Book Review: Dickens by Stefan Majchrowski

the book


dickens-majchrowski
Original Title: Dickens
Author: Stefan Majchrowski
Publisher: Obzor
First published: 1977
Pages: 299
Language: Slovak
Format: print. (library copy)
My rating: 4/5

 

the author

“Stefan Majchrowski (1908 – 1988) was a Polish writer who fought in the Invasion of Poland of 1939. He was later captured and incarcerated in the German POW camp. After his liberation by American forces, he served in the Polish Armed Forces in the West. In 2009, he was posthumously awarded by President Lech Kaczynski the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta “for outstanding contribution to the independence of the Polish Republic, for activities on behalf of democratic change in Poland as well as veterans and social activities for their performance in the work undertaken for the benefit of the country and social activities”. // wikipedia

the review

I will start off by saying that this was the first biography of Charles Dickens I have read, so I realize I have nothing to compare it to, therefore, my giving this 4 stars is solely based on my enjoyment of Majchorwskis book and not on comparison with other Dickens biographies.

Majchrowski provides a great insight into the life and work of one of the world’s most famous and beloved authors. Despite the fact that I’ve only ever read one, I would say this is a pretty good introduction to Dickens‘ biographies. It has a nice mix of Dickens‘ personal life and the political and historical situation in England as well as France, so you are able to put things into further context with regards to happenings and events of that time.

Along with describing and introducing Dickens as a man of the 19th century, he provides some brief analyses of his literary works in relation to his current situation and his motives and inspirations for his works.

The book is divided into 21 parts/chapters according to several periods of Dickens’ life, which make it fairly easy to read. It is written in chronological order starting with Dickens’ difficult childhood which is critical in understanding his later works. Same goes for Dickens’ writings – Majchrowski mentions them chronologically and spends some time introducing and analysing each of his works.

The reason I did not give this biography 5 stars is the lack of pictures and visual evidence. There were no pictures or photos in this book and even though it is still an interesting read, if the author would have provided some photos, it would have been a more enjoyable book.

Dickens’ fame & success

What makes Dickens different from many other world-famous authors is the fact that he was incredibly famous & beloved even in his own time. Many writers that are now considered the best in their field were not, infact, quite as popular when they lived. But Dickens was. He was very much appreciated and every one of his novels (then released in monthy installments) was anxiously expected by the whole England. That is why I find reading about Dickens and his success not only intellectually enriching but also quite motivating. He knew what he wanted and he worked hard for it.

“My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest.” – Charles Dickens, David Copperfield.

Overall, I consider this biography a great and insightful material to study the ever fascinating Charles Dickens and his interesting and eventful life.

my rating

4 stars black

 

Thank you for reading!

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Autumn 2016 Book Releases

buff got paris

xmas rothfus sun

beasts girl-online talking

I can’t wait for the illustrated edition of A Game of Thrones even though it is too expensive for me so I know I won’t buy it but I just can’t wait to browse through it in the bookstore.
Also, I am a huge fan of Gilmore Girls (and by huge I mean HUGE – even just hearing their theme song makes me teary-eyed!) so I’m really excited for Lauren Graham’s second book despite the fact that I haven’t even read her first one yet… oops.

Tell me, which of these are you most excited for?

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The Autumn Reading Tag

Hello there!

Recently, Jen Campbell made a video tag about Autumn reading plans, which I found very interesting, so I am now doing it in the form of a blogpost. Feel free to answer these questions yourself, either in the comments or on your own blog!

So, make yourself a nice hot cup of tea, sit back and enjoy!

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1) Are there any books you plan on reading over the Autumn season?

Well, I’m in the middle of a Jane Austen “read-along”, so I plan on finishing Northanger Abbey. After that, I have to decide which specific books I want to read next, because I got quite a lot from the library and there is no way I will be able to read all of them in the course of one month (that is for how long they lend you books in my local library), so I will have to pick some. Either Hopeless by Coleen Hoover, or a very popular Slovak fantasy series The Adventures of Captain Bathory, which is definitely a commitment, because it is a very long series…

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2) September brings back to school memories: what book did you most enjoy studying? And what were your favourite and least favourite school subjects?

I could choose a few different books to answer this question, but to pick the main one: I especially loved Bleak House by  Charles Dickens when we were studying it in college. I remember that I fell in love with Dickens’ characters and his enormous, well thought out plots that somehow always made sense in the end.
Another one that I really enjoyed in school was Anne of Green Gables, which we read in sixth grade. This was the first book that made me fall in love with literature and reading in general, and I have re-read it quite a few times since then. Anne Shirley, with her sincere kindheartedness and wild imagination, is definitely one of my favorite protagonists in literature in general.

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3) October means Halloween: do you enjoy scary books and films? If so what are some of your favourites?

To be honest, I am a huge wuss when it comes to scary stuff. I scare very easily, I have a crazy imagination, and even though I’m 23 years old, I often get scared in the dark, too.  Which is funny because I also regularly work night shifts in a hotel, where I am completely alone and it gets pretty scary for me sometimes. I don’t know why I agreed to this job… (Btw, this is why I can’t read The Shining right now, even though I really want to – I hear it takes place in a haunted hotel?! Nope, not reading that while I work there!) So, given that I avoid these types of books – no, I don’t have a favorite scary book. But, I can share with you my absolute favorite movie that could be considered eerie. Donnie Darko. Phenomenal!

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4) With November it’s time for bonfire night & firework displays. What’s the most exciting book you’ve read that really kept you gripped?

It’s old news, but Gone Girl was definitely one. But also, more recently, The Girl in The Ice by Robert Bryndza was something I could not put down until I found out what exactly happened and who was behind it! I definitely recommend this book and the whole series to everyone.

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5) What book is your favorite cosy comfort read?

Harry Potter! I mean, what other answer is there?! For our generation, at least. In this time of year I always re-read Harry Potter (accompanied with watching the movies, of course) and it just makes me feel so calm, so at home. Yes, it also reminds me of my childhood, but its not only the nostalgia that makes me appreciate Harry Potter books. It’s the way it’s written, and the amazing and complex wizarding world we’re thrown into, and the wonderful cozy feeling Rowling managed to create in the first, more children-appropriate books.

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6) Curled up with a good book, what is your hot drink of choice?

Honestly, it depends on the book itself. If it’s fiction, and a fun read for me, I love drinking hot chocolate while reading. But if it’s something about productivity, or something I’m reading for study purposes, I like to drink coffee with it, because it puts me in a different mindset, and makes me more alert.

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Would you like to do this tag as well?
Feel free to share your answers with me!

Thank you for reading!

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September 2016 WRAP-UP

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Hello there!

Today, I’m bringing you my September reading wrap-up, i.e. all that I’ve read in the month of September. I read 4 books in total. Which is not a lot, but I have already surpassed my Goodreads Reading Challenge for this year, so I consider this whole reading year a success already, haha.

This month has been a “Classics” month for me. Maybe it is because of all the Back to School influence on the internet, even though my school hasn’t started yet. But I guess I was in the mood for some classics, for something intellectual.

pycha-a-predsudokFirst, I read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. (In Slovak: Pýcha a Predsudok)
This was probably my fourth time reading this book. I read it in Slovak and afterwards, I re-read some of my favorite chapters in English. I just can’t help it, I absolutely love this book! (Also, I got two English copies of Pride and Prejudice this month because I didn’t own any… I guess book haul is coming soon, haha)
The book cover pictured here is the beautiful edition by Slovart – a popular publishing house here in Slovakia. They really did a great job with these covers! ♥

 

 

laska-slecny-elliottovejI guess I was really feeling Jane Austen, because the second book I read was Persuasion. (In Slovak: Láska slečny Elliotovej)
This was my first time reading Persuasion, and I really enjoyed it! The only copy of this book I own is the Dover Thrift edition, which I call my “study copy” – I allow myself to write in the margins, underline my favorite quotes and passages, basically I don’t have to be careful with this one because I’m definitely planning to get myself a nicer copy in the future. I read this one exactly like Pride and Prejudice – first I read it in Slovak and then I read some parts in English.

 

a-christmas-carolAnother classic I read, was A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
Who doesn’t love Dickens? His characters, his enormous yet engrossing plots, his talent for portraying and describing anything and everything – who wouldn’t love that? Of course for many, the off-putting quality about his works is their huge length, but this one was a very short story about Christmas and their true meaning.

 

 

 

aristotle-and-dante-discover-the-secrets-of-the-9781442408937_hrAnd finally, I read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin A. Saenz.
And by finally, I mean – FINALLY! This one has been sitting on my desk for several months, waiting to be read. And I finally read it this month. But to be honest, for the hype it got, I expected much more… But I’ll save it for my review.

 

So there it is – the books I managed to read in September. 
What have you been reading these past few weeks? 

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Weekend Reads

After a whole day at work yesterday (and a night shift ahead of me tonight), I can finally sit down for a bit, read a good book and snuggle up under my blanket with a nice cup of tea in this cold September weather. This is what I’ve been looking forward to all day yesterday! Well, this, and seeing my little brother (he’s 5) and maybe playing a little WoW. (Yes, I sometimes play World of Warcraft. Greatest game ever!) But that’s not what I wanted to talk about in this post… After all, it is called Weekend READS, so I should be talking about what I’m currently reading…

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I finally picked up my copy of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which has been sitting on my shelf since I got it a few months ago. Everyone has been raving about this book so I decided I should finally give it a try, too!
I’m only at the 12th chapter (they’re really short, btw!) and so far, I like it, it reads quickly, but it is nothing too exciting. Will let you know what I think about it when I’m finished with it! 🙂

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Also, I’m slowly but surely making my way through all of Jane Austen‘s novels. So far, I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility. If you’re not aware, Zoe is hosting a book club called Austentatious, where we read one Austen book a month. In October, we’re reading Northanger Abbey, so that one is also waiting for me on my nightstand.

So, that is what my reading has been like lately.
What books have you been enjoying? 🙂 

Have a lovely weekend!

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Sh*t happens

I am very sorry for my absence.
Sometimes, life happens.
And it can be very cruel and unpleasant at times.
But, unless you wanna take the easy way out and kill yourself (please don’t, it’s selfish!), you have to deal with it and as they say, roll with the punches.

So that is what I’m trying to do now. I’m rolling with the punches.
And that also means trying to run my blog as best as I can.

I’m off to write some meaningful post, hopefully, and until then,
Have a lovely day!

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Image source: Brainless Tales 

#FridayReads

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I just realized – today is Friday! Haha I had no idea! I’m working this weekend so it doesn’t really feel like Friday to me. Anyway, I thought I’d finally jump on the bandwagon and partake in this weekly Hashtag, sharing with you what I’m currently reading.

Right now, I’m about halfway through My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. I’m really enjoying it so far, after Shakespeare and Dickens I needed some light, summery read. It does read quickly, although I feel like nothing major is happening, even though I’m at the halfway mark. But I hear there should be some interesting plot twist, so I’m hoping it’ll come soon.

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This part made me laugh way too much! Damn Daniel! Heheh…

 

New In: April+May 2016 Book Haul

I can’t stop buying books. That’s a fact. Also an addiction.
But I will read them all, eventually… I promise.

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qa journal 1

qa journal 2

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always kept diaries or journals or whatever you like to call them. Most of them are plain diaries, just your regular ol’ blank notebooks with my thoughts written in them.
But I decided to try out this Q & A a Day 5 Year Journal which has been pretty popular for several years now. Basically, you answer a question every day for 5 years. Same question on the same day, for five years. That way, you get really good introspective as to what you were thinking a few years ago, or you get to compare how you looked at a certain issue then versus how you’re looking at it now, you get to see if and how you grow in these 5 years. It’s a pretty interesting concept, plus, the journal itself lookes beautiful on the shelf!

Then I bought 2 reading journals – Books I’ve Read and What I Read mini journal. (The reason I have two copies is that there was some problem with the delivery from BookDepository, so they sent me a free “replacement” copy.)
dover classics 1

classics 1

collins classics 1

I really want to read more classics, and these Dover Thrift editions were cheap, so why not buy a bunch of them?
I got Persuasion, Emma, Sense & Sensibility, Emily Dickinson’s Selected Poems and An Anthology of English Romantic Poetry. I like to think these will be my ‘study books’ once I continue studying literature at uni.

The Collins Classics are a little more pleasing to the eye, and I got two of those: Mrs Dalloway and A Tale of Two Cities.

The Aladdin edition of Anne of Green Gables was my “guilty pleasure-buy” if there is such a thing. I adore Anne of Green Gables, I’ve read it many times and it’s basically the one book that made me fall in love with literature, so I will cherish it forever. ♥ And this copy was just way too beautiful not to buy it.

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This is a little mix of everything. A very popular self-help book How to Win Friends & Influence People; Arnold Schwarzenegger’s inspiring autobiography Total Recall; another autobiography – of Benjamin Franklin, so that’s a whole lot of motivation, hopefully.
I also got Light on Yoga, with the subtitle “the Bible of modern yoga”. I can’t wait to study it and immerse myself more deeply in the world of yoga.
And then you have the summer YA contemporary ‘easy read’ My Life Next Door which I’m currently reading.

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In May, I also got my first physical copy of a comic book, or graphic novel, or trade paperback – I’m still not sure what to call it – FABLES: Legends in Exile. I started reading it already and it’s amazing!

So that concludes my April and May massive book haul. Thank you for reading!
Feel free to let me know if you’ve read any of these and have a lovely day!

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Book Review: Me Before You

the book

Me-Before-You-book-cover-Jan-12-p122Original Title: Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
First published: 2012
Pages: 369
Language: English
Format: e-book
My rating: 3/5


Synopsis:

“Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.”

the author

Jojo_Small_Portrait_Crop-212x300“Jojo Moyes was born in 1969 and grew up in London. After a varied career including stints as a minicab controller, typer of braille statements for blind people for NatWest, and brochure writer for Club 18-30, she did a degree at Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, London University. In 1992, she won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to attend the postgraduate newspaper journalism course at City University.

Jojo worked as a journalist for ten years, including a year at South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, and nine at The Independent where she worked variously as News Reporter, Assistant News Editor and Arts and Media Correspondent.

Jojo has been a full time novelist since 2002, when her first book, Sheltering Rain was published. Since then she has written a further eleven novels, all of which have been widely critically acclaimed.”  // www.jojomoyes.com

the review

Everyone and their mother has read this book. Everyone and their mother has loved this book. I guess I’m an exception.

Don’t get me wrong, I did like this book, the 3 stars prove it. However, I expected to adore it, to love it as much as everyone else, I expected to cry for hours upon finishing it. That did not happen.
And while I understand why so many people loved Me Before You, I guess I expected more from it. The pure fact that it got such massive amounts of positive reviews made me believe it was something exceptional, something exquisitely written, something I’ve never read before. But it wasn’t. For me, it was just an average read full of average characters and with a non-satisfying ending.

But let’s start at the beginning. Me Before You seemed rather promising at the very beginning. With Lou having been let go from her job of many years and having to start anew, the story had so many options and possibilities. It felt like something new and exciting is awaiting Lou Clark just around the corner. You would think she would pursue her dream, maybe she would finally leave her hometown and do something she’s never done before.

Nope. That doesn’t happen. Because Lou has no dreams. She stays in her hometown and starts working as a caretaker for a quadriplegic man, even though she’s got zero skills in this area. Ugh.

oh god

The flat characters.
Oh, how I disliked Lou! The girl was such a bore! I do understand that she is very much a relatable character for many people, but at the same time, she didn’t have any depth to her. That I found unrealistic. A 26-year-old with absolutely no ambitions in a world full of options and pretty much no restrictions, felt completely unreal. A woman with no dreams, no vision and no hobbies that is willing to stay in an unhealthy and loveless relationship and you make her the main protagonist of your novel? It felt like I was reading a story set a few hundred years ago, and not in the 21st century. This is why I completely understood Will’s annoyance and his frustration with Lou’s lack of life in her. But it wasn’t just Lou, I found most of the characters rather flat, nothing complex or interesting about them – I just wasn’t invested in them at all.

Emma meh

The different POVs.
Throughout the novel, you are mostly reading from Lou’s perspective. But towards the end there are a few chapters that are told from the perspective of a few other characters. I found that completely unnecessary. First, I wasn’t even able to differentiate between the points of view. There was absolutely nothing unique about the few different people’s perspectives – no difference in the writing style, no difference in their thoughts. I found myself checking several times within one chapter whose perspective I was reading. And second, these different POVs did not explain or add to the story whatsoever.

The Evil Sentence.
„I let out a breath I did not realize I was holding“ and its variations – that is the Evil Sentence.
I made a list of books that feature this infamous sentence. And yes, Me Before You is also on this list, among many others. However, what I found surprising and quite funny, was the fact that it wasn’t our main protagonist Lou who has been holding her breath without knowing it – no, it was the man who was taking care of Will, Nathan.

The story.
The beginning – starts OK, reads nicely, no major issues there.
From about halfway to the end – predictable (partly because of everyone’s reactions and the spoilery title itself), repetitive and a little annoying, with only a few good moments here and there.
I did not hate the book like it might sound. I thought it had great potential and had it been written just slightly differently, it might have been a 5-star read for me as well.
But in comparison to some other great romances, I would describe Me Before You as a pretty average and predictable (love?) story that is relying completely on the emotional rollercoaster it puts you on. If you’re not on board, whether it be due to the flat characters, the slow pace, the predictability, the writing, etc., you’re just gonna stand there with a bored expression on your face and wait for everyone else to stop hyperventilating and crying their eyes out.

my rating

3 stars black

My Bookmark Collection

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I’m a lover of books, as well as bookmarks. And since I’m usually reading multiple books at the same time, I need multiple bookmarks, not just one. These are some of the ones I use most often. Some of these are bought, some gifted, and some I made myself. And quite frankly, my absolute favorite one is actually my very first DIY bookmark (which looks pretty rough by now, but only because it’s been well-loved. 🙂 )

 

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  1. // RANDOM
    I’m starting out with these ones. Two of them are from libraries – one is from the library in my hometown, the other one (JSTOR) is from the library at my college. Nothing very artistic or interesting about them, they were simply giving them to everyone.
    The “Croatia” one is from our last vacation in Croatia. It was surprisingly pretty expensive for a bookmark, plus, it’s wooden and quite thick, so I don’t even know whether I’m actually gonna use it or not… But at least it’s some kind of a bookish souvenir.pic 02
  2. // BOOK DEPOSITORY
    I became addicted to buying books from Book Depository. The free shipping, reasonable prices, and the fact that they include a free bookmark in every purchase, is only strengthening my addiction. Plus, recently, they’ve been sending these coloring bookmarks which makes it all the more enjoyable! I have quite a few of these – some I gave to my little brother to color, and some are still on their way here with my most recent purchases.pic 03
  3. // BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
    This bookmark of Bendystraws Cuminpacks photobombing was a gift from my best friend. It made me chuckle, especially with that text on it. It also looks pretty awesome sticking out from a book on my shelf, haha.pic 04
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  4. // DIY
    And lastly, I have my favorites – my DIY bookmarks. I have a lot of creative energy, so I constantly feel the need to make something from scratch. And so I started to make my own bookmarks.
    The brownish one, I made about 6 years ago, it was the very first one that I made. And it’s my favorite to use ever since. I made it, funnily enough, by completely destroying another book – my dad’s old English textbook. But it was in a very desolate state even then, so I was only putting it to another use, if you will. I simply cut out some pictures and texts from it, made it into a collage and glued everything together on a piece of thicker paper.
    The blue one I made during my nail-art phase. I used to decorate (or destroy, depends how you look at it) everything with nail polish. Keys, jars, and even bookmarks. The roses on this bookmark are made with nail polish. Now it has a nice, textured look to it.
    Those of you who watch BBC’s Sherlock, are probably familiar with the black and white ones. It’s the famous wallpaper from Sherlock’s flat. 🙂

 

This is my humble, but growing collection of bookmarks. 
Thank you for reading. ♥ 
How are you with bookmarks?
Do you use them, or do you end up using random scraps of paper?

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