Review: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

I’ve had this novel forever and although my friends kept going on about how marvellous it was, I was still hesitant. Because I don’t read many blurbs (or reviews) for novels I was left thinking that this would be a story about a talking rat. Well, all I will say is it’s not! I also had no idea it was first written as a short story in 1959 and expanded on and published in the mid 1960’s. I thought it was written in the early 2000’s. Nor did I know anything about a movie (but I am not a telly type person). Don’t get me wrong, it’s not dated at all…except perhaps some terminology. I never considered me a real stickler for PC terms, but by golly, I sure felt like some Pollyanna type after reading this and being offended time and time again at times in this book when people referred to mentally challenged individuals.

I really loved this book. However, I find it difficult to find it inspirational and inspiring as many others did. I wonder if that is a flaw in me or if I am just stuck with being a pessimist and a realist.

AAMOF, not only was I not inspired I was a bit pissed off that people really couldn’t see Charlie’s worth until he became more intelligent and then started to decline in intelligence.

Sometimes I don’t mind feeling conflicted over books. On the contrary, I love books that challenge me and leave me struggling to come to terms with my feelings. This one however really bothered me. It wasn’t the story, it was society in general. It was for the Charlie’s of the world that never gain that intelligence and never realise how many of the world look at them. How worth is often weighed by that intelligence. How people are often afraid of people that are mental challenged. And the whole PC of all of it. I wonder if a book like this could even be written today just in case it upsets someone’s sensibilities.

I’m angry for Charlie. More angry than he ever was. I’m angry at so many characters in the novel. I’m angry at those that can only find amusement at other’s expense. At people that tear other’s down in order to only look out for their own interests.

I’m angry at a society that still, today, in many ways, refuses to find a place 0f acceptance for all people, regardless of where they fall in the intelligence spectrum.

Yea…I’m really conflicted. Charlie was a good person. Even before the “new and improved” Charlie showed up at the scene. That acceptance I speak of could have made a world of difference in his life before his operation. Instead the book ends with him felling even less worth as a person than he did at the beginning, which was too damned low to start with. I loved the book, but I find it near impossible to take away just good from this story. Or be inspired by it…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

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Review: Stoner by John Williams

Bollocks!!!!

That’s all I can think of about this book. Yet I give it 5 stars! Ha!

I know people like Stoner exist. You have a young man who is, if not happy to work on his family’s farm, he is at least not unhappy. There’s not much doubt that his parents are the same. That their parents were the same as well. Hard workers and not much for complaining. Then Stoner goes off to college and a simple reading of literature changes everything. I found it a bit sad that Stoner couldn’t even imagine a new life until someone said it out loud first.

That’s due to my own personal experience. Books have always been what sparked my imagination and desires. Then there is Stoner. Moved as much as he can be and still left for someone else to imagine a different future for him.

Then there is his wife. Eyy eyy eyy. How I did not like this woman. But yet again, you see Stoner, more or less resigned to his fate…until once again, someone imagines a different life for him and he suddenly moves ahead and makes a change.

The entire novel is like this. Who am I to feel sorry for Stoner? Any disappointment he meets in life he just gets on with it. He doesn’t dwell on it time and time again. He is just resigned to his fate. He doesn’t shake his fist and yell at the Gods.

He proves a man strong in his convictions. He doesn’t back down. But nor does he make waves.

What makes this book such a compelling read? Was it my desire to finally see Stoner stand up and wave his fists in defiance?

Well I certainly hope not, or else I would be well disappointed.

I listened to this book on audio, and the narrator did a superb job with the reading. However, John Williams is an amazing writer. How the hell do you evoke so much emotion from what you do not write as compared to what you do write. Somehow, Williams does exactly this. That is why the narrator is so brilliant as well. Stoner, the narrator and Williams himself leave it to the reader to be outraged and to wave their fists at the Gods, whilst all three of them just simply carry on. If anything we are like the hare, flighty and weaving all about, whilst they are the tortoise that just plods along steady as they go.

I have wanted to read this book for about 5 years now. All the while I was angry at myself for not being motivated to actually start it. Now that I’ve read it, I’m even more angry at myself for not having started it sooner. And yet….

I am disappointed that I’ve finally read it. It really is something to be savoured. It’s such a difficult book to pin down. It’s difficult to explain. It’s difficult in so many ways…

But it’s not difficult to love…even though it might be very difficult to explain just why…

As you’ve always heard, it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for…Stoner is that quiet one sat in the corner. That person whose story is bigger than they let on…

This story is one that is so much bigger on the inside of your mind than it appears on the pages of the book…and isn’t that the very best kind?

Don’t put it off…read this one…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Stoner by John Williams

Review: Middlemarch by George Eliot

This is a book I wish I had read a very long time ago. I wish I was reading it over and over again. There are just so many characters involved and I know I missed out on bits…but never fear, I am already starting it over again!

This book is just so delightful. I was so angry at some of these people. I adored some of these people. I was totally exasperated with some of these people. With some of them, I was all three things at different points within the novel.

When I started this novel, I won’t lie, I thought Dorothea was a bit silly. However, by the end of the book I loved every single thing about her. I wouldn’t change a single thing about her.

There are just so many things going on in this novel! So many little storylines that all make up the day-to-day life in Middlemarch…I feel as if I really MUST do a re-read to make sure I have not neglected or overlooked anyone.

I wish I could recommend this book to every single person in the universe. There just aren’t words enough to express how much I enjoyed it. At the same time, it makes me a bit sad because I know most of my friends would ask me what the big deal was and they found it boring.

So these feelings just leave me a bit dejected and I don’t even know how to deal with that.

This is how much this book means to me…I am heartbroken over a perceived notion that my mates won’t enjoy it that much…how crazy is that…

although I must say….many of the problems the characters of Middlemarch found themselves in could have just been avoided entirely if people had just spoken their minds…

So I say now…Go forth and read this book…Love it as much as I do…and if you don’t like it…well….shame on you!!!

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Middlemarch by George Eliot

Review: East of Eden by John Steinbeck

east-of-edenI realise I’m going to take a lot of smack from many friends for my low rating of this novel….but it really just isn’t the book for me. I just didn’t much care about any of it….I couldn’t get into it….and by the time I gave up hope of getting involved with the characters, I just wanted it to end….it took FOREVER for that to actually happen….but I did stick it though until the end…..now all I can think of is all those books I could have been reading…

I often avoided “classic novels” in the past, just because I was afraid I would hate them. However, I no longer worry about hating them. So if I think they might interest me, I read them. If a new thriller comes out I think I might like, I will read it too. Or a *fluff* book. I read for me. Me alone.

There are many classics I love, despite them being hundreds of years old and labeled as classic. I no longer feel inferior if I hate them. I’ve never been the type to feel superior if I love them either. Reading has never been about impressing others. It’s always been about trying to impress myself with the wonderment of words set to a page…to have those words move me…to entertain me…to show me the world in a different light…to take me to a different world…or maybe even to inspire me to change something in my life…be it my views or my actions…but it’s never been about lying to impress someone else…so there you have it…

I hated this book…

Until next time…
Urania

Buy it now East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Review: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

fine-balanceHow does one even attempt to review such a scopious novel? Seriously…I think I need to weep, but there’s just nothing left inside of me at the moment. Perhaps a bit of happiness, hope, faith restored…but only a tiny bit…and perhaps there is some despair, hatred, anger, even dubiosity….or maybe they all just cancel one another out and that is why I feel so much…nothingness…I want to be all of these things…I want to have all of these emotions…and I want to make sense of it all…but I just can’t…

Who can make sense of destiny? Who can think they know better than fate?

“..my life would have been so different today. But our destinies are engraved on our foreheads at birth.”

I think this novel has left me in shock…it gives so much hope in so many places, but just as real life often does, it snatches it all away in a blink of an eye. You want to be angry, but how can you? What gives you that right when the characters themselves handle their fate with so much grace and acceptance. How can you even attempt to place blame, when they themselves do not…How can you weep for them, when they do not weep for themselves?

As I sit here writing this review, I am not ashamed to say that as I sit here, trying to make sense of it all, that my numbness has turned to me openly weeping at this book’s ending…Nor am I ashamed to admit I do not know who I weep for the most…it could be any single one of these characters..they have all touched me in some way….or maybe I weep for myself…or all of humanity together…

Read this book…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Review: White Teeth by Zadie Smith

4200Parts of this I really loved…I loved how “English” it was….however, overall I couldn’t wait for it to end…and at the end I was reminded why I don’t really enjoy contact with people very much….I much prefer the company of my tarantulas and solitude….this book and the characters in are exactly why…

People just annoy me. If I spend too much time with them, I get, not only annoyed, but highly agitated. I just want them to leave.

That’s how this book was. By the end of it, I was just glad I no longer had to spend any more time with these people.

As funny as it is, this was still my favourite quote in the book…I can’t help it….

The whole plan’s so high on the cheese factor it’s practically Stilton.

bwhahahahaha….now that was brilliant….

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now White Teeth by Zadie Smith

Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Illustrated Edition

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Even in this age of ebooks, even with my dedication to my Kindle, there’s a place for real, actual books. And this is one of those places.

Simply beautiful.  That’s the only way to describe this newish addition to the Harry Potter family.  I say newish because this first one came out last year with the second volume available now.

Some people will say that an illustrated version of these timeless stories messes it up by putting another person’s visions in our heads.  I disagree. Because chances are, if you are buying these hardcover books for yourself or for a loved one, you’ve already read the original stories multiple times.  And you’ve seen the movies. So for me, these books are just another take on a much loved story.  And they absolutely do justice to the originals.

So grab these amazing books.  They make great gifts. And it’s okay to gift yourself from time to time!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets