A Thousand Splendid Suns

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Author: Khaled Hosseini

Page Count:402

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, War

Book Synopsis: Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism.

Movie Adaptation: (In Development)

Hosseini’s panache for story-telling never fails to touch souls and he has done it again with this second debut novel! A story set in the initial three decades of the war-ridden Afghanistan, with powerful characters whose voice resonates deep within the reader; a masterpiece has been created yet again!

Hosseini weaves up this heartbreaking story about friendship in times of despair. Friendship has always been the main theme of Hosseini’s books (See The Kite Runner).

It will restore your faith in humanity, it’ll make you see the human in humanity; tell you that even in this cruel, cruel world, there are a handful of genuinely good people out there. It will open your eyes to the effect of war, that war is nothing but mindless and selfish; whose triumph may be pompous but results in killing of thousands of innocents, orphans sons and daughters, widows husbands and wives and displaces homes.

There were moments where  I had to literally put the book down for a moment and stare blankly at the wall and let the event sink in!

Here’s how it starts:

Mariam was five years old the first time she heard the word harami.

It happened on a Thursday. It must have, because Mariam remembered that she had been restless and preoccupied that day, the way she was only on Thursdays, the day when Jalil visited her at the kolba. To pass the time until the moment that she would see him at last, crossing the knee-high grass in the clearing and waving, Mariam had climbed a chair and taken down her mother’s Chinese tea set. The tea set was the sole relic that Mariam’s mother, Nana, had of her own mother, who had died when Nana was two. Nana cherished each blue-and-white porcelain piece, the graceful curve of the pot’s spout, the hand-painted finches and chrysanthemums, the dragon on the sugar bowl, meant to ward off evil.

It’ll make you re-realize the power of time, that everything is momentary, dynamic. One moment it’s right in front of your eyes, the next moment… poof!

The story is full of suspense; the next chapter would be based on a completely different scenario, on completely different emotions involving the same characters!

If you look back after finishing this book, scan through the book, you will realize the long way each character has come, the long way you have gone through to be the person you are at that specific moment!

Finally, if I haven’t made it clear earlier, I REQUEST you to give it this one a read!

Reviews:

Critics: 4.3/5

I’d rate it: 4.9/5

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Wise Enough to be Foolish

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Author: Gauri Jayaram

Genre: (Fictional Biography) Chick literature

Page Count: 205

Book Synopsis:  A roller-coaster ride of adventure, laughter and heartache, as a young Indian woman balances her love life with her struggle for independence which will keep you guessing- What rules will she break next? How far will she go to find herself?

 

What is it like to be a resilient woman in India? This novel is a fictionalised memoir that traces the journey of an Indian girl’s life, with all its challenges and delightful surprises, as she blossoms from an insecure child into a confident young woman.

Breaking all barriers, it’ll make you rethink your preconceived notions. With honest revelations, this one dwells on all the aspects of life- childhood, family, education, puppy love, crushes, heartbreak, friendship, failure, success, marriage and the not-so-happy endings.

Jayaram craftfully compiles the first 28 years of her life in this hilarious and honest novel about India, about growing up in an Indian household and being an Indian.

Furthermore, she drops men several clues to the unsolvable mystery the women are (atleast they say so!). It is fast-paced, almost too fast-paced, with the protagonist giving the reader words of wisdom and life lessons every couple of pages or so.

This memoir has enough drama and romance to make up for all our uninteresting lives!

Here’s an excerpt from the Prologue:

July 11, 1998, Saturday

Netherlands is playing against Croatia to fight for the third place in the FIFA World Cup.

Sitting alone on my double bed, I am trying to make sense of what is going on in my world. For a girl ‘socially’ married just four months ago, to be sitting by herself on a weekend, not aware of where her husband might be, is difficult to comprehend. But, this has been going on for sometime now.

The World Cup started a few weeks ago, and every time I ask my husband where he was the previous evening, I am told, ‘Watching football’.

‘With whom?’

‘Friends.’

‘What friends?’

‘You don’t know them.’

And so it goes on everyday.

 

The narrative is really engaging! Piece of advice:If you thought of reading One Indian Girl by Chetan Bhagat, you could give that novel a miss and read this one instead!

 

Reviews:

Critics: 3.5/5

I’d rate it: 3.3/5

 

Mr. Mercedes

  • Author: Stephen King
  • Genre: Mystery thriller, crime fiction
  • No. Of pages: 436

Stephen ‘word-weaver’ King!! This man has a flair so good with writing that can turn the most mediocre story plots into a nail-biting read!

No, I’m not saying that Mr. Mercedes has a weak plot but being an avid reader of murder mysteries, I’ve read plots way better than the one King presents us here. But writer of such a caliber converts this book into a thorough page-turner with his usual ease.

Like in all of King’s books, the characterization is top notch. The “Det. Ret.” is so convincing as a cold, competent but borderline suicidal Detective who’s baited by an even colder, inhumane mass murderer “Mr. Mercedes”. Even the Detective’s sidekicks are so well described, you’d be sure you practically know them!

Mr. Mercedes, undoubtedly, is one of the best villains to be ever written. You appreciate him one instant and our grossed out the next.

Every religion lies. Every moral precept is a delusion. Even the stars are a mirage. The truth is darkness, and the only thing that matters is making a statement before one enters it. Cutting the skin of the world and leaving a scar. That’s all history is, after all: scar tissue.

Though it’s not among King’s best books, the thrill and the suspense and the cat-and-mouse chase of the right and the wrong, make it a worthwhile read.

Because, “everybody likes the ice cream man”.

Ratings:

Critics- 3.9/5

I’d rate it- 4.2/5

 Shock of the Fall

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Author: Nathan Filer

Page Count: 307

Genre: (Fiction) Mental Health, Tragi-Comedy.

Book Synopis: I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.

If you thought it’s impossible to make a funny book about mental illness, I’d shove this book at you! Filer has managed to write this dark comedy about an illness, a disease with the shape and sound of a snake: Schizophrenia.

It is a compelling narrative of a lad shadowed by a mental illness and the lingering grief and guilt over his brother’s death.

Although the main event of the story is signposted at the very start, the suspense lingers. Flier succeeds to give some and hold some back!

The writing is incredibly inconsistent and dynamic which makes it beautiful! The central character actually physically writes this book so it’s like an episodic diary, with tremendous amounts of gaps. His life continues to move forwards as he writes about it. He gets distracted sometimes, dawdles off topic, finds his words back, rewinds, gives real-time updates, flashbacks and rewinds again.  Since Matt is physically writing it, it is not ordered, it has flaws, it has sloppy handwriting and sloppy thoughts and typewriter pages with their smudged ink, and tiny sketches and doodles.

Here’s how it starts:

the girl and her doll

I should say that I am not a nice person. Sometimes I try to be, but often I’m not. So when it was my turn to cover my eyes and count to a hundred- I cheated.

Through this bittersweet novel whose lead, although unreliable, captivates you even though his world is falling apart, Flier give an insight to the illness through this book, and helps the reader if not understand, but feel what the illness is like partially at least!

It is painful,

it is poignant,

it is haunting,

it is funny,

it is tragic

and I could just go on!

 

And it is definitely worth a read!

the shock of the fall and the blood on my knee

 

Ratings:

Critics: 4/5

I’d rate it: 4/5

And the Mountains Echoed

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Page Count: 402

Genre: Historical fiction,  Family Drama.

Book Synopsis: 

Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe – from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos – the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.

This book had a deep, and I meant it when I say, deep deep impact in my life. I would be barking half truth if I didn’t say this book made me a better person!
Khaled obviates from his normal narrative style and adopts one in the form of a string of short stories and letters, written in the perspective of it’s different characters, which makes it more personal, more down-to -earth and more closer to the heart! This combined with Khaled’s writing makes a really touching journey. Khaled’s flair for his homely writing is ever so clear here, as was it in The Kite Runner.

Here’s how it goes:

FALL 1952

So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one. But just the one. Don’t either of you ask me for more. It’s late, and we have a long day of travel ahead of us, Pari, you and I. You will need your sleep tonight. And you too, Abdullah. I am counting on you, boy, while your sister and I are away. So is your mother. Now. One story, then. Listen, both of you, listen well. And don’t interrupt.

At the end of reading this book you will re-realise that nothing, nothing supersedes family.

Emotionally breath-taking, it hits you right in the feels, repeatedly! Nostalgia has never been more nostalgic!

Khaled dextrously glides over countries, and even generations to give you this heart-wrenching masterpiece!  It’ll make you feel homesick even though (if!) you’re at home! A powerful story which extends to the variety that makes up a family, that glue a family ; starting from your mum and dad right up to the caretaker!

It took me a while to pick the pieces back up and get over this book! Also, this book is probably the reason I require glasses now!

Ratings:

Critics: 4/5

I’d rate it: 27.4/5

Kidnapped

  • Author: R. L. Stevenson
  • Genre: Thriller
  • No. Of pages: 136

One word, and only one word, can sum this book convincingly- Adventure. Adventures of a mere teenager who unwantingly risked his life only to be saved by a stroke of luck and some humanity.

One of R. L. Stevenson’s lesser known novels, Kidnapped, does justice to the smooth wit that Stevenson is famous for. The narration glides and flies through the heavy turmoils that the protagonist goes through.

Why, David,” said he, “the innocent have aye a chance to get assoiled in court; but for the lad that shot the bullet, I think the best place for him will be the heather.”… When it came to this, I gave Alan up. But he looked so innocent all the time, and was in such clear good faith in what he said, and so ready to sacrifice himself for what he deemed his duty, that my mouth was closed. Mr. Henderland’s words came back to me: that we ourselves might take a lesson by these wild Highlanders. Well, here I had taken mine. Alan’s morals were all tail-first; but he was ready to give his life for them, such as they were.

The only kink in this well oiled chain are the foreign words. As is quite evident from the excerpt above, the writing contains one too many Scottish words which are difficult for the non-Scottish readers to decipher. But mostly the context renders it proper meaning so even that problem is not much of a problem.

Lastly, the writing is filled with an adrenaline filled ride as the protagonist fights against all at land and sea, as we empathise with him and disbelieve him but constantly hope he gets what he badly seeks.

Ratings:

Critics- 3.8/5

I’d rate it- 4/5

Broken Harbor

  • Author: Tana French
  • No. of pages: 496
  • Genre: Mystery thriller

Are you the type of reader who loves murder mystery thrillers, especially the serial killer ones which keeps you hooked on every single word as you try to figure out who did it?? So am I! And this book caters to exactly us!

A family of four is violently murdered in their own house with the mother being the lone survivor, still fighting for life. In the beginning the solution seems quite obvious, mind you. But soon enough, as facts are revealed, we know that things are very far from simple. 

Here’s a scoop from the detective’s point of view-

One of the reasons I love Murder is that victims are, as a general rule, dead… I don’t make a habit of sharing this, in case people take me fore a sicko or- worse-a wimp, but give me a dead child, any day, over a child sobbing his heart out while you make him tell you what the bad man did next. Dead victims don’t show up outside HQ to beg for answers, you never have to nudge them into reliving every hideous moment, and you never have to worry about what it’ll do to their lives if you fuck up. They stay put in the morgue, light-years beyond anything I can do right or wrong, and leave me free to focus on the people who sent them there.

Interesting isn’t he?

This is a tale of love and obsession and nostalgia and bliss and utter helplessness of human life. Horror dripping from each of its pages, you slowly and steadily come to realize how this tragedy will end. And even then the climax is a bit too distressing.

Broken Harbor does what good mystery thrillers are supposed to do; it thrills you and astounds you. It also does what good literatures are supposed to do; it changes you’re outlook on the world and forces you to see what you’ve chosen to ignore.

Ratings:

Critics- 3.9/5

I’d rate it- 4.5/5

The Da Vinci Code

Author: Dan Brown

Page Count: 573

Genre: Mystery,  Thriller

Book synopsis: 

Symbologist Robert Langdon travels from Paris to London to discover the truth behind a mysterious and bizarre murder. Later, he learns about a religious mystery protected by a secret society.

Movie Adaptation: The Da Vinci Code (2006)




A thriller to keep you on your toes! That is what this book is! One of Dan’s Brown finest works about the exceedingly intriguing and historical work of Leonardo Da Vinci! 
This book outstretches it’s arms and grabs a hold of you!A hold so firm and steady; while slowly revealing the depths in it’s pages; keeping you just there, steadfast! 

It will educate you, it will inspire you to curiosity; and it will give you a griping experience all the while retaining it’s title of a cryptic, ancient, and perhaps a scandalous novel! History has never been more interesting ; Science has never been more charismatic! 

Here’s an excerpt from the Prologue:

Louvre Museum, Paris 10:46 P.M. 

Renowned curator Jacques Sauniere staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery. He lunged for the nearest painting he could see, a Caravaggio. Grabbing the gilded frame, the seventy- six-year-old man heaved the masterpiece toward himself until it tore from the wall and Sauniere collapsed backward in a heap beneath the canvas. As he had anticipated, a thundering iron gate fell nearby, barricading the entrance to the suite. The parquet floor shook. Far off, an alarm began to ring. The curator lay a moment, gasping for breath, taking stock. I am still alive. He crawled out from under the canvas and scanned the cavernous space for someplace to hide. A voice spoke, chillingly close. “Do not move.”

 
This book outstretches it’s arms and grabs a hold of you!A hold so firm and steady; while slowly revealing the depths in it’s pages; keeping you just there, steadfast (although the writing is nothing great)! It will educate you, it will inspire you to curiosity; and it will give you a griping experience all the while retaining it’s title of a cryptic, ancient, and perhaps a scandalous novel! History has never been more interesting ; Science has never been more charismatic! 
Dwelling on the depths and past of Catholicism and Jesus Christ, it teaches you to have an open mind about religious beliefs, because beliefs are made by man and man is not unknown to mistakes. You may find it offensive, you may find it shocking, but it is what it is!

 It effectively couples religion and science! It gives you a basis for your beliefs, both religious and atheistic! If this book doesn’t give you a new perspective, I don’t know what will!

Read it with an open mind, read it with a curious mind, read it not only because its based on a famous painting but read it because it is one hell of an experience! 

Ratings:

Critics: 3.8/5

I’d rate it: 4/5

The Importance of Being Earnest

Author: Oscar Wilde

Page Count: 76

Genre: Farce, Comedy, Drama (also a Rom-Com, if you may!)

Book synopsis: (Basically, a story of two bachelors, John ‘Jack’ Worthing and Algernon ‘Algy’ Moncrieff, who create alter egos named Ernest to escape their tiresome lives).

Movie Adaptation: The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)

Book outline: Play

This one is a Wilde one! The plot is really simple. A plot so plain with too many twists makes a classic that is The Importance of Being Earnest!
Oscar Wilde’s sharp wit is insuperable, and its judicious use in this social sattire is impeccable! The art of deceiving for love is portrayed enigmatically with comical consequences, as classy as literature could get!
The stock characters are as equally entertaining as the protagonists! Lady Bracknell was sassy long before it was cool. Algernon might as well be the founder of memes we have today. Also, isn’t faking a name  so much easier and less damaging than faking your entire identity to impress that lad/girl?
It ends with an overwhelming number of twists and consequently ends quite abruptly. You could say the climax of the story is quite at the end.
The writing is not your ancient English you would expect! The literature is quite modern, simple to understand and straightforward . Being an easy read, It’s not head-wrecking; Hell you don’t even need to sit with a dictionary or Google chapter/scene summaries! There is not even a single page mundane!

If you find classics uninteresting (and feel overwhelmed by or wanna get back at your collection of snobs that are your bookish friends who constantly quote classics), this one is for you! It’s really short so moreover you will finish it in an hour or two in a sitting.
Many of you must have been forced to read this one in your literature coursework! If you haven’t, this farcical comedy is definitely worth a shot!
Ratings:

Critics: 4.2/5

I’d rate it: 4.5/5

The Diary of A Young Girl: Anne Frank


  • Author: Anne Frank
  • Genre: Autobiography, Historical
  • No.of pages: 312

Now here’s a book nobody can really review. How could anyone possibly review the words of determination and will by a girl of mere 13 years of age, who’d written them in hiding from the mass murder of the Holocaust?

So hence this is less of a ‘review’ and more of ‘my opinions’ about the diary.
Imagine being in hiding behind a faux bookcase, away from all normal life without even the liberty of making the daily household noises. And all this while hoping the Nazis do not catch-and-cook you! Well that was Anne’s life for years on an end.

In conditions like these, Anne showcased such optimism, such clarity of thoughts that has perplexed both the young and the aged alike!

I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness. I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us too. I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right.

There were times when I read the books and could not help but look at her picture on the cover page and wonder HOW in the world could a child so young have so much to think, so much to write, so much to look forward to!

I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn. But, and that is the greatest question, will I ever be able to write anything great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer? I hope so, oh, I hope so very much, for I can recapture everything when I write, my thoughts, my ideas and my fantasies.

This is one of the books that gives the reader much more than mere reading pleasure; it gives the teachings of sheer hopefulness and optimism what come may.

Ordinary people simply don’t know what books mean to us, shut up here. Reading, learning, and the radio are our amusements.

She’s so “us”, isn’t she?

Ratings:

Critics- 4.1/5

I’d rate it- 4.5/5