The Big Book Review Top 100 Books…. and a few more

23Feb/111

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

Top 100 Book:: Number 48
Star Rating:: *****

Quick Review::

Wow-ee! This book, blew me away! No wonder so many of my book loving friends recommended it! The Handmaid's tale was first published in 1985 by the Canadian Author Margaret Atwood, interestingly this was based on Chaucers, The Canterbury Tales.

Not too dissimilar to the idea behind 1984 this story is set in the not too distant future where the US Government has been overthrown and a totalitarian life is being inforced on the citizens.

The book follows the tale of Offred, seperated from her husband and daughter when the Republic of Gilead was formed. She is a fertile woman and belongs to a Commander only to procreate.

A lot of the stor is deeply unsettling, especially to those who go against the rules.. much like 1984. Instead of Big Brother you have the Angels. This is a truly haunting tale of a future no-one would dare dream of, but it was still a fascinating read, I found myself turning page after page desperate to find out what would happen to our protagonist.

This book has once numerous awards and been adapted for TV, Film, Stage and Opera. A compelling read I heartily recommend it to you. A very worthy Top 100 book.

If you read it let me know,  I would love to know your thoughts.

13Jan/110

The Voyage of The Dawn Treader – C.S.Lewis

Top 100 Book:: Number 33
Star Rating:: *****

Quick Review::

The next in the Chronicles of Narnia series The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was published in 1952. The third of the books.

This one has so far been my favourite! I love this tale.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader see's the return of two of the Pevensie children, Lucy and Edmund and the arrival into Narnia of Eustace Scrubb. Again the family find themselves magically transported back to Narnia where they come across Prince Caspian who is on a mission to find the fate of the seven lost lords of Narnia! The book is entirely focused on this journey and the brave warrior mouse called Reepicheep plays a larger role in this book.

The book explores trust, loyalty and bravery amongst many characters and it is wonderfully written... again a complete joy to read.

13Jan/110

Prince Caspian – C.S. Lewis

Top 100 Book:: Number 33
Star Rating:: ****

Quick Review::

The follow up to the tremendous Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and it does not disappoint. In this story many years have passed in Narnia and the Pevensie children return to help return order to Narnia which has yet again fallen into disrepute at the hands of a rogue false king! Shock Horror.

This book explores the themes of courage and chivalry and is yet again beautifully written by Lewis. The books flow so well and are such a joy to read. Like its predecessor the book was made into a TV series for the BBC in the late 1980's and was released as a major motion picture in 2008. I have yet to see the film version of this book but thoroughly enjoyed the previous one.

13Jan/110

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C.S.Lewis

Top 100 Book:: Number 33/36
Star Rating:: ****

Quick Review::
By now a classic book and TV series and film! That most people would have heard of :)

I am going to be cutting these reviews shorter still I am afraid! I would love to write the long reviews I used to but time is not on my side! And I want to give you all a quick summary and some feedback before I forget :D

So anyway... back to the book itself! A beautifully written book, set in a fantasy world that can only be accessed by certain people at certain times we meet the Pevensie children who mysteriously find themselves in the magical land of Narnia! They find themselves on a quest of good vs evil and a great battle ensues. Along their journey they meet people both good and bad.

A truly wonderful book to read although really meant for children I thoroughly enjoyed the read and this classic will be read for years to come.

12Oct/100

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle

The Adventures of Sherlock HolmesTop 100 Book:: Number 89
Star Rating:: *****

Quick Review::

This novel is a set of 12 short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle based on his character Sherlock Holmes and the sidekick Doctor Watson. Cleverly the stories read as memoirs from Dr Watson’s time with Sherlock Holmes and are re-told as 12 short tales.

The 12 stories are as follows:

  • A Scandal In Bohemia – The longest of the stories in this book. Holmes is asked to find some incriminating evidence to enable Count Von Kramm to happily be wed….. But is Sherlock about to be outwitted…..
  • The Adventure of the Red-Headed League – A red headed man comes to Sherlock asking for help with a conundrum he faces regarding the “Red Headed League”. Who are the league, who are they working for and what did they want with Jabez Wilson?
  • A Case of Identity – An elementary case for Sherlock Holmes! A fiancé gone missing and a controlling stepfather… What will be the outcome of the disappearing fiancé?
  • The Boscombe Valley Mystery – A murdered man, his estranged son accused… All signs point to the son but can Sherlock unlock the mystery as to the real murderer.. or is it the son all along?
  • The Five Orange Pips – A short story involving the receipt of five orange pips signed by K.K.K. The recipient ends up dead a few days later. Can Sherlock solve the mystery before more people die?
  • The man with the twisted lip – A woman appears to Sherlock Holmes desperate to find her missing husband who is an Opium Addict. Sherlock and Watson go on an adventure to discover the whereabouts of the missing husband.
  • The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle – A Christmas Goose with a hidden present inside. Will Sherlock and Watson be able to trace it back to the criminal!
  • The Adventure of the Speckled Band – A young woman suspicious of her sisters untimely death contacts Sherlock for help in the case. Sherlock and Watson venture out to the home of the young lady to uncover criminal activity… Will they find anything before it’s too late?
  • The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb – Dr Watson is woken to discover a young engineer minus his thumb in urgent need of medical attention. After the details of his unfortunate “accident” Watson directs him to Sherlock and they go on a journey to discover what has become of the poor engineers thumb!
  • The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor – A newlywed bride disappears during her wedding breakfast shortly after the disruption of a previous lover of her husband… Why has she gone missing and is this old lover involved?
  • The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet – A very expensive Coronet is left in the home of a banker, only he awakes in the night to find his son holding it and 3 gems missing. Holmes is called to look into the mystery and determine once and for all who stole the 3 gems.
  • The Adventure of the Copper Beeches – To accept a governess job with an incredibly good wage or not? This is Violet Hunters predicament… Holmes and Watson try to discover whether there is anything suspicious in this incredibly good job offer.

A brilliant book! I thoroughly enjoyed the 12 storied, each different, and each varying in their crime levels. I heartily recommend this book to you! The Original Crime Detective at his best! Very worthy of its top 100 position, I can’t wait to read the rest of the Sherlock Holmes books.

12Oct/100

A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

A Confederacy of DuncesTop 100 Book:: Number 95
Star Rating:: ****

Quick Review::

This hilarious novel set in New Orleans in the 1960’s focuses on the life of Ignatius J Reilly a very well educated but incredibly idle man still living with his mum in the local neighbourhood. For reasons disclosed early in the book he finds himself having to go out and find a job and the novel goes on to describe his colourful adventures with characters in the French Quarter.

This book cleverly brings together the stories of several other minor characters as the climax to the book draws nearer. It is an enlightening read and very entertaining. Incredibly easy to read, highly addictive and laugh out loud hilarity I can very much recommend this book to you.

Written by John Kennedy Toole, this book was not released until 11 years after his death. It was a joint struggle to get it published by his mother, Thelma Toole and writer Walker Percy. Thank goodness they went through the struggle! Toole was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1981.

7Jul/100

Nineteen Eighty-four – George Orwell

George Orwell - 1984Top 100 Book:: Number 8
Star Rating:: ****

Quick Review::
Wow! What a book! Incredibly scary and as has been mentioned in numerous reviews an eerie look at our own world.

This story follows Winston Smith works for the ministry of truth in London. Posters of Big Brother cover the streets and every move anyone makes is captured there is no free speech, no free thinking. For those with independant thought.... there lies Room 101.

A truly fascinating book from George Orwell. Thoroughly enjoyable to read with twists and turns at every chapter. A brutal book with no holding back and no happy endings. Just a gruesome look at a world under totalitarian control.

Worth a read!

5Apr/100

To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee

Top 100 Book:: Number 5
Star Rating:: *****

Quick Review::
To kill a Mockingbird is one of those books that almost everyone has heard of! It is one of those books that a lot of kids read in school (unfortunately I was not one of those) and is still a top seller 50 years after it was written.

To kill a mockingbird is a semi-autobiographical novel written through the eyes of Scout Finch a young girl growing up in a fictional town in Alabama. I absolutely love the fact that Lee chose to write the book through the eyes of Scout, the innocence makes the book just so much more appealing to read. Covering so many touchy subjects Lee manages to make the book so playful and pure through the eyes of a child.

The main plot of the book focuses on Scout’s father Atticus Finch, a very well respected lawyer in the town he is handed the case of a black man accused of raping a white girl. In a time where prejudice was rife across the US the Finch family have to deal with the racial reactions to Atticus being given the case. Written with warmth and humour this beautifully written book explores love, hate, friendship, family and race in the deep south of America.

This is a truly moving book, I found myself getting very emotional throughout the book, I could relate to Scout’s innocence about race and prejudice and the struggles her father faced trying to give his children a normal upbringing. A truly magnificent book that is very much worthy of its top 100 status. If you haven’t read this yet I recommend that you do before you read anything else.

14Mar/100

Notes from a small island – Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson - Notes from a small islandTop 100 Book: Number 74
Star Rating:: ****

Quick Review::
Bill Bryson arrived in Britain back in 1973, got a job, got married and had some kids. Eventually the time came when he decided to head back to his native country the USA but before doing that he embarked on one epic tour of the wonder that is Britain. Starting at Dover and ending in Scotland Bryson recounts many memories, meet many friends and tells many tall tales about the adventures he has had in this wonderful land I call home!

Now this book is one of my favourite styles, a diary style (as if you didn’t know that by now) In fact I would link this book very closely to Dave Gorman’s America unchained which I reviewed earlier on. Bill Bryson goes on a journey around Britain recounting many tales he himself has had in various locations throughout. Full of plenty of humour and plenty of opinion this is certainly not a politically correct book, but hilariously funny!

I really enjoyed reading this book, I have to admit at the beginning I was getting a little irritated with his style of writing, very aggressive, very impatient and quite rude but as the book progressed I began to warm to Bryson’s unique style and found myself laughing along to his encounters with the British public.

I can completely recommend this book not only as a worthy top 100 but as a book you yourself should read, it is a very easy read and very relaxing, brilliant if you are looking to chill out and get away from the stresses of the day!

Do pick it up and have a read, I have kept hold of my copy!

14Mar/101

The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro - The Remains of the DayTop 100 Book: Number 84
Star Rating:: ***1/2

Quick Review::
One of Kazuo Ishiguro’s most famous works, The Remains of The Day is an interesting novel about Stevens, a very creditable English butler reliving his life through this book in order to clarify its meaning to himself.

The book begins with Stevens taking a holiday from his current employer and during his travels he tells the tales of his past with focus on particular characters including the lovely Miss Kenton with whom he was never able to declare his affections towards.

I won’t go too much more into the story but this gives you a general picture of the storyline and the plot it doesn’t stray much from the line. So where do I sit... well it isn’t my kind of thing! I can understand completely why it is in the top 100, it is totally different from any other book I have ever read, but it just didn’t grip me, I found myself getting too excited as the end was approaching and I could move onto something else.

This is now a very famous movie starring Anthony Hopkins and I haven’t yet got round to watching this film. From what I have heard it is pretty good! So my low down, I would give this book a read so you can say “done that” but I wouldn’t go out of your way to make it your life priority there are plenty of better books in the sea in my opinion!