Friday Finds #35: May 8th

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FRIDAY FINDS is originally featured at Should Be Reading and showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during the last week and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads. As always, I’ve yet again added more titles to my already exploding TBR list…  Below you can find a selection of my newest additions; click on the book descriptions to go to its Goodreads page.

My finds:

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BOOK REVIEW: A Christmas Carol – by Charles Dickens

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Title: A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
Genre: Classics, Fiction, Christmas
First published: 1843
Finished reading: December 23rd 2014
Pages: 160
Rating 4

“It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.”

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I have been wanting to read this classic by Charles Dickens for ages. This year I finally came around actually reading A Christmas Carol and I’m glad that I did. A lot of stories, series and movies have been based on this story about the three Spirits visiting Ebeneezer Scrooge, and it is nice to finally read the original version. I already knew what was going to happen, but still I very much enjoyed reading A Christmas Carol. Recommended to anyone who is or wants to be in the Christmas mood!

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Since I think most people are more than familiar with the story already, I will keep this summary short. A Christmas Carol is about a coldhearted and money loving man called Ebeneezer Scrooge, who thinks money is everything and doesn’t care about affection or charity. He hates Christmas and is reluctant to grant even his employee the day off on Christmas day, and writes off the good wishes as folly. Then, at night, his old (and dead!) partner Jacob Marley visits him with a warning: Scrooge has to change, or things will turn out badly for him.

Three spirits of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet To Come will visit Scrooge and show him what he is missing. He slowly realizes what the spirits want to show him and learns his lessons. Charity and kindness are important and will change lives, not only during Christmas but the whole year. Scrooge is determined to change his behavior and save his soul…

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A Christmas Carol is a short but sweet Christmas story with some strong life lessons. This classic by Charles Dickens is definitely worth reading and perfect to get you in the holiday mood! It is amazing that a story written so many years ago turns out to be timeless…

BOOK REVIEW: The Graveyard Book – by Neil Gaiman

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Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, YA, Children
First published: September 30th 2007
Finished reading: July 1st 2014
Pages: 327
Rating 4

“You’re alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you can change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you’re dead, it’s gone. Over. You’ve made what you’ve made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.”

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At first glance, the story seems to be about a little boy who grows up living in a cemetery. After his entire family was brutally murdered by mysterious man called Jack, the orphaned boy managed to escape and was adopted by a ghostly couple called Mr. and Mrs. Owens. The book actually goes a lot deeper than that: it’s a story full of dangers, adventures, supernatural creatures and sprinkled with Irish folkore. The Graveyard Book is both creepy and heartwarming… And scary and funny at the same time. It might not be the typical children’s book and not the ideal bedtime story for the youngest under us, but it will manage to amaze young and old when read at the proper moment. Definitely recommended!

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So we have an orphaned toddler that finds his way to a very special graveyard when he is trying to escape the killer of his family. He promptly gets adopted by two ghosts in order to protect him and they give him his new name: Nobody Owens (because ‘he looks like nobody but himself‘). Little Nobody is then given the freedom of the graveyard and is able to go where normal living beings couldn’t. Together with a solitary guardian Silas, the ghosts try to raise Nobody (or Bod) as ordinary as possible. But the education they give him isn’t all that normal, and soon Bod learns how to Fade and other ghostly tricks normal humans cannot master… Although Bod knows he is only safe when he stays within the bounderies of the graveyard, his young curious mind soon gets him into trouble. Both inside the graveyard and outside adventures are waiting for him, and not everybody is as friendly as they appear… And of course the mysterious man Jack is still out there looking for him as well.

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This story is not just another typical fantasy story. It is also about a little boy growing up surrounded by a curious environment; a boy who is very wise for his age, full of energy and wishes to finally explore the world out there. His guardians protect him from harm and help him in trying to achieve his goal, teaching him everything they know both about the real world and the world beyond… But little boys grow up, and I have to admit the end had me almost crying. A beautiful, unique and unforgettable story… Although I would have loved reading more about the world the various supernatural creatures live in.

BOOK REVIEW: The Woman In Black – by Susan Hill

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Title: The Woman In Black
Author: Susan Hill
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Paranormal

First published: October 10th 1983
Finished reading: April 22nd 2014

Pages: 192

(Read in Spanish: ‘La Mujer De Negro’)

Rating 3

“For a long time, I did not move from the dark, wood-panelled hall. I wanted company, and I had none, lights and warmth and a strong drink inside me, I needed reassurance. But, more than anything else, I needed an explanation. It is remarkable how powerful a force simple curiosity can be. I had never realized that before now. In spite of my intense fear and sense of shock, I was consumed with the desire to find out exactly who it was that I had seen, and how, I could not rest until I had settled the business, for all that, while out there, I had not dared to stay and make any investigations.”

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I couldn’t find an English version of this novel, so I decided to read it in Spanish. I didn’t realize it was going to be an old fashioned ghost story, but I must say I wasn’t really bothered by it. The storyline in general was interesting and made you wonder what really happened at the isolated Eel Marsh house in the past and what is happening now. What did bother me was the language used, which made it slow to read at some points. But then again, that might or might not be due to inadequate translation. I guess I will have to read the original version before I will be able to judge the language…

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The Woman In Black is about an older Arthur Kipps, who after hearing ghost stories on Christmas Eve with his family remembers a terrifying event. Many years ago, when he was a young lawyer and having a relationship with a different woman, his then boss asked him to attend a funeral of one of their clients and sort out the paperwork, since there were no direct relatives. The old woman lived at an old and isolated mansion Eel Marsh, and a lot of rumors and stories go around in the villages closest to Eel Marsh. As an outsider Arthur doesn’t know about any of this, but is soon introduced to the mystery of the woman in black. When he goes to Eel Marsh, strange things are starting to happen, terrifying things… Arthur realizes the woman in black he keeps seeing isn’t really alive anymore, and a ghost story is born. What will happen to Arthur, and what about the curse of the woman in black? And the children?

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The end made a nice twist; it showed that the spirit of woman in black had a lot of power even far away from the Eel Marsh house. It’s not the typical ghost story and in parts I didn’t like the language used, but it is still worth reading. Plus, it is a short novel, so not a lot of time wasted in case you don’t like it. I might re-read it myself but only if I find an English version.