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The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever: "Lord Foul's Bane", "Illearth War" and "Power That Preserves"
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever: "Lord Foul's Bane", "Illearth War" and "Power That Preserves"
by Stephen Donaldson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Up there with the best fantasy novels, 14 Nov 2014
Not a detailed review. There are several good summaries of the storyline in other reviews. I'll just add my own 5 stars and say that the story is clever and keeps you guessing. The showdown between TC and the big bad is beatifully written. The actions and reactions of TC are believable. He doesn't want to be a leper. He doesn't want to be a hero. He just tries to do what seems to be right through his pain and anger. Recommended.


Orlando
Orlando
Price: £0.99

2.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity, 12 Oct 2014
This review is from: Orlando (Kindle Edition)
This book is weird. Ostensibly about a boy growing up in Elizabethan England who becomes a favourite of the Queen. He falls for a Russian Princess but loses her. He goes to Turkey as an ambassador, falls asleep for a week and wakes up as a woman. He/she falls in with gypsies but escapes back to his/her estates in England. She potters around for a couple of hundred years and marries a strange man who is constantly at sea. 
There are a few lines in the book which wouldn't be out of place in a modern day sitcom. I think there are lots of in-jokes in the book but, since I'm not in, they were lost on me. The author remembers every so often that she's poking fun at biographers. Then again she allows her intellect free rein to wander where it will. The book is an interesting concept but is esentially a rambling mishmash of pretentious, self indulgent codswollop


Far from the Madding Crowd (Wordsworth Classics)
Far from the Madding Crowd (Wordsworth Classics)
by Thomas Hardy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book, 3 Sep 2014
A lovely read. The characters are more three dimensional than the terribly proper or very selfish characters in Austen and Bronte. Bathsheba Everdene is intelligent, good looking and owns a farm. She has three men in love with her. She is driven by her own vanity to make silly choices until the last chapter. And yet the actions of all the characters are driven by human feelings rather than propriety or hedonism. There are no real villains in this story. The outcome is not unexpected but getting there is enjoyable and satisfying. 


The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Wordsworth Classics)
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Wordsworth Classics)
by Anne Brontė
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, 15 Aug 2014
A well written story that fair zips along. It's more like two books in one. A mysterious widow and her child turn up live at the Hall, giving rise to much speculation among the locals, especially Gilbert, a young gentleman farmer. She insists that they can be no more than platonic chums and she appears to have a thing going with her landlord. Everybody gets huffy and then she gives him her diary and tells him to read it. It explains everything.
Then we go to the other story, about her early years, when she was wooed and married to a gentleman who turns out to be a proper cad and an utter bounder. Well that's a bit of a pickle!
But it all turns out for the best. The good Christian people end up happy, the naughty people get their just desserts and the few who are naughty but repent live happily ever after.


THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP (Annotated)
THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP (Annotated)
Price: £0.77

4.0 out of 5 stars Not his best, 28 July 2014
OCS is an enjoyable book, well written as usual. But Mr Dickens pads out the first half of the book with detailed character studies of numerous people who don’t really play a large part in the story. The characters are all fairly comic book.
Pretty little Nell is a pretty pretty 13 year old orphan girl who appears to be a perfect little angel. Her Gramps is an addict and has lost all his money. Nasty evil dwarf Quilp lends him money and forecloses on the Old Curiosity Shop. That’s pretty much the end of the shop in the story. Nell and Gramps run away and have some fairly dull adventures. Also there are lots of people, both good and evil, in hot pursuit. Eventually they settle down with a schoolteacher but the tribulations of the journey have taken their toll on poor little Nell’s health.

Meanwhile simple, honest, naive Kit, a friend of Nell, is stitched up by the evil dwarf Quilp and sentenced to be transported overseas. Of course he is exonerated by dint of the intervention of a tiny, uneducated but street-wise servant girl and a cockney geezer. At the end there are the usual long lost relatives etc

It’s readable. It’s too long. It’s too sentimental in places. But it’s worth reading


Narrow Margins - a laugh-out-loud book about life on the waterways (Narrow Boat Books 1)
Narrow Margins - a laugh-out-loud book about life on the waterways (Narrow Boat Books 1)
Price: £0.77

3.0 out of 5 stars First half interesting second half not, 15 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's ok. The story of the trials of refurbishing a narrow boat and learning about living and travelling on water is interesting. The second half of the book, which seemed to be mostly about the author's family issues, was not so interesting. As for 'laugh out loud': who decided that? It raised a smile on a couple of occasions. Still, it's quite short and quite readable.


Lord Jim (Wordsworth Classics)
Lord Jim (Wordsworth Classics)
by Joseph Conrad
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.99

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing like a good read, 24 Jan 2014
This is a story told by a man about another man called Marlow telling a story about a third man, called Jim. The story is long and rambling and hard to follow. Reading this book is like sitting in a bar where somebody is telling a long rambling yarn. Occasionally he says something interesting and you listen in. But all too soon you start to think about something else and before you know it you've read another chapter and lost the plot. Not that there is a plot. Jim is an officer on a ship that is damaged at sea. The officers, including Jim, jump ship leaving the passengers to sink. But it only goes and stays afloat doesn't it? There is an investigation and poor old Jim is racked with guilt. But eventually he finds a place to hide away. He goes and lives with some savages, finds a woman and is treated like a lord, but continues to feel guilty until he dies. The end. A tiresome read. 


The New York Trilogy
The New York Trilogy
by Paul Auster
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous, fascinating, puzzling, 15 Jan 2014
This review is from: The New York Trilogy (Paperback)
Three intriguing short stories about three different writers/detectives who each become involved in a search that becomes an obsession. An obsession that all but destroys their lives. And then at the end the three stories are one man's effort to deal with his own demons and to put things into a context and to move on with his life. 
The three stories are all beautifully written and the book is just a superb read.


Mansfield Park
Mansfield Park
Price: £0.49

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Self indulgent, long and boring, 25 Nov 2013
This review is from: Mansfield Park (Kindle Edition)
If this book had been written by someone other than Miss Austen it would have been out of print long ago. The language in the book is so precise it could be a legal document, except a legal document probably has more drama and tension. The nature of and the relationship and tensions between the characters are developed in the interminable first half of this book. But, frankly, it's boring. The story cries out for a comedy cockney.
It concerns three sisters. One marries into money and has four children. One marries a poor vicar who dies, leaving her a childless widow. The third marries a poor soldier and has ten children. The rich family adopt Fanny, the eldest girl of the ten, as an act of charity. We are introduced to the characters in the first half of the book where Miss Austen indulges herself with a series of essays disguised as conversations concerning the church, the clergy, weddings, young ladies coming out into society, house designs and garden designs. Then there are the chapters concerning whether the family should put on a play, while the father is away on business, for their own amusement (if not for ours), which play, who gets which part  and so on until you want to scream "get on with it!" Thankfully the beknighted father arrives back from the West Indies and the play is abandoned. But by this time the eldest daughter, who is betrothed to an upper class twit, is besotted with a friend of a friend. Fanny receives a proposal from a man she loves not and so we have lengthy discussions about why she should or shouldn't wed. 
Nothing of great consequence happens until the last 50 pages and even that scandal is analysed to death. It all turns out exactly as expected.


The Kellys and the O'Kellys
The Kellys and the O'Kellys
Price: £0.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Very average, 24 Oct 2013
Mr Trollope's second Irish novel is quite inconsequential, although it does paint an interesting, if lengthy, picture of life in 19th century Ireland. The book concerns the O'Kellys, who are the local Lords of the Manor, and the Lynches, who were agents to a previous Lord and somehow relieved him of half his Lordship's property and wealth. The Lynches are now arrogant nouveau riche. Also there are the Kellys, who are honest, working class people. Martin Kelly, an honest, working class person wants to marry Anastasia Lynch, who is older than him and quite plain, but has £400pa to her name. Her brother Barry Lynch also wants her money and therefore wishes her unmarried and preferably deceased. Lord Ballindine (O'Kelly) wants to marry lovely, lovely Fanny Wyndham for her £100,000, to pay off his debts. Lord Ballindine is a bit of a waster but is nice underneath, not too bright, and rather gullible. Fanny's guardian Earl Cashell wants her to marry his wastrel son so that he can pay off his huge debts. So there we have it. A bit of a soap opera without the dramatic tension. We almost get some dramatic tension towards the end when one of the nice young ladies is being courted by a cad and we don't know whether she will or won't until Mr Trollope kindly says not to worry, she won't marry him. Mr Trollope also indulges himself with some chapters that add nothing to the story. Pretty run of the mill really.


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