The Endgame by Jeffrey Archer (Review)

The Endgame 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

Taken from To Cut a Long Story Short, Jeffrey Archer’s fourth collection of short stories, The Endgame is an irresistible, witty and ingenious short read.

After he becomes a widower, wealthy Cornelius Barrington decides to test the loyalty of his family and friends to himself, or his money, by declaring himself bankrupt, enlisting the help of his old friend and trusted lawyer, Frank Vintcent, to make the ruse authentic. Soon though, Barrington is left pondering whether blood really is thicker than water . . .

Review

Today I had a very gap filled day teaching so I thought I would read a short story in the little gaps. This made a nice change from the recent short stories by Jeffrey Archer that I have read as the recent ones have all involved men dropping everything to run after a young pretty woman.

This is a beautiful little story where the main character Cornelius needs to rewrite his will but first he wants to see who deserves his wealth. Cornelius has always suspected that certain members of his family and friends prefer his money rather than himself, so he decided to put his theory to the test.

When Cornelius pretends to be made bankrupt he watches his family and friends reactions to what has happened and finds out who his true friends are. As the story develops it is interesting to see Cornelius’ plan unfold and how each member of his family reacts and how his friends react.

This story shows how money can make people react differently, even act like crazy people and yet there are people out there who money does not touch and who remain true. I really enjoyed reading this short story and I was upset when it ended as I did not want it to end but for the story to develop further. Considering it is a short story there is a lot of content within it and there is never a dull moment. It just shows Archer’s talent as a writer to make a story work so well in such a small space of time. I gave this story 5 Dragons out of 5 Dragons.

To buy the complete book of short stories from Waterstones please click here.

Lady Book Dragon.

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The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue by Anon (Review)

The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue

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About the author

The author is sadly anonymous but this is a well known Icelandic saga composed at the end of the 13th century.

Blurb

Ranging across Scandinavia, England and Ireland, a Viking-age epic of two poets in doomed pursuit of Helga the Fair

Review

This is the third book of the Penguin Little Black Classics and a quick little read of just 52 pages. The book contains 25 verses of skaldic poetry which are scattered through the story.

This book is essentially a love story, where two poets are in pursuit of Helga the Fair, both travel around earning glory and renown hoping to make themselves worthy of Helga’s hand in marriage.

I enjoyed this book to begin with and found the verses of poetry enjoyable, however as the story went on I found the poetry began to get on my nerves and broke up the flow of the story. I must admit I started to skim read it as I could not bare it any longer, the story was still really good though. The thing I found a struggle to get used to in the beginning was the big lists of names, but once I got used to the style this was ok. A lot of store is held in one’s ancestors and family in this book so great lists of names are often given, even if those characters are not featured in the story.

I also enjoyed how the characters travelled around Scandinavia, England and Ireland and the accompanying adventures. It was interesting learning about the kings and rulers of that time and what they were like. The other element I enjoyed was how Christianity moved across the countries and the old ways were forgotten. This was considered a really good thing in the book but I wonder whether everyone was so willing to drop the old ways and take on the new faith. In my opinion I think this element is seen through rose tinted glasses by the author.

“All the men who have been mentioned were living at the same time, and it was about this time that the best thing ever to have happened in Iceland occurred: the whole country became Christian and the entire population abandoned the old faith.”

This is an excellent little book, which will not take long to read and was a good introduction for me to Icelandic sagas. I enjoyed reading the book but because the poetry got on my nerves I only give this book 3 Dragons out of 5.

To purchase this book please click here

Lady Book Dragon

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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

 

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.

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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