Sometimes you read a book and it does nothing for you. Perhaps it leaves you feeling cheated because it doesn’t feel original. But then you give the b...moreSometimes you read a book and it does nothing for you. Perhaps it leaves you feeling cheated because it doesn’t feel original. But then you give the book a second read a couple of years later and you realise that you weren’t fair in your judgement the first time around. That’s how I felt reading The Lightning Thief.
Percy Jackson is a dyslexic kid who can’t stick around in any one school long enough as he has a knack for getting into trouble. But when his latest expulsion from Yancy Academy leaves him sad and recovering from the bout of gloominess with his mother on a beach, Rick discovers something unique about himself. The reason why he has trouble reading English, the reason why he is labelled as suffering from ADHD… is because he is a Greek demi-god.
Stuck with a weird revelation about himself, Percy discovers that there are several other demi-gods like him, all children of gods. And Percy is the son of one the Big Three, Poseidon.
With this newfound information Percy is welcomed at Camp Half-Blood but soon discovers that he has to walk out of it, to complete a quest, with his two friends Grover and Annabeth by his side. Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen and he blames Poseidon and Hades for it. Percy plans on claiming the bolt from Hades, all the time nurturing a different purpose of visiting Hades altogether. But he must face greater dangers, for what Percy doesn’t know is that he is only a pawn in the game of gods.
I’m glad I gave this book a second read. Keeping aside the obvious copy-&-paste from other better works of fantasy, the element of Greek mythology gives the series something new. And if read from the p.o.v of twelve-year olds, I have no doubt this book would stand high in their list of recommendations.
Recommended to fans of series, adventures and those looking for a twist in the tale in Greek mythology.(less)
In a world torn apart by war, where husbands, sons and fathers march off to the front-line in the service of the nation, sometimes to return wounded and...moreIn a world torn apart by war, where husbands, sons and fathers march off to the front-line in the service of the nation, sometimes to return wounded and sometimes never to return at all, what is a woman to do? That is the central question that David Gillham addresses in his book, City of Women.
Sigrid is just a regular hausfrau, a housewife, whose husband has been called to the front to fight a war that the German broadcasts claim, is almost won. Cooped up in an apartment, with a mother-in-law who constantly bickers and blames Sigrid for just about everything, the only solace Sigrid finds are in the hours spent as a typist at work or when she spends her time at the theatre, not really paying attention to the film being screened but instead having an extra-marital affair, and all the excitement in entails, in the back row of the theatre.
It is on one such day when Sigrid is by herself in the theatre, that a young girl suddenly seats herself beside Sigrid and begs her to say that the she has been with Sigrid in the theatre since the beginning of the show. And when men from the Gestapo walk into the hall, checking identification papers, Sigrid must make a choice… What is she to do?
It is this answer that plummets her into an alternate life that she’ll begin to live, by maintaining the façade of a good hausfrau but really rebelling against all that is ugly in the world. She will learn that none of the relationships are really the way they seem to be; for betrayals are found in the company of the best of friends and lovers while friendship and rescue comes from the most unexpected places. She is after all in a city of women, a place left with little to look forward if you aren’t fighting back.
There were a number of moments that I liked in the book. While it wasn’t wholly unpredictable, given its setting, the narrative is strong and makes the book a fast read. At times I didn’t like Sigrid or Erica, the young girl Sigrid takes to mothering, but given that I like the premise of the story and to see Holocaust from the POV of a German, it made for a 4 star read.
Recommended to those looking for some World War II or Holocaust fiction.(less)
Azoth is a guild rat, something akin to a homeless, street urchin. His life is marked by hopelessness and thievery. Like most of the others in the gui...moreAzoth is a guild rat, something akin to a homeless, street urchin. His life is marked by hopelessness and thievery. Like most of the others in the guild, Azoth lives under the foot of the Rat, guild leader, more of a bully than anything else.
But Azoth has dreams of a life different from the one he lives with his friends, Jarl and Doll-Girl. He wants to lead a life without fear, a life in which he isn’t beaten into submission by the Rat, a life in which he has more than a stale piece of bread to share with the mute Doll-Girl.
It is this dream of a life that makes him yearn to be an apprentice of Durzo Blint. But Blint is no ordinary man. He isn’t an ordinary assassin either. He is a wetboy, an assassin of the highest order. Being his apprentice would certainly mean a future for Azoth, a future he wouldn’t have a shot at being a part of the guild. But it would also means giving up whatever little he has, becoming a hardened criminal, burying his emotions and sentiments forever, but most of all changing his identity and becoming an entirely new person.
As Azoth struggles to become someone else entirely there are many truths, many a magical elements for him to discover but most of all he has to choose between forging a future for himself and forgoing his past.
An interesting start to a series that I’m sure holds more intrigue in the succeeding books. While not entirely full of unexpected twists, it is quite a nice read. The author could have made use of better vocabulary, read wetboy to mean a dangerous assassin, well… that doesn’t quite convey the tone the character is supposed to convey. On the contrary, every time you read the word it makes you giggle just a bit. Well, as a girl, I’m allowed to have that reaction.
Still, despite a couple of hiccups, a recommended read for all those fantasy and series lovers.(less)
Mary is a dedicated child, obedient towards her parents but with secrets of her own. Her family doesn’t know that she secretly learns to read or that...moreMary is a dedicated child, obedient towards her parents but with secrets of her own. Her family doesn’t know that she secretly learns to read or that she possesses a pagan idol. It is with the passing of years, that the harmless seeming idol takes its toll on Mary, finally imparting its evil on to her. Beset with such devils, Mary seeks aid, first from her husband then from the priests, but all seems to be in vain. Even her penance in the wilderness on her own, doesn’t seem to be adequate in driving out the demons that torment her. She then comes across a man, one who rids her of her troubles, and one who Mary would follow till the end of her days. In life, this man, Jesus, becomes a symbol of hope, of trust, of education and in his death he becomes a symbol of faith. Mary abandons her family and joins the group of disciples who wander around the country with Jesus, preaching and healing.
Jesus has many followers and even more enemies. As his popularity increases so does the threat to his life. When he can no longer be ignored, he is captured with the help of Judas. Judas’ betrayal weighs down heavily on all, but more so on Mary who revered her rescuer and would have been lost without him. Jesus is put to death on the cross with Mary and Jesus’ mother a witness to the ugly end. Lost in prayer of her own, Mary becomes the first person to see Jesus after his resurrection. She thus becomes the Apostle of the Apostles.
Margaret George has easily made it to the list of my favorite authors. She writes with such flair, that even obscure characters of history seem to come alive before the eyes of the reader. In this book, Margaret George takes her readers on a journey to Israel into ancient times where the people are simple, their lifestyles dull compared to our times. But the story of Mary was riveting enough for me to not feel the weight of this 600+ page book. An author whose works I’m going to be awaiting eagerly. (less)
This is one of those rare cases where the movie is actually better than the book. I watched The Children of Men on television a couple of months ago a...moreThis is one of those rare cases where the movie is actually better than the book. I watched The Children of Men on television a couple of months ago and since then I’ve been wanting to get hold of the book. It begins in much the same apocalyptic fashion as I was expecting it to. A fifty year old man begins penning down in his diary, not so much a chronicle of his life, but the inadequacies he has faced through the years. Theodore Faron is a college professor but he is also the cousin of the Warden of England, Xan, a benign tyrant of sorts.
This apocalyptic world, set in the future is aging and dying. No children have been born in the past twenty-five years. Women deprived of their chance at cuddling little babies have taken to taking dolls out for a stroll in a pram. There may not be any hope for this infertile race, but the Warden keeps up regular testing of males and females in case one of them turns up a viable seed.
Theodore, a man who was once an advisor to Xan, is approached by a group of dissenters, rebels who wish to seize power and make conditions in England better than they presently are. On their behalf Theo makes an appeal to Xan which falls on deaf years. Resigned to live out his years in a sense of gloom and grey, he spends a couple of months out of the country.
He returns back home and is approached by the group of rebels once again. This time the appeal for help that they make is no small matter. It is the most significant, most shattering discovery that has not been heard of for a quarter of a century and a discovery that would have Xan himself down on his knees.
What was perhaps the most disappointing part of the book is that the real story took a long time in coming. I shouldn’t have had to read half the book to feel the thrill and the action that finally takes over. This is why I preferred the movie. The absurd discovery is bared to the audience a lot sooner. Also, a lot of things seemed hanging. Like too many coincidences. Like lack of explanations.
Towards the end, neither of the feelings that the author tried so hard to create, stayed. There was no sense of relief from the unending misery nor a feeling of hope or revival of new beginnings, which I remember were two things I felt at the end of the movie. Sadly, the book failed to convey that intensity of emotion.
Had great potential to be a better book. Definitely mellow when compared to the movie.(less)
Harry is about to begin his third year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But before he starts school, he is faced with the prospect o...moreHarry is about to begin his third year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But before he starts school, he is faced with the prospect of expulsion as he inflates Aunt Marge in a fit of rage. Certain that he is now an outcast from the wizarding community and having no intention of remaining stuck with the Dursleys, he decides to make a run for it. As he waits by the road planning his next move he glimpses a large, shaggy dog staring at him. This dog, the Grim, is an evil omen in the wizarding world that seems to haunt him everywhere; in his tea leaves reading during Professor Trelawney’s Divination lesson, during the Quidditch match and even in the hints people around him seem to be dropping. But if Harry thought this was bad, worse was just lurking around the corner. A convicted supporter of Lord Voldemort, Sirius Black, has escaped from Azkaban, the wizard prison. He is on the run and is suspected to be chasing Harry, to seek revenge for Lord Voldemort’s downfall. When people tell Harry he is not to go after Black, Harry doesn’t understand. After all, why would he go after someone who wants to kill him? But when Harry discovers the truth about Black all he can think about is how to capture Black and kill him. The third installment of the Harry Potter series is finally taking its readers into Harry’s and his parent’s past. This book is the beginning of Lord Voldemort’s rise back to power. This one was a fast read and is also a favorite among many of my friends. Definitely recommended!(less)
Book 2 of the Century Trilogy, Winter of the World, is set during World War II. It continues with the fate of the same five families that Fall of the...moreBook 2 of the Century Trilogy, Winter of the World, is set during World War II. It continues with the fate of the same five families that Fall of the Giants centered around. I enjoyed this book a lot more than its prequel, partly because I was a little more familiar with the characters and their past as well as the details of the actual event.
However, at times I felt let down. For instance, Maud, a brilliantly fierce and strong character in the previous book come across as mellow in this one. It took me some time to get over the fact that this book was not her story, rather the story of the next generation, of her children. It was some relief to see that her daughter Carla, was very much her image, not in her ways of seduction but in her ability to make things happen.
Similarly, the Williams, Fitzherberts, Dewars and Peshkovs, all these families come together as the children grow up, most of them to follow in their parents’ footsteps.
Ken Follett has gotten bolder in his writing with this book and he doesn’t hesitate in killing of some of our favorite characters. Wars are, after all, an ugly affair. He builds onto details with much suspense, like the attack on Peal Harbor or the making of the nuclear bomb. You already know how the end turns out and yet you want to keep on reading and devouring the book because so many stories intertwine together to make an event reach its conclusion.
Quite enjoyed this book. Can’t wait to see what the third installment will turn up with.(less)
What is left behind for those who survive a horrific disaster? Already they are victims of a terrible tragedy, irrespective of whether they were insid...moreWhat is left behind for those who survive a horrific disaster? Already they are victims of a terrible tragedy, irrespective of whether they were inside or outside the tower. Can they return to normalcy? Or will they have to resign themselves to the empty world that is left in the aftermath of the Falling Man?
I made it through this book but barely. The story set on September 11, the day of WTC attacks, and the days and years after, outlines the effects that the single day had on the lives of people who live with the burden of having survived that day.
A very promising premise but the story falls through like a dead weight. The characters are flat, the storyline fractured; in a span of two pages the author skips from one scene to another and then yet another one. At times I had to struggle to understand which characters the pronouns were referring to.
Keith is the survivor that day, having walked through the rubble and emerging from smoke and ash with a briefcase in his hand. Then follows a short fling with the woman to whom the briefcase belonged. Then there is Lianne, Keith's wife, who struggles to come to terms with the feelings that the day has instilled in her heart. Finally there is Justin, the couple's son, who scans the skies for more planes that may be coming in.
But none of these characters have any traits worth remembering. Their stories are disjointed. Perhaps that was the intention of the author; to convey chaos, confusion, dejection and despair, but such narrative never finds much favor with me and I couldn't wait to put down this book so that I could read something else, anything else.
I have read White Noise by Don DeLillo before, and I remember enjoying the post-modern take on things. But this book was a disappointment. A major disappointment.
Would I recommend it to anyone? No. There are definitely other books vying for your attention. Choose one of them instead.(less)
Fall of Giants is one epic novel. Set mostly in Wales and Russia with some action taking place in America, France and Germany, Ken Follett's 900 pager...moreFall of Giants is one epic novel. Set mostly in Wales and Russia with some action taking place in America, France and Germany, Ken Follett's 900 pager is set during Wold War I. Five families come together throughout the war years, sometime as friends and sometimes as enemies.
The story begins with Billy William's induction to the mine pit. The Williams family are Welsh miners. The daughter of the family, Ethel is a housemaid at the Fitzherbert's, an aristocratic family. Ethel gets involved in a romance with the Earl which is soon to lead to a scandal. The Earl's sister, Maud, is a rebel, a supporter of women suffrage. Her destiny is entwined with that of her German friend, Walter. Gus Dewar, an American, is a friend of both Walter's and Fitzherbert's. His life is connected with those of two Russian brothers, Grigory and Lev Peshkov.
In this novel of immense proportions, there is often a conflict, conflict of interests, conflict of choices and conflict of friends having to fight each other behind enemy lines. There were parts that made me want to keep reliving some scenes. Maud and Walter share a beautiful love story, one which they must keep secret from all and have to contend with separation for they belong to two different warring nations. But their love for each other stands the test of time which makes their story a remarkable one.
The one character I detested above the rest was Earl Fitzherbert. His passion turned hollow, his war experience made him a bitter man and he identified with the war faction. His treatment of Ethel only made me want to see him hurt and torn apart in the end.
Ken Follett chose a daunting talks when he decided to pen down this book. The story of the war, the politics behind it, it's ramifications and most of all the individual experiences, none of it could have been written in a shorter book. So the author has very intelligently carved out the stories by revolving them around the five families.
My problem however was that it was too lengthy for my liking. There were parts the book could have done without. I couldn't understand at times what purpose was a prolonged description serving. There were paragraphs I skimmed through and the last 100 pages my patience was all but gone. I simply flipped through to get to the end just so that I could move on to another book. That for me doesn't mean a happy ending. Thus the average rating.
Still, for fans of historical fiction, who aren't shy of big books and who can digest large chunks of the book in a single session, this novel wouldn't disappoint. In fact you might end up enjoying it very much. (less)
Long before forensics and modern crime detection tools, there used to be a detective who needed only a single glance to determine your age, profession...moreLong before forensics and modern crime detection tools, there used to be a detective who needed only a single glance to determine your age, profession, your history and your present ailment. He wasn’t a cop nor a bounty hunter. He simply possessed amazing analytical skills. At times eccentric, always on the track of a criminal, sometimes even a step ahead, this man is what all detectives must yearn to become. He was Sherlock Homes.
This is the book through which Holmes and Watson were first introduced to the world. A body found in mysterious circumstances in an abandoned house has the Scotland Yard hunting though the streets for the person responsible for the murder. But Sherlock needs only an examination of the crime scene, a ring found beside the dead man and the German word “Rache” written on the wall, to deduce who the culprit is and why the crime was committed.
The second part of the book is a flashback set in Utah, in the world of Mormons, their polygamous affairs and is a background of the crime and its perpetrator.
I used to read a lot of Sherlock Holmes as a kid. This was however the first time that I read A Study in Scarlet. To be honest I found it lacking. It wasn’t an exceptional story. Nor was the crime all that difficult to unravel. Perhaps because it was the first Sherlock Holmes story, it didn’t have that kind of attraction to it. Or perhaps I’m already so familiar with Holmes and his accomplishments, trickled as they have through the years in the last 120+ years, that I was expecting a lot more from the book.
Overall, it isn’t exactly a book you would read again. But being the first in the series, the very introduction of a character much-loved throughout his existence, one might want to give it a shot.(less)
The man she shot to death is back stalking her. Catherine Cordell, a surgeon in Boston lives her days on her feet as she attends to one trauma patient...moreThe man she shot to death is back stalking her. Catherine Cordell, a surgeon in Boston lives her days on her feet as she attends to one trauma patient after another. In the face of wounds and bodily damage, she plays like a star performer, fixing people, bringing them back from the edge of death.
But behind this calm and composed woman is a haunting past. A past in which a serial killer, known to torture, mutilate and kill women, had terrorized Catherine, before being shot to death by her. Now, two years later, he seems to have come back from the dead. He is killing other women in exactly the same way but his main prize appears to be Cordell.
Detectives Jane Rizzoli and Thomas Moore of the Boston Police Department are on the hunt for this killer who has wrecked havoc in their city. But with Moore getting involved with Catherine and Rizzoli acting as the stung victim of jealousy, can the two remain objective?
An interesting, quick mystery read. While the climax isn’t exactly didn’t-see-it-coming or unexpected, it still makes for a good suspense title. Recommended to fans of the genre.(less)
Philippa Gregory is one of my favorite historical fiction authors for the simple reason that she was the one who first introduced me to the Tudors wit...morePhilippa Gregory is one of my favorite historical fiction authors for the simple reason that she was the one who first introduced me to the Tudors with her popular bestseller, The Other Boleyn Girl. Over the years I’ve read enough books about the Tudors, watched movies and TV series, to make this dynasty one of the most fascinating topics to me. But before the Tudors came a period in English history that was just as interesting in its politics and dynamics. The War of the Roses or the Cousins’ War was the fight to rule the throne between the House of Lancaster and the House of York.
The White Queen is the beginning of a promising new series from Gregory. As the two Houses fight to claim their right, there is much political intrigue and mystery, especially the one surrounding the fate of the Princes of York who were imprisoned in the Tower and then never heard from again. Elizabeth Woodville, a widow who is every bit ambitious as the ladies of the time, ascends the throne as King Edward’s wife. But her time as Queen and her struggle to keep the throne in the name of rightful heir, her son, will see her negotiating dangerous terms with her enemies. But just who is one her side and who is seeking to work for their own profit is a dilemma she is often conflicted with.
“He promised her that he would give her everything, everything she wanted, as men in love always do. And she trusted him despite herself, as women in love always do.” “Edward lives as if there is no tomorrow, Richard as if he wants no tomorrow, and George as though someone should give it to him for free.” Every bit as fascinating as the Tudor series, I’m glad to read another historical fiction written by Philippa Gregory. Recommended to fans of Tudors who would like to go beyond and into the past of what was before the Tudors came along.(less)