BOOK REVIEW: Wuthering Heights – by Emily Brontë

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Title: Wuthering Heights
Author: Emily Brontë
Genre: Classics, Fiction, Romance
First published: 1847
Publisher: Penguin Books
Finished reading: December 31st 2016
Pages: 360
(Audio duration 13hs 14m 06s)
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“I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind. And this is one: I’m going to tell it – but take care not to smile at any part of it.”

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I was browsing my list of reviews the other day and realized I totally forgot to write my review on my last read of 2016. Oops? So this is me making up for that. My last read of 2016 was actually an audiobook I listened to on Audible of one of the popular classics: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. It was my first experience with the Brontë sister’s books and I have to say it was quite a positive one. I’m still a newbie when it comes to listening to audiobooks, but I found my experience listening to the story of Heathcliff and Catherine to be so much more entertaining than I thought I would! Sure, there is a lot of drama going on and I didn’t really like every character, but I found myself looking forward to my time with the inhabitants of Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights. It’s a bit hard to properly judge the writing style by just listening to the prose, but I’m quite positive I would enjoy reading the physical version of Wuthering Heights just as much. I definitely have it marked for a ‘reread’ some time in the future!

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Lockwood is the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange on the bleak Yorkshire moors. One night he is forced to seek shelter at the home of his landlord at Wuthering Heights, and it is not a positive experience. And then he finds out all about the history of the events that took place years ago and influenced the history of both Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights. It all started with young Heathcliff and Catherine, and when things didn’t turn out as planned the events that happened next have influenced current and future generations alike…

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I have to admit I was never sure the classics of the Brontë sisters would be my thing, but I’m glad I finally gave Wuthering Heights a go. Audiobook or not, I enjoyed this story so much better than I thought I would even though some of the characters can be quite irritable. The history of both families is intriguing and I will definitely be looking forward to revisit this world some time in the future when I pick up the physical version.


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BOOK REVIEW: Rubyfruit Jungle – by Rita Mae Brown

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Title: Rubyfruit Jungle
Author: Rita Mae Brown

Genre: Classics, Fiction, Glbt
First published: 1973
Publisher: Bantam
Finished reading: December 28th 2016
Pages: 240
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“Oh great, you too. So now I wear this label ‘Queer’ emblazoned across my chest. Or I could always carve a scarlet ‘L’ on my forehead. Why does everyone have to put you in a box and nail the lid on it? I don’t know what I am—polymorphous and perverse. Shit. I don’t even know if I’m white. I’m me. That’s all I am and all I want to be. Do I have to be something?”

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I confess I came across this book by accident, but I was immediately intrigued by both the cover and the blurb. The fact that Rubyfruit Jungle is a coming of age story written back in 1973 and talks about the glbt theme so openly is both impressive and inspiring. I can see why so many people seem to find Rita Mae Brown‘s book that powerful… Because as we follow the main character Molly Bolt, basically every cliche involving the glbt community is included and talked about.  It’s so interesting to read about how the situation was back then and compare them to our current one! The prose is both refreshing and entertaining to read, and I was able to finish this modern classic in no time at all. Molly Bolt isn’t exactly the most ‘perfect’ character out there, but it is so easy to like her with all her flaws. She says and does exactly how she thinks and I can really appreciate that. There is some swearing involved in Rubyfruit Jungle, but in this case it is basically part of the character building. All in all a very interesting read!

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Molly Bolt is the adoptive daughter of a dirt-poor Southern couple who stubbornly decided to find a way to improve her current life. She has been determined not to have other people stop her from reaching her goals and dreams, even if she wants things other people might find odd. That includes Molly finding women more attractive than men, and she refuses to apologize for loving them. But will she be able to succeed in life?

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If you enjoy reading a good glbt coming of age story where the main character doesn’t shy away from saying the painful truth and you don’t mind a bit of colorful prose, I can strongly suggest reading Rubyfruit Jungle. I personally loved the unorthodox prose and I had so much fun reading this story. Molly Bolt is such an intriguing and well developed character and it was really interesting to follow her difficult journey to adulthood. It’s a very original and powerful story and even more impressive if you think about the time when Rubyfruit Jungle was first published.

BOOK REVIEW: The Picture Of Dorian Gray – by Oscar Wilde

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Title: The Picture Of Dorian Gray
Author: Oscar Wilde

Genre: Classics, Fiction, Fantasy
First published: June 20th 1890
Publisher: Random House
Finished reading: December 15th 2016
Pages: 254
Rating 4qqq

“Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”

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I have been neglecting my classics way too much this year, so I decided to try and make up for it in this last month of 2016. The Picture Of Dorian Gray has been one of those classics that has been on my radar for a while now, especially since so many fellow bloggers seem to have enjoyed this classic. Now I’ve finally read this novel by Oscar Wilde, I can understand why. Reading classics can normally tend to present quite a challenge, but I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to read The Picture Of Dorian Gray even though it has been written back in the 19th century. The first part is probably the strongest of the story, as the pace slowed down considerably in the middle with the appearance of a lot of long ‘pointless’ lists where Dorian went on and on about random things. Thankfully the pace picked up again later on and the final part is almost as good as the beginning. In general I had a great time reading this classics and it is without doubt a fast-paced and well written story that can entertain us even today. Recommended!

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When Dorian Gray sees the finished portrait Basil Hallward has painted of him, he has such a fear of growing old and unattractive he decides to sell his soul in exchange for eternal youth and beauty. Dorian seems to have switched places with the portrait; he doesn’t seem to age a day, while the portrait is affected by all he does is life… And it is something that might destroy him in the end.

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I’ve had mixed experiences with reading classics in the past, but The Picture Of Dorian Gray has turned out to be one of those exceptions. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this story, and how fast-paced and how easy it was to relate to the story. There is quite a strong message behind the beautiful prose and intriguing plot, and it is without doubt one that can be connected to the 21st century as well. If you are looking for an interesting classic that mostly reads like a train, The Picture Of Dorian Gray is an excellent choice.

BOOK REVIEW: The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde – by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Title: The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson

Genre: Classics, Science Fiction, Horror
First published: January 5th 1886
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Finished reading: December 4th 2016
Pages: 96
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“I learned to recognise the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both.”

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I’m ashamed to admit I have been mostly neglecting the classics this year, and I made a promise to myself to at least read a few before the end of 2016. It was the perfect time to read one of my pending classics on my kindle: The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde. I was only vaguely familiar with the story, but this is the first time I’m actually reading the original version of this story. I had a bad experience reading another of Robert Louis Stevenson‘s books, Treasure Island, but luckily I found this classic to be a lot more enjoyable to read. Sure, it took me a while to get into the story, but the second half of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde was without doubt very entertaining. There is an interesting concept and message behind this story that will definitely make you think. I don’t think it’s my favorite classic ever, but I enjoyed it a lot better than I thought I would.

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Dr. Jekyll has discovered the ultimate drug; a chemical that can separate good from evil and turn him into something else. The sinister Mr. Hyde is born, and is causing trouble all over the city. People wonder who Mr. Hyde is and why Dr. Jekyll would want to interact with such a shady character. But they do not know about the doctor’s secret… Will Jekyll be able to keep Hyde under control?

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I think most people are probably already aware of what this story is about, especially since so many references to it have been made ever since it was published back in the 19th century. The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde has an interesting concept and especially the second half is quite enjoyable to read. It took me a while to get into the story though… And I don’t think I will be rereading it any time soon.

BOOK REVIEW: The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer – by Mark Twain

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Title: The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer
Author: Mark Twain

Genre: Classics, Fiction, Middle Grade
First published: 1876
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Finished reading: October 20th 2016
Pages: 225
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“Can’t learn an old dog new tricks, as the saying is. But my goodness, he never plays them alike, two days, and how is a body to know what’s coming?”

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Like most people, I already knew most of the details around the life of Tom Sawyer and I think I might have seen a TV series at some point, but I’m ashamed to admit I had never actually read the original story as it was written by Mark Twain all that time ago. And since I needed to read more classics in the first place, I thought it was a great excuse to finally pick up my copy of The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer. Unfortunately I can’t say I fell in love with this classic. I’m not saying it is a bad read, but I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Part of the problem might be that I read it too late; I would probably have enjoyed this story a lot better fifteen to twenty years ago. That said, I did think there were too many religious references to my taste, although that can probably be explained by the fact that it was written back in 1876. But classic or not, I did have a hard time to get a proper feel for the story and it only started to get more exciting after their ‘graveyard adventure’.  Slow start and stronger ending; I guess it would still make a great middle grade, especially for boys.

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Tom Sawyer is not like most of the boys in the Mississippi River town where his lives. He doesn’t really feel like behaving and doing as it is told by the adults around him, and is always looking for a way to escape his tasks. Tom is without doubt very clever, and is able to convince the other boys of just about everything. From the fun in whitewashing a fence to the games they play and the things that happen at school, Tom Sawyer is always a busy boy that normally means he will ends up in trouble. Trouble that might be turning into a really dangerous situation after what happened at the graveyard… But even trouble and danger cannot make Tom to stay away from his adventures and the creativity of his own mind.

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I guess I either read this story at the wrong time or it just wasn’t for me, because I can’t say I was convinced by especially the first part of The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer. It’s not a bad read and I can see why especially younger readers would love this story, but I had a hard time getting into the story. The last part is a lot more exciting though, and the story is quite readable even though it’s written back in the 19th century.

BOOK REVIEW: The Little Prince – by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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Title: The Little Prince
Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Genre: Middle Grade, Classics, Fantasy
First published: 1943
Finished reading: May 27th 2016
Pages: 98
(Originally written in French: ‘Le Petit Prince’)
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“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.

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I think this is one of those cases where I should have either read this classic 15-20 years ago or have waited until I have kids of my own to read the story to… Because I didn’t enjoy The Little Prince as much as I thought I would. Sure, it’s an interesting enough middle grade story with illustrations and all, but I have to be honest and say I wasn’t exactly blown away by it. It is a quick read and I’m sure children will enjoy it, but I can’t say the story sticked with me. In fact, only a week after reading this story which was originally written in French, I’m having a hard time remembering specific details… Which isn’t exactly a good sign. I’m not saying The Little Prince is a bad read, but I do think this classic has to be read at the right time and wasn’t really ment for adults in the first place.

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A little boy decides to leave the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, even though it means he has to leave behind his precious flower. He travels from planet to planet and learns more about the strange behavior of adults through the persons that live on those planets. Afer a long journey he finally ends up on Earth and meets the writer of this story in the middle of nowhere… And the writer is so moved by this meeting later on, that he decides to write down the little boy’s story.

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I have been trying to read more classics lately and The Little Prince was high on my list. I somehow never read this middle grade story when I was younger (as far as I can remember), and unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this read as much as an adult. It’s not that the story is badly written and the illustrations will work perfectly with children, but I just didn’t find this classic by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry memorable at all. It might be the most translated book in the French language, but it sure isn’t my favorite.

BOOK REVIEW: Fantastic Mr. Fox – by Roald Dahl

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Title: Fantastic Mr. Fox
Author: Roald Dahl
Genre: Children, Fantasy, Fiction
First published: 1970
Finished reading: January 8th 2016
Pages: 81
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“I understand what you’re saying, and your comments are valuable, but I’m gonna ignore your advice.”

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Roald Dahl is easily one of my favorite childhood authors and every once in a while I like rereading one of his books. Browsing his books for another reread the other day I realized I couldn’t remember if I had ever read Fantastic Mr. Fox… And I decided to change that immediately. I enjoyed reading this children story, although I have to admit it’s not as good as some of his other work. Still, he writes in a way that will win over any child’s heart whether they read it themselves or you read it to them. Quentin Blake‘s illustrations maybe are not the prettiest, but they fit well and bring back memories of my own childhood reading Roald Dahl‘s books. Mr. Fox and the other animals all have different personalities as do the three farmers… I definitely would have enjoyed this read as a kid and I would definitely recommend it to someone with young children. And for us adults: it’s not his best work and it might get a bit boring… If you haven’t read anything Roald Dahl yet, I wouldn’t recommend reading this one first.

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Someone has been stealing animals from the three mean farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean. Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Turkeys… Boggis, Bunce and Bean have had enough and join forces to catch the thief. They already know who did it: Mr. Fox! The farmers decide to get rid of him forever and have Mr. Fox and his family surrounded. But Mr. Fox isn’t just any fox and very clever. He comes up with a plan to fool the farmers and save his family from starvation…

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Fantastic Mr. Fox isn’t my favorite, but it still very much shows it was written by Roald Dahl. I really like his writing style and it’s perfect for children with just the right dose of humor and adventure. The illustrations combine well with the text and I would definitely read this story to small children. I’m sure they would love it…