Addition: E-book and audiobook
Genre: Classics
Rating: 5 out of 5
Synopsis:

Ebenezer Scrooge has always hated Christmas, but in this particular Eve, he’s given another reason to be wary of the holiday: the ghost of Jacob Marley comes to visit! Clad in heavy chains and burdensome weights, Marley’s ghost warns Scrooge that three spirits will visit him over the next three nights, each with a ghastly storyto share. Will Scrooge’s ghoulish experience teach him to embrace the spirit of Christmas, or will he say “bah humbug” to the holidays for the last time?

This isn’t the first time I have read this classic, but I’m sad to say, it is one of the few novels by Charles Dickens I have read. You can read my review of this novel from 2008 here. My thoughts about this book haven’t really changed. I am still giving this book top marks. It is a classic Christmas read that I highly recommend.

This is probably a story that you already know – Scrooge is an angry man who hates Christmas, good will, family etc. He has an unexpected visitor who warns him that he will be visited by three spirits during the night of Christmas Eve. These ghosts show Scrooge the past, the present and a possible future. Will these visits soften Scrooge, or will be end up like Jacob Marley – a ghost weighed down by heavy chains due to the decisions he made in life?

In 2008, my favourite character was Fred, Scrooge’s nephew. This time it was Scrooge who was my favourite. I enjoyed reading about his transformation; seeing the man behind the grumpy mask. His memories were sweet and how he started to care was just lovely. I did like Fred too though!

There isn’t much more to say about this novel, as I have already written a review. This is a classic for a reason – it is a great story that is beautifully written. I was there on the journey with Scrooge, transported to another world by Dickens. The book isn’t long, but an excellent read. It is easy to give this top marks. Now, the question is…what is your favourite adaptation? I quite the Muppets one myself…

This book can also be found on Rory Gilmore’s Reading Challenge.

I part read this book, part listened to it. Whilst I was listening to it, I was knitting a cardigan for my daughter. If you would like to see my progress on the cardigan, please visit Katie Creates.

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Addition: Paperback
Genre: Gothic fiction
Published: 1935
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

Her mother’s dying request takes Mary Yellan on a sad journey across the bleak moorland of Cornwall to reach Jamaica Inn, the home of her Aunt Patience. With the coachman’s warning echoing in her memory, Mary arrives at a dismal place to find Patience a changed woman, cowering from her overbearing husband, Joss Merlyn.

Affected by the Inn’s brooding power, Mary is thwarted in her attention to reform her aunt, and unwillingly drawn into the dark deeds of Joss and his accomplices. And, as she struggles with events beyond her control, Mary is further thrown by her feelings for a man she dare not trust….

This is the second Daphne du Maurier book I have read, back in 2008 I read and enjoyed Rebecca. I was inspired to read Jamaica Inn because a few months ago the BBC made it into a mini-series, and I thought I would read the book before I watched the show.

The story is based around Mary. She is sent to live with her Aunt Patience and her husband Joss Merlyn at Jamaica Inn, after the death of her mother. The inn is not at all what she expected – and neither are Patience and Joss. There are dark and mysterious goings-on at Jamaica Inn, and everyone in the surrounding area gives it a wide berth. Joss seems to be the ring leader in some awful gang, and Patience has just turned away and become fearful and weak. Mary is not like that, and her curiosity draws her into what Joss is caught up in, with potentially deadly consequences.

This book almost immediately reminded me of Wuthering Heights. Set out on the Cornish moors, there is fear and darkness. Joss is like Heathcliff, unpredictable and not particularly nice. Although written in the 1930s, this book has all the feelings of a gothic novel – death, fear, the supernatural, love and the unknown. I was drawn in immediately, and all I can say is this is a very good book!

I liked Mary. She was courageous and strong. She had a good sense of right and wrong, and I liked her adventurous spirit. She seemed fearless and I loved how much she wanted to save her Aunt. Her Aunt however did annoy me! She was so weak and pathetic. I really wanted to tell her to pull herself together. I thought Joss was very well-written. I didn’t like him, but he was a great character.

What pleased me most about this book is guessed the baddie! That never happens! I kept saying to my Mum, “I don’t trust…” She wouldn’t comment, but it was satisfying to be right! This was a great read – full of danger and suspense. I was hooked from the beginning. My only complaint was that the book didn’t read fast enough for my liking! This novel has it all – death, suspicion, fear, danger and love. The prose are wonderful, and the descriptions of the moors are beautiful.

This is a great book and if you love classics like Wuthering Heights, you will love this book. It has made me want to re-read Rebecca, and read more of du Maurier’s novels (good thing my Mum owns them!) This was a brilliant read, and I rate it 4 out of 5.

In case you are interested, the inn, Jamaica Inn, does exist! du Maurier based the novel on the place, but her story is entirely fictional. You can find out more about Jamaica Inn here.

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Katie’s Reading:

Currently Reading

I am still reading:

The Cookbook For A New Europe by Richard Segal

To serve society or humanity? It’s been fourteen years since the basketball-mad detective Fran Obrien captured the urban bomber Lavi, who has since moved to Spain and rehabilitated himself beyond recognition. Fran is fresh off a two-year sabbatical, during which he tended to 11-year-old Ben, the family comedian, and 17-year-old Alice, with, yes, as much attitude as you’d expect. His estranged boss Karl has retired and Fran must learn to deal with the new brass – no small task itself. His first assignment is to investigate an act of alleged political corruption which seems more wild goose chase than duck in a barrel, leading him to question his decision to return to work. After an extended-family culinary expedition to Budapest, Fran’s nine-to-five job takes him ‘almost’ to Albany and to Central America, where he must untangle the mother of all webs. His wife, local family doctor Darby, goes along for the ride, and, oh, piña coladas “to die for.” For a detective and amateur gourmet chef like no other, Cookbook for a New Europe is a ride Fran certainly didn’t expect. He’s been fiercely focused for years, but a spate of unintended yet momentous events unfolds once he gives free rein to his emotions, and his recipes.

I’m only about 60 pages further on than I was last week! I am just waiting for the story to get going really. However, Fran is back in the USA after having been to Hungary to visit family and is about to start work again so I’m looking forward to how the story will develop. I’m still struggling a little with how it is written but hopefully I will get used to it.
The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton

A rural idyll: that’s what Catherine is seeking when she sells her house in England and moves to a tiny hamlet in the Cévennes mountains. With her divorce in the past and her children grown, she is free to make a new start, and her dream is to set up in business as a seamstress. But this is a harsh and lonely place when you’re no longer just here on holiday. There is French bureaucracy to contend with, not to mention the mountain weather, and the reserve of her neighbors, including the intriguing Patrick Castagnol. And that’s before the arrival of Catherine’s sister, Bryony.

I haven’t even picked this book up since last week – hopefully I’ll get to it over the weekend.
The other books I’m reading are Christian books. I dip in and out of these and use them as Bible study tools. They are:

Last Week’s Reading

This week I only finished one book:

Bestselling author Stormie Omartian inspires women to develop a deeper relationship with their husbands by praying for them. This encouraging resource is packed with practical advice on praying for specific areas of a husband’s life including his decision-making fears spiritual strength role as father, leader faith and future

Every woman who desires a closer relationship with her husband will appreciate the life illustrations, select Scripture verses, and the assurances of God’s promises and power for their marriage.

This book covers a whole range of issues which might occur in a marriage and ways to work through them and cling to God at the same time. I found this helpful and I will be able to dip in and out of this book in the future

Kirsten’s Reading:

Currently Reading

The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse

I am just about to start reading ‘The Winter Ghosts’ by Kate Mosse, which was lent to me by a friend, who read it recently and said that she enjoyed it. I’m excited to start reading and will review it when I’m done.

The Great War took much more than lives. It robbed a generation of friends, lovers and futures. In Freddie Watson’s case, it took his beloved brother and, at times, his peace of mind. In the winter of 1928, still seeking resolution, Freddie is travelling through the French Pyrenees. During a snowstorm, his car spins off the mountain road. He stumbles through woods, emerging in a tiny village. There he meets Fabrissa, a beautiful woman also mourning a lost generation. Over the course of one night, Fabrissa and Freddie share their stories. By the time dawn breaks, he will have stumbled across a tragic mystery that goes back through the centuries.

Lover Reborn by J. R. Ward

This week I also intend to read ‘Lover Reborn’ by J. R. Ward. This is the tenth book in a series called ‘The Black Dagger Brotherhood’ series. I have read the entire series thus far and really love it. The Black Dagger Brotherhood is a group of warrior vampires who all live and fight together against their enemies, the ‘Lessers’. Each book tells a love story about each of the brothers. This is not vampire fiction like you’ve read before as it doesn’t follow the conventional myths of vampirism – but do not fear, they don’t sparkle! I cannot wait to read this latest offering from the wonderful J. R. Ward.

In the darkest corners of the night in Caldwell, New York, a conflict like no other rages. The city is home to a band of brothers born to defend their race: the warrior vampires of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Now back in the Brotherhood – and unrecognisable as the vampire leader he once was –Tohrment is physically emaciated and heartbroken beyond despair. When he begins to see his beloved in his dreams – trapped in a cold, isolating netherworld – Tohr turns to a self-serving fallen angel in hopes of saving the one he has lost. When he’s told he must learn to love another to free his former mate, Tohr knows they are all doomed . . . Except then a female with a shadowed history begins to get through to him. Against the backdrop of the raging war with the lessers, and with a new clan of vampires vying for the Blind King’s throne, Tohr struggles between the buried past, and a very hot, passion-filled future . . . but can his heart let go and set all of them free?

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

 I bought this in a charity shop the other day. I’ve heard that it is supposed to be good and I am trying to read more classics and so decided to give it a go. Looking forward to seeing what it’s like.

Set in turn-of-the-century New York, Edith Wharton’s classic novel The Age of Innocence reveals a society governed by the dictates of taste and form, manners and morals, and intricate social ceremonies. Newland Archer, soon to marry the lovely May Welland, is a man torn between his respect for tradition and family and his attraction to May’s strongly independent cousin, the Countess Ellen Olenska. Plagued by the desire to live in a world where two people can love each other free from condemnation and judgment by the group, Newland views the artful delicacy of the world he lives in as a comforting security one moment, and at another, as an oppressive fiction masking true human nature. The Age of Innocence is at once a richly drawn portrait of the elegant lifestyles, luxurious brownstones, and fascinating culture of bygone New York society and a compelling look at the conflict between human passions and the social tribe that tries to control them.

Last Week’s Reading

The Calling by Kelley Armstrong

I have just finished reading a book called ‘The Calling’ by Kelley Armstrong which is the second book in what is to be a trilogy called ‘Darkness Rising’. I really enjoyed this book and read it in literally a matter of hours. I have read the first book in the trilogy as well and cannot wait for the concluding instalment. I would definitely recommend this, and other books by this author, to anyone who enjoys reading ‘Paranormal/Fantasy’ fiction. Four stars!

Maya Delaney’s paw-print birthmark is the sign of what she truly is—a skin-walker. She can run faster, climb higher, and see better than nearly anyone else. Experiencing intense connections with the animals that roam the woods outside her home, Maya knows it’s only a matter of time before she’s able to Shift and become one of them. And she believes there may be others in her small town with surprising talents.

Now, Maya and her friends have been forced to flee from their homes during a forest fire they suspect was deliberately set. Then they’re kidnapped, and after a chilling helicopter crash, they find themselves in the Vancouver Island wilderness with nothing but their extraordinary abilities to help them get back home.

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

I have also not long finished a book called ‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’ by Ann Radcliffe. It took me quite a long time to read this book as it was very long and very dense (and I stopped a couple of times to read other things)! The book is a classic ‘Gothic Horror/Ghost Story’. It is very suspenseful and has true thriller moments. A good read if you have the patience to endure it and, as far as I was concerned, well worth the slog.

With The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radcliffe raised the Gothic romance to a new level and inspired a long line of imitators. Portraying her heroine’s inner life, creating a thick atmosphere of fear, and providing a gripping plot that continues to thrill readers today, The Mysteries of Udolpho is the story of orphan Emily St. Aubert, who finds herself separated from the man she loves and confined within the medieval castle of her aunt’s new husband, Montoni. Inside the castle, she must cope with an unwanted suitor, Montoni’s threats, and the wild imaginings and terrors that threaten to overwhelm her.

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REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Addition: Illustrated e-book
Genre: Classics
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Wrongly accused of theft and exiled from a religious community many years before, the embittered weaver Silas Marner lives alone in Raveloe, living only for work and his precious hoard of money. But when his money is stolen and an orphaned child finds her way into his house, Silas is given the chance to transform his life. His fate, and that of the little girl he adopts, is entwined with Godfrey Cass, son of the village Squire, who, like Silas, is trapped by his past. Silas Marner, George Eliot’s favourite of her novels, combines humour, rich symbolism and pointed social criticism to create an unsentimental but affectionate portrait of rural life.

This book was recommended to me by a friend – she described it as her “favourite book ever”. Of course, this added pressure to the book – along with the fact it is a classic, which I always find slow reads as the language is so different.

The story follows Silas Marner, a weaver who was accused of theft in his hometown, by his closest friend. Leaving the town, friend and love of his life behind, he moves to the countryside, to live a solitary life. He falls in love with money, which he hordes under a floorboard. But one fitful night he is robbed. His life is once again empty, until a toddler with gold hair wanders into his cottage and falls asleep on the hearth. The little girl, who he names Eppie, is believed to be an orphan, as her mother is found frozen and dead outside the cottage. What Silas and the village don’t realise is that Eppie is in fact the daughter of Godfrey Cass, one of the Squire’s son. Godfrey had been keeping his marriage to Eppie’s mother a secret as he was so ashamed of it and he sees this as a chance to give up that life – he senses freedom, until 16 years later he is married and childless, and wants nothing more than to have Eppie back from Silas Marner.

I have to be honest and say that this has taken me a long time to read. Partly that is because I have only be reading on my lunch break, and partly because I struggled with a lot of the story. This is a classic, 19th century literature, so the language is very different to most of the books I read. I found there were long sections of the story that I didn’t follow. I remember one whole chapter in a pub based around a cow! A big part of my problem with this book was that the one of the main characters, Eppie, didn’t appear in the story until I had read over half of it! I found the story got much more interesting after the arrival of Eppie and I read it a lot quicker after that point!

I found Silas Marner an interesting character. I felt sorry for him when things went wrong for him – being wrongly accused of theft and then being robbed. I also felt sorry for him that he sunk to a place where money was the most important thing in his life. He really came alive with Eppie, and it was a lovely read. I liked Eppie, she transformed Silas and she was full of love. My favourite moment was probably at the end when, faced with Godfrey’s revelation, she passed up the chance to live in luxury to stay with Silas.

Once Eppie arrived in the story this book picked up and I really enjoyed the second half of the book. If you like classics, you will probably like all of this book! I found the language a big barrier for me and to be honest I also felt the story was slow. However, with the arrival of Eppie all that changed, so I would give this 3 out of 5 because I didn’t think it was all bad!

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I saw these questions over at The Diary of a Domestic Goddess, and thought I would answer them too!

1. Who is your all-time favourite author, and why?

My favourite all time author is Roald Dahl. I love his books. They gave me hours of entertainment when I was small, and now keep me entertained as an adult. I’m currently re-reading James and the Giant Peach, and I’m laughing, and I’m gripped, and I love the illustrations by Quentin Blake. I don’t think it is possible to be too old to enjoy Roald Dahl, I love him.

2. Who was your first favourite author, and why?  Do you still consider him or her among your favourites?


Enid Blyton. I loved everything of hers that I read. I loved The Magic Faraway Tree, and remember my Mum reading that to me and my brother – and the Secret Seven, the Famous Five, Mallory Towers…the list goes on. I loved them all! I always found myself wanting to live in those books! I haven’t read any of these books in a long time, but I really want to – I’m sure I would still love them. I think I would still put Enid Elyton as a favourite author because of the memories I have of reading her books and really enjoying them.

3. Who’s the most recent addition to your list of favourite authors, and why?

Sarah Dessen. I discovered her when I was blogging about young adult books. Every one of her books that I have read I have loved. I found her gripping, entertaining, touching, realistic and just fantastic. I read Just Listen first and it blew me away. I haven’t found a bad book by her yet – thankfully!

4. If someone asked you who your favourite authors were right now, which authors would first pop out of your mouth?  Are there any you’d add on a moment of further reflection?


Terry Pratchett, CS Lewis, Sarah Dessen, Erica James, Wendy Virgo, Philippa Gregory, Roald Dahl. After some thought… Enid Blyton, Ben Elton, Dorothy Koomson, Beatrix Potter, A A Milne, Mark Driscoll, Debbie Macomber, Elizabeth Noble, Nicholas Sparks, Sophie Kinsella, Stephanie Meyer, JK Rowling, Andrew Wilson and Jane Austen I think.

5. Which “unknown” author do you recommend to people most often?

Probably Wendy Virgo. She writes theology books, mainly for women and I love her. I wrote a Recommended Author post about her. The books are easy to read, engaging and for me, life changing. I think everyone should read her books.

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Genre: Mystery/crime

Addition: Paperback (own copy)

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

This is a series of short stories about a detective Sherlock Holmes, and his assistant, Dr. Watson. The detective is at the height of his powers and the volume is full of famous cases, including ‘The Red-Headed League, ‘ ‘The Blue Carbuncle, ‘ and ‘The Speckled Band.’

This is my first Sherlock Holmes book, and it will certainly not be my last. This is a collection of short stories, and I found it a great introduction to Doyle’s writing and the characters of Sherlock and Dr. Watson. Every story is no more than 25 pages long and is fun to read and engaging. The stories do not follow any particular order and one could easily dip in and out of this book or read the stories in their own desired order.

I liked all the stories, but probably The Blue Carbuncle which I did find fairly amusing. A man hid a stolen blue gem in a turkey before Christmas, and when the turkey was given to the wrong person he went a bit crazy! I did find myself laughing. Doyle is a clever, fun writer and Sherlock is intelligent, a bit bizarre and humorous.

I didn’t find this a quick read – I believe this is because of the old-fashioned language and structure. It took me a little while to adjust, however this was not a problem – I find this is the case with classics as well. It is worth pursuing and the stories are fantastic. There is adventure, mystery and humour. I don’t think I worked out any of the mysteries as this is not my usual genre, but I loved reading these stories and have even lent out my copy so others can share this enjoyment. I cannot wait to read more!

Just as an aside, if you are in the UK you definitely should check out the BBC’s Sherlock series:

The film Sherlock Holmes is amazing too:

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Synopsis from Librivox:

What Katy Did is a children’s book written by Susan Coolidge, the pen name of Sarah Chauncey Woolsey. It follows the adventures of Katy Carr and her family, growing up in America in the 1860s. Katy is a tall, untidy tomboy, forever getting into scrapes but wishing to be beautiful and beloved. When a terrible accident makes her an invalid, her illness and recovery gradually teach her to be as good and kind as she has always wanted.

I remember having this when I was little, simply because my name is Katie too (although note the different spelling) and I don’t think I ever read it. That all changed when I decided to read some of the Wordsworth Children’s Classics. I liked this book and I will read the next two, although this has not been my favourite from the classics.

The story follows Katy Carr as she does some serious growing up. At the beginning of the book she is carefree, and although not inconsiderate, she thinks more about fun than looking out for others. Then she is struck down by what at first seems to be a cold, and it finds her bedridden for over a year. There are some big changes in the house while she is ill and all this leads her to grow up and accept more responsibility.

This is a nice story and liked the subtle changes in Katy’s character. This story starts full of fun and adventure and as the story progresses there is a lesson in how to deal with what life throws at you and about how to step up and stop wallowing in self-pity. There is a good message in this book and I think children will learn from it.

As an adult I liked this. It wasn’t the best I have read but it is worth reading. It is an interesting story with some lovely characters and I think parents and children alike should read this book.

I downloaded this book from: http://librivox.org/what-katy-did-by-susan-coolidge/

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Synopsis:

When Sara Crewe, the seven-year-old daughter of a rich and loving father, arrives at her new school in London from India, she is nicknamed the Little Princess by her classmates. She has all the comfort and fine things she could want, but she also reveals a kind and loving heart, a lively mind and a rich imagination. When her father dies, bankrupt, Sara is suddenly reduced to a life of poverty and is forced to live in a cold, damp attic, with only her dreams to support her. But will they be enough?

I remember seeing this film when I little with my Granny, and I remember really enjoying it (and also it making me cry!) I was excited to read this book, having such fond memories of the film – and I must say, I loved the book! I listened to it – a download from Librivox, and it was well worth downloading.

The story is fairly well known: little Sara is beloved by her father but sent to a school in England, away from him. He dotes on her and makes sure she has all the luxuries she needs. That is until he dies and it becomes clear that his latest venture into diamonds had not paid off and he was left bankrupt. Sara soon finds herself an orphan who is living in awful conditions in the attic of the school working as a servant. But her luck is set to change, thanks to her mysterious next door neighbour.

This is a touching story of a little girl’s endurance. I loved Sara. She included others and made them feel loved. She was able to persevere through life thanks to her amazing imagination and her ability to face whatever is thrown at her. And I loved her friends. Even when Sara was banished to the attic she had girls come up and visit her – she was still a princess to them. They are a lovely bunch of girls.

This is a great read. I find that I love Frances Hodgson Burnett and the stories he conjures up. He jumps right into my imagination and I am transported to another world. A Little Princess has love, warmth, hardship, poverty and happiness, it is a real delight to read.

This is a children’s book and I imagine I would of loved this when I was little, like I loved the film. As an adult, I really enjoyed this story and am happy to recommend it to adults as well as children. Top marks from me!

Download: http://librivox.org/a-little-princess-by-frances-hodgson-burnett/

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Waterstones Synopsis:

When a huge cyclone transports Dorothy and her little dog Toto from Kansas to the Land of Oz, she fears that she will never return home again. She and three friends she meets along the way make their way to the Emerald City where they hope to find the Wizard of Oz and have their wishes granted.

Having seen the film many times I was excited to read this book, and I wasn’t let down. Dorothy is taken in her house to the Land of Oz in a cyclone and there she meets some great characters: the Tinman, the Scarecrow and the Lion. With her friends and Toto in tow, she embarks on many adventures to get to see the Wizard of Oz.

This is a very well written book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The book is full of the adventures you expect, including killing the witches and the Queen Mouse. I loved how Baum writes – he is engaging  and the events are gripping. Even though I knew what was going to happen I was hooked and loved the stories.

My favourite character was probably Dorothy. She bought the best out of everyone but ultimately was an innocent little girl who loved her family and just wanted to get home. I just liked her attitude and the way she was so welcoming to everyone.

On an interesting note: the witches shoes in the film are ruby red, but in the book they are silver! My Mum informs me that they changed the colour because silver did not show up enough in the film 🙂

This is a great read for both adults and children, and it made me want to watch the film again!

3/5

This is where I got the audiobook: http://librivox.org/the-wonderful-wizard-of-oz/

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Waterstones Synopsis:

Martyrs to hypochondria and general seediness, J. and his friends George and Harris decide that a jaunt up the Thames would suit them to a ‘T’. But when they set off, they can hardly predict the troubles that lie ahead with tow-ropes, unreliable weather-forecasts and tins of pineapple chunks – not to mention the devastation left in the wake of J.’s small fox-terrier Montmorency. “Three Men in a Boat” was an instant success when it appeared in 1889, and, with its benign escapism, authorial discursions and wonderful evocation of the late-Victorian ‘clerking classes’, it hilariously captured the spirit of its age.

I really enjoyed this book! I mean, what is there not to like? Snobby men who suffer from a severe case of hypochondria who believe they can cope with a trip down the Thames in a boat. The storyline is great. The author Jerome K. Jerome is a talented writer who kept me entertained all the way through.

I loved the commentary of the journey. Everything they saw had a story and the recollection of them made me laugh. These men thought they were more superior and their thoughts on the surrounding areas where very entertaining. The synopsis says this book was an instant success and it is easy to see why.

My favourite chapter was probably involving tie-ropes. I loved the idea of girls pulling boats along, and then getting distracted and letting the boats drift into the middle of the river. I laughed at how these men were happy to annoy larger boats and fellow sailors.

I loved these men simply because of their attitudes. They believed they could cope – although they also believed they had life-threatening diseases; and following their story was great fun. This is well worth reading!

4/5

Audiobook downloaded from: http://librivox.org/three-men-in-a-boat-by-jerome-k-jerome/

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