Tag Archives: Classics

The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

Overview
Image result for barnes and noble leatherbound dracula and other horror stories book cover

Title: The Jewel of Seven Stars
Author: Bram Stoker
In: Dracula and Other Horror Classics (Bram Stoker)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Horror
Dates read: 30th – 31st October 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Barnes & Noble Leatherbound
Year: 1903
5th sentence, 74th page: The book was one which, on the very face of it, required special attention.

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Synopsis

An Egyptologist, attempting to raise from the dead the mummy of Tera, an ancient Egyptian queen, finds a fabulous gem and is stricken senseless by an unknown force. Amid bloody and eerie scenes, his daughter is possessed by Tera’s soul, and her fate depends upon bringing Tera’s mummified body to life.

Thoughts

I really didn’t get all that into this novel. I did enjoy it at the time of reading. But once I finished it and sat down to jot down some notes… there really wasn’t much that I could think of to write. The whole thing was just a little bit “eh”.

Although I don’t have heaps to say about this, I did really like the atmosphere that the book created. It was perfect for sitting up late at night, drinking a glass of red wine and sinking deep into a classic. It was a little bit eerie and creepy. And just generally a good experience.

This is most definitely one of those classics that I’m going to have to reread in the future… I think that it is one, that will get better the more times I read it and sink into the world that has been created.

<- DraculaThe Lair of the White Worm ->

Image source: Amazon UK

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Overview
Amazon.com: Moby-Dick (Word Cloud Classics) (9781626860575): Melville,  Herman: Books

Title: Moby-Dick
Author: Herman Melville
Series: Word Cloud Classics
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Oceans
Dates read: 5th – 22nd October 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Word Cloud Classics
Year: 1851
5th sentence, 74th page: When Bildad was a chief mate, to have his drab-coloured eye intently looking at you, made you feel completely nervous, till you could clutch something – a hammer or marlingspike, and go to work like mad, at something or other, never mind what.

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Synopsis

“Call me Ishmael” is the iconic opening line of Herman Melville’s classic American novel, Moby-Dick. Ishmael is a seaman aboard the whaling vessel, Pequod, under the vengeful captain, Ahab. Maniacally seeking retribution from the great white sperm whale called Moby-Dick–the whale responsible for the captain’s missing leg–Ahab leads the crew on a quest to kill the infamous beast. A fictional work based on actual events, Moby-Dick is a classic that has been enjoyed for generations, and it’s now available as part of the Word Cloud Classic series, making it a stylish and affordable addition to any library.

Thoughts

I can totally see why this is such a well-known classic. It was a very enjoyable and intense story. And, even though I only gave it 3 stars, I would totally read it again. I felt like throughout this I was actually missing quite a bit… so I would actually quite enjoy re-reading this and picking up on all of the bits and pieces that I missed. Actually, I think that this is one of those stories, that no matter how many times you read it… you’ll always find something new to the story that you just didn’t notice before.

There was a heck of a lot of symbolism throughout this story. More than my puny little brain seemed to be able to comprehend if I’m being honest… although, most of the symbolism that I felt I was picking up on was very homosexual in nature… I’m not sure if that was just the mood I was in though. Or the simple fact that the Whale is a sperm whale (I mean, queue the jokes here).

This isn’t a feel good, comfortable story. At all. Which is probably why I did enjoy it and am likely to reread this. I’m not necessarily big on stories which are all sunshine and lollipops every time I open a book. And at the time of reading this, I was finding that there were a few too many happy, happy stories on my TBR. This was a really good break from that – I loved the discomfort that it left you with.

This may not be my favourite classic. But it was an enjoyable one. It was pleasant and fun, and I can’t wait to pick it up again in the future and learn more about all the parts of this story that I missed…

<- The Prince and Other TalesAnne of Green Gables ->

Image source: Amazon

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Overview
Dracula, Word Cloud Classics by Bram Stoker | 9781607105510 | Booktopia

Title: Dracula
Author: Bram Stoker
Series: Word Cloud Classics
In: Dracula and Other Horror Classics (Bram Stoker)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Horror
Dates read: 14th September – 20th October 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Word Cloud Classics
Year: 1897
5th sentence, 74th page: I trust her feeling ill may not be from that unlucky prick of the safety-pin.

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Synopsis

Irish author Bram Stoker introduced the character of Count Dracula and provided the basis of modern vampire fiction in his 1897 novel entitled Dracula. Written as a series of letters, newspaper clippings, diary entries, and ships’ logs, the story begins with lawyer Jonathan Harker journeying to meet Dracula at his remote castle to complete a real estate transaction. Harker soon discovers that he is being held prisoner, and that Dracula has a rather disquieting nocturnal life. Touching on themes such as Victorian culture, immigration, and colonialism, among others, this timeless classic is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats! Now available as part of the Word Cloud Classics series, Dracula is a must-have addition to the libraries of all classic literature lovers.

Thoughts

I absolutely loved this novel. I remember picking it up last year, reading the first page and then, honestly, just getting distracted. So I wasn’t all that optimistic when I decided to try again this year… and boy was I wrong. And surprised. It was a wonderful journey into the realm of Stoker and I can FINALLY say that I have finished Dracula.

This classic is so well written and done in a form that I really wasn’t expecting. I’ve read a few recent books in this style of memos and letters cobbled together. But this is most definitely the oldest one. And, as such, it was somehow all that much more unique and… well… awesome. I loved this. I can’t stop thinking about it. And, if you get past the first three chapters, you will feel the same. I can almost guarantee it!

Honestly, there aren’t really words for how much WOW this story made me feel… it was just an amazing adventure. Kind of dark, really intense and… well, I can see where the vampire myths started and what makes this such a popular classic.

Mina and Lucy were really good female leads (and victims). They were a little bit soft and not necessarily the strongest of characters. But I do like how they, one and all, inspire love in the other characters. And it wasn’t really a sexual love (alright, in the case of Lucy it often was). But it was that love for one another that I think all of humanity needs. Or at least, that’s how I was understanding it.

This story was filled with darkness, tragedy, and a whole heap of love. I like that it was mostly happy endings and just all in all, a great, impossible to put down story. I can’t wait to read more Bram Stoker stories!

<- Treasure IslandThe Art of War ->

Image source: Booktopia

My Antonia by Willa Cather

Overview
My Ántonia

Title: My Antonia
Author: Willa Cather
Series: Word Cloud Classics
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Westerns
Dates read: 26th – 27th June 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Word Cloud Classics
Year: 1918
5th sentence, 74th page: Sometimes he was completely hidden by the clouds of snow that rose about him; then he and the horses would emerge black and shining.

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Synopsis

Willa Cather’s novels brought the life of American settlers on the Great Plains to the forefront of the nation’s consciousness during a time when the lands west of the Mississippi were undergoing rapid transformation. My Ántonia, considered by many scholars to be her first masterpiece, tells the story of a young orphan, Jim Burden, who is sent from Virginia to Nebraska, where he grows up with his grandparents on their farm. He becomes friends with Ántonia Shimerda, a Bohemian girl who endures her own struggles as she enters adulthood. Rich in themes that will resonate with readers of all backgrounds, My Ántonia explores the struggles and triumphs of ordinary people in extraordinary times.

Thoughts

This is the first ever full-length Western that I’ve had the privilege to read. And it wasn’t as tedious as I kind of half expected. Mostly, I was expecting it to be a little slow like the short stories I’ve been reading in The Mammoth Book of Westerns. But, it wasn’t like that at all. In fact, I kind of completely loved this novel and just devoured it in one night – I found it really difficult to put down, put away and stop thinking about. Which was surprising, specifically considering the fact that I was a bit eh about her short story.

There is something about Antonia that should feel seriously tragic. And heart wrenching. And just, all round sad. Yet, even though there are moments throughout which do make you feel a little sad, there really isn’t an overall tragic feeling to this story. In fact, it’s almost hopeful and uplifting. Which, if I’m recounting this story, is not how I would be able to describe it. But something in Cather’s story telling manages to make that feeling of hope and the future seriously come alive. It’s a little disconcerting and is probably one of the reasons why I enjoyed this book so much.

Like Cather’s short story, one of the things that really stood out in this novel was the beautifully setting. It was a world in which you were completely immersed from the very first moment. And a really nice transportation into a moment in history that I never knew I was intrigued by. Definitely a very well written story. One which transported you to another world and another time. A world filled with different priorities and challenges, but ones which feel familiar regardless.

This isn’t a fast-paced, crazy storyline. It’s not a grip the edge of your seat kind of story, instead, what it is is just… fun. It’s a great story that transports you to everyday life and the ways in which we form and create bonds. The ways in which we change over time. And how some people are able to stand the test of time in their friendships, even in the most trying of circumstances.

<- Through the Looking-GlassDon Quixote ->

Image source: Simon & Schuster

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Overview
Mansfield Park (Vintage Classics Austen Series) by Jane Austen ...

Title: Mansfield Park
Author: Jane Austen
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Romance
Dates read: 17th May – 8th June 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Vintage Classics
Year: 1814
5th sentence, 74th page: She entertains me; and she is so extremely pretty, that I have great pleasure in looking at her.

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Synopsis

Fanny Price’s rich relatives offer her a place in their home so that she can be properly brought up. However, Fanny’s childhood is a lonely one as she is never allowed to forget her position. Her only ally is her cousin Edmund. When her cousins befriend two glamorous new young people who have arrived in the area, Henry and Mary Crawford, Edmund starts to grow close to Mary and Fanny finds herself dealing with feelings she has never experienced before.

Thoughts

I have started and stopped this classic about three times. Which is super annoying. Because all of the other Jane Austen books that I’ve read thus far I have absolutely adored. As in I started and finished them in a short period of time and thoroughly enjoyed the adventure. Yet, there is something about this one that I found more difficult. Maybe it was the size. But I actually went to DNF this for a third time. Then I decided to push on. And boy am I glad that I did!

Once I got past that first third that just made me cringe constantly. I think it was Mrs Norris. What a horrible, odious woman. And I honestly just wanted to cuddle Fanny the whole time – the poor, quiet soul! Anyway, once I got past that first third, I actually started to really love this novel. Fanny’s darlingness grew on me and felt less tragic and painful. Mrs Norris was still horrible and annoying, but there was the sense that others had begun to realise this. And the story just generally started to pull me in. I wanted the happily ever after that I knew was coming because I was beginning to be heavily attached to all of the characters.

Having said all of that, I do still find it weird that the happily ever after involved Fanny marrying her cousin. I know that this was a common practice at the time of this story. But I just found it uncomfortable. Particularly when she was kind of raised with the boy. I mean. Seriously. It was just… uncomfortable. When I stopped thinking about that aspect, and concentrated on the fact that Fanny and Edward made a good couple and made each other happy… well, it began to work.

I think that my absolute favourite thing about this book was the poetic ending. The fact that each and every selfish and annoying character in this book got a comeuppance. That in the end, Fanny’s goodness was noticed and she actually got her happily ever after. Plus, some of the poetic justice was just downright funny.

<- EmmaNorthanger Abbey ->

Image source: Penguin Books Australia

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Overview
Amazon.com: Little Women (Word Cloud Classics) (9781607105480 ...

Title: Little Women
Author: Louisa May Alcott
Series: Word Cloud Classics, Little Women #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Contemporary, Strong women
Dates read: 2nd – 6th April 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Word Cloud Classics
Year: 1868
5th sentence, 74th page: The knowledge that her mother had a fault like hers, and tried to m end it, made her own easier to bear and strengthened her resolution to cure it, though forty years seemed rather a long time to watch and pray to a girl of fifteen.

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Synopsis

No home library is complete without the classics! Little Women is a keepsake to be read and treasured.

When Little Women was first published in 1868, it became an instant bestseller. The book’s gentle lessons and charming story of four adventurous sisters coming of age in Civil War-era New England was originally written as a children’s book, but quickly captured the hearts and attention of readers of all ages. Now part of the Word Cloud Classics series, Little Women is a must-have addition to the libraries of all classic literature lovers.

Thoughts

I have been told to read this again and again over the years. And, as it turns out… I did actually read this as a child… I just didn’t quite remember the reading of this story. But, as soon as I started to sink into this amazing classic, I began to remember bits and pieces. Just enough that I wasn’t floored by some of the more tragic moments, but not enough so that there were no surprises left to me.

At the point of reading this story, I’m an adult and technically older than the little women… yet, there is still a great message and reminder of what it’s like to grow up throughout. Meg’s plight as a wife and new-mother, the ways in which she has to balance everything is something that I’m still constantly working with. And, there are aspects (such as motherhood) that I still have to experience and figure out. Yet, instead of instilling fear in me (which is what normally happens), it instilled a sense of calm and zen about the future. And a great sense of looking forwards.

I know that this is an ensemble novel, but, for me, this story has always been about Jo. Maybe it’s because I relate to her more than any of the other characters. Or maybe it’s just because I can see the most change in her as the story unfolds. But, whichever way it works. It is Jo that completely steals the show for me. She sweeps me away and makes my heart soar and cry in equal turns. There is just something about her journey that works so beautifully and makes you feel completely emotionally invested in her future happiness. At least, that’s how her character is for me. I don’t know that I’ve ever truly been so connected to a literary character, especially one who is in a classic novel.

Little Women is one of those books that just everyone needs to read. It is beautiful, uplifting and impossible to forget. There is a sense of ease to the writing that you don’t always find in novels written in the 1860s, which makes it a great starting classic for anyone who wants to start reading classics, but can’t quite find one to suit. But more than that, it is a story of family, love and finding your own happily ever after, whatever that may be. Something that I think we all need to learn to work towards.

<- Aesop’s FablesInferno ->

Image source: Amazon

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare

Overview
Image result for book cover the complete works of william shakespeare barnes and noble

Title: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
Author: William Shakespeare
Series: Barnes and Noble Leatherbound
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Classics
Dates read: 7th – 20th March 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Collection
Publisher: Barnes and Noble
Year: 1623
5th sentence, 74th page: How now!

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Synopsis

“The plays are arranged in the chronological order of their composition.”–Table of contents footnote.
“The text used for this edition is that prepared by the late Arthur Henry Bullen for the Stratford Town Edition, to print which he founded the Shakespeare Head Press in 1904.”–Table of contents footnote.

Thoughts

I have to be honest, I skim read through this. I understand why Shakespeare is so famous. And some of his lines did stand out to me. But he’s really not to my taste. There are some classical authors that I love… and then there are some that I’m a bit “eh” about… and it turns out that Shakespeare is one of them.

I think what I love most about this book is the actual book in itself. It is just beautiful. I have literally spent hours sitting there, looking at the cover and admiring the beauty of it all. The pages are kind of reminiscent of bible pages (I’m sure there’s a technical word for it, but that’s how I see it). There is just something about the way that this book was created that takes you to another world. Transports you to the time in which Shakespeare was living and his plays were something new and exciting.

This is a great book to have on your shelves. And I’ll probably pick it up again and again as time goes on. It’s one of those collections that you can read a chunk here and there, enjoy it and move onwards. I particularly like to do this over a glass or two of wine and a very long day. There is something soothing about Shakespeare’s words that help you relax. Which is weird, because when I’m relaxed, I find it hard to concentrate on his words… all very confusing.

This is the book that everyone should have on their bookshelves. There is something timeless about Shakespeare’s works. Even if I did just skim over some of the plays and pieces. It’s the kind of book that you will pick up again and again over time. Enjoying it differently each and every run through.

<- The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan PoeDracula and Other Horror Stories ->

Image source: Barnes and Noble

Inferno by Dante Alighieri

Overview
Image result for book cover inferno word cloud classics

Title: Inferno
Author: Dante Alighieri
Series: Word Cloud Classics
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Horror, Poetry
Dates read: 9th – 10th March 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Collection
Publisher: Word Cloud Classics
Year: 1320
5th sentence, 74th page: So many voices issued through those trunks

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Synopsis

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!”

On a divine journey through the depths of Hell, Dante–with his guide, the poet Virgil–witnesses the fate of Earth’s sinners. Inferno, a 14th century poem and the first part of Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, paints an allegorical underworld in which sinners are punished in accordance with their sins. Journey through the darkness and meet famous historical and mythical figures and the fate that has become them, from Homer and Julius Caesar who dwell in Limbo with the unbaptized and the virtuous pagans, to Judas Iscariot and Satan himself, who dwell in the deepest circle of hell for the sin of treachery. Influential, even after seven centuries in print, readers of Inferno will appreciate the plethora of allusions both within and concerning this work, as well as the moral implications the story develops. Now available as part of the Word Cloud Classics series, Inferno is a must-have addition to the libraries of all classic literature lovers.

Thoughts

Until recently I hadn’t actually heard of Dante Alighieri. And then I found out that he is a classics author from the 1300s… and I was completely intrigued. Reading this collection of some of his works… yeah, I can completely understand the draw to his work and writings. It’s incredibly powerful and just… wow.

I read this around the same time that I started reading The Complete Works of Shakespeare. It’s interesting to compare the language styles and wording in the two different poets. I know that they come from different countries, different times (I think), but they’re both historical, classical powerhouses in the genre. And I love being able to compare the two.

I actually found Alighieri more delightful than Shakespeare. There was so much raw emotion in Inferno. The fear, the horror and the confusion just leaps off of the pages. The short, emotive language is of the sort that I plan to read again and again… there is just something amazingly potent and powerful about it all.

I’m not really a great reader of poetry. I do love it. I’m intrigued by it. But I can’t spend all afternoon sitting there just reading it… I need to be able to read a poem or two and then walk away. I still felt a little like this with this collection… but so much less so than many of the other poetry collections I’ve had the pleasure of reading. There was just something… enthralling about it all.

<- Little WomenHans Christian Andersen Tales ->

Image source: Amazon

The Poetry of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson

Overview
Image result for book cover the poetry of emily dickinson"

Title: The Poetry of Emily Dickinson
Author: Emily Dickinson
Series: Word Cloud Classics
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Poetry
Dates read: 24th – 28th January 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Word Cloud Classics
Year: 1890
5th sentence, 74th page: Her friend “H.H.” must at least have suspected it, for in a letter dated 5th September, 1884, she wrote: –

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Synopsis

“This is my letter to the world . . .” — Emily Dickinson

The Poetry of Emily Dickinson is a collection of pieces by 19th-century American poet Emily Dickinson, who insisted that her life of isolation gave her an introspective and deep connection with the world. As a result, her work parallels her life—misunderstood in its time, but full of depth and imagination, and covering such universal themes as nature, art, friendship, love, society, mortality, and more. During Dickinson’s lifetime, only seven of her poems were published, but after her death, her prolific writings were discovered and shared. With this volume, readers can dive into the now widely respected poetry of Emily Dickinson.

Thoughts

This was a really interesting read. I’ve heard the name Emily Dickinson again and again over time. But I’ve never actually had the chance to sit down and enjoy her work. Now I understand why there’s such a rant and rave about her work. Especially since her poetry is so multilayered that no matter how many times I read this, I’m going to find something new to obsess over and be fascinated by.

I haven’t read much poetry lately. It takes another kind of thought process to sit down and appreciate this kind of work. But, reading this, it reminded me what it is about poetry that I love so much. There are so many different meanings to every word and line. No matter how many times you read it, a new meaning will come to light.

Poetry is also the most emotive form of writing. At least for me. And I was really absorbed by all of the feelings throughout these poems. They might provide insight into the author, but for me, poetry is always about processing your own emotions. I could read all of these poems again in a weeks time and get an entirely different experience from them. That is just how emotive I find this form of writing.

One other thing that I absolutely adored about Dickinson’s works was that they were short. I could pick up this book and read a snippet, a short poem, feel complete and then head into the real world and responsibilities all over again. Although I don’t mind longer works, I do tend to find them a little harder to digest. I definitely didn’t have that problem with this collection!

<- A Tale of Two CitiesCrime and Punishment ->

Image source: Simon & Schuster Australia

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Overview
Image result for book cover the count of monte cristo word cloud classic

Title: The Count of Monte Cristo
Author: Alexandre Dumas
Series: Word Cloud Classics
Rating Out of 5: 2 (Managed to read it… just)
My Bookshelves: Classics
Dates read: 3rd – 16th January 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Word Cloud Classics
Year: 1844
5th sentence, 74th page: “Yes, Noirtier.”

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Synopsis

“Alexandre Dumas’s novel of justice, retribution, and self-discovery – one of the most enduringly popular adventure tales ever written – appears here in a newly revised translation.” “This novel tells the story of Edmond Dantes, wrongfully imprisoned for life in the supposedly impregnable sea fortress the Chateau d’If. After a daring escape, and after unearthing a hidden treasure revealed to him by a fellow prisoner, he devotes the rest of his life to tracking down and punishing the enemies who wronged him.” “This newly edited version of the original nineteenth-century English translation speeds the narrative flow while retaining all the essential details of Dumas’s intricately plotted and thrilling masterpiece.” The classic nineteenth-century translation has been revised and updated by Peter Washington, with an introduction by novelist Umberto Eco.

Sent to prison on a false accusation in 1815, Edmond Dantes escapes many years later and finds a treasure which he uses to exact his revenge.

Thoughts

I seriously struggled with this classic. Normally I love the different ways in which language is used through time. Even when the version I have has been translated from another language… but there was just something about The Count of Monte Cristo that I just couldn’t get behind. I’m definitely going to give it another try in the future. Just at this point in my life… it was a big nope not into it for me.

I did give this a really good shot for the first 150 pages… and then from henceforth I just skimmed it. As I said, there was just something about it that didn’t capture my attention. It was just an incredibly slow journey…

I can understand why this is a classic though. It is full of great symbolism and storylines. Full of themes which are impossible to forget. I’m looking forward to rereading this again when I’m kind of old and slow… it’ll probably be more the type of story I want when I start to slow down too. Or at least, that’s the theory.

<- The Adventures of Sherlock HolmesThe Three Musketeers ->

Image source: Amazon