The Daylight Gate … a review

I was at Lancaster University last week and spending some time walking around Pendle College and ended up at their very impressive student library. What do I do when that happens? Pick up a book and make a beeline for an empty couch! I picked up this book because I had been to Lancaster Castle the day before and only just found out about the area’s connection to witches!

The book is set in 1612, when James I, a Protestant King, is on the throne. He was James VI of Scotland, of course, the son of Mary Queen of Scots. Apparently, he was obsessed with ridding his realm of twin evils, witchcraft and Catholicism, at any price…

The narrative has an old fashioned writing style, it is not halting though, just different. The local sheriff at Pendle hill interrupts a strange meeting as he suspects it to be a witches’ Sabbat. I won’t tell you how, but even Shakespeare plays a cameo – how cool is that!?

It is a very short read although it looks deceptively thick. It took me a couple of hours and a bit to read, although I was totally engrossed in it. The library was fab and the weather outside was, well, underwhelming, so there.

Jamilia … a review

I first heard about the book Jamilia a long time ago, in context of Kyrgyztan. I cannot remember what it was now… I got my hands on the Telegram copy a few weeks ago. It is only a novella, took me only about an hour and a half to read it. It is a beautiful love story and is the first major novel by Chingiz Aytmatov.

The novel is the story if Jamilia, as told by her brother-in-law Seit, a young Kyrgyz artist. Jamilia’s husband is at the front at war and this books talks of her love of Daniyar, a local cripple. While nothing earth-shattering happens, the book recounts the tender emotions of love and the sense of society very beautifully. The story is backdropped against the collective farming culture which was in its peak in that period.

During the Soviet era, Aitmatov was known as the “intellectual father of the Kyrgyz people” and as the “voice of Central Asia.” Under Stalin, he was a tax collector, a warehouse worker and a machinist, before studying veterinary medicine and literature and eventually becoming the most popular Soviet writer.

I’d recommend the book, and I think free versions are available on the web too.

One Day … a review

I read this book over two long haul flights. It was a recommedation from a friend who knows I enjoy books set in Edinburgh. This one starts off in Edinburgh but then is based in some other places, depending on where the characters are.

The year is 1988. Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have woken up from having spent the night together in Emma’s flat in Edinburgh. It is the day after their graduation. As the book progresses, the story follows the lives of Em and Dex, on that day, every day, for twenty years. The characters meet, unmeet, and then go their separate ways. Life goes on, as do their individual trajectories.The book weaves in and out of their lives with each other and with other people. Many characters come and go, some stay.

There are a couple of things very good about this book. First of all, it is an unusual way to write a book. It is evident that the narrator is witness to these two peoples’ lives and that in itself is like someone has held a lens to their eyes. The other thing is that the ending is extremely believeable. It is not a rom-com ending, and it is not a typical ending. I will not spoil the ending by saying any more but I very strongly recommend the book, it is like reading the story of you or I. It is one of the very best I have read of modern fiction and I thoroughly enoyed it.

Americosis vol 4 … a review

Last year, I wrote about Americosis, and then again followed it up with vol 2 and vol 3. I nearly missed Vol 4, as I was away on holiday and although I knew it was going to come out around the time of the POTUS elections, it slipped my mind. Just as well, because I ended up reading it just as the new President got sworn in.

The characters in this book sort of pick up where they left off. As one would expect, this book goes heavier on the plot of Sanchez’s visions and the elections with him and Archer vying for votes. As this sub-plot takes centre stage, the mirroring of reality and fiction becomes clearer. The tension level is high, the drama is much more tightly knit. The Erica part of the plot is also getting less fluffy and more meaty, as she drifts between solving past mysteries only to come up against new ones. All in all, great writing.

What did jump put at me though, is that the language in this edition was a little too foul for my taste. Not that that is any different from reality and all the names that were thrown at Clinton and Trump, it made reading some of the chapter a little hard. Another very short read delivered by Wilks, and if you haven’t gotten into it yet, the four books back-to-back will take you only a couple of days to get through. I might do that, as I wait for vol 5!

The Fault in Our Stars … a review

I remember when this book came out and it took the world by storm. Everyone was talking about it, rcommending it, and were writing rave reviews about it. Somehow, I didn’t quite manage to get a copy from the library at the time and consequently, forgot about it. Then the movie came out and it was everywhere again. But of course, I didn’t watch it then because I hadn’t read the book… duh!

Anyway, I picked this up at a second hand bookstore the other day and ead it over a weekend. The story was very easy to read. The language isn’t lucid, but it is very free flow. It is about two teenagers who have cancer and who fall in love with each other. And then, eventually, as is the case with all such cancer plots, one dies and the other lives to carry the burden of loss.

Overall, this book was average and I don’t know why it created th hype that it did. I liked the storyline of a book plot within the plot, and I liked the overall predictability of it. But, the way the characters speak to each other felt fake. It was too philosophical, too big of them. Having been a carer to a close person who died of cancer, I can safely say that when a loved one suffers, philosophy, the greater theme, the bigger picture of life all sounds like a load of rubbish.

So I wasn’t big on the book. However, while reading it I did think that it was movie material, with sufficiently engaging characters and dialogues. So I will watch the movie at some point, even though I am not a big movie person. It has got to be seen right?

Goats from a Small Island … a review

It is very obvious why I picked this up, yes? Such a definitive play on Bill Bryson as well as having goats in the name. Seriously, this was begging to get picked up from the library. Especially as after my Spain trip, I was looking for some Spain themed books to read. Any good recommendations in that field?

I sort of enjoyed the book. It is quite humorous, but it was a bit repetitive. It follows the adventures of a young English woman who moved to live on the Spanish island of Mallorca. While the differences in culture and habits are brought out beautifully, the style of writing, I felt was a bit stilted. So the reaction from me would definitely be a bit mixed. The parallel plot lines are quite entertaining, from the Russian model to the crazy neighbour – they all bring their idiosyncracies into the story.

So would I read any of the author Anna Nicholas? Probably, yes. I would love to know more about her adventures and I am sure that I will find styles of er writing in other books that I like better.

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All … a review

Remember, a few years ago, the world was taken by storm by the debut novel of Swedish author Jonas Jonasson, called The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared? Well, since then, I haven’t read any comedy I don’t think. After all, the world has been rather busy with psychological thrillers like Gone Girl etc. Anyway, I digress. I missed Jonasson’s scond book about the girl and the King of Sweden, but this one, I picked up recently.

Now, this book, in similar fashion, is the totally random story of a receptionist at a hotel, a hitman who ends up at the hotel, and a priest who doesn’t believe in God. I know! It is a great book that follows a now familiar structure of loose threads, weaving and interweaving beautifully until they all tie up nicely. Jonasson is a great author because I feel that his stories are like life – you know how you sometimes look back and life makes no sense at all,like that!

However, I do have to say that this book didn’t make me laugh as much as the 100-year-old man. Maybe that book had just set the bar too high for me, as it might be the one humourous book I have actually enjoyed a lot! Having said that, this book is still a great read and an especially good length for a good travel read if you are looking for a change from the usual crime thriller.