Saturday, 30 March 2013

''A Murder Is Announced''- Book review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1950

Genres: Novel, Mystery, Crime, Suspense 

Rating: 4 out of 5


Believe it or not, this is the first Agatha Christie that I have read- and I loved it so much, SO MUCH, that I will be reading more Agatha Christie in future and I guess she will become one of my favorite authors. ''A Murder Is Announced'' is a wonderful detective novel, a great mystery filled with lots of suspense, and yes, lots of humor.

In the peaceful village Chipping Cleghorn, villagers are startled to see in the newspaper a notice:   A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 29th, at Little Paddocks, at 6:30 p.m. Friends accept this, the only intimation.

Villagers assume this strange notice to be the invitation for a murder game. Little Paddocks is the residence of elderly Letitia Blacklock, her friend Dora Bunner, her distant cousins Patrick and Julia, a tenant Philippa Haymes, and a foreign refugee, Mitzi, serving as a maidservant. Miss Deadlock nor any of the other residents of the house has no idea about who put the notice. They think that someone did this as a joke. But they know a lot of people will be coming to their house at the evening, so they prepare food and slightly decorate the house.

Guests arrive in due time, and in 6:30, suddenly the light automatically turns out, and someone enters with a flashlight and a revolver. He shoots at Miss Blacklock twice, and with another shot, he kills himself.

Everybody turns on the light. Miss Blacklock is slightly injured in her neck, and the assaulter is... dead. It is suspected that the assaulter either committed suicide or shot himself accidentally. The assaulter is identified as Rudi Scherz, a worker of a hotel, and with criminal records.

Everything becomes so confusing. Who might have attempted to murder the charming and warm Miss Blacklock? Why? Did somebody tell Scherz to go and murder Miss Scherz? Why did all these happen? And if the person behind all these couldn't murder Miss Blacklock at the first attempt, certainly her life is still at risk.

The elderly Miss Marple has her entrance, making the work much easier for the police, by her experiences and clever mind.

I really loved ''A Murder is Announced''. I liked Agatha Christie's way of telling the story. And what I loved the most about it is, as it as suspense, it is also filled with lots of humor and warmth. Slowly, it takes a darker turn, but some of the humor always remains. I liked most of the characters. But somehow, I found the odd maidservant Mitzi to be the most amusing character. Her sudden shrieks and style of talking made me burst into laughter. (And also, I shouldn't forget to mention that Patrick referring Mitzi's cakes as ''Delicious Death'' and Mitzi's protests to it were also hilarious).

Suspense is aplenty. Every character, when trying to figure out the mystery, gives useful hints that makes one sit straight and wonder, ''What is going to happen next?" The solution to all these mysteries is VERY unpredictable and interesting and well-written and well-thought. Agatha Christie was certainly a genius.

If you like light, dark, suspenseful, humorous, mystery novels, then I'd strongly recommend this one!

4 out of 5


Thursday, 21 March 2013

''Shattered''- Book review

Author: Dean Koontz
Published: 1973

Genres: Novel, Suspense, Mystery, Horror, Thriller

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Dean Koontz's well-written suspense/horror novel is a very likeable one. Alex Doyle, a newly-married 30-year-old man, is, along with his 11-year-old brother-in-law Colin, traveling from Philadelphia to their new home in California on a Ford Thunderbird. Doyle's wife, Courtney, had gone to California before them to decorate their new home. Doyle is a reserved person with only a few friends. Colin is studious, intellectual, creative.

It all starts as one of Colin's games. While they start their journey, Colin notices a van behind them, and makes up his mind that someone must be following them.  Both Colin and Doyle take it lightheartedly at first, but the van doesn't stop moving away from them, and... is it actually following them?

The person driving the van is George Leland, ex-boyfriend of Doyle's wife Courtney. They had broken up some years ago, but now George's plan is to get Courtney back again... to be near her again. But for that, he must remove all the obstacles from his way. AND the obstacles preventing him to get together with Courtney again are Alex and Doyle themselves.

I really liked ''Shattered''. The suspense is built up well, and Koontz is successful in writing a wonderful thriller. Another wonderful thing is, the novel never forgets human emotions. Doyle becomes very attached to Colin because when he was of Colin's age, his personality matched that of Colin. I loved the way how Doyle loves Courtney and Colin, how without these two people, Doyle's life would be meaningless. The parts dealing with the bond between Alex and Colin are extremely sweet.

But I didn't really feel attracted to the parts dealing with George Leland. An unpleasant character he is, and it's more unpleasant to read about him. Dean Koontz is successful in presenting a nasty character like Leland in a nasty way, and the sweet characters like Doyle and Colin, in a sweet way.

I didn't really like the car chase scenes. My least favorite genre is action, and the thing I dislike about action films are the meaningless action scenes without any art. Not that all action films are like that. Anyways, action scenes in ''Shattered'' are well written, but they are lengthy. That's what makes them so irritating.

Detective Ernie Hoval's investigation about who murdered a policeman (who was actually murdered by Leland himself) is brought into no noticeable conclusion, and that's another displeasing thing abut this book.

But the scary scenes are well-written, the sudden shocks are well-presented, and overall, it's a wonderful novel. It is also very touching, especially the character Doyle, whose emotions for Courtney and Colin is sweetest thing in this novel.

3.5 out of 5 

Thursday, 14 March 2013

''The Wonderful Wizard of Oz''- Book review

Author: L. Frank Baum
Published: 1900

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy

Rating: 5 out of 5


L. Frank Baum's ''The Wonderful Wizard of Oz'' is a magical and brilliant novel, and is an excellent example of children's classic literature. How I loved this book! It's an absolutely brilliant, pleasant book that while reading it, I felt as if I was transported to the Land of Oz with Dorothy.

I remember watching the world famous 1939 film version, but that was a long time ago, and I hardly remembered any part of the storyline. So, it can be said that the storyline was almost new to me- I loved it. I loved the story, the details, the scares, the imagination, and the beauty, the presentation, the everything. 

Dorothy is a girl who lives in a little house with her Uncle and her Aunt. One day, a terrible storm blows the house away, and takes the house, along with Dorothy and her dog Toto, to the Land of Oz. There, people inform her that her house fell upon the wicked Witch of East, who died as a result. The people are grateful to Dorothy for killing the wicked Witch. But now Dorothy wants to return home to Kansas. How will she return? The people advise her to follow a path to the Emerald City, and ask the powerful Wizard of Oz to help her.

On her way to the Emerald City, Dorothy encounters a Tin Woodman who wants a heart, a Scarecrow who wants a brain, and a lion who wants courage. Dorothy thinks that the Wizard of Oz can help them as well, and tells them to accompany her to the Emerald City. 

But on her way there are lots of obstacles. The wicked Witch of East may be dead, but the Wicked Witch of West is still there. Plus, there is a twisting revelation about the Wizard of Oz. And there are other problems as well.

This is a classic of children's literature. I loved all the characters, be it the lead characters or the supporting ones. I loved the imagination, the descriptions, and the hard work that the author put on this book. This was a smooth, pleasant, and wonderful read, and I'd recommend everybody to read this book. It's so magical!

5 out of 5!


Monday, 11 March 2013

''Bleak House''- Book Review

Author: Charles Dickens
Published: 1853
Genres: Novel, Victorian novel, Mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5


I really liked Charles Dickens's ''Bleak House''. The subject matter is grim, yet the novel is lively with lively characters and bits of humor here and there. The sudden humor in this dark novel can be so surprising. It is not as powerfully intense as Dickens's ''Oliver Twist'' or ''David Copperfield'', two books I simply love, yet it is enjoyable, moving, and good.

The main storyline of ''Bleak House'' is about Esther Summerson, an ''orphaned'' girl with a mysterious background. She had lived with her aunt as a child. Her aunt, before her death, requested John Jarndyce to take care of her. Esther, now a beautiful young woman, now moves to Bleak House, a residence of Mr Jarndyce, with two cousins of Mr Jarndyce, Richard Carston and Ada Clare.

Lady Dedlock is the wife of Sir Leicester Deadlock, Baronet. After years, she comes to know that a man of her past, a man related to many intense secrets of her life, might have come back to her life. The man is Captain Hawdon. The secret is related to Esther Summerson, and it such a secret that might ruin Lady Deadlock...

I initially thought that this novel would center around a legal court case, named Jarndyce and Jarndyce. The case is about the fate of an inheritance of the Jarndyce family. I understood very little what this case was about, so I was worried that the novel might become confusing to me. Yet, though this case, and the people related to it, play major roles in the book, the main story centers around the story of Lady Dedlock and Esther Summerson. 

There are so many characters, so many incidences in this novel. All are somehow memorable. Richard Carstone, a naive man who ruins his with the hope of Jarndyce and Jarndyce. Mr John Jarndyce, who detests Jarndyce and Jarndyce. Hortense, the vicious French maidservant. Mr Tulkinghorn, the unpleasant lawyer.  Allan Woodcourt, a likeable doctor. And so many, so many more memorable characters.

But however, that doesn't mean that this novel is very perfect. It has some faults as well. Many parts were confusing, for example, the case Jarndyce and Jarndyce, which plays a very important role in the novel. The part were Lady Deadlock runs away; a little complicated part.

Nevertheless, it was a pleasant read, and a memorable book, and I guess I will read it someday again.

4 out of 5

Friday, 1 March 2013

''The Great Automatic Grammatizator and Other Short Stories''- Book review

Author: Roald Dahl
Genres: Short story collection

Rating: 3 out of 5

Book review

I have mixed feelings about this short story collection by Roald Dahl. First of all, a few of the stories are extra-ordinary and highly impressive. Some stories were just good. And a few were disappointing. 

The stories, except perhaps Katina, are all bizarre, strange, some are macabre, some are filled with dark humor. The titular story, ''The Great Automatic Grammatizator'', is a sci-fi type of story about a young inventor who invents a machine which can produce great stories within minutes, and he and his boss start making money by selling the stories they produced with the machine. This story was quite good.

But my most favorite stories in this collection were ''The Landlady'' and ''The Umbrella Man''. ''The Landlady'' is perhaps the only genuinely horror story in this collection. ''The Umbrella Man'' is another weird story about a man, who, on a rainy day, in return of just cab fare, gives his umbrella to a woman and her daughter. But what happens next is simply surprising and unexpected.

 A story I found extremely unsatisfactory were The Butler. It looked promising at first, but then the overall story displeased me.

In conclusion, this story story collection by Roald Dahl is filled with strange stories: some are good, a few are bad. You can read this if you like Roald Dahl. 

3 out of 5