This is one of those books that I wouldn't normally like but I first read it years ago when I was in a completely different mindset and would have bee...moreThis is one of those books that I wouldn't normally like but I first read it years ago when I was in a completely different mindset and would have been more prone to enjoying it. (Siddhartha is another book that falls into this category, I think). I tried reading it again two or three years ago and somehow I still liked it. So - I shall not be ashamed of liking it! Maybe I'll try again in a couple years and see what happens. (less)
Never judge a book by its cover. That is the oft-repeated mantra, which can be applied not just to literature, but to many other subjects.
In this case...moreNever judge a book by its cover. That is the oft-repeated mantra, which can be applied not just to literature, but to many other subjects.
In this case, even though I really wanted to read the book, the cover just blew me away. To me, it's a perfect representation of what the story is about: power, opulence, beauty, sensuality, and, above all, a need to step beyond the confines of a well-defined, though rather ill-fitting, role.
The woman on the cover is showing herself but only partially - her face is still hidden. And that was how I saw Mehrunnisa.
I never really knew the stories of the Mughal empire. Growing up in the U.S., it was not exactly a subject given much, if any, gravity. So, I knew about the Taj Mahal and about Shah Jahan and his beloved Mumtaz Mahal, but not much beyond that. Then, I heard about The Twentieth Wife (the first in the two-book series) from Amulya Malladi's website. Intrigued, I read the first chapter online and was instantly hooked.
Both books follow Mehrunnisa, or, as she is more popularly known, Nur Jahan, throughout her life, from the unique circumstances of her birth through to her reign over the empire.
This books starts after Mehrunnisa arrives into the imperial zenana as Emperor Jahangir's twentieth wife. We follow her as she establishes her power over the Emperor and over his kingdom. We see how, as a friend so eloquently put it, her strength becomes her weakness, and eventually, her downfall; a strong, aggressive, cunning woman whose actions changed the course of history becomes a mere line in history books.
The imagery in this book is absolutely delicious. The lives of the royals: the majesty, the opulence, the splendor - all of it is depicted in vivid detail, allowing the reader to see it all, to actually be there. Oh, and the romance:
"He moved closer to Mehrunnisa's back and went to sleep. Heat hung inside the apartment, the punkah did little but spin the air around the room, but Jahangir could only close his eyes when some part of him was against her. They would each wake many times at night to find sweat thickly matted between their skins, but half-asleep they would wipe it away, find another position in which to lay their bodies, another place in which they made contact. An arm, a leg flung across, a shoulder lodged against a hip, even fingers touching, it did not matter, touch they had to."
Overall, this book was a much slower read compared to The Twentieth Wife. I think there was just a lot more to take in in this one.
Never having been a fan of historical fiction, these two books definitely changed my perception. It was interesting to learn about the treachery, the friendships forged, alliances broken, the campaigns, the wars, the tireless work of a ruler controlling a vast land.
I hope Indu Sundaresan writes more and I'm off to learn as much as I can about Nur Jahan.
Note: Although the author claims to have followed history very closely, there is some leeway she has allowed herself in constructing the story. Being a work of fiction, this artistic license is to be expected.(less)
I would put this book on the same level as Siddhartha. It explores religion without really calling it religion, without it really be...moreReviewed in 2004.]
I would put this book on the same level as Siddhartha. It explores religion without really calling it religion, without it really being religion. Sati is a simple, blonde, blue-eyed woman who says she is God and that she has come to play in her world.
She doesn't want to teach, she doesn't want to have a following per se, but all she wants is for people to be happy. We exist to increase her joy, which is already infinite.
Whether or not she is God, her message is simple: through inner silence, we can achieve joy.
The book is a mixture of Hindu and Buddhist thought. It's very simple, very easy to read, but I guarantee it will affect you profoundly.(less)
If you're expecting another The Alchemist, just stop right there, turn around, and never look back. Seriously. Trust me and do yourself a favor.
After...moreIf you're expecting another The Alchemist, just stop right there, turn around, and never look back. Seriously. Trust me and do yourself a favor.
After the success of The Alchemist, I feel like Coelho just threw a bunch of ideas together and called it a new story. Sure, it has the themes of faith, love, and following your dreams, but in my opinion, the story just wasn't concrete enough to really... I don't know, actually teach you anything - if that's what Coelho sought to do. The events just felt disconnected.
It took me a few months to finish this book because I kept getting bored of it. I finally finished it for the sake of finishing it.
The author tried to throw in a few themes from The Alchemist, and there are maybe a few good ideas in here, but nothing good enough to waste your time reading an entire book to glean some tidbits.
Note: A lot of reviewers on Amazon said they didn't like the fact that the book delved so much into religion, but I didn't mind that.(less)
Holy mother of God. I remember reading the reviews for this book - they said there was a lot of sex. Well. They weren't lying. She has sex every few p...moreHoly mother of God. I remember reading the reviews for this book - they said there was a lot of sex. Well. They weren't lying. She has sex every few pages or so. As someone pointed out, how is she even able to walk after that?
Now, I am as much of a fan of sex as the next person, and maybe even more than the next person, but come on! How much can a person (I mean the person reading not the person experiencing :P) take? Speaking of which, how much can the person experiencing take too? Isn't there a physical limit? Granted, Anita is stronger than most humans, but still.
Other than the sex, there was hardly a plot. The crimes definitely took a back burner to everything else. Hamilton even introduced a character that had a tremendous ability to wreak havoc but went nowhere with him. Was it just me, or were there tons of spelling mistakes too?
Oh, and as a lot of people reviewing on Amazon pointed out, all the open threads Hamilton left from the previous books were completely untouched and unexplored. No substance.
Needless to say, it was a very disappointing read (which doesn't mean I won't read the next one). I mean, I suppose it followed well from her latest books - more and more sex as they progress. If that's the case, imagine the next one.
Note: Check out some of the reviews on Amazon. They're great! (Before or after reading the book.) Also, I'm not saying the sex wasn't great. *falls over*(less)
Lately, I've been into the federal law enforcement genre (is there even such a thing?), particularly the Drug Enforcement Administ...more[Reviewed in 2004.:]
Lately, I've been into the federal law enforcement genre (is there even such a thing?), particularly the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). I read Dead on Delivery a while back and I found that the library had this book as well.
I think I loved this book starting on page 1. Just to give you a small taste of it, let me list some of the quotes at the beginning of the chapters:
* "Oh boy, oh boy, am I in fucking trouble." * "Is there someone up there controlling this shit?" * ". . . the only Jewish Nazi in America."
Daniel Goddard chronicles the life of Michael Levine, who, at the point the book was written, had been with the DEA for 23 years. He worked as an undercover agent, doing the dirtiest of deeds. In Levine's own words, "Undercovers are looked on with suspicion. I don't care what agency you work for, your bosses are going to think you're a hotshot. A cowboy. No matter how good you are. No matter how professional you are. To them you're just one step above the scum you're working on."
Levine dealt with that throughout his career, since he was the best of the best. He himself, as well as the group he supervised, managed to make several landmark cases, some of them by the book. Cases that would be looked up in the future as models of how a sting operation should go, for example.
I love the book's format. What the author did was to set it during one of the seminars that Levine gave to other law enforcement officials about undercover work. That way, it kept moving from present to past, in a very easy-to-understand fashion.
And the book is chock full of quotes! The things Levine says, you could frame on your wall. Let me end with the quote lifted from the back cover of the book:
"People who do drugs carry the rottenest disease that ever hit the human race. Worse than cancer. Worse than AIDS. Don't even think about the ruined lives. Don't even try to imagine the human agony involved. Forget that drug users are selling out the country, piece by piece. Just think of the number of deaths. The ODs. The murders. The victims of drug-related accidents and crimes. The suicides. The people who slowly poison their brains and bodies and die before their time. Add up all that and you've got to think of wartime casualty lists to get a handle on the scale of this disease. "And you know what the real tragedy is? The tragedy is you've got the cure in your hands. It's simple. Just stop buying it. Stop buying it and you'll put me out of a job. Please! You can do it."
[This was during a PTA meeting, where he butted heads with 2 parents about the drug issue. I didn't necessarily agree with some of his opinions, but I love how he broke it down for them.:](less)
This is the kind of book you have for a couple years, having bought it at a used book store for a couple bucks, but it sits around, until one day you...moreThis is the kind of book you have for a couple years, having bought it at a used book store for a couple bucks, but it sits around, until one day you spy it on your shelf and decide to toss it in your bag "just in case." Then when you open it to start reading, the next thing you know, it's been an hour and you're already on page 54!
Amazon reviewers have called Jane Goodall not a "great writer" but I feel like the simple style contributes to the flow of the writing - you don't realize how fast you are devouring the words yet it's not difficult to understand, nor is it boring.
The title, Reason for Hope, is so apt. I consider myself a pretty cynical person, but the way Jane Goodall writes, and her stories, everything comes together so well that maybe, just maybe, you think there is a reason to hope.(less)
The entire book takes place within a span of a few days (2-4), but is full of detail. The sights and sounds of India, even the smell and taste of mang...moreThe entire book takes place within a span of a few days (2-4), but is full of detail. The sights and sounds of India, even the smell and taste of mangoes, are abundantly described. It throws you right back to the Homeland.
The story is about a woman who, having grown up in India, has lived in the U.S. for the past 7 seven years (school, then career) and finally goes back for the express purpose of telling her family that she is engaged to and wants to marry an American. O_O
Amulya Malladi does a great job of depicting Priya's (the main character) extended conservative family. The archaic views of the older generation contrast sharply with Priya's views - after all, she was heavily influenced by America's 'evil culture and wily ways.'
Half the time, I was getting so horribly disgusted at the narrow-minded views expressed by the older adults of the family, and I could completely identify with Priya's feelings - of being treated like a 5-year-old even though she was 27 and had been on her own for such a long time.
Not only is the book great, but the (almost) ending packs a punch too. It was delightfully hilarious.
[Sidenote: Also includes a few good South Indian recipes... If you're into that whole cooking thing.](less)
At the zenith, we have the Innovators. These are the first ones to do something new - rock a backwards baseball cap,...moreLet's talk about the cool pyramid.
At the zenith, we have the Innovators. These are the first ones to do something new - rock a backwards baseball cap, get two piercings in one ear, wear boots on the outside of their pants. "When you meet them, most Innovators don't look that cool, not in the sense of fashionable, anyway. There's always something off about them. Like they're uncomfortable with the world."
At the next level reside the Trendsetters. They are the second in line to follow a new trend. They usually watch out for innovations so they can make 'em spread, because they are usually watched by the 'regular people.' "Unlike the Innovators, they are cool, so when they pick up an innovation, it becomes cool. A Trendsetter's most important job is gatekeeper, the filter that separates out real Innovators from those crazy people wearing garbage bags."
Below, we have the Early Adopters, the first people with a new item - "they test and tweak the trend, softening the edges." Vital difference between these and the Trendsetters: "Early Adopters saw their stuff in a magazine first, not on the street."
Further down, the Consumers. "The people who have to see a product on TV, placed in two movies, fifteen magazine ads, and on a giant rack in the mall before saying, 'Hey, that's pretty cool.' At which point it's not."
Rounding out the bottom are the Laggards. "Proud in their mullets and feathered-back hair, they resist all change since they got out of high school."
Where do you rank?
Follow Hunter, a Trendsetter in New York City, as he meets Jen, an Innovator, stereotypical to the description. They get involved in a mystery, trying to find who's behind the plot to unravel the cool pyramid as we know it.
Intriguing story - it will definitely make you look at "cool" in a whole new light.(less)
As with most Stephen King books, the story starts out normally and gets weirder and weirder with each page.
The concept behind it is a powerful one - g...moreAs with most Stephen King books, the story starts out normally and gets weirder and weirder with each page.
The concept behind it is a powerful one - greed, and the lengths to which people will go just to get something that they think they need. The town's destruction starts out slowly, but picks up pace very quickly.
There's a lot of blood and gore involved - some may think it's almost unnecessary, but I think, why not? Stephen King goes to that great length to show the effects of greed.
The ending was not so great in my opinion. Maybe because it didn't jam well with the suspense created up until that point. Still, it wasn't bad.
This is the basic theme behind the story contained in this book. I picked it up because whales are one of my favorite anim...moreWhy do humpback whales sing?
This is the basic theme behind the story contained in this book. I picked it up because whales are one of my favorite animals, and I have always loved listening to their singing. Also, I hadn't read a funny book in a while, and needed a break from the 'serious' stuff.
I have to say it: It's a whale of a tale!
The book starts out fairly normal, but then, takes a turn into the land of the zany. Really. You will have no idea what hit you. And that, truly, is the best part.
It's a pretty fast-paced read, and the humor is great! I especially loved the subtle humor and the innuendo. Always fun.
Author's Note (from the official site):
What do most people know about whales beyond that fact that theyre big and wet? Not much, right? Well, having been a scuba diver for a long time, and lived next to the ocean for some twenty-five years, I thought, I really should learn more about these big wet things that keep swimming by. So I started learning about whales, and more important, the people whose business it is to learn about whales.
Something happens when you spend any amount of time on the ocean with people who have a less than conservative view of how one should make his living: you begin to feel that adventure is its own reward. You begin to measure experience, rather than sustenance, as the goal; and you begin to get a feeling for those adventurers you left behind in your childhood: those salty rapscallions sprung from the imaginations of Jack London and Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson -- even the twisted eccentrics of Joseph Conrad and the ancient undersea beings of H.P. Lovecraft. (And you begin, too, to wish youd brought along some Dramamine.) As a writer, you get it, the same way that you got it when you were a kid, and theres not much you can do but share the adventures.
So I got it, and Im passing it on to you, that "fear recalled in comfort" that is called the adventure story.
Sincerely, Christopher Moore
My Note: Save the whales! Don't allow whaling!(less)
"Professor Abraham Van Helsing was the fictional creation of Bram Stoker for Dracula, his dark work of fantasy. Or was he?"
With the potential for crea...more"Professor Abraham Van Helsing was the fictional creation of Bram Stoker for Dracula, his dark work of fantasy. Or was he?"
With the potential for creating an incredible story, Kupfer's work instead fizzles out into nothing. So much potential!
The history of vampires goes back a long way, stretching into Eastern Europe in the 19th, and perhaps even further back, to the Crusades. Or so Kupfer - I mean, Van Helsing mentions in his journal - more and more history emerges as he researches further into the phenomenon known as vampirism.
This is a very, very simple story, presented in the form of a journal of the late (or is he?) Professor Abraham Van Helsing. He was brought into creation by Bram Stoker, as the famed destroyer of Dracula. This is the back story.
Told in very simple words: this happened, then that happened, and then, oh my god, you will never guess what happened next! It reads more like lower tier [for the kiddies:] YA fiction than adult. Are we to believe that a scholar from the 19th century really talked like this? Sounds a bit fishy to me. Not only that, but where is all the research that he supposedly did? One would think it would be present in a journal created for the sole purpose of informing the world of the scourge that will take over soon enough if the world continues to scoff at the idea. And the side stories.. They left me with a feeling of incompleteness; they remained largely unexplored and void of detail.
I don't recommend you buy this book. It's a waste of money. But for a fun time, and to waste an hour or two, definitely go check it out of your library and wile away the time.(less)
I found this book at my library while searching for books about New York City. It's about a young paramedic in NYC who is a photographer. He takes pic...moreI found this book at my library while searching for books about New York City. It's about a young paramedic in NYC who is a photographer. He takes pictures of people who are hurt, who have diseases - "the ill, the wounded, the dying, and the down-and-out." Usually, when the EMTs are called onto the scene is when he gets his best shots.
The book is written in bursts - short, choppy scenes that are thrown in your face and just as quickly taken away. It was a little hard to get used to at first, and a little slow, which is why I took away a star, but once the story started flowing, it was absolutely gripping.
It's depressing, it's sad, it's full of despair. But there's beauty there, beneath the mundane, beneath the ordinary, and even behind the seemingly ugly.
A new style I'm not used to. I would say it's kinda like Chuck Pahlaniuk, but it's not. Perhaps I'd place it in the same category, but Shannon Burke is another flavor of bitter coffee.
Loved this: "I held the camera to my eye but the view was cut by a swinging string of lights on a bridge cable. One light in the string flickered, faded, surged, and then died completely. Slightly, almost imperceptibly, the other bulbs brightened."(less)
It's an amazing feeling when you read a book that gives you hope. When it makes you happy. Not happy like, *smiles* happy. Happy as in, bursting-from-...moreIt's an amazing feeling when you read a book that gives you hope. When it makes you happy. Not happy like, *smiles* happy. Happy as in, bursting-from-your-heart, sunshiny-big-cheesy-smile, laugh-at-the-world, live-without-a-care sort of happy.
That's exactly what I felt when I finished this. First of all, I'd like to thank Naffi for opening me up to YA (young adult) books. Without her, there would have been this whole unexplored section of gems at my library and I would not have been privy to the "wisdomosity" of such writing.
Even though it was a fairly simple story, the author wove it into a beautiful tapestry of writing. Mundane events were turned into gold. I sat there and felt the joy, the pain, the sorrow - everything the main character was feeling.
The main reason this book gave me hope is because Macy (the main character) realizes that there is so much more to life than the routine, everyday stuff that consumes us. She realizes that you don't need order and a set schedule to live a fulfilling life. She also realizes that she needs to do things in her own way and stop trying to live up to other people's standards or fit the mold that others want her to be in.
She learns to appreciate the things and the people around her, from the most simple to the most complex.
I strive to imbibe those very lessons into my own life.(less)