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Adventure Audiobooks Book Clubs Book Reviews Books Classics Featured Fiction Science Fiction

Journey to the Center of the Earth (Extraordinary Voyages #3) by Jules Verne

The intrepid Professor Liedenbrock embarks upon the strangest expedition of the nineteenth century: a journey down an extinct Icelandic volcano to the Earth’s very core. In his quest to penetrate the planet’s primordial secrets, the geologist–together with his quaking nephew Axel and their devoted guide, Hans–discovers an astonishing subterranean menagerie of prehistoric proportions. Verne’s imaginative tale is at once the ultimate science fiction adventure and a reflection on the perfectibility of human understanding and the psychology of the questor.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (Extraordinary Voyages, #3)Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was great. I read this one for Life’s Library Book Club. I enjoyed it as an audiobook, narrated by Simon Prebble.

I loved the original movie from 1959. In this book, as a new post movie read for me, I also loved how the story unfolded, though I must say it was difficult to put aside the ideas I already knew from the movie and not miss on all the nonstop action that drove the storyline home.

The story was a little slow to start though. I couldn’t wait to get to the actual journey part. The build up was important but slow from this aspect, but when it took off, the story became a little more alive to me.

I don’t think I ever remembered it taking place in Iceland, so I really appreciated all the insight into Icelandic scenery and culture.

The thought put into the science fiction aspects were my favorite part. Thoughts about lighting to view the center of the earth, taking note of how one could possibly do this in the presence of gasses. Discussion about the actual physical space, liquid or solidarity. The discussions that took place among the characters to evaluate this. I just loved all the ideas that were studied and explored.

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ARCs Book Reviews Books Classics Featured Nonfiction

Canoeing in the Wilderness by Henry David Thoreau

Essayist, poet, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau (1817–62) ranks among America’s foremost nature writers. The Concord, Massachusetts, native spent most of his life observing the natural world of New England. His thoughts on leading a simple, independent life remain a foundation of modern environmentalism, as captured in Walden, his best-known work.Canoeing in the Wilderness, the 1857 diary of a two-week sojourn in Maine, chronicles the author’s travels with a friend and a Native American guide.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the Maine woodlands were still in pristine condition, inhabited by a handful of Native Americans, pioneer farmers, the occasional lumberjack, and a rich and diverse wildlife population. Thoreau’s poetic yet realistic observations of the landscape are accompanied by his accounts of day-to-day events. From camping by the waterside and waking to birdsong to enduring mosquitoes and cloudbursts, he writes with grace and clarity that bring the American wilderness to vivid life.

Canoeing in the WildernessCanoeing in the Wilderness by Henry David Thoreau

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Dover Publications for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.

Loved it.

I’d recommend this to anyone. I found it to be an incredibly relaxing read especially during these moments in time, the perfect novella, palette cleanser, reflective, a great way to gain perspective and become grounded and mindful of the lovely things in life.

I loved how soothing the writing rhythm was, both poetic and philosophical, yet easily attainable and enjoyable without being overly complicated. It read with ease as if I was sitting around a campfire listening to the master tell stories of great adventure and oral tradition.

Stories centered on depicting appreciation for and observations of the natural world including adventure trails to canoe running, surrounding forest environment, woodland animals, and relationships with the Indians.

Thoreau’s stylistically simple, yet deeply personal and thought-provoking journal entries never fail to refresh my mind.

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Book Reviews Books Classics Featured Fiction

Voltaire Candide, or Optimism by Voltaire

Candide is the story of a gentle man who, though pummeled and slapped in every direction by fate, clings desperately to the belief that he lives in “the best of all possible worlds.” On the surface a witty, bantering tale, this eighteenth-century classic is actually a savage, satiric thrust at the philosophical optimism that proclaims that all disaster and human suffering is part of a benevolent cosmic plan. Fast, funny, often outrageous, the French philosopher’s immortal narrative takes Candide around the world to discover that — contrary to the teachings of his distinguished tutor Dr. Pangloss — all is not always for the best. Alive with wit, brilliance, and graceful storytelling, Candide has become Voltaire’s most celebrated work.

CandideCandide by Voltaire

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hilarious and often silly, philosophical and exaggerated, a relic true to the interpersonal behavioral quirks of then and now.

Some bits were a bit of a bore to me, a little overly detailed for my taste, but I was glad to have read it anyway!

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Book Reviews Books Classics Featured Fiction Historical Fiction

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

This is the testament of Paul Bäumer, who enlists with his classmates in the German army of World War I. These young men become enthusiastic soldiers, but their world of duty, culture, and progress breaks into pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches.

Through years of vivid horror, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the hatred that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against one another – if only he can come out of the war alive.

All Quiet on the Western FrontAll Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An intense, insightful picture of war and all its repercussions brought forth from a soldier’s unfiltered and unapologetic point of view. I’d highly recommend this classic read for everyone. This was a reread for me and it was just as impactful the second time around.

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Audiobooks Book Reviews Classics Featured Fiction Historical Fiction

Hawaii by James A. Michener

Pulitzer Prize–winning author James A. Michener brings Hawaii’s epic history vividly to life in a classic saga that has captivated readers since its initial publication in 1959. As the volcanic Hawaiian Islands sprout from the ocean floor, the land remains untouched for centuries—until, little more than a thousand years ago, Polynesian seafarers make the perilous journey across the Pacific, flourishing in this tropical paradise according to their ancient traditions. Then, in the early nineteenth century, American missionaries arrive, bringing with them a new creed and a new way of life. Based on exhaustive research and told in Michener’s immersive prose, Hawaii is the story of disparate peoples struggling to keep their identity, live in harmony, and, ultimately, join together.

HawaiiHawaii by James A. Michener

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Such an excellent book! I listened to it via audiobook, narrated by Larry McKeever and Fred Sanders which I’d highly recommend.

It’s a comprehensive historical account about the formation of Hawaii, as in the very creation of the islands from volcanic activity to the development of language, societal norms, statehood, and culture. It had a well-rounded insight into the social interaction and adaptation of the times.

It really appealed to my curiosity, what actually is native to the islands? From foliage, poi, and pineapples, the uklele, hula skirts and hula dancing, is anything attributed to be native to Hawaii that wasn’t brought over by boat from thousands of miles away? How did all of these things originate and become Hawaii as we know it today? What exactly can Hawaii call their own?

The writing in particular was lovely, it read like an adventure and answered the most intriguing questions. It was incredibly blunt, there was absolutely no holding back on this one whether in celebrations or conflict, perception or reality.

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Audiobooks Book Reviews Books Classics Featured Fiction Science Fiction

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

The story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie’s intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance–until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?

Flowers for AlgernonFlowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Such a good story. I’d recommend it to anyone. I followed along via audiobook, narrated by Jeff Woodman, which I’d highly recommend as well.

The author, Daniel Keyes, was a master at writing to the progression of the story and character development in this book. Beginning with inner and external dialogue that spoke to the nuances of language development from concrete to abstract thinking and to the vocabulary itself. From developmental delays and emotional immaturity to the acquisition and subsequent regression, the thought patterns and use of words were very well thought out.

The premise itself covered consciousness, introspection, personhood, character, innate being, ethical dilemmas, meaning, belonging, intimacy, relational concepts, and love. It explores what it means to be a person, who and what you are and I loved how the author communicated it all.

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Audiobooks Book Clubs Book Reviews Books Classics Fantasy Featured Fiction Historical Fiction

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

In one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies.

Here is patriarch Esteban, whose wild desires and political machinations are tempered only by his love for his ethereal wife, Clara, a woman touched by an otherworldly hand. Their daughter, Blanca, whose forbidden love for a man Esteban has deemed unworthy infuriates her father, yet will produce his greatest joy: his granddaughter Alba, a beautiful, ambitious girl who will lead the family and their country into a revolutionary future.

The House of the Spirits is an enthralling saga that spans decades and lives, twining the personal and the political into an epic novel of love, magic, and fate.

The House of the SpiritsThe House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This one just wasn’t for me. It was too fanciful, wordy, and just plain weird for my taste. I read this for Life’s Library Book Club. It was not likely one I would pick up on my own though, but I did give it a good try and I know other people will love it.

I converted my reading experience to audiobook about half way through to see if it would help bring me into the more positively popular perspective about this book, but I just couldn’t get into it. I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading it though as other people would probably relate to it more than me and might find themselves better immersed in the story.

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Audiobooks Book Clubs Book Reviews Books Classics Featured Nonfiction

The Republic by Plato

Presented in the form of a dialogue between Socrates and three different interlocutors, this classic text is an enquiry into the notion of a perfect community and the ideal individual within it. During the conversation, other questions are raised: what is goodness?; what is reality?; and what is knowledge? The Republic also addresses the purpose of education and the role of both women and men as guardians of the people. With remarkable lucidity and deft use of allegory, Plato arrives at a depiction of a state bound by harmony and ruled by philosopher kings.

The RepublicThe Republic by Plato

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this one! I read it for PewDiePie’s Book Review/Literature Club.

Though I was already quite familiar with the published pieces, having taken philosophy classes in undergrad, I still found the content intriguing. I started out reading it in digital format, but ended up listening to the rest of it via audiobook. My version didn’t list the narrator, but it was perfect for this particular book which consists of a lot of dialogue. The audio version allowed it to be an enjoyable conversation to listen to. I think those familiar and less familiar with the notions and key figures of philosophy will be able to understand the flow and concepts and the audiobook version makes it just that much more easy to follow and understand.

I’d recommend it to anyone, especially those who are in high school or college as I think students would find it particularly insightful and helpful in developing their worldview, exploring habits of thinking, bringing relevant human behavior and perspective into discussions and debates, and for an overall general must read about historical key figures who contributed so much to the world of philosophy even as we know it today.

I really liked the dialogue style format. Basically this book reads like a real time conversation between philosophers, most notably Plato and Socrates among a few others.

As far as content is concerned, the philosophers discussed interesting perspectives of the most basic and abstract needs of humanity. They commented on topics such as aging, wealth, deeds, death, tales, and fears. They talked about contrasting viewpoints on the just and unjust, intention vs action, as well as wisdom and virtue. Each conversation took each viewpoint to the extreme for exploration purposes, almost lost in minutia but ultimately became helpful for establishing boundaries as well as creating and assigning meaning.

It can be a heavy read at times and definitely one you will want to take your time with.

Here is a photo of the complete collection of Plato’s works that I took while visiting the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. back in February. The Library of Congress is a marvelous place!

The Republic by Plato, collection located at the Library of Congress © 2018 ericarobbin.com | All rights reserved.

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Book Reviews Books Classics Featured Fiction

The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith’s hugely successful novel of 1766 remained for generations one of the most highly regarded and beloved works of eighteenth-century fiction. It depicts the fall and rise of the Primrose family, presided over by the benevolent vicar, the narrator of a fairy-tale plot of impersonation and deception, the abduction of a beautiful heroine and the machinations of an aristocratic villain. By turns comic and sentimental, the novel’s popularity owes much to its recognizable depiction of domestic life and loving family relationships.

The Vicar of WakefieldThe Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book so much. I would recommend it to anyone. It was originally composed in 1762 and published in 1766 so there is considerable consideration as to the who will feel at ease in gaining rhythm and understanding and subsequent enjoyment of the writing style.

From the storyline that unfolded to bring a dynamic perspective to courtship, family, and life principles to the writing that was rich with words and concepts, it was such an incredibly refreshing read. The premise and its delivery brought deeper meaning to grief and pain, moral contributions, and, joy and sentiment to a whole other level that recalibrated my expectations as to what I love in a good book. There is debate whether it is a more satyrical novel, to which I would say I agree to much in the elements of it and it made it all the more wholesome.

MY FAVORITE LINES:

“We are not to judge the feelings of others by what we might feel in their place.”

“The pain which conscience gives the man who has already done wrong is soon got over. Conscience is a coward; and those faults it has not strength enough to prevent, it seldom has justice enough to accuse.”

“Both wit and understanding are trifles, without integrity; it is that which gives value to every character. The ignorant peasant without fault is greater than the philosopher with many; for what is genius or courage without an heart?”

“Man little knows what calamities are beyond his patience to bear, till he tries them: as in ascending the heights of ambition, which look bright from below, every step we rise shows us some new and gloomy prospects of hidden disappointment: so in our descent from the summits of pleasure, though the vale of misery below may appear at first dark and gloomy, yet the busy mind, still attentive to its own amusement, finds, as we descend, something to flatter and to please. Still as we approach, the darkest objects appear to brighten, and the mental eye becomes adapted to its gloomy situation.”

“Now, therefore, I began to associate with none but disappointed authors like myself, who praised, deplored, and despised each other. The satisfaction we found in every celebrated writer’s attempts was inversely as their merits. My unfortunate paradoxes had entirely dried up that source of comfort. I could neither read nor write with satisfaction; for excellence in another was my aversion, and writing was my trade.”

“Offences are easily pardoned where there is love at the bottom.”

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Book Clubs Book Reviews Books Classics Featured Fiction Mystery Romance

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .

The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

RebeccaRebecca by Daphne du Maurier

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the story, the writing, not so much. I read this for SunBeamsJess Book Club. I would recommend it to those who enjoy a bit of mystery and romance within a gothic setting.

I really got into the story as I found the plot to become more intriguing. I stumbled over the excessively descriptive writing style though. I restarted this one twice. There were just too many adjectives. Just about every noun was preceded by one, sometimes several, and it was distracting to me. I was distracted to the point that it sort of stole the joy out of my reading and I had a hard time getting over it. I liked the way the characters where set up and the atmosphere that the writer, Daphne du Maurier, created.

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Adventure Book Reviews Books Childrens Classics Fantasy Featured Fiction

Watership Down by Richard Adams

Set in England’s Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of friends, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society.

Watership Down (Watership Down, #1)Watership Down by Richard Adams

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. I’d recommend it to anyone, adults and children alike.

The stories were exciting, fun, and adventurous. It really dove into the life, activities, and perspective of rabbits. With moments of satisfaction, adversity, and the ever presence of potential danger, there were precious and sad parts coupled with elements of moral value in the overall theme. Some bits did drone on a bit, but I appreciated the level of detail in which the writing brought the characters to life, capturing both the docile spirit yet swift and protective nature of these animals.

Because of the greater amount of characters, I’d really be curious as to how this might be in audio format.

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Watership Down by Richard Adams © 2019 ericarobbin.com | All rights reserved.
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Categories
Book Reviews Books Classics Featured Fiction Romance

Emma by Jane Austen

The Vintage Classics Austen series is designed by the writer and illustrator Leanne Shapton and introduced by some of our finest contemporary writers and Austen fans: Alexander McCall Smith, Lynne Truss, Amanda Vickery, Francesca Segal, P.D. James and Andrew Motion.

‘Jane Austen’s Emma is her masterpiece, mixing the sparkle of her early books with a deep sensibility’ Robert McCrum, Observer

Emma is young, rich and independent. She has decided not to get married and instead spends her time organising her acquaintances’ love affairs. Her plans for the matrimonial success of her new friend Harriet, however, lead her into complications that ultimately test her own detachment from the world of romance.
EmmaEmma by Jane Austen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love Emma. This was a reread for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it the second time around. I’d recommend it to anyone.

The writing style, tone, characters, setting, and premise were all as intriguing as I remembered. I did forget about the ramble, but I appreciated the details that were told with a bit of genius with humor and sass that really helped to develop the theme and dilemmas the characters faced in the story.

FAVORITE LINES:

“I may have lost my heart, but not my self-control.”
– Jane Austin

“There are people, who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves.”
― Jane Austen

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