Category Archives: #Book Reviews

Psycho by Robert Bloch

A Review of Psycho 1959 by Robert Bloch

This is a very famous story, which, along with its main themes and characters, have crossed genres, audiences, ages and preferences. Psycho is a must-read. The twist in the plot, as well as the psychological theme are very cleverly-worked. Yet, teenagers should find something different if they search for horror.

When I first read it, I thought the book was OK. I certainly had greater expectations, though. I read it at the fragile and highly-impressionable age of 17 (I think, or could be 16, or 18) and was hungry for sensation, blood and body parts. Which it has none. It is scary, for sure, and the suspence builds as you read. Later, I saw the film and it did not impress me more.

© 2012 Mariya Koleva

Review of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 1962, by Ken Kesey

This is one of the rare cases when a book did not impress me as the film did. And that does not happen often.

After I saw the film, which shattered me and left me speechless for days, I rushed to the library (“rushed” is a too strong way to put it, however) and took the book.

It is because the fact that Chief Bromden could hear and speak was clear from the very beginning, whileas the film used that as a smasher; or is it because the splendid face acting of Jack Nickolson and Brad Dourif (in the part of Billy) was not there, I do not know, but the pages were somehow colourless and the story did not catch me as the film had done.

So, the novel was OK. After all it had the same great characters and told the same overwhelming story. It just did not leave me in the same breathless horror the film did. Or, maybe, my extraordinary state had simply expired, leaving space to some milder sensation. That could very probably be it.

© 2012 Mariya Koleva

Book Review: The Lost World, by A.C.Doyle

The Lost World, publ. 1912

When I got down to reading this book, I had known Arthur Conan Doyle as “Father of Sherlock Holmes” and was rather surprised to find out the he exploited yet another of my favourite streaks in reading, fantasy and science. Of course, I am speaking of myself of many years ago, before I got actually familiar with the Late-Victorian writers’ strive for the fantastic and supernatural, clad in the scientific, which is so characteristic of the period and widely present in all Doyle’s colleagues’ works.

The Lost World easily became my favourite book. I liked the characters very much. Their diversity is what makes them so attractive, in fact. I seem to remember that at a particular stage of my young life, I have had different favorite characters from among the cast. Lord Roxton was my first favourite due to his manly characteristics and my easy-to-impress girlish age. Later on, the two professors took the top place in my grading, changing rank from time to time, owing to the scientific bubble which I adored during my late teenage. I’m afraid Ed Malone never hit the top, and that is largely due to his sick devotion to Gladys, who was “simply no good” as I had somehow felt since the very beginning.

The Lost World is, in fact, a story of a quest for oneself. The characters go into the wild, in search of evidence for the existence of pre-historic biological species, and, in the end, each of them discovers something about himself (no ladies in the story). They all return changed people, especially young Malone, who sobers up from his infatuation.

On the whole, The Lost World is a wonderfully-written adventure story, which will captivate your attention. It is a marvellous example of the balance between literary masterpiece and enjoyable book.

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Read it free, here.

Book Review: TLOR Trilogy, by J.R.R.Tolkien

This is an example of a book which I did not like as much as I did the film shot on it.  Unfortunately,  the story failed to grab and hold me,  as I expected.  In my teenage,  I tried reading some Tolkien,  and did not enjoy it.  I hoped it was due to the text,  and I certainly wished I would love The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  Having watched the film,  which I enjoyed immensely,  I wished and hoped even more.
Unfortunately,  I simply did not get hooked by the narration.  The story is interesting enough,  even marvelous;   characters are believable and deep;  scenes are described in great and exciting details.  Yet,  the action unfolds somewhat tediously,  sometimes descriptions and fairy-tale departures from the plot are simply “too much”.
I believe the book has plenty of ardent fans to wait for my exultation and fervour.

In short,  it is a most interesting story,  and I enjoyed it truly;  however,  I got tired of the writing very fast.

*Uncle Tom’s Cabin* by Harriet B. Stowe; Book Review

Despite its sometimes archaic language and certain naivety entirely due to the age of its production,  Uncle Tom’s Cabin is an indispensable read in the young reader and learner reading list.
The heart-breaking story,  full of Biblical quotes and interpretations,  terrifying scenes of human degradation and thrilling descriptions of pure saintliness and greatness,  both on the whites and blacks’ side,  will impress readers deeply and make them realise, accept and respect simple realities in life,  such as diversity,  equality,  tolerance and dignity.

Book Review – Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo

This is a book every adolescent and young adult should read. It is a powerful and sensitive narrative, soul-shattering prose that will touch a young soul and change it forever. A young person will meet the misery of poverty and the misery of the soul which social inequality could easily bring upon human beings.

By the terrifying personal stories of some of his downcast and “miserable” characters, Hugo in fact argues that nobility and gentleness are not inbred human qualities, they should be taught and encouraged. Not only that, the author accuses society in assisting the downfall of the human soul, since by society inventions such as class division, inequality and oppression, the individual is humiliated and dragged to the bottoms of everyday existence, vividly described in the novel as the Parisian sewer, where “les miserables” dwell as if in a small community of their own.

Not all is despair and misery, though. We will see the noble rise of Jean Valgean – a former hard labour convict prisoner, who rose from the deepest darkness of ignorance and soul savagery to the high state of community and family leader.

Large and small stories are intertwined to build a magnificent and terrible panorama of life in a pre-revolution society.

© 2011 Mariya Koleva

Book Review: 7 Folds of Winter, by Carolyn McCray

BOOK REVIEW:

7 Folds of Winter by Carolyn McCray

I started reading the book with modest expectations.  After all,  given the mighty supply of Young Adult fantasies,  one needs to be at least cautious.  It would be only honest to say,  that the book exceeded my expectations,  and very few things were really easy to predict in it.

As for suspense,  drama,  romance and heroism,  7 Folds of Winter has it all.  There are all types of characters,  as well – well-meaning but weak,  truly noble,  downright evil and,  of course,  ambiguous ones.

For myself,  however,  I could spot two weaknesses.  One is that destined lovers are not particularly romantic for me.  I prefer romance that is hindered,  relations that are tense and that need clarification between the two partners-to-be.  The other weakness I found is that no single character became my favourite.  All the “nice” ones were nice enough,  but none of them appealed to me definitively.  The book is rather long,  so there was “time” to get familiar with the characters.  I just missed doing that.

I definitely enjoyed 7 Folds of Winter,  and did not regret taking it,  in the first place.

Book review: Ghost Stories by M.R. James

Oh, what can I say? It was not as I expected, but when I read this collection, I was too young and unexperienced, so I did not know what to expect. Viewing M.R.James’s stories from my present standpoint, I’d say they are typical late-Victorian stuff. A lot of story, great details, too much musing and explanation – you know. It all means that there is some tediousness, the plots are heavyish, the dramatic flavours tend to get overdone. Some of the stories are really frightening, yet some are simply weird, and even romantically weird.
Overall, I would not recommend the book to an adult reader who is in search of sensation or horror. It will be an OK-reading for adolescents, though. Furthermore, adolescent readers will have a chance to expand their vocabulary and get practice in complicated writing style. That is something young people seem to lack today and it is strikingly reflected not only in their school writing, but also beyond that.

BOOK REVIEW: Fated by Carolyn McCray

BOOK REVIEW:

Fated by Carolyn McCray

 

The book is full of suspense. It does not let go till nearly the very end. The plot is tense and closely-knit. The political intrigue is very powerful. That, as well as the main characters’ inner moral struggles, was what attracted me most in the book.

As for paranormal, it came as a bit of surprise to me. The romance, on the other hand, was there all the time. The ending, however, was somewhat of a disappointment to me. The tension resolved very elegantly and conveniently, perhaps, too conveniently. I found out that, for myself, at least, romance between life-long partners is not very appealing and “romantic”. Maybe, I identify romance as an extraordinary, out-of-the-everyday experience, combined with secrecy, suspence, certain discomforts and hardships, and definitely – no security. Partners of the type “for better, for worse” are not very romantic. It is more like having a brother – whatever happens, he will be your brother. So, why read on!

That is an important note I took considering my own writing.

Apart from my disappointment in the romance issue, Ms McCray’s style and writing are brilliant, as usual. She is an extremely interesting author to read.

Indian Moon by Carolyn McCray – book review

BOOK REVIEW
Indian Moon
by Carolyn McCray

 

I am hardly the romance reader. And I distaste “contemporary” flavour. Believe me. Always had been like that. Just a pure fantasy, action and thriller fan of remote lands and times – that is what I am.

So, how did I end up reading Indian Moon in the first place, you would wonder. I knew from the beginning it was “a contemporary romance”. Honestly speaking, I was curious. That is the second book by the same author that I have read and the first one was amazing. Here you can read my review.

I just sat down reading on a Friday night, and then woke up on a Saturday morning and reading was over. I read Indian Moon in a sweep, couldn’t even stop to take a bite or have a cup of tea.

Ms McCray’s writing is intriguing, her way of expressing the characters’ feelings and the vivid descriptions she gives are amazingly powerful. Great scenery, deep internal conflicts, strong personal drive towards happiness – that is what readers will find in the book. There is always a touch of bitter reality, just to keep your head from floating in the clouds. Yet, not too much. The action is full of suspense and surprising turns, too, despite of the somewhat over-exploited initial setting of characters. And above all, everything about Indian Moon is extremely romantic. The romance is gentle, slightly sad, invigorating and it keeps you waiting and longing until it leaves you pleased, to a certain extent at least. The book keeps you there, reading and not wanting it to end. As all good reads do, as a matter of fact.

I would highly recommend Indian Moon to all who crave some gentle escape from everyday life into the mystic of the Indian forests.