Saturday, 27 April 2013

''Dear John''- Book review

Author: Nicholas Sparks
Published: 2006

Genres: Romance

Rating: 3 out of 5


I really liked Nicholas Sparks's ''Dear John''. It was an emotional love story with a really good storyline and a wonderful ending. Sparks's writing style is wonderful and simple, and the story itself is very engrossing and enjoyable.

The novel's protagonist John Tyree is a rebel at school. He doesn't have a close relation with his introverted father, who remains busy all day with his coin collection. His father has a fixed routine, has no social life, much to the distaste of John. After finishing school, John doesn't apply for a job. Instead, he does what he describes as ''lousy'' jobs, and then one night, he finds out that he has to do something with life. Life isn't so simple. So he decides to enlist in the army. 

On a vacation, he meets a young woman, Savannah Lee Curtis, who is here with a group to build houses for poor people. He immediately falls in love with her, and they spend a lot of time together, and she falls in love with him too- and Savannah is the best thing that ever happened to John. But then it is time to leave, and they promise each other that they will never forget each other, that they will never leave each other, that their love will always remain strong, and that they will get married one day.

But then there is the 9/11 and John has to enlist in the army again. Though initially they keep in touch with letters and phone calls, the situation slowly changes- and Savannah does something that may not keep their relation the same as before, but their love will always remain, always remain strong. What happens then?

''Dear John'' was a very emotional love story. Sparks made me care for the characters. I didn't really feel sympathy for John and Savannah that much in the beginning, because these elements of separation are quite common in love stories. But the ending- it was so... wonderful. Instead of giving us a fairytalish ending, Sparks gives us a realistic ending. The ending wasn't a happy one but it was a picture of the realities of life, that in life such things happen, yet satisfaction can be achieved by those emotional endings and what John did in the end. The ending is such that it can bring both tears in the eyes and a smile in the face.

John's relation with his father is also an important element of the story. Initially, we see their relation as troubled, because his father can talk about nothing but coins, and then Savannah helps John to get close with his father- for which he will always remain grateful to her. John's relation with his father is also an important and emotional aspect of this novel.

Some of the parts were quite predictable, but still I liked this novel very much. It was an emotional and wonderful read. 

3 out of 5


Tuesday, 23 April 2013

A partial view of my bookshelf and random bablings

I know I haven't been posting for a really long time, but since my exams are going on, I don't get that much time to engage in reading. Today, I'm going to post a photo with a partial view of my bookshelf.

A part of Shounak's bookshelf

 So here's a part of my bookshelf. Yes, I know it's not that much organized. I've been lately thinking of arranging them according to their alphabetical order. But for that, I'll need a lot of patience! :P

By the way, I'm currently reading: 

Believe it or not, this is the first Nicholas Sparks book that I'm reading... and... I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I'm liking the writing style, and the story as well.

I have a lot of after-exams plans for both movies and books, which will remain a surprise until I blog about them later!

Happy reading! :)

Monday, 15 April 2013

''The Kite Runner''- Book review

Author: Khaled Hosseini
Published: 2003
Number of pages: 324

Genres: Novel, Historical fiction 

Rating: 4 out of 5


Khaled Hosseini's ''The Kite Runner'' was an overwhelming, emotional read. It is a wonderful novel that kept me very interested in the storyline. Hosseini's writing style is extremely remarkable, and with descriptions of the recent Afghanistan history, and with emotional and overwhelming content, this is a very good book... The only fault I found was: some of middle part is slightly not as good as the first and last parts of the book. But let's talk about it later.

Amir is the son of a wealthy father, and lives in a luxurious house. They have a Hazara servant, Ali, whose son, Hassan, is very close friends with Amir. Amir and Hassan had grown up together, they play together, Amir reads stories to the illiterate Hassan, and they fly kites during the kite flying tournaments held during the snowy winters. Amir has always felt detached from his father; his father is always cold to him, they never had a close or warm relationship.

During the kite flying tournament held in the winter of 1974, Amir thinks that winning in the tournament will give him an oppurturnity to become close with his father. He wins, and Hassan runs to catch the last cut kite. But he isn't coming back. Where is he? Amir wonders. And then he notices a very brutal thing happening to Hassan... and he doesn't have the courage to stop the incident... and he is filled with guilt and remorse over what happened...

Decades later, Amir, who, along with his father, had fled to America after the Soviet Union military had attacked Afghanistan, receives a phone call from his late father's friend, Rahim Khan, who tells him to come to see him in Pakistan, as he is very ill. Rahim Khan had always been a very inspirational person in Amir's life. So Amir goes to meet him. And then, Rahim Khan indicates that there is a way by which Amir can forget the guilt over had happened to Hassan almost three decades ago, and he must travel to Afghanistan for a task.

The first part of the novel, where there are vivid descriptions of Amir and Hassan's carefree childhood, to the parts of the incident, and Amir's guilt, are excellently-written. These first chapters were great. But then in the middle part, where his marriage to Soraya was described- I felt sort of irritated. I mean, I thought these elements weren't that much essential! I know, for the development of depth of the novel, it was needed. But I thought is somewhat moved away from the main storyline. The final chapters, however, were very appeasing, as emotionally overpowering as the first ones, perhaps more.

The poverty and misery described in this novel is also very vivid, intense. The novel gives a portrait of the free Afghanistan and Afghanistan under the Taliban rule.

I liked most of characters... Amir, Soraya, Hassan, Sohrab. The characters are well-developed. The antagonist, Assef, though he appears only in a few scenes, is also very well-developed, and I felt hatred for Assef the moment he was introduced.

This is a heartwarming, emotional book, and I'd recommend it. 

4 out of 5

Friday, 12 April 2013

''Are You Afraid of the Dark?''- Book reviews

Author: Sidney Sheldon
Published: 2004
Number of pages: 337

Genres: Novel , Thriller, Suspense, Romance, Mystery, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Crime

Rating: 3 out of 5


I really enjoyed reading Sidney Sheldon's last novel, ''Are You Afraid of the Dark?'' Not just that, I liked it so much that I would have loved to give it a 4 out of 5, but I cannot possibly ignore it's faults and flaws. Really. But however, despite it's flaws, it seemed a wonderful novel to me- both an emotional and suspenseful novel. Amazing book!

The story has a blend of suspense thriller, adventure, drama, sci-fi and romance. Really. Four scientists, working for the KIG (Kingsley International Group), have recently been murdered in different places of the world; their death seems like an accident... Diane (widow of Richard Steven) and Kelly (widow of Mark Harris) are summoned to New York by Tanner Kingsley, the owner of the company, who asks them if their husbands shared anything with them about their professional matter. Both of them don't have any idea about their husbands' recent projects.

Then we understand that the lives of Diane and Kelly are in danger; someone is trying to kill them, thinking that they might know something about their husbands' last projects. Diane and Kelly team up, running away from the attackers, using their mind, wit, and intelligence, but how long will they run? And who is after them? And why are they being chased like this?

I liked the way Sheldon developed the characters. By means of repeated flashbacks, we are told of the past lives of these two people, their upbringing, career, their wonderful moments with their husbands, adding elements of drama and romance to the plot. I really liked the characterization. I also liked the deep friendship that Kelly and Diane develop. Although at first they are somewhat hostile to each other, gradually they develop and warm friendship which made me very emotional. Their friendship somewhat reminded me of Theo and Nell of the 1963 film ''The Haunting''.

Every time Kelly and Diane ran away from the attackers, I smiled and laughed! I became so delighted! I cheered for them, ''Run! Run!'' Really, it was a wonderful reading experience. The adventures, suspense, thrills, curiosity, and the ''what will happen next'' were really wonderful. The emotional intensity- beyond remarks!

It is also filled with humor. For example, have a look at this:

Diane was thoughtful for a moment. 'I know a place where they can't touch us.'
  'Let me guess. The space ship that brought you here.' 

But ''Are You Afraid of the Dark'' is flawed as well. For example, why did so many of the characters have to turn into a villain? I know, this was for the development of the story. But at one point the villains were really predictable.

And it has some errors as well. At one point Diane tells Kelly that the battery of her phone has finished. But how did she pick up her phone just some time after this? 

But I must mention again, it was a very wonderful read filled with suspense, adventure, thrills, humor, and emotional intensity. I liked it very much. I wish I could ignore it's faults.

3 out of 5


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

''Five Have a Wonderful Time''- Book review

Author: Enid Blyton
Published: 1952
Number of pages: 176

Genres: Novel, Adventure, Suspense, Mystery

Rating: 3 out of 5


Five Have a Wonderful Time is the eleventh novel of Enid Blyton's ''Famous Five'' series. I liked reading this children's adventure/mystery novel. It was a quick and smooth read filled with suspense and adventures!

The Famous Five- Georgina (George), Dick, Julian, Anne, and the intelligent dog, Timmy- go to stay in a carnival for their holidays, near an old castle. A fair is to be held in the place, and the people of the fair- some very strange people, a fire-eater, a person with two pythons, etc- arrive. They are not friendly and are quite mean to the children. To the surprise of Dick and the others, Jo, a traveling girl whom they had met at one of their previous adventures, makes her appearance. It turns out that Alfredo, the fire-eater, is the girl's maternal uncle. As a result, the fair people change their attitude towards the children and treat them nicely.

One day, the children see a face at one of the towers of the castle. They are surprised. No one is supposed to be at the castle at this time. They come to suspect something. Two famous scientists have recently disappeared and it is suspected that they will fly to another country and sell their secret experiment. Because of resemblance, the kids think that the face could belong to one of those scientist. And they investigate, going to the castle, checking around, but there doesn't seem to be a way to get up to the tower...

It was an enjoyable and pleasant read. I like spending time with Enid Blyton's characters. Her novels, filled with creepy adventure and fun, are very imaginative and well-written. The mystery is not quite deep in this book. What is deep is the suspense. The adventure as well. Another reason I liked this book is that I am fascinated by old castles, hidden paths, dungeons. The book provided me an oppurturnity to be thrilled by these. The investigations were also engrossing and made me curious. In the end, I was satisfied because I read it. It's a smooth and pleasant suspense novel, and yes, recommended!

3 out of 5



Tuesday, 9 April 2013

''The Namesake''- Book review

Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Published: 2003
Number of pages: 291

Genres: Novel

Rating: 3 out of 5


Jhumpa Lahiri's ''The Namesake'' deals with the lives of Indian immigrants to America and their children- providing a portrait of the struggles of each generation to adjust with the culture of the other. I really enjoyed reading it. I won't say it was a great read. But it was an emotional, almost overwhelming book, that I'd recommend to people who like emotional stories dealing with the harsh realities of life.

The story deals with Ashoke and Ashima, an Indian couple, who had an arranged marriage, who have moved to America. Starting in the late 1960s, the novel starts with Ashima giving birth to a son. Near the very beginning of the novel, we are informed that several years ago, Ashoke had faced a railway accident, the train where he was in was crashed into pieces. Many passengers had died, and Ashoke was also near death, but in his hand he had page from a book by Nikolai Gogol, which caused the rescuers to understand that he was still alive and thus, his life was saved.

There is a confusion about the child's name. According to the family's customs, the baby will be named by Ashima's grandmother, who had named all of her great-grandchildren. But, however, the letter never arrives, and the great-grandmother becomes severely sick, not remembering anything. So, the child goes by the pet name ''Gogol'', kept in honor of Nikolai Gogol, whose book had saved Ashoke's life.

When Gogol is to start school, his parents decide to register the name ''Nikhil'' as the official name of Gogol, but Gogol never responds when he is called Nikhil; he cannot move away from the name Gogol. His parents are compelled to keep his name Gogol. As a little boy the name doesn't bother him. But as he grows up, the rather unusual name starts disturbing, and, at one stage, when he is in his late teens, he finally changes his name to Nikhil.

He starts living his life in his own way, but his names always haunt him. To some, he will always remain Gogol. At the same time, he comes across the realities of life, of harshness, loneliness, love, heartbreaks...

First of all, the book gives us quite a vivid picture about Indian American family life. The immigrant parents can never fully adjust themselves to the culture and traditions of the new country. To them, their home always remains India. The children, on the other hand, growing up with the culture of America, can never think of India as their home. To them, India is only a place from where their parents had come; to them, the place bears little importance, bringing conflict between the generation. None of the generations can be blamed.

The novel also gives a vivid picture of the realities of life. Gogol goes through a lot of troubles, a lot of agonies and heartbreaks in his life, teaching him the realities. Love, betrayal, heartbreak, sadness, deaths of close people- he faces everything in his life.

Filled with emotional content, this is a likeable novel, but not certainly a book to fall in love with. I enjoyed reading it; it was engrossing and well-written, vivid and quite powerful.

3 out of 5

Friday, 5 April 2013

''Roots: The Saga of an American Family''- Book review

Author: Alex Haley
Published: 1976

Genres: Novel, Historical fiction

Rating: 5 out of 5


It took me ten days to read this book- or even more than that- and I can't describe how overwhelmed I am! Alex Haley's vivid, well researched, overall emotionally wonderful novel has completely impressed me. It's really a must-read for all bookworms and history lovers.

The author of ''Roots'', Alex Haley, an African-American, had heard from his grandmother and great-aunts, about Kunta Kinte, his ancestor born in Africa, who had been kidnapped by white men and brought to America and made a slave. The descendants of Kunta Kinte kept the family history alive by orally passing the stories to the next generations, and this how the story had reached Alex Haley.

At his adult life, Haley became extremely interested in learning more about his family history, to form and realize more from the broken fragments of the story he had heard from his grandmothers. Then started a hard and long research of twelve years. Alex Haley, after trips to different libraries, going through old censuses, records, documents and reports and also going to The Gambia, where Kunta Kinte originally was from. He met griots, oral historians of Africa, who informed him more about his African ancestor, the family legand, Kunta Kinte. And finally, after twelve years of hard research, Haley could form a more clear and vivid picture of his family history.  Roots is the result of his research.

Roots tells the story of family history of Haley from the birth of his great-great-great-great-grandfather Kunta Kinte. Kunta was born and raised in strict tradition and cultures. He was just like any other free person- working, learning, playing, in the midst of the green beauty of nature, and strict cultures of Africa. And then when he was, at the age of seventeen, kidnapped by white people (whom Africans called ''toubobs'') and on a big ship, under physical tortures and harsh conditions, transported to America, where he was enslaved.

But Kunta never gave his hope up. He always used to abide by his culture and traditions learned in Africa. He also, personally, firmly denied the name ''Toby'' which the white people called him by. And he also tried to run away FOUR TIMES, only to be discovered and given severe, extremely severe punishments.
Kunta's daughter, Kizzy, passed the story of her father to her son George, George passed the story of Kunta to his sons, and then like this, ultimately it reached Haley, Kunta's fourth great-grandson, who worked hard for years to construct a detailed portrait of his family history.

Certainly, ''Roots'' is not entirely factual. In fact, Haley himself had called the book ''faction'', a mixture of facts and fiction. On writing this book, Haley had not only researched his own family history, but also had to study in depth about African cultures, history, traditions, as well as about the political situations of America during the 18th and 19th centuries.

''Roots'' spans over two hundred years (from 1750 to the 1970s). Every character was in some way memorable. I had mixed feelings for Kunta Kinte, feeling sympathy at times, and also I felt him irritating a couple of times, but when the story shifted to Kunta's daughter Kizzy, I realized how attached I had become to the character. Kunta's story is for over four hundred pages, more than half of the book, and readers can easily become attached with the character.

I had many favorite characters. Kunta, Bell, Kizzy, Matilda, Irene, Tom (George's son), Cynthia, Uncle Mingo, Miss Malizy, and so many others.

The story shifts and gives emphasis on the next generations, and it is wonderful how Haley made us give importance to whomever the story shifted to. The last few chapters are narrated by Haley from the first person point-of-view, narrating his growing up, coming across the pieces of his family history, and joining them together through years of hard works, efforts, and determinations.

Roots is not just a tale of the two hundred years in the lives of the family, but it is also  thoroughly detailed about those times, filled with details about the situations and the events occurring. It is a thorough examination of human nature. AND about how history and genealogy are so valuable, and if even a slightest part of it is carefully preserved, we can join the pieces together BY research. I've always been interested in genealogy, and ''Roots'' was an emotional and wonderful read for me.

5 out of 5!