New Book: 4/03/2019

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I do enjoy a good short story and have been reading the free Jeffrey Archer short stories on Kindle. Well after a bit of research I discovered they are all in a book and so I bought the book. As much as I love my Kindle, I only really use it when out and about, otherwise I much prefer a real life book.

New book is:-

The New Collected Short Stories by Jeffrey Archer

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I will continue to review the individual short stories but I now will be reading them on both formats, I’ve also noticed there are short stories in the book that are not on the Kindle, which makes me very happy.

Happy reading everyone.

To purchase this book from Waterstones Click here.

Lady Book Dragon

 

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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (Review)

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

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About the author

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Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh in 1850. He studied law at Edinburgh University. Stevenson was against the Presbyterianism of both Edinburgh’s professional classes and his devout parents, but the influence of Calvinism started his fascination with evil. After much travelling Stevenson eventually settled in Samoa with his wife, he passed away at the age of 44.

Blurb

Published as ‘shilling shocker’ in 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson’s dark psychological fantasy gave birth to the popular idea of the split personality. Set in a hellish, fog-bound London, the story of outwardly respectable Dr Jekyll, who unleashes his deepest cruelties and most murderous instincts when he transformed into sinister Edward Hyde, is a Gothic masterpiece and a chilling exploration of humanity’s basest capacity for evil.

This edition also includes Stevenson’s sinister story ‘The Bottle Imp’.

Review

This is another book I am ashamed to say I have never read and just recently I bought a lovely little edition from Waterstones and it has been sat on my TBR pile ever since. I decided it would be a good book to discover Robert Louis Stevenson’s work as I have never read any of his work before.

The first and main story is Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and I went into it with high hopes, however it quickly started to disappoint. Mr Utterson the lawyer and good friend of Dr Jekyll is a perfect gentleman and shows the reader that you would be blessed to consider him your friend. Mr Utterson in fact was my favourite character and he was probably the only reason I kept reading. Mr Hyde was also a good character, he was bad to the bone and showed a man with no morals to guide him or conscience, he was happy with his actions, showed no remorse and was dangerous to all around him.

Dr Jekyll is the character which I disliked greatly! He was weak and pathetic he had bad desires within him and a perverted mind that lay hidden because of his status in society and his title. We have no idea what horrors he performed in his past but they are hinted at, now due to getting older the desires are still there but he can not act upon them without losing everything or facing the gallows. Then Mr Hyde comes along, Mr Hyde is Jekyll’s answer to everything, Hyde does all the horrors and faces the gallows and Jekyll remains the good Dr. In my opinion Jekyll is evil, he just does not show it.

Jekyll tries to reform himself but this soon fails and Hyde starts to take over. Hyde was always going to take over because Jekyll is weak but also enjoys what Hyde does, if he was truly horrified and repulsed by Hyde’s actions he would have beaten Hyde and got his life back. Jekyll did not deserve the life he had or the dedicated friends like Mr Utterson in my opinion because he was as guilty as Mr Hyde.

This story annoyed me greatly because Dr Jekyll is shown in a light where the reader should feel sorry for him but I disagree with that. Dr Jekyll was weak and evil and in my opinion worse than Mr Hyde because he had the power to stop Hyde but did not. This story on its own would have only got 2 Dragons from me.

The second story in this book is The Bottle Imp and that was my favourite out of the two. This story is about a magical imp that lives in a bottle and can grant you any wishes, however it comes with conditions that could leave the owner going to hell.

The story contains many topics greed, love, hopelessness, despair, faith, courage and much more. I really enjoyed how Stevenson came up with the story and the morals behind it. Keawe is not a greedy man he does not ask for millions off the imp he asks for enough for his dream house that he can live in for the rest of his life and enjoy it. Kokua is the woman that Keawe falls in love with and risks everything for and she in turn risks everything for him. Their love is so strong they will do anything for each other. Others in this story do not show such selflessness and greed is the dominant trait in their characters. These two people are not greedy they just want to live happily together for the rest of their lives, but can they?

A real love story that was beautiful to read and not too long. I gave this one 4 out of 5 Dragons, so overall balancing the results I gave the book 3 out of 5 Dragons.

Lady Book Dragon

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Caste – Off by Jeffrey Archer (Review)

Caste – Off by Jeffrey Archer

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About the author

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Jeffrey Archer was born in England in 1940, he is a former politician and author. Archer was a member of parliament from 1969-1974 but did not seek re-election due to a financial scandal that almost bankrupt him. Facing bankruptcy Archer began to write and in so doing revived his fortunes. Archer’s political career has been filled with scandal and in 2001 he was sent to jail for perjury and perverting the course of justice, in 2003 he was released. All his life experiences influence his writing and make for interesting reading.

Blurb

Jamwal Rameshwar Singh, a hedonistic playboy prince, assumes he will never fall in love but this all changes when he meets Nisha Chowdhury. Their blossoming international relationship continues as she completes her degree at Stanford but even as their love grows, Jamwal knows that his family will oppose the match as Nisha is not of their caste. Will Jamwal choose love or will his family’s wishes prevail?

Review

After reading a few of these short stories I am starting to sense a theme, basically a man sees a beautiful woman and drops absolutely everything to chase her. I picked up this short story over breakfast and soon had it finished and it was a perfect start to the working day.

A classic tale of forbidden love that I absolutely loved. Archer set the book in India which I did not expect at all and was a nice surprise, I particularly liked the random cows on the road during the car race at the beginning. Jamwal is a typical playboy with a phonebook full of women he can call on whenever he feels like but very hard working and a successful businessman. Nisha is a Stanford student studying fashion, who is the most beautiful woman Jamwal has ever seen and guess what when he first sees her he drops all his plans in pursuit of her.

The story is beautifully written and the imagery and detail is fantastic. I loved how Jamwal’s and Nisha’s blossoming relationship is squeezed into the short story and yet it does not feel rushed or in anyway lacking, which proves Archer’s talent as an author. The question of whether Jamwal will choose his family or the love of his life has you on tenter hooks and there was no way I was putting the story down until I had finished the book.

This story took about 20 minutes to read, so an excellent read when you have a bit of time for a mug of tea and your feet up. It is free on Kindle and a wonderful read I can not recommend it enough. I rated this story 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Lady Book Dragon.

One Man’s Meat by Jeffrey Archer (Review)

One Man’s Meat by Jeffrey Archer

About the author

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Jeffrey Archer was born in England in 1940, he is a former politician and author. Archer was a member of parliament from 1969-1974 but did not seek re-election due to a financial scandal that almost bankrupt him. Facing bankruptcy Archer began to write and in so doing revived his fortunes. Archer’s political career has been filled with scandal and in 2001 he was sent to jail for perjury and perverting the course of justice, in 2003 he was released. All his life experiences influence his writing and make for interesting reading.

Blurb

One Man’s Meat is part of The Year of Short Stories and is one of several digital shorts released to celebrate the publication of Jeffrey Archer’s magnificent seventh collection, Tell Tale.

Taken from Jeffrey Archer’s third collection of short stories, Twelve Red Herrings, comes One Man’s Meat, an irresistible, witty and ingenious short read.

When Michael Whitaker spots the stunning Anna Townsend on the steps of the theatre, he decides he will do whatever it takes to get to know her. Finding a way to get a ticket for the seat next to her, he then invites her to a drink at the interval. By the end of the play, Michael asks her to accompany him to dinner. But what will her answer be?

What follows are four different endings . . . choose just one, or – if choosing to read all four – they can be read in the following order: Rare, Burnt, Overdone, and À Point . . .

Review

I am back to reading to short stories at breakfast again, after having quite a break whilst I read some other books on my Kindle. I am glad to be back as I really enjoyed this book, especially because you can choose your own ending.

The book features Michael Whitaker who immediately drops everything in pursuit of Anna Townsend and pays no regard to the consequences. Each ending shows a different set of consequences for his actions. Michael is in the restaurant business and Anna is a doctor, two very different professions.

The beginning of the story sees the two characters enjoying the play and getting to know one another over a drink during the interval. At the end of the play Michael asks Anna out to dinner and from there the different endings take place. The fact that Michael drops everything because of just seeing a beautiful woman makes me wonder if the man is of a sensible and sane mind. In my opinion he is a little creepy and not a man to rely on.

Rare is the first ending and in my opinion more of a fantasy, it is more like Michael dreaming it all and it was not my favourite. It seemed a little too unbelievable like the beginning.

Burnt really shows just what a fool Michael is and that chasing this woman could have cost him everything, to be honest this is my favourite because I think the man gets what he deserves. Yes I am being unromantic but the story just does not fit in my mind.

Overdone is my least favourite mainly because I disliked the character of Anna, she suddenly seems to have had a personality change and not for the better. She is rude, irritable and spiky. I actually feel sorry for poor Michael in this ending.

À Point is my second favourite ending because if it has to end in Michael’s favour this is how I would like it to go. It is believable and a lovely ending and the reader is left dreaming of what could happen next.

All in all this was a good short story and I loved the quirkiness of the optional endings. I gave the story 3 out of 5 Dragons mainly because although the story was enjoyable I just found it rather unbelievable. It is a good read that will take you less than an hour to devour, plus it is free on Kindle. So put up your feet and have a nice break with this story and a mug of your favourite hot beverage.

Lady Book Dragon

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Review 12: The Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov (Translated by Michael Glenny)

About the author

Mikhail Bulgakov was born in Kiev on 15th May 1891. He trained as a doctor but gave up practising medicine in 1920 to devote his life to writing. In 1925 he completed The Heart of a Dog, which remained unpublished in the Soviet Union until 1987. By 1930 Bulgakov had become so frustrated by the suppression of his work that he wrote to Stalin begging to be allowed to emigrate if he was not given the opportunity to make his living as a writer in the USSR. Stalin telephoned him personally and offered him a job at the Moscow Arts Theatre. In 1938, he completed The Master and Margarita. He sadly died in 1940. In 1973 The Master and Margarita was finally published in full.

Blurb

A rich, successful Moscow professor befriends a stray dog and attempts a scientific first by transplanting into it the testicles and pituitary gland of a recently deceased man. A distinctly worryingly human animal is now on the loose, and the professor’s hitherto respectable life becomes a nightmare. An absurd and superbly comic story, this novel can also be read as a fierce parable of the Russian Revolution.

Review

This book was on a table in the Waterstones in London and I must admit I was intrigued. I do find the piles of books on the tables at Waterstones very tempting and I often end up buying books I usually would not go for. Having read a few books with cats on the cover recently I thought it was about time I read a book with a dog on the front. Sadly I found this book rather a disappointment. 

Firstly, I have not read The Master and Margarita but it is on my to read pile and even though this book has been a disappointing read for me, I will give The Master and Margarita a chance and keep it on my to read pile. I do not regret reading this book, as it was interesting and I did enjoy small parts of it. 

The story begins with the meeting of the stray dog and the dog’s thoughts. The poor dog has been badly wounded and is contemplating its end and the reader gets to see the world of Russia through its eyes. Then Professor Philip Philipovich comes on to the scene and befriends the wounded dog. This Professor takes the stray into his home, treats his wounds and appears to be a dream come true for the dog. The dog’s world has changed for the better and it is glorious, until it all changes and the Professor’s true intentions become clear.

The Professor specialises in rejuvenating people’s sexual organs by replacing them with animal organs. This becomes clear when he examines a lady and says he will replace her ovaries with the ovaries of a monkey. This to be honest disturbed me when I read it and I was dubious whether to continue, as things like that quite often put me off, but by this point I had fallen in love with the little dog and wanted to know what would happen to him next.

The graphic detail of the surgery really put me off and I must admit I had to skim some of the details as I could not handle it, especially just before sleep. It was extremely realistic and this is obviously where Bulgakov’s medical background comes in handy when writing about the surgery. Again I only kept going because I desperately wanted to know what would happen next to the dog.

The descriptions of the way Soviet Russia was becoming was very interesting and I can see how worrying it would have been for the people living in Russia at the time it was all happening. I can also see why the book was confiscated from Bulgakov, because the last thing the Soviet Union would have wanted was this bleak view of Russia being broadcast to the world. I think the stray dog’s point of view whilst in the doorway waiting for death was the best description of Russia and really summed up what Bulgakov was trying to get across. 

However as the story went on, I just think it went somewhat off the rails and a bit too over the top for me. Also Philip started to drive me slightly crazy with his constantly quoting from the theatre for example “To the banks of the sacred nile…” it was like the man was demented and just made no sense. 

The dog as a normal dog was the best part of this book and I just could not understand why a man would want to perform the experiment that he did to the dog. Maybe it is because I have no real interest in science but it just did not make sense. Frankenstein made sense to me because the good doctor was trying to find a cure for death but putting the testicles and pituitary gland of a human into a dog made no sense at all to me. 

As a Russian book I was surprised at how short it was, my general experience of Russian literature is of huge tomes, some of which are my favourite books. Shortness for this book was one of its advantages though.

I do not think my review of this book will be popular as I tend to be against the general consensus but my views are my own and everyone has their own opinions, which is good as we would be a pretty boring race if we all felt and thought the same. My overall rating of the book is 2 stars out of 5, the reason it was not 1 star was because I liked the beginning a great deal and the dog before it all went wrong. 

A quick read to while away an afternoon break like I used it for.

Lady Book Dragon 


Review 9: Clean Sweep Ignatius by Jeffrey Archer

Clean Sweep Ignatius 

About the author

Jeffrey Archer was born in England in 1940, he is a former politician and author. Archer was a member of parliament from 1969-1974 but did not seek re-election due to a financial scandal that almost bankrupt him. Facing bankruptcy Archer began to write and in so doing revived his fortunes. Archer’s political career has been filled with scandal and in 2001 he was sent to jail for perjury and perverting the course of justice, in 2003 he was released. All his life experiences influence his writing and make for interesting reading.

Blurb

Nigeria’s newly appointed Minister of Finance is determined to make his country sit up straight with his rigorous overhaul of the system, soon earning him the nickname ‘Clean Sweep Ignatius’. But, somehow, large sums of money are still falling through invisible cracks. At his wits end, General Otobi grants Ignatius with the authority to take whatever means he deems necessary to track down the errant funds . . . 

Review

Another breakfast short story review! I do like these free short stories on Kindle. This short story was shorter than I expected and took me only about ten minutes to read if that, I had not even finished my bowl of cereal. I was rather disappointed that most of the book was a sample for his latest book. 

However short this story is I did enjoy it, it really showed Archer’s talent for getting the point across in as few words as possible. It was a clever story and I did not see the ending at all. 

Ignatius is trying to rid the system of crooks and frauds and does everything in his power to accomplish this. General Otobi is desperate to make his government run legally and gives Ignatius all the power he can to rid the system of all the crooks. As Ignatius becomes more successful in his mission he becomes popular with the general public and gets a reputation hence the nickname ‘Clean Sweep Ignatius’.

The story was well delivered and easy to read however I can not say more about it without giving away spoilers. All I can say is if you have a few minutes spare give it a read. A short review for a short story.

I gave the story 3 out of 5 stars due to it just being too short for my liking and in my opinion not his best short story.

Lady Book Dragon

Review 7: Members Only by Jeffrey Archer

Members Only by Jeffrey Archer

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About the author

Jeffrey Archer was born in England in 1940, he is a former politician and author. Archer was a member of parliament from 1969-1974 but did not seek re-election due to a financial scandal that almost bankrupt him. Facing bankruptcy Archer began to write and in so doing revived his fortunes. Archer’s political career has been filled with scandal and in 2001 he was sent to jail for perjury and perverting the course of justice, in 2003 he was released. All his life experiences influence his writing and make for interesting reading.

Blurb

The course of Robin Chapman’s life changes forever when he is inspired to take up golf when he receives a golf ball in a Christmas cracker. Playing for his local club he visits Jersey and there he falls in love twice, with a local women and with the idea of becoming a member of the Royal Jersey Golf Club. However, his quest to become a member is far from straightforward, there is a long waiting list and then the Second World War threatens to wreck his goal completely . . .

Review

This short story is part of the series of short stories that Jeffrey Archer has been doing, he has written one for each month of the year and this story is September’s. I discovered Jeffrey Archer’s work this year and promptly became hooked. When I got my Kindle I went looking for all the free books and discovered Archer’s short stories and downloaded them all and I have been reading them over breakfast each morning.

This short story had me slightly worried to start with as it mentioned golf, I am not at all interested in golf and I thought if it was mainly about golf I would probably struggle to stay interested. However, I am so pleased I did not give up as it was a really good feel good read that put a smile on my face and thankfully was not mainly focused on golf.

The main character Robin Chapman is a hard working man, who strives to make his father’s family business a success, but also strives to be a good golfer. His quest to join the Royal Jersey Golf Club influences him in most things that he does and his wife also suggests things to help and puts up with his mad ambition to join. Robin never gives up and does not let anything stand in his way, he hopes with persistence and patience he will get what he most desires.

Archer has written a beautiful little story here, that is fast paced and engrossing. His two main characters Robin and his wife Diana are real life and believable, Diana the long suffering wife, supporting her husband’s mad ideas and plans, but also keeping her own career going, and also coping with the worry of her husband when he is doing something dangerous. Robin, who is a genuine good guy, helps his fellow man, works hard and is a loving husband and father. Archer fits so much of these two people’s lives into this short story, you do not realise it is a short story until you suddenly reach the end. Archer’s beautiful writing shines through in this short story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. 

The rest of the book was a sample of his next book Heads you Win, I did not read this as I have had this book preordered for some time and it arrived last week, so I did not want to spoil the surprise. 

If you have a spare minute I highly recommend sitting down with this short story, putting your feet up and having a good read.

A big 5 out of 5 stars from me.

Lady Book Dragon.