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The Great Gatsby

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"The Great Gatsby" is a highly artistic portrayal of the luxurious life of the New York's high society in the 1920s. This is a period of opulence, women rights, gangsters, new technologies, especially radio and cars. It's a decadent society where wealth end excessive consumerism play an important role. Gatsby is a self-made man whose enormous wealth is a center of attention of many New Yorkers. Some say he is involved in mafia operations while some claim he was a German spy. Gatsby's numerous parties on Long Island are frequented by many visitors - they dance, drink and gossip in his mansion. Why does Gatsby stage such huge parties? To impress the masses and big shots? To run for a mayor? Nope! He just wants to attract a woman of his life (Daisy) who is now married to a rich jerk.The novel ends with unhappy ending. Gatsby is shot by a deranged man who mistakenly believes Gatsby is responsible for the death of his wife (died in a car accident) while the love of his life (Daisy) runs away. She doesn't attend Gatsby's funeral nor send him flowers. This is a sad end not only of a successful man but of a "divinized" concept of his American dream as well. The beauty of the novel lies neither in her plot nor the message. What attracts me to it is its highly poetic narrative. The sentences are long, robust, poetic, full of meanings and symbols. This novel should be read slowly, aloud if possible, with special attention to details. Enjoy it like a piece of music orchestra. Not a Mozart, but... In the end, "The Great Gatsby" reminds me of similar work of art titled "Gospoda Glembajevi" written by Croatian novelist and playwrit Miroslav Krleža .
Digital Fortress: A Thriller

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"DIGITAL FORTRESS" is a techno-thriller which certainly appeals to computer geeks. It' s rich on thrills but short on substance. Yes, first chapters of the book are quite exciting , but as the story drags on it becomes so saturated with bizarre twists and turns (which keep you on the edge of your seat) that you suddenly cannot take it anymore. The plot, which is plagued with cliches, seems artificial and contrived (forced upon you) and the characters have no depth.What we see here is not a real literature but a skillfully combined succession of various puzzles (cleverly put together by the author) which lead us to the ultimate puzzle where the evildoer is finally uncovered. Once we find out who this person is, there is no need to read the book anymore. The game is over. In short, the puzzle takes precedence over everything. There is no characterization, no style, no beauty whatsoever...In short, solving real puzzles (math, crosswords, chess...) is more satisfying. We don't need Dan Brown to help us, do we?IMOTA DINAROID
Timeline

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This is a bad novel. Really bad! If I could, I would give it no star at all. Yes, the first three chapters promised a great and exciting story. However, my initial excitement gradually gave way to disappointment. In fact, I must congratulate myself on being able to finish reading the novel. It is a great achievement considering how bad the book is. As I said, the beginning of the book is excellent (an old man is found wandering in the New Mexico desert and talking something incomprehensibly). The police are engaged and the hospital workers become suspicious. However, the story moves in the wrong direction and pretty soon we see laughable, cartoon-like characters, poorly developed plot, and terrible ending. This SF novel is about a time travel: a group of young archeologists (Marek, Chris, Kate and others) are transported back in time to the 1357 France in a time machine. They are on a secret mission to rescue their fellow historian, Professor Johnston, from the medieval Castelgard. Professor Johnston came to this place by using the same time machine built by a secretive corporation (ITC) under the leadership of an ambitious quantum mechanics scientist Robert Doniger. The story plot consists of ridiculous non-stop actions, where sword fighting, captures and miraculous escapes remind us of contemporary video games: shoot them, kill them, smack them… Blood and gore are everywhere, and our young students single-handedly managed to kick-asses of a couple of dozen medieval armed units. Way to go, brothers! In the end, I didn’t care who was fighting whom and why. I just wanted to finish the book and put an end to my misery. IMOTA DINAROID
Massacre At Goliad

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This is a historical novel at its best. It offers numerous educational benefits to anyone interested in Texan history of the 1820’s and 1830’s (pre-independence era). To most elementary or high school kids, history is a boring subject. However, thanks to this novel, history is exciting and enjoyable. The novel is centered around two Texan families (the Tennessean born brothers - Josh and Thomas Buckalew - who were sent to Texas by their father in search of a virgin land) and the Hernandez family (Mexicans). Although the mentally challenged Muley is not biologically related to The Buckalews, he is taken care by Josh Buckalew and brought to Texas from his native Tennesse. This act of human compassion on part of Josh emphasizes his positive role from the very beginning of the novel. “Massacre At Goliad” bears all elements of a convincing realism with typical characters in typical situations, all representative of the given era. As was the Texan society divided between the “hawks” and the “doves” , including different political groups (pro-independence vs. anti-independence forces) so were The Buckalews and the Hernandez family members. Each family has its extremists – warmongers as well as the peace-loving individuals. Josh Buckalew (the main character in the novel) is a compassionate and peace-loving person. He not only does respect his Mexican neighbours (the Hernandez family), he is also in love with their beautiful Teresa. As for politics, he doesn’t care so much whether Taxas is governed by United States or Mexico, as long as peace and stability is maintained. Josh’s brother, Thomas, is an opposite character, however. Thomas’ hatred towards Mexicans is overwhelming. He is portrayed as an intolerable racist ready to fight Mexicans whenever possible. Thomas’ counterpart is Antonio. As much Thomas hates the Maxicans so does Antonio his American “enemies”. They are the first ones to take up arms and join the opposite armies when the War for Texan independence broke out. It’s not surprising, therefore, that Thomas and Antonio are the most vocal opponents of the marriage between Josh and Teresa. Only at the end of the novel, before he died, we see Thomas in a different mood. His positive experience with a Mexican family, who put their lives at risk to hide him from the Mexican soldiers, during a military campaign, had changed his heart.Ramon, on the other hand, has much more in common with Josh than with his brother Antonio. Ramon hates war and respects his American neighbours. However, he still hangs on to the family tradition and gives his blessing to Teresa’s arranged marriage to a Mexican man, despite her love for Josh. The Indians are given a scant attention in the novel. They are mentioned a few times (as a sideline), mostly as marauding parties occasionally attacking new settlers at the fringes of the colony.
Cries of the Children

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FROM THE BOOK COVER:THESE CHILDREN WILL MELT YOUR HEART - AND FREEZE ITLittle Julie. Little Stephen. Little Lorraine. Three little children, found abandoned in different parts of the country. Three wonderfully sweet and startlingly gifted children who won the hearts of the grown-ups who adopted them. But now all three children were gone. Had they run away or been stolen? Their foster parents had to find them to find out. And on a rescue search that lead them across America and into a world-within-a-world ruled by a psychically terrifying envoy of evil, little did they realize that the young ones they loved so briefly were now the unwitting possessors of a deadly power to harm...A SHORT PASSAGE FROM THE BOOK :(GOOD LITTLE GIRL, AND BAD, BAD MAN)Lorraine knew that the man was doing a bad thing when he unzipped his pants. His voice sounded funny, rasping. "Hey, kid.""Go away!" Lorraine cried. "You got out of here!"The man shot toward her with lightning speed. He grabbed a handful of her jet-black hair. "You little..."Whatever words he was going to say were obliterated by sudden cry of pain. His eyes grew so wide the whites showed all the way around as he let Lorraine go. A minute later he fell to the floor, screaming, holding up a bleeding stump where his hand was supposed to be...ABOUT THE AUTHORClare McNally attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City where she studied advertising and communication. She has worked on a children's wear magazine, freelanced as an advertising copywriter and edited a technical magazine. She lives on Long Island. Her novels "Ghost House" and "Ghost House Revenge" are also published by Onyx.MY OPINION ABOUT "CRIES OF THE CHILDREN"I found the first few chapters of the book very interesting. In fact, I couldn't put it down for hours continuously guessing what would happen next. However, as the events progressed, the plot became less and less intense. The initial mystery, mixed with the fantasy and some degree of horror , turned into a rescue mission in the following chapters. The problem with the novel is in its portrayal of children (actually aliens from the planet Ixtaura, as we are informed in the end) as sweet, innocent victims, being hunted by a government agency even though they possess supernatural powers not matched by any human. Imagine lions being chased by mice.Illogical, boring and stupid. Imota Dinaroid
Adventure

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"ADVENTURE" by Jack LondonThe novel starts with DAVID SHELDON, an Englishman, who is the owner of the Berande coconut plantation. He is the only white man on the Solomon Islands surrounded by scores of hostile natives - black workers (slaves) - who are about to stage rebellion and try to kill him. Despite his poor health (suffers from malaria fever) David manages to quell rebellion and mercilessly punish its instigators. These are the most memorable scenes in the whole book. Soon, David Sheldon is unexpectedly visited by an unusual sailor and adventurer - a woman. It is JOAN LACKLAND and her crew. This American girl is totally fascinated with the spirit of adventure and although beautiful outward, her spirit is more of a rugged man than of a delicate woman. Joan likes the island and helps David run business affairs. Soon, she becomes his business partner and partial owner of the plantation. Joan's youthfulness and her adventurous spirit, coupled with her shrewd and often aggressive business tactics, brings additional wealth to the plantation. However, despite these positive changes, David is not happy with the existing situation. He is in love with Joan, but doesn't want to scare her with the marriage proposal knowing too well that her restless spirit, a spirit of a boy in the woman's body, looks at marriage and romance with suspicion and even hatred. Things got even more complicated later with the arrival of a boat-crew led by "an adventurer of adventurers" JOHN TUDOR. Tudor is an American born in Germany and the leading man on a gold-hunting expedition to the Solomons under the command of the wealthy individual Von Blix. David and Joan welcomed them warmly, offering them hospitality and necessary assistance. However, Joan gets mesmerized by Mr. Tudor's adventures. He often talks to her about his dangerous expeditions around the world and they are seeing each other quite often. Their cozy relationship, however, sparks Sheldon's jealousy...The second part of the novel depicts a new rebellion on the plantation by the black workers who secretly amassed guns and ammunition in order to kill their white masters. Lives of both Sheldon and Ms. Lackland are seriously endangered. Luckily for them, the conspiracy and murder are prevented at the last moment, and the leaders of the rebellion are hunted down one by one. In their pursuit for culprits, David, Joan and their supporters enter particularly dangerous part of the island (jungle) inhabited by cannibals. This area had never been encroached by the white man before. Of course, the jungle brings new dangers. The pursuers are particularly shocked by the cruelty of cannibals who had captured Tudor and eaten his crew of gold hunters. In the end, Tudor is brought to safety, and all black rebels are either killed by their pursuers or eaten by the cannibalistic tribe. The Chapter XXVII of the book (next to the last) portrays an armed duel between Tudor and David. This is certainly the most exciting part of the novel, its culmination and ultimate adventure, surpassing even the encounter with cannibals in the jungle. This time, two jealous and love-stricken males (David Sheldon and John Tudor) are fighting over Joan. This time, it's the fight to death. David first laughs at this ridiculous proposal, then soon angrily accepts the duel. This duel has some rules however: "no seconds, no onlookers, and the two principals alone are necessary". Also, "they may use any weapons they please, from revolvers and rifles to machine guns and pompoms. They start a mile apart, and advance on each other, taking advantage of cover, retreating, circling, fainting - anything and everything permissible. In short, Sheldon and Tudor hunt each other like a couple of wild Indians, and Berande is just the place". The book ends with a happy ending, however. Sheldon becomes a winner of the duel. He could have killed Tudor, but he just wounded him instead, and then took care of his wounds. Having realized what happened, JOAN LACKLAND declares her love for David. In fact, she loved him all the time but somehow got scared of the marriage. As in any great novel, however, there is no outward (excessive) sentimentalism in these paragraphs. More often, sentimentalism is replaced with humor, bickering, irony, and unpredictable witty dialogue. In short, this novel is about adventure, but it is not just adventure. It is also a love story (however atypical it seems to be). It is also an interesting portrayal of its leading characters, where their strong will, dedication and perseverance are glorified. Also, the story setting (the Solomon Islands), is not just a mere decoration in the novel, it also takes a role of an invisible character (inhospitable, and cruel, but also beautiful body with soul). As for London's style of writing, his sentences are rich, neither too long nor too short, the words are carefully selected, and when carefully read, sentences look like skillfully composed pieces of music, with melody and rhythm. Long narratives are often interspersed with colorful dialogue. This dialogue is particularly impressive when the plantation owner (Sheldon) communicates with his black workers. He uses the same broken English as his slaves. For example: "What name you sing out alla time?" he demanded."Him fella my brother belong me," was the answer. "Him fella die too much.""You sing out, him fella brother belong you die too much," the white man went on in threatening tones. "I cross too much along you. What name you sing out, eh? You fat-head make um brother belong you die dose up too much. You fella finish sing out, savvee? You fella no finish sing out I make finish damn quick." As for socio-political and ideological layer of this novel, many modern readers, influenced by the contemporary political correctness, will scream: RACISM!Yes, derogatory and racist statements against the blacks are numerous in this novel. However, it doesn't make Jack London a racist. Since the novel portrays a typical white male (i.e. plantation owner) at the beginning of the 20th Century, it is natural that a realistic novel mirrors the spirit of the time. Since many white people held views at the time that the white race was superior to blacks, it is expected that these views are revealed in the novel. In fact, this is what makes this novel a great work of literature. Without it, the novel wouldn't exist in its existing form. In short, this is not just a novel, but also a historic document which could help today's young generations better understand complexity of life (especially relationship between the blacks and the whites) at the beginning of the 20th century. We shouldn't forget that Jack London lived in an era where the racial superiority of the white Anglo-Saxon man was seriously promoted in the political circles through expansionistic policy of American "Manifest Destiny" or Kipling’s "The White Man’s Burden". However, some of London's novels sympathetically portray Mexicans (The Mexican), Hawai'ian (Koolau the Leper), and Asian (The Chinago) and this tells us that Jack London is NOT a racist. Some elements of the novel that could be incorporated in the elementary/high school curriculum: GEOGRAPHY (the Solomon Islands: how is it portrayed in the book? Describe climate, plantation, jungle), HISTORY (discuss racism, slavery, Manifest Destiny, Kipling’s White Man’s Burden, Colonialism at the beginning of the 20th century, the role of women in America: How typical is Joan Lackland?), BUSINESS/ECONOMICS (Carefully investigate business decisions of David Shaldon and Joan Lackland; discuss their strangths and weaknesses: If you had a coconut plantation, how would you run the business? How would you treat your workers? Where would you sell your products ? As for the "slavery" depicted in the book, to what extent could it be called "slavery"? To what extent is it similar/different to the slavery on the white plantations in the American South prior to the Civil War? Are the black workers on Berande economically speaking, better off working on plantation? Would their conditions improve if they were not dependent on Sheldon and his plantation? Think about lawlessness on the island, different tribes trying to exterminate each other, cannibals, and rule of the jungle. Does Sheldon equally treat all the black workers? Do loyal blacks get the same treatment as the undisciplined/rebellious ones? Provide some examples.).IMOTA DINAROID
A Princess of Mars

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Written in 1911, "A Princess of Mars" becomes Burrough's first novel in the Martian series.It is a fast-paced SF/adventure novel which features Captain John Carter of the U.S. Confederate Army who is mysteriously transferred to Mars from a Nevada cave after being chased by wild Indians. Having superior fighting skills and agility than his Martian warriors, John Carter soon becomes one of the key commanders in the Green Martian army. The Martian society is divided into several feuding parties (the most important - Green Martians and Red Martians). It is an equivalent of ancient Sparta or war stricken Iraq of today where military skills, discipline, brutality and heroism permeate all pores of society.Since the Green Martians don't know what friendship or mercy mean, they are often troubled by John Carter's display of similar traits. Further, they don't know what the real family is. Their babies were hatched from eggs and then taken care by the community. John Carter's encounter with Dejah Thoris, a beautiful Princess of Red Martians (now captured by the Green Martians and sentenced to death) is a turning point for John. Now, he must decide whether to switch his alliance from the Green Martians to the Red ones. Not only does the Princess Dejah Thoris look as a woman from the Planet Earth, she also harbors the same emotions as John - empathy, love, friendship, mercy...It's not surprising then that John (now stricken by love for beautiful Princess) decides to free her from her captors. This was eventually done after so many misfortunes, bloody fights and surprising twists in the story.In conclusion, this book is neither a masterpiece nor a trashy novel of pulp fiction. The author truly captured my imagination by his crafty story-telling which convincingly defines what a true adventure/SF novel is supposed to be.
The Octagonal Raven

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After forcing myself to finish 2/3 of this book I didn't have patience to read it more. However, the first few chapters are promising: Daryn Alwyn, the son of wealthy parents is a target of unknown assassins. After these opening chapters the reader obviously expects an exciting story, a thriller. However, it doesn't happen. The story is slow paced with numerous digressions and unnecessary descriptions of every single nook and cranny of a futuristic world. Instead of delivering drama, or at least some kind of action, we are tortured by mindless preaching. Also, the author's tendency to pile up as much techno-futuristic jargon as possible is another weakness in the story. The society is divided into two classes: pre-selects and norms. The pre-selects are the ruling class who control wealth and resources. They are different from norms in many aspects. First, they are subjects of genetic pre-selection. Also, they tend to augment themselves by way of" nanites". What are the ninetes? The book is quite vague with respect to this question. This is, I believe, the best explanation I found in the book: "The octagonal ninetes are just programmed...cellular machines designed to analyze structures and react. If the cells aren't integral , or if there's foreign matter there, like augnites...they attack."In short, the nanites are some kind of artificial mechanisms located in the pre-selects' bodies. They make pre-selects stronger (physically and mentally) in comparison to "ordinary" norms. However, if compromised, the "nanites " can be deadly for anyone who carries them. Although these two classes coexist peacefully, the norms (a majority of population) are gradually becoming emboldened asking for more rights. We witness the street protests against the ruling class. Even riots. Since the protagonist of the novel Daryn Alwyn (pre-select himself) is the most powerful man in the world - and now target of assassins - he is now in a desperate quest to find out who is behind all of this. Are the norms involved? Or perhaps the rouge elements within the ruling elite? However, Daryn must act quickly. Another puzzling question: who is responsible for the plague which threatens to decimate the whole pre-select population? Why aren't the norms affected by the plague?Another theory: a long-dead alien race is programming nanitic attack machines and spraying them across the Galaxy. In short, this is the context in which the novel is set. The motifs and the ideas presented in the novel are certainly very interesting, but the narrative aspect of it is a huge failure.
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