Book Log III

THE DOOM OF THE HAUNTED OPERA
BY JOHN BELLAIRS
RATING 4/5
Cosiest books for children – ever. *Sigh* I’m trying to evoke enough nostalgia to last me a month by reading my childhood favourites.

REBELS AND MARTYRS: THE ARTIST IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
BY ALEXANDER STURGIS, ET AL.
RATING 3/5
The projected images of artists as rebels, geniuses, Christ figures and lone rangers with a mission to transform the philistines. Beautiful self-portraits galore.

THE SECRET HISTORY
BY DONNA TARTT
RATING 4/5
Friends are double-edged beings. Tartt captures the turbulence accurately. The sensations I was inundated with were something familiar, something I knew/know. Yes, the plot might be cliché but she succeeds due to her tight control of the pace. There is a deliberate denouement of characters that appeals. Worthy reading.

AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS
BY H.P. LOVECRAFT
RATING 2/5
I tolerate his racism because he wrote so elegantly? I cannot abide Hitler’s ideas because his MEIN KAMPF is rife with grammatical errors?

THE WHITE CASTLE
BY ORHAN PAMUK
RATING 2.5/5
The themes could have been dealt in a more subtle fashion. He resorts to metaphors for everything. Could have been better.

THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY
BY THORNTON WILDER
RATING 2.5/5
Ironic treatment of established religion. Swift character sketches that shine with compassion, ridicule and slight humour. I didn’t like the stereotypical, Hallmark-like ending.

THE SANDMAN: THE DREAM HUNTERS
BY NEIL GAIMAN & YOSHITAKA AMANO
RATING 4/5
Fabulously illustrated by the genius Amano, this new tale featuring the Sandman takes place in medieval Japan. A little fox falls in love with a little monk. Oh well – stranger things have happened.

SPYING FOR THE RAJ
BY JULES STEWART
RATING 3/5
I can never understand the native’s overwhelming need to please his white ‘master’. The pundits were no different. They assisted the British Raj to consolidate its control of the Indian subcontinent with sickening efficiency. Some received deserving accolades from the Geographical Society, etc., in return while others were neglected or spurned. I remember mentioning the pundits to Mother since she’s from India – she snorted with disdain.

THE HISTORIAN
BY ELIZABETH KOSTOVA
RATING 1/5
It started promisingly, setting the stage for a cosy, pleasantly long-winded read. But of course, I was mistaken. The story dwelt here and there, lingered uncomfortably, to my distress. A simple plot, much convoluted by Kostova’s mishandling of the material and very badly brought to a conclusion when everybody rushes to explain and tie the loose ends. Not recommended.

FLASHMAN (THE FLASHMAN PAPERS VOL. 1)
BY GEORGE MACDONALD FRASER
RATING 4/5
Hmmph. Can’t help but like this guy. A laugh-out-loud book, which is such a rare find these days. I’m hooked.

NAPOLEON AND THE BRITISH
BY STUART SEMMEL
RATING 3/5
This book concentrates on the British perception of the enigmatic Emperor Napoleon which ranged from brutal broadsides to sympathy for his fallen glory. Do not read it for an analysis of the man himself.

THE GUINEA PIG HANDBOOK
BY SHARON VANDERLIP
RATING 4/5
I borrow such books occasionally since I have a little 6 year old to look after. As expected, there’s much repetition of information and lots of cute pictures of the little things.

HERE BE MONSTERS
BY ALAN SNOW
RATING 1/5
This is what you get when an illustrator writes – the prose isn’t up to anything much but the pictures are all over the place. Everything in moderation Mr. Snow.

ROYAL FLASH (THE FLASHMAN PAPERS VOL. 2)
BY GEORGE MACDONALD FRASER
RATING 4/5
Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. I’m a fan.

THE BELL, THE BOOK AND THE SPELLBINDER
BY BRAD STRICKLAND
RATING 1/5
Bad. I took DAYS to read it. Boring. Very unlike Bellairs. I hope Strickland doesn’t write any more.

THE BEAST UNDER THE WIZARD’S BRIDGE
BY BRAD STRICKLAND
RATING 1/5
Ugh.

FLASH FOR FREEDOM! (THE FLASHMAN PAPERS VOL. 3)
BY GEORGE MACDONALD FRASER
RATING 4/5
This is hardly natural. How can Fraser be such a good writer?

STUPID WHITE MEN
BY MICHAEL MOORE
RATING 2.5/5
Everyone likes a bit of a Bush bash once in a while. But everyone else get on with their lives after the initial fun and mayhem. Not so with Michael Moore I think. He should gain a wider audience – those who take him seriously – once he polishes his act and grows a beard or something; and stops dressing like a drunk lumberjack.

THE PRESTIGE
BY CHRISTOPHER PRIEST
RATING 4.5/5
An extravagant feud between 2 Victorian magicians. Disastrous consequences, naturally. But oh my goodness, what a terrifying display of intrigue by Priest! I was blown away.

FLASHMAN AT THE CHARGE (THE FLASHMAN PAPERS VOL. 4)
BY GEORGE MACDONALD FRASER
RATING 4/5
I’m running out of adjectives.

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