Strangers on a Train

26 05 2010

Título: Strangers on a Train

Autor: Patricia Highsmith.

Editorial: Penguin

Obra Adaptada: SI.

Nivel: Intermedio.

Reseña: This book is an adaptation from the original book written by Patricia Highsmith. You can also find a film version which was directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1945 that became so well-known. 

´Strangers on a train´ tells a mystery story about Guy Haines, a famous tennis player, who meets Charley Bruno on a train. Charley proposes him a very strange plan `You murder my father and I’ll murder your wife´. From this moment, Guy’s life changes and he goes into a world of madness, lies and death; he cannot escape. 

In my opinion, this adaptation is rather limited and sometimes it is a bit difficult to follow the plot. But in general, it is a type of story from those days which seems interesting to me because it is evolved in an atmosphere of great tension.  I would recommend it as an entertaining book for those who enjoy classical mystery stories.

Valoración: 3/5

Sheila Cidón Brincones 2ºNI



Five on a Hike Together

24 05 2010

Title: Five on a Hike Together

Author: Enid Blyton

Level: Advanced

ReviewThe famous five are four determined children with a dog who solve mysteries and get tangled up with smugglers and other criminals.

The stories always take place during the children’s school holidays. Every time they meet, they want nothing more than to stroll about the countryside and have picnics, but the adventures just come along.  

In “Five on a Hike Together” they have to solve a strange message and a map showing a criss-cross. The story involves their adventures in a burned-out house by the side of a lake where the children have to search for some treasure. However, they have rivals: two unpleasant criminals, Maggie and Dirty Dick.  

The five are two brothers and a sister, Julian, Dick and Anne, and their cousin George (Georgina) a tomboy with short hair and boy’s clothes who owns a large dog, Timmy. They are aged between 12 and 10. They are intelligent, responsible and brave. Julian, the oldest, is the leader of the group and sometimes a bit strict. Anne, the youngest, takes care of their domestic duties during the Five’s various camping holidays. Timmy is a very clever dog, affectionate and loyal that provides physical protection for the children.

This book is written in a style accessible to any Spanish reader. The language is easy and the scenes are described with simplicity. The fast pace of the writing keeps reader’s attention. It’s a page-turner full of twists.

If you have been and still are a five fanatic, I recommend you to read this book with your adult view. You’ll discover things you didn’t think about when you were a child and you’ll think how naïve you were!

Nowadays, I’m 35 years old and I have had the same butterflies in my stomach as the first time I read the book. I have let my imagination run away with me again. I was really hooked. It has been very exciting.

 Rate: 5/5 

Susana Cainzos  2ºNA



At Risk

22 05 2010

Title: At Risk

Author: Patricia Cornwell

Level: Advanced

Review:   A Massachusetts State Police investigator, Win Garano, is called from the National Forensic Academy in Tennessee by his boss, the District Attorney, Monique Lamont. She is running for governor and she plans to use a new crime initiative called ‘At Risk’ to employ new DNA technology so she sends Garano to Tennessee to work a twenty-year-old unsolved murder. Although he doesn’t want to work the case, he must obey her, so he starts the investigation, but, while carrying it out , a shocking violent act intervenes.

The characters draw you in from the beginning although they are one-dimensional, so, since you can’t get enough information about them, it is difficult to connect emotionally with them.

This novel is a whodunit written in present tense, what makes you feel part of it, and in a style accessible to any reader with quite plain language, despite being a crime book, because it doesn’t go into the facts in too much depth. In fact, the story is underdeveloped, the plot is sketchy, it doesn’t flow together, and nothing is fully explained. Therefore, this plot, intriguing but easy to lose the thread of it, requires all one’s powers of concentration.

That style is what really hooked me; I kept reading the book in order to know what happened. I couldn’t put it down. In my opinion, the novel starts well, keeping you in suspense at the beginning, but then, just as the plot and suspense are rising, you start the new chapter and find out that the detectives have it all solved so you think you have missed some crucial paragraph somehow. And, finally, the novel is finished suddenly as though the writer had a deadline so, when I got to the end, I realized that some of the facts were still unknown and I wasn’t really sure about what had happened. I suppose the reason of this bizarre end is that the writer had already planned to write the second part, entitled ‘The Front’.

To sum up, as far as I am concerned, the book is readable, albeit not as good as other Patricia Cornwell’s thrillers.

Rate: 3/5

Natalia García 2ºNA



The Host

21 05 2010

Title: The Host

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Level: Advanced

Review

The Host” is the first book of a trilogy, which will have been completed with The soul and The Seeker. These books have caused the same expectation as the preceding debut saga, the international best-seller TwilightStephenie Meyer amazes us with a romantic and science-fiction novel for adults.

‘A nail-biting love and treason story where humanity destiny is at stake. The Earth has been colonized by aliens who invade and take over human bodies. Wanderer, one of the invading souls, has to face indescribable emotions, dreams and regards from Melanie’s soul. She refuses to give up her mind without havifinding Jared. A loving triangle with only two bodies.’

Written in a nice and easy style, immediately accessible to any reader, with a infallible formula that you will get you hooked on it. It is a human story faraway from the language and topics of this genre (spacecrafts, ray guns..), set at our days, where confused human feelings and emotions are told in an elegant and wonderful observed way.

This captivating writer shows us an eloquent form to introduce characters, but baffled at the same time, as they entwine to confuse the reader. Melanie symbolizes the courage, the power and the human devotion, opposite to Wanderer, a candid and insecure creature who must decide between her feelings and carrying out one’s duty.

This is not the best book I have come across, but it is undoubtedly one that catches you all at once, the five books, one after the other.

 Rate: 3/5 

Reina Pérez  2ºNA



Fury

20 05 2010

Title: Fury

Author: Salman Rushdie

Level: Advanced

Review:  “Fury” is a novel about Malik Solanka, a 55-year-old Cambridge professor born in Bombay, who is the creator of “Little Brain”, a highly popular mechanical “philosophical” doll.

One night, Solanka finds himself standing over the sleeping bodies of his English wife and his little son with a knife in his hand. Confused and alarmed, he decides to abandon his family and go to New York where he hopes to escape the inner demons that he believes drove him to almost murder his family.

The book tries to explore personal demons or “furies” that are around him and it is also a portrait of New York.

“Fury” contains numerous subplots: a mystery about a series of murders in which his friend Jack Rhinehart is thought to be involved, the life of an anti-semitic plumber which story has been bought by a film studio, a sci-fi revolutionary fantasy that has a huge commercial success…

He strikes up two relationships. Mila Milo, a gorgeous serb, incest victim and young internet entrepreneur that helps Malik to cure about some of his demons and Neela Mahendra, his secretive love, a beauty indian very smart who is politically committed to the national liberation movement of his country. Solanka visits the island to meet Neela, but her devotion to the cause will entail some problems…

The characters in “Fury” are one-dimensional, lifeless and constructed according to contemporary American life.

Malik Solanka is too passive. He’s simply an observer with a back-story. He is an angry, impulsive man, but he is also pitiable and a bit desperate for love and acceptance.

This novel is a bit complex. It offers satirical themes and it mixes moments of anger and madness with black humour. It is not a fast-paced thriller. In fact, “Fury” is a bit slow, no much happens.

Rate: 2/5

Susana  2ºNA



Book of the Dead

20 05 2010

Title: Book of the Dead

Author: Patricia Cornwell

Level: Advanced

Review:   The “Book of the Dead” is an old expression which comes from Ancient Egyptian funerary texts. It is the morgue logbook, a sort of ledger in which all cases are entered by hand. After reading this book, however, it will take on a new meaning…

Bestseller Cornwell’s 15th novel depicts a new Kay Scarpetta adventure. In this occasion, the pathologist forensic has just opened a modern lab in the apparently peaceful city of Charleston, offering expert crime scene investigation and autopsies. Soon, she is asked to consult the murder of a famous American tennis champ in Rome. At the same time, she has to deal with other violent deaths, facing a killer as deadly as any she has ever encountered.

Once again, Cornwell presents characters from previous Scarpetta books. For this reason, they are not well drawn, since we are supposed to know them. The main character is Kay Scarpetta, a strong, perfectionist and intelligent woman holding her own in a profession dominated by men. Besides her, we can find her usual colleagues and their tumultuous and tangled relations. They are Benton Wesley, an FBI profiler and former boyfriend; Lucy, her beautiful and brilliant niece and Peter Marino, an excellent detective but tortured because he is secretly in love with Kay.

Besides its rather one-dimensional characters, the story has loads of commonplaces, clichés and awful stereotypes, such as the arrogant and ladies’ man Italian carabiniere Captain Poma. Written in a style immediately accessible to any reader, it delivers Cornwell’s trademark grisly crime scenes, but lacks coherence and emotional feelings. In addition, sometimes the reader flounders in excessive forensic details.

To sum up, this is another whodunit full of twist bestseller, which I recognize its ability to entertain and enthrall, but only for diehard Cornwell fans.

 Rate: 3/5

Conchi Olea 2ºNA



Circle Games

15 05 2010

IDIOMA: Inglés  

TÍTULO: Circle Games

AUTOR:  Frank Brennan

EDITORIAL : Cambridge

OBRA ADAPTADA: SI 

NIVEL: Básico

RESEÑA: “Circle games” is a collection of short stories told by an anonymous narrator that includes five different and surprising stories. 

The first story is about an old and boring Chinese lion dancer and how his life changes one day. The second story is about a couple who want to buy an old wooden wheel on an English pub wall. The next one is about a poor bicycle taxi driver in Singapore who helps a sick girl on the National Day. And the last one is about an English archaeologist student who finds a strange and very old disc which changes her life for a few weeks. 

The book is entertaining and easy to follow. I would recommend it to start to read books in English in the first months of the course.

VALORACIÓN: 3/5 

Benedicto Fernández  2ºNI



Murder by Art

13 05 2010

IDIOMA: Inglés  

TÍTULO: Murder by Art

AUTORJanet Mcgiffin

EDITORIAL : Cambridge

OBRA ADAPTADA: SI 

NIVEL: Intermedio

RESEÑA: This book, written by Janet Mcgiffin and first published in 2009, is a murder mystery story.

The story takes place in Milwaukee in the USA during the summer. It starts on a hot August summer night when a young artist and a gang leader’s girlfriend are shot in the street, a woman dies mysteriously in the Mercy Hospital emergency room and a famous artist is killed at the opening of an exhibition of his work. Dr Maxine Cassidy and detective Grabowski find the connection between the events and they discover that these facts have not been accidental.

In my opinion, this book is rather interesting and the story is easy to understand. To sum up, if you like good thrillers, you’ll enjoy “Murder by Art” 

VALORACIÓN: 5/5 

Isabel Iglesias Santamarina  2ºNI



The Full Monty

12 05 2010

Título: The Full Monty

Autor: Wendy Holden

Editorial: Penguin Readers

Obra adaptada: Sí

Nivel: Intermedio

Reseña: ´The full Monty´ is a very popular and funny British film and this book is a great adaptation from it. The story mixes a formal language with some colloquial expressions which makes it easy to read it. 

It is about a group of men who don’t have work, so they need to do something to feel fulfilled. The main character is Gaz, who is divorced and needs money to be able to see his soon. He is quite crazy and always has crazy ideas, but he only wants to stay with his son. Gaz encourages the rest of the group to form a stripper’s group. They have several problems in their lives but finally they become close friends. 

It is worth reading because it is amusing and entertaining but at the same time it is a moving story.

Valoración: 4/5

Sheila Cidón Brincones  2ºNI



“Los profesores recomiendan”: 1984 (by Emilio)

9 05 2010

1984.gifTítulo: 1984

Autor: George Orwell

Editorial: Penguin Readers

Obra adaptada: SI

Nivel: Intermedio

Reseña:

The book nineteen-eighty four was written by George Orwell, pen name used by Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950), and it was first published in 1949. Initially the book title was  “The Last Man in Europe”. Orwell participated in the Spanish Civil War and this fact made his literary career politically more intransigent.  Orwell is considered as one of the greatest writers of modern literature. With Orwell a new adjective that defines organizations or totalitarian societies was born: “Orwellian”. It is very difficult to define what kind of book this is. Some critics believe that it is a fiction book, but to me -I am not an expert on the subject- it is a political book. The narrator is not involved in the story, which is good from my point of view, because the reader will be able to draw his or her own opinion about the story. Three are the characters that deserve to be highlighted:

Winston Smith, a middle-aged man, is the main character of the story and we know 1984 world through his eyes. He hates the Party, but also he is a frightened and doubtful person. He seems defeated by the present, but when he meets Julia his pessimism starts to decline and he finds the only reason to live, the trust in the defeat of the Party and a free life with Julia but without the Party.

Julia, like Winston,  is against the Party, but has a different personality. Julia lives of the Party but not to the Party, she lives here and now; she definitely is more pragmatic than Winston. She uses sex to rebel against the Party. Julia’s relationship with Winston begins as a political act against the Party but in the end they fall in love and both of them swear not to betray each one.

O´Brien, has a high position in the Party and is a cool, clever and calculating person. From his role in the novel I think that he could be considered the symbol of the madness of dictatorship. Perhaps he represents the allegorical BIG BROTHER figure.

The story takes places in Oceania, one of the three countries in which the author divides the world, particularly in London in 1984, a year in the future. It is difficult to me to make a short summary of the plot, but I will try. Winston, who works for the Ministry of Truth is in charge of changing the past, he changes the news that is harmful to the Party. One day during an act called “ The Two Minutes Hate”, he sees a man (O´Brien), and he thinks he is a member of a secret society (The Brotherhood) against the Party. In the same act he eventually stumbles on Julia, a woman that he had previously thought to be a member of the Thought Police, and  they fall in love. They rent a room in the Proletariat section of the town (whose owner is an active member of  the Thought Police), to speak and engage in many anti-Party  acts, such as sex, love and other Thought Crimes (sex was prohibited by the Party). In the middle of the story, Winston stumbles on O´Brien and this man invites him and Julia to his house. O´Brien makes them believe that he is an important member of the Brotherhood and gives them a book supposedly written by Goldstein, who is the counterrevolutionary leader (everything is a trap). They are betrayed at once, by the owner of the apartment and by the man who was going to join the Brotherhood. Winston and Julia are sent to the Ministry of Love which is a sort of rehabilitation center for criminals accused of thought crime. There, Winston is separated from Julia and tortured until his beliefs coincide with the Party. Winston is taken to the dreaded Room 101, where each suspect faces his fears, his are the rats. Then he finally shouts “Do it to Julia!”  This is the proof of his recovery, the one his torturers want. 

In my opinion the book, masterfully written, alerts us about the danger of autocratic regimes and the methods that they use to limit the freedom and the thought of people in a sibylline form.  For example, if there are not words like love or crime, you cannot think of them because they do not really exist. The author at the end leaves some doubts: is there a BIG BROTHER?  Is the BROTHERHOOD an invention of the Party? Each community will respond to questions proposed by the author. The novel shows us, in a masterful  way, the painful life of people who live under totalitarian power. 

The book is highly recommended for people with political concerns. It is worth reading and moving, absolutely brilliant. I would also like to recommended another book by George Well “ Animal Farm”. On balance, please teenagers, read this book because your point of view about politics could change.

Valoración: 5/5

Emilio Jiménez Prieto 2ºNI



The Sugar Glider

8 05 2010

IDIOMA: Inglés  

TÍTULO: The Sugar Glider

AUTOR:  Rod Neilsen

EDITORIAL : Cambridge

OBRA ADAPTADA: SI 

NIVEL: Intermedio

RESEÑA: This book was written by Rod Nielsen and first published in 2003. An anonymous narrator tells an adventure story set in Australia where two pilots have to do a strange secret job for the government.

Don Radcliffe returns to Australia hoping to rescue a failed marriage and to spend more time with his daughter, Judy. But first, Paul Copeman, an old friend, offers him a strange routine job in an old DC4 airplane called “The Sugar Glider”. With this job, they will earn enough money to start their dreamed flying school. They have to fly the old DC4 to Melbourne Air Museum, making a stop on the way in a mine to pick some things up for the government. To spend more time with his daughter, Judy joins the trip. When they land near Warrangi Mine in the planned stop, some workers put several boxes and containers in the plane as they fill up the fuel tanks. After that, they continue their trip changing the flight plan crossing the mountains. An hour and a half later, the engines stop working and “The Sugar Glider” crashes into the mountains. The survival characters have to try to return to civilization searching for help, but perhaps, they might have problems with the government’s people… or not. You should read the book to know the end of the story.

In my opinion, the book is worth-reading, thrilling and not boring at all. I would like to recommend this book to everybody. It is easy to follow and entertaining. It’s perfect!

VALORACIÓN: 4/5 

Benedicto Fernández  2ºNI