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    1. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
    2. Pride and Prejudice
    3. A Christmas Carol
    4. Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol.
    5. The Confession: A Novel
    6. Watchlist
    7. Fireflies in December
    8. Stuck in the Middle (Sister-to-Sister,
    9. Dracula
    10. Invisible (Ivy Malone Mystery
    11. Treasure Island
    12. Edgar Allan Poe's Complete Poetical
    13. A Tale of Two Cities
    14. The Art of War
    15. Gulliver's Travels
    16. Great Expectations
    17. My Christmas Wish
    18. Last Light (Restoration Series
    19. Marry Me
    20. Troublesome Creek (Troublesome

    1. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
    by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JQU1VS
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Mystery
    This book included 12 adventures:
    1. A Scandal in Bohemia
    2. The Red-Headed League
    3. A Case of Identity
    4. The Boscombe Valley Mystery
    5. The Five Orange Pips
    6. The Man with the Twisted Lip
    7. The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
    8. The Adventure of the Speckled Band
    9. The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb
    10. The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor
    11. The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet
    12. The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

    Great classic literature. I really enjoy reading Holmes and Watson's adventures, solving the mystery, and putting the puzzles together.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect Kindle mysteries at the perfect price!
    This free Kindle download is the prelude to The Return of Sherlock Holmes. Arthur Conan Doyle's timeless tales are perfect for Kindle and, actually, the Kindle's electronic voice does an admirable job of reading them to you!

    Special thanks to Eileen T for posting the list of stories contained within!

    The only downside to this free Kindle download is that it doesn't have linked Table of Contents. So how do you quickly skip to a chapter later in the book?

    Elementary my dear Watson! (-:

    Pick a unique word from the story title. Click MENU > "Search this book"
    Then type the most unique words from the title. Alas, this doesn't always work, and I can't figure out why. A new mystery! In the meantime, enjoy the classics....

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Britian's Nineteenth Century History
    English history is served up along with the amazing mystery stories. I enjoy the pictures of daily life...the maid bringing in lunch to Holmes on a pre-arranged schedule, passing the street vendors and beggars, imagining the opium den frequented by addicts, vivid descriptions of period clothing, transportation and commerce slipped seamlessly into the tales. I read this often to refresh the imagery in my mind.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The best of the Holmes short stories
    Although he also wrote several novels featuring the world's greatest fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, it was especially in his short stories that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle perfected the Holmes formula. And of the five collections of Holmes short stories (about a dozen in each collection), "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" (published in 1892) was the first and is easily the most popular and best of the five. It contains all except one of the five all-time most popular short stories in the Sherlock Holmes canon (A Scandal in Bohemia, The Red-headed League, The Blue Carbuncle, and The Speckled Band), as well as some other gems like The Five Orange Pips. For newcomers to Holmes, this there is no better place to start than with the dozen stories that comprise "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes". And for long-time fans, these are old favorites worth reading again and again.

    Here's a list of the stories in this collection (with the better stories marked with stars):
    ***A Scandal in Bohemia, 1891 - The very first and one of the top five Sherlock Holmes short stories. After some brilliant detective work involving disguises and acting, Holmes is outwitted by the woman Irene Adler in his quest to help the hereditary king of Bohemia regain a scandalous photograph from her.
    ***The Red-headed League, 1891 - Generally regarded as all-time second best Sherlock Holmes story, this bizarre tale features a pawnbroker who is paid money to join the mysterious Red-Headed League and copy out Encyclopedia Britannica, as part of an ingenious scheme to rob a bank.
    A Case of Identity, 1891 - Holmes solves the mystery of Mary Sutherland's fiance who disappears on the morning of his wedding, unmasking it as scheme hatched by her greedy step-father.
    The Boscombe Valley Mystery, 1891 - Charles McCarthy's son seems the obvious murderer of his father after a violent quarrel, so it is up to Holmes to show that the murder has its real roots in the Australian past of the dead man and his landlord.
    **The Five Orange Pips, 1891 - One of Doyle's personal favorites, this tale recounts the death of two men, both preceded by the arrival of five mysterious orange pips. In one of his few failures, Holmes connects the events to the Ku Klux Klan, but not soon enough to prevent another death.
    *The Man with the Twisted Lip, 1891 - A baffling mystery about Mr. Neville St. Clair who disappears from a room into thin air, and a professional beggar who is the suspected murderer.
    ***The Blue Carbuncle, 1892 - Another favorite all-time top 5 Holmes story, as Holmes unravels how a blue diamond ended up inside the goose intended for Mr. Henry Baker's Christmas dinner.
    ***The Speckled Band, 1892 - Universally regarded as the most popular short story in the Sherlock Holmes canon, and easily one of the more suspenseful and chilling. The engaged Helen Stoner is terrified when she hears the same strange whistling that preceded the death of her twin sister in a locked bedroom shortly before her wedding. Her step-father Dr. Grimesby Roylott, a evil and greedy man with a passion for exotic pets like his cheetah and baboon, is the suspected villain - but how could he do it? The only clue are the mysterious words of Helen's dying sister about "speckled band"...
    The Engineer's Thumb, 1892 - Victor Hatherley, a hydraulic engineer, is offered a lucrative contract to go to a secret location at night to fix a fuller's earth press, but why does he lose his thumb and nearly his life in the process? As Holmes says to the engineer about the missing thumb: "Indirectly it may be of value, you know; you have only to put it into words to gain the reputation of being excellent company for the remainder of your existence."
    The Noble Bachelor, 1892 - When Lord St. Simon's new American wife goes missing shortly after their wedding, it is up to Holmes to find both her and the reason for her disappearance,
    The Beryl Coronet - Expensive jewels are mysteriously damaged in the home of a wealthy banker, his ill-reputed son the prime suspect.
    The Copper Beeches, 1892 - Violet Hunter is paid an exorbitant sum to be a governness at a house called The Copper Beeches. Her employment includes some strange stipulations, such as cutting her hair short and wearing a particular blue dress - but why?

    5-0 out of 5 stars Holmes and Watson -- The Neverending Adventures
    Did you know that Holmes never, ever said "Elementary, my dear Watson" in any of the sixty stories Arthur Conan Doyle wrote?

    The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes were initially published in "The Strand" magazine as a series of 24 short stories. These stories saw publication between 1891 and 1893. When they were published in book form, the first twelve were published as "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" and the last twelve were called "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes." Today, when we speak of the original "Adventures," we usually refer to the first twelve Holmes short stories. These twelve stories include some of the best of Holmes: "The Speckled Band," "The Red Headed League," "A Scandal in Bohemia." Doyle continued his Holmes saga with other collections of short stories: "The Return of Sherlock Holmes," "Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes," "His Last Bow," and finally "The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes." Almost every Holmes short story bears the title "The Adventure of . . ." One of my favorite Holmes stories is "The Problem of Thor Bridge." Not only is it a very good yarn, it is a "Problem" and not an "Adventure!" Although Conan Doyle ran out of Holmes stories, the public did not run out of its appetite for new Holmes stories, and production of pastiches continues to this day.

    To me, the most satisfying way to relive the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, both original and pastiche adventures, is through the medium of audiotaped radio plays. There are at least four collections of adventures currently available. "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," a publication of BBC shows starring Clive Merrison, reprises the original twelve adventures. This is probably the best radio collection of adventures. National Public Radio has published four "Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" consisting of four one hour productions starring various actors as Holmes. The quality is uneven. "Smithsonian Historical Performances: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" has twelve stories, four of which are original. Edith Meiser wrote the pastiches, and John Stanley starred as a rather disagreeable Holmes. Some stories are very good; others are woeful. Simon and Schuster publishes a series of six "New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes." Each collection has eight Holmes stories. Of the pastiches, these are the best. Nigel Bruce stars as a loveable, bumbling Watson, and Basil Rathbone portrays the archetypical Holmes. Anthony Boucher and Dennis Green wrote the scripts and did a very good job. Holmesaholics will also want to listen to "More New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," published by the Brilliance Corporation, and starring Tom Conway as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Watson. These stories are on the whole better than the Smithsonian Historical Performances, but not as good as the Rathbone/Bruce "New Adventures." They also have the drawback of being published as individual cassettes. The avid collector can run to some expense getting all of these.

    Holmes survived Conan Doyle's attempt on his life at the Reichenbach Falls; he has survived his creator 80 years without showing any signs of loss of vitality. The latest (and quite enjoyable) addition to the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is the BBC Television series starring Jeremy Brett.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A timeless hero
    Spending so much of my day plugged into the internet, peering at my iPhone, staring at Excel spreadsheets, it has been an absolute pleasure reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes(on my Kindle, I must admit). I am reminded, in adventure after adventure, that there is no substitute for a sharp mind and astute observation. As I watch the master investigator calmly solve the most "singular" of mysteries through the eyes of Dr. James Watson, I almost want to myself be transported back to 19th century London.

    If you haven't read any of Conan Doyle's stories, they are worth perusing. I only read a dozen of Holmes' adventures. But in those stories, I grew intimately close with both the detective and his trusty sidekick and doctor-cum-biographer, Watson. I came to admire Holmes' heroic stoicism, encyclopedic memory, and sharp wit.

    Each of the adventures follows a somewhat similar plot structure. The adventure opens with a shot into Watson's or Holmes' personal life. You might hear briefly about Watson's life as a doctor, or get a glimpse of Holmes' tobacco, alcohol, or cocaine habits (yes, the rumors are true--Holmes does cocaine). At some point, Watson ends up at Holmes' pad on Baker Street. Both men are then found lounging, Holmes in his "dressing gown," both men likely smoking, drinking, and enjoying a fine meal, usually arms' length from a cozy fire.

    Watson, the narrator, will then tell us how, in all of his time with Holmes, the case he is about to elucidate is the most "singular" one yet. Then one of them will see or hear someone approaching their home base; inevitably, the bell will ring and in will enter yet another all-but-hopeless client. We'll get a detailed description of the client's physical appearance, from the clothes on his or her back to the flushness of the face. We'll also always get an idea of what class the client falls into; most regularly, the clients are from higher classes. The client will give us a detailed account of his or her problems as Holmes and Watson listen intently. It is here that the reader is supposed to do the detective work to piece together clues to solve the case. Of course, most of what the client tells us seems unrelated and inane; Holmes will remind us that the simplest cases are the hardest ones, and the smallest of details often the most important.

    In most cases, the client has a suspicion that the police's conclusions on the case were flawed. In almost every case, the police were consulted and ended up being wrong indeed. Holmes generally requires a trip to the crime scene, sometimes in costume, and the readers have the privilege to join him with Watson. But most trips are simply chances for Holmes to confirm what he already suspected. Guns may be drawn, extreme danger is almost always encountered, and Holmes emerges the hero. Holmes has a penchant for withholding his conclusions from us until the very end of the story, however, so as the reader follows Holmes' movements at the crime scenes, the reader must do some sleuthing as well.

    Holmes will finally tell us what actually happened, and the seemingly innocuous clues from earlier in the chapter prove to be essential to the weaving of the truth. Holmes prefers to strike a deal with the crimes' perpetrators rather than offering them to the police. The clients offer to give Holmes unlimited reward for a job well done, and Holmes calmly requests only that which will defer the cost of his work. He gets enough pleasure out of a job professionally well-done.

    Because of the similarities between stories, I recommend taking Holmes in limited doses. But his is a very powerful medicine, one that rejuvenates the mind and strengthens the character. As an example of someone who betters the world by doing what he loves, Sherlock Holmes is a timeless hero. ... Read more

    2. Pride and Prejudice
    by Jane Austen
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JMLFLW
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of Wit and Style, A Timeless Work for the Ages
    Jane Austen is one of the great masters of the English language, and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is her great masterpiece, a sharp and witty comedy of manners played out in early 19th Century English society, a world in which men held virtually all the power and women were required to negotiate mine-fields of social status, respectability, wealth, love, and sex in order to marry both to their own liking and to the advantage of their family. And such is particularly the case of the Bennetts, a family of daughters whose father's estate is entailed to a distant relative, for upon Mr. Bennett's death they will loose home, land, income, everything. But are the Bennett daughters up to playing a winning hand in this high-stakes matrimonial game without forfeiting their own personal integrity?

    This battle of the sexes is largely seen through the eyes of second daughter Elizabeth, who possesses a razor-sharp wit and rich sense of humor--and who finds herself hindered by her own addlepated mother, her sister Jane's hopeless love for the wealthy Mr. Bingley, and her sister Lydia's penchant for scandal... not to mention the high-born, formidable, and outrageously proud Mr. Darcy, who seems determined to trump her every card. But the game of love proves more surprising than either Elizabeth or Mr. Darcy can imagine, and sometimes a seemingly weak hand proves a winning one when all cards are on the table.

    PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is simply one of the funniest novels ever written, peopled with memorable characters brought vividly to life as they both succeed and fail at the game of life according to the manners of their era. It is a novel to which I return again and again, enjoying Austen's brillant talent. I have little respect for people who describe it as dull, slow, out of date, for as long as men and women live and fall in love it will never be out of style, always be meaningful, and always be funny. A masterpiece of wit and style; a timeless novel for the ages.

    5-0 out of 5 stars It doesn't get better than this...
    It doesn't get better than Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Whether you're the hopeless romantic or you just love the classics, you're going to love this book. Though I am only sixteen, I consider myself to be moderately well-read. I love reading, and, when I am between books, my life feels desolate and empty. One day, while in the most barren pit of ennui, I picked up Pride and Prejudice at my mother's recommendation. I do not ordinarily like my mother's taste in reading; her favorite books tend to be very dull, but so deep was my boredom that I succumbed to her suggestion. I wasn't displeased with what I found. I fell in love with the book at the first sentence. I brought my beloved book to the dinner table, to my classes and late into the night. I love everything about it. I love the characters; especially Elizabeth Bennet! I love the Victorian vernavular which works so well for this particular novel. I love the scintillating plot and the suspense created by knowing that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy should be together but their pride and prejudice (hence the title) are temporarily keeping them apart. The language that the novel is written in might be a little more difficult to read than contemporary literature, but once one gets accustomed to it, it makes the novel even more pleasurable. I cannot imagine Elizabeth or Darcy or Bingley or any of the other characters speaking any less eloquently; it would ruin the whole experience! The flowery language completes the whole effect of reading a Jane Austen novel. If a disgruntled female reader put down Pride and Prejudice, pick it back up! I strongly suggest it because it may prove to be tedious at first but if read again, it would probably read more easily. I can offer no suggestions to the male reader, however, because generally this book, in ever essence, is a female novel. I am not saying that men would definetly not enjoy it; I'm simply saying that I have yet to meet any male who has not addressed this book in a very vehement manner. I simply love this book in its entirety, and I know it won't be too long before I pick it up again. Jane Austen surely knew what she was doing when she wrote this one! Her Pride and Prejudice will always have an honored spot on my bookshelf.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A popular Austen work made better by including lit criticism
    Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is more than a manners work! A classic tale of early 19th c. upper middle class English life, Austen's work is important in the development of the novel mainly because of how she creates and intertwines her characters. Austen's characters cannot be easily removed from the novel without considering the effect on other characters. Her characters grow and change. Although the plot describes Elizabeth Bennet's non-pursuit turned pursuit of Mr. Darcy, the novel addresses the role and status of women and issues of class division. The additional essays of the Norton Critical edition provide a sound critical foundation for study and discussion of the work that are missing from "everyday" editions. P&P is a fine novel from an important English writer. The Norton Critical Edition is the recommended edition.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect for first time Austen Readers/A Must for Austen Fans
    I have always loved the style and social politics of the Regency period (the time of Jane Austen.) But when I read "Sense and Sensibility" in 7th grade I found the first few chapters lifeless, dull and hard to read. Two years later I was encouraged by a friend to give "Pride and Prejudice" a try. I did and have since become a complete Janeite. I am now able to peruse joyfully through "Sense and Sensibility" with a new understanding and appreciation of Jane Austen. The reason? "Pride and Prejudice" is fresh, witty and is a great introduction to Jane Austen's writing style without the formality of some of her other novels (unlike S&S and Persuasion Austen does not give us a 10 page history of each family and their fortune.) If you have never read Jane Austen or have read her other novels and found them boring, read Pride and Prejudice. The characters, and the situations Austen presents to them, are hysterical and reveal a lot about Regency society and morality. This book perfectly compliments a great writer like Jane Austen and is essential to every reader's library. The Penguin Edition of the book is stellar and I personally recommend it not only for the in-depth and indispensable footnotes, but also for the cover that is non-suggestive of any of the characters' appearances. In summary "Pride and Prejudice" is a great book for beginner Austen readers and seasoned fans, and Penguin Classics is a great edition for fully enjoying and understanding the book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Story- Cute Book
    This is a nice copy of the book. It has a built in ribbon bookmark and nice line drawing illustrations. It is about 3 inches wide and 5 inches long (smaller than a standard book). It is a very pretty version of the book though, and would be great as a gift. Seems like it is well made. It does have thin pages, but it doesn't seem problematic. ... Read more

    3. A Christmas Carol
    by Charles Dickens
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JQUKKU
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best "Christmas Carol" ever
    Many versions of Dickins' classic "A Christmas Carol" are actually abridgements (done more or less smoothly) but this version is complete and unabridged. Even if you think you are familiar with the book you may find upon reading this one that you previously had read a shortened version! The completeness of this volume would be reason enough to add it to your library, but the quality of the pages, typeface, and above all the lovely illustrations scattered throughout further commend it. I have bought copies for all 3 of my grown children--because every family deserves to own a complete version of this classic story and this one is the best I have ever seen.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Volume
    I collect "A Christmas Carol" and this is a particularly lovely volume. The illustrations are wonderful and the overall quality, printing, binding and paper, is terrific. This is definitely in my top three favorites of all the different versions I own.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Read the book the way Dickens wrote it..........
    I hope all readers take time to read A CHRISTMAS CAROL in the original language Dickens used in the 1840's. Dickens' language remains humorous, descriptive and insightful and not inaccessible to most modern readers especially with the use of a good glossary. This is a great read aloud for families at Christmas time and also a great introduction to Dickens and other Victorian writers. Don't settle for an abridged version. Read this masterpiece the way it was intended

    5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible book, highly recommended
    I've been shopping on Amazon for years and this is the first review I've ever left for a purchase I made; that's how impressed I was with this book. I also collect versions of the classic story and I agree with the other reviewer that this is positively one of the best, ever. A majority of the pages have beautiful illustrations that wrap into the text or take the entire page, the binding and cover is understated yet perfect for this book. This is the unabridged version, the original text of the author. If you were to own just one copy of A Christmas Carol, this would be it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Classic for a Reason
    This is my favourite fairy tale of all time. And this edition is a keeper. Dickens was touched by the finger of God when he sat down to write this little book. And it seems like the drawings and illustrations are almost on every page. So many great pictures!!

    10 Stars.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A True Classic
    We would be hard pressed to find people not familiar with A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, due to several movies the novel has spawned. I finally sat down and read the novel and am glad I did. The novel by the prolific and popular Dickens is well-written with great characters. That the author can generate such imagery and fully-realized characters in such a short story, is a testament to his staying power. This book packs an emotional punch, and is a great tale for the holidays, or any time you need to remind yourself to be thankful for what you have and those around you. A classic story and a must read. 5 stars.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Lovely Gift Edition
    I just finished flipping through this in the bookshop, and it is absolutely gorgeous. What you would expect from Candlewick Press and more, practically every page has wonderful full-color paintings, each evocative and beautiful. Unabridged text, well-bound and typeset.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Very Pleased
    I had been wanting to pick up a copy of this classic for quite some time. the story of redemption in this book is so uplifting, I wanted to share it with my children. I was looking for a copy that would have that rich-feeling to it. I wanted it to have some pictures to show my kids as they are still young and I want to keep them interested in the story. This copy is perfect. I was leery when I ran a search on this site. I got a few hits, but nothing that really struck me as the "definite" copy I was looking for.

    If you are looking for an heirloom quality copy, this might not be least not for a couple more I believe this book will wear nicely and be a great piece once the pages start to yellow. The type set is very neat and easy to read, and the plethora of pictures, which don't detract from the story, are beautiful.

    Pick this up for yourself and your family, you will be glad that you did. ... Read more

    4. Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1
    by Mark Twain
    list price: $34.95 -- our price: $18.17
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0520267192
    Publisher: University of California Press
    Sales Rank: 1
    Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    "I've struck it!" Mark Twain wrote in a 1904 letter to a friend. "And I will give it away--to you. You will never know how much enjoyment you have lost until you get to dictating your autobiography." Thus, after dozens of false starts and hundreds of pages, Twain embarked on his "Final (and Right) Plan" for telling the story of his life. His innovative notion--to "talk only about the thing which interests you for the moment"--meant that his thoughts could range freely. The strict instruction that many of these texts remain unpublished for 100 years meant that when they came out, he would be "dead, and unaware, and indifferent," and that he was therefore free to speak his "whole frank mind." The year 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of Twain's death. In celebration of this important milestone and in honor of the cherished tradition of publishing Mark Twain's works, UC Press is proud to offer for the first time Mark Twain's uncensored autobiography in its entirety and exactly as he left it. This major literary event brings to readers, admirers, and scholars the first of three volumes and presents Mark Twain's authentic and unsuppressed voice, brimming with humor, ideas, and opinions, and speaking clearly from the grave as he intended. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars The Scholarly Mark Twain Edition, October 21, 2010
    The potential reader for this edition should be aware of several items. First, this autobiography is an oversize hardbook which means it may not fit into a bookshelf with other more traditional hardbooks. Second this is an academic press which means that there is a long introduction and discussion of prior autobiographical starts by Mark Twain (1870-1905) for two hundred pages. The actual autobiography of Mark Twain is only 270 pages of transcriptions from his dictation of his 1906 attempt to write his life story. Following the narrative are an additional 150+ pages of notes, index and appendixes. Two more volumes will be published later. Third, this edition is a rambling text with no chronological sequence. Mark Twain told stories as he remembered as they came to his memory. None of these observations are negative but the reader should be aware of these differences.

    This book aims to be the definitive edition by publishing everything that Mark dictated or wrote after 1905 in the order that it came into creation. Prior publications were much shorter as various editors organized what they thought was interesting, had his family's approval and was in some chronlogical sequence (Charles Neider did the best overall job of this fifty years ago). What the reader has here is Mark Twain's true speaking voice -- he is doing a monologue in your presence, going wherever his memory takes him.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, but beyond any adequate description, October 21, 2010
    Fifteen minutes ago I finished reading Volume One of the newly published "Autobiography of Mark Twain". It is no more possible to adequately describe this massive book as to attempt to fully capture the full, intricate realities of a vast range of wild mountains.

    Twain tried for many years to write his autobiography, but time and again his efforts ground to a halt and were abandoned, although fragments were kept for eventual use (and presented as part of this Volume One). It was not until Twain fixed upon the mode of orally dictating his autobiography that he found a method that really worked for him and allowed him to complete the project to his own satisfaction. The first portion of these 1906 dictations (plus explanatory editorial notes) form the heart of the present volume (two more volumes will eventually be released to complete the "Autobiography"). The result certainly does not follow a standard autobiographical approach (which Twain characterizes as a "plan that starts you at the cradle and drives you straight for the grave, with no side-excursions permitted on the way. Whereas the side-excursions are the life of our life-voyage, and should be, also, of its history.") The "Autobiography" as dictated instead is all side-excursion, almost stream of consciousness. Twain's intent was that it not be published in unexpurgated form until a hundred years after his death, leaving him free to say whatever he wished about whomever he wished to speak. Portions of it have indeed been published from time to time, in a highly edited form bearing little resemblance to what Twain intended as the true "Autobiography".

    In approaching the "Autobiography" the reader should not expect a conventional, chronologically arranged, continuous narrative in the traditional style. Twain strove intentionally, and successfully, to avoid that, instead reaching for an entirely novel style suitable for avoiding what he considered to be the usual "lying" (perhaps especially lying to oneself) found in standard autobiographies. The present volume is presented in four distinct parts: First is a lengthy explanatory section from the editors, providing the background for the "Autobiography" and explaining what Twain was aiming for; this section is probably necessary for better appreciating what Twain eventually achieved, but also may not be the best place to begin browsing. Second are the fragments of autobiographical material Twain wrote over the last few decades of the 19th century, fragments left over from his failed attempts to create an autobiography but retained by him as containing enough material and honesty to satisfy his desires. Third is the real heart of the book: oral dictations that left Twain free to dart and drift wherever his thoughts led him, free of any rigid structure; this section is most open to casual browsing. And fourth are lengthy notes and comments from the editors on Twain's text and dictations, correcting factual errors and expanding upon details.

    Reading the dictations is as near as one could hope to be sitting in a room with Twain, listening to him ramble along, mixing trivial events of forty or sixty years before with headlines from today's newspaper -- an effect that Twain was deliberately creating -- and dizzyingly flipping the pages of the calendar back and forth. Imagine Twain sitting there with a cigar and perhaps a glass of Scotch whiskey. Imagine yourself with the cigar and Scotch. It is wonderful, in the true, fundamental sense of that word.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read But NOT on Kindle, November 20, 2010
    Through this autobiography I am coming to gain even greater respect for this person I have admired for most of my own 74 years. A marvelous account of his life.

    However, because of poor eyesight I am reading the ebook version on my iPad using the Kindle reader. About 30% of the book is composed of clarifications and annotations by editors of the work. Unfortunately, those notes are in a separate section of the book and reference Twain's commentary by page number. However, the ebook version for the Kindle eliminates ALL traces of page numbering in favor of a digital code for each line. Thus there is no possible way to find the information that is being referred to in the editors comments. If possible stick to the hard copy or find a different digital ebook which retains the page references....I will for volumes 2 and 3.

    3-0 out of 5 stars To Potential Readers and Gifters, December 1, 2010
    It really should be made clear just what this book is and isn't. It is a completist's edition of a project Twain talked about for years but never actually sat down and wrote. In this scholarly volume, roughly one-third of the massive book details the process of its compilation, by Twain and by the editors (his contemporaries as well as the present ones), and includes what might today be called "outtakes" (several of which are quite interesting and enjoyable), pieces determined not to be intended as part of the Autobiography. One reader commented that "the book needs an editor". That misses the point; the scholarly editing is masterful. It COULD not credibly be edited in the sense of cutting it down as one might a contemporary manuscript to make it suitable for publication.
    Another one-third of the tome consists of scholarly notes explaining many of the references in the text. Many of these are clarifications of people (some major, some insignificant)to whom Twain refers, or locations. In many cases these are extraneous to all but the most scholarly or the compulsive who needs to know who EVERYbody is and cannot determine it by context. In some cases, they correct lapses in Twain's memory (he clearly didn't research or check many of his facts)
    Only one-third of this volume is the Autobiography itself, and it is only mildly interesting. It is certainly not a chronological narrative, much of it was dictated by an aging and bitter man(part of its sardonic charm), and much of it--- amazingly--- is drawn from a biography of Twain written, as a child, by his beloved daughter, which Twain explicates, albeit through the filter of the subsequent and ongoing grief Twain suffered since her youthful death.
    My eyesight is lousy but I was untroubled by the type. I read it in book form, but I can see where it might be problematic on kindle; one has to skip back and forth between the text and the notes, and kindle may not lend itself to that (I wouldn't know). The sheer bulk of the book is indeed troublesome, and one will need two bookmarks, one for text and one for notes (as I often use in reading History).
    Lastly, what remains as the "Autobiography"--- the reason, I think, most people would read this edition---is not terribly interesting nor funny. Fortunately, there is so much of Twain that is, and that is in print and easily available, and if one wants to read of Twain's earlier life, I would suggest reading or rereading Life on the Mississippi or his other (in a sense and ironically) more "autobiographical" works. The Library of America volume including Life... (as well as Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer) contains copious but manageable notes and biographical information. My opinion is that it would make a better gift than this to all but academics and (pardon me) twainiacs.

    5-0 out of 5 stars THE literary event of THREE centuries, October 19, 2010
    Publication of the unabridged, uncensored autobiography of America's greatest writer is not only the American literary event of the century, it is the American literary event of THREE centuries: the 19th, during which most of the events occurred; the 20th, during the first decade of which Twain actually wrote it; and the 21st, during which it is finally seeing the light of day.

    Having previously read the excerpts from the autobiography published in Twain's lifetime, I can honestly say that IMO they rank in the top tier of Twain's work in terms of quality of writing, insight, humor, provocation, emotional power, and just pure verbal delight.

    Typical of Twain's relentless thrusting off the shackles of tradition and convention even while exploring his past, Twain intentionally wrote (actually, dictated) his autobiography in a sort of stream of consciousness manner, rather than telling the story chronologically. Brilliantly done. At any given moment in the writing (dictation), he talked about what interested him the most and what most vividly came to his mind, resulting in a most powerful, fascinating addition to one's Twain library.

    I do, however, share the criticism of some other reviewers about the font (typeface) size. It is quite small, small enough to be daunting to readers not already as enthusiastic about Twain as someone like myself. Oddly, the over 200 pages of explanatory notes and appendices are the same size font as Twain's manuscript - that material could've been printed in reduced typeface to permit more pages and more readable font for Twain's words!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Mark Twain's last book....his autobiography, November 4, 2010
    We know of Samuel Clemens as Mark Twain and his legacy as an author has endured with high esteem in the hundred years that have followed Clemens's death in 1910. What an extraordinary book this is...the first of three volumes about Samuel Clemens. At long last, the public is allowed to witness this remarkable man in his own words and it is an undeniable treat of the first order.

    Clemens is introduced by editor Harriet Elinor Smith, who explains the process of how Clemens wanted to be remembered. It would not be an autobiography beginning at birth and proceeding sequentially throughout his life, but rather one that was prompted by reminiscenses that sprang to mind. In this way, his thoughts became more collective and certainly more jubilant.

    The anecdotes that Clemens tells are an outright riot! Many of them are "laugh out loud" remembrances as he fiddles with the German language, suffers with memories of the conniving Countess in Florence, plays practical jokes (the one with President Cleveland's wife at the White House is one of my favorites) and sneers at wealthy men of his era. Along the way he comments on famous people whom he knows, including General Grant and Theodore Roosevelt. Clemens is an astute observer of his peers...his descriptions, both physical and psychological...are uncanny and hilarious. When his friend, the Reverend Joseph Twichell, inadvertently dies his hair green and must appear before his congregation on Sundays trying to suppress the deed, can imagine the reaction from his flock.

    It is this personal humor that makes the autobiography shine. We often think of the Victorian era (even in the United States) as a rather staid time, devoid of laughter and full of polemics and retributions. But Clemens refutes any notion to the contrary. His life bursts with energy and although his narrative is presented to the reader in the jargon of the day, it nonetheless carries the day with vibrancy, color and wit. I highly recommend this autobiography's first volume and await the remaining ones. It is one of the best treasures of the year.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A new view of Mark Twain, October 21, 2010
    "WOW! This volume is a wonder. For one thing, it provides something like a mystery novel perspective on the archeology of Samuel Clemens'/Mark Twain's autobiography. He wrote fragments to be part of this document over a period of four decades. Simply getting a sense of the architecture for this work desired by Twain is a contribution of this work.

    Also, Twain notes that he is unable to be consistently honest about his life. Nice candor! He demanded that his version not be published until 100 years after his death. Figuring out exactly what his version was represents a major effort by the editor and others involved in this project.

    The book is divided into several sections. First, a sixty page introduction, where we learn of the origins of the autobiography and how it developed. Also, the assumptions underlying this version. Next, "preliminary manuscripts and dictations, 1870-1905." The raw material of Twain's autobiography. Then, the first volume of the autobiography.

    But it is the end result presented by the editor, Harriet Elinor Smith, that makes this volume so important. Twain comes across as cantankerous, humorous, politically savvy. . . . Early on, he makes comments about slavery. His acerbic commentaries on friends and family show a real edge to his writing. Even the photo on the dust jacket suggests that this work is about a real person and is not just a "feel good" work.

    This is not a strictly chronological sequence. Twain moves back and forth in time. As he notes (Page 220): ". . .I hit upon the right way to do an Autobiography: start it at no particular time of your life; wander at your free will all over your life; talk only about the thing which interests you for the moment; drop it the moment its interest threatens to pale, and talk about the new and more interesting thing that has intruded itself into your mind meantime."

    This volume ends with a letter from Helen Keller, suggesting how untraditional this work is. It can almost be described as "pastiche," where Twain brings in bits and pieces of material to make the points that he wishes to make. After the autobiographical portion, we read the explanatory notes (which flesh things out).

    I find this a remarkable work, providing a view of Twain that is hardly candy coated, but yet seemingly gives us insights into his nature, life, and his genius. I find this work almost overwhelming. Well worth looking at. . . . Clearly a major work.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Privilege and deep pleasure, November 7, 2010
    What a privilege to be alive for the release of this first volume of Twain's autobiography. How sad that some readers are unable to find their way around the apparatus of the volume; there is a table of contents, yes? Ah, what would Twain say? One can but imagine.

    I found the explanation of the recording and assembling of the "Auto" extremely interesting. The business of book publishing hasn't changed much, the complications of assembling and tracking manuscript sections, the copyright dilemmas--all germaine to anyone who writes. And the images of the places and circumstances in which Twain dictated-- The reader perches on the porch stair in Dublin NH, or drinks a second coffee while Twain in his heavy silk nightshirt, leans back against his bedpillows, and speaks.

    The book is lively, agile, brilliant. Twain's voice seems cleaer and stronger, or richer, than in other works. What hilarious story telling, fierce opinions, indignation, humanity and wit. I have been laughing out loud while reading, and still burst into giggles picturing the 14-year-old Twain stark naked, dancing like a bear, not knowing he's being watched. What writer hasn't wanted to remonstrate, line by line, against fatuous editing? And with such cutting, snarky wit. I'm scarcely 200 pages into Twain's actual work, and I'm reading more and more slowly, dreading the end of the volume and all the while thinking of people to whom to give the book when Christmas comes.

    I often despair about the world at the beginning of the 21st century--but Twain's new work released this year brightens the atmosphere significantly--

    5-0 out of 5 stars Tremendous Book, October 28, 2010
    Other reviews have said what can be said about the content of this book. It is an immensely enjoyable read. having been a fan of Mark Twain's non-fiction writing for many, many years, I've thoroughly enjoyed this. This is a five-star book, I shall not rate the content on the choices of the publisher.

    On that, while the print is small, the book itself is enormous for a book of less than 800 pages. The weight of the paper contributes heavily to that. While I appreciate the need to relate the weight of the work in physical form, I believe better choices could have been made to use larger print on thinner paper in the same spacial volume.

    But I bought this book for its content, not its presentation. And the content is exceptional. I cannot wait for the other volumes.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An amazing and unique piece of work!, November 3, 2010
    Whether you are a fan of Mark Twain or not this book is a history buffs dream come true. the bits and pieces and anecdotes are about the real world Sam Clemens lived in. An added bonus are the many pieces that give great insight into many, many important characters who lived in that period and who were friends, and sometimes not of Mark Twain. You will see quite clearly how Clemens perfected and kept the 'Mark Twain' persona distinct from himself. Not the most brilliant man in history, but one of the most astute students of the human psyche that has ever lived. Modern day psychologists are a joke when set against him.

    One caveat on reading the book. The first 200 pages are really only for the academic bibliophile and those retentive types concerned with the provenance of the sources. GO directly to page 200 or so and dive won't regret it. ... Read more

    5. The Confession: A Novel
    by John Grisham
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $28.95
    Asin: B0042XA37Q
    Publisher: Doubleday
    Sales Rank: 1
    Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    An innocent man is about to be executed.

    Only a guilty man can save him.

    For every innocent man sent to prison, there is a guilty one left on the outside. He doesn’t understand how the police and prosecutors got the wrong man, and he certainly doesn’t care. He just can’t believe his good luck. Time passes and he realizes that the mistake will not be corrected: the authorities believe in their case and are determined to get a conviction. He may even watch the trial of the person wrongly accused of his crime. He is relieved when the verdict is guilty. He laughs when the police and prosecutors congratulate themselves. He is content to allow an innocent person to go to prison, to serve hard time, even to be executed.

    Travis Boyette is such a man. In 1998, in the small East Texas city of Sloan, he abducted, raped, and strangled a popular high school cheerleader. He buried her body so that it would never be found, then watched in amazement as police and prosecutors arrested and convicted Donté Drumm, a local football star, and marched him off to death row.

    Now nine years have passed. Travis has just been paroled in Kansas for a different crime; Donté is four days away from his execution. Travis suffers from an inoperable brain tumor. For the first time in his miserable life, he decides to do what’s right and confess.

    But how can a guilty man convince lawyers, judges, and politicians that they’re about to execute an innocent man?

    From the Hardcover edition.
    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Bravo!
    I am an avid reader and have read countless legal thrillers over the years. As a retired Federal Judge with 24 years of experience, I can tell you that you will never find a more realistic portrait of how the legal system works and, more importantly, how often it does not. Run do not walk to your bookstore and grab this one. You won't be sorry.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Roller Coaster Ride of Suspense.
    This has been an awesome novel by Grisham. A must have for any Grisham fan's collection. The story is non stop action and seat of the pants suspense
    as they race against time to save an innocent man. It makes you really wonder just how many people have been executed or is sitting on Death Row that are truely innocent. Through DNA testing, many people have been exonerated or freed for crimes they didn't commit. Kinda makes you wonder just how bad our legal system is in many places. A speedy trial with little or no evidence has convicted many a person. How many lives of those that were freed and exonerated have been totally destroyed just because people still think they are guilty or how can one person mentally cope with the outside world after being in prison for so long. This book brought light on our legal system and just how easy it is to convict an innocent person of a wrongful crime.

    Grisham is truely a master of suspense as he takes you on a ride to fight to save an innocent man. Two thumbs up!!!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars In the tradition of great writers, Grisham has produced a novel that seeks to end an injustice.
    You have to admire John Grisham. For decades, he has occupied a permanent position on bestseller lists around the world. Since 1991, the 24 books he has written have sold hundreds of millions of copies, but he seems reluctant to rest on his success. In recent years, he has broken away from the genre of "courtroom fiction" that made him a household name. In 2006, he wrote his first work of nonfiction, THE INNOCENT MAN: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town, about a man who was wrongfully sentenced to death in Oklahoma. Research and writing about the case made Grisham a vociferous and vigorous public opponent of the death penalty.

    In his latest novel, THE CONFESSION, Grisham takes his opposition to capital punishment to a higher level. In the spirit of Upton Sinclair, Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell, Grisham has written a thriller about the race to save a wrongfully convicted man from execution. Along the way, he uses the pages of his book to indict a process that Justice Potter Stewart characterized in 1972 as "... cruel and unusual in the same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual because those who are given the death penalty are among a capriciously selected random handful." While THE CONFESSION is fiction, it is based upon fact. Grisham has changed some names and locales, but the abuses of the criminal justice system recounted here are real and easily recognizable to anyone with knowledge of the death penalty and access to a computer search engine.

    Dont� Drumm is just days away from execution for the murder of Nicole Yarber. Her body was never found, but that fact did not prevent authorities in Texas from convicting Drumm and obtaining a death sentence. Clearly Grisham has chosen Texas as the book's venue because of its abysmal record in death penalty cases. This fictional case has elements of many horrendous examples of injustice that permeate the Texas legal system. Readers who shake their head in amazement at the accounts in THE CONFESSION should be forewarned that many of the outrages described by Grisham are based upon actual events in the Lone Star State.

    As Drumm awaits his fate, Keith Schroeder, the pastor of a small Lutheran church in Topeka, Kansas, receives an unusual visitor. Travis Boyette is a career criminal diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and has only months to live. Boyette bares his soul to Schroeder and confesses to Yarber's murder. His account is bolstered by his knowledge of where Yarber's body is buried. As the clock ticks towards Drumm's execution, Boyette furnishes additional details establishing that he did indeed kill Yarber, and the State of Texas is preparing to execute an innocent man.

    THE CONFESSION is an extraordinary narrative, because Grisham, through his advocacy against the death penalty, has become knowledgeable of the flaws and foibles of capital punishment. He uses the novel to expose those who are uninterested in justice and see the death penalty as a vehicle for achieving a political agenda. Included here are spot-on portrayals of the various participants in the death penalty drama and the contributions they make to create injustice. It starts with police officers who view the Constitution with disdain and believe that a hunch of guilt justifies any action that results in conviction. The harrowing steps to obtain Drumm's confession may be shocking, but they represent actual occurrences countenanced by the legal system. Sadly, that system is made up of prosecutors who view executions as a means to secure re-election and by judges who recognize that upholding Constitutional protections is not a way to win elections.

    Grisham recognizes that, in recent years, resources have been allocated to defend those on death row, but their lawyers have too many clients and not enough time. In addition to the actors in the system, there is a media culture that sensationalizes the crimes but pays little attention to the defects in the process. Grisham is spot-on in portraying to readers the flaws in the system that lead to injustice, and even worse, the killing of individuals who are factually innocent. He also is vivid and cryptic in his detailing of the final hours leading to execution. As the clock ticks and the lawyers fight to save Drumm, the tension can almost be felt from page to page. That an innocent man faces death only adds to that tension.

    John Grisham is to be applauded for accomplishing a difficult task. Many will read THE CONFESSION and surely ask questions about the death penalty and its application in American courts, and some minds may change. In the tradition of great writers, Grisham has produced a novel that seeks to end an injustice. The death penalty has been placed on trial in the pages of THE CONFESSION and stands convicted.

    --- Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman

    5-0 out of 5 stars A story to reckon with
    The Confession: A Novel
    A story to reckon with

    I'm a ghostwriter of nonfiction books, e.g. NYT bestseller "Son of Hamas" (SaltRiver, 2010). And when I write a book review, I usually stick to my genre. Some books, however, manage to straddle the lines.

    John Grisham's new offering, "The Confession," is fiction because the dust jacket says so and because the copyright page assures us that "Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental."

    Okay, but I live in Texas, which has lethally injected 464 people--more than any other state--since capital punishment was reinstituted in 1976. And "The Confession," while admittedly having one foot in fiction, has the other planted firmly in this troubling reality.

    Some readers might even accuse "The Confession" of being an apologetic, a finely-crafted, albeit thinly-veiled, advocacy piece for abolition of the death penalty.

    One thing is certain, if you're not willing to take an open-minded look at capital punishment, you'd do better to use your $28.95 to buy a skinny cinnamon dolce latte and a pumpkin cream cheese muffin for you and your significant other.

    "The Confession" puts a name and a face and a family on the 130 innocent people who have been released from death row since 1973.

    Dont� Drumm, accused of raping and murdering a cheerleader named Nicole Yarber, is the African American echo of Dr. Sam Sheppard, the Cleveland neurosurgeon convicted of beating to death his pregnant wife, Marilyn, in 1954. Sheppard spent nearly a decade in prison before his conviction was overturned in 1966. Like the Sheppard case, which inspired the TV series and motion picture "The Fugitive," the trial and imprisonment of Dont� Drumm is a travesty from the first.

    The police never found the bushy-haired murderer described by Dr. Sam. But Nicole's real killer comes forward just days before Dont�'s scheduled execution, confesses to the crime and tries to save the life of the innocent man. John Grisham masterfully builds the tension as serial rapist Travis Boyette tries to stop and reverse the well-oiled wheels of justice. It's another page-turner to add to the author's impressive bibliography.

    But "The Confession" lingers after all the loose strings are neatly tied up in the Epilogue. It nags you and tugs at you. It plays over and over in your mind like summer re-runs, refusing to disappear until you deal with it. It refuses to let itself be just another entertaining read.

    It has a definite aftertaste. Not unpleasant, but insistent.

    Even if you manage to put it out of your mind, it will be there, staring you in the face, the next time the evening news announces the pending execution of another death row inmate. And it will look you in the eye and ask, "What if they're wrong again?"

    5-0 out of 5 stars Vintage Grisham
    Another amazing tale by John Grisham. The characters are so real and easy to identify with. I was not only entertained and captivated by the story but forced to think about the issues and examine my feelings on them. My father was on a jury several years ago for a murder case of a teenage girl. It was one of the hardest things I ever saw him go through. I am much more able to understand why they came back with the life sentence without the possibility of parole now. Thanks Mr. Grisham for the insight into the world of death penalties and appeals! Some may not like "the lack of closure" in the endings of Grisham's books. I find it refreshing. We don't generally get the exact ending we are looking for in real life either plus it gives the reader the opportunity to write the rest of the story on their own. Great read!! ... Read more

    6. Watchlist
    by Jeffery Deaver
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $25.95
    Asin: B003719FZK
    Publisher: CDS/Vanguard Press
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    Watchlist is a unique collaboration by twenty-one of the world’s greatest thriller writers including Lee Child, Joseph Finder, David Hewson, S.J. Rozan, Lisa Scottoline, and Jeffery Deaver, who conceived the characters and set the plot in motion; In turn, the other authors each wrote a chapter and Deaver then completed what he started, bringing each novel to its startling conclusion. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed
    I saw this book in the library and recognizing a few of the writers, thought I'd give it a try. I couldn't put it down. The novellas were written 2 years apart yet the story easily flowed. I loved the way each writer moved the story in another direction, leaving the following author to pick up the plot and add his/her own twist. Jeffery Deaver wrapped up both stories. Now I'll be looking for books by the authors I didn't recognize and I hope they'll do this again.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Reminder Of Why I Stopped Reading Thrillers
    I stopped reading mysteries and thrillers a few years ago because they weren't as good as this. Lately though, I've been stumbling on more and more books like Watchlist. Fast paced, catch your breath moments, can't put it down.
    I downloaded this when it was free and feel like I've won the lottery.
    I highly recommend to anyone.
    If it can make a chick-lit lover happy, I suppose this book could make just about anyone happy.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An experience you do not want to miss
    The idea behind the two short novels that comprise WATCHLIST --- THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT and THE COPPER BRACELET --- was truly groundbreaking. Take the concept of a somewhat shadowy organization called the Volunteers (headed up by a late middle-aged, ex-war crimes investigator named Harold Middleton), whose purpose is to hunt down war criminals and prevent new crimes from happening. Open and close a book with chapters written by Jeffery Deaver, the creator of the concept, then let the world's top thriller authors each contribute a chapter, taking the story in a never-ending set of twists and turns from beginning to end.

    There have been similar projects --- though not quite of this scale --- done in the mystery, romance and science fiction genres, but what is truly groundbreaking here is the manner in which THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT was released. Not only was it an original audiobook (one that earned a 2008 Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year), it also released a chapter at a time on a weekly basis, thus truly earning classification as a "serial thriller." Not content to rest on those considerable laurels, Deaver, accompanied by a stellar cast of thriller authors, did it again in 2009 with THE COPPER BRACELET. WATCHLIST brings both works together for the first time in print, the result demonstrating that the experiment works as well, if not better, in the traditional book medium.

    THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT, as one might guess from the title, is concerned with classical music, at least peripherally. Middleton is bequeathed with what appears to be an original handwritten score composed by Frederic Chopin that heretofore has never seen the light of day. The score is both more and less than it seems, however. Practically from the moment it passes into Middleton's possession, it begins to set off a chain reaction of events that puts Middleton --- as well as his pregnant daughter --- in terrible danger. He barely arrives in Washington, D.C. from Warsaw before he is on the run, accused of murdering two policemen even as he is pursued by a shadowy group of thugs who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the document in his possession.

    The only people whom Middleton can truly trust are his fellow Volunteers, who themselves are hamstrung by government officials who seem to be operating at cross purposes to them. Events reach a climax when the work in Middleton's possession is scheduled to be performed by a young woman who is a virtuoso on the violin. Her performance of the long-lost work will herald either a new cultural era or provide the signal for the opening of an unthinkable disaster.

    While THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT is more of a plot-driven work, THE COPPER BRACELET focuses more on Middleton and the personalities of the characters involved, without detriment to the pacing, which, as with its predecessor, moves along at breakneck speed. As indicated by the title, the Copper Bracelet is the focus of Middleton and the Volunteers as they race to prevent what appears to be the sabotage of a major construction project that is fraught with adverse political ramifications. The key to the plot seems to be contained in the drawings of a bracelet worn by an assassin, and its discovery sets off a chase that leads from Paris to Moscow to Kashmir.

    Middleton, aided by the Volunteers --- one of whom is his former lover --- has few other allies, and betrayals and death are his constant companions. What he discovers is that the plot involves far more than he originally imagined, with ramifications that will extend beyond a disputed border and across the world.

    A great deal of the fun involved in reading the novellas that comprise WATCHLIST is the experience of having your favorite thriller writers --- Lee Child, Gayle Lynds, P. J. Parrish, David Hewson, John Miller and Brett Battles, among many others --- treading far outside of their comfort zones and riffing in unfamiliar territory. It's kind of like walking into a small club and finding several of your favorite musicians taking successive solos around a common theme. The plots are fast-paced and the paragraphs fly by so fast that a seat belt should be included in the binding. It's an experience you do not want to miss, not only for the names with which you might be familiar, but also for the ones that you don't know.

    --- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub ... Read more

    7. Fireflies in December
    by Jennifer Erin Valent
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $12.99
    Asin: B001NXDHE4
    Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
    Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    2010 Christy Award winner!
    Jessilyn Lassiter never knew that hatred could lurk in the human heart until the summer of 1932 when she turned 13. When her best friend, Gemma, loses her parents in a tragic fire, Jessilyn's father vows to care for her as one of his own, despite the fact that Gemma is black and prejudice is prevalent in their southern Virginia town. Violence springs up as a ragtag band of Ku Klux Klan members unite and decide to take matters into their own hands. As tensions mount in the small community, loyalties are tested and Jessilyn is forced to say good-bye to the carefree days of her youth. Fireflies in December is the 2007 winner of the Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and a 2010 Christy Award winner.
    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars ...a tight, finely crafted novel
    "The summer I turned thirteen, I thought I'd killed a man."

    In these first eleven words of Fireflies in December we realize Jessilyn Lassiter's world is pregnant with change. Not only is she walking that tenuous line between childhood and womanhood, but during the summer of 1932 Jessilyn finds herself in the crosshairs of man's hatred for his fellow man.

    When her best friend Gemma's parents are tragically killed in a fire, Jessilyn's father takes the girl in. No matter that she's as dark as coffee and sticks out in their white family like a sheep in a cow field. Harley Lassiter sees people for their hearts, not their skin color. If only the rest of Calloway County felt the same way. Soon Jessilyn is ostracized by whites and blacks alike. This racial mingling "just ain't done", and it isn't long before the Lassiter family becomes a target for something much more sinister, and deadly. The Klu Klux Klan.

    In Fireflies in December Valent has skillfully dropped us into the middle of southern Virginia during a turbulent time in our country's history. Less than seventy years had passed since the Civil War, and unfortunately not everyone embraced its outcome. The Great Depression's talons still clung to many families. "Things were poor, especially in our parts, and for having a working farm and a good truck, we were fortunate. We even had some conveniences that other people envied, like a fancy icebox and a telephone..."

    Fear has a way of bringing out the worst in folks, and perhaps that's why racism was still so prevalent in the south of 1932. As I read this novel, I found myself amazed that such hatred existed. Certainly racism still shows up in today's America, but during the year we've elected our first African-American President it's striking how far we've come.

    Valent knows how to involve us in the setting. We feel the oppressive humidity of summer and hear the cicadas buzzing. We lie on our backs in bed all day with Jessilyn and Gemma because moving feels like wading through a furnace. And without bogging us down in pages of narrative we understand the anguish Jessilyn suffers when she thinks she killed a man. In fact, Valent could've used more exposition and it wouldn't have detracted. Perhaps it would've added even more depth to this coming-of-age story.

    Fireflies In December brings to mind the themes and characters of To Kill A Mockingbird. Jessilyn is older than Scout, but just as stubborn. Their fathers stand by what they believe is right, even when everyone else is against them. Jessilyn and Scout both find their lives in danger. However, Valent has a voice and nack for description all her own. Her scenes move quickly, and even if you're not a historical fiction fan you'll find yourself drawn in. People are people, whether it be 1932 or 2003. We all feel pain; we're all searching for meaning. And this becomes clearer as you turn the pages.

    The spirituality is never heavy-handed, being shown rather than told, for the most part. The Lassiters are practicing Christians, and they talk about that aspect of their lives like they would anything else. But even when Jessilyn's parents do share a spiritual insight with her or talk about Jesus it doesn't feel like a sermon. We're listening, too, and we glean their nuggets of wisdom.

    Fireflies in December is a tight, finely crafted novel that challenges us to root out any hint of prejudice in our own hearts, whether we're black or white, male or female, rich or poor. That's a message that'll stand the test of time.

    --Reviewed by C.J. Darlington for TitleTrakk

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fireflies in December
    I just finished one of the most delightful novels I have read in a long time. Jessilyn Lassister is a captivating 13 year old girl in the South in the early 1930's. Although this book is suited for all age groups I found as a woman in my sixties I had the joy of reliving that summer I turned 13 along with Jessie. Jennifer Valent invited the reader into the pages of the novel and as each page turned one could feel what Jessie felt, the heat, the emotions, etc. As other reviewers have mentioned it will cause you to search your own heart to check your prejudice level. It raised the question would you respond to Jessie's family decision the same way as the town or would you be more like Miss Cleta? I will be keeping my eye out for new books from Jennifer who has a real story telling gift.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible First Novel
    Color me "amazed." But I knew from the first word of this novel that I would be hooked until I read the last. I knew that my own writing would somehow take second place to the reading of someone else's. I knew I'd found a part of the South -- my own heritage -- that I stand proud in the shadow of and that causes me to hang my head in shame.

    I had a few questions along the way, however. For one, even though Gemma had no biological family left, why wouldn't someone of "color" come forward to take her in? While I understand why the "whites" in town were upset with the Lassiter's decision to raise Gemma, why weren't the "coloreds?" (Remember, I grew up in the South, too, and I know both sides of this card.)

    But even with the questions, I was reminded of my family heritage, rich in reaching across race lines. Many, many years ago my great uncle and great aunt "took in" a black child who was severely burned (my great-uncle was the physician who treated him) and whose family had rejected him because of his "pink" skin. NFL great George Rogers was practically a member of my 2nd cousins family. For those memories alone, this book was valuable to me.

    One other issue I had was that I was not fully aware of the era until about 1/3 way through the book. I may have missed the clues before that ... I began this book on an airplane with lots of little kids anxious to get to Disney! So, take that issue with a grain of salt.

    Bottom line: do I recommend this to other readers??? Only those I really, really like!!! :) I LOVE THIS BOOK! And I cannot wait to see what comes next from Jennifer Erin Valent!

    Eva Marie Everson
    Author: Things Left Unspoken: A Novel

    5-0 out of 5 stars I can't believe I got this book for free!
    Summers were always difficult as Jessilyn Lassiter tells us. The summer of 1932 would be no exception for her. She was thirteen that year when she ran head on into the Ku Klux Klan. To her horror, she discovered some were her friends and neighbors.

    Jessilyn and her family took in little black Gemma as her parents died in a fire that was caused by lightning. No one thought that such problems could arise by an act of kindness as the Klan attempts to drive the family and adopted child out of their small Virginia community.

    Jessilyn was convinced she killed one of the members one night as she stood on the family front porch defending the family with her father's shotgun. She knew she hit at least one member as she fired several shots in the air to try to scare them away.

    That summer became terrible for her as she lived with mixed feelings of guilt. She become even more confused with her thirteen year old mind as it threw jealousy and puppy love into the mix. She was falling in love with the hired farm hand who was not much older than herself.

    As with many thirteen year olds, Jessilyn found it difficult to express herself to her parents as she worked on becoming mature in her own ideas about life in the south in 1932.

    Jennifer has done an excellent job of putting the reader back into time and allowing us a taste of what the country felt like. I loved the way that she wrote in the deep southern language used then. The dialogue was fascinating to me. She consistently wrote this book well.

    I gave her five stars and would recommend it to many people for a variety of reasons. All age groups would enjoy it in my humble opinion.

    Good job Jennifer!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
    Jennifer Erin Valent's debut novel is excellent. Her finely crafted characters and storyline made this a hard one to put down. Young adults as well as grown women and men will enjoy this historical fiction journey to the depression era and the deep prejudice that marked it. Her hook grabs the reader and doesn't let go until the final page. Looking forward to her next novel. ... Read more

    8. Stuck in the Middle (Sister-to-Sister, Book 1)
    by Virginia Smith
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $6.99
    Asin: B001GMANO4
    Publisher: Revell
    Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    Joan Sanderson's life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement. That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal--to get a date. But it won't be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him and Joan is sure that she can't compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut.Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Virginia Smith lives up to her newly won title of Writer of the Year (Mount Herman Writer's Conference) in Stuck In The Middle
    Stuck In The Middle is an aptly named book revolving around Joan Sanderson--whose life has been put on hold while she looks out for her Grandma, who is wedged between sisters that Joan thinks are far more gregarious and personable than she is, and who is stuck in a superficial relationship with God. Stuck, that is, until a handsome, single doctor with an intensely personal relationship with God rents the house next-door and involuntarily drags Joan out of her rut.

    As Joan struggles to break free, the reader is blessed with the genuine interactions between sisters, and family as a whole that Smith has woven into the story line so well. The dialogue is strong and realistic, the situations true to life and sometimes quite comical, and Joan, though a dejected character in many ways, is likeable and one you cheer for right from the beginning.

    This alone would have made the book an enjoyable read, but Smith along with entertaining the reader reinforces the need for a personal relationship with God. She takes Joan, a Christian who has had a superficial relationship with God into discovering how to connect on a deeper level. Smith also does an excellent job of portraying the fear that Joan's sisters have of the kind of Christian Joan wants to become simply because they don't understand it.

    Stuck In The Middle is not different than many other Christian fiction titles in that is has a spiritual message, but often, that message is dealt with in heavy handed and stilted way. Not Stuck In The Middle. This is the sort of book that while you read it you find yourself pleasantly entertained, seriously not wanting to put the book down even when you should be doing other things, and in the end you are surprised when you come away with a strong spiritual message.

    Stuck In The Middle has something for everyone--romance, shopping, dating advice, sibling rivalry, family and spiritual relationships, and real life issues like caring for elderly family members all wrapped up in an entertaining package. Pick it up, today. You won't be disappointed.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Characters Sparkle in "Stuck in the Middle"
    Viginia Smith does it again in "Stuck in the Middle". Her characters are realistic, artfully crafted, and endearingly flawed (aren't we all?) and will pull you right into the story from page 1. Here's a warning, though -- don't give the book as a gift unless you're prepared for trouble. Now I have several friends calling to complain that they're chomping at the bit to read the next installment in the series. Please bring us book 2 soon!!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars very good
    Once I got going (only a few pages in) I read it in one day. I was laughing hysterically at parts, and love a good heart-warming message with God at the center. Sending it onto my sister - the interactions of the sisters were very real - I have 3 of them!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Moving story about one woman's quest to break free
    Stuck in the Middle by Virginia Smith is the story of Joan Sanderson and her boring, going-nowhere life. She's been dumped by her long time boyfriend, Roger the Rat, her older sister is pregnant, and her beautiful younger sister has a terrific job. Joan lives with her mother and grandmother, who is becoming increasingly fragile. When a hunky doctor moves in next door, Joan sees what she's been missing, but little sister Tori also wants him. This book is far more than just chick-lit. Joan feels alienated from everyone around her. Her father left her as a young teen, and she resents her mother for his departure. She can't relate to God, because she doesn't feel like He is reaching out to her, but when she hears a missionary speak at her church, she feels the need to know God personally. Joan is a Christian like so many; she believes in God and has faith; she attends church regularly and does all the right things. But she's not connected to Him and hasn't experienced His wonder, until some chocolate ice cream shows up at just the right moment. Joan realizes that she can't get things right with her mother, sisters, or even the cute doctor, until she makes things right with God, and that means examining things in her past. Joan is believable and sympathetic, her heartache shows on every page as she struggles to do what's right without really knowing what that is. Very often our relationship with God has been influenced by our relationship with our earthly father, and this book is an excellent lesson on how to break free from the bonds of the past and security to find God. ... Read more

    9. Dracula
    by Bram Stoker
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JQUBRM
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
    I have never read the novel "Dracula" but with it being absolutely free for my absolutely wonderful Kindle, I decided to give it a shot. The book is written entirely in correspondence from the characters; letters to each other, diary entries, telegrams, etc. While I did have to use my built-in Kindle dictionary many times with the big (or antiquated) words, the book flowed freely and was a surprisingly easy read. Certain scenes were downright chilling. What's truly amazing is Stoker's creation of such an incredible monster that has stood the test of time.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Full-Featured Critical Edition for Fans and Students.
    I'll comment on the features of the Norton Critical Edition of "Dracula", as reviews of the novel can be found elsewhere. The novel, itself, is reproduced from the 1897 British edition that was published by Archbald Constable and Company and is preceded by a short but useful Preface that discusses the contexts in which "Dracula" was written and received over a century ago. The text of the novel is amply footnoted. Not only are terms defined, but allusions are explained, and passages of particular interest are treated with some commentary. The footnotes are worthwhile, but easy to ignore if you prefer. I had reservations about the footnotes in the early chapters of the book. Too many of them referred to points later in the story, acting as minor spoilers. I found this stopped after the action moved to England, so it only applies to a small portion of the book. Following the text of the novel are sections on Contexts, Reviews and Reactions, Dramatic and Film Variations, and Criticism.

    "Contexts" includes some 19th century source material on vampires, Bram Stoker's working papers for the novel annotated by Christopher Frayling, and "Dracula's Guest", which was originally to be the novel's opening chapter, before Bram Stoker decided to situate the novel in Transylvania. The working papers are thoroughly uninteresting, and "Dracula's Guest" is not as chilling as the introduction that replaced it. "Reviews and Reactions" includes 5 reviews of the novel written shortly after it was published, in 1897 and in 1899, three of which are favorable.

    "Dramatic and Film Variations" contains an essay about "Dracula"'s theatrical adaptations, including a list of major plays, by David J. Skal, who wrote "Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen" and is one of this edition's editors. An essay by Gregory Waller discusses Tod Browning's 1931 film "Dracula". Editor Nina Auerbach gives "Dracula" a feminist reading in her essay about the later film adaptations of the novel: the Hammer films of the 1950s and 1960s and John Badham's 1979 film. There is also a list of major film adaptations.

    "Criticism" includes 7 essays that represent widely varying interpretations of Bram Stoker's novel, including Oedipal, Marxist, sexual, gender reversal, xenophobic, and homoerotic interpretations. These essays vary in quality a great deal. The best, in my view, are Christopher Craft's "Gender and Inversion" and Stephen D. Arata's "Reverse Colonization" essays. But, taken together, all of the essays give insight into "Dracula"s continuing -in fact, ever-growing- popularity. The novel can be interpreted through virtually any doctrine. There is a chronology of events in Bram Stoker's life at the end of the book.

    If you plan to purchase a copy of "Dracula", this Norton Critical Edition provides the most material for your buck and the best footnotes that I've seen in any edition currently in print.

    5-0 out of 5 stars For the dead travel fast
    "Dracula" was not the first vampire novel, nor was it Bram Stoker's first book. But he managed to craft the ultimate vampire novel, which has spawned countless movies, spinoffs, and books that follow the blueprint of the Transylvanian count. Eerie, horrifying and genuinely mysterious, "Dracula" is undoubtedly the most striking and unique vampire novel yet penned.

    Real estate agent Jonathan Harker arrives in Transylvania, to arrange a London house sale to Count Dracula. But as the days go by, Harker witnesses increasingly horrific events, leading him to believe that Dracula is not actually human. His fiancee Mina arrives in Transylvania, and finds that he has been feverish. Meanwhile the count has vanished -- along with countless boxes filled with dirt.

    And soon afterwards, strange things happen: a ship piloted by a dead man crashes on the shore, after a mysterious thing killed the crew. A lunatic talks about "Him" coming. And Mina's pal Lucy dies of mysterious blood loss, only to come back as an undead seductress. Dracula has arrived in England -- then the center of the Western world -- and intends to make it his own...

    "Dracula" is the grandaddy of Lestat and other elegantly alluring bloodsuckers, but that isn't the sole reason why this novel is a classic. It's also incredibly atmospheric, and very well-written. Not only is it very freaky, in an ornate Victorian style, but it is also full of restrained, quiet horror and creepy eroticism. What's more, it's shaped the portrayal of vampires in movies and books, even to this day.

    Despite already knowing what's going on for the first half of the book, it's actually kind of creepy to see these people whose lives are being disrupted by Dracula, but don't know about vampires. It's a bit tempting to yell "It's a vampire, you idiots!" every now and then, but you can't really blame them. Then the second half kicks in, with accented professor Van Helsing taking our heroes on a quest to save Mina from Dracula.

    And along the way, while our heroes try to figure stuff out, Stoker spins up all these creepy hints of Dracula's arrival. Though he wrote in the late 19th-century manner, very verbose and a bit stuffy, his skill shines through. The book is crammed with intense, evocative language, with moments like Dracula creeping down a wall, or the dead captain found tied to the wheel. Once read, they stick in your mind throughout the book.

    It's also a credit to Stoker that he keeps his characters from seeming like idiots or freaks, which they could have easily seemed like. Instead, he puts little moments of humanity in them, like Van Helsing admitting that his wife is in an asylum. Even the letters and diaries are written in different styles; for example, Seward's is restrained and analytical, while Mina's is exuberant and bright.

    Even Dracula himself is an overpowering presence despite his small amount of actual screen time, and not just as a vampire -- Stoker presents him as passionate, intense, malignant, and probably the smartest person in the entire book. If Van Helsing hadn't thwarted him, he probably would have taken over the world -- not the Victorian audience's ideal ending.

    This particular edition has been made to look almost exactly like the very first edition, down to the illusively-tattered dust jacket and distinctive title print. It also contains an early, gushing newspaper review -- as well as a couple short chapters from Dacre Stoker's forthcoming sequel, "Dracula the Un-Dead."

    The excerpts in question are rather different from Bram's work (third person narrative) and takes place a couple decades later. We're reintroduced to a beloved character who is now a morphine junkie haunted by the past and the Jack the Ripper cases. It also introduces a new vampiric figure from history, which can twist the plot in intriguing directions.

    Intelligent, frightening and very well-written, "Dracula" is the well-deserved godfather of all modern vampire books and movies -- and its unique villain still dwarfs the more recent undead.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Audio Performance
    If, by want or necessity, you need to listen to Bram Stoker's classic tale then this is, without question, the best version to purchase. While there are numerous other offerings of the nefarious Count (and as a Dracula aficionado I have heard many of them) none, in my opinion, come close to Brilliant Audio's production. The use of multiple professional voice actors is the key. While most audio readings are done with one person reading all the parts, male as well as female, Brilliance employed numerous actors and cast them exceptionally well. Sheila Hart's portrayal of Mina is particularly good. This is a performance - not just a verbatim reading. I have enjoyed this audio book more times than I care to mention, and never grow tired of it. I whole-heartedly recommend it to you, good reader.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Dracula
    My first book read on my new Kindle... I could not put it down! Beautifully written, most engaging, and a wonderful opportunity to use so many features of the Kindle. Thank you for making this classic story available at no charge.

    5-0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE BEST EDITIONS OF THE NOVEL
    Everything I've read in the Norton Critical Editions is always very good. It of course includes the text of the work, usually complete (Herodotus was an exception). But most useful is a selection of critical opinion over time so that the reader is able to compare his own evaluation with that of others. And it is amazing what a non-professional (like me, in the field of literature) misses and how professional critics can deepen understanding. But read the novel first, and then the critics.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Pioneer of Vampires
    I looved this book... in addition to being a very entertaining story, it lets you know the way people thought and behaved in that era. It helped me expand my vocabulary a little, too.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Bram Stoker's Dracula: A Parable For Our Times
    Book Groups of America, put down your Oprah choices, your Eat, Pray, and Love drivel, your watered elephants, and read Bram Stoker's Dracula. I wanted to read some long books before my book-a-day project begins and Dracula was on the list of recommended must-reads. My son's English teacher was right, everyone should read this book.

    I finished Dracula last night after midnight. WIth a shiver I went off to bed and I dreamt of mist coming in under doors, bats beating against windows, garlic flowers and golden crucifixes. This novel is a really great read and ten million times better than any movie version ever made. The novel is deep and dense and scarily engaging, with compelling characters, great atmosphere, and a plot that teases thrillingly; Evil approaches, then withdraws, moves forward and is then pushed back again, if only until the sun sets and enabling darkness again descends.

    The novel reads like the metaphor used often by its characters: a chess match. The match is between Evil (Count Dracula and his lovely undead) and Good (Mina and Jonathan Harker, Dr. Seward, Professor Van Helsing, Lord Godalming and the brave American, Quincey Morris); the pawns include the lunatic Renfield and the lovely and beloved virgin Lucy Westerna, as well as many other minor characters dragged nefariously into Dracula's plot to infiltrate London.

    Clearly the novel is about temptations of the Devil being finally vanquished by the deep and intensely held faith of the righteous in their God: eternal life as offered by Count Dracula is spurned in favor of eternal paradise as offered by God.

    But the novel is also an appropriate, and apropos, parable about greed. Count Dracula is not satisfied with living only one life; he wants to live the durations of a hundreds of lives. His greed grows and grows, and he feeds on the blood of the oppressed to further power his driving ambition. Greed begets greed and Evil begets evil. There is no end in sight until the forces of Good combine their faculties of intelligence, observation, and action to overcome the Evil and save the world from greed gone wild. As a political commentary, Dracula is frighteningly astute (and makes a sound argument for a much-needed third party in this country, the intelligent, observant reformer party).

    Each character in the novel is well-defined and individually presented, each character grows and changes through the course of the novel; there is no stereotyping or predictability (even in Count Dracula). The heroine, Mina Parker, is viewed by the other characters through the lens of sexism but she is presented by Bram Stoker as intelligent, tenacious, and brave; she is never hysterically brave or mother-protecting-her-young brave, as so many movies and novels portray female bravery, but is wisely and timely brave.

    The plot moves forward through letters, journal entries, and stenographic recordings, all from the point of view of the various forces of Good; our unease grows into fear as we catch clues that our braver heroes miss. I stayed up way too late to reassure myself that in the end the clues were caught, interpreted, and used to solve the mystery of where and how to catch the vampire villain. Count Dracula is finally brought down (I don't think I'm ruining it for anyone) through such diverse means as hypnotism, detailed knowledge of train schedules, buying of drinks for information (tipping for tippling), and of course, garlic, the sacred communial wafer, golden crucifixes, and the stake through the heart. There are also plenty of wolves, bats, mists, spiders, superstitious (quite rightly so) Roumanians, and long moon-lit nights.

    Read this book. For more great book recommendations, visit ... Read more

    10. Invisible (Ivy Malone Mystery Series #1)
    by Lorena McCourtney
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $12.99
    Asin: B002B3YBZO
    Publisher: Fleming H. Revell
    Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    She's not your average crime fighter!Ivy Malone has a curiosity that sometimes gets her into trouble, and it's only aggravated by her discovery that she can easily escape the public eye. So when vandals romp through the local cemetery, she takes advantage of her newfound anonymity and its unforeseen advantages as she launches her own unofficial investigation.Despite her oddball humor and unconventional snooping, Ivy soon becomes discouraged by her failure to turn up any solid clues. And after Ivy witnesses something ominous and unexplained, she can't resist putting her investigative powers to work again. Even the authorities' attempts to keep Ivy out of danger and her nosy neighbor's match-making schemes can't slow her down. But will the determination that fuels this persistent, quirky sleuth threaten her very safety?"I laughed out loud. McCourtney's charming mystery debuts a voice both enchanting and startling."-Colleen Coble, author of Without a Trace"McCourtney's skill at blending whimsy, quirks, and questions into a lead character makes Invisible a must read."-Lois Richer, author of Dangerous Sanctuary"Invisible is a treat! Ivy Malone is a heroine with spunk and determination!"-Carol Cox, author of A Stitch in Time ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars A light mystery book with a heaping helping of religious sauce
    "I'll just read the first few pages."

    Or so I thought as I began Chapter One of INVISIBLE at 11:30 PM on a Tuesday night. But I hadn't figured the heroine-spunky Ivy Malone-or her humor-laced story, into my plans.

    Four hours later, I was reading the last lines of the book through gritty, but determined eyes, wishing very much that I could claim Ivy Malone as my grandmother, or at least my next-door neighbor.

    To say this book is delightful is hardly sufficient. Written from a first person point of view, which is a different voice from McCourtney's past offerings, INVISIBLE is an absolute triumph. Wit and wisdom, pathos and perseverance, and downright eccentricity flow from Ivy's first vision of Nixon in her tomato patch, to her race with flying bullets, really bad bad guys, and the Hound of the Baskervilles in a grungy auto wrecking yard.

    And while the tone of the story is humorous from start to finish, a number of deep questions are also addressed. Questions about the goodness and reality of God in the face of death, loss, and injury. Questions about what's right and what's wrong when justice must be served. Questions about where and how to belong in a world that seems to have forgotten you, or perhaps never noticed you in the first place.

    In Ivy Malone, readers will find a combination of wacky humor, endearing stubbornness, and unconventional sincerity. In Ivy's story, readers will slink through torn up gravesites, take a dive inside a murdered woman's closet, and watch the stars with a cute guy named Mac. And that's just the beginning!

    INVISIBLE is a wild and highly entertaining ride from the first chapter to the last word.

    I can't wait for the release of the sequel, IN PLAIN SIGHT, where I'm sure Ivy, and her big white Thunderbird, will cruise into more mayhem, mischief, and maybe even some good old fashioned romance.

    Ivy, you go girl:)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A romping good mystery.
    Ivy Malone, a spunky, grey-haired widow, realizes the world is passing her by, leaving her unnoticed and invisible. She, however, has no intention of silently growing old and passing away.

    Deciding to put this newfound inconspicuousness to good use, she determines to snare some local vandals, who have been violating the cemetery. Little does she know that there are more forces at work than mere vandalism. Throw in the murder of a neighbor and soon danger is knocking at Ivy's door as well. Will Ivy's snooping land her in trouble too deep for her to handle? Or will the resourceful Ivy Malone be clever and "invisible" enough to not only save herself, but apprehend the bad guys, as well?

    There's nothing invisible about McCourtney's irresistible humor, clever story-crafting, or delightful characters. After having read Invisible, one can't help but hope that this new series will be a long one. A romping good mystery.

    Craig Hart - Magazine

    5-0 out of 5 stars McCourtney is a skillful writer
    Lorena McCourtney is a writer of romance and mysteries. Hailing from the State of Oregon, she and her husband love the outdoors. She graduated with a degree in agriculture from Washington State University. She is a woman of faith and has dedicated her later books to Christian values.

    Ivy Malone has just lost her best friend, Thea. Thea rented part of her home to a beautiful and circumspect woman who went by the name of Kendra Alexander. Just as Ivy is feeling like a LOL (Little Old Lady) who is invisible to most people, circumstances conspire to change her life. A country cemetery is vandalized, and when the short-handed police haven't the resources to investigate, Ivy engages in nocturnal sleuthing. But then Kendra's apparent disappearance sharpens her naturally inquisitive mind, and when Kendra's murdered corpse is discovered in a nearby river, Ivy goes into action:

    "Well, I was here to investigate. The circumstances did not appear to be ideal, but I figured I may as well start investigating. I pulled my photo of the person

    I knew as Kendra out of my purse. 'Do you know this young woman?'

    'The woman shook her head. 'Who is she?'

    'Possibly a friend of Kendra's.' I brought out the photocopy of the young man's photo. 'What about him?'

    Another shake of the head. 'What's this all about?'"

    For a woman who is on Social Security, Ivy Malone has guts. She also has a wry sense of humor, attracts fellow senior males easily, and isn't afraid to launch herself into dangerous, and at times, hilarious situations. She is constantly mindful of her faith, which could interfere with the story but doesn't. She is an inspiration to those around her, and it could be a sign of the times that even older women refuse to be shunted aside.

    INVISIBLE is an entertaining mystery which is a whodunit, as well as a "who does this corpse belong to?" McCourtney is a skillful writer with definite ideas and an inventive mind. It is no surprise that she is a popular author. INVISIBLE is lots of fun!

    Shelley Glodowski
    Senior Reviewer

    5-0 out of 5 stars Alot better than I thought it would be...
    As a senior citizen most of the time society pays you little attention; to most elderly people this is peaceful, but to some like Ivy Malone, it is a great advantage to get want she wants. In Ms. Malone's case, it's useful for going unnoticed (hence the title "Invisible") during any of her investigations. So when a local cemetery where her aunt and uncle are buried is found vandalized, she plans to avenge her relatives and decides to spring into action.
    Thea, the next door neighbor and best friend of Ivy Malone has just died. Before she went she rented part of her home to a young lady by the name of Kendra Alexander. During this time Ivy feels as though everyone in the world is passing by her, or as if she really has no importance in life. However, as soon as she learns of the police deciding not to investigate a local cemetery being vandalized she feels a great breath of inspiration and starts taking action by herself. Soon the investigation seems to get more and more dangerous for Ivy Malone, as shortly after deciding to take the case young Kendra Alexander is reported missing and eventually found murdered in a nearby river. Using her "invisible" status, Ivy Malone does some great sleuthing until she eventually finds the vandals and they are apprehended by the police.
    There are many things that make Invisible good book. One of them is the fact that although it's a mystery, it uses a humorous tone all throughout. So not only are you pulled in by the captivating tale of the mystery, but also by the comedy that will keep you even more entertained. In addition to those reasons, the book also discusses deep topics on things such as religion and about where you belong in society. I would recommend Invisible to anyone willing to have a good read.

    Lorena McCourtney does a good job of implementing comedy into her mystery. This comedy keeps the reader entertained while also making the reader anxious to continue to get a good laugh. Some examples of this humor are when she finds the Hound of the Baskervilles in a junk yard, when she envisions Nixon in a tomato patch, and when she has a race with flying bullets. The humorous tone of the book made me really enjoy it.
    Ironically, a humorous tone is not the only thing included in Invisible, but also deep topics that make you think. For example, one deep topic is when Ivy Malone feels as though she is no longer important to society because she is an elderly lady. Is that necessarily true or not? Another is during the book, Ivy Malone still continues to praise God although all these bad things start happening in her life. Some people always speculate if there is a god then why do bad things happen to good people, and this shows another case of that. This attribute of the book makes it more versatile and attracts an even wider audience than the usual mystery and comedy fans.
    The main reason I liked this book is because of the story of the mystery itself. I thought it was pretty cool how the author used Ivy Malone's old age as a way to go unnoticed through her investigations. I also liked how the motivation for the protagonist is set up, by having her uncle's and aunt's tombstones vandalized and her feeling inspired and vengeful.

    Invisible uses a good mix of humor, mystery, and description that keeps the reader interested. In addition, it discusses deep topics that include religious beliefs and the difference between right and wrong. Overall, Lorena McCourtney's book is a well rounded mystery, while also incorporating in other genres such as comedy and religious writing to make it even more interesting and better.

    (...) ... Read more

    11. Treasure Island
    by Robert Louis Stevenson
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JML7EC
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum!
    Treasure Island is perhaps THE classic pirate's tale. Robert Louis Stevenson, the author, created a rich story of adventure and treachery on the high seas all seen through the eyes of a boy named Jim Hawkins. Jim starts off as the son of tavern owners in a humble little port village. When an old seaman stays at the tavern, trouble soon follows him in the form of a pirate crew seeking revenge. I will not give away any more specific plot points, but events move forward to a great treasure hunt, treachery, and a surprisingly engaging story for adults as well as children.

    Jim Hawkins is the hero of the story and he's a good lad with a stout heart. Long John Silver is the real star, however, and his character is a fascinating character study in moral ambiguity... or perhaps a study in amoral perfection. The pirate language is good and thick but this edition has plenty of notes to help you decipher some of the references that have become too obscure for today's readers. The plot moves along very briskly with no wasted scenes.

    In short, Treasure Island well deserves its status as a beloved classic. It's a story of suspense and adventure that can be enjoyed at a child's level, but has substance for adults as well. I would recommend without reserve it to virtually anyone.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Yow!!!
    How can you even review the ultimate pirate book of all time? I read it when I was 9 and loved it. I read it again when I was 34 and loved it again! (Actually, I read it several times between, as well.) Long John Silver is arguably one of the most Macchiavellian characters you will ever find between the covers of a book. (I'm mainly reviewing it to raise the average rating. Anyone who thinks this book is boring has to have a screw loose!) From the arrival of the mysterious Billy Bones, to the attack on the inn, to the sea voyage, to the mutiny, to the battle for the island, to the treasure hunt, even to the final fate of John Silver, this book is a stunning rollercoaster of suspense and adventure! I'd give it ten stars if I could.

    Here's a bit of information you other readers might enjoy: the meaning of the pirates' song--

    Fifteen men on a dead man's chest Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

    The real-life pirate, Edward Teach (Blackbeard the Pirate) once marooned 15 of his men on a small island named Dead Man's Chest. He put them ashore with no weapons, equipment or supplies--just a bottle of rum.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Adventure! Mutiny! Pirates! Treasure!
    All four things mentioned above can be found at your fingertips with Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island." Before Johnny Depp stumbled off of the Black Pearl, before Errol Flynn took us on swashbuckling journeys, and even before "Lucky" Jack Aubrey took to the water, Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins thrilled fans of high-seas adventure. "Treasure Island" tells the story of one young Jim Hawkins. It starts off in the simple setting of a family-owned inn where we are introduced to Billy Bones, an old seadog who has a secret. After a couple of visits from some strange characters, a confrontation occurs and a treasure map lands into the hands of Hawkins. From there, we set sail on the Hispaniola with Hawkins, the squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesey, the sea cook Silver, and a whole slew of pirates and scoundrels in general. All are after the treasure of Captain Flint, who graciously marked his treasure map with an "X" to show the way to the riches.

    This is a wonderful tale of intrigue, double-crossing, greed, and swordplay. Promoted as a children's book, I'm sure that any adult will find this story captivating as well. Robert Louis Stevenson is a literary legend and deserves that honor based on this book alone. However, if you read this book and are interested to read more of Stevenson's work, check out "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," "Kidnapped," and "The Black Arrow." He also wrote a number of traveling books which are also fun to read.

    Highly recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Tops the Stiffest Yarn to Nothing!
    I had already tried reading my copy of this book when I was far younger, but I was not as avid a reader as I am these days. Recently, parted from my copy, I picked up an old nondescript hardcover of Treasure Island at the library to complete the book in its entirety.

    I found the first half of the book highly enjoyable, one that I recalled warmly as I re-read it. But as the book progressed, I was astounded at how difficult the reading was becoming; the pirate slang and their use of strange metaphors obviously grew proportionate to the amount of pirates in the scene. In one of the few moments of humor, the hero Hawkins even says, "`Well,' I said, `I don't understand one word that you've been saying. But that's neither here nor there[...].'" The dialects makes the book that much more realistic; in my mind, however, I wonder if children reading this book fully comprehend it, or were they simply smarter in the 19th century? After spoiling myself with easy modern thrillers, I had to hunker down and really concentrate my efforts in trying to understand the subtext. The rough slang slowed my reading down greatly, but increased my enjoyment. And, of course, having finally completed the book and knowing the true story, my re-read in a few years will be thrice as good!

    In 1881, while vacationing in Scotland, Stevenson painted an island with his stepson which became the inspiration for the novel. He soon wrote 15 chapters, and completed the rest in Switzerland at the rate of one chapter a day. It was finally published as an entire novel in 1883.

    Stevenson throws together goods that have become legendary in pirate lore: Pirates with fantastic names, like Captain Flint, Billy Bones, Black Dog, Pew, Israel Hands (based on the real-life member of Blackbeard's crew), and the now-infamous Long John Silver, himself with a parrot on his shoulder; a single treasure map that has three red crosses (designating two piles of treasure, one pile of arms); a beautiful schooner that's put through its paces; a 23 member crew (excluding Jim Hawkins, Doctor Livesey, and Squire Trelawney), most of whom become gentlemen of fortune; mutiny; double-crosses; the shanty "15 men on a Dead Man's chest/Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum"; the notorious Jolly Roger; spirits, superstition, and lore; and even a skeleton or two.

    Treasure Island actually refers to the fictitious Skeleton Island---perhaps an inspiration for the children's book The Secret of Skeleton Island (1966)---, a sweltering jungle in the day and eerily submerged in mists in the early mornings. A strange coincidence I found led me to some interesting finds. Stevenson named an anchorage point after the pirate Captain Kidd. In 1935, Harold T. Wilkins published a book entitled "New Facts about Mysterious Captain Kidd and his Skeleton Island Chests," in which can be found one of Kidd's treasure maps. Two years after Wilkins's book was published a treasure hunter found an uncanny resemblance between this "Skeleton Island" and Oak Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. Oak Island's impervious Water Pit is purportedly where Captain Kidd buried part of his treasure before being hanged in 1701 (the Pit is also the main inspiration for the 1998 novel Riptide). In a twist worthy of Robinson himself, despite Kidd's map uncovering some of Oak Island's mysteries, Wilkins eventually stepped forward to admit his maps were fabricated. But was Stevenson alluding to Kidd's connection with Oak Island?

    Treasure Island is an adventurous classic I heartily recommend anyone to read. I personally advocate reading the book if you're older, or re-reading it, to fully enjoy the environment created through the striking language. A fantastic aid in understanding pirate slang is the online Encyclopaedia Piratica. While you're at it, go to any map engine and plug in the latitude and longitude found at the end of Chapter 6, "The Captain's Papers," to see where Billy Bones claimed booty!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
    I am dumbfounded by the reviews that my peers have given Treasure Island. This book is a masterpiece of children's literature. It has everything one could hope for: action, intrigue, pirates, buried treasure... What more does it need? I, too, read the novel for my class, but it did not put me to sleep at all. Instead I couldn't put it down and had to read by flashlight after my Mom made me turn out my lights. It was incredible. Long John Silver is a creepy guy! As for the other reviewers who are my age, I hope you adults do not judge my generation by their ignorance and unwillingness to accept anything without man eating dinosurs. Treasure Island is an excellent novel.

    5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best novels ever written.
    Simply put, this is an excellent book! I didn't read it until I was 37, but it was worth the wait. I certainly would not classify this as a children's book at all. In fact, I strongly suspect that the few negetive reviews this book has received here have been due to children being forced to read it in school. My view is if you force a child to read anything, he's going to hate it. The fact that the book was written over a hundred years ago, when people talked very differently than they do today, and novels were written very differently also, spells disaster for anyone expecting a child to understand it, let alone like it. That aside, this is still a wonderful book full of adventure with descriptions that are vivid only if you have a vast vocabulary. If you can get through the first chapter, it gets easier and it's definately worth the time and effort to read. I loved it and plan to read it again very soon. Do yourself a favor and ignore any negetive comments you've seen about this great book. Read it and then judge for yourself.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Adventure, excitement, and suspense all rolled into one!
    Brimming with danger, suspense, excitement, and adventure, Treasure Island relates the story (in first-person) of Jim Hawkins as he journeys with his good friends, the doctor and squire, in search of buried treasure. He overhears the crew's plans of mutiny, headed by the polite, one-legged "gentleman," Long John Silver, and is plunged into a world of treachery. The characterization is beautiful: the doctor, shrewd and kind; the squire, fiery and outspoken; Jim Hawkins, quick and intelligent; the crew, sly and devious; and Long John Silver, so unsuspectingly polite, so wickedly sly... A must-read! (BTW, I am 13-years-old.)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Arrrr....a fine book, me hearties
    RL Stevenson was born in 1850, and died in 1894. "Treasure Island" was first published in 1883, though was originally written for the amusement of Stevenson's stepson, Lloyd Osbourne.

    Set in the 1700s, the book's hero is Jim Hawkins. Jim is, apparently, an only child whose parents run the Admiral Benbow - a quiet inn, though with a good reputation, not far from Bristol. His troubles begin with the arrival of a mysterious sailor - a rather intimidating, poorly dressed and generally filthy character, though not one who was short of money. He's reluctant to give his name, though claims to hold the rank of captain, and he generally says little. However, occasionally his tongue is loosened a little by his fondness for rum - upon which he would either burst into song or tell the most terrifying stories. At the mysterious sailor's request, meanwhile, Jim keeps an eye out for another salty old sea dog the nameless captain seems keen to avoid : the unwanted visitor's most notable feature is his one leg.

    Things change with the arrival of an even nastier sailor named Black Dog. He's obviously acquainted with the Admiral Benbow's resident sailor - whose name, Billy Bones, is soon revealed - though they're not on the best of terms. Things turn nasty, one thing leads to another and before you can say "oh, arrr", Billy has died of a stroke. Jim and his mother quickly rifle Billy's sea chest - he'd left a substantial bar bill, and Mrs Hawkins meant to collect payment - though among his possessions they also find a mysterious sealed packet. When eventually opened, the packet proves to hold treasure map of a notorious pirate called Captain Flint. Shortly afterwards, Jim joins Squire Trelawney and Dr Livesey on a mission to retrieve the treasure. Unfortunately, their ship proves to be manned by a crew of treacherous pirates - including the one-legged Long John Silver...

    A very easily read, fast-moving and enjoyable book - and one that (presumably) has had a huge impact on how we still see pirates : lots of songs about rum (naturally with a few yo-ho-hos thrown in), treasure maps where X marks the spot and one-legged salty old sea dogs with parrots that scream "pieces of eight". Highly recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Accept No Substitutes!
    Giving Treasure Island five stars is like declaring Helen of Troy homecoming queen. It's too little,too late. This is the classic tale of pirates. Its' themes have been worked and worked again,but it remains untouched. Stevenson is a master storyteller at the top of his form. From beginning to end the plot never lags,and the characters possess a richness and depth rare in an adventure story. Every reader of English ought to make their acquaintance--Jim Hawkins,Billy Bones,Old Pew,Silver,and the rest--at some time in his life,preferably when he is young,and his heart still believes it can find that treasure. Treasure Island has been francised,moppetized,filmed,and abridged,but never bettered. Accept no substitues! Read the entire book. There is plenty here for children and adults. Like all great literature,it works on more than one level. Dominating the whole Story is the figure of Long John Silver. As his name implies he has a lunar quality. He is attractive,facinating,powerful,but with a dark side. Again,he is murdering,lying,and infinitly self-seeking,yet like Jim we cannot help liking him and wanting him to like us. At this level Treasure Island is a study in criminality that asks: Why is it that the best,the most full of natural power, often turn their gifts to evil? And why do we find evil so attractive? A word about editions. There are many,but by far the best is the hardcover featuring the illustrations of N.C. Wyeth. No one has succeeded as he has in capturing the spirit of the tale. If you are looking for a cheaper paperback edition that won't blind you with cramped layout, or ruin the whole experience with goofy illustratons,choose the Puffin Classic. It's unabridged,sturdy,and features a beautiful cover illustration. ... Read more

    12. Edgar Allan Poe's Complete Poetical Works
    by Edgar Allan Poe
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JMKW4S
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Free, but possibly not worth it, December 25, 2009
    I can't complain too much about free content, however, the format makes it almost not worth the time trying to decipher the titles and actually get to the poems. The contents contains no links to individual poems so you have to page through the entire volume to get where you want to go. Additionally, none of the poem titles that are listed in the contents are separated by punctuation; they read as one long continuous line of text, which needless to say, is unacceptable. Very poor presentation overall.

    1-0 out of 5 stars 2393 pages and no table of contents? Really?!, February 12, 2010
    How are you expected to get to what you want without a table of contents?! It is tedious to find the poem or story you want. You can book mark it, but you have no way of naming what you bookmarked so you are left with whatever excerpt of the top of the page you marked. Meaning that if you bookmarked The Raven, the excerpt was whatever poem finished at the top of the page since The Raven starts in the middle.

    1-0 out of 5 stars terrible layout for an e-book, June 20, 2009
    Zero formatting for the poetry. The Raven was presented as prose. Spend a dollar and get it done right.

    5-0 out of 5 stars My table of contents works....LOVE THIS BOOK, November 7, 2010
    Bought this book at the amazing price of free....well worth it. Was first concerned that I would have to page through the entire book to get what I wanted...however, my table of contents worked on my Kindle (newest generation). I noticed that after I selected the topic (i.e. poems, stories, essays, etc) I have to click the next page button and then a list of clickable titles showed up. Works and reads great on mine. :) Glad I went with this version.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Worth everything I paid for!, March 17, 2010
    OK, so it was free. I usually like things that are free, but in this case, it was a total waste. This electronic edition has no organization and no formatting. Difficult if not impossible to read, certainly not something you would sit down and enjoy.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Nice Book of classics, December 24, 2009
    What can I say, the formatting isn't that great and reading it on my gray low contrast kindle isn't the most fun, but this is a wonderful collection of stories.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Poe is a Master of Story-telling, December 16, 2010
    This version of Poe's work does not have a table of contents and thus makes it difficult to navigate through, however, it's free and Poe is a great writer so I guess the price is right. I would download it and read it as an introduction to his work if you are not familiar with it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars LOVE Poe, December 23, 2010
    This stuff never gets old. Incredible artist. I love that these are classics are available for Kindle free on Amazon. That is primarily why I bought the kindle for my son--to give him a fun new way to get all of the timeless classics. Thanks Amazon

    3-0 out of 5 stars Was ok but could be better, November 1, 2010
    Don't get me wrong, Edgar Allan Poe is a fantastic writer. I think this book could have had a better layout. It is still the same wonderful poems but that is the only reason i would give it three stars, for the poetry. It is a good thing it was free...

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Body of Work, October 24, 2010
    I love the imagery Poe conjurs. I love the dark psychological revelations experienced by the characters. Dark, intelligent, and at times underrated. Poe is probably one of the best poets/writers from his time. Died way too soon. His body of work is a must have for anyone interested in classic and intelligent literature. The same things that drew me to the Twilight Zone series, also draws me to Poe's work. They both use their respective mediums to showcase human nature in an abstract way. His writings depicted very real characters and subjects, at times dark but always cleverly written. Some of classic literature from this time seemed a bit dry and unwelcoming, Poe's work in contrast tends to dare you to take the first step into unfamiliar territory, knowing that the journey will both enrich and challenge the reader. For anyone either new to Poe's work or simply looking for something new and challenging to read, I'd recommend this. ... Read more

    13. A Tale of Two Cities
    by Charles Dickens
    Kindle Edition

    Asin: B004EHZXVQ
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... These well-known and loved lines begin Dickens's most exciting novel, set during the bloodiest moments of the French Revolution. When former aristocrat Charles Darnay learns that an old family servant needs his help, he abandons his safe haven in England and returns to Paris. But once there, the Revolutionary authorities arrest him not for anything he has done, but for his rich family's crimes. Also in danger: his wife, Lucie, their young daughter, and her aged father, who have followed him across the Channel.

    This is Dickens’s only novel that lacks comic relief, and one of only two that are not set in nineteenth-century England. It is also unusual in lacking a primary central character. London and Paris are the real protagonists in this tale, much as the cathedral was the 'hero' of Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris.

    A Charles Dickens Timeline

    1812Born February 7 in Portsmouth, England
    1824His father John sent to Marshalsea Debtor's Prison for a debt of £40 and 10 shillings

    Began working 10-hour days in shoe-polish warehouse to help support family
    1833First story, "A Dinner at Poplar Walk," appeared in the Monthly Magazine
    1836First book, Sketches by Boz, collected his early journalism and stories

    First novel, The Pickwick Papers, began its monthly serialization

    Married Catherine Hogarth
    1837-39Oliver Twist appeared in monthly installments
    1838-39Nicholas Nickleby serialized
    1840-41The Old Curiosity Shop
    1841Barnaby Rudge
    1842American Notes, based on his tour that year of the United States
    1843The Christmas Carol, the first of his "Christmas tales"
    1843-44Martin Chuzzlewit
    1846-48Dombey and Son
    1849-50David Copperfield
    1852-53Bleak House
    1854Hard Times
    1855-57Little Dorrit
    1857Met actress Ellen Ternan, his longtime companion
    1858Separated from his wife, Catherine
    1859A Tale of Two Cities
    1860-61Great Expectations
    1864-65Our Mutual Friend
    1867-68Second tour of America
    1868-69Farewell reading tour of the British Isles
    1870The Mystery of Edwin Drood (unfinished)

    Died from a stroke on June 9

    1 ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars An Eighth Grader reviews A Tale of Two Cities
    This book is incredible. I read it last year (in eighth grade), and I love it. I love Charles Dickens' language and style. Whoever is reading this may have little or no respect for my opinions, thinking that I am to young to comprehend the greatness of the plot and language, and I admit that I probably do not completely appreciate this classic piece of literature. I do read above a 12th grade level, although that doesn't count for a whole lot. It took me a while to get into this book. In fact, I dreaded reading it for a long time. But nearer to the end, I was drawn in by the poignant figure of a jackal, Sydney Carton. In his story I became enthralled with this book, especially his pitiful life. After I read and cried at Carton's transformation from an ignoble jackal to the noblest of persons, I was able to look back over the parts of the book that I had not appreciated, and realize how truly awesome they are. I learned to appreciate all of the characters, from Lucy Manette to Madame Defarge. I also was affected by all of the symbolism involved with both the French Revolution, and the nature of sinful man, no matter what the time or place. My pitiful review could never do justice to this great book, please don't be discouraged by my inability.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Turbulent times in London and Paris
    The period from 1775 - the outbreak of the American Revolution - to 1789 - the storming of the Bastille - is the turbulent setting of this uncharacteristic Dickens novel. It is his only novel that lacks comic relief, is one of only two that are not set in nineteenth-century England and is also unusual in lacking a primary central character. London and Paris are the real protagonists in this tale, much as the cathedral was the 'hero' of Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris. Dickens was writing at a time of great turmoil in his personal life, having just separated from his wife, and no doubt the revolutionary theme was in tune with his mental state.

    The result is a complex, involving plot with some of the best narrative writing to be found anywhere, and the recreation of revolutionary Paris is very convincing. The device of having two characters that look identical may seem hackneyed to modern readers, but it is here employed with greater plausibility than in Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson or Collins's The Woman in White.

    Dickens was inspired to write this story by reading Carlyle's newly published history of the French Revolution. Those events and their aftermath stood in relation to their time much as World Wars I and II do to ours, that is, fading from living memory into history, yet their legacy still very much with us. In many nineteenth-century novels, especially Russian and British works, you get a sense of unease among the aristocracy that the revolution will spread to their own back yard. In the case of Russia, of course, it eventually did.

    I have often recommended A Tale of Two Cities as a good introduction to Dickens for younger readers. This is based on my own experiences, because it was a set book in my English Literature class when I was 15 and I remember thoroughly enjoying it. Yes, it is challenging, with its somewhat archaic language and its slow development, but you cannot progress to an enjoyment of great literature without being challenged.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome - my favorite Dicken's novel!
    I like all of Dicken's work because of his ability to bring a place and period to life as well as his gift for creating round characters that seem like real people you can reach out and touch. This novel certainly represents these qualities, but has a dark quality with no type of comic relief. It is intense and it captures the psychological and emotional climate of the the French revolution in a visceral way.

    This novel which parallels the rise of the French revolution, compares and contrasts life in two cities Paris and London. It also develops a very intricate plot that is difficult to follow if one does not read steadily. In other words, it's not a light plot that you can set down for a few days and pick back up. On the other hand, it's extremely engaging and you won't want to put it down.

    When I read it, I actually bought the Cliff's notes because I needed to set the book down for a few days at a time. When I picked it up again, I found the Cliff's notes useful to help me engage again without a lot of looking back through the book for all the twists and turns in the plot and lives of the characters.

    This is a great novel in every respect, but it is not a happy one. It captures the harsh reality of the French Revolution in deep way. If you are studying the French Revolution, I would say it's a must read to truly get the spirit of what was going on. I don't believe history books can do it justice, you need the inside view which this provides.

    Lastly, if you are simply enjoy a good story, you will like this. Don't expect a "everyone lived happily ever" type ending, however. This is heavy stuff, almost in the spirit of a Russian existentialist novel.

    5-0 out of 5 stars One for the ages...
    19th-century literature was less concerned with plausibility than literature of a later day. Thus, as characters are unmasked and their secret connections laid bare, the 21st-century reader may find the plot too convenient. A Tale of Two Cities is no different. Should one possess the capacity to look beyond this, however, one would find that Dickens has masterfully captured the bloodlust of the French Revolution from the both the bourgeoisie and plebeian views.

    One family must face the barbarous, slaughtering revolutionary mob to save a former aristocrat. The villains are supremely villainous, the hero supremely heroic. Dickens captures the squalor of backstreet Paris, the murderous obsession of its citizens, and the utter helplessness of it's erstwhile elite. It is all tied in a bundle too convenient, but suspension of belief is no hardship given the strength of the story told. A Tale of Two Cities is at one time a history lesson and a powerful literary achievement. It is, as such, required reading and easily merits 5 stars.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable
    This book will forever be one of my favorites. Charles Dickens, in this book more than any of his others, twists and sews the plot in circles, keeping the reader in suspense and a state of unknowing--all while the tension continues to build to a climax.

    This is a story of so many topics. While the simple poor find themselves in a revolution attempting to oust the aristocracy for their wealth and luxury in a time of so little, Dickens focuses on the struggle of one man and his beloved friends trying to stay alive. And in their attempt, tales of utter hatred and cruelty take place at the hands of both sides of the Revolution, with the plot stuck between the two. Forgiveness, sacrifice, devotion....the novel strikes upon so many human emotions.

    And the ending--the ending you will never forget. It will impact and inspire you. Dickens has a beautiful style of writing for audiences. Reading the words at face value tells a terrific story. But Dickens always has a second or third meaning to them all. In this story he comments upon humanity itself, and in that way, we can all learn something of ourselves.

    I highly recommend this novel. Wow.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Tale of Two Cities paints a beautiful while dark story of the French Revolution
    A Tale of Two Cities paints a beautiful while dark story of the French Revolution and how it affects an English family. It is, by all standards, a classic. Yet, if you decide to read it and are younger than a high school senior, I suggest reading it with a good dictionary by your side. It is written in the English of over one-hundred years ago and so I would also recommend a version that includes notes on what certain phrases mean as well as a guide to the allusions used in the story. I am not recommending the abridged version, though. Reading it as it was written gives a much different experience that seems more genuine. The copy of the novel that I read was published by Pocket Books and includes explanatory notes and more which I found very helpful.
    As I read I saw examples where Dickens (the author), implied satirical messages and themes relevant to the time when the book was written. Then, the situation in England resembled pre-Revolution France. Also, 1848, was known as the "Year of Revolutions". He may have been trying to discourage revolution and encourage solutions through political change, not violence. Dickens also implied, through his words, that a revolution could happen anywhere, even in England. He encouraged his message frequently but it never got old and wasn't monotonous. By using a variety of different situations, Dickens kept his message in the reader's mind. For example, at a burial of a spy in England, a mob forms and turns the burial into show of irreverent mourning and violence. He is implying that under the right conditions any group of people can turn into a violent mob. He also writes that history will repeat itself under the same circumstances. This message would have been very pertinent at the time. These messages about the state and flaws of society were frequent but were well integrated into the story. Many were fun to read due to Dickens' good use of satire and humor.
    One complaint that many historians, literary critics, and others have had about A Tale of Two Cities is that the characters and depiction of the social classes are too unrealistic. I, too, thought that some of the characters were somewhat unrealistic, yet I don't believe that Dickens made them that way without reason. One example is in a moment with a member the French aristocracy. While riding at breakneck speed through downtown Paris, this noble's carriage hits and kills a child. In response, he turns to the grieving father and coolly tosses him a gold piece and drives off. I saw this action as very unrealistic, but this isn't supposed to be literal. This noble's action is part of his characterization that is just supposed to show that he is very cold. It is also supposed to symbolize the oppression of the peasants by the aristocracy. The lower class had been oppressed for so long and Dickens sums up their oppression through this one noble's action. Still, some of the characters' actions are unrealistic. After a condemned man is read his condemning sentence, he is perfectly composed and shows no signs of anxiety or emotion but love for his wife. There is no way that any human could be unafraid after that. Despite some unrealistic moments in Dickens characters, his description of the classes and their struggles is excellent. This is probably because of his experience. As a boy, Dickens was a peasant, which explains why his descriptions of peasant life and their strife are so detailed. I personally found Dickens' characters very appealing and his description of French society very enthralling.
    If you are unsure if you want to read this book, my advice to you would be: definitely read it. Dickens creates a capturing world with a deep plot, exquisite use of imagery, and striking characters, all in one of the most exciting times in history. Pick it up and you won't regret it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I loved it!
    I just finished reading this book in my 9th grade Honors english class, and I have to say that I loved it! It was terribly boring at first--very hard reading! And Dickens IS VERY wordy; or, as my English teacher says, he likes to make his point and than slap you in the face with it several times until you get the point! Aside from that however, I really enjoyed the story. I laughed with my friends over the mini battle between Madame Defarge and Miss Pross, and cried with them at Sydney Carton's courage(he made Charles Darnay look meaningless). Although this classic story is by far one of the best I've ever read (Black Beauty is THE best), I don't think I could have enjoyed it nearly as much without my wonderful English teacher explaining every "difficult" section-- and pointing out the humor that Dickens uses, and which many overlook. To fully enjoy this book, you have to read "between the lines", but if you have the patience to do this, I gaurentee you will love this book as much as I do!

    5-0 out of 5 stars The most unforgettable opening and closing sentences ever found in a book!
    I will never, the rest of my life forget these two sentences. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...." and at closing "It is a far, far, better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known."

    Wow, this is not your usual Dickens. No quirky characters with strange names and laugh out loud moments, just a darn good story -- the story of two cities, London and Paris. It is difficult to put the plot into words, but when the book begins you are in London at the time of the American revolution and spies (or suspected spies) abound, and the story eventually switches to France prior to and during the French revolution.

    Dickens does a marvelous job (as always) of building his story one step at a time and slowly peeling back the layers one at a time. This is not a put down and pick it up a week later kind of a book, it is very intense and complicated and you have to pay close attention. I was just floored at how he sucked me in with his descriptions of the mobs, terror and the madness of the revolution leading you to a nail biting finish. I admit to holding my breath during those last few pages!

    Highly recommended, and well worth the time to discover (or rediscover) an old classic.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Masterful Work of Literature
    There is so much to say about A Tale of Two Cities that one hardly knows where to begin. The scene of our book is the French Revolution. It is a time in history when the french peasants, horrifically treated by the nobility, revolted and caused what is known as 'the terrors'. It is a time when people can be accused in secret, tried summarily, and then tortured and beheaded. Many, many people were beheaded on a daily basis, sixty, or more, at a time.

    A Tale of Two Cities takes this story up by beginning with the story of Dr. Manette, who has spent fifteen years as a secret prisoner in a tower of the Bastille. He is rescued by an old servant, Monsieur Defarge, who turns him over to his daughter Lucie. Lucie, who has always thought her father dead, takes care of her mentally damaged father and helps restore him to his health and sanity.

    We also meet Charles Darnay, who Lucie eventually comes to love and marry. Turns out, unfortunately, that Charles is actually living in England under and assumed name, because he is really a french nobleman, much hated in his mother country. When Charles is called back to Paris to clear the name of an old servant he is imprisoned. Much of the story is then spent in the effort to get Charles out of prison, and his family safely out of Paris.

    The story is too complicated and wonderfully intricate to describe in full here. There are many other characters which are all important. For those who loves suspence, A Tale of Two Cities holds many surprises and will keep you wondering the entire time. There are loves unrequitted, acts of horror, deep sadnesses, and acts of perfect heroism. This story will bring tears to your eyes.

    As a piece of literature, A Tale of Two Cities is unsurpassed. The writing is beautiful! This book begins and ends with two of the most famous lines in all of literature. The words are truely poetic. The prose is full, deep, and perfectly moody. Dickens does an excellent job of painting not just the scenes for us, but the feel of the time. He makes you experience the weight of the drudgery the peasants experienced, the horror of the terrors, the grief of the mourner, and the triumph of the human spirit. Read this book, you cannot be disappointed. ... Read more

    14. The Art of War
    by Sunzi
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    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    5-0 out of 5 stars NOT THE BOOK
    This is just the cliffnotes to the book. This is not the actual book. Also, very poorly published.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Classic on the priciples of war
    This ancient classic of 13 chapters was written over 2,500 years ago by the legendary Chinese general Sun Tzu. It is a must have for military buffs that enjoy reading about the tactics of the most succesful generals. It is rumored that Napoleon used a French translation of the Art of War to his advantage while conquering most of Europe, and he lost when he broke its principles.
    The principles that are with in this ancient text can also be used in games of strategy, business conflicts, and the day to day battles of life.
    Here are ten principles to give you a sample of the wisdom found in its pages:

    Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance with out fighting.

    If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.

    Spies are the most important element in war, because upon them depends an army's ability to move.

    All warfare is based on deception.

    The general who wins a battle makes many calculations before the battle is fought.

    There is no instance of a country having benefited from a prolonged war.

    The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals.

    In war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.

    When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. (So they can retreat).

    Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained, fight not unless the position is critical.

    Taken as a whole this is a book of wisdom and principles on how to win. I rank it in my top ten books I have ever read. It is a must have for any home library. The is a very small book that is quick and easy to read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars In some ways outdated, in others, prophetic
    A. Overview
    The ancient Chinese military general Sun Tzu lays out a blueprint for the effective waging of war. In his classic The Art of War, the successful war campaign largely revolves around two key elements: deception and surprise. Sun Tzu also describes the virtues that are required of effective military leaders, and, drawing from his many years of military experience, he gives wide ranging and insightful advice on knowing oneself, knowing one's enemy, and how to keep the spirits of one's soldiers fixed on victory. Throughout his treatise, his words are piercing, direct, at times witty, and often paradoxical. He writes, for example, "If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant" (I.22). "Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline, simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength" (V.17).

    1. Virtues Necessary for a Successful War Campaign
    The Commander is to be an exemplar of five virtues: wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage and strictness (I.9). Discipline among the Commanders and soldiers is the key to victory. One can even determine which side in a war will be victorious by asking "(1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral law? (2) Which of the two generals has most ability? (3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth? (4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced? (5) Which army is stronger? (6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained? (7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?" (I.13).

    2. The Law of Deception
    The Law of Deception is summarized by Sun Tzu with these words: "All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near" (I.18-19).
    Sun Tzu goes to great lengths in justifying this assertion and in giving examples of how to deceive and to detect deception from the enemy. He writes, "Humble words and increased preparations are signs that the enemy is about to advance. Violent language and driving forward as if to the attack are signs that he will retreat" (IX.24), but "Peace proposals unaccompanied by a sworn covenant indicate a plot" (IX.26). "At first, then, exhibit the coyness of a maiden, until the enemy gives you an opening; afterwards emulate the rapidity of a running hare, and it will be too late for the enemy to oppose you" (XI.68).

    3. Law of Surprise Attack
    Surprise is also an important element in weakening the enemy. The military is to "[a]ppear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend; march swiftly to places where you are not expected" (VI.5), and, "[i]n raiding and plundering, be like fire, in immovability like a mountain" (VII.18). "Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt" (VII.19).

    4. Effective Warfare
    The rest of the treatise focuses on how to wage war in an effective manner. War is to be waged by first knowing oneself and knowing one's enemy. Battle is never undertaken unless one is certain that he will win. Sun Tzu outlines the five principles of victory: "(1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. (2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. (3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. (4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. (5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign" (III.17).
    A successful war campaign is waged efficiently, with the Armed Forces knowing when and how to attack by expending as little effort as possible, for "supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting" (III.2). Few resources are to be expended in an effective war campaign: "The skillful soldier does not raise a second levy, neither are his supply-wagons loaded more than twice" (II.8).
    Sun Tzu also seems to hint at a metaphysical plane in which warfare is fought. He writes, for example, that the effective Commander "wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated" (IV.13), as though war is first fought on some metaphysical plane before the victory and defeated is reflected in the visible, physical world.

    B. Critique
    Some of Sun Tzu's counsel is outdated in the age of terrorism, military insurgencies, and digital and nuclear warfare. Some of it revolves around the size and numbers of the enemy's forces and one's advantage relative to the enemy based on numbers. Similarly, much of his advice is based on obsolete forms of land warfare that are rarely fought in the modern day. He writes, for example, "Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted" (VI.1). This advice will rarely, if ever, be relevant in an age where most warfare is fought in the air or from long range missiles, with forces rarely clashing in land battles.
    The advent of nuclear weapons also changes the entire equation of relative forces and makes the numbers of infantrymen almost irrelevant. Similarly, the introduction of insurgencies that blend into local populations have been able to render even large armies of well equipped soldiers ineffective and unsuccessful. Furthermore, the advent of digital and cyber-warfare makes the numbers of enlisted and commissioned soldiers largely irrelevant to foreign attacks.
    Though the forms of warfare have changed over the ages, many of Sun Tzu's principles continue to apply. Whether fighting a land battle or an air battle, the laws of deception and surprise attack are still relevant and highly effective. Furthermore, Sun Tzu outlines lessons that are important not only for the battlefield, but also for the general struggles of life. He writes, "You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places which are undefended. You can ensure the safety of your defense if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked" (VI.7). This is advice that should be heeded by businessmen, political leaders, and anyone else in a position that requires defending against an onslaught of attacks or competition.

    ... Read more

    15. Gulliver's Travels
    by Jonathan Swift
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    Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
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    5-0 out of 5 stars No More Excuses - It's Time to Read Gulliver's Travels
    I am certain that nearly every person in the Western world (and some beyond it) is familiar with the quintessential scene of "Gulliver's Travels," that of a man tied down to the ground and surrounded by tiny humans. I am equally certain however, that only a very small percentage of these people have actually read Jonathan Swift's satirical novel, first published in 1726. If you consider yourself a serious reader, then "Gulliver's Travels" is essential reading, one of the many classic novels that you simply *have* to read before you die.

    Divided into four parts, "Gulliver's Travels" is presented as the historical memoirs of Lemuel Gulliver who narrates his strange adventures in undiscovered countries. In doing so, Swift explores and satirises almost every conceivable issue important in both his time and in ours: politics, religion, gender, science, progress, government, family and our basic ideas of defining humanity. As well as this, the novel is full of wonder and humour (some of it bordering on the vulgar!) and Swift's exploration of imaginary societies and countries is satire at its peak - no one before or since has reached Swift's mastery of this style.

    Some of the more direct parodies concern people and events that have long since passed away, and as such an index or extensive background is required in order to fully understand the allusions that Swift is making. However, a far larger portion of the text discusses issues that are still relevant to today's readers, especially in the responsibilities of power and the limits to technological/scientific progression.

    Part One: "A Voyage to Lilliput" is the most famous segment of the novel, and the context of the afore-mentioned "hostage episode". After taking leave of his family and country, Gulliver is washed up on the shores of an island inhabited by humanoid beings not more than six inches tall. Though at first suspicious, Gulliver soon earns the trust of the Lilliputian people who enlist their newfound giant in defending them from their enemies on the bordering island of Blefufeu - who likewise are desperate to use the giant in their war against Lilliput. Hmm, a squabble over what is considered a weapon capable of mass destruction. Sound familiar? This ability to place modern day references over older texts and their meanings is what separates literature from books - universal themes and concerns that do not age with time.

    In Part Two, Gulliver reaches the polar opposite of Lilliput in "A Voyage to Brobdingnag", a country of giants where he becomes the helpless victim of a greedy farmer who exploits his diminutive stature to his own advantage. Displayed as a freak of nature, the tiny Gulliver is forced to perform circus tricks till he finally comes into the care of the royal court. Despite being cared for by the gentle farmer's daughter Grildrig, Gulliver has to survive wasp-attacks, hungry cats and a malicious dwarf before he is finally seized by a hunting bird and set adrift at sea.

    One of the most appealing things about Gulliver's travels in both Lilliput and Brobdingnag is the disorientation he feels on re-entering the company of humans of a normal stature - each time they seem either too small or too big and Gulliver is constantly slouching or tip-toeing in an attempt to reconcile his body to what his mind tells him he should see. The best part is that we share this confusion with him, as we ourselves become accustomed to life in the tiny and giant worlds.

    Part Three is the least known of the four parts, and for those who have read the novel, the least popular. I consider this unfortunate as it is more full of variety and wonderment than the other segments, contains some of his sharpest parodies and is my personal favourite `voyage' in the novel. Titled "A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Gluggdubdrib and Japan", it is easy to see that it this episode is filled with Swift's most creative inventions. It is here that Gulliver discovers a floating island, a race of immortals, a university in which they attempt to discover the answers to all things and an island of spirits who summon historical figures up out of the past. With everything from inward-eyed people to Alexander the Great to exploding dogs, Part Three has it all.

    Finally, in Part Four, the novel reaches its most critical and thought-provoking statement on humankind in "A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms". Gulliver reaches a country inhabited by a remarkable race of horses with the intelligence of humans - perhaps with even *more* intelligence than humans. Also living here is a disgusting race of beings known as "Yahoos" - filthy, greedy, slothful, lecherous creatures who embody every vice known to mankind - and who are suspiciously humanoid in shape and form. Gulliver is faced with a crisis of the soul: does he really come from the race of Yahoos? Will the Houyhnhnms accept him as one of their own or as a Yahoo? And how can he ever return home with the devastating wisdom he has gained? Swift presents a fascinating study on the dark side of humanity and the nobility of animals in the climax of the novel that is the most controversial, the most studied and the most memorable.

    "Gulliver's Travels" is not an easy book to read; like all older literary novels it requires the attention and patience of the reader, has complicated and contemporary issues to discuss and a tendency to be a bit long-winded at times. But regardless of this, "Gulliver's Travels" is a fascinating and enjoyable read and one of those books that just *has* to be read during your lifetime - if not for any other reason but to say that you *have* read it. Though the scanty amount of reviews on this page is disheartening, "Gulliver's Travels" is a must-read, pure and simple.

    I also recommend the Hallmark adaptation of Swift's novel - NOT to be watched instead of reading the book, but as a surprisingly faithful and intelligent miniseries that accompanies the novel well.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Nice Affordable Edition of this Classic Work
    Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift is classic work of satire and adventure that hardly needs my recommendation. Instead, let me comment on this edition published by Sterling. It's a nice hardcover with dustjacket and placeholder ribbon. There are a number of illustrations by Scott McKowen and an afterword by Arthur Pober. If you're looking for a inexpensive, but nice edition of Gulliver's Travels, this book would be a good choice.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Not what I remembered.
    All I remembered about Gulliver's Travels was the Golden Book or other children's versions of the story that I read when I was still a wee young thing. The real story is much more thought provoking, and the style is quite interesting. Swift writes about his travels to various countries where he encounters people and customs far different from what he is used to. Nevertheless, he writes from an objective viewpoint without discussing what is wrong or right about any of the cultures he visits.

    The last place he visits is a country that is populated by extremely intelligent horses, who after hearing Gulliver's explanation of his own country and government, give their impressions of what is wrong with the English government and monarchy. Very tactful, but it makes the points he wants readers to understand. Many similar ideas to Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" come out in the horses' discussions.

    A bit long. I thought it might be a bit childish at first. But it was well worth reading from cultural, political and historical points of view.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The finest satirical novel written.
    Swift's classic satire of English and European governments, societies, and cultures should be required reading of every college student. (Except for those who appear to be in law school as is the earlier reviewer who referred to Swift as being an "18th century Unabomber." Swift may have been conservative in his beliefs and not cared much for individuals such as Robert Boyle, who is satirized in the book, but he was not violent. Perhaps our "law student/reviewer" is offended by Swift's biting satire of lawyers and politicians in part four.) The version I read was an annotated edition by Isaac Asimov and contained many passages that had been deleted by previous publishers. Asimov's comments enable the reader to more fully appreciate Swift's satire. In part one of the novel, a ship's surgeon, Lemuel Gulliver, is shipwreaked and finds himself on the island of Lilliput, the inhabitants all being only six inches high. This section is great satire of English politics and wars. Royal ponp, feuds amongst the populace, and wars are made to look rediculous. In the second part, Gulliver finds himself in Brobdingnag in which he is only six "inches" tall (relatively speaking). This part forms another satire of European governments. In part three, Gulliver visits the flying island of Laputa where shades of ancient scholars can be called up. This section is a satire on philosophers and scientists. Scientists are portrayed as men so wrapped up intheir speculations as to be totally useless in practical affairs. Absurd experiments are described (for example, extracting sunlight from cucumbers (but, extracting energy from cucumbers and other plants is no longer so absurd Jonathan)). Also described in this third part are the Struldbergs, men and women who are immortal but who turn out to be miserable and pitiable. In part four, Gulliver travels to the Land of the Houyhnhnms, horses with intelligence but who have no passion or emotion. The word "Yahoo" originates in this part. READ IT!

    5-0 out of 5 stars The greatest satirical novel ever
    Gulliver's Travels is an excellent book. In it Swift satirizes what he thought were the foibles of his time, in politics, religion, science, and society. In Part One Lemuel Gulliver is shipwrecked on Lilliput where the inhabitants are only 6 inches tall. The rivalry between Britain and France is there satirized. In Part Two he is marooned on the subcontinent of Brobdingnag where the inhabitants are giants. The insignificance of many of mankind's achievements are there satirized. Next in Part Three Gulliver is taken aboard the floating island of Laputa, where Swift takes the opportunity to satirize medicine and science altogether - incredibly Swift did not make up the crazy experiments he describes; all were sponsored at one time or another by the Royal Society. Finally in Part Four Gulliver is marooned by mutineers on the island of the Houyhnhynms, in which Swift takes his parting shot at human society - presenting them in degraded form as the Yahoos. Most people read no further in the book than Brobdingnag - I urge you to read the rest.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Gulliver's travels
    Who would have expected that I would come away from this book liking it so very much? Trying to read it on my own, I failed, but reading it in class helped me to see it in context, and appreciate it as a funny, thoughtful, and sometimes cruel work, a satire that can be real fun and thought-provoking once you get into the right mood for reading it.

    Jonathan Swift was an Irish-born Tory who possessive of a famous aversion to humantiy in general. (Or so I am apt to classify him. There is something charming about misanthropes, one can really sympathize with them when one is cranky.) His Captain Lemuel Gulliver ends up stranded in various wondrous and edifying lands. I needn't tell you about Lilliput (six inch high people) and Brobdingnag (giants), but you might have forgotten Laputa, the floating island, and the land of the H----'s (don't bother me with the bloody spelling), those uber-intelligent horses. It's that last part, with the H----'s that is pretty shocking even today. You and me are both Yahoos of a kind, and Gulliver sails back to his people in raft with a sail made from Yahoo-skins. With Yahoo meat as provisions.

    But there are lots of disturbing, warped things in this book. I remember passages in Brobdingnag with the most fondness. There Gulliver, reduced to the status of a plaything, is quite helpless, and delightfully so. He is dropped into a bowl of cream by a dwarf and embarrasingly discommoded by a pet monkey. The ladies at the court take a perverse delight in bouncing him up and down on their breasts. Gulliver, being tiny, is able to note the physical human imperfections of his captors magnified--cancerous lumps, blemishes of the skin, moles and wrinkles appear in all their sordidness. And what interesting things these are to read about, in retrospect. I think that we as modern human beings--I mean as Westerners, swamped in our materialism and complacency--need to sample the muck in our "entertainment" sometimes, just to get in touch with reality. Tear yourself away from MTV, from the supermodels and the actors, from semi-kiddie porn anime, and admit that the physicality of our human bodies can be pretty disgusting.

    And also the psychology of Us, when we don't study ourselves and our values--

    Gulliver himself is a little man, a contemptible nincompoop most of the time. I didn't notice it while I was reading the book, but afterwards, I thought about it, and decided so. When he recommends gunpowder to the King of Brobdingnag, he even comes across as significantly--stupid. (Is there logic in presenting a country of giants with the ability to make gunpowder, when you and the rest of your kind are 1/100th of their size? Derr. Not really. Even if you want to suck up to said king.)

    But it's Swift on whom I can't quite place my finger... The more I think about him alongside his book, the more ambiguous he seems. Does he really mean to present the values of the H----'s as Good with a capital G in all particulars? (I was struck with their arrogant bitchiness, myself. Perhaps Swift would dislike me.) How about the Lilliuputian way of raising children, is that meant to be construed as desirable? (I do like it better than the cruel Puritanical strain of childraising, all that honor your mother & father ad nauseum beyond the bounds of compassion kind of crap--but the Lilliputian way doesn't seem to allow for that thing called love, either...)

    I dunno. You tell me.

    Ahh, but don't tell me Gulliver's Travels is outdated, or boring, 'cause I won't believe you.

    GULLIVER'S TRAVELS can be looked at in at least two different ways. On a stand alone basis, it is a satire written by a misanthrope, but if taken within the context of his overall body of work, it can also be perceived as a satire written by a man with a deep concern for mankind.

    Part I and Part II satirize Englishmen, their religion, politics, and their government. Parts III and IV satirize humanity on a much broader scale.

    In Part I, we find Lemuel Gulliver shipwrecked on the Island of Lilliput where the average inhabitant is about six inches tall. They are actually small in both body and mind. English religion and politics are satirized by descriptions of those who wear high heels and those who wear low heels, and by the dispute between those who feel their eggs should be broken at the big end and those whose preference is the small end. Like England, through much of history, the Lilliputians are constantly at war with their traditional enemies from across the chanel.

    In Part II, Gulliver is again stranded, this time on Brobdingnag, where the size proportions are just the opposite as in Part I. Here, Gulliver is tiny in relation to the inhabitants. Here, too, England, and to some extent all of humankind, are taken to task. After Gulliver has described European manners, customs, and behaviour to the king, the king comments that "I cannot but conclude (that) the bulk of your natives (are) the most pernicious race of odious vermin . . . . to crawl on the face of the earth."

    Part III takes on the world of scientists, philosophers, historians, and "projectors." On the flying Island of Laputa, the continent of Lagado, and the Islands of the Sorcerers and Immortals, He meets wise men who spend their lives in speculation but can't handle the practical necessities of life, professors who dedicate their lives to extracting sunlight from cucumbers, and immortals who reveal history to be nothing more than a series of deceptions.

    Finally, in Part IV, he finds himself in the country of the Houyhnhnms, who are horses with the power to reason. These horses lead clean and simple lives in contrast to the humans, known as Yahoos, who are filthy, brutal, and uncouth. In the Yahoos, Gulliver recognizes the human race, and after finally returning home, he can never again be comfortable in the company of other humans.

    Read by itself, GULLIVER'S TRAVELS is a satire on the foibles, weaknesses, and petty corruptions of the human race in general, and English politicians in specific, as written by a rather bitter misanthrope. That is a correct reading, but not necessarily the only one. Read in the context of many of Swift's other works, particularly his many political pamphlets, I think that it can be perceived as a satirically inventive work written by a man who really cares about the future of the human race.

    As an aside, Gulliver's visit to Lilliput has, through the years, enchanted countless numbers of children. It is in this section that we get a peek at Swift's humorous side.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A great text that will live on for centuries
    Swift's Gulliver's Travels is one of the smartest British novels ever written. It is a funny, sharp, poignant, and startling look at human nature. The most interesting part of the novel is the many conversations between Gulliver and the Houyhnhnm master relating to the causes of war and other aspects of human nature. This novel is a wonderful reflection of human society that really makes the reader question his or her methods or discourse.

    5-0 out of 5 stars **SPOILER ALERT** Truly the classic it is thought to be
    Gulliver's Travels: my first book ever on the Kindle(tm). Well, first about the mechanics of it all. I know, based on some reviews I have read, some versions of stories are poorly formatted or the font is bad or unadjustable or what have you--thankfully none of those issues was present here. It was a joy to be able to glide through the pages, looking words up at the speed of thought, never losing my place, and not having to stare at a backlit display for a change.
    None of this concerning Mr. Swift, though, who wrote this novel without even knowing of a typewriter or electricity. The book begins with Gulliver, an English gentleman of the early eighteenth century, talking of his love for travel at sea; I was beginning to feel as though I were reading Robinson Crusoe again. Things change quickly though as Gulliver lands on the land of Lilliput where the inhabitants are a mere half of a foot in height.
    Here begins Swift's parody of human culture that continues throughout Mr. Gulliver's three other tours of duty in the novel. Swift takes a characteristic or two of human nature and satirizes it with each civilization Gulliver encounters. The Lilliputians allow him to poke fun at politics and underhandedness, with every cutting each other's throat to win the king's favor. The Brobdingnagians give note to mankind's frailty, with poor Gulliver fearing for his life at every turn while the giants around him tiptoe to assure his safety.
    The third voyage lands Gulliver on an island in the middle of nowhere. He is rescued by the flying island of the Laputians, who are stuck with their heads in the clouds. I should say that Swift has a disdain for those who live lives in the stratosphere of philosophy and mathematics; the Laputians seem to be unable to function at all since their thoughts are always elsewhere.
    The forth, final, and most important voyage made by the narrator is to the land of the Houyhnhnms. The Houyhnhnms are hyperevolved horses who live their lives and run their society by rational means only. In that land there, there is a race of humans called Yahoos who live like wild animals. Swift's uses these two species to dichotomize our conflicting natures: the Houyhnhnms are our cognitive, rational faculties--our divinity--, while the Yahoos are the basal, animal-like natural side of us. Neither of these two polar opposites can be reproved for being what it is. However, it is our rational and refined halves that we wish to see have the upper hand. Unable to reconcile these two, the narrator goes a bit mad, and when he returns to England, becomes reclusive.
    I was thrilled with this book. Though I found some parts to be a bit slow-moving, the narrator dwelling in picayune details at times, the book truly is a work of art. This definitely opens the doors for Swift as an author to me.

    Matt Finizio
    Box off, Life on. ... Read more

    16. Great Expectations
    by Charles Dickens
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B002RKSUBC
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    In what may be Dickens’s best novel, humble, orphaned Pip is apprenticed to the dirty work of the forge but dares to dream of becoming a gentleman—and one day, under sudden and enigmatic circumstances, he finds himself in possession of “great expectations.” In this gripping tale of crime and guilt, revenge and reward, the compelling characters include Magwitch, the fearful and fearsome convict; Estella, whose beauty is excelled only by her haughtiness; and the embittered Miss Havisham, an eccentric jilted bride.

    A Charles Dickens Timeline

    1812Born February 7 in Portsmouth, England
    1824His father John sent to Marshalsea Debtor's Prison for a debt of £40 and 10 shillings

    Began working 10-hour days in shoe-polish warehouse to help support family
    1833First story, "A Dinner at Poplar Walk," appeared in the Monthly Magazine
    1836First book, Sketches by Boz, collected his early journalism and stories

    First novel, The Pickwick Papers, began its monthly serialization

    Married Catherine Hogarth
    1837-39Oliver Twist appeared in monthly installments
    1838-39Nicholas Nickleby serialized
    1840-41The Old Curiosity Shop
    1841Barnaby Rudge
    1842American Notes, based on his tour that year of the United States
    1843The Christmas Carol, the first of his "Christmas tales"
    1843-44Martin Chuzzlewit
    1846-48Dombey and Son
    1849-50David Copperfield
    1852-53Bleak House
    1854Hard Times
    1855-57Little Dorrit
    1857Met actress Ellen Ternan, his longtime companion
    1858Separated from his wife, Catherine
    1859A Tale of Two Cities
    1860-61Great Expectations
    1864-65Our Mutual Friend
    1867-68Second tour of America
    1868-69Farewell reading tour of the British Isles
    1870The Mystery of Edwin Drood (unfinished)

    Died from a stroke on June 9

    1 ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Best novel EVER!
    Another reviewer claims that you have to be at least 21 years old to read this book. Although I don't think it should be "forced" on schoolchildren (they will only hate it) I read this novel when I was a child and I loved it. I have just re-read it now and I enjoy it all the more. This is my favorite novel by Dickens. It is from his later period and is criticized for being too dark - which, however, makes it more perfect for today's sensibilities. Stephen King cites this work as one of his favorites: he believes that it is this book that brought the gothic novel mainstream.

    Was there ever a novelist who created more memorable characters than Dickens? Here, we meet perhaps his most intriguing - Miss Havisham. For anyone unfamiliar with the story, I will not spoil it by describing her. The story is similar to parable about the prodigal son - good Pip inexplicably comes into some money and goes off to the corrupting city.

    AN IMPORTANT THING TO NOTE: Dickens wrote two ending for this book. His friends thought that the original ending was too downbeat and they asked him to come up with a different one. It is the upbeat ending that is the official ending of the novel. However, most critics agree that the original unpublished ending is better. Most modern editions feature the unpublished ending in an appendix. MAKE SURE YOU BUY A COPY THAT CONTAINS THE ORIGINAL ENDING!

    5-0 out of 5 stars One of the Greatest Novels Ever Written
    Why do I come here to "review" this? It isn't anyone's book club selection, no. But tonight I want to talk about this incomparably rich and wonderful book, and how as a fourteen year old kid I simply sank into it, taking it slowly week by week, glorying in its mysteries, its great grotesque portrait of Miss Havisham in her rotting bridal finery, its often painful recounting of a young boy's awakening to a seductive world beyond the blacksmith's forge to which destiny has condemned him. This book was about me. It was about wanting to learn, wanting to transcend, wanting to achieve while anything and everything seems hopelessly beyond one's dreams. Of course life changes for Pip. And the world Pip enters was a world that dazzled me and only made my adolescent ambitions burn all the more hurtfully. I think this book is about all who've ever tried for more, ever reached for the gold ring -- and it's about some, of course, who've gotten it. It's also a wondrous piece of storytelling, a wondrous example of how in the first person ("I am, etc." ) a character can tell you more about himself than he himself knows. What a feat. And a very strange thing about this book, too, was the fact that Dickens said more about Pip and Pip's dreams than Dickens knew he was doing. Dickens himself didn't quite realize, I don't think, the full humanity of the character he created. Yet the character is there -- alive, captivating, engaging us throughout with full sympathy. Go for it. If you never read anything else by Charles Dickens, read and experience this book. Afterwards, David Copperfield will be a ride in the sunshine, I assure you. And both books will stand by you forever. For whom am I writing this? For myself perhaps just because Pip meant and still means so much. For some one perhaps who's unsure about this book and needs a push to dive into a classic. Oh, is this book ever worth the effort. -. Enough. Read it, know it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Dark, brooding, profound
    Great Expectations is one of Dickens's later novels, a work of his artistic maturity. The narrative is symbolic rather than realistic. Although, as in most of Dickens and in Victorian literature in general, the plot relies heavily on coincidence, it is acceptable here because the events are true to the internal, psychological, logic of the story.

    After writing A Tale of Two Cities, which was unique among his novels in that it had none of his trademark humor, Dickens set out to make Great Expectations rich in comic elements. This despite, or perhaps because of, being in a depressed state of mind himself at the time. The conventional critical view is that he largely failed in this attempt, but I strongly disagree. The book is hilariously funny in parts and the main character, Pip, exhibits a characteristically British humour-in-adversity throughout his adventures. There is also the host of minor comic characters that we expect from Dickens. And he for once manages pathos without spilling over into bathos, so there are tears as well as laughter here, sometimes both at once.

    If you have not yet read any Dickens, this is not a bad book with which to start, although for younger readers (teens) I would recommend Hard Times or A Tale of Two Cities as their first. Great Expectations demands a mature sensibility to appreciate its symbolism and psychological depth. Perhaps because it chiefly concerns the childhood and youth of the protagonist, it is often given to young people to read and is a set text in some High School classes. This is a pity because, in its dark complexity, it is more likely to turn youngsters off, rather than onto, Dickens.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Social commentary, mystery, romance and a great story...
    I've never read any Dickens of my own free will. I was forced to read "A Tale of Two Cities" in high school and I thought that was enough for me. However, one day, on a whim, I bought a copy of Great Expectations. I'm not sure what I expected, but I certainly didn't expect to love it as much as I did.

    Dickens is not a writer to read at a swift pace. Indeed, this novel was written in weekly episodes from December 1860 to August 1861 and, as it was created to be a serial, each installment is full of varied characters, great descriptions and a lot of action which moves the plot along and leaves the reader yearning for more. Therefore, unlike some books which are easily forgotten if I put them down for a few days, Great Expectations seemed to stick around, absorbing my thoughts in a way that I looked forward to picking it up again. It took me more than a month to read and I savored every morsel.

    Basically the story is of the self-development of Pip, an orphan boy being raised by his sister and her blacksmith husband in the marshlands of England in 1820.

    Every one of the characters were so deeply developed that I felt I was personally acquainted with each one of them. There was Pip's roommate, Herbert Pocket, the lawyer, Mr. Jaggers, and his clerk, Mr. Wemmick. And then there was the wicked Orlick. The dialogues were wonderful. The characters often didn't actually say what they meant but spoke in a way that even though the words might be obtuse, there was no mistaking their meaning. I found myself smiling at all these verbal contortions.

    Dickens' work is richly detailed and he explores the nuances of human behavior. I enjoyed wallowing in the long sentences and letting myself travel backwards in time to a different world. However, even with the footnotes, I found myself sometimes confused by the British slang of 150 years ago, and there were several passages I had to read over several times in order to get the true meaning. Of course I was not in a particular rush. I didn't have to make a report to a class or take a exam about the book. This is certainly a pleasure.

    I heartily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good read.ting from the secret wealth of Magwitch, who made a fortune in Australia after being transported. Moreover, Magwitch's unlawful return to England puts him and Pip in danger. Meanwhile, Estella has married another, a horrible man who Pip despises. Eventually, with Magwitch's recapture and death in prison and with his fortune gone, Pip ends up in debtors prison, but Joe redeems his debts and brings him home. Pip realizes that Magwitch was a more devoted friend to him than he ever was to Joe and with this realization Pip becomes, finally, a whole and decent human being.

    Originally, Dickens wrote a conclusion that made it clear that Pip and Estella will never be together, that Estella is finally too devoid of heart to love. But at the urging of others, he changed the ending and left it more open ended, with the possibility that Estella too has learned and grown from her experiences and her wretched marriages.

    This is the work of a mature novelist at the height of his powers. It has everything you could ask for in a novel: central characters who actually change and grow over the course of the story, becoming better people in the end; a plot laden with mystery and irony; amusing secondary characters; you name it, it's in here. I would rank it with A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist and David Copperfield among the very best novels of the worlds greatest novelist.

    GRADE: A+

    5-0 out of 5 stars A True Classic!
    I love this book! This is one of my all-time favorite books ever. I had to read it eons ago when I was in ninth grade, and now (14 years later) I am still enjoying it. Every few years I take this one down from my bookshelf to revisit. This is the story of Pip, a small orphaned boy living in poverty in the English countryside with his much older sister and her husband. Pip meets a convict in a graveyard one damp morning and helps him out in the form of some vittles and an iron file. Later in the story, Pip moves from poverty to being a "gentleman" due to the influence of a mysterious, anonymous benefactor. This book tells of his adventures and how Pip's expectations guide him through life. Towards the end of the story, Pip finds out that reality is sometimes very different from what we expect it to be. The characters are what really make this book stand out. Charles Dickens is a master of character development, and his descriptions of Miss Havisham, Wemmick, Joe, and the others is brilliant! The dialogue is great, with the words written the way a commoner would have spoken in England in the 1800's. Another thing I really liked was how all of the characters are inter-related to each other in ways that you may not discover until you get to the end of the novel.This novel will make you laugh and it might make you sad, but it is always entertaining. If you are in high school and reading this book for the first time for English class, keep at it! It may seem difficult at first if you are not used to Dickens, but this book is well worth it! It is truly a gem.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful and beautiful book
    Charles Dickens's acknowledged masterpiece, Great Expectations, is rightly considered one of the greatest novels of all-time. It depth and breadth are staggering, as it follows its protagonist, Pip, from his early childhood through his later life. During the course of his life, we encounter a vast catalog of raw human emotions: love, hate, jealousy, hope, sadness, despair, anger, pity, empathy, sympathy -- and on and on. The story is treasured and revered for many reasons. One of its main strengths is its plot: after a somewhat slow introductory section, Dickens puts his story in fifth gear and delivers a fast-paced and exciting story that gallops along without ever losing interest or clarity. The incredibly complex plotline, full of separate stories and incidents that seem totally unrelated to each other, but are then all harnessed together as the book heads straight toward its denouement, is also full of constant plot twists, which continue up until, literally, the last paragraph. But, of course, as with all of Dickens's major works, it is the characters that make the book. Like Shakespeare, Dickens preferred to have the story develop through the characters, rather than having the characters be mere set pieces inside of an overriding story. And what great characters they are: the perennially paradoxical but essentially human Pip; the bitter and mysterious Miss Havisham; the beautiful and haughty Estella; the simple and saint-like Joe; the kind and benevolent Herbert; the very human convict, Magwitch -- and all of the other wonderful characters. Dickens excelled in creating well-rounded, very human characters who harbored very real and very complex emotions -- that is, human emotions. We identify with Pip as he winds through his life, because we have been there, too -- the disappointments, the surprises, the loves, the anger, the sadness. In whatever way his story may differ from our own, it is still essentially human, as is ours. For all of his complex and paradoxical emotions and sentiments, Pip is a recognizably human character -- and that is why we love him and this book. A masterpiece for the ages, which will endure for years yet to come, Great Expectations is a great book that can be loved by one and all, for, at its heart, is that grain of simple truth that says so much about what is human in all of us -- whether we have great expectations or not.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Marvelous Audio Edition....Will Be Enjoyed By 1st Time Or 50th Time Readers
    This review refers to the audio(CD - Brilliance Audio) edition of "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens, read by Michael Page

    This unabridged audio edition of Dickens' classic superb chronology of "Pip's' journey through life going from a poor boy to becoming a man with "expectations" is simply marvelous. As Pip comes into a small fortune, and becomes a "gentleman" he learns the value and true meaning of friendships and life. But the journey is a long one, with many lessons to be learned along the way before he can find his true self. Dickens has given us a wonderful story, with rich details of the setting and characters that grow and are among the most interesting and magnetic to be found in literature.

    I don't need to go on and on about the book itself(although I could easily go over my allotted word count here), if you haven't read it yet ,just know you are in for one heck of a literary treat. It is a story that will transport you to another time and place, and you may not want to come back. I will however, talk about this marvelous audio edition. Michael Page is the reader, and what a reading he gives. Just curl up and listen to this master storyteller. Every voice, every nuance is captured. There is no doubt who is speaking as he gives each character the personality and cultural characteristics as Dickens intended. He even does the women wonderfully, without going over the top. In my mind Miss Havisham has always sounded just the way Page portrayed her, Estella as uppity as ever,the humble Joe, along with all the rest.

    The book is an unabridged reading on 16 discs. each discs has 90 very short tracks(about 45 seconds each), I had no trouble starting up where I left off(when I absolutely had to leave off). I just made a mental note(or you could even write it down) of the track number and disc where I stopped it. The sound quality is excellent, and total running time is about 20 hours. Each disc is in it's own paper CD holder with a clear front so you can see the disc number you are looking for.

    If you are a fan of this book, this audio edition will give you a fresh read and new appreciation of this fascinating book. If you are experiencing it for the first time, you can't help but to become enthralled. Great to take on long drives or for younger readers to be introduced to classic literature in a most entertaining way.

    Enjoy the read...for the 1st Time or the 50th time!....Laurie

    more great audio reads:
    A Christmas Carol read by Geoffrey Palmer-

    Carrie(read by Sissy Spacek)

    Back When We Were Grownups(read by Blair Brown)

    The Shipping News (read by Paul Hecht)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A true masterpiece
    I have absolutely no doubts whatsoever that Charles Dickens, if he lived today, would still classify as an author's author. He's a master of all the things that make for great writing and storytelling. Dickens has an ear for dialogue most authors would kill their own mothers to possess. He also is a master of creating vivid scenery, another sign of excellence essential to great writing and one which many authors lack. Finally, but not least in importance, Dickens knows character development. He REALLY knows how to develop intriguing characters, to the point where many of his books spawned figures that have become literary archetypes. Not bad for a guy who grew up in extremely adverse circumstances. He even spent some time in a factory sticking labels on bottles after his father's imprisonment for debt. Most people wouldn't recover from such poverty, but Dickens did. He went on to a successful career in journalism before settling down as an author of serial novels. This format, which allowed Dickens to write and release his stories piecemeal, made him a great success with the public. The anticipation for the latest chapter or two of his stories often led to near riots. Not many writers can elicit such a response today.

    Many consider "Great Expectations" a seminal work by a master. Millions have read it, most unwillingly, but most consider it one of Dickens's most accessible stories. It's a tale about a youngster named Phillip Pirrip, known throughout the story as Pip, and his rise from relative obscurity to the heights of wealth and privilege. As the story opens, we see Pip lamenting the passing of his parents in the local cemetery. Their deaths resulted in Pip living with an older sister and her blacksmith husband Joe. Life is tough in Pip's village. His sister wields a heavy hand against her younger brother, relatives like Uncle Pumblechook berate him, and they live in a place where convicts often escape from barges floating on the river nearby. In fact, Pip has a frightening encounter with one of these prisoners at the beginning of the book. His actions, undertaken at the command of this felon, result in a series of incidents that lead Pip to the home of the local recluse, a dour old woman by the name of Havisham. This woman, as rich as a lord but as unhappy as one could ever be, takes a liking to Pip and keeps him around for entertainment.

    It is during his tenure as Havisham's court jester that Pip comes into contact with several important figures that feature prominently in the story's later episodes. He meets the cold yet beautiful Estella, Havisham's adopted daughter, and falls in love with her. He also makes an initial contact with the old lady's lawyer, the highly successful Mr. Jaggers, and an odd young man named Herbert. All play an integral part in what is to follow, namely the announcement (through Jaggers) that Pip has suddenly come into fortune, or great expectations, that require him to move to London in order to train as a gentlemen. In London Pip spends time with Jaggers, his assistant Wemmick, Herbert, and even Estella. He spends his money, helps his best friend in covert ways, and wonders who in the world set him up with this money and property. Jaggers makes it clear that he isn't supposed to dig too deep concerning the origins of the fortune. Instead, he is to wait until the day when the individual responsible steps forward. When that happens Pip's world as he knows it nearly collapses. He must move heaven and earth to avert disaster while at the same time coming to terms with who he is and what his future holds.

    "Great Expectations" is, in a word, great. It contains all of the hallmarks one associates with Dickens. The characters, everyone from Wemmick to Jaggers to Havisham to Joe, sparkle brightly as fully formed individuals living and laboring under very real problems. Atmosphere is divine: Pip's village and London come to life under the writer's pen. Even the author's penchant for examining social ills moves to the fore in a chapter that looks at the horrific conditions in London's main prison. Another real plus is the humor. If you haven't read Dickens, you don't know what your missing in the humor department. This author has an amazing sense of what is funny, and it is nowhere more apparent than in the scene in which Pip and Herbert take in a play starring one of our hero's relatives. This short chapter along with the ones describing Wemmick's abode are absolute masterpieces of hilarity, and they're actually bright spots in what is otherwise an occasionally dark piece of writing. And last, but not least, there is the downbeat conclusion. There are actually two conclusions to "Great Expectations". Make sure you pick up a copy that has both of them.

    About the only thing "Great Expectations" lacks is length; it's one of Dickens's shortest novels, which is probably the reason millions of teachers assign this book to their students. That's unfortunate because most kids want nothing to do with this book once it's forced upon them when in fact they could actually benefit from reading it. Why? Because "Great Expectations" teaches us a lot about love and identity, two things that matter quite a bit (or should matter) to young people. The teachers ought to assign something like "Hard Times" and let those who want more seek out "Great Expectations". The prevailing opinion on this book is that it is semi-autobiographical. It doesn't really matter whether the story is about the author's life or not. What is important, I think, is that this story attains a perfection that few books ever reach. That's why it's a classic, I guess. If you haven't read Dickens before, you should start right here. ... Read more

    17. My Christmas Wish
    by Ember Case
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $4.50
    Asin: B002ZFGJVC
    Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
    Sales Rank: 96
    Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Putting the past to rest has never been this much fun.

    Tara Walsh has come a long way from paying her dues in a smoky New Orleans club. Her albums sell millions, her tours sell out and she has a hit DVD. Her name is known around the world. Now she’s back home for a holiday charity concert—and to say a proper goodbye to the past. A past named Duncan Rousse.

    Five years ago, Duncan pushed Tara away for one reason: to force her to reach for the stars. She deserves the life she’s earned, even though it left him with a broken heart that’s never healed. Having her back in his arms only makes the pain worse, yet the last thing he can do is beg her to stay.

    One wild, passion-filled night in the sexy Cajun’s bed has Tara’s body singing with pleasure. But can they both get what they want this Christmas?

    Warning, this title contains the following: explicit sex, second chances, making up for lost time with a sexy Cajun, and Christmas wishes that might really come true.

    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Could of been great, November 22, 2010
    I didnt realize this was going to be a short story when i started. Only 5% (if that much) of the book was an actual storyline. The other 95% was extreme Sex... Very detailed. If this book would of a been a full length novel the sex scenes wouldnt of been that bad but when that is all the book is it makes it boring to read.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Nothing to write home about, November 24, 2010
    My Christmas Wish was an okay read. I felt myself daydreaming as I was reading it, not in a good way, but because I was bored. I guess it was a good thing that it was a short read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars My Christmas Wish, July 11, 2010
    Five years have passed since Tara left home with a broken heart to pursue her career. Burying her broken heart into her singing brought her fame but never another love. Returning home, Tara plans to seduce Duncan one more time, walk away and forget him for good. But one night with the man from her past doesn't work out as planned.

    My Christmas Wish is about regrets. What begins as a mission to forget a past love turns to a reliving the memories, and the possibility of making more. My Christmas Wish is a sentimental story hopeless romantics will love. I did.

    Reviewed for Joyfully Reviewed

    1-0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, December 19, 2010
    I am new at this but felt I had to express my opinion of this book. There was nothing in the "sample" of writing I read that would have prepared me for the main content of this book. It is disgusting with no point or storyline beyond the first page. The rest of the pages serve only to talk about sex in a vulgar manner. This book is not about romance. This review may help sell it for those who enjoy no plot or finish to a book. I wish I could find out how to get it off my reader.

    4-0 out of 5 stars good naughty short story., December 8, 2010
    for a short story it was very naughty and if you like those kinds of books(i do) then you will enjoy this book.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Language a little over the top for me., December 1, 2010
    I enjoyed this book. I haven't read a romance in a while and it was kinda sweet. Some of the language was a bit more direct than what I am use to, but that's just me. It wasn't a long drawn out story and I like that too. I would read this author again.

    1-0 out of 5 stars This is not a book. This is not even a story..., November 29, 2010
    I now understand why this book was free. However, I am not sure I can call it a "book" or even a "story." "My Christmas Wish" is basically a string of poorly written sex scenes. Essentially a bunch of pages filled with words like "hunger" and "moan." Very cheesy. Looking forward to deleting this from my Kindle...

    1-0 out of 5 stars Where's the plot?, November 25, 2010
    If you're looking for a steamy romp novel with no substance whatsoever, this one is for you. Unfortunately for me, it was a waste of time and a bad first read for my new Kindle.

    3-0 out of 5 stars What she wants on Christmas, November 19, 2010
    Five years ago, Duncan has pushed Tara away from his life in order to allow her to pursue her dream of singing. A successful Tara comes back for two nights only to participate in a holiday charity concert, and to lay the past to rest.
    This is a short story with hot sexy scenes. If you have only an hour to devote to reading, this is for you.
    These are great characters and my only complaint is that this story could have been developed into a full lenght novel. ... Read more

    18. Last Light (Restoration Series Book 1)
    by Terri Blackstock
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $14.99
    Asin: B000FCKH9C
    Publisher: Zondervan
    Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    What if America suddenly lost all its electrical power, its communications, its transportation, its financial system, its government leadership, and its media? What if an upper middle-class neighborhood of families who hardly know each other's names, suddenly had to form a functioning, self-contained community? How would people in the 21st Century, spoiled by microwaves and fast food, air travel and speeding cars, television and air conditioning, learn to function if they no longer had cars that ran, grocery stores, postal service, running water, computers, big screen TVs? If they had to hunt to eat or grow their own food? If they had to dig wells for water? If they had to learn to wash their clothes in the nearby lake? If they had to establish a neighborhood school and a neighborhood church? And what if the crisis created looters and killers who thought they could rob and murder without consequences? This series combines elements of Growing up Gotti with Little House on the Prairie. After an unexplained catastrophic event in the atmosphere knocks out all electronics in the world, these well-to-do families who've accumulated so many things are suddenly left helpless. Their Mercedes and BMWs sit in their driveways, useless. Their expensive, well-appointed homes have no electricity, no refrigeration, no phones. Even their battery-operated electronics don't work. No one is certain whether the country is under attack. Without communication, there is no way to find out. One family of Christians--the Brannings--realizes the needs of those around them. After wrestling with their own anger, fear and despair, and struggling in prayer with the Lord, they begin to realize that they have a job to do. They begin trying to unite the neighbors in a common effort to survive, and instead of hoarding, they realize that Christ has called them to sacrifice and give. But a couple is found dead in their neighborhood, and they realize that there is a killer among them. As they struggle to protect their own family and property, their 22-year-old daughter Deni falls prey to the killer, and takes off with him across the country, desperate to make her way to the East Coast where she thinks her life will be better. It doesn't take long for her to realize he's the killer and that she's in danger. But getting back home is more difficult than she ever imagined, and she is forced to turn back to Christ in repentance and humility, knowing He is the only One who can help her get home. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting
    I have to be honest, I had no idea "Last Light" was written by a "Christian Writer" when I bought this book. To be completely honest if I had known this book was written by a "Christian Writer" I don't think I would have purchased it. I would have been worried that instead of a taut Sci-Fi/Thriller that the book's jacket promised, I would be buying a 300+ page sermon. My normal reading fare falls more along the lines of Stephen King, James Rollins or Dean Koontz, which if they feature a character strong in faith, it's usually a precursor to the evil they do, and tells the reader they are not to be trusted. So when I got home and found I had bought novel by a "Christian Writer" I wasn't exactly thrilled. I started the book, and got hooked pretty quickly. The idea of living without all of our electric and mechanical conveniences was a pretty cool idea. The characters are pretty well drawn, especially the quick tempered Deni, who like it or not we all can relate to very easily. The pace of the book is quick, and the murder mystery carries the story along nicely. I see other reviews that say they didn't care for the murderer storyline, but liked the rest of the novel. I don't quite understand that, as the murder mystery is easily 1/2 the book if not more. Most of the key action revolves around who the killer may be, and neighborhood's reactions to the killer's presence. I believe Mrs. Blackstock gives an honest portrayal of they way people would react in the circumstances surrounding the catastrophic events that take place in her novel. I didn't plan on liking this novel, and there were a few times I felt the book got too "preachy", but "Last Light" kept me turning pages and coming back for more. And though this seems to be the first book in a series, it's not a cliffhanger. The story stands on it's own without leaving you with unanswered questions that require reading the next book in the series. I will most likely pick up the follow up novel, and recommend this book to fans of suspense novels.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Another great Blackstock series launched with "Last Light"
    Those who have read any of Terri Blackstock's more than two dozen books can attest to the undeniable fact that she is truly an extraordinary writer. Her suspenseful novels meet or exceed the best of this genre; while remaining true to her deeply held Christian faith (her books are always '...lovingly dedicated to the Nazarene'). "LAST LIGHT," the first of four books planned for her current 'Restoration' series, sets an even higher standard, with her challenging theme of our planet being stripped of its electricity, and other forms of power which most of us take for granted. After reading "LAST LIGHT," the only disappointment is having to wait for the remaining books in what promises to be yet another great series! --RON HOWE (a.k.a. Toby Martin II).

    5-0 out of 5 stars Scared Me
    I have read most of Blackstock's books and have enjoyed them a great deal. I was very excited when this one came out and started reading it right away. Although the murder mystery part was not as captivating as some of her other novels, I was totally drawn into the Brannings "new" world. It scared me at times just thinking about what could happen and at other times I wondered if that's not what we need to have happen. I loved the book and can't wait for the next one to come out.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A terrific read lots of suspense
    I gotta say, Terri Blackstock is quickly becoming my favorite author with each new book that I read. I have read quite a few, and this one is excellent. I couldn't put it down, stayed up late to finish, if you like suspense, you will like this. Also, its great for giving you pause for thought about your own spirituality. As a christian, I am finding the christian suspense genre to be a wonderful reading category on dual layers. Get the book, it will be worth it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Real-to-Life Fiction
    If you remember Hurricane Katrina, then you will want to read "Last Light"! Terri Blackstock let her mind wander in late 2004 thinking of the "what ifs" if a major catastrophe were to strike America, only to find herself and her family thrust into that very reality on August 29th 2005 in her home state of Mississippi, along with their neighbors in Louisiana and Alabama. Her all-to-real fictional depiction of devastation will have you thinking what would you do if ever confronted with such a crisis in your community. In addition, as a mystery writer, Terri keeps you turning the pages as you wonder who is responsible for the needless deaths occurring under such horrific circumstances and why. "Last Light" is superb and definitely worth your time to read. Kudos to Terri Blackstock for a job well done!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Last Light
    I watch for new every title Terri publishes. Each book of her many series stands alone, yet keeps you hungry for the next in a series. As soon as I finished Last Light I immediately ordered Night Light (Book#2.) Others have written about the Last Light story line, basically I concur. But I had a couple of issues with the reality side of such an event. The biggest disconnect with me was the failure of all engines with a computer chip, from cars to home generators. That's certainly true in theory. But I can't believe that even in a smaller community a few bright mechanics or engineers could not tinker with these things and figure out a way to by pass the fried electornics. In Book 2 someone finally gets a brain and realizes that older cars (classics) still run. In the Branning's upscale neighborhood, don't tell me that someone didn't have an old Porche or restored '57 Chevy in their garage. Granted, it would take a lot of tinkering to get a modern SUV running when the chip(s) goes bad, but a couple of shade tree mechanics with a lot of time on their hands and a big incentive to succeed could certainly gerry-rig a bunch of direct wires and fire that sucker up. It might run rough, but it would run. Same for the home generator. For the sake of the story itself, which was about the people dealing with the crisis, it was probably better for the author to ignore these ideas. Still, it hurt my reading enjoyment as I placed myself in the character's shoes. Oh yeah, I went and stocked up on batteries and other "Hurricane items" after reading the book.... just in case! Lou Sauer, Raleigh, NC

    5-0 out of 5 stars Riveting
    The concept of this storyline is fascinating and made me realize just how complacent we have become in the world due to our modern conveniences. The characters are well-written and believable, and you can really fall into the story as if you are there. I find this to be the case often with this author's books. I really appreciate a novel that can bring tears to my eyes due to the realism of the characters.

    I also appreciated the Biblical concepts and the way she applied them within the story. When challenged by hardships beyond our comprehension, how would we handle passages like James 1:2-8 or Matthew 5 & 6?

    Recommended if you like adventure/suspense/mystery novels. I just ordered book 2 in this series.

    5-0 out of 5 stars LIFE AS YOU KNOW IT . . . GONE. NOW WHAT?
    I'd heard of Terri Blackstock. Knew she was a Christian fiction writer. Figured she wrote prairie romances.
    As I became more involved in the business of writing and trying to create my own fiction, I sought out other writers works to read. I stumbled across this novel, Last Light, and was intrigued by the cover. Picked it up, read the back cover blurb thought it might be really interesting. Read the first few scenes and . . . bought the book.
    A man and his adult daughter step off an airplane in Alabama. Moments later everything turns silent. Another plane crash lands on the runway near them. A second plane falls, bursting into a fireball.
    How could I not by a book like that? What happened? I had to know.
    The story follows the Branning family (specifically the oldest daughter Deni) as they learn to live without modern amenities. All modern amenities. Something has happened which makes all technology expensive doorstops. Various storylines develop to move the story along. The major one is a murder. Suspects abound and the community basically has to take matters into their own hands to catch the killer. This is book one in a series called Restoration, however, the major treads that weaves this story together are tied up by the end making it a somewhat stand alone novel. The only thing really unresolved is the power outage and Deni getting back to DC. The second book in the series, Night Light is out now.
    Blackstock's writing as great. Here characters, believable.
    If you like stories of technology gone awry and the relational struggles that ensue, this is a story for you. I look forward to seeing how the Brannings fare as the plot thickens over the long haul of a series.
    One thing that really impresses me is reviews I've read by those who are no Christian fiction readers. They've had good things to say. I've always believed, and try to practice with my own writing, that if you write a good story (as opposed to a sermon masquerading as a novel) you'll reach a broader audience with a message of hope.
    Well done, Terri.
    ... Read more

    19. Marry Me
    by Jo Goodman
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $5.59
    Asin: B003VWC1OC
    Publisher: Zebra Books
    Sales Rank: 133
    Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    Her Heart Was Locked Away

    Rhyne Abbot is fierce, brave, and used to a life of isolation on her father's spread on the outskirts of Reidsville, Colorado. But when, overcome with sickness, she collapses, she knows she must return to town if she is to have any hope of recovery. Only there is no place for her but the new doctor's home, and he wants more than just to heal Rhyne. He wants her hand in marriage.

    Until One Man Found The Key

    Doctor Cole Monroe's hands are already more than full with his orphaned little sister to look after, and yet somehow he can't resist the magnetic pull of Rhyne's bewitching eyes--or her tempting kiss. But convincing her to trust him won't be easy. For Rhyne's heart needs as much tender care as her ailing body. And the only cure is the thing she most fears: to let herself fall in love...

    Praise for Jo Goodman and The Price of Desire

    "Once again, Goodman delivers a luscious and sensual romance."--Romantic Times ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars I'm not fond of Westerns but I'll make an exception for a Jo Goodman novel.
    I first became acquainted with Goodman's writing in the early 2000s when she released her Regency England quartet about the Compass Club, 4 men who had been friends since boyhood. All four of these novels have these friends as characters, take place within the same time frame and share some plotline, but each book focuses on one friend, with his point of view, adventures and romance. (These books are LET ME BE THE ONE, EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED, ALL I EVER NEEDED, and BEYOND A WICKED KISS and are very good.) Since then I have Goodman on my auto-buy list. Some of her books are better than others but all are, IMO, far superior to most of the HRs coming out in recent years.

    Her last two releases, NEVER LOVE A LAWMAN from 2009 and this new one take place in the 1880s in the small mining town of Reidsville, Colorado. They both work as stand alones but many characters from the 2009 book are in this more recent one and are fun to meet up with again. MARRY ME focuses on a New York medical doctor who moves to Reidsville with his 16-year-old scarred and mildly-troubled sister. His romantic interest is a woman who has lived in the area all her life but has been relatively isolated from society, living on the outskirts of the town. OK, that's really all you should know to fully enjoy the story. Everything should be revealed to you as you are reading about it. You'll find the story's progression satisfying, the writing excellent and the dialogue humorous and very revealing of each character's personality. (BTW, I hope you have not read the Booklist review by Pat Henshaw which Amazon has published here above the Product Detail. It reveals far too much about the story and should have been outlawed.)

    Goodman is a skilled writer who writes with humor and obvious compassion for her characters, who are 3-dimensional, realistically-portrayed people. This means that at times she doesn't pull her punches. Real themes such as physical, sexual or emotional abuse, rape and other traumatic experiences can be found in her books. However, they are NOT there to titillate or shock the reader. They are there to show us the resilience of the human spirit as her characters deal with their problems, helped by the friendship, humor and compassion of others.

    Another big plus for me in a Goodman novel is that the heroes are really good guys, principled and with strength and depth to their character. And they can control their horndog tendencies, something a lot of heroes in recent HRs have trouble with. This doesn't mean we don't have hot love scenes. We do, but friendship, love and trust grow between the H and h before they act on their physical attraction.

    I had a few criticisms of this novel. One with respect to a plotline towards the end. Something to do with the heroine's father which felt contrived to me. And there were two very strange grammatical errors, with the author writing "trodding the boards" instead of "treading" and her use of "forbid" as if it were the past tense of the verb. But that's not enough for me not to like this book a lot. I gave it 5 stars, rather than 4 (Remember I don't like Westerns?) a bit subjectively, because I'd been reading a lot of really bad paperback HRs lately and this one was a welcome change. ... Read more

    20. Troublesome Creek (Troublesome Creek Series #1)
    by Jan Watson
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $12.99
    Asin: B000SFBXQ2
    Publisher: Tyndale House Pub
    Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    A charming historical novel set in the late 1800s. Born and raised in the hills of Kentucky, Laura "Copper" Grace loves the wilderness of her home in Troublesome Creek. But when her stepmother threatens to send her away to boarding school to become a lady, Copper faces the possibility of losing everything that is precious to her. Copper must come to terms with her family and discover the true meaning of home. Nothing can drag her off the mountain, until the day she realizes that God has other plans for her life.

    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars can't wait for the sequel
    I'll just go ahead and use the most over used line in reviews. It was a real page turner. It transplanted me in time and place, to the late 1880's in Appalachia. The scene came alive on the pages. The characters were real and the novel's twists and turns were, for the most part, unpredictable. The reader has no choice but to identify with Copper, the twins and the various other characters. Troublesome Creek did not read like the writer's first novel. I could feel her own real life experiences seep through, in the small, detailed descriptions that made this novel seem so "true to life."

    I'm anxiously awaiting the sequel. Does married life fit Copper, especially in the "big" city and not the woods of eastern Kentucky? Keep writing Jan, you've found your niche.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent book!
    This wonderful book has it all: tragedy, romance, adventure, history, and a compelling story of a young woman coming of age in the hills of Kentucky.

    5-0 out of 5 stars a great read
    I thought this book was a delightful read. I, too, liked the unpredictability and the reality of life experiences found in Troublesome Creek. I was strengthened by the characters' reliance on their faith to carry them through whatever life brought their way. I can't wait for the sequel! I can't wait to see what happens to these folks next and I've got a feeling Jan Watson has more to say.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Very Pleasurable Read
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Ms. Watson's style of writing was so refreshing; I loved her descriptions and her dialogues...especially the very amusing comments by Copper's twin brothers! I love how she put everything in this book: sorrow, laughter, mystery, tension, & romance.

    This book tells a couple of stories, starting with that of Copper's father and mother. Theirs was a true romance that soon ended in tragedy. However, her father's decision soon after made Copper into the woman she came to be, the woman I so very much enjoyed reading about! The setting happens to be in the hills of Kentucky around 1881. It's not often you find a story depicted in that setting, and that is one of the reasons I loved it so much.

    This book was more entertaining than any others I've read in a while. If you have ever read "Christy" by Catherine Marshall, and enjoyed it as much as I did, you'll love this book!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Leisurely book for a break from life's rush
    This first-time novelist captures the reader's heart as pages quickly turn to reveal plot twists and a story of real-life family love. This is how Jan Watson, author of Troublesome Creek, debuts her work as a novelist. Main character Copper, a sixteen-year-old girl from the hills of Kentucky, struggles through her teenage years with her loving, but somewhat sewn askew parents. After an introduction to the existing Brown family, Watson takes the reader into the family's turbulent past, bringing more complexity to the story. Troublesome Creek, the nearby waterfront that Will Brown has loved for so many years proves to be loving and unforgiving all at once. A mountain cat herself, young Copper's outdoor-loving instincts come to battle against her mother's desire for her to become a "proper lady." Threats of boarding school and city life lead Copper to make hasty, unwise decisions that guide her into paths she would never have chosen otherwise. A story of true, tested love and the blossoming of youth into adulthood makes this a gentle but poignant story.

    Watson gracefully leads the reader into the plot by the powerful use of flashback. Troublesome Creek is revealed to the reader one piece at a time, but leaves no questions about what is to come. Relationships between characters are unforgettable and feel hauntingly realistic. Although Watson's plot twists are unusual in everyday life, a reader cannot help but empathize when the characters find themselves in painful or awkward situations.

    Copper is a young and fiery redhead who loves the mountains, her family, and her hound dog Paw-Paw. As the story progresses, Copper finds herself in love with John, a friend from her childhood. Stepmother Grace and father Will serve her with guidance and stability as she makes decisions as an inexperienced adolescent. Rifts between mother and daughter emerge, as can only be expected in a story of a growing family. But, ultimately, love pulls the family through the rough waters of life, as years around Troublesome Creek transpire.

    After finishing Troublesome Creek, a reader comes away changed and in love with life. Although some plot holes and weakly-constructed dialogue mechanically hinder the story's impact, Watson's first novel hits home. The book is appropriate for both young audiences and matured readers because of its unobtrusive and family-friendly content. Written in an easy-to-read vernacular, first-time fiction readers and experienced crowds alike will appreciate the Watson's work. Troublesome Creek is a leisurely book for a day in the sun or a break from the rush of life. -- Michelle Faulconer, Christian Book

    5-0 out of 5 stars Well written and grabs your attention
    This book takes place in the late 1800s and is about a young lady and the challenges of growing up in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. The writing is so descriptive; it was like reading in color. I usually only read magazines and technical articles, but this book grabbed me and I kept reading until I finished it. Ed

    5-0 out of 5 stars A must read at any age!
    I just finished reading Troublesome Creek and I can't wait to hear what happens next with Copper. This was the type of book that when I fell asleep reading it, I dreamed about it. Jan Watson's descriptions of the characters and setting were so real that I felt like I was there at Troublesome Creek. Her description of the budding romance was also so real that my stomach got butterflies right along with Copper. This is a great story that I would recommend to a 13 year old or an 80 year old.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Bob Anderson - Walton, Kentucky
    This story was refreshing because it is a historical novel that expresses the true culture of the Appalachian people at the turn of the 20th century. Their pride, feeling of community, and ability to be self-suffecient in a hard living area was exactly as it was expressed to me by my mother who grew up in the Appalachian Mountains. Jan Watson's story made me feel like I was sitting in my momma's kitchen listening to her many stories of her childhood. ... Read more

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