Showing posts with label Novels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Novels. Show all posts

Fairytale by Danielle Steel

Fairytale by Danielle Steel 


4.17  ·  Rating details ·  860 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
Published October 10th 2017

Download or read online for free Fairytale by Danielle Steel
 Fairytale by Danielle Steel
The perfect book for the holidays: Cinderella set amid the wine-making estates of modern-day Napa Valley, complete with an evil Parisian stepmother.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A wonderful, beautifully told tale from America’s favorite novelist, Fairytale is a captivating example of the truths that will always withstand even the darkest storms, and a reminder that sometimes fairytales do come true, and good prevails over evil in the end.

Camille Lammenais has grown up in the beauty of the Napa Valley, surrounded by acres of her family’s vineyards. Her parents, Christophe and Joy, still deeply in love after two decades of marriage, have built a renowned winery and château modeled after Christophe’s ancient family estate in his native Bordeaux. Camille has had a perfect childhood, safe in her parents’ love. After graduating from Stanford, she returns to help manage Château Joy, her lifetime goal. But their fairytale ends suddenly with her mother’s death from cancer.

Six months after losing his wife, the devastated Christophe is easy prey for a mysterious, charming Frenchwoman visiting the valley. The Countess de Pantin is the essence of Parisian seductiveness and sophistication. Within weeks they are a clandestine couple, making love like teenagers, glowing with their secret. Camille, still grieving for her mother, is shocked by the news that her father intends to remarry. Then she begins to see past the alluring looks, designer clothes, and elegant manners of the countess, while her innocent father is trapped in her web.

When tragedy strikes again, Camille is at her stepmother’s mercy, and that of the two evil stepbrothers who appear. Camille needs to fight—first for her legacy, and then for her very life. But as she grapples with the plots being carried out against her, the countess’s elderly, kind, clever mother becomes her only ally, and a childhood friend emerges as a prince worthy of any fairytale.

Deeply in love, Christophe and Joy Lammenais built Chateau Lammenais into a small but renowned Napa Valley winery and an idyllic home where they raised their beloved daughter, Camille, who takes on increasing responsibilities for the estate they all treasure. But after Joy’s early death from breast cancer just after Camille’s graduation from Stanford, a lonely Christophe soon falls prey to the machinations of a sophisticate from his native France—who moves, with her two reprobate sons, to consolidate her power over Camille and the property when Christophe is killed in a plane crash. With a French “fairy godmother” on the scene, however, the son of a neighboring vintner to assist, and a grand Harvest Ball on the horizon, lovely Camille may make some potent magic of her own….



 

Reviews


Do you enjoy fairytales?
Danielle Steel Has written a modern day Cinderella, set in a Napa Valley wine making estate.
Camille, the daughter of Joy & Christophe Lammenais, was brought up in the winery she loved.
The winery was born to the Lammenais’ with great love, dedication and devotion to its success.
Following Camille’s graduation from Sanford, her beautiful and loving mother passed away due to breast cancer. Christophe became a lonely man that fell prey to a woman from his native home of France. She soon moved in, along with her two sons ( envision the evil stepmother & evil stepsisters.)
Camille’s father is killed in a plane crash & so the story evolves....a Harvest Ball & a Fairy Godmother.
The magic will unfold before your eyes... Don’t forget to add a handsome Prince.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was magical and flowed with ease.
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I found this to be a very entertaining book! Who doesn't love a good fairytale?! Yes, it's a bit simple and predictable but that didn't stop me from staying up late to finish it! I read it fast and couldn't put it down. It's a good story that made me anxious and excited to get to the "happily ever after".
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A modern day twist on a classic "Fairytale" - complete with the wicked stepmother, evil stepbrothers, a fairy grandmother, and of course prince charming. A bit of a different story from Danielle Steel and I really liked it. Good conquers evil -- 8 out of 10.
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"The tides were coming in so fast she felt like she would drown" -Fairytale by Danielle Steel

Fairytale is the new release by author Danielle Steel, and once again, she does not disappoint. This is a modern day version of the classic Cinderella story, but with a few added twists.

Christophe Lammenais always knew he would own his own vineyard someday, as making wine is in his genes. His family has been making famous wines in Bordeaux for many centuries. He goes to Stanford to take graduate classes in viticulture and oenology, and this is where he meets the love of life, Joy. Not only does he fall in love with Joy, but he also falls in love with Napa Valley. They soon marry, and they begin to build their life together at their vineyard in Napa. He builds a house on the property reminiscent of his homeland, and they call it Château Joy. Joy gets pregnant, and they have a beautiful daughter named Camille. As the years pass, they continue to grow the family business and their life is everything they wanted it to be.

As we all know, all good things come to an end. Everything changes during the summer when Camille turned seventeen. Camille is accepted at Stanford, and Joy, who is forty-four years old, is diagnosed with breast cancer. Her treatments are successful and Joy gets through it. She is in remission for five years, and during a routine mammogram, she is once again diagnosed with breast cancer. This time, she doesn't survive.

Life without Joy becomes quite an adjustment for Christophe and Camille. Camille steps into the role her mother had running the family business, and overseas the day to day operations while her dad focuses on the wine making.side of the business. Life goes on, but it isn't easy for either of them.

Christophe attends a vintners dinner, and this is where he meets the beautiful Countess de Pantin (Maxine). Maxine is persistent, and Christophe quickly falls under her spell. The two begin secretly dating, and on the one year anniversary of Joy's death, Christophe tells Camille that he is marrying Maxine. Of course, Camille is not only hurt by the sudden news, but she is also skeptical of Maxine and her motives. Unfortunately, Camille's instincts are correct!

The story that unfolds is truly heartbreaking for Camille. I could go into more details, but I do not want to reveal too much of the story. Maxine is truly the horrible stepmother, and her son's are even worse than the stepdaughters in the original Cinderella. The only positive thing to come out of the marriage is Maxine's eighhty-seven-year-old mother, Simone. Simone sees right through Maxine, and to say they have a strained relationship is an understatement. Simone and Camille instantly bond, and their relationship is one that is truly genuine. Simone is Camille's fairy godmother, and so much more.

This is truly an amazing story. It is filled with love, romance, heartache and heartbreak. It is also a story about survival and not giving up. The relationship between Camille and Simone is brilliantly written and completely heartfelt. I was literally shocked at the extent Maxine was willing to go to in order to get what she wants. Evil stepmother does not even due her justice. Danielle Steel does an amazing job with the portrayal of Maxine, as I truly hated her and all she stood for. The quote at the beginning of my review stayed with me throughout the story. Camille is a strong woman, one that puts up with far more than needed. She may have felt like she was drowning at times, but she always managed to keep her head above water, despite the difficulties she was facing.

Overall, I feel Danielle Steel perfectly weaves together the classic Cinderella story with a modern day twist. This story invoked a wide range of emotions while reading it, which is a testament to the author's writing style. I loved following the journey of Camille, through good and bad times, and I hope you love this story as much as I did.
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The plot for this very modern recounting of Cinderella includes all the best details from the original fairytale; an evil stepmother, wicked step siblings, and a handsome prince. Camille Lammenais lives a fairytale existence her entire life until her mother passes away leaving Camille and her father, Christophe, alone in their beautiful chateau. Camille loses herself in her work and her father falls under the spell of an unscrupulous gold digger.

Set in the lush Napa Valley vineyards, the story unfolds as Camille’s father marries the seemingly well off Maxine, a newcomer to the Valley, and brings her family over from France to live at the estate. When Christophe unexpectedly dies, Camille is left to deal with the stepfamily. Unexpectedly, Camille’s only ally is Maxine’s French mother, who clearly sees her daughter for what she is.

I enjoyed the story very much. At times the characters are infuriating. I wanted Christophe to see Maxine in a realistic light, and I wanted Camille to stand up for herself. However, the emotions that the characters elicited made me enjoy the book even more. The novel is truly written life a modern fairytale with romance and intrigue. A captivating read that will pull you right into the story!
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Fairytales Can Come True At 5 Stars!!

This was just top notch. Steel does it again!!
Camille is the daughter of parents who own a great winery in the Napa Valley who have had a great marriage and life. Then something happens to her mom and later this calculating evil woman named Maxine comes into her father's life and all hell breaks loose. She also has two sons that are awful but I can't tell you more or it will ruin the story for you.

This really is kinda like a fairytale story the way Steel set out the story. But I have to say it's a very good one. I couldn't put it down, I was hooked from the beginning until the end. I really came to Feel for Camille. I could feel her hurting and her pain. But I also felt her joy and happiness. When you can feel those things for a character in a story you know its good!

I highly highly recommend this book to one and all. Thanks again Danielle Steel for sharing another great one with us your talent has no bounds.~A Faithful Reader
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I love all of Danielle Steel's books. She writes about true events and things that would happen in real life. This book is very good is starts out about a family that have one daughter. 
The couple are happily married and they own a vineyard. The mother dies of cancer and the father proceeds to date and then marry a horrible woman who is after his money. He goes on a business trip and his plane goes down. He leaves his widow a sum of money and the rest of the estate to his daughter. The mistake he makes is leaving the stepmother to help run the estate until the girl turns 25. the women is very greedy and she tries everything to get the money. She wants the girl to buy her out and when that doesn't work she puts her in the barn and gives her room to one of her two sons. Then the night of the ball one of her sons sets the house on fire. The stepmother and brothers get arrested and the daughter lives happily ever after with the neighbor boy and a new step grandmother.
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I have been a Danielle Steel fan from her very first book. 
This book made me laugh, cry and want to schedule a check up. I got so involved with the characters that I could not put the book down. I wanted to leap into the book and take out the Stepmother and her kids.I feel like I went to the valley on vacation and met a new friend. Ms. Steel has a talent that just draws you in and keeps you thinking of the characters long after the book has ended. Honestly, as a fan and regular Steel reader, I found that I liked this book even more than most of Danielle Steel's recent books.
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What can I say about this book?
The author took me on a journey + I am not sure if I wanted to stop.
I cried + I laughed
This story truly reminded me of Cinderella ( No doubt ! )
I was rooting for Camille through the whole book.
I loved the ending.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34002972-fairytale

A Painted House by John Grisham

A Painted House by John Grisham


4.21  ·  Rating details ·  94,731 Ratings  ·  5,358 Reviews
A Painted House by John Grisham download or read online for free
A Painted House by John Grisham
Until that September of 1952, Luke Chandler had never kept a secret or told a single lie. But in the long, hot summer of his seventh year, two groups of migrant workers — and two very dangerous men — came through the Arkansas Delta to work the Chandler cotton farm. And suddenly mysteries are flooding Luke’s world.

A brutal murder leaves the town seething in gossip and suspicion. A beautiful young woman ignites forbidden passions. A fatherless baby is born ... and someone has begun furtively painting the bare clapboards of the Chandler farmhouse, slowly, painstakingly, bathing the run-down structure in gleaming white. And as young Luke watches the world around him, he unravels secrets that could shatter lives — and change his family and his town forever....





Reviews


I learned that John Grisham should write more books in this genre because this is his best work....forget all those clients, partners, pelicans. 
One night, with a bunch of old friends in an apartment above Times Square, we tuned in to tv before turning in and The Bill Moyers Report was being aired; his guest was John Grisham. From his first responses, it was obvious that he possessed "gravitas" beyond his public persona.
Grisham grew up in Arkansas, the son of a cotton farmer, and went on to Law School but swiftly left that field of endeavor. He was a born story teller and has used the law background to great advantage. The next week I read "The Partner" which was clever and classy and all those best-seller adjectives. However, as I started reading "The Painted House" it was a most touching, true and arresting book that deserves the most serious consideration. Not just a "coming of age" story, this book deals with so many universal themes that no one could read it without making contact. It is a beautiful book. Put it on your bedside table pile.
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For being from John Grisham, this was such a great book! 
For a long time I've enjoyed his legal thrillers, but after a while I suspected each book would be exactly the same as the last with the only difference being the plot. Granted that's one of the reasons I liked his novels, because I could trust they would be consistently good. When this book first came out I couldn't wait to read it and I fell in love with his ability to tell a heartfelt, meaningful story having nothing to do with law. I liked this book so much that I even recorded the Hallmark channel original that was made of it!
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Great read! therapeutic,compelling,enjoyable and a moving story...determination,twists and turns to hold your interest to the end..well written
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I was wary when this book came out - doubting Grisham could pull off historical fiction. 
Well he absolutely nailed it. It’s obvious Grisham drew from his personal experiences growing up in rural Arkansas. This is a heart-wrenching story of an impoverished farming community. It’s got it all, destitute share-croppers, migrant farm workers, a sweet young boy who lives for baseball, a devastating flood and a mentally unhinged murderer thrown in for good measure.
I wonder if Grisham had written this under a pseudonym if it would have been taken more seriously. Who knows, even ranked as one of the great American novels - it was that good.
Plus it inspired me to getting around to giving my house a fresh coat of paint.
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This is not the usual John Grisham fare, but instead is a beautiful story told with great warmth and compassion. I have always enjoyed Grisham's books as good airplane reads--but never expected that he would write a book that I would list as one of my all-time favorites.
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"The hill people and the Mexicans arrived on the same day. It was a Wednesday, early in September 1952. The Cardinals were five games behind the Dodgers with three weeks to go, and the season looked hopeless. The cotton, however, was waist-high to my father, over my head, and he and my grandfather could be heard before supper whispering words that were seldom heard. It could be a `good crop.'"

This was a really pleasant surprise. When asked about John Grisham, most of us immediately think of his wide catalogue of legal thrillers and their film adaptations. A Painted House is nothing like his other work (I admit to having read only one title - The Firm - a fact that I intend to change in due time) because it in no way relates to his traditional formula of legal thrilers. There is not a single lawyer in A Painted House; the best we get is a single policeman, because this story is set in rural Arkansas in 1952.

The novel is narrated in first person by a certain Luke Chandler, who also happens to be seven year old. The Chandler family are cotton farmers, and the book chronicles their struggles from late summer to early fall, when they harvest their crop with the help of Mexicans And Hill People. Luke will spend many hours picking cotton and living a boy's life; he'll hear things he shouldn't hear and see things he shouldn't see. These experiences will change him, as he'll have to grow up and face the dangers of adult life. But there will be many pleasant moments, too; the carniva;, first crush and many sweets from the stores in town. The people on farms have to be tough, or they won't survive. We experience their simple joys like listening to a baseball broadcast, but we also experience their despair with difficult harvest, their variness of people from other regions, the town gossip and the ever present preachers.

This book is the testament to Grisham's ability to tell a meaningful, sweet story that has nothing to do with the law. As he himself grew up in Arkansas, the novel has a certain autobiographical feel to it, and many events might have occured to the 7 year old John as well (I think many of them dealt with snakes). Grisham's narrator's voice is precocious but not offensive; easy to read and very desriptive.
This is not a coutroom drama, but the book is just as suspenseful, if not even more; the events and the characters are well drawn and memorable, and we only wish we could spend more time with them. This is a very sweet coming of age story, dealing with universal themes, which is also a real delight to get immersed in. Forget the chambers, appeals and clients; check in at the Painted House.
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I seldom give five stars; they must be earned by the author's offerings. 
This book supplied all the necessary plot ingredients to satisfy the curiosities of this avid, mature reader. (No desire to see the movie, it could not possibly do this story justice.) Its not for the squeamish or sheltered reading audience. A realistic slice of life, poor/destitute Arkansas folks during the early Fifties, well-described and believable.
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Such a well-written, engaging book. As the back cover suggests, A Painted House reminded me of books like To Kill a Mockingbird and Huck Finn. 
A boy from Arkansas (who loves the Cardinals and baseball and dreams of moving to St. Louis, all pluses in my book) grows up living the hard life on a cotton farm in the 50s. The book paints a vivid picture of what that common life might be like, with coming of age stories, family drama, and interpersonal conflicts, all while throwing in the less common intrigues of murders and a natural disaster. The relationships between ethnic groups, the role of the church, the pace of a 50s farm life, the ties of family, the importance of the paint on your house and its contrast to disasters, and finally the ambiguity of realized dreams... all highlights from a worthy one day read of 480 pages.

I'd never read a Grisham book before, but when I realized he wrote books that didn't involve lawyers, I decided to check this one out. Not disappointed. One of my favorite reads of the year.
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I don't normally read Grisham, he's a great writer just not my typical genre. This, however, was an awesome story. I loved the whole experience of entering the world of Luke Chandler in 1951. It was a tremendously entertaining story. Well written, with so much detail and humor, realistic voices and a simpler time that was somehow made to be full of drama and suspense. I felt this was one of the best stories I can recall written from this era and brought so fully into focus.

Luke Chandler, 7 years old, lives in Black Oak Arkansas with his Mom and Dad, Gran and Pappy on a cotton farm. The cotton is their world. They are farmers, first and foremost and the cotton is their master.
When the story begins, it is harvesting time. The summer crop has been good, the weather has been favorable and the Chandlers are occupied with the task of finding "hill people" and Mexicans to hire to help harvest the cotton.
They will pay them to help pick the cotton and in return they will share their lives for the next two months. The decisions made at the beginning of the harvest turn out to have irrevocable consequences for the Chandlers, the Sprools- the "hill people', and the people of Black Oak.
These decisions and their resulting effects are unspooled steadily and with increasing tension as the story progresses in a wonderfully mesmerizing tapestry, full of color and vibrancy.
In essence, I was enthralled by this story. It was a journey to another place and time, one I was unfamiliar with, but was brought to feel right at home in. Read it, it's a pleasure.
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I read this some time ago. I love the story. The setting is in the 50s, a much simpler time and yet a much more difficult time. The story is told through the eyes of an eight-year-old. I'm not sure, but I understand the story is based on John Grisham's childhood.

This is not a fast pace book. It is so much more. John Grisham told a very heart moving tale of the hard times as a farmer through the eyes of a young boy. The boy had me laughing at times with some of his silly pranks. It was a time that you didn't dare get caught using a cuss word, although the young boy would from time to time sneak off and practice curse words that his older brother had taught him.

The story took you to a place and time where folks lived off the land and the hardships that each day brought. I love this story. Great read and there were times you laugh and times you sat on the edge of your seat. There are surprises that keep you turning the pages. This book is a wonderful read for any age.
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This is, so far as I know, Grisham's second or third departure from his legal thrillers. I have read several of his previous works and I found this novel to be a refreshing change, for the writer.
Until that September of 1952, Luke Chandler had never kept a secret or told a single lie. But in the long, hot summer of his seventh year, two groups of migrant workers—and two very dangerous men—came through the Arkansas Delta to work the Chandler cotton farm. And suddenly mysteries are flooding Luke’s world. A brutal murder leaves the town seething in gossip and suspicion. A beautiful young woman ignites forbidden passions. A fatherless baby is born. And someone has begun furtively painting the bare clapboards of the Chandler farmhouse, slowly, painstakingly, bathing the run-down structure in gleaming white. And as young Luke watches the world around him, he unravels secrets that could shatter lives—and change his family and his town forever
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5360.A_Painted_House

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Swing Time by Zadie Smith


3.59  ·  Rating details ·  22,228 Ratings  ·  2,784 Reviews
Swing Time by Zadie Smith download or read it online for free
Swing Time
by Zadie Smith
Two brown girls from North London council estates want to be dancers. In the same dance class, the same shade of nut-brown, they are "two iron filings drawn to a magnet," friends before they speak. One, Tracey, is a natural dancer: intuitive, genius, even. The other, the narrator of Swing Time, is talented in another direction: She is an observer, a wallflower given structure by stronger, surer women around her. Unnamed, unsure, neither black nor white, the narrator is fittingly indistinct in this brilliant novel about the illusions of identity.

As the two grow older, their lives diverge. The narrator goes to university and becomes an assistant to a pop star, living a detached life on planes and in rented townhouses. Tracey, after a few gigs as a dancer, fades back into the poverty she came from. And the narrator comes to feel that she has been the "sole witness" to Tracey's brilliance – expressed in movement and attention and wit and intuition and contempt for pretence. Does she owe Tracey something for leaving her behind, for dating nice boys, going to college, changing her voice? Tracey seems to think so: In her eyes, the narrator sees the question "Who are you pretending to be?"

Swing Time breaks the idea that we can ever come to a concrete identity, or reach the safe plains of self-knowledge. Identity is rather an exchange between people, a shifting topography, where the ground can collapse at any moment.
Only the narrator's white pop star employer, Aimee, seems to be able to really be whoever she wants, all at once. Rich and white, for her, differences are "never structural or economic but always essentially differences of personality." She never meets Tracey, who shares her talents but not her luck. If only other people had her willpower, her determination, and her certainty, Aimee thinks, no problem couldn't be solved. She decides to apply this to poverty in a small West African nation (unnamed), and pours money (ineffectively) into the village, taking African dance moves, an African lover, and an adopted African baby back in exchange.

Aimee's other foil is the narrator's queenly, righteous, and self-taught mother, a Jamaican "Nefertiti" with socialist politics and middle class aesthetics. She sees people structurally and sociologically rather than personally, defined by culture and color. When her mother talks about "our people," the narrator hears the quacking of ducks, repeating again and again "I am a duck! I am a duck!"
The women of Swing Time are case studies in the different ways people hunt for an identity. In London, the narrator is treated like a "moral fig-leaf" by her white colleagues. When she accompanies Aimee to West Africa, she imagines she might find an emotional home there with her "extended tribe, with my fellow black women." But "Here there was no such category. There were only the Sere women, the Wolof, and the Mandinka, the Serahuli, the Fula, and the Jola ..." The narrator is just another naïve Westerner, in wrinkled linen pseudo-safari garb, who thinks of Africa as a monolith. In a final insult, she realizes that all of her African friends think she is actually white: "Even though you are a white girl, you dance like you are a black!" they compliment her. Thus Smith shows how identity warps and collapses – the narrator's sense of herself as a part of a global sisterhood can't stand up to meeting those sisters.

When the narrator is enveloped in an Aimee-related scandal, Tracey leaks a humiliating video the two of them made in childhood to the press. She sends it to the narrator with a note reading, "Now everyone knows who you really are." Tracey means her note to be cruel, but it's also a promise: Through all the vagaries of identity and time, someone might still know who you really are.

With Swing Time, Zadie Smith identifies the impossible contradiction all adults are asked to maintain — be true to yourself, and still contain multitudes; be proud of your heritage, but don't be defined by it. She frays the cords that keep us tied to our ideas of who we are, to our careful self-mythologies. Some writers name, organize, and contain; Smith lets contradictions bloom, in all their frightening, uneasy splendor.


 

Reviews


  • Wow. This huge, powerful novel is so minutely observed that readers can be forgiven for occasionally missing the forest for the trees. 
Sex, race, and class are backdrop here, setting and makeup for half-a-life of self-abnegation performed on a world stage. Dichotomies between first world/third world value sets, the insular self-preserving life of huge celebrities, the influence of money on impulses of every kind, the debts we owe another, how generosity manifests, who “family” really is— these life-critical issues are part of Zadie Smith’s latest novel. It bowled me over.

The story begins with two young girls, both fascinated with musical theatre and dance, as closely entwined as stems from the same seed, growing apart as they grew up together, the result of outsized talent and personality on one side, and a confusion of identities and timidity on the other. One takes a job dancing on stage, the other handmaiden to a dancer on a bigger stage. The confusion of identities is not challenged for years, during which time the handmaiden begins to observe cracks in the world she sought to manage.

She is nameless, the narrator. By dint of parental steering, she finished university and managed to find her way into managing logistics for a superstar, a singer/dancer. Descriptions of her work grow less enthralled as she ages out of the job ten years on, after discovering along the way that she may have been hired or kept on because she was a “woman of color” and filled a slot rather than for any perceived talent. In fact, the one time she does display an actual talent—for singing—her boss threatened to fire her.

Looking at a changed world without the prism supplied by the superstar, she realizes there is little she can take away from that time. The lessons she learned may not be ones she wants to keep, and she is not sure if she knows how to speak to a person dying, or how to be friends, or how to care, or how to make people around her feel benefit from her success.

Smith raises many issues in this novel but doesn’t solve many of them for us. The thing she does do so beautifully is poke a mixed London heritage and point to those little moments we recognize: anguish over unequal opportunity disguised as childish jealousy (Tracey); admiration for someone's ability to draw people into their orbit with generosity and joy (Hiwot in West Africa, her mother in London); how to be just who you are without designators like age or race or education or accomplishments (her father, James & Darryl in NYC).

The narrator is a shadow yet, in the beginning and at end of the novel, by her own admission, and not grown into her own persona. But we are there the moments she begins to see, to recognize who she is, what she believes, and what she has missed.

    “Now everyone knows who you really are.”

We do, and we feel so many other things as well. She is vulnerable, but suddenly able to see, hear, think, feel. She is in danger, but instead of being frightened, she feels a tingle…that’s blood rushing. Why does it take so long for humans to develop their sense? She is on her way, and she’ll do fine. The last thing her mother says to her is that she would make a good mother. And she would. But so will many others, even those who look incapable of it. Even Tracey. Even Aimee. Even her. She did learn something about love after all.

    “The future is the same as the past.”

What did Lamman mean when he said this to Fern? Perhaps he meant our future is in our past, or the future is created from the past or the past determines the future.

I listened to this novel, published by Penguin Random House Audio and read by Pippa Bennett-Warner. Bennett-Warner was amazing. She made a plethora of accents perfectly distinguishable, at least five London accents alone, two Australian, Jamaican, West African, along with NYC and generic American, male and female. That’s pretty grand, no matter how you cut it. I took my time over this, did not mark my place as I listened, so often listened twice to any section to catch up to my last heard scene. I was never bored. Smith packed so much seeing in each scene, I was thinking the entire time. Impressive in every way, and tons to talk about if readers choose this for a reading group. Which I recommend.
  • Madonna? Beyoncé? Angelina Jolie?

Which pop star inspired Zadie Smith to create the celebrity who bends the universe to her will in “Swing Time”?

But that’s hardly the most interesting question raised by this thoughtful new novel, which moves across the years and oceans — from London and New York to West Africa. This is a story at once intimate and global, as much about childhood friendship as international aid, as fascinated by the fate of an unemployed single mother as it is by the omnipotence of a world-class singer.

Smith, who rocked the literary establishment while still in college with a partial manuscript for “White Teeth,” opens her fifth novel to the toe-tapping tunes of Fred Astaire’s 1936 musical comedy “Swing Time.” But a darker bass line thrums beneath that happy melody. In the prologue, the narrator, a young woman recently fired from her job, seeks solace by Googling an old video clip of Astaire performing “Bojangles of Harlem” — and quickly discovers that. . . .

  • This is a great novel and I think one of the strongest (if not the strongest) of Zadie Smith’s already impressive body of work.

The story works on many levels and takes in multifarious themes, which although are generally familiar territory for Zadie Smith, are approached in what feels like a very focussed, new and intelligent way.

There is so much in this novel, it is difficult to know where to start, challenging to encapsulate – but in an attempt to try and convey… This is a story of friendship, family, betrayal, ambition, life and death, race and racial politics, power, class and gender; but it is much more than that – questions are suggested concerning – what is success, what is privilege – what is it and what does it actually mean to any of us?

The story moves from North London, to the USA to Africa and raises questions about belonging….not just geographical or racial belonging, but family belonging, friendship and community belonging…

The story tracks through the 1980’s and 90’s and whilst very evocative (particularly of London) successfully avoids the usual clichés of lazy nostalgia.
Concerning the power of celebrity, think Madonna, Shakira, Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey et al. But this is no polemic or diatribe – instead as with all great books, questions are raised, thoughts are provoked and judgements are not made.

You very much feel as though you have been on a journey – I think that’s possibly the best way to describe this novel. It’s a very satisfying, compelling, thought provoking, challenging, emotionally engaging and memorable journey – of great reality, humanity, meaning and authenticity

Charlotte Stein - Addicted

Kit Connor has always led a safe, cautious life. But when her friend points out that her erotic writing lacks something, she decides to attend a Sexual Healing group to improve her knowledge.

Kit expects to find the gritty underbelly of sex, and instead finds louche, laidback, sex-loving Dillon Holt.
He makes a suggestion to her: that he will tell tales of his sexual excess, and help her book get the realism it needs. She agrees, but hasn't the least idea of what she's getting into.
Dillon doesn't have simple advice in mind … he has lessons to teach her. Lessons on everything she's never dared to experience, from kink to real passion.

Now Kit is never sure: is Dillon the addict, or is she just addicted to him?






Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter 07 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter 07
Harry Potter
and the Deathly Hallows
It's no longer safe for Harry at Hogwarts, so he and his best friends, Ron and Hermione, are on the run. Professor Dumbledore has given them clues about what they need to do to defeat the dark wizard, Lord Voldemort, once and for all, but it's up to them to figure out what these hints and suggestions really mean.

Their cross-country odyssey has them searching desperately for the answers, while evading capture or death at every turn. At the same time, their friendship, fortitude, and sense of right and wrong are tested in ways they never could have imagined.

The ultimate battle between good and evil that closes out this final chapter of the epic series takes place where Harry's Wizarding life began: at Hogwarts. The satisfying conclusion offers shocking last-minute twists, incredible acts of courage, powerful new forms of magic, and the resolution of many mysteries.

Above all, this intense, cathartic book serves as a clear statement of the message at the heart of the Harry Potter series: that choice matters much more than destiny, and that love will always triumph over death.







Reviews

This is just a pithy review on the Harry Potter series as a whole. It is not an in-depth analysis of the work in general, nor is it a review on any one particular installment.

Harry Potter is a work of art. I got made fun of once¹ when I was out to dinner with some friends, because while we were discussing these books I made the mistake of referring to them as “literature.” I felt like I had to defend that assertion because, although the definition of literature is pretty broad, it seems like it should really only apply to works with some definable qualitative value or literary merit. In this case, my friends were wrong—Rowling explores themes and concepts in this series that I think are valuable to children and young adults who look to her characters for qualities they seek to emulate, and I believe her works will have lasting impact on this and future generations.

I’ve heard it said before that everything you need to know you’ve learned in kindergarten. Well, that might be somewhat of an oversimplification, but I do think children or young adults who grow into this series, seeing Harry and his friends mature as they themselves mature, can glean some pretty important life lessons from it. They are impressionable human beings who are learning about themselves and are starting to make the choices that reflect the kinds of people they want to be.

So what does Harry Potter teach them? Well, here is a bullet list of what it has taught me. And if you’re good, I’ll think about turning this into a PowerPoint presentation. Or maybe not.

• The quality of your character is not a reflection of where you come from or who your parents are; rather, it is a reflection of the choices you make, so make them wisely.

• The way you treat other people, especially those less fortunate than you, reveals your true colors more quickly and more completely than almost anything else you do.

• It is a good thing to have dreams and ambitions, but that alone is not enough. You cannot expect success without effort.

• It is far less important what your abilities are than what you actually do with them. Your abilities alone do not define you.

• Nobody likes to fail, but to refuse an attempt at success on the grounds that you’re afraid to fail is failure in itself.
Growing up is about figuring out who you are and coming to terms with your strengths and weaknesses, and it is about deciding how to utilize the strengths and mitigate the weaknesses in order to become a better person. It’s a lifelong struggle, but it starts early, and I think Harry Potter offers the tools to help achieve that. It can help young people find their way, and maybe that’s an oversimplification for a seven-volume series of novels, but that’s what I got out of it, and that’s why I will recommend this to my kids as they start to become ready for some life lessons of their own.

¹This is misleading; I’ve been made fun of countless, countless times. 

Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter 06 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The war against Voldemort is not going well; even Muggle governments are noticing. Ron scans the obituary pages of the Daily Prophet, looking for familiar faces. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses.
Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter 06 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince free pdf ebook epub mobi download
Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter 06 - Harry Potter
and the Half-Blood Prince
As in all wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate—and lose a few eyebrows in the process. The Weasley twins expand their business, Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Classes are never straightforward, though Harry receives some extraordinary help form the mysterious Half-Blood Prince.

So it’s the home front that takes center stage in the multilayered sixth installment of the story of Harry Potter. Here at Hogwarts, Harry will search for the full and complex story of the boy who became Lord Voldemort—and thereby find what may be his only vulnerability.
If you live with anyone under the age of 20, you might have noticed them looking longingly at the calendar and marking off the days (indeed, you might be marking off the days yourself). School's already out, summer's well along, the final Star Wars movie hit the screens weeks ago, and Christmas . . . well, even the stores don't start playing carols until October. So what's causing the sighs and anticipation?

Why, it's the magical arrival—on July 16—of the sixth book about the young wizard in training. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (or HBP to fans) has a first printing of 10.8 million copies, the largest initial print run for any book in American history. But exactly what happens in book six, no one, except J.K. Rowling and her tight-lipped editors, can say. The book has been treated with a level of security worthy of a state secret, and with remarkably fewer leaks to the press. It's harder to get an advance copy of HBP than it is to Disapparate from Hogwarts. Unless you have the Inner Eye of Professor Trelawney, you'll just have to wait with the rest of us Muggles until July 16. (Bookstores around the country are hosting midnight parties and will start selling the book just after 11:59 p.m., July 15.) Depending on your budget, you can choose between the regular edition of HBP and the deluxe edition, a slipcased beauty with special artwork and a retail price of $60.
Needless to say, the secrecy hasn't stopped a steady stream of speculation and even outright wagering as to the plot, events and characters. Whole Internet sites are dedicated to analyzing the least little clues, from the cover art to offhand remarks by Rowling. Recently, bookies in the U.K. refused a flurry of wagers on who gets killed off in book six, in part because the wagers originated from the town where the books are being printed. Rowling has since downplayed the rumors, though not so far as to rule out the prediction.
The two great mysteries of HBP are the identity of the Half-Blood Prince and the question of which favorite character will die. As for the latter, Rowling has stated that no one (except Harry and Lord Voldemort) is 100 percent safe, and has kept mum otherwise. The identity of the Half-Blood Prince has seen a few more tidbits spilt; it is not (as some speculated early on) either Harry or Voldemort (or his teenage counterpart from Chamber). Could it be a character whose mixed heritage is already known (such as Hagrid, Seamus Finnigan, Dean Thomas and a few others) or a character who is well-known but whose origins are not (Snape is a favorite, as is Dumbledore) or a character not yet introduced or one mentioned but never encountered (such as Godric Gryffindor, co-founder of Hogwarts and ancient defender of Muggle-born students)?
If you want to join the speculation, a great place to start is Rowling's official website, www.jkrowling.com. It's a delightfully animated exploration of Rowling's cluttered desk, brimming with clues, hints and hidden oddities. From there you can follow links to Potter-fan web sites and Rowling's American and British publishers. The Scholastic site offers a glossary and an audio pronunciation guide for wizardly words—a great boon to Muggles like me, who discovered that I said many things woefully wrong.
Howard Shirley is a writer in Franklin, Tennessee, who is convinced that Godric Gryffindor is the Half-Blood Prince. Unless, of course, it's Hagrid. Or someone else.



 

Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter 05 - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter 05 - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix download free ebook kindle epub mobi pdf
Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter 05 - Harry Potter
and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected...


Reviews

Suspense, secrets and thrilling action from the pen of J.K. Rowling ensure an electrifying adventure that is impossible to put down.
As his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry approaches in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 15-year-old Harry Potter is in full-blown adolescence, complete with regular outbursts of rage, a nearly debilitating crush, and the blooming of a powerful sense of rebellion. It's been yet another infuriating and boring summer with the despicable Dursleys, this time with minimal contact from our hero's non-Muggle friends from school. Harry is feeling especially edgy at the lack of news from the magic world, wondering when the freshly revived evil Lord Voldemort will strike. Returning to Hogwarts will be a relief… or will it?
Book five in JK Rowling's Harry Potter series follows the darkest year yet for our young wizard, who finds himself knocked down a peg or three after the events of last year. Over the summer, gossip (usually traced back to the magic world's newspaper, the Daily Prophet) has turned Harry's tragic and heroic encounter with Voldemort at the Triwizard Tournament into an excuse to ridicule and discount the teenager. Even Professor Dumbledore, headmaster of the school, has come under scrutiny from the Ministry of Magic, which refuses to officially acknowledge the terrifying truth: that Voldemort is back. Enter a particularly loathsome new character: the toad-like and simpering ("hem, hem") Dolores Umbridge, senior undersecretary to the minister of Magic, who takes over the vacant position of defence against dark arts teacher--and in no time manages to become the high inquisitor of Hogwarts. Life isn't getting any easier for Harry Potter. With an overwhelming course load as the fifth years prepare for their examinations, devastating changes in the Gryffindor Quidditch team line-up, vivid dreams about long hallways and closed doors, and increasing pain in his lightning-shaped scar, Harry's resilience is sorely tested.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, more than any of the four previous novels in the series, is a coming-of-age story. Harry faces the thorny transition into adulthood, when adult heroes are revealed to be fallible, and matters that seemed black and white suddenly come out in shades of gray. Gone is the wide-eyed innocent, the whiz kid of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Here we have an adolescent who's sometimes sullen, often confused (especially about girls), and always self-questioning. Confronting death again, as well as a startling prophecy, Harry ends his year at Hogwarts exhausted and pensive. Readers, on the other hand, will be energised as they enter yet again the long waiting period for the next title in the marvellous magical series. --Emilie Coulter


  

Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter 04 - Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire

Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter 04 - Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire free download epub pdf mobi download epub pdf mobi free full premium authors download
Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter 04
Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire
Harry Potter is midway through his training as a wizard and his coming of age. Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup. He wants to find out about the mysterious event that's supposed to take place at Hogwarts this year, an event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn't happened for a hundred years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. But unfortunately for Harry Potter, he's not normal - even by wizarding standards. And in his case, different can be deadly.

 

 

 

 

Reviews

“Hooray for Harry Potter. . . [Harry's] adventures are as funny as Roald Dahl's stories and as vivid as Narnia books - and adults seem to enjoy them as much as their children” –  Daily Mail
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has finally been unleashed. And is it good? You bet it is. Harry's - and our - fourth year at Hogwarts is funny, full of delicious parodies of our own world, and wildly action-packed” –  The Times
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is inventive, open-minded, and carries the hallmark of Rowling's imagination and scholarship . . . pure magic” –  Mirror
“There isn't a dull page . . . the plot fits together like a wondrous jigsaw” –  Sunday Express



 
 

Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter 03 - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter's third year at Hogwarts is full of new dangers. A convicted murderer, Sirius Black, has broken out of Azkaban prison, and it seems he's after Harry. Now Hogwarts is being patrolled by the dementors, the Azkaban guards who are hunting Sirius. But Harry can't imagine that Sirius or, for that matter, the evil Lord Voldemort could be more frightening than the dementors themselves, who have the terrible power to fill anyone they come across with aching loneliness and despair. 

Meanwhile, life continues as usual at Hogwarts. A top-of-the-line broom takes Harry's success at Quidditch, the sport of the Wizarding world, to new heights. A cute fourth-year student catches his eye. And he becomes close with the new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, who was a childhood friend of his father. Yet despite the relative safety of life at Hogwarts and the best efforts of the dementors, the threat of Sirius Black grows ever closer. But if Harry has learned anything from his education in wizardry, it is that things are often not what they seem. Tragic revelations, heartwarming surprises, and high-stakes magical adventures await the boy wizard in this funny and poignant third installment of the beloved series.









  

Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter 02 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry's second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls' bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley's younger sister, Ginny. But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone, or something, starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects: Harry Potter himself?




Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter 01 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter's life is miserable. His parents are dead and he's stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he's a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.

Though Harry's first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it's his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.



The Nest - Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

The Nest - Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.


Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.
Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the future they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.


This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.


The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho, Free Kindle

Now this is something you need to understand, Paulo Coelho is a God artist, he inspires you, shows you the way to understand people, understand the world, religion, psychology, lust.

He invites us to explore the mind of an artist, a psychopath, an ordinary human(such as the shepherd in The Alchemist)
Paulo Coelho - The Alchemist,
Santiago searching for his treasures

Getting to know the book!


While sleeping near a sycamore tree in the sacristy of an abandoned church, Santiago, a shepherd boy, has a recurring dream about a child who tells him that he will find a hidden treasure if he travels to the Egyptian pyramids. An old woman tells Santiago that this dream is prophetic and that he must follow its instructions. Santiago is uncertain, however, since he enjoys the life of a shepherd.





Next Santiago meets a mysterious old man who seems able to read his mind. This man introduces himself as Melchizedek, or the King of Salem. He tells Santiago about good and bad omens and says that it is the shepherd boy's duty to pursue his Personal Legend. Melchizedek then gives Santiago two stones, Urim and Thummim, with which to interpret omens. Read more

Veronica Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho

Veronica Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho, Free Kindle


 3.69  ·  Rating details ·  134,520 Ratings  ·  6,208 Reviews
Veronica Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho download or read online for free
Veronica Decides to Die
by Paulo Coelho
Do you value your life? Do you accept it for what it is? Do you think you have done anything in your life, and don't know what to do more? Paulo Coelho has the answer for it.

Veronica decides to die - Paulo Coelho bestseller

Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho is something more than a mere psychological thriller. It touches the conscience, and directs the thoughts and concepts of humans about their life. It has a profound influence on human race especially on the generation titled as “New Generation”; bearing a fragile mind in their sound body. When life fails to bring in home the colors, merry and jubilation which the young people of today expect, they readily reach at a conclusion that their life is boring and leading a life of this sort is completely absurd. They are living in the world of technology where everything is at their finger tip. The role of science and technology in the human life has shifted the entire concept about human beings and human life.

Of course, Veronica Decides to Die won't show you what to do with your life, but will show you why you should value it, why there is always something to it that you haven't explored, a Gem...

As morbid and depressing as the title seems, this Coelho book takes the usual turn for understanding of the universe and an inspiration for readers to strive not to settle into the kind of routine they don’t wish to be in.

Twenty-four-year-old Veronika seems to have everything she could wish for—: youth and beauty, pleny of attractive boyfriends, a fulfilling job, and a loving family. Yet something is lacking in her life. Inside her is a void so deep that nothing could possibly ever fill it. So, on the morning of November 11, 1997, Veronika decides to die. She takes a handful of sleeping pills expecting never to wake up .

Naturally Veronika is stunned when she does wake up— at Villete, a local mental hospital, where the staff informs her that she has, in fact, partially succeeded in achieving her goal. While the overdose didn't kill Veronika immediately, the medication has damaged her heart so severely that she has only days to live.




Reviews 

Fantastic read! Awesome! I could not put the book down!

“Veronika Decides to Die” – just read the title again….decides to die…
How many times have you said to yourself, at least I have, “Ahh…I don’t care, I don’t really want to live anymore”, without even thinking about the meaning of it.

So Veronika said the same thing and decided to do something about it. Why?
Nothing bad had happened to Veronika, she was beautiful, had a regular life…very ordinary though ... but normal
She decided that it was not exciting enough, and decided to die!
But her suicide attempt didn’t succeed and she ended up in the mental hospital. The pills ruined her heart and she had one more week to live before she dies – or so she was told.

"An awareness of death encourages us to live more intensely." Having only week to live, Veronika re-discovers herself sexually and emotionally, falls in love, and starts having this eagerness to live.

In addition, her suicide touched lives of other people in the mental hospital, who started cherish every day of their lives.

"Basically everything that happens in our life is our fault, and our fault alone."

So when the next time you say to yourself, “Ahh…I don’t care, I don’t really want to live anymore” - think twice.

2014 Update:
I re-read this book this year for my book club... 6 years since I read it first. I agree with all points after my first read but want to add some additional points on issues that Coelho discusses:

- Conformity, society norms and its danger
- Madness/insanity and what they really mean within the chains of society norms; how society norms varies from culture to culture, and how personal individuality can be affected by these “norms”
- Death and life and how knowing that death is imminent changes your perception of life: you start appreciating every moment and allow yourself to express yourself
- The book discusses other characters, Mari, Zedka, and Eduard. They were hiding inside the walls of Vilette because they were trying to escape the real world due to similar reasons related to to not being understood by their families and society. Vilette’s environment created a shield from the real world, “society”, and allowed these “insane” people to express themselves and behave the way they want without criticism. At the end… Veronika’s suicide affects them profoundly awakening in them a desire to live outside of Vilette’s walls and also making them to realize that Vilette is just another form of controlled society with its own rules and acceptance. And that at the end the true happiness lies in our own desire and believe, in our own acceptance and willingness to remove any boundaries and allow ourselves to live to the fullest, and be happy!

***************************************************************************************
At about 50 pages in, it's a little frightening how much I've identified with Veronika thus far, how much I understand her rationale for wanting to die. She can only see one path unfolding for herself, and it's one she can't stomach. I get that. But unlike Veronika I haven't given up hope that my path may yet fork off in unexpected and exciting directions.

I also read and think there must be a certain kind of comfort in going truly insane. Not this garden-variety neurosis I experience, but really, disconnected-from-reality insane. We're so frightened of the idea of insanity, of not knowing what's going on around us or not being able to distinguish truth from fantasy, but what would it be like to live it? There's a part of me that thinks maybe it would be just a little liberating, and I can understand why the Fraternity (?) wants to stay in the asylum instead of returning to the world outside.

---

I'm settled in to read. It's drizzling rain and the sky outside is a deep, melancholy gray. I've got pillows stacked up on the couch, the cat languorously swishing his tail as he gazes out the window, and a cup of chocolate truffle coffee on the little rolling cart we use for a coffee table. Angelo Badalementi's haunting soundtrack music from Twin Peaks pours from the tinny speakers on my laptop. It's kind of a perfect day.

I just came across this passage.

Depression.

The doctors said that a recently discovered substance, serotonin, was one of the compounds responsible for how human beings felt. A lack of serotonin impaired one's capacity to concentrate at work, to sleep, to eat, and to enjoy life's pleasures. When this substance was completely absent, the person experienced despair, pessimism, a sense of futility, terrible tiredness, anxiety, difficulties in making decisions, and would end up sinking into a permanent gloom, which would lead either to complete apathy or suicide.

...

In Zedka's case, however, the reasons were simpler than anyone suspected: there was a man hidden in her past, or rather, the fantasy she had built up about a man she had known a long time ago.

Oh, Zedka, I suspect many of us can trace the roots of depression to the fantasy of a man (or woman) hidden in our pasts.

I'm now eager to read on and discover Zedka's story.

The impossible love. The refusal to believe the impossible love is impossible. Hope itself can be a sort of madness sometimes, when it's false, when we allow it to consume us rather than uplift. Yes. I know this.

Now back to Veronika, and, holy shit, I could just as well be reading my own journal.

She had overcome her minor defects only to be defeated by matters of fundamental importance. She had managed to appear utterly independent when she was, in fact, desperately in need of company. ... She gave all her friends the impression that she was a woman to be envied, and she expended most of her energy in trying to behave in accordance with the image she had created of herself.

Because of that she had never had enough energy to be herself, a person who, like everyone in the world, needed other people in order to be happy. But other people were so difficult. They reacted in unpredictable ways, they surrounded themselves with defensive walls, they behaved just as she did, pretending they didn't care about anything. ...

She might have impressed a lot of people with her strength and determination, but where had it left her? In the void. Utterly alone.

I suspect Veronika soon will learn she's not quite as alone as she thinks. God, I hope so.

Also? I think I have to stop reproducing passages from this book or I'll end up quoting the whole damn thing.

Dr. Igor? The psychiatrist? Quite possibly the craziest character in the book. He's laughably absurd. I loved the interchange between him and Veronika's mother -- the jumping back and forth between points-of-view and the mother's puzzlement at the things Igor was saying.

Oh. Here's another snippet.

"Haven't you learned anything, not even with the approach of death? Stop thinking all the time that you're in the way, that you're bothering the person next to you. If people don't like it, they can complain. And if they don't have the courage to complain, that's their problem."

The supposedly insane people in this novel are all ones who are challenging and rejecting these unspoken rules we all live by, that hold us down and hold us back. These ideas that we should follow certain expected paths and behave in certain ways and suppress our true selves. These lunatics are calling bullshit on society, and it's wonderful.

---

And now I'm done, and I feel like I've gone on a journey with this book and come out the other side much like Veronika, Mari, Eduard and Zedka -- ready to embrace my life and my capacity for love.

Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1431.Veronika_Decides_to_Die 

Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho

Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho

 3.69  ·  Rating details ·  117,813 Ratings  ·  5,509 Reviews
Maria, a beautiful Brazilian girl went to Europe to work as an exotic dancer, but ended being a prostitute. An expensive one, "working" in a luxurious bar in Geneva. Maria's goal is to earn enough money to buy a farm in Brazil for her and her parents and leave Swizerland in a year. "Eleven minutes" is her story.



Paulo Coelho bestseller eleven minutes here for free, download here or read online
Paulo Coelho Bestseller, Eleven Minutes

But what is her story?

The men she had met since she arrived in Geneva always did everything they could to appear confident, as if they were in perfect control of the world and of their own lives; Maria, however, could see in their eyes that they were afraid of their wife, the feeling of panic that they might not be able to get an erection, that they might not seem manly enough even to the ordinary prostitute whom they were paying for her services. If they went to a shop and didn’t like the shoes they had bought, they would be quite prepared to go back, receipt in hand, and demand a refund. And yet, even though they were paying for some female company, if they didn’t manage to get an erection, they would be too ashamed ever to go back to the same club again because they would assume that all the other women there would know..

In comparison to my experiences with his other pieces. I can confidently say that this Paulo Cohelo work tests the reader in a unique and dangerous way.

Each of his novels teach valuable lessons for adults through the interesting happenings of his protagonists. This story does the same. However the lesson taught borders on relationship counseling and sexual education. It was just as compelling and effective as it was uncomfortable. Uncomfortable in the sense that the information being learned as one reads each chapter is not theirs to have. He accomplishes this through the less than innovative approach of journal or diary entries, but envertheless, it is striking how moving it is to read the sexual and romantic discoveries of a conventional young lady.

A book that is difficult to put down. A must-read for many, but especially those who have not yet discoveredy what makes them tick, oo and ahhh. Again, an inspiration!

Quotes:




“Everything tells me that I am about to make a wrong decision, but making mistakes is just part of life. What does the world want of me? Does it want me to take no risks, to go back to where I came from because I didn't have the courage to say "yes" to life?” 



“When I had nothing to lose, I had everything. When I stopped being who I am, I found myself.”



“Now that she had nothing to lose, she was free.” 



“Passion makes a person stop eating, sleeping, working, feeling at peace. A lot of people are frightened because, when it appears, it demolishes all the old things it finds in its path.
No one wants their life thrown into chaos. That is why a lot of people keep that threat under control, and are somehow capable of sustaining a house or a structure that is already rotten. They are the engineers of the superseded.
Other people think exactly the opposite: they surrender themselves without a second thought, hoping to find in passion the solutions to all their problems. They make the other person responsible for their happiness and blame them for their possible unhappiness. They are either euphoric because something marvelous has happened or depressed because something unexpected has just ruined everything.
Keeping passion at bay or surrendering blindly to it - which of these two attitudes is the least destructive?
I don't know.”