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review 2017-01-07 00:00
52 Little Lessons from A Christmas Carol
52 Little Lessons from A Christmas Carol... 52 Little Lessons from A Christmas Carol - Bob Welch This book really didn't have anything exceptional in it. I have read A Christmas Carol every year for the past... um, more than five years (I forget when I started this annual reading.) I was really hoping for something that could get into the core of Dickens's tale and help me to see lessons that I hadn't found myself before. This did not give me that. Every lesson the author found was something that I could have found myself. Most which I already was aware of. Don't get me wrong, it was good for me to see some of the lessons in the book rearticulated in a different way, but I didn't feel this book had enough depth to be worth the time it took me to read it. I was also disappointed by the fact that the author couldn't even find 52 lessons in Dickens's book, but had to rely on some of the movies (and missing one or two lessons he could have found in the book.) While bringing in some of the lessons from movies might not have been bad, I really wanted the focus on the book, and if, in the midst of explaining a lesson the author drew examples from the films I wouldn't have minded at all, but there are lessons dedicated only to parts of the movies that were not originally in the book.

What's worse, is that the author probably should have re-read (and re-watched) his material. There were at least two errors that I caught. The first mistake was in Lessons 16 Life Is Best Lived When You're Awake. 'I never noticed that. --Scrooge, in the 1984 movie version, after the Ghost of Christmas Past points out that Belle "resembled your sister."' There is, in fact, no part in that movie where the ghost tells Scrooge that Belle resembles his sister. I suppose one could argue that the actresses do indeed resemble each other, and in the story, the two women are filled with joy, love and Christmas spirit, but the ghost never compares the two. Instead, it tells Scrooge that Fred, his nephew, resembles Fan (Fred's mother.) The author easily could have corrected this without effecting his lesson. The second error that I caught was in Lesson 44 Don't Give Expecting to Receive. In the chapter, the author states that "Scrooge's calling a cab for the little boy because the turkey would be too heavy for the lad to carry may well have been the man's first expression of empathy." I was never, in any of my readings of the book, under the impression that the little boy carried the turkey to the Cratchit's house. The book says that Scrooge told the boy to "Go and buy it, and tell 'em to bring it here, that I may give them the direction where to take it." He told the boy he'd give him a shilling (or half-a-crown if he was quick) to bring the turkey to him, but it never said that he gave him the money to buy the turkey. It says that "the chuckle with which he paid for the Turkey, and the chuckle with which he paid for the cab, and the chuckle with which he recompensed the boy, were only to be exceeded by the chuckle with which he sat down breathless in his chair again, and chuckled till he cried." In other words, he paid for the turkey, and recompensed the boy separately. So he bought the turkey himself, and recompensed the boy for the time and effort it took him to go and fetch it, along with the man who carried it. None of the movies were ever under the impression that the boy was the one to carry the turkey to Bob Cratchit's either. Some show the man who delivered the turkey as having his own cart, and some show Scrooge paying for the cab as it says in the book, but none show the little boy carrying it. As with the other mistake, the lesson would not have been effected very much by the correction of the mistake.

I probably would have been more forgiving of these mistakes had I felt that I learned much from the book, but it was a very touchy-feely book that, while sweet, didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know, and thus, I was already frustrated by it by the time I found these mistakes.
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text 2017-01-02 12:05
2016 – the Best of the Best and the Worst of the Worst
Edie: American Girl - Jean Stein,George Plimpton
Metro 2034 - Dmitry Glukhovsky
Frankenstein - Mary Shelley,Maurice Hindle
Jaws - Peter Benchley
The Catcher in the Rye - Jerome David Salinger
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
The Man-Eaters of Tsavo - John Henry Patterson,Peter Hathaway Capstick

With the old year gone and the new one just two days old, it is time for a quick retrospective on what was great and what wasn’t.

 

Let’s start with the Best of the Best!

My favourite book of 2016 was probably Edie, the amazing biography of Edie Sedgwick. Not only was it exciting to read about her short but intense life, but it was also a great experiment in terms of writing style and figuring out new possibilities within the genre of biography.

Another book, that was surprisingly good was The Man-Eaters of Tsavo. I initially started reading it, because I was curious about the book on which one of my all-time favourite movies is based on, but after a couple of pages I fell in love with it (despite all of its flaws).

 

 

and now the Worst of the Worst

The biggest letdowns of 2016  were two books I was unfortunately really looking forward to read.

The first one was Metro 2034 by Dmitrij Gluchovskij. This was such a huge disappointment for me, because the first book in the Metro series was really exciting with a lot of interesting characters, really good writing and a thrilling plot. Unfortunately, Metro 2034 had nothing of the things I loved about the first one.

The other letdown was Jaws. And what a letdown that was! This is a sentence you hardly ever hear me say, but seriously: Go and watch the movie! It is ten times better than the book.

 

Additionally, there are some honourable mentions, meaning books, I am happy to finally have read and which I therefore can happily cross off my bucket list. Those are:

The Catcher in the Rye (although this is definitely not one of my favourites), Frankenstein (which was really good) and A Christmas Carol (love it!)

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review 2017-01-01 22:23
A Christmas Carol ★★★★★
A Christmas Carol (Audible Audio) - Charles Dickens,Tim Curry

I love this story so much that I revisit it every year at the start of the holiday season. I love everything about it, from the characters to the story to the writing style. Dickens writes with sly humor, but there is no mistaking the gravity of his argument about the spirit of Christmas and those who pervert its lessons.

 

"There are some upon this earth of yours," returned the Spirit, "who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us, and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us."

 

And of Ignorance and Want, those children of Man:

 

"Have they no refuge or resource?" cried Scrooge.

"Are there no prisons?" said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. "Are there no workhouses?"

 

This is the audio version, read by Tim Curry, who is an excellent reader, though the version with Jim Dale’s performance is even better.

 

For the Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season book challenge, Task the Twelfth: The Wassail Bowl (Read a book set in the UK, preferably during the medieval or Victorian periods)

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text 2016-12-31 13:52
December Wrap-Up
Claus: Legend of the Fat Man - Tony Bertauski
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
A Christmas Tale - Austin Crawley
The Elf: A Christmas Horror Short Story - I. Clayton Reynolds
War on Christmas - Edward Lorn
EMP - Wilson Harp
Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch
Neverwhere: Author's Preferred Text - Neil Gaiman
Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
Leviathan - Tim Curran

I finished 14 books in December, which is a lot for me!

 

Several of these were short Christmas reads;

 

2 Classics:

 

The Chimes by Charles Dickens (New to me, but one read is enough)

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (A favorite I will probably re-read again)

 

One other re-read: A Christmas Tale by Austin Crawley

That was fun to read right after A Christmas Carol because it relates.

 

Claus by Tony Bertauski

War on Christmas by Edward Lorn

The Elf by I. Clayton Reynolds

Supernatural Short Stories for Christmas by Denise Jay

 

All new reads with a Horror element. I tried other Christmas stories but DNF'd any not listed here.

 

Also,

The Christmas Cookie Plate by Julie Schoen (Cookbook for Christmas cookies)

 

Other non-holiday stories were:

EMP by Wilson Harp

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Leviathan by Tim Curran

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

The Woman Who Killed Donald Trump by Sam Bower

 

ALL of these were good. Seriously, I indulged in pleasure reading and only read books I really enjoyed. I read no samples whatsoever and I was all caught up with Netgalley, though I seem to have acquired 3 more from them now.

 

It has been an excellent reading month for me. :)

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review 2016-12-29 00:00
A Christmas Carol (Great Illustrated Classics)
A Christmas Carol (Great Illustrated Cl... A Christmas Carol (Great Illustrated Classics) - Malvina G. Vogel,Charles Dickens I thought I'd like to re-read this one. So my spouse handed me a copy. It was a real copy. But then, she took that copy away and left me reading this "adapted" copy. That is, someone (Malvina G. Vogel) decided they could do a better job than Dickens writing the English language, or something. In all fairness, I think this was a kids' edition, and needed to be a bit shorter/more straightforward than what the master himself produced. Dickens does, after all, tend to blather away in such a way as to entertain adults, but, perhaps, mostly befuddle 11-year olds.

Anyway, is is a Dickens storyline, and you'd have a hard time doing better than that. I've read this story before, alone and in groups, and also seen multiple film adaptations. With Dickens, the story never grows old. This version had lots of nice drawings to reinforce the text. I liked them. Next time, however, I'll hunt up a real Dickens version, illustrations or no.
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