Reading in English

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Burlington

 


SUMMARY
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Can a painting of a person tell you more about him than the person´s own face? If it is painted with love, perhaps the painting will show more than just the outside of that person – perhaps it will show the inside.”

In a small cellar, hidden from curious eyes, Dorian Gray hides the mystery of his soul; a beautiful portrait painted by his friend Basil. What dark secrets does this painting keep? What or who makes young innocent Dorian become a heartless monster? Is anyone safe from one’s own self?

The Picture of Dorian Gray , a story of beauty, art and pleasures where a young man breaks the link between body and soul and becomes a face without a heart. Only the picture painted with love tells the true story, revealing the real Dorian Gray, a man that grew sick of hate.

REVIEW:

If we dig deeper in the story, we can see that everything that Dorian does is motivated by his own vanity, even the most seemingly altruistic actions. For example, when he left the country girl and wanted to start a new life where he shall be good, the real reason why he does it is to change the portrait, to change the ugliness of his soul, but when he sees that he cannot do it, he tries to kill his unpleasant part, killing himself in the process. Just like Narcissus, he felt in love with his own image, and was ultimately destroyed by it.

But, who shall we blame for this? Shall we blame Lord Henry for teaching him his dangerous ideas, or Basil, who was unable to help Dorian? Shall we blame Dorian for his own actions or the superficial society he lived in, where people didn´t believe he had a dark side because of his beautiful face? This is just a matter of whether we think that the people that influence us have power over our actions or that we have full control of what we do in this life. That is just a little food for thought.

The characters all represent something. We can say that Lord Henry represents experience, with his hedonistic view of life, always valuing pleasure and beauty over morals and responsibilities, he takes ideas and plays with them, and he gives them wings. On the other side, Basil, represents the good path, the values over the beauty and the innocence in some ways; however we can also say that he had a darker side, because one of the main reasons why he liked Dorian was because Dorian changed his art, so we can say that he valued his art more than his friends. James Vane represents the conscience of Dorian, something that he can´t escape from. We can say that Sybil Vane represents the first love, but I think that she actually shows us that both Lord Henry and Dorian have a very artistic way of viewing life, for example, when Sybil committed suicide, Lord Henry said that her death was a beautiful end to a love story for an actress “That girl never really lived, so she never really died. Don´t cry for Sybil Vane. She was less real than Juliette.” What this say to us is that they kind of believed that life was like a play on the theatre.

ASSESMENT:I will give it a nine out of ten because this book really makes you think about the beauty within and of what is really important in life. The portrait is just the mirror where Dorian can see his own soul, what if we all had a portrait like that? Will we all be happy with the way it looks I wonder?

RECOMMENDATION: I would recommend this book to those teenagers so worried about the looks, just to make them stop and think for a moment if they really believe that everything that glitters is gold inside.

Libro (Encuadernación Tapa blanda) 7.10 €
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AUTOR: Paula Martín Fernández.  Alumna de 3ºESO

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The Martian

Andy Weir (2014) The Martian, Nova

 

The martian portadaSUMMARY:

The Martian is set in a very near future, even nearer now with the first Mars mission being planned. A group of astronauts are located on Mars, where they are part of the third Mars mission, codenamed Ares III. Everything seems to be going well until an unexpected storm hits their compound and they are forced to leave, fearing their shuttle could be tilted over. However, on their way to the ship, a piece of an antenna is ripped off and crushes into botanist and engineer Mark Watney. The crew´s captain tries to save him, but ends up having to leave with the rest of the crew, much to her grief. One day later, against all odds, Mark gains consciousness. He had miraculously survived, but is now stranded on a barren planet. He will use all his wits and his never ending flow of ideas to keep himself alive until he can be saved. On his side will be millions worth of NASA equipment, less than 200 days’ supply of food, potatoes, 70s TV shows and tons and tons of disco. He is basically doomed.

REVIEW:

The Martian is written by Andy Weir and tells the thrilling story of astronaut Mark Watney.

I absolutely loved this book, even more than the film, which I thought impossible. This book has surprisingly affected my life in a big waThe Martian portada 2015y, as it has made me start to love science. The book is filled with realistic scientific problems which the brainy problem solver Mark will solve, much to the delight of the reader. It manages to give advanced scientific explanations without boring or losing the reader. If you have already seen the film, fear not, as there appear many more challenges and feats for Mark to accomplish that do not occur in the film. Now, to probably the best part of the book by far. It is absolutely, hilariously funny.

This book will have you nearly continuously laughing, you will never stop smiling and it will always lighten your mood. It beautifully blends humour and the seriousness of the situation. Not only will you love Mark´s personality, but you will also admire and laugh along with the brilliant and nerdy NASA scientists. This book is all a reader could want and I cannot recommend it enough. It mixes science, space exploration, humour, good characters, well written plot and adventure. One of my highlights of the year.

ASSESMENT: I give it: 10/10 points.

Fotograma película The Martian con Matt DamonRECOMMENDATIONThe Martian is best known for the 2015 Ridley Scott hit that came out in October and received great critical acclaim, starring Matt Damon. When I first thought about reading this book I was very sceptical as I was one of those who had loved the film and I could not get into my head the idea of it being a book. It came into my hands as a Christmas present from a friend of mine. I decided to give it a go, thinking it would not be any good, and, boy, was I wrong.

Libro (Encuadernación Tapa blanda, 383 páginas) 11 €
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AUTOR: Óscar William Matthews Martínez.  Alumno de 3ºESO

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The Hound of the Baskervilles

Conan Doyle, Arthur (2013) The Hound of the Baskervilles, Oxford

 

Portada The Hound of the Baskerville Sir ArthurSUMMARY:

When Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead in the moors, his friend Dr Mortimer and Sir Henry Baskerville, heir to the Baskerville manor, come to Sherlock and ask him to come to the moors and investigate. All evidence leads to a savage hound from hell, which legend has it is attacking the Baskervilles due to an ancient curse. Soon though, Sherlock will realise there is more than meets the eye and then makes the strange choice of sending Watson alone to the manor.

At the manor, alongside Sir Henry, he will start to investigate the moors, uncover shadowy secrets, family scandals and immerse himself into the dangerous moor where an escaped convict is on the loose. In the moors civilisation is distant and superstition fuses with reality, and the more Watson comes closer to the end he will have to rely on his instinct and courage as he deals against an evil force. To make matters worse, he must act quickly before the hound makes its next move.

REVIEW:

sherlock-holmesThe Hound of the Baskervilles is written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In this book, Sherlock Holmes, the brilliant, witty, deductive and eccentric detective of 221 Baker Street will face his toughest challenge yet. Alongside him is Dr Watson, his resourceful friend and partner in fighting crime.

It is an incredibly well written book conceived in 1901. It brilliantly recreates the tone of the English moors and creates a truly sinister and mysterious setting.

The characters have depth and are realistic showing real emotions. This book could also be considered a historical novel as it shows life in the English moors in the very early 20th century. They say a book is only as good as its villain and this truly applies in this case. Even though we only see the murderer at the end, the one responsible for the crimes is as evil and psychopathic as can be.

The book uses many different narrating techniques showing us Doyle´s writing skills and cleverly changing the books tone. Doyle also uses a great number of red herrings to trick us and keep us at the edge of our seats. I would say this is the best book to read if you want to try a Holmes book and is one of the most iconic English mystery books. Some may say it is out of date and old fashioned but I think it still remains contemporary and popular these days.Dibujo Sabueso siendo disparado

One of the other things this book achieves is a masterfully well done creation of tension. There is a scene in this book in which Watson is looking for the murderer inside an ancient village. In this scene, the tension is high as you know the suspect is hiding somewhere and Watson is holding his revolver ready to fire. And of course, maybe the most important and entertaining factor in the book is none other than Sherlock Holmes. The witty detective is always fun to read about as we see him use his unique set of deduction skills to solve the case. At first the all the readers are amazed at his deductions, but it is always fun to then see him explain how he reached that conclusion and the simplicity of it.

ASSESMENT: I give this book 9 points.

RECOMMENDATION: All in all The Hound of the Baskervilles is a great book and must be read by all those thriller lovers out there. Also, it is a classic and schools should make everybody from the ages twelve and up read it..

Libro (Encuadernación Tapa blanda, 176 páginas) 8.90 €
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AUTOR: Óscar William Matthews Martínez.  Alumno de 3ºESO

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The Da Vinci Code

Dan Brown (2003) The Da Vinci Code, Transworld and Bantam Books,

 

The Da Vinci CodeSUMMARY:

The Da Vinci Code is a fast- paced thriller set in modern day times. Robert Langdon, a famous symbologyst, has agreed to meet the director of the Louvre to discuss a controversial issue on the importance of the female figure in ancient cultures and religions . Everything will change when the director is found murdered with an ancient symbol carved on his chest. As all evidence points  to Robert, he is forced to escape only to be plunged into a series of events he could never have imagined and the quest for the Holy Grail itself. He will not be on his own, Robert and the good looking French cryptologist Sophie Neveu, the director´s niece, will work together to uncover the truth and defend it from those who wish to conceal it. Treason, secret orders, assassins, car chases, pagan rituals, conspiracies our some of the ingredients of this novel, that tells about a secret hidden for centuries guarded by the Priory of Sion.

REVIEW:

daVinci_cryptex_This absolutely gripping thriller set in Paris and London is a brilliantly well written book that you won’t be able to put down. The great strength of this book is mainly how Dan Brown combines ancient secrets and modern day threats, all of this joined together in this page turning blockbuster. Usually thrillers are too violent and gruesome making them unsuitable for young readers, but not this one. It has an intelligent and terribly clever plot that will not let you down. I loved how the chapters would always leave you on the edge of your seat.

My only criticism is that sometimes the author takes too long to explain things because he uses very short chapters changing from one character´s point of view to another´s.

 

ASSESMENT10/10

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RECOMMENDATION: I recommend it for readers aged 12 and over, including adults and particularly for those with an interest in history. It will not disappoint.

Libro (Encuadernación Tapa blanda, 583 pages) 18 €
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AUTHOR: Óscar William Matthews Martínez. Alumno de 2ºESO

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Ferdinand and Isabella

Basket, Simon (2013) Ferdinand and Isabella, Oxford

 

Portada Ferdinand and IsabellaSUMMARY:

It is an historical essay about the Spanish culture of the 15th century. It tells the life of Isabella of Castile and Fernando II of Aragon from their childhood to their death, including the number of children they had, the problems they faced, among others lakie the way Isabella became queen with the help of some nobles. In this book, we have learnt why the wedding of Ferdinand and Isabella was so unusual, and why they were granted the title of “Catholic Monarchs”. The book also adresses foreign affairs they dealt with, like the alliances they set up with other European kingdoms in order to isolate France, such as abundant information about their greatest achievement: the discovery of America.

REVIEW:

Personally, we think that it is a very interesting book about Spanish culture. We think that all Spanish people should know how the life of Isabella I of Castile was as she is probably our most outstanding historical character and played a main role in some events.

In our opinion this book is a bit difficult to understand. My partner and I have had to read each chapter twice.

 

ASSESMENT: We give this book 9 points.

RECOMMENDATION: We recommend this book it to people aged 13 and older.

Libro (Encuadernación Tapa blanda, 83 páginas) 8.90 €
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AUTORES: María Hernán y Manuel Monsalvo. Alumnos de 2ºESO

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A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, Burlington Books

 

Portada A Christmas Carol Burlington BooksSUMMARY:

It´s Christmas Eve in London but mean, old Ebenezer Scrooge ins´t celebrating. In his opinion, Christmas is “a waste of time and money”. That night, he has a strange experience: four ghosts visit Scrooge and show him his past, present and future. Gradually, Scrooge begins to understand that he has to change.

REVIEW:

We think that this book is amazing, because it teaches us how we can change with people´s help. It also has a different point of view: the view of a mean old man that hates Christmas. It´s easy to read because it is a mixture of narrative and dialogue. There are several secondary characters but the main ones are Scrooge and the three ghosts: one from the past, another one from the present and the third one from the future.

 

ASSESMENT: We give this book 9 points.

RECOMMENDATION: We like this book and recommend it to people aged 13 and older.

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Libro (Encuadernación Tapa blanda,  37 páginas) 6.45 €
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AUTORAS: Andrea Calvillo y María del Río. Alumnas de 2ºESO

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Mark Twain, The adventures of Tom Sawyer, Burlington Books

 

Portada The Adventures of Tom SawyerSUMMARY:

Tom Sawyer is a book based on a true history. It tells the adventures of Tom, a boy who likes playing jokes on other people with his friends. He lives with his aunt Polly and his brother Sid along the Mississippi river. They are basically poor. We say that because they live without many material things. He has also many friends like Huckleberry Finn and Joe. In the book, many adventures take place, like that in which they go out to discover things on an island close to the village or when they go to the hill with Becky.

REVIEW:

We think it´s quite an amusing novel, mainly in the passages about adventures, though we find others hard to read and even nonsense.

 

ASSESMENT: We give it a rating of 7/10 because any person from 10 to any age could understand it but they couldn´t if the boy/girl were younger.

RECOMMENDATION: It is a compulsory reading in Secondary Education Second Year, but you can read it if you just like the stories of old adventures in English. This book is also a bit adapted because it doesn´t tell everything. e.g All the discussions between Tom and his aunt.

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Libro (Encuadernación Tapa blanda,  37 páginas) 6.45 €
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AUTORES: Lucía Arias y Darío Gómez. Alumnos de 2ºESO

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Dracula

Bram Stoker, Dracula, Burlington Books

 

Portada Drácula Burlington BookSUMMARY:

This book talks about a person who works as a lawyer, and he goes to Dracula’s Castle. When he gets to the castle, Dracula wants to kill him. He and his friends (Doctor Seward and Van Helsing) have to kill him.

 REVIEW:

This is such an interesting book because of some amazing scenes that it includes. The book´s best character is Dracula. He and his castle are really terrifying. Some scenes are boring because there isn’t action. But, in general, this book isn’t boring. I had a good time while reading it.

 

ASSESMENT: 7 /10.

RECOMMENDATION:  4º ESO.

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Libro (Encuadernación Tapa blanda,  51 páginas) 7.20 €
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AUTORES: Elena Pérez y Enrique del Real. Alumnos de 4ºESO

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