I loved Frangipani. It took me weeks to finish it because I haven't exactly been in a reading mood. But books I read during such phases usually end upI loved Frangipani. It took me weeks to finish it because I haven't exactly been in a reading mood. But books I read during such phases usually end up getting tossed because they don't hold my attention long enough. But Frangipani was always a delight to come back to. It felt very authentic and Tahitian, with adorable characters, and a very easy-going narrative style.
Frangipani is mostly told from Materena Mahi's perspective. When the book begins, Materena is moaning her partner, Pito's, negligence with money. They already have a little baby boy and Materena just found out that she was pregnant with a second baby. She wants Pito to let her collect his pay but that is out of the question because then he will be made the laughing stock by his friends. He will not see the end of questions like "Who's the man and who's the woman between you and your woman? Who's the noodle? Who wears the pants? Who wears the dress?" if he lets Materena collect his pay. But she does anyway and then doesn't see him at all for a long time, he having decided to leave her.
They reunite weeks later under very humorous circumstances but Materena goes on to take a job as a professional cleaner (very different from just a cleaner, as she reminds us often) to get some extra money. However, her hands are soon going to be tied down once her daughter, Leilani, is born. (She knew it was a girl because she did the needle trick). Much of Frangipani focuses on this mother-daughter relationship and I like to say that the author, Célestine Vaite, got it right. As a child, Leilani worships her mother, but as she steps into her teen years, there is much animosity directed at her mother. Through the years, their relationship evolves, but the sentiments expressed may as well be universal.
There is a lot of Tahitian delight sprinkled through the book. Did you know that Tahiti is not a country but one among many islands part of French Polynesia, and part of France? The people there speak French and Tahitian. Materena says that a woman and a man should not marry until they have been together for a long long time and have had kids together. She also happens to have a very large family, including immediate family and all the many cousins she has. They all live very close to each other so any time she has to go to the Chinese store to buy something, she is sure to meet quite a few of her relatives on the way. As you read the book, you get the feeling that you are meeting almost everyone in Tahiti and they all know each other. It takes only about 2 hours to drive around the island; of course, with traffic that can be more. The "public bus" in Tahiti is called a truck and that's what most of the people there use for transport.
Frangipani is actually book one in a three-book series, all focusing on Materena. I cannot wait to read books two and three now. The narrative style of Frangipani is a little unique - it read more like a chronological series of essays than a continuous narration of a story. It worked well for this book because of its very quirky narration and humorous tone. The author has definitely drawn the picture of her hometown very well - it is hard not to picture the characters or their circumstances in your head. It has scored all the points in my book - storytelling, story, characters, voice, and culture authenticity....more
Holy crap! What took me so long to read a Nesbø book? Oh yeah, I thought the suspense was going to be the everyday run-of-the-mill type which ends upHoly crap! What took me so long to read a Nesbø book? Oh yeah, I thought the suspense was going to be the everyday run-of-the-mill type which ends up either being so far-fetched that the mystery focuses on Alan, Becky, and Charlie, and then ends saying that Zooey, the cleaner in Chapter 1 was the murderer. Or, it would be so obvious from page 1 who the bad guy was. Or, it would be the mix of both - the author would play hard at making it look like Alan was the bad guy, so hard that it would be obvious Alan was not the bad guy.
So although I have been hearing plenty of praise about Jo Nesbø's books, I didn't really TBR any of them until I had to pick an audiobook for a road trip. Into my car stereo, I popped The Snowman and waited until the moment I was going to feel justified. Nada. Never happened. Nesbø had me right from the page one. It was really hard to stop the audio each time I reached my destination.
The Snowman starts off with a suspenseful premise. A boy and his mother stop at a house on their way back to home. The first snow of the season has fallen. The woman tells her son to wait in the car for a few minutes. The few minutes turn into more than an hour as the woman is actually meeting her secret lover. At one point, she and her lover see a snowman glaring into their bedroom. When she finally gets back to the car, clandestine actions over, she finds that her son has been sitting in a freezing car. They drive off, but her son is suddenly very worried. He thinks that they are going to die.
I have read that Nesbø's books usually start with a prologue that he eventually ties in with the plot, towards the ending. So I was curious to see what role this incident had to play. When it finally came, it was just jaw-dropping. How the same scene can be played from multiple perspectives! I'm a big fan of writers who can play that trick well - everyone doesn't see the same thing when they look at a picture. It is amazing to see how different people can project their bias and baggage onto a picture and form opposite conclusions.
In The Snowman, women have been getting murdered or going missing and a snowman seems to always be at the scene. The killer thus gets the moniker of The Snowman. To the reader, there is a hint of a connection between these women, but to Harry Hole, the detective, there is none. The eventual conclusion isn't arrived at easily. There are a lot of things to figure out before getting there, and Nesbø takes his time, planting clues, snatching them away, and turning the picture around. By the end of the second disc, I thought I had the scenario fully figured out, but that scenario morphed a lot before the killer was revealed (who wasn't anyone I guessed but not so much of a non-entity that it was improbable).
The detective, Harry Hole, is clearly brilliant. But he is missing his ex-girlfriend, Rakel, who had just started seeing a doctor, and her son, with whom he shares an excellent relationship. That doesn't stop them from having an affair, though. The murdered victims described in the book have obviously been through a very torturous experience, but what is a crime thriller without some gory scenes. Harry Hole works on the murder cases with another inspector, Katrine Bratt, who seems to be a mystery - her actions and her private life do not seem to go in sync, but it takes a while before any of it comes to light. There are several other minor characters in the book whose presence I enjoyed and a few that gave me the creeps.
This is apparently the seventh book in the Harry Hole series, but I had no trouble reading it nor did I feel as if I missed any references. Knowing that there are 10 books in this series so far thrills me to bits, more so because I don't really like reading thriller novels and when I find one that I enjoyed, it's great to anticipate more such books. I listened to this audiobook and the narrator, Robin Sachs, does a fabulous job of narrating the story. He places all the right pauses, inflections, and stresses that it sounded very genuine to me....more
Finally this series is over. And I say that with a relief. I don't know why I read it if I knew I wasn't going to enjoy it, but it's a series and it'sFinally this series is over. And I say that with a relief. I don't know why I read it if I knew I wasn't going to enjoy it, but it's a series and it's hard abandoning something in the middle. I found both the previous books of this series, Divergent and Insurgent, very immature and insubstantial, but with a good world-building and a somewhat intriguing plot. The world that Tris inhabits has been divided into five factions, each favoring a certain trait in people (fearlessness, honesty, peace-loving, selflessness and knowledge). Of course, too much of one trait does have some other consequences.
In Divergent, one faction leader turns evil and tries to take control of all the factions. In Insurgent, the factionless (i.e., those without factions) take control from the evil faction leader. And finally, in Allegiant, another faction leader tries to get back all that control from whoever last had it. That's the story in a nutshell - Everybody fighting for control. Against that backdrop, they all find out that there is an outside world and other people like them and for some unknown reason, the people of these five factions and the factionless have been boxed into a community.
Of the three, I liked Allegiant best, but only by a small margin. Allegiant finally made sense of the world that author Veronica Roth created without much initial explanation. I didn't like how the first two books seemed to not give any hint of what is the deal with these people and all of a sudden, there is this whole mystery and scandal behind, revealed in the third book. But at least it all made sense to me, even if it was all too convenient. The writing in this one is just as unwieldy and the dialogues very sappy. It surprised me initially when I found that this book alternated between two characters - Tris and her boyfriend Tobias, even though the previous two books were from Tris' perspective alone. The third book is a little too late in the game to start switching narration styles, so I figured there was something more to that kind of decision. Which, when I found out, I didn't appreciate at all.
Anyways, long griping made short, this is a good series for a quick fun read, so long as you don't read too much between the lines. I feel there are more meaty series' out there that are more entertaining and logical. With better dialogues. If you haven't yet started this series, then you probably are not missing much....more