goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Bimbi er frihedskæmper (Bimbi as Freedom Fighter)
Author: Estrid Ott
Genre: Childrens
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 142
Date read: October, 2014

Bimbi is finally back with his beloved Babsi. But war has come to Denmark, and though he is just a toy elephant, Bambi and Babsi find ways for him to join the resistance movement and join the fight against the Germans.

The "Bimbi" books used to be among my favourites as a child, so I was keen on rereading them for the read-a-thon. Unfortunately I discovered that they are just slightly too 'twee' for my tastes now, but I have a feeling that they probably work much better when read aloud than when read to myself.

Plus, nostalgia always helps as well ;)
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Reden (The Nest)
Author: Estrid Ott
Genre: YA, Classic
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 148
Date read: October, 2014

The story of a poor organist, his wife and their 5 kids who always get into adventures.

Estrid Ott was one of my favourite authors growing up, and it's so gratifying to see that her books still stand the test of time. I've read this book times beyond number since I first discovered it in my (very) early teens. It's a lovely story about a family who support each other through thick and thin and who - of course - always come out on top. A lovely feel-good book that I always close with a happy sigh :)
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Heaven to Betsy, Betsy in Spite of Herself
Author: Maud Hart Lovelace
Genre: Classic, YA
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 704 (337 + 367)
Date read: April, 2013

Heaven to Betsy
Betsy Ray is loving every minute of freshman year at Deep Valley High-with new and old friends all around her...not to mention boys! But most intriguing of all is the one she and her best friend, Tacy, dub "the Tall Dark Stranger."

Took me forever to read this. It wasn't bad, but just never completely caught my attention so I'd only read a chapter here and a chapter there. Finally this morning I got stubborn and sat down to finish it. The irony is that it's really a fast read - I read the last 50 pages in 25 minutes.

I've heard about the Betsy-Tacy series forever and have been looking for them at least since 1996. I finally just took the plunge and bought this two-for-one book, knowing that they weren't the two first books in the series, but having been told by a friend that if I was to start reading them at my age, these would probably be the ones I'd like the most.

Unfortunately I only sort-of liked it. I know it's a classic, and if I'd read it as a tween/teen I would probably have loved it, but as it was I didn't think it quite stood the test of time without the rosy-coloured glasses of nostalgia. Having finally finished Heaven to Betsy, I think I shall leave it at that... at least for now.

Betsy in Spite of Herself
Not yet read.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Jane of Lantern Hill
Author: Lucy Maud Montgomery
Genre: Classic
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 288
Date read: March, 2013

For as long as she could remember, Jane Stuart and her mother lived with her grandmother in a dreary mansion in Toronto. Jane always believed her father was dead--until she accidentally learned he was alive and well and living on Prince Edward Island. When Jane spends the summer at his cottage on Lantern Hill, doing all the wonderful things Grandmother deems unladylike, she dares to dream that there could be such a house back in Toronto...a house where she, Mother, and Father could live together without Grandmother directing their lives--a house that could be called home.

I was sick and in the need of a comfort read. This fit the bill perfectly, being one of my favourite LMM books, only surpassed by "Anne of the Island" and "The Blue Castle".

I love reading how Jane grows in spirit once she makes it to Prince Edward Island, and how she makes house with her father and finally comes into her own as she learns what it's like not to be down-trod and underfoot all the time. I wish I didn't believe that relatives like Grandmother Kennedy really existed out there.
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Title: Cranford
Author: Elizabeth Gaskell
Genre: Classic
Rating: 4/5
# pages: Audiobook ~8hrs
Date read: January, 2013

Cranford describes the small adventures of Miss Matty and Miss Deborah, two middle-aged spinster sisters striving to live with dignity in reduced circumstances.

I was on the lookout for new (to me) classics, and [ profile] singersdd recommended I gave Elizabeth Gaskell a try. This was her favourite, so I figured it was as good a place as any to start.

It's a very pleasant comfort book. There's not a whole lot of a plot, but just a general description of life in the village of Cranford. I did think it stopped rather suddenly though.
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Title: The First Four Years
Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder
Genre: Classics
Rating: 2.5/5
# pages: 160
Date read: August, 2012

Laura Ingalls Wilder is beginning life with her new husband, Almanzo, in their own little house. Laura is a young pioneer wife now, and must work hard with Almanzo, farming the land around their home on the South Dakota prairie. Soon their baby daughter, Rose, is born, and the young family must face the hardships and triumphs encountered by so many American pioneers.

By far the weakest of all Laura books, and a book that leads credence to the theory that Rose Wilder edited all of Laura's other books, because the writing style is so vastly different from the rest of the series.

I enjoyed learning what happened after Laura and Almanzo got married, but was sad to see that they started out their marriage with such hardship! Every year just seemed to be worse than the one preceding it. Whereas the rest of the series are lovely comfort books, this one definitely isn't.
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Title: Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
Genre: Classic
Rating: 5/5
# pages: Audiobook ~20hours
Date read: June, 2012

When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited, while he struggles to remain indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.

I can't remember how many times I've read this book, and I've seen the BBC mini-series even more times. It never fails to draw me in.

Some things struck me...
* Mrs. Bennet really is insufferable! I thought it very telling that Mr. Bennet tells Lizzie that he couldn't bear it if "she also found herself in a position where she couldn't respect her spouse". How awful.
* Mr. Bennet ends up calling Wickham his favourite son-in-law? In self-irony I hope.
* Lizzie and especially Jane really did fall in love remarkably quick.
* Austen doesn't seem very capable of writing happy married couples, does she? At least, I can't think of any.
* I need to rewatch the mini-series now!
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Title: Rainbow Valley
Author: L.M. Montgomery
Genre: Classic
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 225
Date read: May, 2011

Anne Shirley is grown up, has married her beloved Gilbert and now is the mother of six mischievous children.

These boys and girls discover a special place all their own, but they never dream of what will happen when the strangest family moves into an old nearby mansion. The Meredith clan is two boys and two girls, with minister father but no mother -- and a runaway girl named Mary Vance. Soon the Meredith kids join Anne's children in their private hideout to carry out their plans to save Mary from the orphanage, to help the lonely minister find happiness, and to keep a pet rooster from the soup pot. There's always an adventure brewing in the sun-dappled world of Rainbow Valley.

I think it's a bit of a misnomer to call this an "Anne"-book. She plays a very small part in it, and her kids only a tiny bit bigger. Instead, the main characters are the Meredith-children. It's still a charming book, and I still hugely enjoyed it - but I did miss Anne.

Having read LMM's journals, I find it interesting that LMM seems to portray love in a somewhat more cynical light in her later books - as shown by the promise of Ellen and Rosemary West here.
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Title: Middlemarch
Author: George Eliot
Genre: Classic
Rating: 3/5
# pages: Audiobook ~33hrs
Date read: November, 2010

Dorothea Brooke can find no acceptable outlet for her talents or energy and few who share her ideals. As an upper middle-class woman in Victorian England she can't learn Greek or Latin simply for herself; she certainly can't become an architect or have a career; and thus, Dorothea finds herself "Saint Theresa of nothing." Believing she will be happy and fulfilled as "the lampholder" for his great scholarly work, she marries the self-centered intellectual Casaubon, twenty-seven years her senior.

Dorothea is not the only character caught by the expectations of British society in this huge, sprawling book. Middlemarch stands above its large and varied fictional community, picking up and examining characters like a jeweler observing stones. There is Lydgate, a struggling young doctor in love with the beautiful but unsuitable Rosamond Vincy; Rosamond's gambling brother Fred and his love, the plain-speaking Mary Garth; Will Ladislaw, Casaubon's attractive cousin, and the ever-curious Mrs. Cadwallader. The characters mingle and interact, bowing and turning in an intricate dance of social expectations and desires. Through them George Eliot creates a full, textured picture of life in provincial nineteenth-century England.

Took me forever to finish this! I read it as an audiobook, which I think was probably doing it a disservice, as it's very long and slow-moving, which makes it very easy for me to get distracted and let my thoughts wander. Also, since it was downloaded from Librivox, not all readers were equally inspiring to listen to, which didn't help keeping my attention captured.

I stuck with it though, and started really caring about some of the characters, wanting to see what happened to them, and feel very accomplished that I managed to finish! I do think it could easily have been quite a bit shorter though. My favourite storyline was definitely Dorothea's, whom I also thought was the most sympathetic character. I liked Rosamond well enough at first, but was really appalled by how she treated Lydgate when he came into hardship. I think Fred and Mary were the only people whose storyline I actually didn't care about at all.

I do wonder how different my opinion would have been if I had read it rather than listened to it though.
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Title: Frankenstein
Author: Mary Shelley
Genre: Horror, Classic
Rating: 2.5/5
# pages: Audiobook ~12hrs
Date read: August, 2010

The epic battle between man and monster reaches its greatest pitch in the famous story of Frankenstein. In trying to create life, the young student Victor Frankenstein unleashes forces beyond his control, setting into motion a long and tragic chain of events that brings Victor himself to the very brink. How he tries to destroy his creation, as it destroys everything Victor loves, is a powerful story of love, friendship... and horror.

I knew almost nothing about this book when I started it, but it turned out to be very different from my expectations. I'd expected it to be somewhat similar to Dracula (although that one ended up being different from my expectations as well, but that was mostly because of the writing style), but the similarities were slim to none - which ended up being to the detriment of "Frankenstein". The writing wasn't as captivating, and the characters were either unlikable or just plain boring.

While I did find the story interesting enough to finish it, I have to admit, I didn't care for it much, and it puzzles me how it managed to obtain the rating of 'a classic'.
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Title: The Scarlet Pimpernel
Author: Baroness Emmuska Orczy
Genre: Classic
Rating: 4/5
# pages: Audiobook ~8hrs
Date read: June, 2010

In the novel, Marguerite Blakeney, a French actress, is married to a Sir Percy Blakeney, a seemingly vain and simple man. The French Ambassador to England, Citizen Chauvelin, blackmails Marguerite into giving him information that leads to his discovery of the Scarlet Pimpernel's true identity. Marguerite only realizes once her husband has once again left for France that the man she betrayed, the Scarlet Pimpernel, is in fact none other but Sir Percy.

I'd seen a movie version of this ages ago, but remembered nothing of it other than the "They seek him here, they seek him there" rhyme and that I rather enjoyed it, so when I discovered that one of my favourite Librivox readers had recorded it, I decided to try it out.

And it's quite good. Nothing that blew me away, but definitely an enjoyable read. Quite predictable - I either guessed or subconsciously remembered all the twists - but as it wasn't exactly a whodunnit, that didn't bother me.
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Title: The Count of Monte Cristo
Author: Alexandre Dumas
Genre: Classic
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: Audiobook ~50hrs
Date read: April, 2010

For nineteen-year-old Edmond Dantes, life is sweet. Soon to be captain of his own sip, he is also about to be married to his true love, Mercedes. But suddenly everything turns sour. On the joyous day of his wedding he is arrested and--without a fair trial--condemned to solitary confinement in the miserable Chateau d'If! The charges? Faked! Edmond has been framed by a handful of powerful enemies. But why?

While locked away, Edmond learns from another prisoner of a secret treasure hidden on the island of Monte Cristo. Edmond concocts a daring and audacious plan: escape and find the treasure! But it is years later--long after Edmond has transformed himself into the Count of Monte Cristo--that his plan for revenge begins to unfold.Disguised as the wealthy count, Edmond returns to his native land to find his enemies--and make them pay!

A good book that would have been great - even excellent - had it been properly edited. Dumas was paid according to length, and at times it shows. Had it been half, or even two-thirds the size I think it could have become one of my favourite books. As it was, I felt that there were some plotlines that were superflous and which I then naturally cared less about than the others. Also there were very few twists I hadn't guessed ahead of time.

It took me a bit to get thoroughly captivated by the book, and I almost gave up on it several times. I'm glad I stuck it out though, because it ended up definitely being worth the time spent on it, and it's one of those books I'm glad to be able to say I've read.

It didn't work too well as an audiobook though. First of all it was difficult to keep the names apart. Secondly the audiobook I'd found was read by multiple readers from Librivox, so the pronounciations of the names weren't consistant (which made it even more difficult to keep them apart), and some of them unfortunately had such strong accents that I found it difficult to understand them. If I ever choose to reread it, I'll pick up the physical book next time.
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Title: Frenchman's Creek
Author: Daphne du Maurier
Genre: Classic
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 221
Date read: September, 2009

The Restoration Court knows Lady Dona St Columb to be ripe for any folly, any outrage that will alter the tedium of her days. But there is another, secret Dona who longs for a life of honest love -- and sweetness, even if it is spiced with danger. It is this Dona who flees the stews of London for remote Navron, looking for peace of mind in its solitary woods and hidden creeks. She finds there the passion her spirit craves -- in the love of a daring pirate hunted by all Cornwall, a Frenchman who, like Dona, would gamble his life for a moment's joy.

A difficult book to review, because while I wasn't terribly impressed by the plot, I was taken in by the character development. Especially in Dona obviously, but actually also in Harry. It's my wish for them, that they may come to understand each other, and be more happy together.

I always have problems with books where one half of the romantic couple is already married, because while I know I'm supposed to root for the main characters, I have a hard time making myself do so, as infidelity isn't something to be taken lightly. I think Daphne du Maurier handled it well in Frenchman's Creek though, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the ending.
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Title: De to komtesser (The Two Ladies)
Author: Valborg Dahl
Genre: Classic
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 159
Date read: August, 2009

After Count von Plessen had to sell his manor and admit to being bankrupt, he, his wife and their two daughters, the Ladies Addie and Gunni, have lived in a small apartment given to them by one of his childhood friends.

Gunni is an active and social girl who's well loved and spends a lot of time with the family Madsen - the town's richest family. Addie has been very sick throughout her childhood and has therefore mostly been raised by her aunt, making her shy and reclusive, which hides her sweet nature.

When Gunni is invited on a tour of Italy together with the family Madsen she makes plans to let Addie go instead.

This was one of my favourite books and definitely my favourite genre of books when I was a child/pre-teen. Unfortunately it doesn't quite pass the test of time. It's still a sweet story, but the romances depicted in it are a bit too unrealistic. I'm sure love at first sight exists, but this is just a tad too convenient for me to be able to suspend my disbelief.
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Title: The House of Mirth
Author: Edith Wharton
Genre: classic
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 329
Date read: July, 2009

The beautiful Lily Bart lives among the nouveaux riches of New York City - people whose millions were made in railroads, shipping, land speculation, and banking. In this morally and aesthetically bankrupt world, Lily, age twnty-nine, seeks a husband who can satisfy her craving for endless admiration and all the trappings of wealth. Her quest comes to a scandalous end when she is accused of being the mistress of a wealthy man. Exiled from her familiar world of artificial conventions, Lily finds life impossible.

I don't do well with books with sad endings. That's a personal quirk and I'm well aware it has no influence on the literary quality of the book.

"The House of Mirth" falls into the same genre as "Ditte Menneskebarn" and several other Danish books of that era - books that are well-written, but where the author for one reason or another decide to let the main characters fail in all his/her endeavours rather than succeed. This inevitably leads up to a depressing book, so that no matter how much I enjoyed other aspects of it I can't enjoy the book as a whole.

However, I did appreciate that Edith Wharton didn't let Lily lose her integrity along with everything else.
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Title: The Jungle Book
Author: Rudyard Kipling
Genre: Childrends, classic
Rating: 1.5/5
# pages: Audiobook
Date read: June, 2009

Rescued as an infant from the savage tiger Shere Khan, Mowgli is reared by a pack of wolves. His days are filled with excitement and danger as he learns the ways of the jungle from Bagheera the panther and the wise bear, Baloo. As the boy grows, he also learns he must take his place among his own kind... but first, he must face Shere Khan in a battle of wits and strength to discover the true King of the Jungle.

Along with the story of Mowgli are other jungle tales - including "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," "The White Seal," and "Toomai of the Elephants" - lending depth and diversity to our understanding of Kipling's India.

I don't rightly get how this became to be a classic. I found it extremely boring and don't think it was purely because I was too old for it... besides, a true classic should be worth reading at any age, right?

I hadn't realized that The Jungle Book was basically a collection of short stories. I'd expected a novel, and therefore assumed the story of Mowgli would have been a lot longer than it was. Not that I minded terribly that that wasn't the case, because unlike Disney's Mowgli, I never really 'took' to this one. My favourite stories were by far Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and The White Seal. The others were okay at best, mind-numbingly boring at worst.

I ended up mostly just skimming the last two stories. By then I felt I'd given the book enough of a chance to entertain me, so when I wasn't hooked after the first couple of pages of each, I moved on.

A shame, because I did want to like the book - but couldn't.

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Title: The Story of the Treasure Seekers
Author: E. Nesbit
Genre: Classic, childrens
Rating: 4/5
# pages: Audiobook ~5hrs
Date read: May, 2009

When their mother dies and their father's business partner runs off with most of their money, the six intrepid Bastable children are determined to restore their family's fallen fortunes. These resourceful children squabble, make up, and have many memorable adventures, from publishing their own newspaper to foiling a pair of real bandits and even becoming kidnappers themselves. But while the efforts of the Bastables are often ingenious, their good intentions always go hilariously awry.

As always Edith Nesbit delivers a delightful tale, and I actually think this is her best yet. Aimed at children, but not any the worse for not having been read until the "ripe old age" of 29. I grew to love the Bastables and enjoyed seeing them getting in and out of scrapes all the time. There's not much too it, but it's a sweet little book that put me in a good mood to read.

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Title: Tonni på tourné (Tonni on Tour)
Author: Estrid Ott
Genre: Classics
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 141 pages
Date read: April, 2009

Summary: 16-year-old Tonni gets permission to tour the country together with her mother, the famous singer Mrs. Mønster. Her curiosity and zest for life causes her to get involved in all sorts of adventure and meet new friends whereever she goes. Among these are a group of travelling actors, whom she ends up playing a number of pranks on, and the young Otto Birk, who ends up her good friend and knight in shining armour.

Review: A childhood favourite of mine. I know it practically by heart, yet I still get the urge to read it from time to time. It's quickly read (I think it took me an hour - perhaps an hour and a half), but it's time well spent. Tonni is absolutely delightful, and though somewhat unrealistic, it's a captivating plot, and a cosy way to spend an evening.

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Title: Peter Pan
Author: J.M. Barrie
Genre: Classics, Children
Rating: 9/10
# pages: Audiobook - 5hrs
Date read: April, 2009

Summary: Peter Pan is filled with unforgettable characters: Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up; the fairy, Tinker Bell; the evil pirate, Captain Hook; and the three children-Wendy, John, and Michael-who fly off with Peter Pan to Neverland, where they meet Indians and pirates and a crocodile that ticks.

Review: My first 'read' of "Peter Pan" - of course I already knew the story of Peter Pan prior to reading this, or rather, I knew Disney's version of it, but I'd actually never thought to get hold of the original before now.

That was a mistake!

"Peter Pan" is one of the few 'true' classics I've discovered in recent years. A book written for children that still charms when read for the first time as an adult. I found myself laughing out loud several times, and never got the impression that I needed the rosy tint of nostalgia to fully appreciate it.

It's obviously a lot darker than the Disney version, but I wonder whether children pick up on this, or if it's something you don't notice until reading it as an adult

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Title: In Search of the Castaways / The Children of Captain Grant
Author: Jules Verne
Genre: Classic
Rating: 7/10
# pages: Audiobook from Librivox, 17hr
Date read: February, 2009

Summary: The book tells the story of the quest for Captain Grant of the Britannia. After finding a bottle cast into the ocean by the captain himself after the Britannia is shipwrecked, Lord and Lady Glenarvan of Scotland decide to launch a rescue expedition. The main difficulty is that the coordinates of the wreckage are mostly erased, and only the latitude (37 degrees) is known.

Lord Glenarvan makes it his quest to find Grant; together with his wife, Grant's children and the crew of his yacht the Duncan they set off for South America. An unexpected passenger in the form of French geographer Jacques Paganel joins the search. They explore Patagonia, Tristan da Cunha Island, Amsterdam Island, Australia and New Zealand in their search for Captain Harry Grant

Review: I've discovered that unfortunately Jules Verne doesn't really pass the test of time. I loved those of his books that I originally read (or had read to me) when I was in my tweens, but when trying to reread them now, I find them long-winded and somewhat boring. This isn't as bad as most, but it still took me a LONG time to get through, as I could put it down too easily and wasn't terribly interested in what happened next.

It didn't help that it was read by several different readers, many of which were unfortunately less than great. I don't mind a strong accent, I do mind an abundance of mis-pronounced words and a flat or sing-song reading voice. Fortunately most did get better as they went along, so obviously training has a lot to do with it.

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