lexlingua: (Books)

Top Ten Gateway Books is a meme at Top 10 Tuesday that's recently become quite popular. Here's a round-up of the ten books that introduced me to new genres and new ways of thinking:

1. Gateway into Historical FictionLes Meserables by Victor Hugo -- I loved my old English teacher, and she once read to us, The Bishop's Candlesticks, in school. Eager to know whether Jean Valjean reformed himself and stopped stealing after all, I raced to buy an abridged version of Les Meserables. I devoured the book in one night, wailed buckets into my pillow and bunked school the next day -- a first for me.

2. Gateway to Literary FictionAtlas Shrugged by  Ayn Rand was possibly my first serious contemporary read. Prior to this, my life had been Harry Potter and Jane Austen. Suddenly, capitalism was thrust at me in the form of a fat book about a legendary guy gathering all the heroes of the world and leaving the loser moochers behind in the dust. I stole the book from my elder brother's bookshelf and never even understood the half of it. But I still loved Dagny Taggart and wanted to be like her. Who is John Galt? My favourite question ever.

3. Gateway into Non-FictionRusska: The Novel of Russia by Edward Rutherfurd -- I grew up on Russian/ Ukrainian folk tales (and if you have never tried them, you really, really must). So my enchantment with Russia, its history and architecture, and yes, even its politics, has been a long standing one. Then one day, I found Russka in a book store; someone had placed it in the wrong side of the shelves. Non-fiction suddenly became very intriguing.

4. Gateway into Detective FictionThe Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie is by no means my favorite but it's memorable because it started me off on a binge-read of Christie's books. The man in question was cynical, brooding, glowering (at our chirpy heroine), and possibly a murderer. Favorite qualities in a hero for a teenage girl, don't you know. The villain was so likeable, he put the said hero to shame. For someone whose idea of mystery books and detective fiction had so far been Nancy Drew, Hitchcok's Three Investigators and Enid Blyton's Five Find-Outers, Christie's The Man in the Brown Suit was a gateway to a whole new world out there.

5. Gateway into Science FictionCordelia’s Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold -- I have reviewed this book before. Science fiction was a thing of worry, till someone rightly pointed out you don't have to a nuclear physicist to understand science. Well, Cordelia's Honor is less about science and more about integrity, but it still was a wonderful entry into the world of space opera. It also gave me one of my favorite authors. For any newbie, my recommended primer would always be Cordelia's Honor.

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lexlingua: (Disney)

Book Blurb:

The stunning conclusion to the trilogy that began with the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke award-winning Ancillary Justice.

For a moment, things seemed to be under control for Breq, the soldier who used to be a warship. Then a search of Athoek Station's slums turns up someone who shouldn't exist, and a messenger from the mysterious Presger empire arrives, as does Breq's enemy, the divided and quite possibly insane Anaander Mianaai - ruler of an empire at war with itself.

Breq refuses to flee with her ship and crew, because that would leave the people of Athoek in terrible danger. The odds aren't good, but that's never stopped her before.

I began this book with a lot of trepidation. I remembered the basic plot and loved the characters from Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword (my review), but didn't remember the specifics. I simply didn’t have enough time to re-read the previous books, and I was also very afraid that Breq would sacrifice herself for the Greater Good.

These particular qualms were soon sorted out -- but there were other issues. Perhaps the only biggest fault of Ancillary Mercy is that it’s not the first book. The same world building that hits you like lightning in the first book is old hat by now. For the first 25% of the book, I felt I was reading about the same situation again: a kind of ceasefire at the Athoek Station, where Fleet Captain Breq’s ship is stationed, and her crew is waiting for something ominous to come out of the neighbouring ghost gate.

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“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

I am not a fan of dragons, so I have not tried Novik’s more popular Temeraire series (also to be filmed soon by Peter Jackson of LoTR fame). A decision I need to change, obviously, if the series is anything like Uprooted. Because this book. This. Book. It is written like a fairytale, it has a juicy mystery that keeps you on tenterhooks, it speaks of relationships that are realistic and beautiful, and it has cover art which is glorious. What's not to love?
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lexlingua: (Books)
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
Publisher: Hachette Audio (2014)
Narrated by: Robert Glenister

Private investigator Cormoran Strike returns in a new mystery from Robert Galbraith, author of the #1 international bestseller The Cuckoo's Calling. When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days--as he has done before--and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives--meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced. When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before.

To be honest, I don’t think I would have read this book if I’d not known that Robert Galbraith was J.K. Rowling. That’s not an aspersion on the quality of the book itself; however, several mystery books come out every year, how many of them actually get pulled into the light? But The Silkworm did, because, well, it’s the second book in the new mystery series by Rowling.

The blurb does a good job of explaining the plot and Glenister narrates the audiobook well, especially the character of Cormoran Strike. It’s clear from the audio version that Cormoran is a gruff and large man, a good employer and a kind man. I personally think that women always make better audiobook narrators because they have a broader range of voice modulation for both male and female characters. Most male audio narrators make women sound as if they are screeching, whispering, or flat-out childish. Glenister doesn't do that, so that's to his credit.

There is a lot of focus on the actual process of detective work, even the smaller daily rituals (sometimes more than the focus on the dangerous side of a detective’s work). Inevitably, therefore, the book is not very fast-paced and despite the dark tenor of the premise, there wasn’t really a time when I was on tenterhooks as to what would happen next. Well, The Silkworm is definitely not a “thriller”. But the whodunit reveal towards the end was quite unexpected, and for that, The Silkworm gets brownie points. I haven't read the first book in the series, so I can also tell you that The Silkworm can be read as a standalone, which is something that Rowling aka Galbraith has always managed exceptionally well.

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lexlingua: (Macabre)

My earliest memory of apocalyptic references is from the movies The Omen and The Seventh Sign *rolls eyes* and I remember a heated discussion at the locker rooms/ near the water cooler about the grave signals that apocalypse is imminent. Unlike Buffy, however, I could not shrug it off with an irreverent: "If the apocalypse comes, beep me." Ten years later, I saw the book "Picturing the Apocalypse" on Net Galley, and as I am interested in art, especially books which dissect art, I requested an ARC.
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lexlingua: (Contemplation)

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an "accident," he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend . . . and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne-or his life.

I picked up this book last year, only to shelve it again within the first few pages itself. This cycle repeated again and again; the only reason I didn't give up on it entirely is because I felt too bad about dismissing a book as DNF without giving it even twenty odd pages, especially when everyone I knew was positively raving about it. Finally, I took up the audiobook -- and lo and behold, I finally realized why The Goblin Emperor makes for such a great read.

Simply put, this is the tale of how the underdog became emperor, and who doesn't love the underdog winning?

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lexlingua: (Books)
We are all completely beside ourselves. With rage. With grief. With helplessness. That’s what the narrator of the book, Rosemary Cooke, tells us, how seemingly innocuous little decisions and innocent accidents can snowball into something disastrous. Rosemary is the daughter of a psychologist – and that in itself, is a major plot giveaway, because when you see a psychologist in the midst of the first few pages, you know something’s going to go very wrong.

Something’s gone wrong in Rosemary’s life – she used to be a bubbling chatterbox as a kid, but now she’s a quiet girl, looking for ways to become invisible. Her sister’s missing, her brother’s run off and joined an activist group, and her parents won’t talk about either of them. The first half of the book is a glimpse into Rosemary’s character, and a witty but sad thing is that glimpse. The second part— now that’s the part that throws everything for a toss.

Stop here, if you are afraid of spoilers.
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lexlingua: (Books)
Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier is a strong starting book for her series, Blackthorn and Grim. It hooks you immediately, with the pages opening in a murky prison where our leading lady Blackthorn, a healer with a dark past, has been locked-up wrongfully. Blackthorn thinks she’s up for a death sentence, but a mysterious fae appears and offers her a reprieve –he will help her escape if she agrees to help anyone who asks her for help for the next 7 years. And when I say anyone, I mean anyone.Blackthorn accepts, and finds her way to a province ruled by Prince Oran, which is not as cozy as it seems. Oran, helpless in the face of his troubles, asks Blackthorn for help.

The story is told in multiple and alternating POV which works well without the jarring or abrupt cliffhangers at the end of each chapter that so many fantasy writers like to use. But much of the middle of the book felt like a drag, because Oran’s narratives felt too YA-ish. No doubt that’s because he’s a young, lovesick, perplexed chap, but I just could not connect on an emotional plane with his bag of woes.

Dreamer’s Pool is essentially a folk tale-cum-fairy tale about a mysterious mirror-like lake (hence, the title of the book) in that province, and comes with the necessary insights into domesticity and country life. I was happy to see Marillier return with her fae plotlines as well, and if you like Patricia McKillip, you will like this book as well.

The final section of the book was where the story really caught on, and for that alone, you should read it. Something alien lives in that lake, something that affects everyone around— especially Prince Oran, and Marillier captures that feeling of suspense really well in the last half of the book.

But best of all, and my favourite part of the book, was Grim. Grim is an interesting character; his poor self-esteem (a result of his past incarceration) coupled with his innate kindness makes a beautiful foil to Blackthorn, whose past has made her bitter, hard and cynical. The two together made a great detective team, but Grim, aww Grim. Somebody should tell him not to worry, he’s a great person – maybe Blackthorn will, in the next book.

Rating: 8/ 10. Recommended.
lexlingua: (UserPic)

'Not one sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.'
(Matthew Ten, Verse Twenty-Nine)

I find this book extremely difficult to describe, more difficult than it was to read it. The Sparrow raises some uncomfortable questions about our perception of and our (according to the book, unfounded) expectations from God. Mary Russell does a spectacular job of blending science and religion in this book, and for both agnostics and believers alike, this is a story that will send you reeling.

The Sparrow is based in the future, and revolves around Emilio Sandoz, a devout Jesuit priest and a good man whose friends love him, and the strength of whose devotion to and belief in God inspires everyone around him equally. Sandoz’s biggest virtue is that he is not without flaw and that he recognizes this, but it is also true that he has the faith which can move mountains. And boy, is his faith tested.

Emilio and a few of his closest friends are sent to a planet four light years away from earth, a planet called Rakhat, as part of a top-secret space mission in the search for extraterrestrial life. The bond among these seven travelers is a beauty to behold: they are like a close-knitted family, and I especially loved the wit of Anne Edwards, the fellow medic among them. I did find it odd that this motley group went off without space protection suits, vaccinations, defence weapons, alternative fuel supply, etc. to Rakhavat; how did they become so optimistic about meeting aliens of whom they knew nothing? Ah, but maybe Emilio’s faith inspired them to take a giant leap of optimism – anyway, this is a minor point, and our group does reach Rakhat safely and succeeds in making “first contact” with the aliens there. Russell paints the alien life well: she makes it seem alien and eerily beautiful at the same time, and it’s our Earth group which is outlandish there.

In the seventeen earth years (please apply theory of relativity here) that follow, something goes horribly wrong with that space mission. Only Emilio survives from the original group, and when he finally returns to earth, he is a broken, bitter and sickened man facing accusations of prostitution and infanticide – grave crimes for a Jesuit. The media is out for his blood even as he convalesces in a Jesuit home, and the Jesuits themselves want him to “confess” and tell all. Emilio himself has lost the love for God that he was once characterized by. This is what Emilio says:
Read what happened... )
lexlingua: (Beauty)
It's been an age since I last updated my blog, and it's difficult to step back into it. It feels like one of those creaky machines that need oiling from time to time. Rounding up 2013 before January rolls up is an important ritual though; can't miss it for anything.

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lexlingua: (Reading)

The theme for this Tuesday's The Broke and the Bookish meme is your top 10 best/worst movie adaptations, and here's mine:

10. Anne of Green Gables

While growing up, I came across Anne Shirley, the talkative, smart, red-haired, impulsive girl who loved to dream and use big words. Was there anything better than reading up Lucy Maud Montgomery’s adventures of Anne, and then seeing it onscreen? True, Montgomery should have stopped writing after the third book, Anne of the Island, and that’s where the telemovie ends. I think a sequel has been made too, The Continuing Story, though I am still to watch that. Anne of Green Gables is ideal for a feel-good day or as a present for any teenage girl you know.

9. The Last of the Mohicans

Michael Mann turned the book by James Fenimore Cooper into a visual delight. The soundtrack adds to the beauty of this adaptation, and it helps that the movie story is more hopeful than the actual book. This movie also made Daniel Day Lewis my favourite actor for a long time to come.

8. Dracula

Bram Stoker’s Dracula has been turned into movie more times than any other book, and continues to fascinate readers even a century after it was first written in 1897. We owe our vampire legacy to Bram. I find it hard to decide which version of Dracula I like the most. Almost all movie adaptations have turned the story slightly or radically, and most of them end up making Mina Wentorth Dracula’s one true dear love. I found Wynona Ryder’s version of Dracula hard to digest for the same reason, but it definitely needed mention in this list for the sake of its eternal movie-making ability. Then of course, there's also the new Dracula TV show coming up onRead more... )
lexlingua: (fanfiction)
"Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority."
-- Francis Bacon
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey took me by surprise. A mystery book-- arguably, again in the top ten list of most mystery fans-- which begins when a convalescing detective from Scotland Yard finds something wrong in the portrait of King Richard III of England.

Josephine Tey re-creates one of history's most famous -- and vicious -- crimes in her classic bestselling novel, a must read for connoisseurs of fiction, now with a new introduction by Robert Barnard

Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, recuperating from a broken leg, becomes fascinated with a contemporary portrait of Richard III that bears no resemblance to the Wicked Uncle of history. Could such a sensitive, noble face actually belong to one of the world's most heinous villains -- a venomous hunchback who may have killed his brother's children to make his crown secure? Or could Richard have been the victim, turned into a monster by the usurpers of England's throne? Grant determines to find out once and for all, with the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, what kind of man Richard Plantagenet really was and who killed the Little Princes in the Tower.

The Daughter of Time is an ingeniously plotted, beautifully written, and suspenseful tale, a supreme achievement from one of mystery writing's most gifted masters.

Well, take a look at the picture to your right. Do you think this is a good man, or a bad man? Or is it simply a man in suffering? Is it even possible to deduce character from the lines on one's face? The real deal is that this man is Richard III, who has been condemned in most history books-- including school textbooks-- as the evil uncle who killed off his two very young nephews in order to usurp the throne of England. Grant (our hero detective)  who suffers from acute boredom in the hospital, decides to dapple into the mystery of this much reviled man.
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lexlingua: (Divinity)
The Man Who Was Thursday, the title alone makes you want to grab the book. It definitely helps that since its publication in 1908, the book has gone through a series of covers, each better than the next.

The book begins with a poem called the ‘Nightmare’, which I posted on my blog recently, and seems to suggest that the entire book was just a horrid old dream. The first chapter too paints a psychedelic imagery of red brick houses and red sunset and a red haired man, i.e. the Saffron Park. It does all feel like a dream, till two poets begin to debate on whether order or chaos is the true spirit of poetry. I kid you not, one of these poets is a man of law (an underclothes policeman called Gabriel Syme) and the other poet is an anarchist named Gregory.

I have read that Anarchists in the early 1900s regularly shot people and Presidents and caused ‘reigns of terror’. (That is an exaggeration, no, it isn't.) They may not call themselves that anymore, but every secessionist movement and every terrorist outfit is definitely a manifestation of anarchism?

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the debate gets really heated, and Gabriel Syme outwits Gregory to reveal some unsavoury secrets. With some quick and clever thinking, our genius and poetic hero, Syme, manages to infiltrate a band of anarchists, called the Council. Each member of this Council is named after a day of the week (here lies a hint), and Syme is appointed to the post of Thursday. Syme’s real goal is to flout the plans of the Council, save the world, and expose the notorious head of the gang, the man everyone calls Bloody Sunday. Will Syme succeed?

Stop here, if you don’t want me to ruin the book for you with my spoilers.

Read the rest of Spoiler-Filled Review.... )

Funny Five

Apr. 27th, 2013 12:46 pm
lexlingua: (fanfiction)
Nothing feels better than ending a long day at work with a few big laughs. I thought I would put up a list of the top five books that made me hoot like a hyena.

1. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

In a Victorian world where everyone's brimming with insincerity and money-mindedness, Oscar Wilde talks about the importance of being earnest. No easy thing, when even wanting to be called 'Earnest' is going to make our heroes sweat with desperation. This was written as a play, but I personally felt reading the book was far funnier than watching it acted out (in the movie, to your right).

2. Tintin in Tibet by Herge

There are those who will disagree, saying The Castafiore Emerald and The Calculus Affair are so much funnier. There are those who will disagree because they think Herge was quite racist. But if there's one thing that makes Tintin in Tibet so hilarious, it is the number of epithets that Captain Haddocks comes up with in this one. Example to your left.

3. Quick Service by P.G. Wodehouse

No, not Blandings and no, not Jeeves. Sometimes, I find Freddie too silly and Jeeves too haughty. But Quick Service hits all the right notes. As usual, Wodehouse does wonders with his bag of imposters and henpecked husbands all locked up in a country house. It all starts with a beef-manufacturing tycoon wanting to steal a portrait  -- which several other people also want. Mayhem ensues, and much madcap laughter. Sadly, this particular book has not gone through the makeover that the other Wodehouse books have, so I have to put up a really old and discoloured cover image.

4. The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer

Put Wodehouse in the Regency Era, and what do you get? You get Georgette Heyer. Heyer excels at putting our heroines in priceless situations of confused identities, crazy adventures, absolutely laughtastic relatives and a sparkling comedy of manners. In Talisman Ring, a ring gets stolen, a naive girl runs away, a dangerous smuggler escapes, an architect makes bad drawings, the policemen get confounded, and Tristram refuses to ride in haste. This is the closest I can get to describing the plot. It is making me laugh even as I write it.

5. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronvitch

"What would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the Fuzz?" Who would have thought that fantasy and detective fiction combined could make you laugh so hard? The laugh-out-loud kind of laughter is what Ben assures with his first book. Peter Grant, a policeman in London, narrates his story in first person, and his observations are straight-on and so amusing. His life catapults into the other world zone when one day he and a ghost have a chat. I still have to read the whole thing, and I often read it during my cab ride to office. Puts a cheeky grin on my face some mornings.

So what's your funny five? Do lets share a laugh.
lexlingua: (UserPic)
Today I couldn't resist myself and bought The Complete Father Brown Stories by G.K. Chesterton. I have been meaning to read up on Father Brown for a really long time now-- he is supposed to be the most famous detective after Sherlock Holmes. In fact, in most of the greatest mystery books's lists, you will not find a single Sherlock Holmes mystery, but you'll definitely find Father Brown.

Father Brown is not as dashing or energetic as the Robert Downey Jr. version, nor is he as striking a personality as the Granada versions's Jeremy Brett. (I'm not going to mention the BBC modern make-over version here, except that I just did.) Father Brown is one of those unassuming, ordinary-looking average men who are more than what they appear on the surface. He carries an umbrella, wears his monkish robes, fumbles and stammers (not sure about this one). He is a man of religion-- a priest sleuth-- though in the mystery genre, the detective is more often, a man of science. But as Father Brown will tell you, a detective need not be a man of religion OR science, but only of reason.

Anyways, the first story I read is The Blue Cross. And what struck me while reading was this little gem of a passage:

"The most incredible thing about miracles is that they happen. A few clouds in heaven do come together into the staring shape of one human eye. A tree does stand up in the landscape of a doubtful journey in the exact and elaborate shape of a note of interrogation. I have seen both these things myself within the last few days. Nelson does die in the instant of victory; and a man named Williams does quite accidentally murder a man named Williamson; it sounds like a sort of infanticide. In short, there is in life an element of elfin coincidence which people reckoning on the prosaic may perpetually miss. As it has been well expressed in the paradox of Poe, wisdom should reckon on the unforeseen."

I found the story to be a small miracle too. You can get it at Adelaide Books.

And here are some mystery-solving tips from Father Brown:
#1 When tailing a criminal, always leave behind a trail of clues for the police to follow.
#2 Always remember-- a thief loves to swap the original with a duplicate.

Stay tuned for more Father Brown!
lexlingua: (UserPic)
Don’t ask me why I chose that atrocious alliteration for this post, except that it’s a Thursday, and its a holiday tomorrow here, so I have finally coaxed myself back to blogosphere. Thursday Toll is also a round-up of the most happening and most demented events of my life this past week. So, smile and read on...

First, I read The Scorpio Races by Maria Steifvater. This author has grown on me. I hated her werewolf Shiver series, and purposely avoided reading the sequels, because they reminded me too much of Twilight. A bias that I decided to overcome with The Scorpio Races, and boy, did I love it! There is a mysterious island, on which humans and seafolk co-exist under some ancient delicate pact. Seafolk includes the hippocamp, or the waterhorse, which is a sort of carnivorous sea-racing horse. Every year, the villagers keep their end of the pact by throwing an annual race of the waterhorses. Steifvater describes the perils of such races quite well, and the curious aching longing that seafarers feel for the sea is also brought out quite well. Life by the sea is both so close-knitted and insular, and is told through the eyes of Puck, a girl who enters the races in a desperate bid to keep her elder brother from abandoning their family. Puck would possibly be the Irish YA urban fantasy version of National Velvet, and is a charming heroine. I would rate it an 8 out of 10.

Second, I dabbled a bit at writing, and let me tell you, I positively suck at it. It goes well for a para or two, then I end up putting too much of myself into the pages and have to stop. Then my imagination runs out, and after that, my time. Yes, precisely in that order. By the way, I found this god-awesome book on writing called Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. Lamott writes that storytelling should be taken step by step, bird by bird, and not with a view to write everything at one go. This means that there’s bound to be a lot of Shitty First Drafts. Ahem, certainly have a lot of those.

Third, my TBR pile is currently exploding. I’ve decided to stock them up in genres and read one of each. There’s Waking the Moon by Elizabeth Hand (hardcopy couriered from Amazon) which is fantasy. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (historical fiction); Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck (science fiction); The Food of the Gods by Terence McKenna (non-fiction); False Economy by Alan Beattie (economics); V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton (mystery) and Women who run with the Wolves by Clarissa Estes  (psychology). Fear my TBR Pile, folks, because I’m determined to demolish them all—and you’ll have to read the reviews. If you have any experience of my reviews, you will know that they are long, verbose, wordy and more like a thesis than anything else. I pity You Who Reads My Reviews.

And there's more babbling... )
lexlingua: (UserPic)

It’s a bit late in the year for putting up a best-of-the-year list, but it’s been so long since I last blogged… and I just had to recap some of the defining blogworthy moments for me of 2012. Here they go:

1. Chime by Franny Billingsley

Th Book Smugglers recommended this book, and I thought let’s give it a shot. I heard it out in audiobook moreover, which was a lucky chance for me, because Susan Duerden gives this haunting fantasy story a voice all of its own. I could not have chosen a better narrator for Briony, the lead character, who is broken, bitter and mysterious. Briony lives in a village covered with swamps, and for some reason she hates herself. That’s how the prologue begins, and I can’t give away more, except that Briony’s past hides a secret that is a recipe for disaster for the entire village.

Don’t go by the cover of the book— which shows a blonde girl in black and white, with a rose and lightning/ thunder/ cobwebs in the background. Er? The cover does hint at the story, but it’s not all that encouraging for the Reader. Go ahead and try out the audiobook.

2. Bleak House BBC TV Series

I have a thing for a BBC television series, whether it be Jane Eyre, Robin Hood, Tudors or Pride and Prejudice. Bleak House was adapted from Charles Dickens’ massive tome of the same name, a grim and ruthless satire on the legal system. I am sorry to say that the legal system since the 1850s has still not changed. I recently visited Court, and the tedious, painstakingly slow machinery of our procedural hurdles made me appreciate Bleak House even more. Only the wigs on the judges were missing, everything else remains the same. The show was adapted from the book by Andrew Davies, who has a done a fine job, if I may say so. Watch out for the spinechilling scenes where the mad Miss Flite (played by the redoubtable Pauline Collins) feeds her parrots, named Hope, Joy, Youth, Peace, Rest, Life, Dust, Ashes, Waste, Want, Cunning, Folly, Words, Wigs, Rags, Sheepskin, Plunder, Precedent, Jargon, Gammon, Spinach Ruin, Despair, Madness and Death.

There's more... )

So where’s your recap 2012?

lexlingua: (fanfiction)

Ten Books I’d Like to See Made into MovieS

Some books are just dying to be made into movies, and I thought that maybe I should make a list of my own recommendations, as urged by The Broke and the Bookish (the ones in bold are my special selections). Most books in this list belong to the fantasy genre, and I apologize for not putting in more of mystery or contemporary fiction!

1. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Every law student is made to read the case of R versus Dudley and Stephens, in which three sailors were accused and convicted for eating the flesh of a human co-passenger when stranded in the sea for months without food. Being a law student myself, this book shook me when I first read it, because the Life of Pi brings in this conflict in one of its climax scenes.

The Life of Pi is about this young devout zookeeper’s son from India, who is stranded at sea for years with a ferocious tiger, and the challenges he faces during this time, one of them being the temptation of cannibalism when starved for food. The book won the Booker Prize, and is also one of my top ten books. The movie would be a lot like Tom Hanks’ Cast Away, methinks.

2. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Clarke took ten years to write this tome, and my review here is the mad rave of a diehard fan. Two men investigating the disappearance of magic from England, the tragic rift between them, the ominous Raven King as the villain, and the hero’s wife being betwitched and kidnapped… all the plot elements of a major fantasy movie! If you liked The Prestige or The Illusionist, you would positively lurve this movie on screen, especially with the huge capacity for special effects that this one has.

I reached out my hand; thought and memory flew out of my enemies' heads like a flock of starlings;
My enemies crumpled like empty sacks.
I came to them out of mists and rain;
I came to them in dreams at midnight;
I came to them in a flock of ravens that filled a northern sky at dawn;
When they thought themselves safe I came to them in a cry that broke the silence of a winter wood . .

Read the rest of the list... )


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January 2017



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