Book Review: The Battle of Life

The Battle of Life by Charles Dickens
The Battle of Life 
by Charles Dickens

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Grace and Marion are sisters, saying goodbye to their childhood friend, Alfred, who has just come of age after growing up as a ward to the girls’ father, Dr. Jeddler. Alfred promises to come back someday to marry Marion when he has finished medical school and made his fortune. The years pass, but their happy plans take a sorrowful turn, and it will take all their courage to survive the battle of life.
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Classic Review: The Romance of the Forest

The Romance of the Forest by Ann Radcliffe
The Romance of the Forest 
by Ann Radcliffe

3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Adeline is cast out by her father and finds shelter with her new friends, the La Motte family, who are on the run from the law. The family find a refuge in an old ruined Abbey in the depths of the forest, where they hide from prying eyes, always terrified that they will be discovered and forced from their pitiful home.

The Marquis who owns the dilapidated Abbey, discovers them living on his land, but inexplicably allows them to remain, making a mysterious alliance with Mr. La Motte. Ghoulish skeletons, mysterious manuscripts, and gruesome secret rooms are lying around all over the Abbey, and the dark forest holds secrets of its own.

The friendly Theodore warns Adeline that her life is in danger, but he is called away to his regiment before he can explain or help her. Adeline goes through every kind of disaster and terrifying mishap, fleeing for her life when she is betrayed by those she trusts.

This is Gothic melodrama at its best! I lost count of how many times Adeline fainted, but it must have been more than twenty times. She dissolves into tears, is frozen with terror, collapses under the strain of horror, and is prostrate with grief in every single chapter.

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Graphic Novel Review: The Hound of the Baskervilles

Dark Tales by Arthur Conan Doyle
Dark Tales: The Hound of the Baskervilles: A Graphic Novel 
by Arthur Conan Doyle

3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

A good retelling of the Hound of the Baskervilles in comic book form! The artwork is dark and creepy, giving deep shadows to everything, and perfectly reflecting the mysterious nature of the story.
I thought that Holmes’ character is represented beautifully both through the artwork and the dialogue. His austere personality and furtive energy comes across strongly on every page! Continue reading

Book Review: Jamaica Inn

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
Jamaica Inn 
by Daphne du Maurier

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads 

After her mother’s death, Mary arrives at Jamaica Inn on the coast of Cornwall to live with her Aunt Patience and the uncle she has never met. He is a man feared through all the country as rumors of smuggling and murder surround Jamaica Inn. Mary is horrified as she discovers the truth about the inn, but it’s too dangerous to go against her vicious uncle, until Mary receives help from an unexpected ally.

The writing is expressive and really paints a picture of the setting amidst the dark moors. The story is certainly striking, even though I found the plot fairly predictable.
Mary’s character has a good balance, since she’s plucky but also vulnerable. The other characters are vivid and interesting too, even the awful villains. Each person has such colorful dialogue, descriptions, and body language that they jump off the page into life! I was truly afraid of the villains, truly sorry for the pathetic Aunt Patience, and absolutely disgusted with the nasty smugglers. I could almost smell them, they were so close to life.

Excellent writing and a good tale of mystery and suspense!

Book Review: Candide

Candide by Voltaire
by VoltaireJohn Everett Butt (Translator and Introduction)

2 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Candide and his friends are thrown into horrible situations, tortured, robbed, conscripted into armies, sold as slaves, shipwrecked, beaten, thrown into prison, etc… for the entire book, all the while discussing the philosophy of optimism, the idea that all is well and good in the world, despite the evidence to the contrary.

The writing is extremely concise and lacking in any detail, so that all the characters are one-dimensional, and the plot is very sparse. Everything moves quickly from one plot point to the next, so that within a few sentences the entire situation has changed. Not much is explained either, leaving a lot of plot holes and gaps in the story.  Continue reading