Classics: A Very Short Introduction by Mary Beard and John Henderson (Review)

Classics: A Very Short Introduction by Mary Beard and John Henderson

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About the authors

Mary Beard and John Henderson both teach Classics at the University of Cambridge. Mary Beard is a fellow of Newnham College, and John Henderson is a fellow of King’s College, Cambridge.

Blurb

This Very Short Introduction to Classics links a haunting temple on a lonely mountainside to the glory of ancient Greece and the grandeur of Rome, and to Classics within modern culture – from Jefferson and Byron to Asterix and Ben-Our.

Review

This is not the first A Very Short Introduction book that I have read as I had to read and review the Music one for one of my modules in my Music Degree about ten years ago and I must admit I did enjoy it and found it interesting and I am pleased to say the Classics one did not disappoint.

I read this book as part of the set preparatory reading before my Masters started and I found it to be a great introduction into the field of Classics. The first thing I enjoyed was that the book was all linked to the Temple at Bassae and the frieze panels that are now found at the British Museum. I must admit it left me desperate to visit the British Museum and view the frieze. However I would have liked a little bit more knowledge of other classical elements.

The other element that I really enjoyed was the travelling through time of famous peoples’ encounters with the classics and the Temple of Bassae. I really enjoyed this little book and thought it was an excellent introduction to the classics.

The only reason I gave this book 4 Dragons instead of 5 was that I would have liked a bit more about Classics in general than just a focus on one element which was the temple. I highly recommend this little book to anyone who is intrigued and wanting to learn a little about classics.

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Review)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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About the author

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Margaret Atwood born 18th November 1939 is a Canadian author, poet, essayist and literary critic. She has written numerous fiction and non-fiction books, books of poetry and children’s books. She has won the Giller Prize in Canada, Premio Mondello in Italy and the 2000 Booker Prize. She was also awarded the Asturias Prize for Literature in 2008.

Blurb

The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.

Review

This has been on my TBR pile for a very long time and this summer I put it on my reading challenge to make sure I read it. Now please bare with me on this review because I think it might prove controversial.

I did enjoy the book and found the idea of it rather terrifying at times but I must admit for me it did not have the WOW factor. The main reason for this I think is the way it was written, at times I found it frustrating how it kept flitting from past to present all the time. I would have much rather had more of the present rather than the past because I found the bits from the past broke the narrative up for me. I understand why Atwood did this but for me it really did not work.

I enjoyed the story and the concept was good and well thought out but I just can not understand what all the hype is about. I was left underwhelmed and wondering if I had read the same book as everyone else. However I was left wanting to know more at the end of the book so I am very pleased that I have purchased the sequel and will be starting to read it now, I just hope it will be a better read.

I liked the characters but I would have liked more from them, I just could not connect with them and I just felt frustrated and wanting more. I must admit this book took me a long time to read because some days I just could not be bothered with it and for me that is never a good sign and why I only gave the book 3 out of 5 Dragons. The reason it did not get lower was because I was left wanting more. However I do not think I will be reading this book again.

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Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare (Review)

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

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About the author

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William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English poet, playwright and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in English history. He wrote 39 plays, 154 sonnets and other verses.

Blurb

The play centres on the twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated in a shipwreck. Viola (who is disguised as Cesario) falls in love with Duke Orsino, who in turn is in love with Countess Olivia. Upon meeting Viola, Countess Olivia falls in love with her thinking she is a man.

Review

This is another book off my Summer Goodreads Reading Challenge and the prompt for this one was to read a format of book you do not usually read so I chose a play because I have not read a play since school. I must admit I really enjoyed it and plan on reading more plays in the future.

I saw this play a few years ago live at a National Trust property outside and laughed a lot I have fond memories of yellow cross gartered stockings. I loved reading this play and it reminded me a great deal of the play when I saw it years ago. Shakespeare is a true comic genius and the use of this genius is evident in this play.

The storyline of the twins is brilliantly executed although I do think the ending is rather rushed but that might just be me wanting the play to last longer. I loved the character of Viola, trying to survive in a man’s world and at the same time falling in love with a man who she cannot go near without blowing her disguise. Sebastian’s part is small in comparison to Viola’s but still vital to the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this play and it only took me a few hours to read. I gave this book a full 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Review)

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

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About the author

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Donna Tartt is an American writer who received critical acclaim for her first two novels, The Secret History and The Little Friend. Tartt was the 2003 winner of the WH Smith Literary Award for The Little Friend. Her novel The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014.

Blurb

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

Review

I must admit I was excited to read this book to begin with but sadly that excitement did not last. Several times I almost gave up on the book and went for days when I did not read it but I kept coming back to it because I wanted to get to the end and see what happens.

Theo is a very troubled young man who really needs help, even at the end of the book he still in my opinion needs help and I just hope he gets some. I also found him to be terribly frustrating at times and wanted to shake him.

I did not like Kitsey at all in the book whether as a child or an adult, she was simply spoiled and rotten to the core. Boris however has a very troubled life and at times acts very disturbingly but he has a good heart and tries to help his friend Theo.

My favourite character and the reason I kept reading was probably Hobie, he was such a sweet kind hearted man who only wants what is best for the people he knows. Hobie teaches everything he knows to Theo and gives Theo amazing opportunities to better himself and give him a fantastic career but Theo takes advantage.

In my personal opinion I think the book could have been a lot shorter as there was a lot of waffle which just made the book drag on. It was like the author did not know how to stop or edit her work. I really do think that if it had been shorter and more to the point it would have been a good book but I was just losing the will to live and the ending was a massive disappointment to me. I even had to switch off the percentage on my Kindle because the lack of movement just depressed me.

Overall I did not enjoy this book at all but because I finished it I gave it 2 out of 5 dragons. I do not think I will read it again and I am not sure I will try Tartt’s other novels. However, this is only my opinion and I know a lot of people would not agree.

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Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise by Katherine Rundell (Review)

Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise by Katherine Rundell

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About the author

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Katherine Rundell is an English author and academic born in 1987. Rundell is the author of many children’s books including Rooftoppers, which won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and Blue Peter Book Award in 2014.

Review

This will only be a short review as it is only a short book of 80 pages. This little book is an essay on why it is good to read children’s stories as an adult.

I personally love reading children’s stories as an adult and I think they are wasted on children because they can not appreciate them like an adult can. My particular favourite that I have read many many times is 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. So this book immediately appealed to me, hence why I added it to the cart on a recent Waterstones order.

To begin with I enjoyed this essay and Rundell has some excellent points in the essay but the thing that bugged me the most was that Rundell kept trying to be funny in the book and to be honest, in my opinion just trying too hard and after a while it began to wear thin and just annoy me. I believe if she had cut back on this and stuck to her essay she would have made a far better book.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and it only took me about fifteen minutes to read but because of the fake humour I only gave this book 3 out of 5 Dragons. A good little read but I will not be reading it again.

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Matilda by Roald Dahl (Review)

Matilda by Roald Dahl

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About the author

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Roald Dahl was born on the 13th September 1916 and was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter and fighter pilot. He passed away on the 23rd November 1990.

Blurb

For hundreds of kids “The Trunchbull” is pure terror—for Matilda, she’s a sitting duck.

Who put superglue in Dad’s hat? Was it really a ghost that made Mom tear out of the house? Only sweet, gentle Matilda knows. Because she’s the one playing all the jokes! She’s a genius with idiot parents—and she’s having a great time driving them crazy. But at school things are different. At school there’s Miss Trunchbull, two hundred pounds of kid-hating bully. Pull a trick on “The Trunchbull” and she’ll string you up. Get rid of The Trunchbull and you’ll be a hero for every kid in Crunchem Hall. But that would take a superhuman genius. Or may a sweet, gentle—crafty—genius?

Review

This is another book off my summer reading challenge and a childhood favourite. I must admit it was nice to read a book I have not read since childhood. I still remember when my big sister bought me this book, most of my Roald Dahl books I got off PG Tips boxes but Matilda my sister bought from the local bookshop and I remember wanting to read it straight away. My copy is very well read and getting very fragile.

I love the story of Matilda, I always loved the fact that a small child could reek revenge on adults who think they know more than a child just because they are adults and quite frankly most of the time that adult is an idiot. I remember quite clearly as a child not being listened to or ignored because I was a child and I always swore that I would listen to children when they want to tell me something, and as a teacher I always try to do this and hey I have actually learned a lot.

Matilda is a very gifted young girl who is very different from her family and because of this her family especially her parents do not understand or appreciate her. Matilda soon realises life is unfair but to make it bearable she decides to get revenge in a way the adults would not work out it was her.

The main message of this story was to stand up to bullies and when you do you will realise they are cowards. This is a delightful story that I will always love and I highly recommend it to children and adults because it gives you a feel good feeling and makes you realise that against the odds you will triumph. I gave this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase Links:

Waterstones

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Amazon

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My Cat is a Dick by Malcolm Katz (Review)

My Cat is a Dick by Malcolm Katz

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About the author

Malcolm Katz is a distinguished feline behaviourist and author. Some of his most famous work includes peeing in his owner’s school bag, bringing in a bat someone else had killed, and sniffing the eye of anyone who comes close enough.

Blurb

No matter how much of a cat lover you are, you have to admit those loving feelings can be pretty one-way. Cats are total dicks. And here is the photographic evidence.

Review

A few Christmases ago I bought this book for my husband and since then I had forgotten about it until friends who visited for a few days spotted it and commented about it, so then I decided to kill ten minutes and give it a read along with a cup of tea.

Now since living with two cats I have come to realise more and more that cats can be complete jerks! I must admit I am a dog person because a dog always shows love and affection and a cat just ignores your existence.

There is not much to read in this book as it is just photos of cats with a catchy caption to go with it. The pictures are very funny and have some very cute cats however in my opinion some of the captions do not quite fit and are not very amusing.

Some pictures and captions were a bit disappointing and the book could have done without them but overall it was a good book and filled a quick ten minutes. This book would be an excellent gift for cat and animal lovers, especially people who watch a lot of cat videos. I gave it 3 out 5 Dragons.

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Lyra thinks the book is great!

Purchase Links:

Waterstones

Amazon

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