Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Book Review: A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford

A Woman of Substance (Emma Harte Saga #1)A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I was bored reading the first part. I have to painstakingly encourage myself to read at least a chapter everyday. But, when I got to the part where she got pregnant and had to run away, where I think is just the beginning of her success, I already can't put the book down. All in all, I loved the book. I learned never to rush into marriage if it's not because of love at all.



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Book Summary
In celebration of its thirtieth anniversary, here is the novel that started it all: New York Times bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford’s dazzling saga of a woman who dared to dream—and to triumph against all odds. . . .

On the brooding moors above a humble Yorkshire village stood Fairley Hall. There, Emma Harte, its oppressed but resourceful servant girl, acquired a shrewd determination. There, she honed her skills, discovered the meaning of treachery, learned to survive, to become a woman, and vowed to make her mark on the world.

In the wake of tragedy she rose from poverty to magnificent wealth as the iron-willed force behind a thriving international enterprise. As one of the richest women in the world Emma Harte has almost everything she fought so hard to achieve—save for the dream of love, and for the passion of the one man she could never have.

Through two marriages, two devastating wars, and generations of secrets, Emma’s unparalleled success has come with a price. As greed, envy, and revenge consume those closest to her, the brilliant matriarch now finds herself poised to outwit her enemies, and to face the betrayals of the past with the same ingenious resolve that forged her empire. (from goodreads)

About the Author
Barbara Taylor Bradford worked as a journalist and columnist before publihing her first novel, the bestseller A Woman of Substance (1979). She lives in New York. (from goodreads)

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Read free novels online: The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler


This Halcyon Classics ebook is Samuel Butler's indictment of Victorian society, THE WAY OF ALL FLESH.

A semi-autobiographical novel, THE WAY OF ALL FLESH attacks Victorian era hypocrisy as it traces four generations of the Pontifex family. It represents a relaxation from the harsh religious outlook of Calvinism. Butler dared not publish it during his lifetime, but when it was published, it was accepted as part of the general revolution against Victorianism.

Book Summary
The story is narrated by Overton, godfather to the central character.

The novel takes its beginnings in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in order to trace Ernest's emergence from previous generations of the Pontifex family. John Pontifex was a carpenter; his son George rises in the world to become a publisher; George's son Theobald, pressured by his father to become a minister, is manipulated into marrying Christina, the daughter of a clergyman; the main character Ernest Pontifex is the eldest son of Theobald and Christina.

The author depicts an antagonistic relationship between Ernest and his hypocritical and domineering parents. His aunt Alethea is aware of this relationship, but dies before she can fulfill her aim of counteracting the parents' malign influence on the boy. However, shortly before her death she secretly passes a small fortune into Overton's keeping, with the agreement that once Ernest is twenty-eight, he can receive it.

As Ernest develops into a young man, he travels a bumpy theological road, reflecting the divisions and controversies in the Church of England in the Victorian era. Easily influenced by others at university, he starts out as an Evangelical Christian, and soon becomes a clergyman. He then falls for the lures of the High Church (and is duped out of much of his own money by a fellow clergyman). He decides that the way to regenerate the Church of England is to live among the poor, but the results are, first, that his faith in the integrity of the Bible is severely damaged by a conversation with one of the poor he was hoping to redeem, and second, that under the pressures of poverty and theological doubt, he attempts a sexual assault on a woman he had incorrectly believed to be of loose morals.

This assault leads to a prison term. His parents disown him. His health deteriorates.

As he recovers he learns how to tailor and decides to make this his profession once out of prison. He loses his Christian faith. He marries Ellen, a former housemaid of his parents, and they have two children and set up shop together in the second-hand clothing industry. However, in due course he discovers that Ellen is both a bigamist and an alcoholic. Overton at this point intervenes and pays Ellen off. He gives Ernest a job, and takes him on a trip to Continental Europe.

In due course Ernest becomes 28, and receives his aunt Alethea's gift. He returns to the family home until his parents die: his father's influence over him wanes as Theobald's own position as a clergyman is reduced in stature, though to the end Theobald finds small ways to purposefully annoy him. He becomes an author of controversial literature. (from wikipedia)

About the Author
Samuel Butler was an iconoclastic Victorian author who published a variety of works, including the Utopian satire Erewhon and the posthumous novel The Way of All Flesh, his two best-known works, but also extending to examinations of Christian orthodoxy, substantive studies of evolutionary thought, studies of Italian art, and works of literary history and criticism . Butler also made prose translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey which remain in use to this day. (from goodreads)

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Blogger Hop: 9/16-9/19




Here's the question asked by Crazy for Books:

As a book blogger, how do you introduce yourself in your profile?

I introduce myself by mentioning my love for books and how I just love reading books. I really think that I would have to further improve the way I introduce myself in my profile. Now, I would have an idea on how I can effectively do that. Thanks!

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Read Free Novels Online: The Call of the Wild by Jack London


An unusual dog, part St. Bernard, part Scotch shepherd, is forcibly taken to Alaska where he eventually becomes leader of a wolf pack.

Book Summary
Buck, a powerful Saint Bernard-Scotch shepherd dog, lives a comfortable life in the Santa Clara Valley with his owner, Judge Miller. One day, Manuel, the Judge's gardener's assistant, steals Buck and sells him in order to pay a gambling debt. Buck is then shipped to the "man in the red sweater" to be broken. Then Buck is shipped to Alaska and sold to a pair of French Canadians named Fran├žois and Perrault (for $300), who were impressed with his physique. They train him as a sled dog, and he quickly learns how to survive the cold winter nights and the pack society by observing his teammates. He and the vicious, quarrelsome lead dog, Spitz, develop a rivalry. Buck eventually bests Spitz in a major fight, and after Spitz is defeated, the other dogs close in, killing him. Buck then becomes the leader of the team.

Eventually, Buck is sold to a man named Charles, his wife, Mercedes, and her brother, Hal, who know nothing about sledding nor surviving in the Alaskan wilderness. They struggle to control the sled and ignore warnings not to travel during the spring melt. They first overfeed the dogs, then when their food supply starts running out, they do not feed them at all. As they journey on, they run into John Thornton, an experienced outdoorsman who notices that all of the sled dogs are in terrible shape from the ill treatment of their handlers. Thornton warns the trio against crossing the river, but they refuse to listen and order Buck to move on. Exhausted, starving, and sensing the danger ahead, Buck refuses and continues to lay unmoving in the snow. After being beaten by Hal, Thornton recognizes him as a remarkable dog and is disgusted by the driver's beating of the dog. Thornton cuts him free from his traces and tells the trio he's keeping him, much to Hal's displeasure. After some argument, the trio leaves and tries to cross the river, but as Thornton warned, the ice gives way and the three fall into the river along with the neglected dogs and sled.

As Thornton nurses Buck back to health, Buck comes to love him and grows devoted to him. Buck saves Thornton when the man falls into a river. Thornton then takes him on trips to pan for gold. During one such trip, a man makes a wager with Thornton over Buck's strength and devotion. Buck wins the bet by breaking a half-ton sled out of the frozen ground, then pulling it 100 yards by himself, winning over a thousand dollars in gold dust. Thornton and his friends return to their camp and continue their search for gold, while Buck begins exploring the wilderness around them and begins socializing with a wolf from a local pack. One night, he returns from a short hunt to find his beloved master and the others in the camp have been killed by a group of Yeehat Indians. Buck eventually kills the Indians to avenge Thornton. After realizing his old life is a thing of the past, Buck follows the wolf into the forest and answers the call of the wild. Every year Buck comes to mourn for Thornton the place where he died. (from wikipedia)

About the Author
Jack London was an American novelist and short-story writer whose works deal romantically with elemental struggles for survival. At his peak, he was the highest paid and the most popular of all living writers. Because of early financial difficulties, he was largely self educated past grammar school.

London draws heavily on his life experiences in his writing. He spent time in the Klondike during the Gold Rush and at various times was an oyster pirate, a seaman, a sealer, and a hobo. His first work was published in 1898. From there he went on to write such American classics as Call of the Wild, Sea Wolf, and White Fang. (from goodreads.com)

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Chapter I: Into the Primitive
Chapter II: The Law of Club and Fang
Chapter III: The Dominant Primordial Beast
Chapter IV: Who Has Won to Mastership
Chapter V: The Toil of Trace and Tail
Chapter VI: For the Love of a Man
Chapter VII: The Sounding of the Call

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Read free novels online: Anthem by Ayn Rand


The year 2005 marks Ayn Rand's Centennial Year.

Ayn Rand's classic tale of a future dark age of the great “We”—a world that deprives individuals of name, independence, and values—anticipates her later masterpieces, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

Book Summary
Equality 7-2521, writing in a tunnel under the earth, explains his background, the society around him, and his emigration. His exclusive use of plural pronouns ("we", "our", "they") to refer to himself and others tells a tale of complete socialization and governmental control. The idea of the World Council was to eliminate all individualist ideas. It was so stressed, that people were burned at the stake for saying an Unspeakable Word ("I", "Me", "Myself", and "Egos"). He recounts his early life. He was raised, like all children in the world of Anthem, away from his parents in the Home of the Infants, then transferred to the Home of the Students, where he began his schooling. Later, he realized that he was born with a "curse": He is eager to think and question, and unwilling to give up himself for others, which violates the principles upon which Anthem's society is founded. He excelled in math and science, and dreamed of becoming a Scholar. However, a Council of Vocations assigned all people to their jobs, and he was assigned to the Home of the Street Sweepers.

Equality accepts his profession willingly in order to repent for his transgression (his desire to learn). He works with International 4-8818 and Union 5-3992. International is exceptionally tall, a great artist (which is his transgression, as only people chosen to be artists may draw), and Equality's only friend (having a friend also being a crime because, in Anthem's society, one is not supposed to prefer one of one's brothers over the rest). Union, "they of the half-brain," suffers from some sort of neurological seizures.

However, Equality remains curious. One day, he finds the entrance to a subway tunnel in his assigned work area and explores it, despite International 4-8818's protests that an action unauthorized by a Council is forbidden. Equality realizes that the tunnel is left over from the Unmentionable Times, before the creation of Anthem's society, and is curious about it. During the daily three hour-long play, he leaves the rest of the community at the theater and enters the tunnel and undertakes scientific experiments.

Working outside the City one day, by a field, Equality meets and falls in love with a woman, Liberty 5-3000, whom he names "The Golden One." Also, Liberty 5-3000 names Equality "The Unconquered".

Continuing his scientific work, he rediscovers electricity (which he, until the book nears its conclusion, calls the "power of the sky") and the light bulb. He makes a decision to take his inventions to the World Council of Scholars when they arrive in his town in a few days' time, so that they will recognize his talent and allow him to work with them, as well as to make what he sees as a valuable contribution to his fellow men. However, one night he loses track of time in the underground tunnel and his absence from the Home of the Street Sweepers is noticed. When he refuses to say where he had been, he is arrested and sent to the Palace of Corrective Detention, from which he easily escapes after being tortured.

The day after his escape, he walks in on the World Council of Scholars and presents his work to them. Horrified, they reject it because it was not authorized by a Council and threatens to upset the equilibrium of their world. When they try to destroy his invention, he takes it and flees into the forest (called the Uncharted Forest) outside the City.

Upon entering the Uncharted Forest, Equality begins to realize that he is free, that he no longer must wake up every morning with his brothers to sweep the streets. (It's important to note that it was illegal for men of the City to enter or even think of the Forest, therefore he was not pursued once he crossed its threshold). He can "rise, or run, or leap, or fall down again." Now that he sees this, he is not stricken with the sense that he will die at the fangs of the beasts of the forest as a result of his transgressions. He develops a new understanding of the world and his place in it.

On his second day of living in the forest, Equality stumbles upon the Golden One, Liberty 5-3000, who has followed him from the City. They embrace, struggling to express their feelings for each other as they do not know how to verbally express themselves as individuals. They find and enter a house from the Unmentionable Times in the mountains, perfectly preserved for hundreds of years by thick overgrowth, and decide to live in it.

While reading books from the house's library, Equality and Liberty discover that the Unspeakable Word, the one that carries the penalty of death, is "I", given through the power of "ego". Recognizing its sacred value and the individuality it expresses, they give themselves new names from the books: Equality becomes "Prometheus" and Liberty becomes "Gaea". As the book closes, Prometheus talks about the past, wonders how men could give up their individuality, and charts a future in which they will regain it.

The last word of the book, "EGO", is inscribed by Prometheus on a rock and hung over his front door.(from Wikipedia)

About the Author
Alisa Rosenbaum was born in pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg to a prosperous Jewish family. When the Bolsheviks requisitioned the pharmacy owned by her father, Fronz, the Rosenbaums fled to the Crimea. Alisa returned to the city (renamed Leningrad) to attend the university, but in 1926 relatives who had already settled in America offered her the chance of joining them there. With money from the sale of her mother's jewellery, Alisa bought a ticket to New York. On arrival at Ellis Island, she changed into Ayn (the name of a Finnish writer) Rand (taken from the brand name of her Remington-Rand typewriter). She moved swiftly to Hollywood, where she learnt English, worked in the RKO wardrobe department and as an extra, and - fuelled with Dexamyl - wrote through the night on screenplays and novels. She also married a bit-part actor called Frank O'Connor because he was 'beautiful' - and because her original visitor's visa had run out.
Rand sold her first screenplay in 1932, but nobody would buy her first novel We the Living (1936) a melodrama set in Russia. Her first real success was The Fountainhead (rejected by more than ten publishers before publication in 1943).
She was a libertarian, opposed to state interference of all kinds, and her follow-up novel Atlas Shrugged (1957) describes a group who attempt to escape America's conspiracy of mediocrity. (from goodreads.com)

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