral or ethical acceptability and experimentation.
The clever Dr Jekyll invents a potion which allows him to temporarily change his appearance, age and nature, in order to live a life of villainy without fear of detection. From that point onwards all goes awry, unitl eventually the hideous transformation (Mr Hyde) begins to take over Dr Jekyll's natural self.
Dotted with beautiful use of language, "Instantly the spirit of hell awoke in me and raged", although at times (after all it's Victorian) somewhat laborious.
Interestingly Stevenson's narrative reads unemotionally, even though the content is so highly charged. Different viewpoints are used in the book, allowing Dr Jekyll the final words which explain all. Mr Hyde is never allowed a voice, reinforcing the victory of good over evil, even though the only possible outcome is the death of both Jekyll and Hyde, naturally.


Jeffrey Gaines
Jeffrey Gaines
103 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I was gathering all the things I had to tell you...and found that there were more things I had to hide", July 28, 2008
This review is from: Jeffrey Gaines (Audio CD)
"Like lovers and tears, doubts and fears inside me"

What a great album!
Honest, thoughtful and deep.
Used to listen to this ad nauseum back in '94-'95, then lost touch with it.
Bought it last week and have listened to nothing else, it hasn't aged or tired at all.
Wonderful.


The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 13)
The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 13)
by Lemony Snicket
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $8.23
501 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rambler, July 28, 2008
At age 18 I learnt the verb 'to ramble' from a dear friend who liked to do just that. A very popular addition to my at that time rapidly growing English vocabulary. This volume is the most rambling of all the 'Events' books I have now read, 5 in total, and possible the most rambling volume of anything I have ever read. All good then...
To be very honest, I took Snicket's advice to some extent (close this book while you can and read something happier) and skipped volumes 5-12, feeling I really wasn't up to 8 more volumes of misery before arriving at 'The End' and 'the end of the end after the end of the end.' Close quote, see what I mean about the book being a right old rambler? Not having read the in-between volumes meant that I did have to stop and ask for frequent fill-ins from my much more dedicated daughter, to understand and appreciate the full measure of the story, but having her on hand anyway, I didn't mind at all, and she felt quite the authority. Yes, I cheated and that's bad, I know!
The end of 'The End' (See? Now I'm doing it too, rambling), was not neatly wrapped up and completely tidy, but that was the whole point of our friend Snicket's observations and outlook on life for the Beaudelaires and in general.
Again a lovely, yet not so lovely, and wise story, with lots of fabulous ideas, and new life at the end, which always symbolises promise, hope and all things good and wonderful.
Handler's done a great job here, and the super Helquist illustrations really enhance the story.
If you can't face all 13 volumes, at leat read 'The End', and ask an expert for the rest, like I did.


The Wednesday Letters
The Wednesday Letters
by Jason F. Wright
Edition: Hardcover
198 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "One day. One choice. Something small, but look how it changed us", July 16, 2008
This review is from: The Wednesday Letters (Hardcover)
Although some of the plot seemed contrived, I really enjoyed reading this book. In some places really well-written and crafted, in other places I found it lacking in this department.
Would read more by the same author.
The concept (of the power of the written word being influential enough to save relationships and help people heal) was great and an idea I could relate to from personal experience.
The characters sometimes seemed just a bit flat.
Overall I would recommend it to readers who enjoy a book with values.


Heroes
Heroes
by Robert Cormier
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.99
99 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A story of hope: "Maybe I should buy a typewriter and get started.", May 31, 2008
This review is from: Heroes (Mass Market Paperback)
From the very first introduction to Francis Cassavant, I was taken with this powerful narrative. To have no face, to be misunderstood, to be anonymous, to have every action misinterpreted in a confused and rapidly changing world...to have a plan of revenge, to learn valuable lessons, to gain hope, to live...
Cormier is economical and powerful in this book, as in the villain Larry's question, "Does that one sin of mine wipe away all the good things?", followed by his own answer, for which you will have to read the book. He creates a picture (of a period in history and of a community and a character) which was very moving. This piece explores what makes a true hero, which the reader discovers together with the protagonist. It is only when Francis finds the answer that he is able to move on and find hope and future, "Maybe I should try...".

A beautiful story which was introduced to me by an esteemed colleague, when talking about favourite reads, with the line "It's amazing that the heart makes no noise when it cracks."


The Perfect Man: A Novel
The Perfect Man: A Novel
by Naeem Murr
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.45
86 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ...he had remained silent just long enough., May 31, 2008
This book was a mixed bag for me. On the one hand the coming-of-age narrative of a close group of young beautiful people was one I followed with interest, compassion, humour. The very imperfect grown-up world they inhabit was presented harshly. At times this world was funny and entertaining, but mostly I found it a confusing and threatening world, with exception of Ruth. For me it was just that bit too gritty, too ugly and threatening. Particularly the chilling descriptions of the crimes committed by Magnus and the other men were uncomfortable to say the least. Do we as flawed adults really become so self-obsessed and make such a mess of our worlds and those of our young people? Or is this no allegory, just a story aboout one place, one time and one group of people and their lives? Was this a story of hope? A criticism on human nature, or a reaffirmation? Or all of the above? The story left me with many more questions at the end than I had before reading.
The story flicked backward and forward a bit, which really worked well. It gave events in the novel a gradual revelation, building up suspense in the novel just nicely.
Some of the characters were worked out really convincingly, but I found myself unsatisfied about some of the characters. Probably because Murr hints at certain thngs about certain characters, but then does not allow the reader to get to know them better. That's mean! Similarly with the storyline, there were certain tangents the story hinted at, that were just not worked out any further.
I loved Raj, Annie and Ruth. I loved their integrity, although I wanted to know so much more about Ruth and Raj's relationhip and how they touched each other's lives. I found them amazing, their strength and stability, their sense of right and wrong, even though neither of them had any reason to be like that. Their goodness and character an integral quality, rather than a consequence of nurture, it seems to me. It's the natural way we all want to be good.
Murr is incontestably Wise, uses images and ideas which in turn refresh, shock, entertain and endear.
Throughout this story he portrays indeed the perfect man' "Brutally powerful, morbidly sensitve",which suggests that such a man would have power but be cautious about its use, would value how loved he was. Would know that "it is never sufficient to love; you must have faith in those who love you too."
Like Dickens, Murr recognises the shaping influences a particular place and its people can have. This place, Pisgah, connects the people in the novel, through a collection of experiences, memories and its very landscape, so that the characters are inseparable on some level for the rest of their lives. Even many miles away and years later, Raj's life is still moulded and affected by that small town he came to by some kind of bizarre act of providence years before. This was recognisable to me too. We all have experiences of places in our lives which shape us forever, and try as we may, we can never walk away from experiences, people and the living we have done there.
The recognition by Raj of knowing what he wants out of life, having made his choices, but still sometimes struggling with these choices, "...he had remained silent just long enough", was very real too. I found it encouraging that in an era where adultery and dishonesty are glorified, Murr keeps him faithful and him and Annie together as a family.


A Series of Unfortunate Events Pack (Books 1-4) (Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-4)
A Series of Unfortunate Events Pack (Books 1-4) (Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-4)
by Lemony Snicket
Edition: Paperback
15 used & new from $28.99

4.0 out of 5 stars What likeable children!, April 22, 2008
My 10-year old daughter wanted to read these, and I could not be left behind. I do like to chat with her about and keep tabs on what she is reading. Although I don't make a habit of reviewing every single young persons' book, I was quite impressed with the whole concept of this series. A fictional character, with his own story, being the writer of this entire series, was in itself clever enough, but everything about the book matches that level of wit. Employing techniques for vocabulary expansion (such as adults explaining words and the Beaudelaire children, the protagonists in these books, usually already knowing the words, or deciding to check out what they mean), the book entertains and teaches simultaneously.
The book moralises, but from a child or young person's point of view. I thought that at times it exposed adults, even the very sympathetic ones such as Uncle Monty in book 2, as poor listeners, who are ready with their opinions about most matters concerning children before they have heard them out. Certainly gave me something to think about.
In short then, I enjoyed the stories, although I don't know if I could endure all 13! 4 is about enough mysery for me. In all likelihood I will dip in and out of the others.
But what likeable children the Beaudelaires are, and what a lovely model they provide for sibligs everywhere about the way they should stick together and look out for one another.


The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Book 1)
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Book 1)
by Alexander McCall Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.46
1565 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A Simple Novel?, April 11, 2008
Do not be deceived by the apparent simplicity of this novel upon first turning its pages. Although it initially appears to be such, the underlying insights into people and their reasons for doing what they do, is quite profound. Mma Ramotswe owns the only ladies' detective agency in Botswana, and through this book the reader follows her as she embarks upon solving one case after another. This makes the reading quite neat; yes, there are threads and cases that are resolved through the course of the book, but mostly a case is solved in every few chapters. Hence in some ways it reads like a collection of shorts about the same character, a bit like a serialised novel, I guess.
The humour in the novel is infectious, the chapter where Mma Ramotswe solves a case for the powerful Mr Patel, had me grinning widely.

Moreover, the book is very balanced in its outlook on people, and I appreciate its honesty there, it recognises how divergent human nature can be, presents the good with pride and the bad as something that can be overcome in many cases by good people everywhere.

McCall-Smith's love for Botswana and all things Botswanan is tastefully evident throughout, to the extent that it would not surprise me if many a person upon reading a book in the series were to have a desire instilled to travel to this place themselves for a holiday!

I really liked Mmma Ramotswe and her outlook on life. She seems such a positive, straight (in the sense of no alterior motive, what you see is what you get) person (in spite of having faced some life-changing challenges, which the reader is reminded of regularly). Her philosophy: "I love all the people God made... It is my duty to help them solve the mysteries in their lives".

Future reading:I would not hesitate to move on to the other books in the series, or to recommend it to other readers.

The BBC has produced this as a film, which I intend to watch next, if I can get my hands on it!


Love in the Time of Cholera (Oprah's Book Club)
Love in the Time of Cholera (Oprah's Book Club)
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.49
969 used & new from $0.01

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Oh my dear, I would need another fifty years to tell you about it", April 8, 2008
Whether to enjoy this book or not would probably best be determined by how one reads it. If for entertainment, it is a clever story, with several twists and turns, and a fairly satisfactory ending, although there were some casualties on the way. If read as a treatise on love, one would most likely gain a fairly wide ranging insight into the different types if love in the novel-although I doubt my interpretation of love was actually there!
Personally, I tried to do a bit of both, but for the story to really be a winner it should have been kinder somehow. Maybe it's me being overly sentimental and sensitive about the betrayal and portrayal of women here, I don't know, but there just seem to be too many women who are lied to, cheated and hurt, and quite satisfied with their lot.
Is Florentino Ariza's love really love? Has he given up anything in his life for Fermina Daza? Not a thing, as far as I could see, everything that he experienced was internal. He lies to her ("I've remained a virgin for you") and misreperesents himself to her completely, taking victims in the process (America Vicuna and the woman murdered by her husband, her name escapes me).
To be honest, he quite irritated me.
The description of the women as one-dimensional people who are just tools for his sexual satisfaction irritated me too. I don't mind a bit of raunch in a book, but Florentino just did not get it right. The section where Dr Juvenal Urbino and Fermina Daza discovered each other were a pleasant exception to the irritating sex in the book. Call me what you like, but sex in a book should make one smile, touch the heart and excite, not irritate.
Yet, the book as a whole, the lovely descriptions and some of the otherwise delicious scenes, made for good reading.
Garcia writes masterfully, I guess I just did not like the direction of this story or the philosophy on love that he presented. Come to think of it, I remember thinking the same thing when reading 'Of Love and Other Demons'.
A man book.


Collection
Collection
Offered by Fulfillment Express US
Price: $11.91
83 used & new from $0.69

4.0 out of 5 stars She's Got a Ticket, April 7, 2008
This review is from: Collection (Audio CD)
My listening to Chapman goes back to the time of vinyls, and if that makes me seem impossibly old, it's ok, the music was great then and enjoy it as much now. I can still remember listening to her first album in my friend's living room, picking out lyrics together.
This CD works well in that it pulls songs from different periods and moods, associated with different times in Chapman's career, and more importantly in the listeners' personal lives. The music sparks memories of dreams one held, ideals aspired to, people, experiences, even TV programmes watched and books read.
The themes running through the colllection- such as the quest for personal liberation ('She's got a ticket, I think she's gonna use it', Fast Car), personal integrity (Soul), love and the loss of it (The Promise)- can't not touch the introspective listener. The subtlety of Chapman's lyrics is also evident here: the line 'If you can make a promise, if it's one that you can keep, I vow to come for you' in The Promise evidences this clearly. Life is never straightforward for Chapman, or indeed for any of us. Things always depend on such a wide variety of factors. This is further recognised in All That You Have Is Your Soul, such a powerful song about how women often 'sell out' to expectatations of those around them, rather than doing that which they truly believe in, 'Don't be tempted by the shiny apple, don't you eat of a bitter fruit'. Even though Chapman's interpretation of the shiny apple may be completely different to any other listener, the principle remains. It reminds and inspires me to use my 'ticket', whenever I slip too far back into the old comfort zone.

A super collection, I thoroughly enjoy listening to it.


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