Saturday, 12 January 2013

2001: A Space Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke

2001: A Space Odyssey wasn't at all what I was expecting. I expected a fantastic story travelling through space. What I got was a weird beginning with it's basis in prehistoric man and an almost comic mass murder by a computer system with it's own awareness.

The interim was somewhat boring. There was a large amount of navel gazing as two characters travelled into space, they weren't really aware of a lot, they were just on a very long journey where they were able to spend most of their time reading and sleeping. After they'd been doing this for a couple of years the computer decided to identify a non-existent problem, repeatedly. While one of the characters was in the process of fixing this it detached then pod he was floating in causing him to float into a solar flare and make him the first person to the higher awareness.

The computer then proceeds with the murder of the three sleeping passengers, and the attempted murder of the captain of the ship, at which point the captain proceeds to shut him down and eventually lose all contact with earth. He floats for some time and does eventually reach his final destination, by which point it has become useless since he cannot carry out the tests that were planned, or transmit the data back to earth.

The story ends with the captain being 'upgraded' for want of a better term to a superior being.

What I'd expected from this book was a pacy story, above all there for interest. It was in fact more of an inner reflection written in reasonably dry prose.


Wednesday, 24 October 2012


I wanted to say I'm sorry. I havn't finished reading the books, I'm about halfway, I currently have about three books in various stages of review I havn't posted yet, I'm not sure when I will. 

I wanted to say that it doesn't look like I'm gonna get through all these books this year, it was a great idea at the time, but it's an extra stress I just don't need right now. So I'm taking the pressure off.

I'm still gonna read the books, I'm not gonna apologise for mixing them up with other books, if I hadn't I probably would have given up completely. But at the same time it might take me an extra whole year to get through them. 

I really do have a lot going on right now, mostly Uni, but I'm not gonna give up completely just slack a little. This happens to fall behind my sanity which until a very helpful conversation tonight was just threads away.


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Amsterdam - Ian McEwan

Amsterdam was a frankly weird story of moral boundaries. It begins with the funeral of Molly Lane and then revolves around three of her former lovers and her husband in the fortnight that follows.

A bit of dynamic is added when you learn that two of the lovers are close friends, and the third they despise, while the husband wants them all out of the way. All four of them hold positions of power in some form or another. 

You have the despised lover, Julian Garmony who is the foreign minister and subsequently a senior politician. His life becomes a little unstuck when George, Molly's husband, finds some interesting pictures of him that belonged to his wife. 

You have Clive, the greatest composer in the UK, who lives alone and is working on a symphony for the millennium,  which is to have a preview in Amsterdam at the end of the book. 

You have Vernon, editor of flailing newspaper, The Judge. A bit of a general failure himself.

George offers the photos to Vernon's newspaper, Vernon buys the photos, Clive tries to dissuade Vernon from running the photos and subsequently 'shitting on Molly's grave', Vernon runs the photo's and they have a big bust-up. Clive escapes to the Lake District in order to find some peace and write the end of his symphony, just as he reaches an epiphany he sees a man and a woman arguing and the man treating the woman with some force. Vernon puts two and two together and realises this is the Lakes Rapist. He informs the police jeopardising the symphony for good. 

Both fake apologies and sell each others lives to a rogue Dutch medical company which will bump off your elderly relatives for a small sum and their signature. 

I'm not quite sure why it's supposed to be a very good book, it held little appeal for me and it's moral messages loomed false. I think the only reason I felt comfortable reading it was that it was only 178 pages.


Clarissa's Review

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie

I actually finished reading The Murder of Roger Ackroyd nearly a month ago now, I just was struggling to be able to write the review of it.

The Murder of Roger Acroyd frankly both exceeded and fell short of my expectations. I don't often read murder mysteries as they're part of a genre which doesn't much appeal to me. In that sense it exceeded my expectations as it managed to keep me fairly interested for the most part. 

However I read an Agatha Christie book when I was about 12, it wasn't a part of one of her big series, it was set in Ancient Egypt. I can't for the life of me remember what it was called, but I do remember it ended with a twist which i thought was quite fascinating.

This book also ended with a twist. It's a twist which was probably somewhat innovative at the time it went to print, but it's now become fairly commonplace. The twist, and look away now if you don't want the plot ruined, is that the narrator is the murderer. 

I have to admit I never entertained this possibility, I at some point or another suspected nearly every other character, but never Dr Sheppard. And the fact that it was him and that he was offered the opportunity to commit suicide somehow disappointed me to the extent that I've been conflicted enough to prevent me writing this.

It's still a worthwhile read though.


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Ivanhoe - Sir Walter Scott

On Sunday I finished reading Ivanhoe, it took me a while, but I put this down to the Olympics, because it was fantastic!

Ivanhoe is a book of daring adventure and turbulent times, it reflects it's period as we all know it. It has three distinct parts to the story, which takes place over the course of about a week as King Richard the Lionheart returns to England to defend his throne from his brother John. 

I thought the title was a little odd given that in the first third of the book Ivanhoe was known only as 'the Disinherited Knight', in the second third he was mostly bed-bound, and in the final third he did his only really valiant act in saving Rebecca the Jewess in the second last chapter. However I suppose it wouldn't have sounded so good if it had been named after either Wamba or Gurth!

I can see why this book is a classic for sure, and why so many people over so many years have loved to read it. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes an epic adventure, cos sure it's written in a different style of language to that we use nowadays but for the sake of one of the best tales ever told it's easy to overcome!

Sir Walter Scott knew how to tell a good story that's for sure.


Clarissa's Review

Friday, 20 July 2012

Orlando - Virginia Woolf

Orlando was a weird book, there really is no other way to describe it. In what other world would a man simply go to sleep for a week and wake up a woman? In what other world would someone be alive for 400 years and yet only be 36 years old at the end of the time frame? I know that it is really a comment on literature and it's evolution in many ways and that's the reason behind it's oddity but still it weirded me out a little.

The book had some pace at the beginning, and then Orlando changed sex. This threw me and I practically put the book down for a week. When I picked it up again I was by bribery able to make it to the end, but I can't say I relished the time I spent reading it. 

I felt some empathy towards the character of Orlando and sympathy for him in the beginning, he seemed to be someone who had feelings, was repressed and even rebuked for them. He left the country to escape their effect, and on his return was a woman who spent 300 years in a slightly mental state. She was cruel to a suitor as a woman she had suited as a man had been cruel to her.

There was some small connection with her in the 10 pages or so leading up to her eventual marriage, but as her husband then left and was never really seen again it wasn't lasting. As for the son she gave birth to, he was mentioned only in the line informing of his birth and a vague reference to the need to buy 'boy's boots'.

On the whole it seemed disconnected and I would avoid reading it if I had my time again I think. 


Friday, 13 July 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L. James

It isn't on our list but considering it is the biggest selling book of the year, I thought I would see what the fuss was all about. 

And I'm still waiting. 

I will admit the subject matter is... interesting, and much more vivid than D.H. Lawrence, which I thought might have prepared me for this. 

Yet there isn't anything else gripping in the book. Ana is constantly wrestling with her conscience about whether she wants to do this and Christian just wants her. 

That could be condensed to about 250/300 pages tops. 

The book is pretty simple to read and I can see why it has become the companion of so many women on the train. 

For me however, I read it in my room for the pure fact no-one needed to know I was reading it. 

Also I don't understand how you could want Christian Grey? Yes he has money and he can lavish you with everything under the sun, sea and sky but the man seems to have a few to many screws loose. 

He is the modern day Heathcliffe and I didn't fancy him much either, look what happened to him and Cathy in Wuthering Heights! 

In short the book is possibly the equivalent of sneaking a boy back to your room, your parents returning early and you having to throw him under the bed.

 It's not something to be proud of but you will do it once just to know what it feels like. 

I don't think I will be reading the rest of the series so I will never know what happened to Ana. Hopefully she cuts her ties with him, though unlikely.