Saturday, 9 November 2013

A brief note

I have been blogging about books and films in two different blogs- Blog of an aspiring movie buff and Shounak's book reviews. However, keeping both of the blogs updated has become difficult for me, because of shortage of time. Therefore, from now on, I'll review both films and books in a new blog: Life with Books & Movies. While both of the old blogs will remain, I'll publish all my book and film reviews in the new blog, from now on.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

''The Thirteen Problems''- Book review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1932

Genres: Short story collection, Mystery, Crime, Thriller

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review

''The Thirteen Problems'' is a short story collection by Agatha Christie, featuring Miss Marple. 

Several guests have gathered in Miss Marple's house: her nephew, Raymond West, Joyce Lempriere (an artist) , Sir Henry Clithering (ex-Commissioner of Scotland Yard), Dr Pender (a clergyman) and Mr Petherick (a solicitor). Each of them decide to tell stories of unsolved mysteries--- the solution of which are generally only known to themselves, and the other guests have to figure out the solution. In each case, nobody, except Miss Marple, can figure out the solution. The first six stories are told in this setting. The next six stories are set several months after the first six stories, when both Miss Marple, and some other people, are staying as guests in the house of Colonel Bantry. The last story is about the investigation of a suicide that is perhaps a murder. Sir Henry Clithering does the investigation, though Miss Marple already guesses the solution...

Sir Henry Clithering and Miss Marple are the two characters who appear in all the chapters. I'd first met Sir Henry in ''The Body in the Library''. In this book, this character gets more, much more depth. I liked this character. And Miss Marple is excellent as always. Her village parallels are really interesting!

I enjoyed this short story collection, a lot. The first few stories were actually quite predictable, but the last seven or eight stories are really unpredictable and absolutely puzzling! Though the first few stories are predictable, there is a kind of atmosphere in them, a kind of charm in them, that makes them really very delightful and really very enjoyable to read. All the stories in this collection are wonderful! My favorite stories in this collection are ''The Companion'', ''The Affair at the Bungalow'', and ''The Blue Geranium''. They were really delightful reads, these stories. There is atmosphere, there is suspense, there are so many puzzles.

4 out of 5

Sunday, 3 November 2013

''Crooked House''- Review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1949

Genres: Novel, Crime, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review

Of all the Agatha Christie novels that I've read, ''Crooked House'' has one of the most unexpected, surprising endings. Not only this, ''Crooked House'' is a delightful read, from the beginning to the end. It is a suspenseful novel, with well developed characters and a wonderful narrator.

The narrator of this novel is Charles Hayward. He loves Sophia Leonides, granddaughter of a wealthy entrepreneur, Aristide Leonides, who is of Greek origin. Charles and Sophia meet after a long time. But Sophia tells Charles that they can't marry right now. Why? Because Sophia's grandfather, Aristide, has recently died, from poisoning. It is apparent that Aristide has been murdered.

Charles's father is an Assistant Commissioner of the Scotland Yard. Charles decides to figure out who actually did the crime. He visits Three Gables, residence of the Leonideses. A gigantic house with a lot of family members living peacefully. 

Charles gets acquainted with the members of the family. Brenda, Aristide's second wife, who is more than fifty years younger than her late husband.  Sophia's parents, Phillip (who keeps an impassive expression and keeps himself busy with his books), and Magda (an actress). Roger, Aristade's other living son, and his wife, Clemency. Edith de Havilland, an elderly spinster and the sister of Aristade's first wife. And Sophia's siblings: the moody, handsome, Eustace, and the intelligent little Josephine. There's also Laurence Brown, the children's tutor. And there is an elderly Nannie.

Every member of the family seems to suspect Brenda, Aristide's young wife. Brenda seems to be the one with the strongest motive and opportunity. But Charles finds Brenda to be a helpless, lonely woman who can never be capable of committing a murder.

Who has murdered Aristide Leonides?
 

This is a novel that has deep, well developed characters and a lot of suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the solution came so unexpected. It surprised me. Surely it has one of the most unpredictable endings, among the Agatha Christie novels.  An excellent novel, highly recommended! It is probably, right now, one of my favorite Agatha Christie books.

4 out of 5

(On a separate note, I'll not be very active in blogging for the next few weeks, as my exams are approaching! I'll be active once again from early December, after my exams end).

Monday, 28 October 2013

''The Cuckoo's Calling''- Book review

Author: Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling)
Published: 2013
  
Genres: Novel, Mystery, Crime

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review

The Cuckoo's Calling is the first crime novel by J. K. Rowling, written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

Earlier this year I had read J. K. Rowling's first adult book, ''The Casual Vacancy'', and I had really liked it. I found it emotional, with depth and good characterization. This novel, ''The Cuckoo's Calling''... it was just amazing. It was a really delightful and engrossing read, a cleverly written mystery. And the chemistry between the protagonist, the private detective Cormoran Strike, and his secretary, Robin, was really wonderful. I found it a very enjoyable read.

Well-known model Lula Landry dies after falling from the balcony of her penthouse apartment. It is guessed that she committed suicide, after some investigation.

Cormoran Strike is a private detective. He does not get many clients. One day, John Bristow, the brother of the late Lula Landry, comes to him and tells him that he suspects that Lula didn't commit suicide. She might have been murdered. Bristow asks Strike to investigate the case. Because it isn't really likely that Lula committed suicide. A neighbor of Lula, Tansy Bestigui, claims that she had heard shouts and quarrels from Lula's apartment just before Lula fell. Also, two mysterious figures were noticed around Lula's home in the CCTV footage. Strike accepts the case, and with the help of his temporary secretary, Robin, he starts investigating.

Cormoran Strike had once been in the army. He had lost a leg in Afghanistan. He is going through personal problems after having broken up with his long-term girlfriend, Charlotte. Homeless, he is forced to sleep in his office, and he wants to hide the fact from Robin. Robin is Strike's temporary secretary, but as she helps Strike with the case, she develops a deep friendship with Strike, and regrets the fact that she has to leave him within a few weeks. She helps him, a lot, in the investigation.

The investigation brings Strike across a lot of people. The security guard, Wilson. Lula's handsome driver and aspiring actor, Kieran Kolovas-Jones. Tansy Bestigui, the woman who claimed to have heard quarrels from Lula' s apartment but whose claims were not taken seriously because she was on drugs. And Lula's closest friends. Lula's boyfriend. Lula's unpleasant biological mother. And a lot of other people. The case is not simple, as it requires a lot of research and investigation.

I really found it an enjoyable mystery with a good premise, puzzling storyline, and depth and good characterization. The character of Cormoran Strike is deep and really well developed. We get to know a lot about Cormoran, his childhood, his relation with his family members, his sad and problematic relationship with Charlotte. These backgrounds give the character much depth. Much focus, a lot of focus, actually, is given on Cormoran's personal life and background. ''The Cuckoo's Calling'' was not just a mystery; it was about Cormoran Strike as well. Strike's secretary, Robin, gets much importance and depth as well. Most of the novel is told from Strike's point of view, but some parts are also told from Robin's point of view. I really liked how Strike and Robin form a close and deep friendship, and how she helped him with the case. She was such an intelligent, understanding character!

The cast of characters is quite large. We come to meet many people who Lula knew, her friends, family, acquaintances, even people whom she barely knew. 

Strike's investigation of the case was really enjoyable and I couldn't really guess the solution! I couldn't even guess it! 

Though the novel was a bit slow paced at the beginning, it was really engrossing. It was such a cleverly written, well developed mystery with excellent characterization!

4 out of 5

Monday, 21 October 2013

''A Little Princess''- Book Review

Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Published: 1905

Genres: Novel

Rating: 5 out of 5

Review

Sara... She is probably one of the most memorable young characters that I've ever come across. ''A Little Princess'' was such a heartwarming, beautiful read that can evoke strong emotions. It is so overwhelming, inspirational charming book. It was so, so, so wonderful, so beautiful, overwhelming.

Sara Crewe was born and grew up in India. Her father, Captain Ralph Crewe, brings her to England, where she is enrolled at a boarding school.

The Headmistress of the school, Miss Minchin, apparently dislikes Sara, but treats her excellently, because of her father's wealth. Sara receives excellent behavior from Miss Minchin, she has a room and a sitting room of her own, but that does not make her arrogant... Instead, she helps the weak students (especially her classmate, Ermengarde). Life for Sara seems happy, perfect.

But tragedy strikes soon. Sara's father dies suddenly... and Miss Minchin is furious to find out that Sara is now a penniless orphan and is completely her (Miss Minchin's) responsibility. Just within a minute, the behavior of Miss Minchin towards Sara completely changes. The cordiality, affection turns into scorn, fury, and dislike. Sara is no longer allowed to stay in the luxurious bedroom, but she is sent to stay at the dark attic, in a room next to the scullery maid. The condition of the room is dreadful. Sara is reduced to the rank of a servant, compelled to run errands, she gets scorn from not only Miss Minchin, but also from the cook and the servants. Her clothes get torn, dirty and old. Her outward appearance becomes shabby and pitiable, but her strong imaginative power, her determination makes her capable to face all these challenges and difficulties. She makes herself think repeatedly that however pitiable her outward condition is, she is still a princess, a princess who is facing difficulties. Her strong imaginative power enables her to move on, face the hunger and cold winters...

And how wonderful it was to read this novel! It was just like an emotional, overpowering journey! 

Sara Crewe... Princess Sara. She is a strong, a very memorable protagonist! At the beginning of the novel, Sara is a girl who has received so much affection, so much love from her father, and has always lived in luxury. But she is not spoiled. Instead, she is a kind, a very gentle, charming girl who is eager and very willing to help people. And then though she faces hardship and suffering, her spirits remain, her imagination remains, she is still Princess Sara. Even in this pitiable condition, she has the wish to help people. This character is simply unforgettable.

Miss Minchin... she was such a vicious villain! Miss Minchin's change of attitude towards Sara, within a moment... it was so shocking!  She is a cruel, vicious antagonist. 

''A Little Princess'' is a very inspirational, heartwarming, overwhelming, emotional novel, an enchanting, beautiful story! Sara Crewe is a very, very memorable, determined, and strong character. I absolutely loved this novel!

5 out of 5 


Sunday, 20 October 2013

''The Body in the Library''- Book Review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1942

Genres: Novel, Mystery, Crime

Rating: 3 out of 5

Review

Mrs Bantry wakes up hearing the screams of the housemaid, who says that there is a body in the library. It is the body of a dead young woman. Nobody in the house has ever seen this young woman before. Mrs Bantry calls her friend, the wonderful Miss Jane Marple, to solve the mystery. It is then revealed that the dead woman is Ruby Keene. Circumstances and investigations lead to more discoveries, and the case seems puzzling and difficult. Then... the charred remains of a girl is found from a burnt car, and it is guessed that the murders of this girl and Ruby Keene are perhaps connected...

While I cannot say that I loved this one, ''The Body in the Library'' was definitely a very enjoyable read that made me puzzled and kept me guessing. There's not much suspense in this one, but the novel was definitely very interesting! While the main investigation is done by Superintendent Harper, Inspector Slack, Colonel Melchett, and Sir Henry Clithering,  Miss Marple is the one who solves the whole case, who succeeds in making everything clear. The solution to the mystery was quite clever .

I really like Miss Marple. It is my third Miss Marple novel (I previously read ''A Murder is Announced'' and ''4.50 from Paddington'') and I am looking forward to read more Miss Marple novels! She is such an interesting character. Her ''village parallels'' were really very interesting.

 ''The Body in the Library'' was a puzzling and enjoyable read. 

3 out of 5 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

''The Story of My Life''- Book Review

Author: Helen Keller
Published: 1903

Genres: Memoirs

Rating: 5 out of 5

Review

''The Story of My Life'' was written when Helen Keller was just twenty-two years old. Keller, though she was born healthy, became deaf, mute, and blind, when she was nineteen months old, and was, as if, surrounded by darkness and despair. But then Anne Sullivan entered her life. Anne Sullivan was Helen's teacher, and it was Anne who brought Helen out of the darkness, and hopelessness. Anne Sullivan taught Helen to communicate, and Helen thus came out from the despair. 

Helen worked hard to gain knowledge. She vividly describes her preparation for college at the Cambridge School for Young Ladies, and her hard work at the Radcliffe College. Helen describes the people whom she met in her life, people who gave her hope and inspiration. She vividly describes her love for books and knowledge, and nature. She describes so wonderfully the days during which she first learned to speak, and the satisfaction she got after she learned how to talk to her dear family members. Helen worked hard to come out from the darkness, to communicate with the world.

Helen Keller was a great, inspirational woman. ''The Story of My Life'' was such a beautiful, memorable, thought-provoking, inspirational book!

5 out of 5

Sunday, 13 October 2013

''And Then There Were None''- Book Review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1939

Genres: Novel, Mystery, Horror, Crime, Suspense, Thriller

Rating: 5 out of 5

Review

And Then There Were None...  ah, it was such an intense, baffling, scary mystery!!! It was so impressive and overwhelming! It was so very suspenseful and scary, and it is certainly the best among the Agatha Christie novels that I've read till now. It was SO intense, so powerful and psychologically intense! I LOVED it.

And Then There Were None kept me tensed and guessing. It was so intense, suspenseful. 

The plot is about an island, the Soldier Island. Eight people are invited to the Soldier Island.  The eight guests are: Justice Wargrave, Vera Claythorne, Anthony Marston, General MacArthur, Phillip Lombard, Mr Blore, Dr. Armstrong, and Miss Brent. After their arrival there, they find out that there are no other people in the island, except themselves and two servants, Mr and Mrs Rogers.  There are just these ten people in this island. Nobody else. The owner of the island is apparently a Mr. Owen, whom nobody (not even the servants) has ever seen. 

Atmosphere in the house, and the island, is somewhat odd, strange. All the guests find a paper in their room, where the nursery rhyme ''Ten Little Soldiers'' is written. Everybody is startled by the atmosphere of the house, but this turns into dread and fear when the guests start dying, one by one... And within a short time, all the guests come to guess that none of them will leave the island alive... and a constant fear arises: who will be the next victim? Along with many other questions. Who is the murderer? Is he one of them?...

''And Then There Were None'' builds up an excellent atmosphere, an atmosphere that is filled with scares, intensity, suspense. The psychological impact on the characters because of the events, is portrayed very well. Some of the characters, and the situations, have so much depth. The novel kept me guessing. And the solution was so excellent. 

I loved this one. ''And Then There Were None'' was extremely suspenseful, thrilling, and an absolute page turner.  

5 out of 5

Saturday, 12 October 2013

'''The Horse and His Boy''- Book Review

Author: C. S. Lewis
Published: 1954

Genres: Novel, Fantasy, Adventure

Rating: 3 out of 5

Review

''The Horse and His Boy'' is the fifth published book in ''The Chronicles of Narnia''. It is kind of a midquel, as it takes place within the events of ''The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe''. (''The Horse and His Boy'' is set during the Golden Age of Narnia, during the rule of the High King Peter and his siblings).

Shasta is a boy who lives with a fisherman, Arsheesh. One day, he comes across a horse, owned by a guest who has come to Arsheesh. To Shasta's great surprise, the horse can talk. The horse reveals that he is from Narnia, where different kinds of beasts can talk. He had been kidnapped from Narnia, when he was young. The horse wants to go back to Narnia, and it becomes apparent that Shasta is also originally from Narnia, as his complexion is much different than that of the Calormene people. Shasta decides to run away the horse (whom he calls ''Bree'') to Narnia and the North.

On their journey, they come across a mare, Hwin, who had also been kidnapped from Narnia when she was young. Hwin's companion is a girl, Aravis. Aravis is running away to Narnia because her marriage has been fixed with a person whom she doesn't wish to marry. Shasta, Bree, Aravis, and Hwin unite and start going to Narnia together. But then they come across a dangerous plan.  Prince Rabadash of Calormen is furious because Queen Susan of Narnia has refused to marry him. The Prince makes a plan to capture Queen Susan. Shasta and his companions decide to prevent the plot and make the High King Peter and his siblings aware of the plan. Their journey is dangerous and difficult...

Compared to the earlier books in the series, ''The Horse and his Boy'' actually had less magic and also, less charm in it. I didn't really love it like I had loved the earlier books. While ''The Horse and his Boy'' is exciting and adventurous, I thought that the previous books had been more magical and engrossing. However, it was good to read about Susan, whom we hadn't met since ''Prince Caspian'', and Lucy and Edmund, who had last appeared in ''The Voyage of the Dawn Treader''. (Peter is mentioned, but never appears in this book). Susan, Lucy and Edmund make brief appearances here.

The four lead characters, Shasta, Bree, Aravis and Hwin, were really quite interesting. The characters were quite well developed, especially Shasta and Aravis. I found Lasaraleen really amusing. Prince Rabadash is the main antagonist of this novel.

The adventures, and the goal and attempt of the lead characters to try to save Narnia and Archenland from a disastrous attack, was really interesting to read. Overall, while ''The Horse and his Boy'' was certainly a really enjoyable read, I think I liked the previous books more, much more, than this one.

3 out of 5


 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

''Agnes Grey'' - Book Review

Author: Anne Brontë
Published: 1847

Genres: Novel, Romance

Rating: 3 out of 5

Review

The Bronte sisters are among my favorite authors. Emily Bronte's ''Wuthering Heights'' and Charlotte Bronte's ''Jane Eyre'' are two very special books for me. While ''Wuthering Heights'' is my favorite book of all time, ''Jane Eyre'' is one of the books that made me fall in love with books. These two books are so powerful, so intense, with so strong, powerful, memorable characters. Charlotte and Emily are thus two of my favorite authors. ''Agnes Grey'', however, is the first Anne Bronte novel that I've read.

Anne Bronte was the youngest of the Bronte sisters. She wrote only two novels: ''Agnes Grey'' and ''The Tenant of Wildfell Hall''. 

''Agnes Grey'' is based on Anne's own experiences while working as a governess. The titular character of this novel, Agnes Grey, being the youngest member of the family, grew up with a lot of love and affection from her parents and elder sister. Though her father has a modest income, he does his best to keep the family happy and comfortable, but, however, circumstances make them fall into poverty. 

Agnes decides to earn a living as a governess. She takes the job of a governess to the children of the Bloomfield family. The mischievous and disobedient children make life miserable for her, and she gets tired and devastated. However, after she loses her job because Mrs Bloomfield has complains about the children's learning, she is appointed as a governess to the children of the Murray family.

Miss Rosalie Murray and Miss Matilda Murray are older than Agnes's Bloomfield pupils, and in some ways, they are a little less mischievous. But though they are not very mischievous, they are immature, disobedient and spoiled, and Agnes's life in the Murrays' home also becomes difficult. But when will she find happiness and satisfaction...?

''Agnes Grey'' is mainly about the life and sufferings of the protagonist. In the Victorian era, governesses were poor, but educated young women, who used to teach the children of wealthy people. The governesses used to live in the house, and despite being well educated, they were often treated merely as upper servants. They were often victims of bad behavior. For example, in ''Agnes Grey'', we see Agnes not even being greeted by the acquaintances of the Murray girls. 

''Agnes Grey'' is about the life, feelings, sufferings of Agnes Grey. She finds love... she falls in love with Mr Weston. But will she find the happiness that she longs for?

The narration is impressive. The overall story, and the storytelling, is moving. It is Agnes's day-to-day story, Agnes's retelling of her life as a governess, her pains, her suffering. Her feelings towards Mr Weston was very touching, but even in case of love, there were so many obstacles and uncertainties in front of her.

''Agnes Grey'' was a pleasant and touching novel... But when I compare it to ''Wuthering Heights'' and ''Jane Eyre'',  Agnes Grey seems rather a little plain. Both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre were so powerful and intense, with characters whom I'll never forget. ''Agnes Grey'', on the other hand, was touching, but not as much that it will remain very memorable... nor were the characters that well developed. BUT ''Agnes Grey'' was also worth a read, and I'm glad that I read it. 

3 out of 5
 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

''4.50 from Paddington''- Book review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1957

Genres: Novel, Mystery, Crime, Suspense

Rating: 3 out of 5

Review

The first Agatha Christie novel I read was ''A Murder is Announced''- a Miss Marple. Since then, I have read several Poirot novels, and ''4.50 from Paddington'' is my second Miss Marple.

I really enjoyed ''4.50 from Paddington''. Miss McGillicuddy is traveling to her friend, Miss Jane Marple, from Scotland. On her way, her train comes parallel to another train (the two trains are running on parallel tracks). Miss McGillicuddy witnesses something terrible. She witnesses a man strangling a woman, in the other train... She has a brief glimpse of the crime--- she couldn't see the man's face.

Miss McGillicuddy tells her friend, Miss Marple, about the crime that she had witnessed. Miss Marple is eager to find out what actually happened. But it is a really difficult task- how would she guess where the body of the murdered woman is? However, after doing some research, she guesses that the body is somewhere around a country house, Rutherford Hall.

Miss Marple decides to take the assistance of an acquaintance, Lucy Eyelesbarrow. Lucy, a highly educated young woman, works as a housekeeper. Miss Marple asks Lucy to temporarily take the job of a housekeeper at Rutherford Hall, and try to locate the body. Lucy agrees, and soon finds herself in Rutherford Hall, and works hard to find clues and locate the body.

Most of the investigation, in this novel, is done by Detective Inspector Craddock and Lucy Eyelesbarrow, while Miss Marple solves the mystery.

As the story progresses, it becomes complex and interesting. I really enjoyed it, and I really enjoyed the characters. Miss Marple's warmth is very remarkable, and Lucy Eyelesbarrow- she was just amazing! I loved how she takes both her tasks so seriously: while she works hard to find clues to solve the mystery, she also works hard to take care of Rutherford Hall, and people living there. She was really a wonderful character.

It's always delightful to read Agatha Christie's novels. Her books are so pleasant. The characters, the situations, with dry humor now and then- all these are so charming. ''4.50 from Paddington'' was no exception. The novel kept me guessing, and the solution was really wonderful. The book was delightful and interesting, often suspenseful, with well developed characters, and humor.

3 out of 5

Monday, 30 September 2013

''The Silver Chair'' - Book Review

Author: C. S. Lewis
Published: 1953

Genres: Novel, Adventure, Mystery, Fantasy

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review

The Silver Chair is the fourth book (in publication order) in The Chronicles of Narnia.

Eustace Scrubb, whom we first met in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, is transported, along with his classmate Jill Pole, to Narnia. They are informed that King Caspian, whom the Pevensies helped to come to the throne in ''Prince Caspian'' and with whom Eustace traveled to the end of the world in ''The Voyage of the Dawn Treader'', is now an old man, and he has no heir. He had a son, Prince Rilian, but ten years ago, he had disappeared. Eustace and Jill now have the duty to find the lost prince. Aslan tells Jill some signs which they should follow in order to find the lost prince.

In this book, Eustace and Jill come across a variety of adventures. They come to know how the Prince had disappeared. Their companion in their adventures in Puddleglum, a Marsh-wiggle, a creature with long arms. 

''The Silver Chair'' has many new settings, and some new creatures are introduced. The readers get to know about the Underland. 

Puddleglum was such an interesting character! And I obviously liked Eustace and Jill.

The Silver Chair was such an enchanting, such a magical, such an entertaining novel! I loved it. I loved all of the adventures. My favorite chapter in this book was ''The Queen of the Underland'', because it was such an intense, such a suspenseful chapter! 

4 out of 5




Friday, 27 September 2013

''The Notebook''- Book review

Author: Nicholas Sparks
Published: 1996

Genres: Novel, Romance

Rating: 3 out of 5

Review

I know I haven't posted a review for more than a whole week! I've been so busy with class tests!

I watched the movie adaptation of The Notebook earlier this year, and liked it. But I didn't like it enough to read the original book as well. But since ''The Notebook'' seems to be the favorite Nicholas Sparks book of most Nicholas Sparks fans, I decided to give it a try.

I liked The Notebook. The love story was really sweet and touching. The relation between the two main characters (Noah and Allie) is very strong and moving. But for me, it will not be a favorite Nicholas Sparks. My favorites are probably A Bend in the Road and Safe Haven.

Noah Calhoun has returned to New Bern after World War II. He keeps himself busy repairing an old house. He is haunted by memories... fourteen years ago, he had fallen in love with Allie, a girl two years younger than him. Allie and Noah's feelings for each other had gradually become very strong. But, Allie's mother had not approved of the relationship, because of their class differences. Allie's mother took Allie away from New Bern (they had come there for the summer).

Fourteen years have passed, but Noah cannot forget Allie. Allie was his first true love. All the letters that he had returned to Allie had remained unanswered.

But then one day, Allie appears... She had known from the newspaper that Noah was repairing the old house, and has come to inform him that she is engaged... But soon, they are haunted by those memories, those feelings of the past. Will Allie be really able to leave Noah and marry Lon? Will she really be able to ignore her past?

I thought that the movie adaptation brought into life the beautiful summer, whereas in the book the summer does not have that much depth. But the book was pretty deep as well. I really liked the last half. It was much more, much more touching than the first half. The horrors of Alzheimer's disease are really explored well. I just loved how Noah tries to help Allie in the last half. Noah's feelings were strong, deep, and really moving.

3 out of 5




Thursday, 26 September 2013

Feature and Follow Friday

                                      Hosted by Parajunkee  and Alison Can Read


Q: Reading Nook Tour: Give us a tour of your favorite reading spots.

 

My bed has always been my favorite place to read.

 

My table is also a favorite reading place!

 

`

And if the weather is beautiful enough, there is no better place than the balcony!

 

 

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Wednesday, 18 September 2013

''Northanger Abbey''- Book Review

Author: Jane Austen
Published: 1817

Genre: Novel, Romance

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review

With Northanger Abbey, I have completed reading all the six novels by Jane Austen. Austen has become one of my favorite authors. Her novels are so charming, witty, brilliant!

I really liked ''Northanger Abbey''.  Not only is it brilliant and enjoyable, it is also one of the wittiest Austen novels. The heroine, Catherine Morland, is the most immature heroine created by Austen.  Elizabeth Bennet is one of the most headstrong heroines I've ever come across. Elinor and Marianne were both sensible. Fanny Price was meek and timid (but not immature like Catherine). Anne Elliot was timid as well. Emma Woodhouse was a little immature. But Catherine, to begin with, is plain silly at the beginning of the novel.

Northanger Abbey was, in fact, the first novel that Austen completed (she completed it in the late 1790s) but it was published posthumously by her brother, in 1817, along with ''Persuasion''. 

We are introduced to Catherine Morland, who has never had the qualities that a heroine should possess. She was a tomboy and took no pleasure in music or painting. But as she grew older, she began to train herself to become a heroine.

When Catherine is seventeen years old, a neighbor, Mrs Allen, invites her to go to Bath with her. Catherine immediately accepts the invitation, hoping that through this visit to Bath, she might find her hero, and a lot of adventures.

In Bath, Catherine and Mrs Allen get bored because they have no acquaintances there. But soon, at a ball, Catherine dances with the charming and handsome Henry Tilney. Gradually, Catherine gets close to Henry, his sister Eleanor, and their father, General Tilney.

Catherine also becomes very good friends with Isabella Thorpe, who is younger sister the sister of her (Catherine's) elder brother's friend. Isabella's brother, John Thorpe, tries to woo Catherine, but the latter dislikes him. 

The Tilneys invite Catherine to travel with them to Northanger Abbey their residence in Gloucestershire.  Catherine, who is an avid reader of Gothic novels, is thrilled after getting the invitation, and immediately accepts the invitation. She expects Northanger Abbey to be a castle full of Gothic horrors and mysteries: old, hidden passages, signs of tortures and mysteries and murders. Catherine comes to draw a parallel between Northanger Abbey and Gothic castles, and begins to think General Tilney as a Gothic villain, a cold-blooded murderer. 

Throughout the novel, Catherine Morland comes across incidents that will eventually help her to find sense, maturity, and love. She is a silly, immature girl at the beginning of the novel. Her actions are really, really funny. Especially, after her arrival in Northanger Abbey, her fantasies about Northanger Abbey being a Gothic castle and General Tilney being a villain, there were so amazing and so very funny! Northanger Abbey often parodies Gothic novels. Especially, ''The Mysteries of Udolpho'' plays an important role. 

''Northanger Abbey'' was definitely an amusing, entertaining and funny read. Catherine Morland is yet another excellent character, immature and funny. Most of the novel was light, though the last chapters did become a little serious. It is not my favorite Austen (Emma is my favorite Austen, followed by Pride & Prejudice), but I really enjoyed reading it.

4 out of 5

Thursday, 12 September 2013

''N or M?''- Book review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1941

Genres: Novel, Mystery, Suspense, Adventure, Thriller

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review

N or M? is the first Tommy and Tuppence novel that I read. I absolutely loved the two detectives, Tommy and Tuppence. They were so pleasant, charming characters. Especially Tuppence, who has such a warm personality!

The novel is set during the World War II. Tommy and Tuppence are feeling bored because they have no work to do. But very soon they get a difficult task. Their work is to find an enemy agent. N and M are two enemy agents. One of the agents, or someone in connection with them, is living at the Sans Souci hotel. Therefore, Tommy and Tuppence go to the Sans Souci hotel, with false identities. Tommy stays in the hotel, introducing himself as Mr Meadows. Tuppence introduces herself as a widow, Mrs Blenkenshop.

Anyone, among the guests, can be ''N'' or ''M''. There are several guests: Mrs O Rourke (a scary-looking woman), Miss Minton, Carl von Deinim (a refugee who escaped Nazi persecution),  Major Bletchley, Mr and Mrs Cayley, and Mrs Sprot, who is staying with her little daughter, Betty.  Who, among them, is actually the enemy? 

N or M? was such an exciting, suspenseful thriller! I enjoyed every moment of it! Tommy and Tuppence are wonderful, and Agatha Christie builds up the suspense, the thrilling situations, excellently. 

I loved how the two detectives solve the case, the steps they take, the plans they make, that would lead them towards the identity of the enemy. The characters were developed very well. There were plenty, plenty of clues. The book kept me guessing! The solution to the mystery was really very good.

And the suspense that the novel had! It was excellent. N or M? was definitely a very, very wonderful, really very entertaining, suspenseful mystery.  

4 out of 5

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

''Nights in Rodanthe''- Book Review

Author: Nicholas Sparks
Published: 2002

Genres: Novel, Romance

Rating: 3 out of 5

Review

Adrienne Willis, a sixty-year-old divorced mother of three children, is worried about her daughter, Amanda. Amanda has recently lost her husband, Brent, and remains so depressed that deprives her two sons of their mother's sufficient attention. Therefore, Adrienne decides tell Amanda about her past, a past that may inspire her (Amanda) to learn that she has to move on in life.

Fourteen years ago, Adrienne had been asked by her friend, Jean, to temporarily manage her inn, in Rodanthe (Jean had to go away for a while to attend a wedding). There, Adrienne met Paul Flanner, the only guest who stayed in the hotel while she managed it. Paul Flanner, also a divorcee, was a middle-aged doctor who had come to Rodanthe for some work. He was to go to Ecuador soon, where his estranged son, Mark, lived. He wanted to connect with his son. 

Her recent divorce had left Adrienne bitter and sad. And Paul had always been too much busy, that made him give little attention to his son.

Over the stormy weekend, Adrienne and Paul's friendship grew into deep love, and both learnt from each, learnt from each other a lot. Paul goes away to Ecuador, promising to come back a year later.

Adrienne tells all these to Amanda. But what had actually happened to Paul?

Nights in Rodanthe was a short, enjoyable and moving read. While not having the excellent depth of so many other Sparks novels (Safe Haven, A Bend in the Road, True Believer, The Last Song), this one was a comfortable and enjoyable read. I liked both Adrienne and Paul. I liked how the two helped each other...  Adrienne, for example, was able to get over the bitter divorce.

 The main theme of this novel is moving on in life, a theme that is shared by many other of the author's works.

Overall, it is a gentle, quick, and enjoyable novel.
 

Monday, 9 September 2013

''Sad Cypress''- Book Review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1940

Genres: Novels, Mystery, Suspense

Rating: 3 out of 5

Review

Sad Cypress is the first courtroom drama in Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot series. In this novel, Elinor Carlisle is accused of murdering Mary Gerrard. All the evidences are against Elinor. It is apparent that only Elinor had the motive and the opportunity of committing the murder. But Peter Lord, a doctor, loves her so deeply that he does not care if she is really innocent or not. He just wants Elinor to be saved from the gallows. For this, he asks Poirot to investigate the case, find evidences that might be used in Elinor's favor. When Poirot starts investigating, he realizes that things are not as simple as they seem to be.
 
I didn't really love Sad Cypress. I expected more from it, after coming across so many positive reviews. But however, I enjoyed it. I didn't feel boring while reading. The first part, told from Elinor's perspective, was really quite entertaining, deep and even intense at times (Elinor's thoughts were really intense). The second and third parts were well-paced and nice as well. The characters, especially Elinor, were well developed. But it didn't have the suspense that I have found, so far, in Christie's novels (there was a lot of suspense, though, in the first part). The solution of the mystery was okay, I didn't think it was bad. It was a compelling read, but it could have been better with a little more suspense.


Saturday, 7 September 2013

''The Voyage of the Dawn Treader''- Book Review


Author: C. S. Lewis
Published: 1952

Genres: Novel, Fantasy, Mystery, Adventure

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review

Edmund and Lucy are living with some relatives. Their cousin, Eustace, is a nasty boy. One day, Edmund, Lucy and Eustace are transported to Narnia through a painting in the wall of the house! They find themselves in a boat called Dawn Treader. They are reunited with their friend, King Caspian, whom they helped to get his right to the throne, in the previous book of the series, Prince Caspian. King Caspian is sailing towards the east. There are two different aims of this journey. Caspian aims to find the seven friends of his father. Secondly, going towards the east, they plan to travel to the World's End, where nobody has been to before. They believe that Aslan's country might be there. During their travel, they come across many adventures and dangers.

Though just a year has passed in our world, in Narnia three whole years have passed. At first I felt this a little odd, as in the previous book, a thousand years had passed in Narnia though in our world just a year had passed. But later C. S. Lewis explained that you never know how much time has passed in Narnia until you get there.

Only a few characters that appeared in the earlier books appear in this one: Edmund, Lucy, Caspian, Reepicheep, and Aslan. Several new characters are introduced.

I really liked Voyage of the Dawn Treader. So far, the Narnia series has absolutely fascinated me. I must admit that I did feel a bit more homely with the first two books, but this one was splendid as well. I really liked the adventures. You never can guess what the characters will come across! And also there was a suspense as the reader is not sure what they might find at the eastern end of the world. Among the adventures my favorite was the one where Eustace learned his lesson. I also loved the description of the sea people! I liked Ramandu as well.

Friday, 6 September 2013

''Death on the Nile''- Book Review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1937

Genres: Novel, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense 

Rating: 5 out of 5

Review

The first chapter of Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile is a bit confusing. A lot of characters are introduced. A lot of suspense is built up. And the first chapter contributed a great deal to the excellent development of suspense.

I really loved Agatha Christie's ''Death on the Nile''. Not only is it an excellent mystery, but it also has so much emotional intensity. The large cast of characters is so well developed, and the situation, suspense and mystery... oh well, so excellent! The book waits for a long time until the real crimes take place. Within that time, the characters and incidents are developed, they get deep... And that was absolutely necessary for the excellent depth found in the story.

Linnet Ridgeway is a famous, wealthy, beautiful woman. One day her friend Jacqueline de Bellefort comes to her and tells her that her boyfriend, Simon Doyle, is badly in need of a job. Linnet agrees to employ Simon, and within a short time, Linnet and Simon fall in love, and soon they get married. Jacqueline is furious because her best friend and her boyfriend betrayed her...

On their honeymoon, in Egypt, Linnet and Simon come across Jacqueline. It becomes apparent that Jacqueline is following them, to annoy them, to make them uncomfortable, to take revenge. Linnet and Simon decide that they have to get rid of this problem.

Linnet and Simon are traveling on the boat Karnak. Also present in the boat is the famous detective, Hercule Poirot. Linnet and Simon ask Poirot for his help. They ask him to talk to Jacqueline. He does so. Things get rather complicated with several situations... until one midnight, Linnet Doyle is shot dead...

Who could have shot Linnet? Apparently, Jacqueline didn't, because she had alibi. Who could have then murdered her? And from what motive? 

This time, Hercule Poirot is helped by Colonel Race, who is also traveling on the boat. 

Death on the Nile will certainly remain among my favorite Agatha Christie novels! I adored it... I loved it. I loved the way the characters were developed. I loved the way the suspense was developed. I really admired it's depth. I admired how, while Poirot investigates the murder, backgrounds of so many characters are revealed.  And the solution to the mystery was extremely, extremely satisfying as well. The setting was also really wonderful (most of the story is set on the boat, Karnak). I loved how each of the incidents were so cleverly constructed and solved. 

5 out of 5

Thursday, 5 September 2013

I'm back!!!!

I took a short break from blogging because of my exams (though I did publish two reviews during the break). Now that my exams are over, I'm back to reading and blogging!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

''A Bend in the Road''- Book Review

Author: Nicholas Sparks
Published: 2001

Genres: Novel, Romance, Suspense, Mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review

A  Bend in the Road was amazing!!! I really liked it. It tells a story of love, memories, and the things caused by love and secrets of the past. 

Miles Ryan is a deputy sheriff. A couple of years ago, he had lost his wife, Missy, in a hit and run. He believes that it was done intentionally by somebody. But nobody knows who killed his wife. And Miles is still looking for that person who ruined his life, and the life of his son.

Miles is an affectionate father to his son, Jonah. Jonah's teacher wishes to see him because Jonah is having some problems with his lessons. Miles meets the teacher, Sarah Andrews. Sarah offers to give extra attention to Jonah. Over time, as Miles and Sarah come across each other frequently, a friendship develops between them, which eventually develops into love, deep love. Both are very serious about the relationship. And to Miles, Sarah is the best thing that has happened to him since his wife died.

But then secrets unfold... terrible secrets of the past unfold that may greatly affect this love they have for each other.

I have to admit that I could guess who had actually killed Missy Ryan. In spite of being a little predictable, the book didn't fail to impress me. At all. In fact, I really, really liked it. The whole novel is a wonderful mixture of Sarah and Miles's relation and Miles trying to discover who had killed his wife, and the secrets that are revealed. The two plots are hugely intertwined; both serve as the main plots of this novel. There was also suspense at times. Though I could predict the identity of the killer, this didn't make the novel less enjoyable for me. In fact, the novel kept me wondering what would happen next. It was a wonderful page-turner.

A Bend in the Road is filled with emotional intensity. First, there is the love story of Miles and Sarah, which is quite sweet. It doesn't get cheesy at all. Secondly, the deep feelings that are revealed with the terrible secrets.

After I had finished reading it, it made me ponder for some time. It was very moving, very intense, and beautiful.

4 out of 5