Monthly Archives: December 2011

The 39 Steps – John Buchan

Title: The 39 Steps

Author: John Buchan

Publication Date: 1915

Review Score: 8/10

In The 39 Steps we are introduced to the steely, charming and witty Richard Hannay, the adventure hero who appears in 5 of Buchan’s novels, but none so delightful as this first one.

In this original Richard Hannay novel we find our leading man accidently caught up in an international plot of war, after a murder is committed in his apartment, and so, to save himself from the clutches of the police or worse, he must flee London, travel to Scotland and figure out what rouse is a foot.

It may sound like a basic idea and a story that has been told a hundred times, but the way in which Buchan weaves the plot makes it highly exhilarating and very unpredictable.

Giving the reader very little to piece the mystery together throughout, the book is able to hold its fast pace right until the end. Along the way you can’t help but get caught up in the continual shock and awe of events and become completely compelled towards Hannay who is a fantastically well developed character.

This may just seem like a stream of praise rather than an adequate description of the book, but there isn’t much to say but that. You know what a mystery, adventure tale is and this is one of the greatest!

I suppose, the best way I can think to describe it is by saying, the mixture of mystery, crime and adventure makes The 39 Steps a kind of cross between Sherlock Homes and James Bond. Hannay is less intelligent that Holmes and not as violent as Bond, but he is adequately equipped in both departments.

Inspiration to the likes of Graham Greene, Ian Fleming and John le Carré, The 39 Steps is well deserving of its place in literary history and on the list of 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die.

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Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll

Title: Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There

Author: Lewis Carroll

Publication Date: 1871

Review Score: 7/10

Through the Looking Glass is the sequel to Alice in Wonderland, and in this adventure we follow young Alice as she steps through a mirror into the opposite world that lies beyond it.

In this backwards place Alice encounters a living chess set and a world that is one giant chess board that she must traverse in order to become a queen. Along the way she meets Humpty Dumpty, Tweedledum and Tweedledee and host of new characters that sing, dance and of course talk back!

In this second Alice novel, Lewis Carroll continues to charm the reader with his nonsensical, loopy and just plain insane ideas! The characters are just as mischievous and everything they do is upside-down, back-to-front and the wrong-way-round.

As with the first novel, Through the Looking Glass had me laughing out loud on almost every page with unfathomable ideas that just baffle the mind. I was delighted to find Carroll was no less ingenious with the second novel and yet again astounded with the originality of the book.

Given that it is the original and so brilliant, I think I do still prefer Alice’s Adventured in Wonderland, but Through the Looking Glass is still a fantastic novel and well deserving of its place on the 1,001 Books to Read Before you Die list.

The one thing I am surprised by is the fact that there hasn’t been a big Hollywood film version of Through the Looking Glass yet, although given my fondness for books over films I am quite glad about that!

Would love to hear all your thoughts of Through the Looking Glass and if you thought it was as Good as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland?

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Filed under 1001 Books, Childrens

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

Title: Wuthering Heights

Author: Emily Bronte

Publication Date: 1847

Review Score: 2/10

SPOILER ALERT: If you love this book you might not want to read this review!

Mr Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange, is forced to take shelter one night at Wuthering heights, the home of his landlord. It is here, in this run down house, on the bleak Yorkshire Moors, that Lockwood learns the story of this bitter mans history and the tempestuous events that have taken place at Wuthering Heights.

On the journey through this book the reader learns of the passionate relationship between Healthcliff and Catherine, her apparent betrayal of him and the vengeance he then visits upon all he comes into contact with.

Ok that’s enough of that! You might as well ignore that synopsis as it may make the book sound interesting and good and I definitely don’t want to give off that impression! Of all the books I have read during my life I don’t think I have found one quite so terrible as Wuthering Heights!

I know a lot of you will think I’m mad and even people who haven’t read the book will probably think I’m wrong, given the fame of this novel and Emily Bronte, but trust me I have my reasons for making these claims.

Wuthering Heights is acclaimed as a work of brilliance as it is supposedly the ultimate tale of love and betrayal but it just isn’t! Women all over the world gush about Heathcliff but when it boils down to it he is just an evil, violent little man, who’s physical and mental abuse of women, children and even animals is god awful!

The back and forth between Heathcliff and Catherine is stale and boring, there isn’t a single likable character in the book and everything just feels stilted, cold and un-engaging.

Honestly I struggled to find a single enjoyable thing about this book! When you can’t sympathise with, or relate to, a single character it makes a book incredibly hard going and that is exactly how I found it, and I don’t understand why so many people can sympathise with these characters, they just don’t deserve it!

Anyway, I could continue but will stop there as I know that the majority of people reading this will disagree with me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion so I will just if you love Wuthering Heights good for you but it just isn’t for me I’m afraid!

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Filed under 1001 Books, Romance