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01-01-2011
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Book Reviews
A lot of members have embarked upon the 50 book challenge, and hopefully we can kick start the book club again so I thought it might be a good idea to start up a Book Reviews thread - as was suggested in the 50 book challenge discussions.

Post your book reviews in this thread, and from time to time I will come in and catalogue the posts so we have a generic list on the first page that people can reference.

The Aeneid by Virgil
After Dark by Haruki Murakami
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
American Subversive by David Goodwillie
Ark by Stephen Baxter
A Thousand Days In Venice by Marlena de Blasi
Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
Big Mouth And Ugly Girl by Joyce Carol Oates
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Horseman
Candide by Voltaire
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
Cloudstreet by Tim Winton
The Collector by John Fowles & 2
The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
The Devil and Miss Prym by Paolo Coelho
The Faith Club by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner
The Forest Of Hands & Teeth by Carrie Ryan
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis
Invitation To A Beheading by Vladamir Nabokov
It by Stephen King
Just Kids by Patti Smith & 2
Letters From The Inside by John Marsden
Life Of Pi by Yann Martel
Limit by Frank Schatzing
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Lovers' Room by Steven Carroll
Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
Nausea by Sartre
Nervous Conditions by Tsisti Dangaremba
The Odyssey by Homer
The Percy Jackson & The Olympians Series by Rick Riordan & 2
Pieces of Modesty by Peter O'Donnell
The Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett
The Road by Cormac McCarthy & 2
Room by Emma Donoghue
See Naples And Die by Penelope Green
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Slapstick or Lonesome No More by Kurt Vonnegut
Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal
This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein
Torment by Lauren Kate
Under The Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
The Winner Stands Alone by Paolo Coelho
Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell
The Woman In Black by Susan Hill
The Year Of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien

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01-01-2011
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This is my personal review of the book Cleopatra written by Stacy Schiff:

Cleopatra is a beautiful, illustrative biography of the last queen of Egypt Cleopatra VII. It took the first 20 pages until I could grasp the whole happening because it is very detailed about the period and the glory of the city of Alexandria where Cleopatra reigns is portrayed in technicolor. Reading it is actually like falling into a rabbit hole and arriving at the first century BC. Think of the luxurious goods of ancient Egypt, charming (and unfaithful) Roman rulers, and a complicated political situation all on the slim shoulders of a 18 year old queen, Cleopatra.

I do not want to reveal much becuase you should read it to yourself and relish the dive into the Egyptian kingdom. However, I have to say that if you read any book about this period in history, or seen Cleopatra's classical movie with the heavy kohl eye painted Elizabeth Taylor, notice this book fortuantely holds some surprises to you. Because although Cleopatra was a very powerful woman in her life, and she had a great impact on the turn of history, being a femme fatale didn't came that easy to her. In fact, it seems that above beauty, and charm, she had tons of intilligence and compassion to bring to the table of fights over control on the Meditterenean.

Have a lovely read!

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01-01-2011
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01┃THE AENEID by VIRGIL
EXPERIENCE ▸ ★★☆☆☆┃DIFFICULTY ▸ ★★★★☆



OVERVIEW THE AENEID is an Epic Poem about the founding of Rome led by the Trojan Warrior, Aeneas.
Famous passages include; The Sack of Troy (and the only surviving account of the Trojan Horse),
the Love affair between Dido and Aeneas leading to her suicide, and his descent into the Underworld.

EXPERIENCE I didn't much enjoy this one which is quite sad, because I loved both the Odyssey and the Iliad,
both Homeric epics Virgil used heavily as his models all throughout the Aeneid.

DIFFICULTY Fagles' translations are less scholarly and more geared toward a modern common reader like moi.
The difficulty is in the material, so firmly rooted in its time, and the density of events and characters.

CONCLUSION For fans of rich poetical invention and the heights of literary craftsmanship.

cover-amazon


Last edited by Toccata; 01-01-2011 at 05:46 PM.
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01-01-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoRa View Post
This is my personal review of the book Cleopatra written by Stacy Schiff:

Cleopatra is a beautiful, illustrative biography of the last queen of Egypt Cleopatra VII. It took the first 20 pages until I could grasp the whole happening because it is very detailed about the period and the glory of the city of Alexandria where Cleopatra reigns is portrayed in technicolor. Reading it is actually like falling into a rabbit hole and arriving at the first century BC. Think of the luxurious goods of ancient Egypt, charming (and unfaithful) Roman rulers, and a complicated political situation all on the slim shoulders of a 18 year old queen, Cleopatra.

I do not want to reveal much becuase you should read it to yourself and relish the dive into the Egyptian kingdom. However, I have to say that if you read any book about this period in history, or seen Cleopatra's classical movie with the heavy kohl eye painted Elizabeth Taylor, notice this book fortuantely holds some surprises to you. Because although Cleopatra was a very powerful woman in her life, and she had a great impact on the turn of history, being a femme fatale didn't came that easy to her. In fact, it seems that above beauty, and charm, she had tons of intilligence and compassion to bring to the table of fights over control on the Meditterenean.

Have a lovely read!
Already the books everyone is reading sound fascinating!

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01-01-2011
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I've not yet finished my first book for the 50 book challenge, but I thought I would write 2 quick reviews of the best books that I read in 2010.



The Road by Cormac McCarthy [5/5]

This is a quick and easy read as far as time management goes, but an emotionally easy read it is not. Dark and harrowing The Road tells the story of a father and son making their way down "the road" after an event (never described in detail) that has changed the face of Earth. What they do in order to survive, and what you witness others doing in their battle for survival is haunting and at times disturbing. But ultimately The Road is a reflection on the beauty and the power of the human spirit and the bond between a father and son. This book shot to the top of my all time favourites list after one read, and I can't wait to re-read it once I get it back from the friend I leant my copy to.



Room by Emma Donoghue [5/5]

This book caught my attention as it was one of the nominees for the Man Booker Prize in 2010. Also, as much as it's something we should never do - the cover definitely caught my eye. Room is the story of Jack & his mother, who live together in a single room with a television. Jack has no concept of the world outside the room. Why? I won't go into detail because it's one of the major plot points/spoilers but it was not what I had expected. Room was a real page turner, and although Jack's child narrative is jumpy and can be hard to get used to at first, a couple of chapters in it flows easily and the book is impossible to put down.

covers: bookdepository.co.uk

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02-01-2011
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^hm.. I usually pick books by cover.. or by name.


wikipedia.org

I finished Pieces of Modesty by Peter O'Donnell. It is short storie collection, six different stories where we meet Modesty and Willie. I have reading Modesty serie and this is where I was stuck. It is not very good book in my opinion and usually I really like Modesty books and comics. Some reason short stories just don't work, and this guy can write amazing comic stories.. I guess reason is that there have no such much page (stories are about 30 pages) than novel and stories has to be simplier. Also, this was in English, I have read most of books of serie in Finnish and now i'm also worried other books because I had to read them in English too. 2/5

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02-01-2011
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01 // Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis // 3/5


I've recently ordered Ellis' Less Than Zero and its 'sequel' Imperial Bedrooms, but since the latter arrived first and I needed a holiday book, I started the other way round.

Imperial Bedrooms was a quick and easy read, even though I was a little bit confused at times. The story, which is told by one of the main characters of Less Than Zero, evolves around the same people some 25 years later. It's a depressing and at times even pessimistic account of people who started their lives on the wrong foot and now can't escape the downward spiral they're on.

The book is by no means uplifting or amusing, it shows almost no hope for the protagonist's lives to get better. But it tells the story of a generation that is spoiled by wealth and too much time on their hands, which leads to boredom and the need to fill their numbness with sex and violence.

I can't say I didn't like the book, even though it is a little disturbing from time to time. But I wouldn't count it to my favourites either.
I am curious to see what Less Than Zero is like, from what I've heard it's even more like a snuff film...

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04-01-2011
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02NAUSEA by SARTRE
EXPERIENCE ▸ ★★☆☆☆┃DIFFICULTY ▸ ★★☆☆☆



OVERVIEW NAUSEA is novel set as a series of introspective journal entries from the pen of Antoine Roquentin.

EXPERIENCE Truthfully, I left feeling a little empty and underwhelmed. I followed him down the existential anxiety trail
but was left behind at the chestnut tree when, in contemplating the existence of branches and leaves, he wrote,
'Suddenly they existed, then suddenly they existed no longer: existence is without memory; of the vanished it
retains nothing-not even a memory. Existence everywhere, infinitely, in excess, for ever and everywhere;
existence-which is limited only by existence.'
It is a little too over-the-top to be a convincing, 'A-HA!' moment.

DIFFICULTY I noticed two technical problems; firstly, the 'journal-entries' format isn't realistic. It's a normal, present tense,
linear storyline. Secondly, the characters sound alike and it's easy to lose your character's perspective during long interactions.

RECOMMENDED FOR People who question their place in the world and their place within themself.

cover-amazon

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05-01-2011
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01 / The grapes of wrath by John Steinbeck / 4/5


goodreads

(i'm horrible at writing reviews!)

I gotta admit, i love fast-paced books and lot's of action, something that's missing in this book and i had my problems with that in the beginning, but the more i got to know the characters the more i grew to love this book.

it was sad to see every hope and dream of the family get crushed and yet out of poverty and despair the characters grew so much stronger and believed in humanity until the last page of the book.

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05-01-2011
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American Subversive by David Goodwillie [3/5]

This book is a split narrative story about a bombing in NYC post 9/11. The blame for the act of terrorism is automatically placed on a group of middle eastern men, but then blogging political commentator Aiden receives an email with a picture of a caucasian woman with the heading "this is Paige Roderick, she is the one responsible". The book is basically a social commentary on the digital age, and the "dark soul of modern America". I liked the characters, and was happy that for once the female protagonist didn't annoy the hell out of me. It was easy to read, (I finished it in 4 days) and the story was easy to follow. The only part that didn't flow for me was Paige's back story. I just didn't really believe her commitment to her activism, and how easily she had split from her previous life.

Recommended for: Those who like books set in the modern day that are easy to read and involve some action/mystery.

cover source: bookdepository.co.uk


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10-01-2011
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1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
A great read, difficult for me to get into initally since it's a journey novel like Lord of the Rings and there is great emphasis on the details of location, setting etc. What might appear to be a novel full of uneventful long tangents of the father and son's hunger and emotional suffering, is actually a multi-dimensional book that touches on universal themes from the environment to human mortality. I liked how the book portrayed human beings at their most desperate and what gruesome measures they would take in order to survive. It was a book I normally wouldn't choose and it took me to another world so unfamiliar and terrifying. Lack of dialogue and less focus on character development, made this a one time read for me, but I did enjoy it thoroughly until the end. As Belowen has already commented it is a nice easy read to enjoy even with a busy schedule


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12-01-2011
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The Collector by John Fowles [4/5]

I originally read this book years ago in high school in my year 11 English Literature class. I still have the first copy of the book that I bought for school, and I've re-read this story around 5 times since then. For some reason reading it now I understand it so much more than I ever did before. (Oh, what you can learn to understand in 11 or so years...) For one thing, the book is set in England in the 60s, not in Australia in modern times like I originally remember... Also, the tone of the book is a lot darker than anything I remember. The basic storyline is that a socially inept man becomes obsessed with a young, beautiful 20-something year old girl. He wins the lottery and has enough money to transform the cellar of a cottage into a prison, in which he keeps the girl after kidnapping her. The narrative is split between the girl and her kidnapper, which offers insight to both sides of the story - which I found fascinating. I won't go into too much detail as I don't want to spoil the book but the ending is extremely chilling, and sat with me for days afterwards.

Recommended for: Those who like psychological thrillers and are not disturbed by stories of kidnapping.

cover source: bookdepository.co.uk

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13-01-2011
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amazon.com

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper [3.5/5]

Amazon.com selected this book as one of the best of the month in August 2009 – it's a relatively quick, entertaining read that explores a family dynamic. 4 adults sit shiva for 7 days for their father and you see what happens when they're essentially forced to spend time with each other and confront the lifelong issues they've had with each other.

There are no life changing revelations in this novel... I don't think I feel strongly about it either way, but I guess I would recommend it for the entertainment value and maybe it will make you reexamine the relationships within your own family.

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14-01-2011
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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak [5/5]

Wow. Just... Wow. This has to be one of the best books I have ever read. The ending left me emotionally wrecked and crushed, and yet completely in awe of how beautiful the book was. The character development was flawless, the imagery was SO vivid and I was completely wrapped up in the story every time I picked up the book. The book revolves around Liesel, a nine year old girl living with a foster family in Germany during World War 2. The thing that instantly caught my attention before starting to read this book is that it is narrated by death. Sound interesting? I thought so. I loved this book and it has shot up to the top of my all time favourite books list.

Recommended for: Everyone.

cover source: bookdepository.co.uk

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14-01-2011
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can't wait to read that B!
it's one of the books that's stacked next to my bed so it will definitely be one of the next books i read

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