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Flash Reviews (November 20th 2013)

‘Daisy Miller’ (Dover Thrift Editions)

Daisy Miller by Henry James ****
I was so impressed by my reading of The Turn of The Screw that I could not wait to read another one of James’ books.  I had no idea before I downloaded Daisy Miller to my Kindle that it was quite so short.  This novella is not overly plot-driven, but the characterisation – the strongest element of the novel as far as I am concerned – is marvellous and more than makes up for the lack of action in its pages.  An unexpected and beautifully written novella.

Miss Julie by August Strindberg **
I hoped I would enjoy this play more than The Father, which I read in October.  Sadly, I didn’t even like it as much.  The characters all felt a little flat to me – perhaps because the play itself was rather short and there was not enough space in which to develop them.  Miss Julie is not a very memorable play by any means, and on the lack of strength of it, I shall not be picking up any more of Strindberg’s work in future.

Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan ****
I am so enjoying the Percy Jackson series.  This book, as with the previous two, was so, so good, and I could not bear to put it down.  As far as the storyline goes, I think this may be my favourite to date.  I love the way in which figures from mythology are woven in, and the relevance within the story which Riordan gives to each one.  Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse is well paced, well plotted and full of excitement.  The character development too is great, and it really feels as though Percy is maturing as the series goes on.

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Flash Reviews (5th November 2013)

The Father by August Strindberg ***
I have never read a Strindberg play before, not even at University, so I was not quite sure what to expect.  The plot was interesting yet a little staid.  My favourite aspect of it was the interaction between different characters – Laura and the doctor particularly – and found that the majority of the conversations worked well as a semblance of a conversation which one could expect to have in real life.  The Father is not a play which I will read again, and nor is it one I would like to see performed, but I am looking forward to reading more of Strindberg’s work.

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The adorable Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan ****
I very much enjoyed the first novel (and film) in the Percy Jackson series, and was eager to carry on.  The first story was very clever, and I loved the way in which Riordan merged Percy’s present day story as a ‘troubled kid’ with ‘behavioural issues’ with tales of Ancient Greece.

The task which Percy and assorted friends from school and camp face in The Sea of Monsters is to retrieve the Golden Fleece from the Sea of Monsters, which Riordan cleverly casts as the Bermuda Triangle.  The story moves on from the first book marvellously, and I am looking forward to seeing which adventures and monsters which Percy will face next.  The humour and sarcasm throughout work well with the action of the story, as does the first person perspective.  Percy feels realistic, and his character development and actions are believable and well thought out.  Highly recommended if you want a fun, light read, or a novel which is sure to entrance any children in your care.

King John by William Shakespeare ****
I became a little behind with my Shakespeare challenge and should have read King John earlier than I did, but I am hoping that by the end of this month, I will be back on track.  I found King John very enjoyable and incredibly well written, and am surprised that there are not more performances or fans of the play.  Throughout, Shakespeare raises interesting questions about one’s eligibility to the throne, and musings about the best candidates who could take over such a position.  A great history play, and one which I would love to see on the stage.
(Side note: I loved the fact that one of my favourite singer-songwriters, Frank Turner, had used a line of the play as a slogan of sorts – ‘Heaven take my soul but England keep my bones’ – and the latter part of this as an album title.  Awesome choice, Frank.)