SURPRISE FROM HTBRUNCH: UNNATURAL CREATURES BY NEIL GAIMAN

SURPRISE FROM HTBRUNCH: UNNATURAL CREATURES BY NEIL GAIMAN

Unnatural Creatures by Neil Gaiman

Thanks to HTBrunch for motivating me to read more, by gifting this book. It’s great to be a part of#BrunchBookChallange (which I posted about, two posts back).

A COOL HEAD BY IAN RANKIN: A BOOK REVIEW

Ian Rankin’s A COOL HEAD is a one hour read. Very light read, just 107 pages, written for the BBC’s Quick Read series which “are designed to be read and enjoyed by avid readers and by people who never had or who have lost the reading habit”. The story starts with Gravy, a thirty-something suffering from OCD (Obsessive–compulsive disorder, that’s my guess), working at the graveyard when a flashy BMW drives up to him. From out of the car steps out a friend of Gravy’s, who’s got a bag in one hand and a hole in his chest. Unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation, Gravy thinks this is just another visit from his friend. However, when his friend’s fate is finally met, Gravy feels the need to tell someone. Not to mention deliver the money he’s found in the car.

Meanwhile, gangster Gorgeous George is having a little dilemma of his own. Someone has taken his money. His right hand man has a little problem of his own. A deal that should have been flawless has gone wrong with one man killed and another taking his flashy BMW. The story-line also unfolds a woman who’s in trouble for telling the truth. Two detectives struggle to unfold many mysteries. In just 107 pages, Rankin, has produced a story-line with a bit of wittiness and a bit of black humor. He has shown how in 107 pages, so many lives can affect due to one incidence which is the most humorous tragedy of life.

Again, Rankin, is the master of characterization. He does not put much effort in creating them, I guess, but the characters which he creates are unforgettable. These creations of his are so realistic that a reader can not only visualize but also can feel the essence of each every character.

3 out of 5 from me, for good characterization, and for keeping it short. Recommended to anyone who wants to ‘read’.

The BRUNCH BOOK CHALLENGE

#BrunchBookChallenge just tweet to @HTBrunch
#BrunchBookChallenge

I feel lucky that I have become an avid part of  #BrunchBookChallenge which is a Hindustan Times Brunch Magazine’s initiative to promote reading. The idea is to read at least 24 books in 2014. To participate one must tweet about his/her progress by tagging @HTBrunch and using the hashtag #BrunchBookChallenge.

There are surely some rules to follow:

1. Unless you are a child, you cannot include children’s books.  

2. No textbooks. Just so we’re clear, a textbook is any ‘manual of instruction for any subject of study’, you can’t include it. In short, your engineering/GMAT/IAS books don’t count.  

3. Graphic novels are allowed, encouraged in fact. If you’re reading comic books, then one volume (or a set of 10 comic books) may be counted as one.

They also recommend books as they did  to me once, The Love Affairs of Nathaneil P. by Adelle Waldman, which I am thankful to them. You can read whatever you want. More than 400 people are already participating. And if you get lucky, they’ll surprise you with goodies and stuff.

I am an active participant since the day one, and thus this is my progress so far:

1. Women by Charles Bukowski

2. Soccernomics by Stefan Szymanski and Simon Kuper

3. After Dead by Charlaine Harris

4. Accidental Genius by Mark Levy

5. What would your character do by Eric Maisel

6. The Evelyn Wood Speed Reading by Stanley D. Frank

7. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

8. The Art of Poetry by Shira Wolosky

9. The color of water in July by Nora Carroll

10. Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin

11. Manage your Day-to-Day by Jocelyn Glei

12. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman

13. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

14. 2k to 10k by Rachel Aaron

15. Paper Towns by John Green

It’s really fun to be a part of this challenge and a good motivation factor to read more. I’d like to thanks HT Brunch for starting this reading challenge and taking an initiative to motivate people read more.

Happy Reading!

CHRONCILES OF A BOOK ZOMBIE

Am I a Book Zombie?

From past five days I am getting trouble in sleeping. I cannot understand, I am tired due to a lot of travelling and still I cannot sleep. Only today I realized that in past three days not only I have read three books, not only more than 700 pages but I am feeling that I want to eat a book a page by page, word by word. That’s right. I don’t know if I am reaching my extreme point of reading books (and then eventually I’ll get tired of reading) or if the reading has seriously become an obsession for me. Sounds to me like my past eight years of reading is finally paying off but the consequences are pretty bad. I am not sleeping. I just cannot sleep. I am craving for reading more books. Everywhere I look, I just see words. Words, words, everywhere and many a words to read. What the hell! It’s 3:39 A.M. in the morning and I have a lecture to attend at 8:30 A.M. before that I have to eat, probably a breakfast which I haven’t had in past two days. I am hungry but this time not for food. Not for the red flesh or a brown piece of bread. When I was reading earlier, my stomach kept growling (and I must tell you, it growls better than many metal-band vocalists), I kept on reading words and more words. For the first time in span of eight years of my reading life, I am not tired of it. It’s something new for me and very indigestible.

Am I going crazy?

I certainly have turn into one of those creatures who feel nothing but just wants to go on and on with their obsession. Zombies are close to them. Maybe I have become one. And I am not the ordinary type of zombie I feel, I am a Book-Zombie. I even googled the term Book Zombie but what do they know of my type of creatures? All they had were some lists of novels written under the title of zombie. Maybe the term is not perfectly defined. If not, I don’t give a damn. I still have many books left to read. Many battles to conquer, many minds to read, many places to explore, and I am restless to do that. I wish I had more eyes than just two. Such that I could read more than one book simultaneously.

After reading so many words, I could only produce this much of words. Certainly there is a problem with my digestive system of words.

PAPER TOWNS BY JOHN GREEN: A BOOK REVIEW

Paper Towns by John Green is the second book I’ve read written by him. The previous, Fault in our Stars was unimpressive to me. Though this book impresses me than the previous one in some ways but there is a unacceptable vibe about this book. I’ll start with John Green, he is a good writer there is no doubt, his skill of writing is a bit ordinary but witty and humorous. The plot and scenes he challenges himself to write are not very realistic but hey, after all this what fiction is. It’s a lie. So there is no point in arguing over the that fact as many people believe he should write more realistic but being a fictitious writer he can write anything he wants. Harry Potter is not realistic so why should he?

The plot in general is structural. Quite interesting in the starting. Especially the first part of the book is a high point. It’s a story which focuses on two teenagers who are to be pass out from their high school. Margot Roth Spiegelman an ordinary person, someone you would come across everyday, especially when we were in our high schools we have came across these kind of people, she is beautiful, she is famous in school, has a rich boyfriend, however on the other hand, Quentin Jacobsen is also a ordinary boy and very ordinary in comparison to Margo, has best two best buddies, Ben and ‘Radar’ who are his comfort zone. Paper Towns takes place in a subdivision of Orlando, Florida called Jefferson Park. The book is written in first person and narrated by Quentin or ‘Q’. John Green seems very fluent in writing as first person. Quentin has known Margot since they were young and when they were best friends. He put up with the fact that they weren’t friends anymore, until Margot decided to drag him into the madness of her midnight revenge. So, Quentin took on a detective’s perspective to find out why Margot vanished unexpectedly.

This book certainly made me think about how people can react to things differently. It showed how similar yet different everybody is. It surprised me to know that some people take the time to think hard about what’s going to happen in the future, and worry about it so much that they nearly lose their mind (as I sometime do). It was John Green’s writing that kept me reading it till the end. But the plot was very much stretched. Especially, a few chapters in part two and a few from last one. There wasn’t any necessity though. The book could have ended in just 260 pages instead of 305 pages. That’s what I felt after reading it.

The ending will come out as a surprise as it came to me. It is not a terrible ending but not a memorable one also. Though I quite agree with the character’s feeling towards the end. By the point he stands, is quite genuine and logical. But then again, the book should not have been that long.

The characterization in the book is imbalanced and not strong. But  John Green should be given credit for commanding the other characters especially, Ben and Radar, dynamically.  My favorite part from the book is when Quentin struggles in his friendship with his friend Ben and then their mutual friend makes him realize how people are different from each other and we should understand them accordingly. It make me think, we judge a bunch of people by the whole bunch and not individually. I mean why? A bunch of people is not similar to a bunch of grapes.

This is a good book. But it struggles in between. I read it in one go.

2.5/5 from me.

THE LOWLAND BY JHUMPA LAHIRI: A BOOK REVIEW

After reading The Lowland in two days, not for the reason the book is easy to read. But for Jhumpa Lahiri is a natural-born storyteller. She indeed is. In this book, she introduces two brothers, close in age who are poles apart, Udayan, the revolutionary brother who gets caught up in the Mao-inspired Naxalite movement to wipe out poverty in India and his more reserved and dutiful brother, Subhash, who leaves home to pursue an academic and scientific life in Rhode Island. When Udayan inevitably gets swept into a revolutionary movement that turns out badly, Subhash returns home briefly, and picks up the pieces, including an attempt to heal the emotional scars of his brother’s young wife.

As the plot goes on, Lahiri covers about 70 years of life span in mere 340 pages. The craftsmanship is indeed good but when I was on the last few pages I truly felt that she is a storyteller, but this novel was just average product of her skill of writing. I am not saying it is not readable. The way she started the story, the details of the political conditions and living conditions in 60s of Calcutta(Kolkata, now) to provide a scenario to the reader such that he would feel the connection with story. With her writing, it’s all about making a reader feel connected with the story, the plot, and the characters are just a phase in-between. Soon they all fade away. This ideology is true with her previous books also which I have read in past two months span, The Namesake and Unaccustomed Earth. It took me three books to decipher and understand her artistic style of making a reader feel connected towards the story till the end. Many writers do not or they just partially do. At first they do try but as the plot continues to move forward, either they loose the confidence of adjoining the read or they just do not want to. But Lahiri is exceptional. Lahiri knows how to indulge a reader in her book.

Her third person narration is way to flatter and flirt with the readers. I got flattered. The plot of The Lowland is overall very generic and to some it might turn out to be addictive in some way. She is certainly my favorite story tellers of the contemporary world.

The book was nominated for the Man Booker Prize 2013, and Jhumpa Lahiri has won The Pulitzer Prize for her Interpreter of Maladies which is the only book of her left for me to read, till date.

I’ll go for 3.5 of 5.

THE BOOK PARTY

As being a READAHOLIC(and no, I don’t drink alcohol while reading),today, I am organizing a party with books for books. I’ve got 3 books to read this month. And I don’t think I’ll be reading more than two of them this month. I have read this month, till now, only two books in comparison to last month in which I read ten books. First, I want to thank NetGalley and Random House Publications for giving me the opportunity to read The Weight of Blood by LAURA McHUGH which has an expected publication date on March 11, 2014. I am certain that I will fulfill my job of complete reading it and giving a faithful and honest review back to the publishers. Second, is Paper Towns by JOHN GREEN a very amicable writer but his previous book which I read was an “okay, okay”. Third is the Julian Barnes’ Levels of Life, a recommendation  by a goodreads friend of mine. I am not hoping to disappoint her by not reading the book, but I cannot guarantee that I will finish the book this month.

So let’s see which are two are going to mingle with thoughts?