3.5 out of 5 stars
I feel almost guilty for rating this classic of classics so poorly, but I think it's a book you either love, loathe, or feel lukewarm about.
Pros: The historic setting, historic dialogue, underwater/cave battle, and Christian perspective. Added 1/2 star for Beowulf's influence on Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
Cons: Beowulf (the character) is much too flawless a fighter. He hardly seems human. A more interesting character is Wiglaf, the underling whose courage outweighs his inexperience.
The Queen of Spades
2 out of 5 stars
A very weird, Edgar Allan Poe-esque story about gambling and ghosts. It's also super fast-paced, which doesn't help. Interesting concept, however.
A Tangled Tale
5 out of 5 stars
One of the best books I've read in the last year. This is a collection of math/logic puzzles, with continuing characters and storylines. The dialogue is wonderfully witty and hilarious at times ("Equilateral! And rectangular!").
As far as the puzzles themselves go, this is serious stuff. Mathematically, pretty much all you need is algebra. The logic is the tough part. I tried solving several of them, but was only able to solve one on my own: "Petty Cash". Even this involved Victorian British currency and some convoluted systems of equations.
Needless to say, you will be staying up very late at night trying to solve these. They look horribly simple, even on your second or third attempt.
A Personal Record
5 out of 5 stars
Another memoir by Joseph Conrad, this book gives fascinating insights on what his early life was like, how he became a seaman, and how--comparatively late in life--he became a writer. Highly recommended for Conrad fans and people interested in the lives of great authors.