The Great Gatsby

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How did I get it?:
I downloaded it free for my Kindle.

Synopsis:

In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write “something new–something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned.” That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald’s finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author’s generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald’s–and his country’s–most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. Gatsby’s rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.

It’s also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby’s quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means–and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. “Her voice is full of money,” Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel’s more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy’s patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout.

Thoughts:

I have been meaning to read The Great Gatsby for some time now, so I’m glad I was inspired to read it recently. It’s not a long read, or hard to read so it was perfect to slot in between reads! I thought it was an enjoyable enough read, but I didn’t feel blown away by it. I think it’s because it was so short, I didn’t really have time to get invested in the story like I enjoy doing. Others feel like it’s the perfect length, so don’t feel put off by me not feeling like it was long enough!

I thought the narrator of the story, Nick Carraway was an intriguing narrator. He comes into contact with Gatbsy as he is his neighbour and is invited to one of Gatsby’s social gatherings. It doesn’t take long for everything to kick off.

Although this is a short read, it is full of depth and interesting insights into the human condition. I thought F.Scott Fitzgerald’s writing was beautiful and truly believe that this is a classic well worth checking out.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

The Children Of The New Forest- Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit

Children-of-the-New-Forest

How did I get it?:
I downloaded it free on my Kindle.

Synopsis:

Cavalier and Roundhead battle it out in the turbulent setting of the English Civil war and provide the background for this classic tale of four orphans as they face adversity, survival in the forest, reconciliation and eventual forgiveness.

This is the first enduring historical novel for children, which conjures up as much magic today as it did on first publication. The freedom from adult constraint allied with the necessary disciplines to survive in a hostile world make for a gripping read.

Thoughts:

I can’t believe this is the 8th book in our kid-lit challenge. You can read the previous reviews HERE. This was one of my picks, because I heard so much about it and never read it as a child. Without meaning to sound rude, I can see why I didn’t read it as a child. This book is recommended to be read from the age of 9-adult. I don’t particularly think it was an exciting read.

I think the problem with reading books like this now, is that they are incredibly dated. The style they are written in uses quite advanced language and in some cases, language that we don’t really use that much anymore.

The Children of The New Forest’s plot is not complex, which is good. I think children nowadays do tend to like a more exciting plot, but maybe this book would intrigue a child or adult that’s interested in the New Forest. The story is set in 1647. The Arnwood house, the inheritance of Edward Beverley is burnt down during the Civil War. Edward and his siblings have to make their own way in the forest. They are guided by the kind Jacob Armitage. Edward and his siblings have to learn how to fend for themselves. But as they all grow older, Edward and his family begin to be torn apart by politics and the Civil War.

The Children of The New Forest wasn’t really a book I enjoyed. I can see its appeal to some readers, but it wasn’t exciting enough to grasp my attention and really want to recommend it highly.

Check out Bibliobeth’s fabulous review on her blog HERE to see if she felt differently.

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (September):
A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle

Stig Of The Dump- Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit

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How did I get it?:
I downloaded it on my kindle specifically for this challenge!

Synopsis:

Stig of the Dump by Clive King is 50 years old and the story of Barney and his best friend, cave-man Stig, is as fresh today as it was when first published.

‘Stig’s nice. He’s my friend’

Nobody believes Barney when he says he’s discovered a boy living wild in the dump. But for Barney, Stif is totally real. They become great friends, learn each other’s ways and embark on a series of exciting adventures.

Thoughts:

This is the fourth book in my sister and I’s kid-lit challenge, taking on classics we remember reading as children. Stig Of The Dump was my choice. I remember reading this book when I was a lot younger. I think I must have been around 8 or 9 years old. Even then I was an avid reader. (Thanks Mum for encouraging me to read!) It’s such a charming book full of adventures. I absolutely love the relationship between Barney and Stig. Stig is so endearing. I do think that Stig Of The Dump is perhaps a bit too dated for our modern day child, but I think they should still be encouraged to read it. It’s imaginative and the written text is just beautiful. I love the simple pen and ink illustrations too.

I haven’t seen the film of Stig Of The Dump, I’m interested to see how it translates to the screen.

Check out Beth’s fab review of Stig Of The Dump here

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kit-Lit Challenge: (May)
Heidi – Johanna Spyri

Lysistrata- Back To The Classics 2013

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This is the third book I have read in the Back To The Classics challenge 2013. You can read more about the challenge HERE. Check out my review of the 19th Century Classic HERE and the 20th Century Classic HERE.

For the Pre-18th or 17th Century Challenge I picked Lysistrata as I’ve heard a lot about it but never read it.

Synopsis:

Aristophanes’s “Lysistrata” is one of the great comedies from classical antiquity. Central to the work is the vow by the women of Greece to withhold sex from their husbands until they end the brutal war between Athens and Sparta. A hilarious and decisively anti-war comedic drama, “Lysistrata” stands as one of the great works from the classical age of drama.

Thoughts:

As mentioned, I’d heard about this book before I read it. It’s definitely way, way, before its time. The story involves a decision that Greek women make, to withhold sex from their lovers until the men write a peace treaty and put an end to the wars. It’s a short, easy read. I was surprised at how funny it was. It seems that the Greek can do comedy just as well as tragedy. Despite the play veering more towards the comedy, there were serious issues tackled by Aristophanes such as War and Power. Lysistrata as a main character is interesting and the other characters are wonderfully witty. It is incredibly crude so don’t be surprised by that! It’s not something that I’d read again but I enjoyed it for what it was!

The Phantom Tollbooth- Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit

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How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Bibliobeth

Synopsis:

When Milo finds an enormous package in his bedroom, he’s delighted to have something to relieve his boredom with school. And when he opens it to find – as the label states – One Genuine Turnpike Tollbooth, he gets right into his pedal car and sets off through the Tollbooth and away on a magical journey!

Milo’s extraordinary voyage takes him into such places as the Land of Expectation, the Doldrums, the Mountains of Ignorance and the Castle in the Air. He meets the weirdest and most unexpected characters (such as Tock, the watchdog, the Gelatinous Giant, and the Threadbare Excuse, who mumbles the same thing over and over again), and, once home, can hardly wait to try out the Tollbooth again. But will it be still there when he gets back from school?

Thoughts:

I have to admit, I didn’t know much about this book before reading it. It was one of Beth’s choices. I’m so glad she picked it though because I ended up reading a very witty, sweet, action-packed piece of children’s literature which has something in it for adults too.

I think this book isn’t for everyone. It could be portrayed as preachy and forcing philosophy onto the reader. However, I think many readers will find it fun. It’s full of adventures to strange and imaginative places. The characters are unusual. It is almost like an Alice in Wonderland for a more modern generation. I think it could be enjoyed by boys and girls alike and children and adults too.

I just loved this statement:
You must never feel badly about making mistakes..as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons then you do for being right for the wrong reasons.

Response to Beth’s review:

You can read Beth’s great review HERE.

It’s interesting that we both found some statements that we really loved! I’m glad we both liked this book, unlike our February read.

Next up for the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (April):
Stig of The Dump- Clive King

The Water Babies- Beth and Chrissi do kid-lit challenge

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How did I get it?:
Downloaded free on my Kindle

Synopsis:

The story follows Tom in his land-life as a climbing boy for a chimney-sweep and in his after-life as a water-baby, where he gains redemption from selfishness as well as from drudgery. On to his fantasy Kingsley grafts a series of digressions and comic asides, through which he comments on a range of contemporary issues.

Thoughts:

This is the second book in my sister and I’s kid-lit challenge. I remember watching the film of The Water Babies quite frequently in my childhood, but I could never remember reading the book. So when we decided to complete this challenge, The Water Babies was a given in our choices for the year.

The Water Babies is quite long considering it is a children’s book. I found the writing quite heavy and far too long winded for a piece of children’s literature. Whilst reading it I found myself preferring the film which doesn’t happen a lot for me. I’m usually all about the books!

The Water Babies is a fairy tale about a young chimney sweep, Tom, who drowns in a river and becomes a Water Baby. Tom goes on a spiritual journey to become a better person. It was such a sweet idea and could’ve really worked for me but I ended up being bored of the constant side-tracking and rambling that often happened. So if I, an adult, got bored of it then surely children would to?

So overall, I don’t think I would recommend this for a child. I think there are much more suitable books out there and although this book is considered a classic, it really fell short for me. Perhaps Bibiliobeth will feel differently to me? Check out her review HERE

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do kid-lit challenge (March):
The Phantom Tollbooth- Norton Juster

Rebecca: Back To The Classics Challenge 2013

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This is the second book I have read in the Back To The Classics challenge 2013. You can read more about the challenge HERE. Check out my review of the 19th Century Classic HERE.

Synopsis:

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .

Working as a lady’s companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers . . .

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

Thoughts:

Unlike my last book in this challenge, I have read Rebecca before. I absolutely loved it so I decided to read it again for the 20th Century Classic option.

Rebecca is a novel that many avid readers feel like they should read. I agree with them. I think it’s a book that everyone that enjoys reading should at least attempt. Like the previous time I read Rebecca I thought it was a bit slow to start, but suddenly I was gripped by the book and didn’t want to put it down. Rebecca is a book that stays with you, long after you have finished.

The characters are fabulous it’s hard to pinpoint who I enjoyed more. If I had to pick I’d choose either Rebecca or the creepy Mrs Danvers. It may be weird to admit to liking such a creepy character but her obsession for Rebecca was fascinating. I think without such a strange character Rebecca wouldn’t have been such a good read. Mrs Danvers had such a strong attachment to Rebecca and seemed to make things difficult for the new Mrs de Maurier, because she simply didn’t match up to what she had known and loved. Maxim was a strange character to get on with. His moods often changed but I think it becomes clear towards the end of the book why he is the way he is.

Daphne Du Maurier’s writing is incredibly descriptive. We see the world through Mrs de Winters eyes and learn about the environment and the darker side of the story as she begins to develop and mature as a person. Mrs de Winter is incredibly immature and eager to please. She goes from being quite a weak (and sometimes annoying in her eager to please mode) character to growing up fast and developing a back bone.

I particularly enjoyed all of the plot twists in the story. The novel felt somewhat Gothic which is intriguing but it also felt like a mystery. It’s definitely a gripping story, making the reader think about how much a person can affect a families lives even when they are no longer around.

Rebecca is a story that I believe any avid reader could enjoy, no matter what genre they prefer. It’s incredibly easy to read, the writing is simple, but the plot is intriguing and complex. Yet, there’s enough drama to make you want to carry on reading even though there’s a lot going on. I loved it!

Reading next:
Geek Girl- Holly Smale