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Sonia Smith "Soniasmith0"

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Breaking of the Butterflies
Breaking of the Butterflies
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Hard to put down, 29 Sept. 2011
I found it very hard to put this book down. Right from the start I was intrigued as to the solution to the murder mystery that is at the heart of it. However, it becomes clear as you read further that, although the murder is the catalyst to the plot, there are wider issues to be dealt with; most obviously the horrors and violence of war and its effect on both the foot soldiers and their leaders, but also the corruption that power brings whatever the situation, and the way that the grand sweep of history can so deeply effect the lives of the individuals involved, even those who are not on the front lines.

The book can be quite violent in places; it's a war novel, so this is of course to be expected. The faint hearted should be prepared to understand that it does not flinch from describing the very worst of what people are willing to inflict upon each other, both on the battlefield and off it. This helps to build up an atmosphere of horror and tension that likely reflects the reality of life during WWI. When people are ordered by their governments to commit such acts of brutality to others on the front line, is it any surprise that violence is committed outside this arena as well?

Captain Reed is an engaging character whose internal dilemmas make him sympathetic to the reader. He does not always act in the manner his conscience would dictate, and as he wrangles with himself the reader can see how the circumstances effect and change a specific individual.

Overall, an engaging and enjoyable read.

Fool's Fate (The Tawny Man Trilogy, Book 3)
Fool's Fate (The Tawny Man Trilogy, Book 3)
by Robin Hobb
Edition: Paperback

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Officially the best book I've ever read., 27 Mar. 2004
Presumably if you're reading this review then you've already read the first 5 Fitz books (and if you haven't, then you should do). This is definitely the best, an absolutely wonderful end to the two trilogies. There is one point where you will think that Robin Hobb is such a terrible, horrible person, how could she do these things to the people you love so much? The ending! Oh the ending, you have to read it just for the ending, and there's so much to keep you entertained and on tenterhooks all the way up to the ending. I loved it. As you can see. It's very very exciting and emotionally involving. There are so many bits to keep you wondering, to keep you wanting to read on and on past your bedtime and past time to get up for work the next day. You're probably best buying the paperback version to avoid strain on your wrists from the weight of the thing. I can't tell you much about the book itself really, I mean the plot, because I don't want to give a single thing away. A truly wonderful book. Brilliant.

Effi Briest (Penguin Classics)
Effi Briest (Penguin Classics)
by Theodor Fontane
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good book, 27 Mar. 2004
I first read this novel as part of my degree and expected it, like so many other books I've read for the course, to be either dull or too abstract to be enjoyable. However, I was pleasantly surprised. I suspected at first that it was going to be a Jane Austen style period thing, whereas in actual fact it turns out to be a beautifully written and involving tale of the difficulties of fitting in with the norms of a society that leaves no space for the individual.
Effi is a wonderful protagonist because it is so easy to like her. She is not the wet and feeble woman of so many novels in this vein, she is lively and engaging. There is genuine engagement with all the characters, both male and female, which I have never felt with Jane Austen or the Brontes. There is plenty of dialogue, which Fontane was wonderful at writing. It really helps you to get to know the characters, and it is also very entertaining. I would have to disagree with Fontane himself to say that Effi's husband does not come across as the nice guy Fontane was aiming for.
By this point in history we have probably realised that late 19th century society left a lot to be desired in some respects, and so Fontane's social criticism is perhaps unnecessary if you're not studying the period. But it is so well written, and the story is so simple but so involving (based on a true story, so I hear, although there are probably so many true stories of this kind that that's not really very exciting) that it is well worth a read so that you can get to know Effi and go through her troubles with her. Sadly I can't comment on the quality of this translation though because I haven't read it in translation.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 20, 2013 12:16 PM BST

To Ride Hell's Chasm
To Ride Hell's Chasm
by Janny Wurts
Edition: Paperback

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Godawful cheese., 7 April 2003
This review is from: To Ride Hell's Chasm (Paperback)
If you're not a die hard fantasy fan, don't read this book. If you are a die hard fantasy fan, um, don't read this book. It is very, very melodramatic and over the top, useful for building up a vocabulary of sensational adjectives, but little else. I was very disappointed at the lack of tension and subtlety.
The story could be good. Princess escaping demons, dire peril, court won't trust the one man who could save her. But I was 200 pages in before I got to a bit where I was excited about what would happen next, and after 350 pages, when the action really got going, I could only bear to read three or four pages without a break, as it's written in such a cliched fantasy style. As I said, overly melodramatic, so much so that it just gets irritating. It has a rather unprofessional air about it, as though it were a first attempt at a fantasy novel, before the author had really got to grips with tension, story development etc and was stuck on the "I need to show off how big my thesaurus is" stage.
A major theme of the book is the racism that the main character has to endure from those high up in society, and Janny Wurts really wants to make sure we are aware of this. Nearly every page has someone being racist, or someone discovering that, despite his dark skin, he is really a noble soul, or one of his few high ranking supporters defending him valiantly in the face of the terrible prejudices of the court of Sessalie. After a while, it really starts to grate on your nerves. Yes, I know he's black. Yes, I know there's lots of prejudice against him. Yes, he could save the princess if it weren't for this barrier of ignorance. No, you really don't need to tell me again. Please get on with the story. Please.
All in all, I was really disappointed with this. I bought it after reading the glowing reviews that it had got here with Amazon, so I felt the need to add my thoughts so that people who consider buying it can get both sides of the argument before they make the plunge. Be very careful with this book.

Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life
Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life
by Jack Cohen
Edition: Hardcover

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tribbles could really happen?, 29 Mar. 2003
I bought this book after reading The Science of the Discworld I and II, and was very pleased I had done so. Sometimes the science was a bit beyond me, but with careful thought I could get to grips with it. It's all very clearly explained, it's no fault of the authors' that I'm just not a science person! It is a very detailed, thorough book, that is concerned in a great part with a counter-argument to a theory that says that earth is amazingly unique and the only possible place that life could ever evolve, ever. Cohen and Stewart carefully explain that earth is the only place where humans, dolphins and bees could evolve, true, but what about other forms of life, that could survive in conditions completely hostile to us? That there could be something on Jupiter right now thinking "how could anything live in an atmosphere with so much horribly poisonous oxygen" is the basic idea of this book.
They use fictional aliens to show what could (and couldn't) possibly exist, and also include a theory as to how tribbles could actually have evolved. This also had the excellent side-effect of introducing me to a whole load of new novels that I would probably not have read if they hadn't had a mention in this book. There is also a short story running throughout the book about a pair of aliens who run holidays to earth, which illustrates how hard it would be to recognise extra-terrestial intelligent life even if it were sharing a beach with us. All in all a very informative and interesting book that opened my mind up to a whole new range of possibilities for alien life that I had never even considered.

My Life as a 10-Year-Old Boy
My Life as a 10-Year-Old Boy
by Professor of Philosophy Nancy Cartwright
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.55

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really nice, 29 Mar. 2003
I bought this book expecting lots of behind the scenes gossip from the Simpsons, but instead it turned out to be the really nice, light-hearted story of Nancy Cartwright's life. (How unexpected, it being her autobiography and all...) She writes of all her past roles, her relationship with her mentor as she trained and how very few people believe she is actually Bart. There are actually a few stories about celebrities who've been on the show, but no nasty ones, which actually makes the book better, you come out of it thinking "wow, this lady's just really nice". A good read if you're a Simpsons fan, even though it's more about Nancy than Bart.

Blue Mars (Mars Trilogy)
Blue Mars (Mars Trilogy)
by Kim Stanley Robinson
Edition: Paperback

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing end to the trilogy, 25 Mar. 2003
The first two books of this trilogy were good, although full of incomprehensible science (but I only took single science GCSE, so most science is incomprehensible to me, if you know about that sort of stuff you'll probably be fine), but you can get by understanding the plot without the science. There were feelings, but not so many that you got overwhelmed and thought you were reading something trashy with a bright pink cover. Unfortunately, this has all ended with the final installation, which is all feelings and discussions about the composition of soil. Too long and rambling for my liking, especially when there was so much potential.

by Daniel Handler
Edition: Paperback

2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars But, but, but, A Series Of Unfortunate Events is wonderful!, 19 Mar. 2003
This review is from: BASIC EIGHT, THE (Paperback)
I love the Lemony Snickett books, so I decided to get this when I saw that it was by the same man. However, I was sorely disappointed. It does have some funny bits, and the plotline does start out to be rather interesting. However, I hated the main characters, they could all have come out of a US high school romantic comedy film, indeed, there wasn't that much characterisation of them all cos we all know exactly what American high school teens are like, having seen them so often at the movies. I did find that I couldn't put the book down, despite my absolute destestation of everyone in it, I really, really wanted to know what happened at the end. But then when I got to the end I had a mad screaming hissy fit as it turned out to be the same as a rather popular film starring Brad Pitt, a film that I also hated. I was disappointed.
If the storyline had been more original, which it kinda was until the last couple of chapters, then it would have been good, although it's not a kid's book like the Lemony Snickett ones. Perhaps for 15 year olds. If you like crime stories, don't mind American high school teens and haven't seen any recent films with Brad Pitt in, then you'll probably like it. It was well written, I mean, sometimes (but not very often) I hate a book so much that I just can't finish it, but at least with this one I wanted to know what would happen. But I was just so annoyed with the ending.

West of Eden
West of Eden
by Harry Harrison
Edition: Paperback

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An alternative present, 19 Mar. 2003
This review is from: West of Eden (Paperback)
The meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs did not strike, and they continued to evolve to the point where they have technology and a complex society. Humans have also evolved, but are still at the hunter-gatherer stage. An ice age is approaching, both species need to find new homes, there is conflict, it's all very exciting and I'm not going to tell you too much or else it'll spoil the story.
The plot is good in that it's got enough to it to keep you reading, but it's not too wildly complicated to require you to take notes. I would say that the fact that each species gives places different names gets rather confusing, it's hard to work out where they are, but the second and third books have little maps in them which makes it that much easier. The structure of dinosaur society is nice (well, not for the dinosaurs, but it's a nice bit of plot), and the characterisation is really good, you really get to hate the bad guys and love the good ones.
Definately a book I would recommend to my friends, although maybe only the ones who share my love for fantasy, sci-fi etc. Fans of family sagas and trashy love stories keep away, there are far too many silly new words and hunters-sitting-round-a-fire scenes.

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