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.

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Mrs Rosie and the Priest by Giovanni Boccaccio (Review)

Mrs Rosie and the Priest by Giovanni Boccaccio

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About the author

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Giovanni Boccaccio was born on the 16th June 1313 in the Republic of Florence and died in 1375. He was an Italian writer, poet and an important Renaissance humanist. Boccaccio wrote his imaginative literature mostly in Italian vernacular, as well as other works in Latin. He was unusual for medieval writers because he did not follow the formulaic models for character and plot.

Blurb

Bawdy tales of pimps, cuckolds, lovers and clever women from the fourteenth-century Florentine masterpiece The Decameron.

Review

When the Penguin Little Black Classics first came out I slowly started buying them and reading them, however moving house and forgetting which box they were all kept in did not help. I just recently found them all and have started to read them from the beginning with the hope of this time reading them all, so here is my first review.

I have already read this book once and I loved it, reading it for a second time I loved it even more. I forgot just how amusing medieval literature can be. I am going to review each of the four stories individually.

Andreuccio’s da Perugia’s Neapolitan adventures

This story is about a young man called Andreuccio who is the son of a horse dealer, he hears that horses are trading well in Naples and so takes a lot of money to Naples to trade horses and make more money. However things do not go as planned.

Poor Andreuccio is not the brightest of men and falls victim to fraud. Then he has a load of other adventures after the fraud. I found this story highly amusing and to be honest felt no sympathy for Andreuccio as really he should have known better. The part I particularly enjoyed was where he got covered in poo and could be smelt everywhere, if that does not teach him a lesson to be more vigilant than I do not know what will.

A very funny read and nice and short.

Ricciardo da Chimica loses his wife

Ricciardo is a judge who has more brain than muscle and thinks his way of life would also please a wife. His mistake is the type of wife he chooses, he goes for a very beautiful, young wife who will be expecting more than Ricciardo can provide in the bedroom department and life in general. Bartolommea is the unfortunate wife of Ricciardo but then she gets a better offer.

Another amusing read, now I know I should be on the side of Ricciardo but to be honest I felt sorry for Bartolommea, she ended up married to a much older man who makes any excuse possible to avoid physical contact with her. In my opinion this story has the moral of do not bite off more than you can chew and not be greedy, otherwise you will get your comeuppance.

Mrs Rosie and the Priest

Well what a naughty priest! This is my favourite story in the book because I can not help but smile about this naughty little priest. I have this image of a short dumpy priest wearing a cloak, winking at women. I do feel sorry for Mrs Rosie as she was very wronged by the priest and could do nothing about it.

A brilliant little story, that made me giggle.

Patient Griselda

This is my least favourite story of the book. I can not believe that one husband can be so cruel to his wife and she does nothing but patiently take it. It made me angry to think a woman would stand so much, I know times were different then but still, how did she not run away.

Poor Griselda is tested to the limits by her husband to see if she is a good wife, it is mainly for him to prove to his friends that he has chosen, created and tested the best wife like he said he would.

I gave the whole book 5 out of 5 Dragons because I enjoyed it so much and desperately want to read the whole of The Decameron. Even though I was not keen on the last story the other three I loved so much I still give the book full marks. I think it is a fantastic start to the start of the Penguin Little Black Classics and I can not wait to read them and see what I discover.

Lady Book Dragon.

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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.

Review 6: Coraline & Other Stories by Neil Gaiman

Coraline and Other Stories by Neil Gaiman

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About the Author

Neil Gaiman is an English author who writes comics, books, graphic novels, short stories, film and theatre and has won many awards for his work. He was a great reader from an early age and states that JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a major influence to him and he read it a great deal as a child. Gaiman started his career as a journalist and his first book was a Duran Duran biography. Gaiman now lives in the United States.

Blurb

When Coraline explores her new home, she steps through a door and into another house just like her own – except that things aren’t quite as they seem. There’s another mother and father in this house and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. Coraline must use all of her wits and every ounce of courage in order to save herself and return home … but will she escape and will life ever be the same again?

Elsewhere in this collection, a sinister jack-in-the-box haunts the lives of all the children who ever owned it, a stray cat does nightly battle to protect his adopted family, and a boy raised in a graveyard confronts the much more troubled world of living. From the scary to the whimsical, the fantastical to the humorous, Coraline and Other Stories is a journey into the dark, magical world of Neil Gaiman.

Review

I have been going through a bit of Neil Gaiman phase just recently so expect a few more book reviews of his work in the near future. Also this is the second book I’ve read in less than a month with a black cat on the front cover. My husband believes a theme is developing. 

Coraline

I was very excited to start reading this book, as a few of my family and friends had recommended it to me, and I had managed to avoid the film, so had no idea of the story. However sadly when I started reading it and was 20 pages in a young student of mine, an avid reader herself, saw it on the side and got very excited and told me the entire plot. So sadly the surprise of reading the story was no longer there. That did not stop me thoroughly enjoying it though.

Coraline to me is a little bit like Alice in Wonderland but instead of Coraline falling down a rabbit hole she walks through a mysterious door into a another flat exactly like her own with another mother and father, but who are not her mother and father. This other world seems like great fun to start with, these other parents want to spend time with Coraline and do not seem to be working all the time. However there is something dark and sinister about this other world and Coraline knows it is not right and must fight to save her own reality. 

The characters in this book are wonderful: Miss Spink and Miss Forcible the retired actresses who love to regale anybody who will listen about their times on the stage and the crazy old man upstairs who trains mice, but nobody has seen these wonderful mice, who Coraline is wary of. Then of course there is the haughty black cat who hangs around the gardens and Misses Spinks and Forcible’s Highland terriers Hamish, Andrew and Jock. These wonderful animals have parts of their own in the story.

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(My haughty black cat)

Coraline is a typical child who just wants to explore and do things, she gets easily bored and as it is school holidays, in a new house and area, she is all alone apart from her parents and neighbours. Coraline loves to be different, but her parents are very ordinary, they both work with computers from home and they work a lot, so Coraline does not get much time with them. 

Coraline’s adventure to save her reality is dark and mysterious and leaves you constantly wondering what will happen next. I did not want to put the book down and due to its short length I soon finished the story of Coraline.

On its own I rate this story 5 out of 5 stars. 

The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds

This was fantastic! I never would have thought of having my old favourite nursery rhymes  turned into an American gangster style private detective film. To start with I must admit I was a little confused and then it all started to make sense and I was hooked. At only 14 pages long this story was soon read with a mug of tea and a biscuit to accompany it. 

The whole new take on popular characters like Humpty Dumpty the criminal, Jack Horner the private detective, Cock Robin who sadly died before we got to know him, was amazing and really well thought out. 

I loved the atmosphere Gaiman created with this story, I was basically imagining it all as a black and white film and everyone had American accents talking about hooch and dames. I do think it would make a wonderful short film as Gaiman has written it all out already for the film makers.

A truly fantastic read and it made me see my favourite nursery rhymes in a different light. There is no turning back for me now, my nursery rhymes will always be set in American gangster times.

A massive 5 out of 5 stars for this amazing short story.

Troll Bridge

I did not enjoy this story sadly, I found it very depressing and in places annoying. The story is about Jack a 7 year old boy meeting a troll, and subsequently growing up with the knowledge of this troll haunting him. 

The thing I did like was the imagery of how Jack’s surroundings were changing, more roads and houses appearing, steam engines disappearing and being replaced by diesel engines and certain railway stations and lines stopping. Each time he returned to the place where the troll’s bridge was the landscape had changed again and Gaiman describes it all in detail, it really makes you feel like you are there.

The first thing I did not like was the description of the troll, it started good but what jolted me out of the narrative was Gaiman’s need to describe the troll’s genitals. I really did not find that necessary and I would not like a child of mine to read that at young age. It just seemed like he was trying to shock the reader and I did not think it was required.

The main thing I did not like was Jack, he was a very selfish character and as he got older he got even worse and with added nasty traits. By the end I was rooting for the troll.

I know this story is all about growing up and rites of passage but it just did not work for me, thankfully the other stories make up for what it is lacking. I would have been very annoyed if I had bought this as a separate book.

A disappointing 1 star out of 5.

Don’t Ask Jack

This is a very short story and in my opinion the scariest so far in the book. The story is about a Jack-in-the-box who lives in a children’s nursery and nobody knows where the toy came from. The parents think it is a lovely little box and like to show it on the shelf but the children like it hidden deep in the toy box.

This was a sinister read for me, probably because a jack-in-the-box is my worst nightmare. This spooky toy has a certain power over the children and they fear it, hence why they hide it and the reader is left wondering what exactly this toy actually does to the children.

I loved this story, a real good one to read at halloween.

4 out of 5 star rating.

How to sell the Ponti Bridge

I found this story rather long winded and a bit on the dull side. It did not really keep my interest and I struggled to read it all the way through. It just did not seem to flow very easily.

The story is basically about the biggest scam that was ever pulled off in the Seven Worlds, a futuristic world in another galaxy. However, it seemed based around 17th and 18th century ideas. 

Only 1 star out of 5.

October in the Chair

I really enjoyed this story and I loved the idea of the different months actually being people, whose characters reflect the months’ attributes. The story is about the twelve months meeting up and one month being sat in the chair and nominated to tell a story. The month who is in the chair is October and he tells a very sad and spooky story, just like a ghost story you would tell in October to celebrate halloween.

I just loved the interactions between the months and the jokes they make with each other. October’s story is very sad and moving and also terrifying. It really made me think and want to know what happened in the end, however Gaiman leaves us hanging so we have to make up our own minds as to what happens at the end of October’s story.

A riveting read that I could not put down.

5 out of 5 stars.

Chivalry

The first word I thought of with this is story is adorable, it made me smile and have a little giggle.

Basically the story is about a little old lady called Mrs Whitaker who finds the Holy Grail in a charity shop and buys it because she thinks it will look good on her mantelpiece. And of course there is a knight in shining armour, because what story about the Holy Grail does not have a knight in it?

Mrs Whitaker is a typical widow who goes once a week to collect her pension, meets with her friend, bakes cakes, potters about her garden and tries to be the best person she can be but who is ultimately rather lonely since her husband passed away. Galaad is a knight of the round table who seeks the Holy Grail and turns up on Mrs Whitaker’s doorstep. He is noble, kind, handsome and a perfect gentleman with a noble steed called Grizzel.

I truly enjoyed this story but I also found it a little sad in the end. To begin with I loved the character of Mrs Whitaker and thought she sounded like everybody’s ideal grandmother. Then I loved the idea that you could buy the Holy Grail from a charity shop for 30p and that Mrs Whitaker knew it was the Holy Grail but just wanted it to go on her mantelpiece. The icing on the cake was when Galaad turned up to begin his quest to get the Grail.

This feel good story was magical to read and I am so pleased I read it, however I was a little disappointed with the ending and that has affected my rating.

My overall rating for this story is 4 stars out of 5.

The Price

Now this story upset me greatly, especially as I have a black cat who I would do anything to protect. This story is a short horror story, that shows not to judge people by appearances. 

The story is about a black cat who fights every night to protect his adopted family from a great threat. The man who tells the story describes how his family take in strays and look after them and the strays either decide to stay or go on their way. However the black cat turns up and adopts the family but everyday the family notice he has more wounds on him and that he is getting weaker. The man tries to find out what is hurting the black cat and whether he can help.

I am not great with stories about animals that get hurt and so I found this story hard to read and digest but I did find it a good story and I enjoyed the narrative. The fact that this family always goes out of its way to help stray cats and happily pays the vets bills and feeds them and opens their home to them make this family every cat’s dream. So it seems that they deserve a guardian angel as a reward and this angel comes in the form of the black cat. The black cat I like to think has seen all the kindness this family bestows on cats and so decides to adopt them. 

Black cats always have a bad press and are considered bad luck and in the UK are always the last cats left in cat shelters. So I love that this story has turned the tables and made a black cat the hero, the knight in shining armour and the good luck charm to the family.

A really good read but a disturbing one for me that made me a little angry.

3 out of 5 stars.

How to Talk to Girls at Parties

The two characters Vic and Enn are typical teenage boys, one who is really good at chatting up girls and his friend who is very shy and awkward around girls, who tries his best but ultimately always sees his friend go off with a girl and is left somewhere at the party with nobody to talk to.

Vic and Enn are heading to a house party of a friend of theirs but when they show up it is clear that it is a different house party and they do not know anybody there. Vic immediately makes himself at home and starts to get along with the prettiest girl there and Enn awkwardly tries to take his friend’s advice and talk to the girls at the party. However as Enn talks to more girls you soon see that something is not entirely right with these girls.

The story is a very stereotypical plot of teenagers full of hormones wanting to drink, party and manage to go upstairs into one of the bedrooms with somebody. I must admit when I started reading it, I thought ‘oh no! Not another of these storylines’ but I should have trusted Gaiman, as he never goes for the ordinary mundane storyline. 

It was a good read but I was pleased it was a short story as it was not very engaging for me and left me unimpressed. If it had not been part of the book, I probably would not have read it.

3 stars out 5.

Sunbird

I did enjoy this story even if it was a little predictable, the idea of a club where people gather to eat as many different foods as they can and not care about the consequences on their body is brilliant. This is a club for very greedy people, who do not care if what they seek to eat is endangered or near extinction as long as they get what they want.

The members of the Epicurean Club plan to find and catch a Sunbird to eat it and their planned expedition is very amusing. 

The outcome of the story to me was rather obvious, but that did not stop me enjoying the story and having a good chuckle whilst reading it. The best part was I read this story whilst eating my lunch, which I thought fit in rather well. 

The characters were well written and all rather amusing, if anything I would have liked the story to be a little longer and the characters to be fleshed out a bit more, but then it would not have been a short story.

A good short story to read whilst on your lunch break. 4 stars out of 5.

The Witch’s Headstone

This has got be my favourite story of the book! I just loved everything about it and I have ordered The Graveyard Book so I can read the whole story as I believe this short story is a chapter from the book. 

The character Bod is wonderful, he is so kind and thoughtful and sweet natured, everything you would not expect from a child brought up in graveyard by ghosts. From the moment I started reading this story I was hooked and wanted it to be longer, I wanted to know Bod’s past and future – it was brilliant.

Bod is fascinated by the potter’s field and the reported witch who is buried there and after he accidentally meets her he wants to be her friend and get her a headstone as he finds it unfair that her burial site is not marked or remembered in any way. 

An excellent read that finished way too soon.

5 out of 5 stars from me and I hope The Graveyard Book is just as good.

Instructions

Confused! This last story? Or whatever it is had me very confused, yes it is a set of instructions but to what? I got my husband to read it and he said it was almost like instructions for a video game. I would not know anything about this as I was never allowed video games as a child so missed out on that whole thing, apart from the odd game I played at friends’ houses. 

It just had me confused and bored and to be honest I skim read it in the end. It was a really disappointing ending to me and I wish the book had finished with The Witch’s Gravestone.

Sad to say but the book ended with 1 star out of 5 for me.

My overall verdict on this book is 4 stars out of 5 because there were a few disappointing stories for me. However it is a great read and one that you can dip into and read a story when you have a few spare minutes. 

Thank you for reading my longest review so far on my blog.

I hope you have enjoyed it, please leave me a comment if you would like to discuss the book.

Lady Book Dragon.