Anyone seen the 1997 animated movie, Anastasia? There's a song from that movie that goes perfectly with this book -
Dancing bears, painted wings Things...moreAnyone seen the 1997 animated movie, Anastasia? There's a song from that movie that goes perfectly with this book -
Dancing bears, painted wings Things I almost remember And a song someone sings Once upon a December
Someone holds me safe and warm Horses prance through a silver storm Figures dancing gracefully Across my memory
Far away, long ago Glowing dim as an ember Things my heart used to know Things it yearns to remember
And a song someone sings Once upon a December...
Ah, what a book! WHAT A BOOK! If you ever want to take a break from reading about fairies and dragons and pirates and magic, and just want to read about ordinary people and the complex, intricate and profoundly extraordinary lives each of us lives, pick up a Hosseini book.(less)
This is one book I'll be re-reading often in the years to come. Acutely poignant and moving (I BAWLED my eyes out at the end), it is absolutely brilli...moreThis is one book I'll be re-reading often in the years to come. Acutely poignant and moving (I BAWLED my eyes out at the end), it is absolutely brilliant. The penultimate chapter is a masterpiece in writing.
ARGH! NO! NO! NO! IF I HAVE TO READ ONE MORE ASININE CHAPTER, WRITTEN FROM A FIVE-YEAR OLD'S POV, ON THE MUNDANE THINGS THEY DO IN THE ROOM ALL DAY, W...moreARGH! NO! NO! NO! IF I HAVE TO READ ONE MORE ASININE CHAPTER, WRITTEN FROM A FIVE-YEAR OLD'S POV, ON THE MUNDANE THINGS THEY DO IN THE ROOM ALL DAY, WITHOUT HAVING THE PLOT PROGRESS EVEN REMOTELY, I'LL... I'LL...
1. DON'T read it just because it's written by JK Rowling. 2. DON'T expect it to be like Harry Potter - i.e, magic...moreHow (not) to read The Casual Vacancy :
1. DON'T read it just because it's written by JK Rowling. 2. DON'T expect it to be like Harry Potter - i.e, magic stuff. (Read the blurb, nimrod) 3. DON'T expect a murder mystery - it isn't one. 4. DON'T read it if you are not comfortable with the fact that the woman who might have moulded your childhood, is writing about drugs, teen sex, prostitution, rape etc. - this book isn't for you. 5. DON'T compare this with her previous works, for the love of God!
When it was announced that Jo Rowling was coming out with a new book, comparisons with the Harry Potter series were inevitable. No matter how many times, and in how many interviews, Jo insisted over and over again that 'THIS IS NOT A HARRY POTTER BOOK NOR IS IT ANYTHING LIKE IT', a small part inside every fan, desperate for another book in the series (understandably), hoped for it anyway.
(And so, when they were invariably proved wrong, there was backlash. Half the negative reviews on Goodreads are because it's 'not a Harry Potter book', which just pisses me off, so let's not go there)
The Casual Vacancy is as steeped in reality as the Harry Potter books are removed from it. There's nothing fantastical about the story - it's simple and plain, told by holding nothing back.
The characterization in this book is simply mind-blowing. Each and every one of the characters is so very real (I know this word's been thrown around a lot, but seriously, there's no other way to describe them) and has such depth! Through the course of the book, they are all ripped apart, dissected with unflinching honesty and laid bare for the readers to see. There are very few likable characters in the book, whom we can root for and hope that things work out for them eventually, but all of them end up earning our sympathies in the end.
People have said that the characters in this book are not relatable at all. I disagree. Which one of us hasn't felt like a victim of the circumstances - hopeless, unloved, desperate, bullied, frustrated, at the end of our tether - at some point in our lives? We are all in the pages of this book. It's just that our stories are different. I think Jo has expertly managed to capture and show the best and the worst of human behaviour in the book; the worst being the inability to see beyond ourselves and our petty problems, while the best being our capability to change ourselves.
Having said that, the biggest strength of the book is also, unfortunately, its biggest weakness. The setting up of the characters and their lives just takes too long. The plot, if you can call it that, begins to move ahead only after about 300 pages or so. Which was probably the reason why it took me this long to finish the book - I was plodding along until I was so caught up that I couldn't put the book down.
The final few pages of the book were brilliant and typically Jo - sad, yet beautiful and touching at the same time. I don't understand why people say the ending was abrupt. For me, there was absolute and complete closure which left me smiling and feeling content long after I finished reading (Always a sign of a good book!).
I would like to reiterate that 'The Casual Vacancy' will not be for everybody. Some of you will probably give up after the first hundred pages, others will crawl along because it's Jo, and in the hope that she might pull a rabbit out of her hat at the end and surprise you with something "magic-ky" (she doesn't). Quite a few of you will hate it, but that's probably because this not your genre and you only picked up this book because of Jo, so, in that case, it's not her, it's you.
With this book, Jo has proved beyond a doubt that she can WRITE no matter what the genre is, that she still has that magical ability to tap into some part of us, connect with us and make us care, despite ourselves. However, unlike the Harry Potter books, this book will probably not be changing any lives any time soon (it certainly didn't change mine), but I'm glad to have read it, nonetheless.(less)
Ah! Such a perfect, perfect feel-good book! I'm not a big believer of love at first sight but Hadley and Oliver almost convinced me!
The Statistical P...moreAh! Such a perfect, perfect feel-good book! I'm not a big believer of love at first sight but Hadley and Oliver almost convinced me!
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is a cute, little YA love story of two teens, Hadley and Oliver who meet at an airport due to Hadley missing her flight by just four minutes. Those four minutes change her life.
I went in this book with very little expectations, ready to file it away as yet another cheesy, predictable, written-for-the-money-using-very-few-brain-cells chick lit. I'm quite pleased to say that Jennifer Smith proved me astoundingly wrong.
The writing is fantastic. Smith manages to capture even the tiniest of emotions in words that seem to flow beautifully into one another. Even better are the two main characters - real, flawed and, like every other person on the planet, just trying to find their places in life.
I adored the storyline of Hadley and her father. If I could bawl in the office without giving away the fact that I'm reading instead of working, I would. It was touching and handled in a mature manner and that made me one very happy camper!
The premise of this book hits a little too close to home for me to be able to review it so, instead I'm going to leave you with some gifs which accura...moreThe premise of this book hits a little too close to home for me to be able to review it so, instead I'm going to leave you with some gifs which accurately sum up my feelings about the book -
ALTHOUGH, there were three things in the book that irked me, which prompted the rating of four stars instead of five -
1. Augustus calling Hazel by the mouthful "Hazel Grace" all the time. It got annoying. 2. The way John Green couldn't make up his mind if he wanted to refer to his main character as "Augustus" or "Gus", and decided to compromise and alternate between them. 3. The abrupt ending. Yes, yes, I know it was supposed to mirror the Imperial Affliction etc etc, but yeah, I was dissatisfied.
I'm finding it difficult to review this book - I'm unable to find the right words. So, you'll forgive me if I borrow Maninee's because a better descri...moreI'm finding it difficult to review this book - I'm unable to find the right words. So, you'll forgive me if I borrow Maninee's because a better description for this book, I cannot find -
[The author's]writing is beautiful, melodious. The words sort of wash over you. They give you a feeling like you’re floating on water, arms spread out as the tide carries you away, and you’re staring up at the picture the words paint for you.
I cried. I'll admit it. Anyone and everyone who has ever been in and out, or has been lucky enough to never fall out, of love will find something they can relate to in this book. Written in the form of dictionary entries, with only a handful of words, Leviathan skillfully manages to capture the highs and lows of being in love. The writing is raw and emotional and gets you from the word go.
The quotes (oh, the quotes!) are something that'll stay with you a long time after you've turned the last page -
People often say that when couples are married for a long time, they start to look alike. I don’t believe that. But I do believe their sentences start to look alike.
There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.
You leaned your head into mine, and I leaned my head into yours. Dancing cheek to cheek. Revolving slowly, eyes closed, heartbeat measure, nature’s hum. It lasted the length of an old song, and then we stopped, kissed, and my heart stayed there, just like that.
The natural state. Our moods change. Our lives change. Our feelings for each other change. Our bearings change. The song changes. The air changes. The temperature of the shower changes. Accept this. We must accept this.
That first night, you took your finger and pointed to the top of my head, then traced a line between my eyes, down my nose, over my lips, my chin, my neck, to the center of my chest. It was so surprising, I knew I would never mimic it. That one gesture would be yours forever.
When I say, "Be my lover", I don’t mean, "Let’s have an affair". I don’t mean, "Sleep with me". I don’t mean, "Be my secret". I want you to be the one who loves me. I want to be the one who loves you.
Sometimes it becomes a contest: Which is more stubborn, the love or the two arguing people caught within it?
That’s the dilemma, isn’t it? When you’re single, there’s the sadness and joy of only me. And when you’re paired, there’s the sadness and joy of only you.
HIGHLY recommended. You won't be able to help but fall in love with love all over again. My only gripe with this book is that it was too short!(less)
Most people have a "type" they fall for in the opposite sex. 18-year old prodigy Colin Singleton has one too - he only falls for girls who are named "...moreMost people have a "type" they fall for in the opposite sex. 18-year old prodigy Colin Singleton has one too - he only falls for girls who are named "Katherine" (that exact spelling) and, for various reasons, he also gets dumped by them. After getting dumped by a Katherine for the 19th time, his best friend Hassan decides to take Colin on a road trip - one that might change his life.
This is a sweet, often hilariously funny, coming-of-age story revolving around -
a) Colin - An anagramming whiz, who is tired of being dumped by Katherines, tired of being bullied for his abilities and tired of being just a prodigy and not a genius. All Colin wants is to matter in life. He wants to have that ONE "Eureka" moment, where his discovery will leave a mark in history and also in a Katherine's life - Katherine #19 in particular. And so, he embarks on a mission to come up with a mathematical theorem, one that will successfully predict the outcome of a relationship between two people.
b) Hassan - a food-loving, overweight, devout Muslim of Lebanese origin, who doesn't do things he's not supposed to do (girls, alcohol, drugs) but also doesn't do anything he's supposed to do either (like, go to college), and turns to humor to compensate for it.
c) Lindsey - a girl they run into during their road trip. A chameleon who assumes a different personality when among different people (she is still trying to figure out who she is and where she belongs), she might just break Colin's "Katherine" streak.
An engaging read for anyone going through an identity crisis - may not solve your problem but will, at the very least, prod you down the right path.(less)
Every now and then a book comes along which is sweet and funny and heart-warming, and you're zipping through the pages smiling to yourself, laughing a...moreEvery now and then a book comes along which is sweet and funny and heart-warming, and you're zipping through the pages smiling to yourself, laughing at the protagonist's antics (where she either has a snake draped around her neck because she's pretending to be an animal wrangler or is forced to play a pretty nun in a popular teen TV show as she is confused for an extra) and going "awww" at the cute romance blossming between the protagonist and the hot male lead in the above mentioned TV show, feeling all warm and gooey and at peace with the world because you can practically smell the happy ending a few pages away, when along comes a (figurative) fist and PUNCHES YOU IN THE GUT.
But you STILL love the book despite the tears and the snot because it is THAT GOOD.
This was a fun, refreshingly charming, quick read. That is, until it reached in, ripped my heart out and crushed it into smush. I adored the book, I a...moreThis was a fun, refreshingly charming, quick read. That is, until it reached in, ripped my heart out and crushed it into smush. I adored the book, I adored the characters and their flaws, I adored the relationship between Oliver and Jenny.
Highly recommended, please go read it if you haven't already. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go cry into a pillow.(less)
“Once upon a time they was two little girls,” I say. “One girl had black skin, one girl had white.” Mae Mobley look up at me. She listening. “Little co...more“Once upon a time they was two little girls,” I say. “One girl had black skin, one girl had white.” Mae Mobley look up at me. She listening. “Little colored girl say to the little white girl, ‘How come your skin be so pale?’ White girl say, ‘I don’t know. How come your skin be so black? What you think that mean?’ “But neither one a them little girls knew. So little white girl say, ‘Well, let’s see. You got hair, I got hair.’ ” I gives Mae Mobley a little tousle on her head. “Little colored girl say ‘I got a nose, you got a nose.’ ” I gives her little snout a tweak. She got to reach up and do the same to me. “Little white girl say, ‘I got toes, you got toes.’ And I do the little thing with her toes, but she can’t get to mine cause I got my white work shoes on. “‘So we’s the same. Just a different color,’ say that little colored girl. The little white girl she agreed and they was friends. The End.”
That scene about sums up the gist of the book. The story depicts the time of the civil rights movement in the 1960s and what it meant to be a black maid during that turbulent time.
Tired of the whites treating the blacks as something more repulsive than the dirt on their shoes (the black help are forced to use separate toilets, are not allowed to eat at the same dinner table as the whites, are not allowed to even touch the whites or look them in the eye), three women - two black maids and one white woman get together to write a book on the stories of the help, about how they've been treated by all the people they've ever worked with so far, in the hope that it might bring about a revolution and change life as they know it, for the better.
In a way, the book reminded me of the time a couple of decades ago, when some of the orthodox older generations in India (South, esp.) wouldn't let the maids into their kitchens and touch their food or dishes, and how they used to take a shower if one of those people, the "Shudras", touched them by accident or otherwise. I, personally, know of some extremely orthodox people who still maintain those "beliefs" to this day.
Coming back, funny and gut-wrenching at parts, the book is very well written with each of the narrators having a distinct voice. All of the characters are nicely fleshed out, although a few do seem superfluous (Stuart, for example - he added nothing to the story)
The violence and abuse the black society had to face during the sixties is just awful to read about. Reading the book, you feel like you were punched in the stomach at a few parts - Celia's story arc was utterly sad for me(view spoiler)[ as was the ending where Aibileen was saying goodbye to Mae Mobley, while Elizabeth just stood there knowing what she was doing wasn't right but doing it anyway because she was weak enough to not be able to say no to Hilly, AGAIN (hide spoiler)]. Not all is bad though, there are some stories where the whites have been extremely good to the blacks and treated them as equals, which are heart-warming to read about. The ending didn't have a good enough resolution for me, Hilly didn't get the comeuppance she deserved and I was NOT HAPPY about that!
You'll like Skeeter, feel comforted by Aibileen, laugh with Minny (and at the Terrible Awful Thing that she did), feel sorry for Mae Mobley and Celia, and hate, hate, HATE "Two-slice" Hilly! I want to watch the movie based on this book, now, but I'm worried that they might have ruined the story, like THEY'VE BEEN KNOWN TO (coughAlmostAllTheHarryPotterMoviescough)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I ADORED this book, ADORED it! It's a typical teen romance story (girl likes boy but boy doesn't like girl, boy does something stupid, girl hates boy...moreI ADORED this book, ADORED it! It's a typical teen romance story (girl likes boy but boy doesn't like girl, boy does something stupid, girl hates boy but boy now likes girl) but told in such a sweet and charming way, that it's like a breath of fresh air!
The most interesting thing about this book is that the author allows us to see both sides of the story. Each pair of consecutive chapters tells us about the same sequence of events told alternatively by the protagonists, Bryce and Julianna. It drives home the fact that there really are two sides to every story. It's extremely refreshing.
They were seven years old when they first met and Juli knew it was love at first sight for her, while Bryce did everything he could to get rid of her and make her stop smelling his hair. Now, at thirteen, Juli's affections are as strong as ever and Bryce is at his wit's end as he DOES NOT like her that way. But then, an old sycamore tree might change that forever.
The book starts off funny and turns serious around the middle, but the change is so subtle, you barely notice it. The writing is really good - tight, funny and easy-flowing, the author never overwhelms you with too much detail. It is easy to differentiate between the two narrators, although, I could have done without the oft-occurring "my friend".
The characters are all amazing, each with their own personalities and depth which makes them seem all the more real. The ending was nicely done too. I don't think I would have liked the book as much if she had ended it any other way.
It's an easy read with never a dull moment - I polished it off in two hours! If you are looking for a funny, feel-good, innocent love story, then you might want to try this. I still had a goofy grin on my face when I went to bed after reading this!(less)
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. I want to like it more than I do, but I can't bring myself to give it more than three stars.
It took a while f...moreI'm not sure how I feel about this book. I want to like it more than I do, but I can't bring myself to give it more than three stars.
It took a while for me to get into it. I didn't like Savannah in the beginning at all - she was just not believable enough for me, too perfect and we all know there is no such thing as perfect (She redeemed herself in the end, though). I liked the plot twist of John's dad having Aspergers syndrome. That was about the only thing not clichéd about the story. Everything else was, in my opinion, very predictable.
I had a vague sense of déjà vu throughout the book, I kept thinking - isn't this practically every chick-lit ever written? Only, the POV is the guy's this time - Troubled boy meets Perfect girl, both fall in love, fate intervenes, both seperate, both meet again after a while, both realise they are still in love, but alas, alas! - girl is now married. (view spoiler)[Boy sacrifices his happiness and walks away, and the girl lives happily ever after (hide spoiler)]... See what I mean?
My one problem with this book is that, while Sparks took EVER SO LONG to build up a connection between John and Savannah (even though they realised they loved each other after only two days, the entire thing spanned over a hundred pages), he rushed through the rest of the book. The long-distance relationship was barely explored as was John's relationship with his dad.
The last few pages were very gut-wrenching. Especially Alan's breakdown. I realy admired Savannah at that moment. I also liked that she tried to kiss John again, she finally seemed human. (view spoiler)[I wish that, after devoting about 300 pages to them, John and Savannah had ended up together. (hide spoiler)] The ending left me feeling a bit cheated.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)