Sunday, January 26, 2014

So I have abandoned this blog for almost three years now.
Not so much because I have stopped reading, but more because after a while, writing about books - trying to uncover them layer by layer became so taxing! Writing and rating a book after I've read it makes it seem so transactional!

I was tripping down memory lane, re-reading the so-called "reviews" of the 8 books that I've written here, and well, no wonder I felt like it was such a process and got bored - I was being too technical! The 2011 Me bored the 2014 Me with the reviews that the former wrote. So I'm going to give this one more shot. Why, you ask?

I redid my room over the weekend (after one whole year's worth of procrastination!) and this resulted in me re-shelving and prioritizing my books (yes my shelves are caste-based : there's the highest caste, the topmost shelf that I'll wake up facing and there's the lowest caste, completely hidden from the eye). I found out that I had 77 books that is waiting to be read (I actually had 75, but i love the number 7 so i scavenged around the house and found two books that I honestly don't have the interest to ever read and asked them to pretend to be books waiting to be read just so my OCD can be satiated).

What better reason to revive this blog other than to categorize these books as I go along? I'm quite forgetful - unless if a book impacts (actually, even then) me, I tend to faze out and forget the details of the story. That, put together with my constant being of laziness, is exactly why I should revisit the idea of logging all these books.

Now, I'm not gonna spoil the surprise and list them books down. All of us, we just have to find out as we go along, won't we? :)

Til the next substantial post!


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) - George Orwell

I had this book on my shelf for months before I finally turned the pages.
It was actually meant to be passed on from one friend to another.
I was somehow too busy and never gotten around to passing it to its rightful owner.

For months, the book just stared at me (via the eye on the front cover), asking to be read but was outright ignored.
It was until I came across a list of 100 of the Nation's Best Loved Novels. And since the source came from BBC, I went through the list, ticking off books that I've read.

Finally, my eyes settled on 1984 - George Orwell. From the computer screen, my eyes darted to the bookshelf, and it was then that I realized that I have committed one of the biggest sins : I JUDGED A BOOK BY ITS COVER.

The copy that I had was of a monotonous shade of green with a faded set of dull (albeit piercing) eyes staring right at the reader. It seemed too dull to be of any importance, so I figured it was alright that I never gave it a chance.

I was wrong.

Fun fact : The term 'BIG BROTHER' was coined in this book.

When you and I talk about the future, we might picture flying cars and talking robots and buildings in the sky. But oh no no no, Orwell's idea of the future is way more sadistic and visual than clones and TV on the back of your cereal box.

It is a story about war, about government surveillance and public brainwashing. So controversial were the provocations in the book, that it is not allowed to enter the public domain of United States until the year 2044, a whole century after it has been written.

The main character of the book, Winston Smith works for the government. But it is not the government as we now know (though we are well on our way towards being as perverse as it is portrayed in the book). The fictional version of the government is a group of very small people who constantly monitors the public via telescreens that nobody can escape.

In that world, individual thoughts and opinions (as well as anything bad said against the government) brings one punishment with it : DEATH. They even have a term for it - Thoughtcrime. (sound familiar much?)

It is a world in which they believe in war as a mean of achieving peace. And that Freedom is a form of slavery.

Winston Smith works as an editor. His job entails him to revise historical 'facts'. In simpler terms, should the government decide to wipe out a person, that person becomes an 'unperson' and any trace of their existence has to be wiped out, be it on newspaper books or magazines. Records and photographs are constantly incinerated and altered.

One day, he comes across The Book. An anarchist's Bible, you could say. At the same time, he falls in love with Julia, which he was not supposed to do. Because in that world, there should only be love for Big Brother, and nobody else. Sex has become something done solely for the sake for reproduction. Even children betray their parents and spies on them in case there's a possibility that the parents are committing Thoughtcrime.

It's a horrible horrible world to live in. And i presume, if one day 'Freedom of Speech' becomes just another phrase, then we'll know the direction that we're heading to.

Orwell is an insightful visionary. He was way ahead of his time, perhaps even ahead of OUR time. 1984 is a thought-provoking book. It became the ground on which novels, music, comics and even video games were based upon.

In terms of storyline, it is pretty ingenious. But I've read something almost to the same effect that I thought had a stronger narration. but lets talk about THAT in some other post hey?

For the time being, I think this book is the saviour when it comes to creating awareness of the world that we are now living in, along with all the deception that it carries with it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Inside The Kingdom - Carmen bin Ladin

This is a pretty fast read. 
With only 219 pages, you can easily finish it a 3 hour flight. 

Carmen Bin Ladin were married to the infamous Osama Bin Laden's brother. Do not expect insider secrets of the Taliban though as you won't be getting any of those. 

Coming from a half Swiss half Persian parentage, Carmen was brought up with values of freedom and free will. However, it all changed when she followed her husband back to his hometown, Saudi Arabia. 

The Bin Laden family's ranking were right on top of the pyramid, almost on par with the royal family. This however, did not give Carmen any upper hand because she's a woman and a foreigner. 

I was horrified upon reading on what life is like in Saudi Arabia. But then again, the stories were dated way back in the 70s and 80s. In her own house, Carmen was not allowed to instruct her house decorators on how she wanted to arrange the furniture as they refused to take orders from women. Women, during those days, were also not allowed to drive, shop at malls or walk around with full abaya and only a black netted veil to see through. 

After reading Inside The Kingdom, i finally got why the Western society thinks that Islam is an oppressed religion. It is sad though, that they might never find out that a real Muslim society are not a bunch of extremists and terrorists. 

I do feel that Carmen gave a few vibes that might give readers the wrong idea about Islam. But to be fair, i understand that her stories are just tales of her journey and (lack of) endevours. It is just one person's view and perception. But at the same time, we all know that a lot of people might generalize all Muslims like the ones that they read about in this book. 

Just as the story of life in Turkey shocked me, the rigidness of the Arabs also caught me off guard. All this while, I've known how religious they are, but I never knew that it has reached a level that is out of my comprehension. 
Inside The Kingdom is a light piece of non-fiction with simple sentences and yet is laden with life stories. I believe we can all learn a thing or two on how to be better human beings through this book. 

Have fun reading!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Prodigal Daughter - Jeffrey Archer

The fact that Jeffrey Archer is an amusing story-teller is not news. 
Even if you have no idea what his book is about, you can be assured that it will be good, simply because the author is Archer. 

This particular book, The Prodigal Daughter is a sequel of 'Kane and Abel' (which i have personally never read, but am planning to get to as soon as i'm done with the rest of my bookshelf). 
But fret not, it is nothing like watching those Hollywood movies where you'll be lost should you decide to watch a movie's sequel without first watching the prequel (am i making any sense here?).

The book basically revolves around Florentyna Rosnovski, a child genius who grows up to be a rather spectacular woman (have you ever heard of a child genius who goes to waste?).

I've never really been a big fan of politics, so it amazes me a little when little Florentyna showed a huge interest in it from a really really young age. She delves into it and gives the readers little politics 'fun facts', that, surprisingly, did not put me to sleep. 

The book revolves around her struggle to be the first woman who becomes President of United States of America. The struggle becomes harder considering that her father is a Polish immigrant and as you already know, it is never easy for an immigrant to make it big.

A disclaimer : It wouldn't be unfair if i were to categorize the book under 'girl power' because that's the feeling that i got when i was reading it. It gives out a vibe of woman empowerment and the things that you can do when you really put your mind to it. 

At 464 pages, the book seemed even lengthier than it actually was. But in a good kind of way, i should say. 

I have to warn you though, it doesnt really have a prominent climax and the rise and fall of plots are not so clear as well. I would even consider calling it 'mellow'. But even though i do not really like books with a mellow plot, it does make it sort of a nice change, being able to wallow in a serious story without giving yourself goosebumps.

It's a light read, perfect for a long flight or for lounging about at the beach. It has the strength of a good thriller, yet it is as breezy as reading a chic-lit. 

I understand that this being a review, i should probably include some kind of synopsis. But i'm afraid that if i were to start writing, i wouldn't know where to stop. and being a person who hates knowing the end of the story, i wouldn't want to inflict my 'party pooper' behaviour on any of you guys

We should just keep you guessing, shouldn't we? *winks*

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

High Society - Ben Elton

Just like the rest of Elton's work, High Society is both ingenious and provocative.
But for some reason, he toned down on the sarcasm in this piece of work. He made up for it with thought-provoking questions though, and that, for me, is more than enough.

High Society talks about drug problems, but the manner in which the issue was pursued is atypical.

A Member of the Parliament, Peter Paget was one of the only few people in London who were not in denial of the ever-worsening drug abuse by the society as well as all the crime induced by the evil substance.

His solution to all this? Legalize all drugs. Not just decriminalizing dope but making everything from ecstasy to heroin completely legal and can be bought over the counter at pharmacies and drug store.

His logic was that people are gonna use and abuse drug anyway. And since the drug habit was already impossible to curb, why continue giving power to the underground druglords?

Billions of tax money can be given back to the government if only the legalization came through. And besides, drug based crimes will be banished for once and for all. Who needs to break into people's homes to get the money to buy overpriced drugs from their dealers when they can pay for it at a cheaper price in the stores?

It's a good read, really it is.
I'm not entirely happy with the ending because i was hoping for the ending that it would be happy and predictable. But no such luck! Well, with Elton, you dont get that kind of luxury! Haha.

It's like his purpose in life is to leave people with something to think, making the book sort of never-ending (well, until you finally move on to think about something else, that is)

All in all, i say it's a pretty awesome read. Try it! :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Final Reckoning - Sam Bourne

As you can clearly see on the cover page, it has been quoted that Sam Bourne is the biggest challenger to Dan Brown's crown. I totally agree.

Having personally read all of the work done by both authors, i can safely say that this piece of work has been as well researched if not better than any of Dan Brown's books.

The 'adventure' revolved mainly around the United Nations headquarters. It then evolves to story back in time, the time of the Holocaust. For you not in the know, the Holocaust was the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Jews engineered by the Nazis. 

What sets this book apart from any historical account of The Holocaust is the fact that it is very personal, and thus, well, less boring. Instead of droning on and on about facts and numbers that i would barely register (as it would've reminded me of the history lessons in school), the tale was written in the point of view of a guy who played a big part in a Jewish Resistance group.

This group, known as DIN, fought their battle to make it known to the Germans that the Jewish fill seek for vengeance. Anyway, i dont want to go on and on about it and spoil the surprise. No one likes a party pooper. 

Bourne got me hooked on the book faster than i could say 'Hitler'. I've never known any details about Holocaust and the horrors that the Jews mustve faced. From what i've read, Hitler's quote "I couldve killed all the Jews of the world, but i kept some to show the world why i killed them" does not in any way justify the awful massacre that happened at the time.

Sam Bourne actually got me Googling and Wiki-ing pages and pages on the Holocaust, Hitler, and even on Rwandan Genocide. This is a book worth picking up. It has all the ingredients needed to cook up a good book : an awesome twist, romance, adventure, suspense, factual background. perfect.

Give it a try. If you're done with all five of Dan Brown's books and can't wait for his new book to come out, give Sam Bourne a chance. you might be surprised.


Friday, July 9, 2010

The Notebook - Nicholas Sparks

The Notebook has been adapted into one of the most legendary romance stories of all time.

That is why, upon finding a battered and well read copy of this book (i prefer pre-loved copies rather than store-bought ones for books that i intend to read over and over again as it has a sense of history to it), I literally squealed in delight.

My paperback copy was thin enough to be devoured within a two hour drive during a recent roadtrip. 

The concept of it is pretty similar to what you see on the screen. However, it is very disappointing as it did not deliver and rates way lower that what i initially expected.

I am an avid believer that movies do not do justice to the book it is taken from. But in this case, i'm forced to raise a white flag and say that this book brings disgrace to the movie. 

To be honest, the book on its own is pretty okay even though it reminds me a tad bit of those chic-lit books i used to read back in high school. 

The thing is, the best parts that made the movie an epic, surprisingly could not be found in the book! Like, the scene at the funfair and the first night they slept together as well as their last fight. 

In the book itself, everything was pretty straight forward. Boy meets girl, they fell in love, they have tiny complication but lives happily ever after anyway. Bleurgh.

I've never liked Sparks' books all that much all this while (i think A Walk To Remember is damned obvious and blunt), but after finally reading The Notebook (about time, too, considering i've seen the movie about a million times) i've decided not to read any of Sparks' books unless somebody threatens to batter my head with a hardcover version of it. 

With that, i can safely tell you to save your time and money and not to bother reading this piece of junk. Watch Ryan Goslin and Rachel McAdams on screen instead. :)