Rediscover the classics with iClassics

iclassics pic

Rediscover the classics with iClassics

Something better than the classics? Indeed, the iClassics!

When was the last time you read a classic? Every so often these books are deselected from libraries because their titles are not in demand anymore. iClassics, a Barcelona-based publisher, is unwilling to accept it and they presented iClassics – Reimagining Poe, Wilde, Lovecraft & more, a unique way to read and enjoy literature for everybody and everywhere, in format of AppBooks.

They aim to create an impact by presenting a new – and very awesome – way to READ & ENJOY classical literature in a new format, the iClassics. On May 25th was released the project on Kickstarter, and everyone can take part on it until the 6th of July. From 1€ to 2,500€ they offer a bunch of very cool rewards, including a collaborative artbook with illustrators from all over the globe!

Moreover they think that the project has potential to create a social impact among students in the classroom, and they are giving the opportunity to more than 100,000 students to have all the collections for free. Actually, they will give as many as euros raised with the project.

Accessibility from any Android devices – currently only for iOS-, new stories, more languages, a common place to share the love for the classics and more… All these is what we will be able to enjoy if the iClassics project finishes the campaign successfully.

Let’s support this great project that reimagines classical literature.

Here is the link to the campaign on Kickstarter:

And here is their collection so far.

Press release

About iClassics Collection:

iClassics Collection dreams of a world where universal classics are within reach of anybody with the nowadays entertainment. Some of their apps, such as iPoe Collection, has been awarded by the Digital Book World, reference magazine for innovation in digital reading, and has proven to be a useful teaching tool to engage students of all ages.

They created a library of interactive classics with a new standpoint in format and aesthetics, in a way that every reader can easily get hooked on it. Their selection criteria go for those authors who were ahead of his time and inspired next generations with their stories. Its contribution consists in turning the works of these authors into a unique audiovisual interactive experience where illustration, animation, music, videos blend together under a very fine creative direction.


Ipad_dickens_01iClassics en social media:




Block Book Club #2


Our local book club was very excited to meet for its second time. Some were reading books presented by other members last month, so it sounds like the trading titles format is working well.

Here are the books shared this time:

Meeting #2 on 02/09/2012

(synopsis taken from

1. Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story Of Survival, Resilience, And Redemption (2010)
On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.
The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.
Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.
In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit.  Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.

Link to Emma’s review on her blog [it includes a book trailer]: [you can also go to , and type ‘Unbroken’ in the search box on the top right.]

2. Richard Powers, The Time of Our Singing (2002)
On Easter day, 1939, at Marian Anderson’s epochal concert on the Washington Mall, David Strom, a German Jewish émigré scientist, meets Delia Daley, a young Philadelphia Negro studying to be a singer. Their mutual love of music draws them together, and—against all odds and better judgment—they marry. They vow to raise their children beyond time, beyond identity, steeped only in song. Jonah, Joseph, and Ruth grow up, however, during the Civil Rights era, coming of age in the violent 1960s, and living out adulthood in the racially retrenched late century. Jonah, the eldest, “whose voice could make heads of state repent,” follows a life in his parents’ beloved classical music. Ruth, the youngest, devotes herself to community activism and repudiates the white culture her brother represents. Joseph, the middle child and the narrator of this generation-bridging tale, struggles to find himself and remain connected to them both.

3. Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper (2005)
“New York Times” bestselling author Jodi Picoult is widely acclaimed for her keen insights into the hearts and minds of real people. Now she tells the emotionally riveting story of a family torn apart by conflicting needs and a passionate love that triumphs over human weakness.
Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate–a life and a role that she has never challenged…until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister–and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.
“My Sister’s Keeper” examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child’s life, even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? Once again, in “My Sister’s Keeper, ” Jodi Picoult tackles a controversial real-life subject with grace, wisdom, and sensitivity.

4. William Kent Krueger, Iron Lake (Cork O’Connor #1) [1998-2011]

Here is the synopsis of the #1 in the series, but E. presented the whole series. So far, 11 volumes have been published.

William Kent Krueger joined the ranks of today’s best suspense novelists with this thrilling, universally acclaimed debut. Conjuring “a sense of place he’s plainly honed firsthand in below-zero prairie” “(Kirkus Reviews), ” Krueger brilliantly evokes northern Minnesota’s lake country — and reveals the dark side of its snow-covered landscape.

Part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian, Corcoran “Cork” O’Connor is the former sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota. Embittered by his “former” status, and the marital meltdown that has separated him from his children, Cork gets by on heavy doses of caffeine, nicotine, and guilt. Once a cop on Chicago’s South Side, there’s not much that can shock him. But when the town’s judge is brutally murdered, and a young Eagle Scout is reported missing, Cork takes on a mind-jolting case of conspiracy, corruption, and scandal.

As a lakeside blizzard buries Aurora, Cork must dig out the truth among town officials who seem dead-set on stopping his investigation in its tracks. But even Cork freezes up when faced with the harshest enemy of all: a small-town secret that hits painfully close to home.


5. Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind (1936) [audiobook]

Revisit the South and fall under the spell of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler all over again. After six decades, this sweeping saga set against the backdrop of the war-torn South remains one of the most beloved American novels ever written.


6. Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games/Catching Fire/Mockingjay (2008-2010) [presented by Pat]

Synopsis of the 1st volume:

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love


7. A. presented the 2012 Master List of Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Book Award (Illinois Children=s Choice Award) – grades 4 through 8. See here:

One of the books she enjoyed a lot on that list a few years ago was:

Gary D. Schmidt, The Wednesday Wars (2000):

Gary D. Schmidt offers an unforgettable antihero in THE WEDNESDAY WARSin the most unexpected places and musters up the courage to embrace his destiny, in spite of himself.


8. Norman Ollestad, Crazy For The Storm (2009)

“Dad Said

Olestad, we can do it all. . . .”

Why do you make me do this?

“Because it’s beautiful when it all comes together. ”

I don’t think it’s ever beautiful.

“One day.”


“We’ll see, my father said. Vamanos.”

From the age of three, Norman Ollestad was thrust into the world of surfing and competitive downhill skiing by the intense, charismatic father he both idolized and resented. While his friends were riding bikes, playing ball, and going to birthday parties, young Norman was whisked away in pursuit of wild and demanding adventures. Yet it were these exhilarating tests of skill that prepared “Boy Wonder,” as his father called him, to become a fearless champion–and ultimately saved his life.

Flying to a ski championship ceremony in February 1979, the chartered Cessna carrying Norman, his father, his father’s girlfriend, and the pilot crashed into the San Gabriel Mountains and was suspended at 8,200 feet, engulfed in a blizzard. “Dad and I were a team, and he was Superman,” Ollestad writes. But now Norman’s father was dead, and the devastated eleven-year-old had to descend the treacherous, icy mountain alone.

Set amid the spontaneous, uninhibited surf culture of Malibu and Mexico in the late 1970s, this riveting memoir, written in crisp Hemingwayesque prose, recalls Ollestad’s childhood and the magnetic man whose determination and love infuriated and inspired him–and also taught him to overcome the indomitable. As it illuminates the complicated bond between an extraordinary father and his son, Ollestad’s powerful and unforgettable true story offers remarkable insight for us all.


9. Claire Tomalin, Charles Dickens: A Life (2011) [presented by me on the occasion of Dickens’ 200th birthday on 2/7/2012]

The tumultuous life of England’s greatest novelist, beautifully rendered by unparalleled literary biographer Claire Tomalin.

When Charles Dickens died in 1870, “The Times” of London successfully campaigned for his burial in Westminster Abbey, the final resting place of England’s kings and heroes. Thousands flocked to mourn the best recognized and loved man of nineteenth-century England. His books had made them laugh, shown them the squalor and greed of English life, and also the power of personal virtue and the strength of ordinary people. In his last years Dickens drew adoring crowds to his public appearances, had met presidents and princes, and had amassed a fortune.

Like a hero from his novels, Dickens trod a hard path to greatness. Born into a modest middle-class family, his young life was overturned when his profligate father was sent to debtors’ prison and Dickens was forced into harsh and humiliating factory work. Yet through these early setbacks he developed his remarkable eye for all that was absurd, tragic, and redemptive in London life. He set out to succeed, and with extraordinary speed and energy made himself into the greatest English novelist of the century.

Years later Dickens’s daughter wrote to the author George Bernard Shaw, “If you could make the public understand that my father was not a joyous, jocose gentleman walking about the world with a plum pudding and a bowl of punch, you would greatly oblige me.” Seen as the public champion of household harmony, Dickens tore his own life apart, betraying, deceiving, and breaking with friends and family while he pursued an obsessive love affair.

“Charles Dickens: A Life” gives full measure to Dickens’s heroic stature-his huge virtues both as a writer and as a human being- while observing his failings in both respects with an unblinking eye. Renowned literary biographer Claire Tomalin crafts a story worthy of Dickens’s own pen, a comedy that turns to tragedy as the very qualities that made him great-his indomitable energy, boldness, imagination, and showmanship-finally destroyed him. The man who emerges is one of extraordinary contradictions, whose vices and virtues were intertwined as surely as his life and his art.

Link to my review on this blog:


Other titles briefly mentioned:

I’m sure there were many more, but these are the titles I heard
– Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
– Jodi Picoult, The Tenth Cicrle and Nineteen Minutes

– Nancy Horan, Loving Frank

– mysteries by C.J. Box

– Todd Burpo, Heaven Is For Real

– William P. Young, The Shack

– Murielle Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog [see my review here: ] and Gourmet Rhapsody  [ ]

– Erik Larson, The Devil in The White City  and In The Garden of Beasts, and Isaac’s Storm

– Joseph Heller, Catch-22 [not in too positive terms…]

– Betty Smith, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn



Review #2 (2012): Charles Dickens: A Life

Charles Dickens: A Life



417 pages

Published by Penguin Press, in Oct 2011

I read this book for the following Challenges:


I need first to explain the discrepancy between the official page numbers of this book, Goodreads says 527 pages (and I have no idea why amazon says 576 pages, for the exact same book I have here) and my page count of only 417. The text itself stops at page 417, and this is mostly what I read: I only read a couple of notes. Pages 418-527 are notes, acknowledgements, bibliography and index. For honest reading statistics, I give the number of pages I read, that’s why my page number count is usually not the official one.

On February 7, 2012, we will be celebrating Dickens’ 200th birthday (1812-1870). For this wonderful literary occasion, I joined 2 challenges, and read this brand new fantastic biography. I enjoy a lot Dickens. The latest work of his I read, more acurately listened to, was A Tale of Two Cities, a few years ago.

This biography was fascinating: Tomalin does a great job at mixing Dickens’s life events and literary creations, not hesitating on delving into each novel, each character, to show all the links between his life and his writing. Both are anyway extremely connected.

Even as a very young boy, Dickens had a great sense of observation, and would even take notes of things he saw around him. He lived in very poor London areas, with a father who would almost constantly be in debt, and that makes the background of most of his characters.

As soon as he earned a living, Dickens became very generous at helping his family and friends, and many poor people at large, including a home he founded and financed for prostitutes.

Dickens had an incredible energy: he needed to move and walked miles and miles to find his inspiration, while working at many works at the same time.

All this was rather well until his midlife crisis, when he suddenly asked divorce and said he did not like his children, 10 of them. He stopped lots of his generous contributions and supports of friends. This 3rd part of the book was totally unexpected for me. It was brilliant at showing all the contradictions in Dickens, a man maybe too brilliant to ever reach a healthy balance in every thing, and find real emotional happiness.
The excerpt I included, being almost the end of the book, is a good illustration of the richness of his complex character.

But his work remains the work of a giant, and I encourage you to read something by Dickens, or this biography, on this coming month of February


In his time, Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was the most popular author not only in his native England, but also in America: In fact, in just two days, his American Notes sold 50,000 copies in New York alone. Claire Tomalin’s Charles Dickens captures the inner workings of a fiercely private workaholic, a man whose mistreatment of family and friends seems at painful odds with his philanthropic activities and the deep human warmth communicated in his novels. Tomalin’s mastery of the materials and writing skills enable her to untangle and weave together events in Dickens’ professional career and private life that other chroniclers have missed. By any standard, a major biography of a major author by an award-winning biographer. Editor’s recommendation. [goodreads]


  Born Claire Delavenay in London, she was educated at Newnham College, Cambridge.
She became literary editor of the ‘New Statesman’ and also the ‘Sunday Times’. She has written several noted biographies and her work has been recognised with the award of the 1990 James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the 1991 Hawthornden Prize for ‘The Invisible Woman The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens’.

In addition, her biography of Samuel Pepys won the Whitbread Book Award in 2002, the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize in 2003, the Latham Prize of the Samuel Pepys Club in 2003, and was also shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2003.
She married her first husband, Nicholas Tomalin, who was a prominent journalist but who was killed in the Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War in 1973. Her second husband is the novelist and playwright Michael Frayn.
She is Vice-President of the Royal Society of Literature and of the English PEN (International PEN)