The Dolphins, the Whales and the Gudgeon by Aesop (Review)

The Dolphins, the Whales and the Gudgeon by Aesop

About the author

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Aesop (c. 620-564 BCE) was a Greek fabulist and storyteller credited with a number of fables now collectively known as Aesop’s Fables.

Blurb

Aesop’s animal fables are some of the earliest stories ever told, thought to have been composed by a slave in Greek antiquity and giving glimpses of a world that is harsh, pitiless and yet also eerily familiar.

Review

Having never read Aesop’s Fables I thought reading this little book of just some of them would be a good introduction to them and now I will be honest I desperately want to read the complete book.

I started reading this little book thinking that I would dip in and out of it but I could not put it down. I just loved every fable and could not believe how relatable they still are for the modern day. These fables will never age in my opinion.

Aesop was clearly a man who had met a lot of people and seen a lot of life to have come up with so many of these very true fables. I really loved how most of the fables used animals instead of people and these animals did not follow the traditional stereotypes of animals so in The Ageing Lion and the Fox the lion is sly and cunning and the fox is the clever one who works out what the lion is doing. Where usually we think of a lion as a brave and noble creature, Aesop is telling us not to judge a book by its cover.

I loved this little book and it took me a tea break to read it. The book made me laugh, it made me smile and it made me think. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons and I highly recommend it to everyone.

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The Fall of Icarus by Ovid (Review)

The Fall of Icarus by Ovid

About the author

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Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC-17/18AD), known as Ovid in the English speaking world, was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus.

Blurb

Enduring myths of vengeful gods and tragically flawed mortals from ancient Rome’s great poet. Ovid tells the tales of Theseus and the Minotaur, Daedalus and Icarus, the Calydonian Boar-Hunt, and many other famous myths.

Review

I really enjoyed this little book and I thought the translation flowed well. This little book contains lots of well known myths and legends that are a joy to read.

I had a teacher at school who loved the Fall of Icarus and told it to us often and reading it brought back a lot of fond memories.

The myths flowed well from one to the other and were easy to read.

I loved this book and I found it a wonderful glimpse into Ovid’s Metamorphoses. I have given this book 5 out 5 Dragons.

Purchase Links

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The Gates by Richard Pierce (Review)

The Gates by Richard Pierce

About the author

Richard Pierce is an English author who was born in Doncaster and educated in Germany and St John’s College, Cambridge. He now lives in Suffolk with his wife and four children. As well as writing he also paints, administers to two charities and writes poetry.

Blurb

Six short stories for self-isolation.

Review

I was very excited when I saw Richard Pierce mention this collection of short stories on his Twitter and headed straight over to Amazon to buy the stories. I loved Dead Men that Pierce sent me when I first started blogging to read and review.

I love the idea of these stories that Pierce has published for the time during lockdown and that it is staying at a cheap price of 99p.

The first short story Future History I must admit was not my favourite, I struggled to follow it. I understood the idea of it but I found it hard to get into. A rather scary vision of the future I must admit.

Voices I really enjoyed, the memories that the man was looking back on were so descriptive and it really was fantastic story telling. I also felt quite sorry for him at the end.

The Dig. Now I will be honest this story came across as very Philip K. Dick to me it really reminded me of his Electric Dreams which I just love so this story was right up my street. The idea of a man digging to make precautions for the future was excellent. This was my favourite short story in the set.

The National Fraud. This story was very sneaky and I must admit highly enjoyable. It was a very interesting take on Polling day for an election.

The Gates. Another fab story and rather puzzling, I must admit I read this one twice as it intrigued me so much. It left me asking a lot of stories and I desperately want to know more. What war? Who are the dead? Why can’t he leave? So many questions!

The Unrecognised. This story was wonderful and I will be honest I had a little cry at the end. This is a beautiful love story and really well written. The man was a real character and his relationship with his cat was very cute. The image of this 90 year old man still keeping his wife’s nightdress on her pillow even though she has been dead for 10 years was beautiful.

Overall, I loved this book, it took me about an hour to read and was perfect for helping me spend an hour not thinking about lockdown. It was beautifully written and had an interesting variety of stories. I highly recommend this book because it really does have something for everyone. I give this book 4.5 out of 5 Dragons just because I could not get into the first story. Thank you Mr Pierce for a beautiful set of short stories.

Purchase links

Kindle

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Festive Spirits by Kate Atkinson (Review)

Festive Spirits by Kate Atkinson

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About the author

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Kate Atkinson was born in 1951 and is an English writer of novels, plays and short stories. She is the creator of the Jackson Brodie detective novels. She has won the Whitbread Book of the Year in 1995 and in 2013 and 2015 she won the Costa Book Awards.

Blurb

Three Festive Stories

Review

This was a nice short read of only 68 pages and although I read it in one sitting it can easily be dipped into.

The first story is called Lucy’s Day and it is all based on Lucy a mother of four who has given up her top career job to look after her family and in a way look after her elderly cleaner who doesn’t do much cleaning anymore and really just needs company. This is just one day in the hectic life of Lucy and out of all the chaos it shows the Christmas spirit coming through and that no matter how busy you are over Christmas you can still take time to appreciate the magic of it all.

The second story Festive Spirit was my least favourite of the three. I really hated the ending of this story, I found it disappointing and frustrating. I was hoping for so much more from this story and it just felt like a major cop out at the end.

The third story was my favourite. It showed that, for some, Christmas can be a lonely affair and also a time of bad news. However, it also showed that Christmas can be the time of contemplation and planning new beginnings. My favourite part was when Gerald was walking Dog and came along to the church; it really warmed my heart. This story was truly beautiful and it brought a little tear to my eye.

I gave this book 3 out of 5 Dragons because I just did not enjoy the second story. However, the first and third story make this book a well worth read and I highly recommend it.

Purchase Links

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A Very Murderous Christmas: Ten Classic Crime Stories for the Festive Season by Various Authors (Review)

A Very Murderous Christmas: Ten Classic Crime Stories for the Festive Season by Various Authors and edited by Cecily Gayford

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Blurb

The Christmas season is one of comfort and joy, sparkling lights and steam rising from cups of mulled wine at frosty carol services. A season of goodwill to all men, as families and friends come together to forget their differences and celebrate the year together.

Unless, of course, you happen to be harbouring a grudge. Or hiding a guilty secret. Or you want something so much you just have to have it – whatever the cost. In A Very Murderous Christmas, ten of the best classic crime writers come together to unleash festive havoc, with murder, mayhem and twists aplenty.

Following Murder on Christmas Eve and Murder under the Christmas Tree, this is the perfect accompaniment to a mince pie and a roaring fire. Just make sure you’re really, truly alone …

Review

I bought this book last year just after Christmas so I never read it and thought I would save if for Christmas 2019. I’ve been desperate to start my Christmas reading and so kicked it off by reading this book. I read a short story a night and loved it.

The book has a range of short stories but sadly they are not all murder mysteries and some are just merely mysteries. My favourite story was Camberwell Crackers by Anthony Horowitz, it really made me giggle.

The first story in the book The Man with the Sack by Margery Allingham set the scene of a wonderful Christmas in the old days where the village children would come and visit the big house and someone would dress as Father Christmas and give out presents. I really enjoyed the beginning of this story but must admit I found the ending rather a disappointment and it was all a bit too predictable for me.

The Adventure of the Red Widow by Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr was very amusing and it was a nice Sherlock Holmes mystery and I enjoyed the murder mystery immensely but I must admit I found the ending rather sad, not something I wanted from a Christmas book, even a murder mystery Christmas book.

Camberwell Crackers by Anthony Horowitz my absolute favourite of the book and made me giggle. A proper little Christmas story.

The Flying Stars by G. K. Chesterton I must admit I found this story rather annoying in places and rather predictable. Just could not get on with characters in this story and rather pleased it was only short.

A Problem in White by Nicholas Blake this story I did enjoy and loved how it unfurled, a real mystery and set on a train with snow. A perfect Christmas tale with more than one crime to solve.

Loopy by Ruth Rendell now this story I found disturbing and rather worrying. The main character had clearly been over protected by his mother his entire life and also did not live in the real world or cope well when made to deal with it.

Morse’s Greatest Mystery by Colin Dexter. Oh I love a Morse story and this one was excellent. Morse is so eccentric in this story and his usual grumpy self, it did make me laugh.

The Jar of Ginger by Gladys Mitchell. An odd Christmas story and I’m not entirely sure I would have included it in a Christmas book if I had been choosing the stories but the plot was good and overall an interesting concept.

Rumpole and the Old Familiar Faces by John Mortimer. This is another wonderful story that I thoroughly enjoyed. It had all the Christmas requirements: a pantomime, snow, a cold vicarage, Christmas parties and festive spirit. A perfect little Christmas story.

The Problem of Santa’s Lighthouse by Edward Hook. The last story of the book was a great mystery and rather Johnathan Creek in style and not just because of the windmill!

Overall I loved this book and would highly recommend it, especially as you can just dip into it over the festive season. The only reason it didn’t get the full 5/5 Dragons and only 4 was because it did not have a full set of murder mystery stories and because The Flying Stars just annoyed me.

Purchase links;-

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Fireside Gothic by Andrew Taylor (Review)

Fireside Gothic by Andrew Taylor

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About the author

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Andrew Taylor was born in 1951 and is a British author best known for his crime novels. He has won the Diamond Dagger which is Britain’s top crime-writing award.

Blurb

BROKEN VOICES

It’s Christmas before the Great War and two lonely schoolboys have been forced into companionship. Left in the care of an elderly teacher, there is little to do but listen to his eerie tales about the nearby Cathedral. The boys concoct a plan to discover if the stories are true. But the Cathedral is filled with hidden dangers, and curiosity can prove fatal.

THE LEPER HOUSE

One stormy night in Suffolk, a man’s car breaks down following his sister’s funeral. The only source of light comes from a remote cottage by the sea. The mysterious woman who lives there begs him to leave, yet he can’t shake the sense that she somehow needs him. He attempts to return the next day but she is nowhere to be seen. And neither is the cottage.

THE SCRATCH

Clare and Gerald live a perfect life in the Forest of Dean with their cat, Cannop. Then Gerald’s young nephew comes to stay. Jack is from another world – active service in Afghanistan. The experience has left him outwardly untouched, but for a scratch that won’t heal. Jack and Cannop don’t like each other. Clare and Jack like each other too much. The scratch begins to fester.

Review

This book is not on my summer reading challenge and to be honest I read it by accident. I did not want to take my Kindle to the beach so I borrowed one of the books my husband had brought on holiday with him. My husband has read a lot of Andrew Taylor’s books but this one is a first for me and will not be the last.

This book has three stories is in it, so I will review them separately.

Broken Voices

Out of the three, this is my favourite story and feels the most Gothic to me. The story is based around two schoolboys who cannot go home for Christmas so must spend the season with an elderly teacher. They hear an old legend about the Cathedral and so decide to see for themselves whether it is true and they attempt this in the middle of night, adding to the mystery and drama. I must admit the two boys are braver than I, as I could never go in to a Cathedral in the middle of the night, too many ghosts for my liking.

Taylor sets the scene perfectly, it is just like a gothic novel from the Victorian period. He describes how the building looks different in the night, how the shadows flicker in the candlelight and how they might not be alone. At the end of the tale I was not entirely sure if it was all real it felt like a dream that one of the boys had when they were young. The story left me pondering somewhat.

The Leper House

This story was my least favourite and to be honest rather forgettable, I had to remind myself what happened in it before writing the review. I enjoyed the story but wouldn’t read it again as it did not really have anything special about it.

The story is about a man who meets a mysterious woman in a cottage which has no power and no comforts. This woman is a complete mystery to the man and he has to see her again, even when she tries to push him away. However, the next day he goes to find the cottage again and nothing is there, just some ruins.

This story was rather a confusing read and just felt more complicated than it needed to be. The characters were also rather unremarkable and nothing really stood out for me. The one thing I was really happy with at the end was that in my opinion he made the right choice.

The Scratch

This was a creepy read, especially for a cat owner and one of those cats is black. I was not entirely sure what to make of this story but really enjoyed reading it. There were a lot of What Ifs in the story and it left me pondering again.

I also enjoyed how Taylor included one of the main characters as a PTSD sufferer who has come back from being in the army and is struggling with getting back into the world again. I must admit I have not read many books tackling this issue and it was good to see Taylor including it in this story.

I did not really like Clare, I’m not sure why but she just got on my nerves. Gerald is obviously a hard working man who has always worked hard for his family and is a caring man who is happy to try and help his nephew where he can.

The story was really good and kept me hooked and I liked the ending and especially Cannop the cat, although I felt sorry for him for his name. I would have liked a bit more Gothic though.

Overall, I enjoyed the three stories and it has lit the spark for me wanting to read more of Taylor’s books. The only reason the book did not get the full 5 Dragons and only got 4 was because I wanted more Gothic from the last two stories. A very good beach read.

Purchase Links

Waterstones

Book Depository

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (Review)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

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About the author

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Capote was born in New Orleans in 1924 and was raised in various parts of the South. He left school at the age of fifteen and worked at the New Yorker which provided his first and last regular job. Capote wrote many novels in his lifetime and died in August in 1984.

Blurb

It’s New York in the 1940’s where the martinis flow from cocktail hour till breakfast at Tiffany’s. And nice girls don’t, except of course, Holly Golightly. Pursued by Mafia gangsters and playboy millionaires, Holly is a fragile eyeful of tawny hair and turned-up nose, a heart-breaker, a perplexed, a traveller, a tease. She is irrepressibly ‘top banana in the shock department’, and one of the shining flowers of American fiction.

Review

This is a book that I have been meaning to read for a very long time but have never got around to it. I only wanted a thin book to read and when I went mooching through my many book piles I found it. I did not realise that this book also has three extra short stories, so that was an added bonus.

I enjoyed the book but I also found it rather annoying at times and frustrating. Holly is making the best of things and trying to improve her life till she gets her dream life and she really does not care who she steps on to get there, that also includes her friends.

Holly has many men falling over themselves to be with her and she uses them to her own ends. Her neighbour, who is also the narrator, she names Fred although that is not his real name but we never find out his real name. Fred is rather strange in my opinion and at times a little creepy. He is obsessed with Holly, to the extent he goes through her rubbish to see what type of person she is, that in my opinion is stalker behaviour.

I found Holly to be really selfish and uncaring and I really did not like how she treated people, she didn’t even bother to learn Fred’s real name and tended to treat him like dirt. However, at times she did suddenly show a caring and considerate side that showed you she wasn’t all bad.

I have not seen the film but really want to, especially after reading the book, I imagine the movie to be very glamorous possibly more than the book. Audrey Hepburn makes anything look glamorous and the character Holly does nothing but smoke and drink which will be interesting to see on screen.

I enjoyed the story but it did annoy me at times and for that reason I only gave it 3 out of 5 Dragons. I recommend it to everyone as a must read as Capote is an excellent author.

The three extra short stories were lovely little stories, especially the last one which brought a tear to my eye.

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