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Cinderella

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I actually read the original publication of this translation, from the 1800's, online, but this does seem to be a virtually exact reprint of the original. The illustrations are absolutely brilliant in the way in which they compliment the stories, and the translations are true to the original spirit of the tales. These aren't the Disney stories. Like all works in translation, the translator has a lot of power and responsibility for balancing the original language and spirit of a work with making a readable translation. Lucy Crane handled that job quite well here. If you can't read the original German, but do want to read the tales as they were intended to be, then this translation may just be the best option you have. But, be warned, what you've heard about the darkness of the originals is very true, and these stories are not for young children.
Works of Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns

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It's not my favorite, by far, when it comes to works related to Greek or Roman Mythology. In truth, it's a bit of a tricky read, and downright tedious at times. Still, the two works do serve important purposes within that area of literature, so I can definitely appreciate them even if I don't truly enjoy them. The good notes helped with that as well.
Thirteen Reasons Why

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I am firmly of the opinion that, despite all the numerous books in print, there are only a tiny fraction that can truly speak to you and influence you on a level that makes you come away from reading them "wiser" or in any way truly "better" from the experience alone. For me, this was one of the few, and I consider myself lucky to have discovered it. I truly can't sing this book's praises enough. I was captivated by it from beginning to end, and was engrossed in the tale that was unfolding. The idea, as far as I know, is rather original, and is done with such honesty that it pulls you in and makes you think.Basically, after a fellow classmate commits suicide, the boy who had a crush on her receives a package of cassette tapes in the mail. The tapes tell the story of why she did what she did, as well as who influenced that decision and how. I don't want to give anything away, but the story truly does make one consider how the smallest action or decision we make can have a large affect on someone else, particularly when those actions or decisions are added to the actions and decisions of others around us as well. Definitely not a bad thing to keep in mind.Probably one of the most clever aspects of the book wasn't the idea though, but rather the execution of the idea. Cassette tapes. As the author discusses in the interview at the end of the book, who uses cassette tapes anymore? This makes me agree with him. By using "outdated" means within the book, he has managed to make sure the book stays current. After all, whether one reads it today or ten years from now, they will (as the characters in the book do) recognize that cassette tapes are a bit behind the times. So, the book shouldn't be "dated" for quite a while to come.I am hopeful that this book will continue to reach people in the way it has reportedly been doing so far, and encourage all readers to think carefully about how they treat others. If we're lucky, it may even help some see when they're thinking the wrong way or going down a dark path, or help those around them recognize that they're doing so. We can only hope. Even if it only helps ever so slightly, it would already be well worth reading and making sure those in your family (especially teens) read it as well.
Fifty Shades of Grey

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I admit, I like it a lot. Actually, despite what is said about it, the erotic content is really quite tame compared to a lot of books out there, mostly due to how they are written. That being said, its origins as Twilight fan-fiction are quite obvious while reading, despite the changes made, as it is very much along the lines of the same writing style and level. Thus, it's rather poorly written but fun to read, just as I've always said about the Twilight books. So, if you like those, you'd likely love this one as well. If you get past the sex scenes, which get a bit repetitive after a while, and read for the core storyline, it's shaping up to be truly quite good as a trilogy. I'm quite interested in learning more about Christian Grey, and so the books have definitely successfully hooked me. This will never be considered great literature, but I think it can be fairly considered good entertainment for a certain audience, and sometimes that's exactly what you're in the mood for.
Deadlocked

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There are several things about this book that I really liked a lot, and several things that make me feel the series is past its prime and ready to come to a close. In all honesty the last several books didn't really deserve five stars, but I've kind of been reluctant to lower it without taking everything into account. I don't want to specify too much, since it'll give stuff away, but I will say that while a LOT of things are left up in the air and unresolved in the end, there are also some issues that do finally get resolved and many characters that finally get their happy endings. I'm actually feeling very optimistic for the next book, since this one managed to leave off in such a way that it should set things up for a lot to possibly happen. The issues that were left hanging are ones I certainly want to know about, so I'll definitely be looking forward to volume thirteen.
Fifty Shades Darker

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More of the same. If you liked the first one, you'll like this one. Otherwise, stay away. There really isn't anything new here. But, I really liked it for what it is, just as I did the first one, though I'm under no false impressions as to the writing quality or anything. They aren't well-written, and the "erotic" scenes are far from original and certainly nothing to get excited about. For some reason, I get into the story though, even though even that is a bit questionable, if anyone thinks that's what a relationship should be.
The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life

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The first half or so of this book is especially brilliant, with an almost perfect blend of real-life survival experiences and scientific data. It is engrossing, fascinating, and very educational, while also being rather inspiring. Unfortunately, the book loses a lot of steam in the last section of the book. It doesn't grip you so much, the information isn't all quite so fascinating or useful, and then the final part is about the online survivor profile, so it doesn't exactly end on a high note. Basically, it goes from extremely interesting to just moderately so. Thus, I split the difference. Five stars for the first half, and three for the last half. A four star book in total. Still, even if you decide to stop reading halfway into it, I'd definitely say you should at least give this one a shot.
How the States Got Their Shapes

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This is a very fascinating book for anyone interested in the subject at hand, namely, the states and how their borders became what they are. In fact, this would easily be a four star book at least, if not five, for its thoroughness on the subject, except for one issue that I need to agree with reviews I've read on. The book is very repetitive. The layout being what it is, going through all the states (and the District of Columbia) alphabetically, and dealing with each of their borders individually, does guarantee that every border gets thoroughly covered and nothing gets accidentally forgotten or excluded, but it also means that virtually every border gets mentioned at least twice (and often even more than that), since two neighboring states obviously share the same border, causing the border to be described in the section for both states. To cut down on the repetitiveness would require an awful lot of skipping around in the book. Though, to the author's credit, he does make great use of "for more detail, see..." phrasing, rather than repeat the same stories over and over. So, at least they are only touched on when they get repeated, instead of being always given in full detail. Still, it gets a bit dull by the end. If I had it to do over again, I'd go through the book slowly, a section or two at a time, rather than reading it cover to cover, so my brain wasn't bombarded with the same thing over and over for hours. So, if you're interested in this book, that's what I highly recommend you doing as well.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

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The edition I read was actually an online version with the same illustrations and everything. It is a rather fun book, and is certainly far deeper than the "children's book" that it is depicted to be on its surface. I wouldn't say I loved it, but it was certainly worth finally reading the book behind a story I have heard so much about. The language twists alone made it well worth it, as there is definitely a lot of creativity there.
Through the Looking-Glass

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The version I actually read was an online edition with all the same illustrations and such. I found it to be just as much fun as the original, with more fun twists and turns with the language used especially. It's certainly not just for children, as there is much there for adults as well. If you liked the original, you'll like the sequel as well.
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