This book was all the rage a few years ago. I don’t think it was instantly famous when it came out, it is not that sort of a book. But I believe, a few famous people read it and were blown away by it, and the book picked up steam. The first five pages in, and you can see why…
Harari has a ‘neat’ and ‘orderly’ style of writing, it is focused and does not digress. That lends itself rather well when you are attempting to compress together thousands of years of the history of humankind. Ambitious, to say the least. But while a non-fiction book on such a theme may quickly become dense or onerous, this one doesn’t. The information is presented through a series of scenarios, and all possibilities within reason are considered. The book weaves in and out of speculation and fact, and is thrilling in a way because it seeks to tell us who we are, where we came from. And one could argue, it is the only way for us to evaluate where we want to go. It covers a range of topics, history, geography, archaeology, and even anthropology and sociology.
I will be looking forward to head the sequel. But I must take a break first, while this is an easy read based on the topic. It is still not exactly a summer holiday read, and leaves the reader with a lot to ruminate over. So I feel like my mind needs a bit of a disengage period before I reach out for the next one.
This is a hands down brilliant book. I picked this up because I saw a friend reading it and I thought it looked interesting. I am usually not up for books set during the war (unless they are classics like Hemingway or Remarque). But this book is different, because it follows the journey of a young girl in Paris, the blind Marie-Laure LeBlanc – daughter of a Museum employee and a young boy Werner Pfennig in Germany.
Werner and his sister Jutta fix a half broken radio and listen to a Science made simple show, where an older Frenchman breaks complicated concepts down for children. When Germany invades France in 1940, Marie-Laure has to flee Paris and ends up with her eccentric great-Uncle Etienne. The story interleaves between the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner and the amazing thing is that the two central characters don’t meet until 80% of the book is over. Even so, it is a fleeting meeting that doesn’t last long at all. Everything about the story is incredibly well crafted. I loved Jules Verne as a child and this book has snippets of all time favourite ‘20,000 Leagues under the Sea’.
The storyline is incredibly simple, but with Germany invading France during the war, even the simplest of stories take on a larger than life meaning. I would definitely recommend this book, even if it is the only one you read in the summer. It was long after I had finished reading and I couldn’t get the book out of my head, I decided to red up on the author and discovered that this book had won the 2015 Pulitzer!
I got this book on my Kindle as I had an offer code to use. So it cost me very little money, I liked the blurb and started reading. The plot very quickly sucked me in. If you’re a fan of recent books like Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, Sharp Objects etc – you will really enjoy this book.
The premise is simple. The protagonist, on her way home one day on the London Underground, thinks she sees her own blurry photo with a singular website that looks like an adult website in the Classifieds section. She is a woman in her mid-40s, with two kids and lives with them and her partner in a suburban block. All very normal. She becomes more and more anxious as every day it is a different woman, until one day, she sees on the news that one of them is dead. What is happening?
The book is very well-written. So much so, that I was on the Underground a couple of weeks after and felt uneasy thinking about the probability of the crime described. It is very hard to guess who the criminal is, and the plot is sufficiently tight to allow no person to be beyond suspicion. Obviously, there is a broody police officer with their own demons, as always.
Overall, really good travel/summer holiday read.
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.
I enjoyed the Millenium series immensely. I read them in the summer of 2011 and all I remember of that summer is the entirety of those books and reading them at various places battling the Delhi heat. So when I heard that there was going to be a fourth book, I was surprised that it had almost next to none publicity. I mean, when Mockingbird‘s sequel released in July, the world practically drove themselves into a frenzy!
Anyway, the original author is dead, so this is controversially written by David Lagercrantz,who has continued on from where Larsson left off. I will not tell you about the controversy here because you can Google it. What I will tell you is that the way he has done it is impressive. The book is very well written and reads seamlessly like the previous ones (although I am mindful that I have read them all in translation).
Lizbeth, one of the most striking and unforgettable characters in modern fiction is portrayed with class and finesse, something that readers have admired bout her. Our journalist Blomkvist and his business partner Berger are just the same, like old friends to the reader. And the plot too, is well thought out and well researched. As usual, Nordic noir is set in the backdrop of a cold frigid winter and that always heightens the excitement. But the action spans across various locations and the inclusion of a child with special needs just ties up everything brilliantly.
What I will say is though that the pace seemed a little slow as compared to the previous books. Those ones were thicker and more complex plot-wise. But I suppose that is where the difference of the actual author comes out. For what it’s worth, Lagercrantz has done a fine job and I really hope that he continues to rite more novels with the same beloved characters. Especially if Craig and Mara are around to act in the movies!
What a book! What a tremendous piece of literature that I had not come across until now. I couldn’t recommend this book highly enough, if you haven’t read it, you must do.
Set in 1960s South Carolina, this book is the coming of age story of 14 year old Lily Owens. She is white and her nanny of sorts, Rosaleen is black. When the latter gets into trouble for being vocal about black peoples’ rights and ends up in jail, Lily decides to do the inevitable – leave her abusive father T Ray and escape with Rosaleen. The only place that they know to go to is to August Boatwright’s honey bee farm. This is from the only semblance of Lily’s mother’s life she has, a honey jar label with a black Mother Mary on it.
The honey farm takes these fugitives in and so begins Lily’s journey of self-awareness, love, honey harvesting, religion, and lessons of people reading. The greater part of the book shows the entwining of Lily and Rosaleen’s life with those of the Boatwright sisters – May, June, August. There are many instances of racism but none of them are as horrible as, say, The Bluest Eye. Rather, the distinction between white and black is presented through Lily’s eyes and is a poignant reminder of the differences that are made by man.
The book also has a happy ending. There are times when I thought that once the entire truth about why Lily’s mother was in Tiburon would come out, they would both be maybe sent back to the police or even worse, back to the father. And after all, the father was looking for his daughter in anger. But the book brings a lovely resolution at the end. So for a tender account of love and life and colour, this is one of the most uplifting books I have read. Must read!
Robin Cook has been my go to man for fast-paced, enjoyable, thrilling medical novels. For the last 15 years! Yes, you read that right… I read my first Cook when I was ten, and I have never looked back. I’ve read all 33 of them… he’s a great writer. That said, he has had his moments. Some books, like Abduction, were kind of not-that-great. But the Jack and Laurie series of books were stellar. And with his latest offering, George Wilson from LA is now my favourite doctor! In keeping with his uusualstyle of making medical ‘problems’ absolutely believable, in this book, he deals with the subject of technology. Cell in this book refers to Cellphones, which have an app called iDoc, replacing the need for traditional doctors. Of course, these things are being debated upon as we speak but in this book, as people start dropping like flies around Wilson, Cook presents a very chilling perspective.
How much technology is good? How much can we handle before it takes over our lives? these questions are important enough for grocery shopping, or the education of kids, or 3D printers and guns, but when it comes to the evolution of modern medicine, this question hits home deep. When the code behind an app starts developing ‘problems’, their developers are the decision makers for the rights vs the money. And the systems and political machinery that backs ventures such as these is also very ‘Big Brother’-esque.
I really enjoyed this book. I liked how the app seems like such a natural progression of our lives and then you see why real doctors are needed, why you cannot trust computers, and why, George loses his fiancee, his neighbour, a colleague, and a friend one after another. It is my kind of book, it raises my kind of issues, and it pulls it off with the fine kind of writing that Cook never fails to deliver. Must read!
The first book by Mathias B. Freese that I reviewed was last year, it too, like this one, was short stories. So, naturally, I approached this latest book with a certain set of preconceived notions about his style of writing and the overall content. It was however, quite a different experience. Freese is a gifted writer. I say this because I have read quite a few books about the holocaust and this has such a different approach to the whole issue. Each story involves a folk tale, or a fable, from Jewish folklore. And creatures, both good and bad, come alive to take the characters of the book through bizarre journeys.
One of the stories that touched me most was one that involved a ‘golem’ . “In Jewish folklore, a golem is an animated anthropomorphic being, magically created entirely from inanimate matter.” Mothers tell children stories of the golem as a creature that must be summoned when no hope remains and the world is dark. A Jew who is escaping from a camp has the golem in his head and conversations follow. The story is bone-chilling. I have always marvelled at the cruelty of man to man but never have I come across such raw rendering of emotions. Even the story about Hitler’s relationship with Eva seems true.
Needless to say, it is a most depressing read. Do approach with caution. This book affected me almost as much as Anne Frank’s work, and that is the highest praise I can give it.
Tanya J Peterson was kind to invite me to be part of her blog tour and I was more than happy to take her up on the offer. After over a year since I reviewed Leave of Absence, I was prepared to be sucked into another tale of agonising and debilitating mental illness. ‘Nutshell’ is the state in which our central characters live – Brian and Abigail. Brian in in his early thirties and suffers from a chronic anxiety disorder He stays away from everyone and everything and has an ordinary job as a handyman at a local school. On the outside, he is a normal young man, who loved cycling to work, hiking in the woods, gardening and growing fresh produce, and animals. But on the inside, Brian is troubled and lost. Everyday actions like picking out a set of clothes, grocery shopping, and pleasant interaction pushes him towards severe panic attacks.
Life conspires and he meets Abigail Harris at school. A little girl of seven, she throws tantrums, behaves badly, and brings hell down if anyone tries to cross her. She lives with her Aunt and Uncle, who are at their wits’ end already. Brian and Abigail strike up a very likely friendship. It was clear to me as a reader that they both were dealing with similar issues. I also felt that Brian was the unfortunate result of an Abigail growing up in neglect.
This is the story of a beautiful friendship and a careful clutch of people who make this possible. One of the nice things about this book is that all the secondary characters are very well thought-out. They’re each indispensible to the story. The Harrises, Brian’s colleague Roger, the principal of the school, Brian’s counsellor, and Abigail’s teachers. Each of the characters is heartwarming in their efforts to ensure that both flourish.
While I enjoyed this book thoroughly, I felt, at times, that Brian’s ‘episodes’ were long drawn out and seemingly endless. But when I came to the bits where he was on the verge of receiving help, it made me want it so bad too, on his behalf. The author has managed to instill that yearning in the reader as well, which is pretty impressive! Worth a read!