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P. Costello "dreamyphil"
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Hard Times
Hard Times
by Charles Dickens
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 6.60
69 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the time, June 22 2003
Ce commentaire est de: Hard Times (Mass Market Paperback)
I hated reading Dickens in high school, and I was never able to get past the first chapter of any of his books, including this one. Now that I'm in my mid-30's, I want to re-visit a lot of the works that I had no patience for as a teenager, so I read Hard Times. Although there are many flaws to this book, I felt proud to have finally cleared the Dickens hurdle. Dickens is excellent at creating sympathetic (and evil) characters, even though they may be slightly cliche or wooden. The fact is, Dickens is able to hook you in with his plots and create a profound concern on behalf of the reader that the good guy (or girl) wins and the bad guy suffers. A lot of the twists in this book were a little "too convenient" and implausible to make it a crowining work of literature, but nevertheless it has motivated me to move on to Dickens' larger, more daunting works. If you are having any trepidation about tackling Dickens, Hard Times is a good place to start.

Seabiscuit: An American Legend
Seabiscuit: An American Legend
by Laura Hillenbrand
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.20
171 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Not Just for Horse Enthusiasts!, June 22 2003
I have never had any interest in horses, betting, or horse racing. But I was on vacation last year and this book was just sitting around, so I picked it up. I was riveted from the first page to the last. Not only is the culture of horse racing described in a vivid, colorful, and fascinating way, but this book gives a wonderful slice of American culture in the early 1900's. You will definitely learn a lot from reading this book while also being supremely entertained with the most excellent story-telling. This is one book which I can't wait for the movie to come out! I recommend this for ANYONE who wants to be enriched with a great read.

The Maltese Falcon
The Maltese Falcon
by Dashiell Hammett
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.55
59 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Detective Story, June 22 2003
Ce commentaire est de: The Maltese Falcon (Paperback)
I am not usually a huge fan of the detective genre but this book is great because it not only is a quick-paced, clever mystery, but it is a work of literature. I found it fascinating that Dashiel Hammet was able to develop excellent characters without ever revealing a subjective, internal thought. I had a profound sense of every character simply from Hammet's electrifying descriptions of their outward movements and dialogue. The interplay of the characters, along with the build-up of the plot, had me on the edge of my seat. I always had the impression that this would be a stale, one-dimensional book just because the old black and white films bore me (including the Maltese Falcon movie). Not even Humphrey Bogart was able to capture the complex, multi-dimensional flavor of the character of Sam Spade, which is so brilliantly thought out in this novel. I highly recommend this book.

The Postman Always Rings Twice
The Postman Always Rings Twice
by James M. Cain
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.27
49 used & new from CDN$ 0.93

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, June 21 2003
This was a perfect adultery/murder/cover-up story. The writing style is very simple, but vivid, and the story will have you on the edge of your seat. It also has a great twist at the end. I read this book in one evening without any breaks, it was that good. I also watched the movie starring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange after reading this, and the movie totally lost the point of the book (not to mention it dragged on and on and was totally boring).

In Cold Blood
In Cold Blood
by Truman Capote
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.00
56 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Very well written true crime story, June 21 2003
Ce commentaire est de: In Cold Blood (Paperback)
This was a very well written true crime story in the form of a novel, which was an original concept at the time it was written. Truman Capote is a master of vivid, concise, easy-to-follow prose, and it's no wonder he is regarded as such a great 20th Century writer. In Cold Blood is a chilling tale of the murder of an entire family in rural Kansas who had no apparent enemies. The book takes us into the minds and adventures of the killers, and only reveals towards the end what the killers' motives really were in the murder, and their connection to the victims. Very effective story-telling. The only reason I give it 4 stars instead of 5 is because I think people have built this book up too much. I was expecting to be absolutely blown away, but what I got was merely a good read. Still, I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in either true crime stories or murder mysteries.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph
Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph
by T.E. Lawrence
Edition: Paperback
51 used & new from CDN$ 0.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Account of Arab Revolt, June 20 2003
Absolutely fascinating account of the Arab Revolt of World War I, and of the Mind of one of its orchestrators (that being TE Lawrence). I don't know much about WWI or II history but I'd recommend this as a great place to start. It has all the elements of a great war story -- strategies, battles, troop movements, intra-battling amongst Arab tribes, Arab history and culture, plus Lawrence's inner conflict about his knowledge that the Brits were merely using the Arabs as a pawn in the greater scheme of WWI. The relevance to modern times is staggering -- if we had not made the horrible mistakes we did then (not giving the Arabs the indepence they worked so hard for), the world would certainly be a better place today. Also, this book is beautifully written and contains absolutely wonderful descriptions of the Arabian terrain. My only criticism is that Lawrence tends sometimes to get a little too abstract and pontifical, but that's okay. Excellent work of literature in the form of a non-fiction memoir.

Sheltering Sky 2e Pa
Sheltering Sky 2e Pa
by Paul Bowles
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.95
49 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, June 20 2003
Ce commentaire est de: Sheltering Sky 2e Pa (Paperback)
This is a page-turning read about 3 naive, self-involved American "travelers" who run into disaster in the Saharan desert. For the first 3/4 of the book, the plot moves swiftly and the characters are developed tremendously. Add the existentialist theme and you've got a perfect recipe for great literature. My only problem was that the book went off on a bit of a tangent toward the end, when Kit ran off with a band of Moroccan camel-riders and became one's concubine/wife. This part of the story was not believable to me and therefore it gets 4 stars instead of 5. Nevertheless, it's a great read and I would recommend it to anyone. By the way, the movie starring John Malchovich and Debra Winger is also pretty good for the scenery alone.

Heart of Darkness
Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 2.25
181 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING AND DARK!!, June 20 2003
Ce commentaire est de: Heart of Darkness (Paperback)
This is a gripping tale about man's fear of the unknown, set in the Congo jungle in the 1800's. I was felt as if I was literally transported to another time and place; I could hear the crickets crick and feel the bugs and the heat and the terror. A must read. This is not merely a commentary on Western colonialism but a philosophical masterpiece. There is a heart of darkness in all of us and the character of Kurtz, to me, is a representation of man's awe of the unknown, the unattainable, reveared, unreachable beyond. Read this book immediately.

Absalom, Absalom!
Absalom, Absalom!
by William Faulkner
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.27
34 used & new from CDN$ 4.23

5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Masterpiece!!, June 20 2003
Ce commentaire est de: Absalom, Absalom! (Paperback)
I took the advice of those who've reviewed Faulkner on Amazon and introduced myself to Faulkner with A Light in August, and then moved on to this work. Light in August was a great introduction to Faulkner because the language was simpler and the story more straightfoward, but Absalom! Absalom! stands out as one of the most gripping, brooding, intense books I've ever read. Yes, the language was difficult, but it is extremely effective in getting the reader actively inolved in the book -- I never felt like a passive reader/observer of the narrative but was completely sucked into the world of Thomas Sutpen. The way Faulkner revealed the story little by little through the perspective of several different characters (many of whom new about the actual events except through hearsay) was riveting and suspenseful. I literally wept at several points in the story and I felt as if I had accomplished something and learned something by reading it. If you focus on this book and cut out external background noise and really concentrate, this book can be perfectly understandable and extremely rewarding. Highly recommended.

1st to Die
1st to Die
by James Patterson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.10
188 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars My First and Last James Patterson Novel, Feb. 17 2003
Ce commentaire est de: 1st to Die (Mass Market Paperback)
This book was a "page turner" but the ending was so preposterous it only gets two stars. I felt completely gipped, the ending was so stupid. As is typical with books of this genre, the characters were totally wooden, and the plausibility of the crimes was so low that it rendered them completely uninteresting and meaningless, especially when you find out who actually did it, how, and why. Not thought provoking in the slightest. A third rate "Dressed to Kill." Pointless.

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