Sunday, 30 June 2013


In June 2013, I reviewed eight books.

The Big Four by Agatha Christie (Rating: 4 out of 5)

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (Rating: 5 out of 5)

Suspicious by Heather Graham (Rating: 2 out of 5)

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (Rating: 3 out of 5)

The Stars Shine Down by Sidney Sheldon (Rating: 3 out of 5)

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (Rating: 4 out of 5) 

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (Rating: 4 out of 5)

Lord of the Flies by William Golding (Rating: 3 out of 5)

Saturday, 29 June 2013

''Lord of the Flies''- Book Review

Author: William Golding
Published: 1954

Genres: Novel, Adventure, Horror

Rating: 3 out of 5


Lord of the Flies centers around a group of children- whose ages are between six and twelve- who are trapped alone in an island after a plane crash. Having no adults with them, they have to look after themselves, take care of themselves, and find ways to be rescued. One of the boys (and the novel's protagonist), Ralph, decides to take the responsibilities of the leader. And everybody agrees to him. Everybody decides to obey him and lead a disciplined life in the island until they are rescued. 

But things don't go according to their plans. Very soon, the discipline and peace between the boys are shattered. Rivalry and argument arises. Jack, another boy with very significant leadership qualities, strongly starts scheming against Ralph. Also, the peace and stability is further destroyed when some of the boys start saying that there is a terrifying beast somewhere in the island.

I enjoyed reading Lord of the Flies, but I didn't love it. At times, I was quite terrified by the mention of the beast. The flow of words and the writing style are both extremely impressive. 

I appreciated the well-developed characters as well. I liked Ralph, our protagonist. Piggy, the first boy Ralph meets on the island, was irritating at first and later I started liking him as well. Jack was a strange character. At first I liked him and his friendship and co-operation with Ralph, but later I started disliking him when he schemes so horribly against Ralph and the others.

The life in the island, the deterioration of discipline and friendship, terror- all these are very well described. The ending is intense and quite suspenseful as well. Overall, I enjoyed and liked this one.

3 out of 5!

Friday, 28 June 2013

January to June favorites

Since it's already almost the end of June 2013 and almost half of 2013 is complete, I have decided to make a list of my favorites among the books I read from January to June 2013.

Top five favorite books I read January-June 2013

The following list is not in a particular order because I'm not sure which one is my No. 1 favorite! But however, among the books I read in January to June 2013, I loved these five the most!

Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley (my review)
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (my review)
A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie (my review)
Emma by Jane Austen (my review)
Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks (my review)

On a separate note, I'm right now busy with science fair, which explains the reason of my being a little inactive in reading and blogging! 

Happy reading!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

''And the Mountains Echoed''- Book review

Author: Khaled Hosseini
Published: 2013

Genres: Novel

Rating: 4 out of 5


And the Mountains Echoed is Khaled Hosseini's third novel. And what will I say? This novel was also as pleasant, as memorable, as intense, as his two previous books!

I can't really compare this book with the author's previous books, of course, because of several reasons. For example, both The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Sun were set with the background of the times of trouble and unrest of Afghanistan. While in And the Mountains Echoed such background can be indeed found as well, it remains slight, because this novel, first of all, is not a historical fiction like the author's previous books.  

And the Mountains Echoed tells the story of relationships--- lost relationships that are not really lost, lost relations which remain present in the form of memory and hope, told with the background of many characters, several emotional subplots, many incidents, and many perspectives. The various subplots working as a background of the stories, with very frequent flashbacks, and perspectives of several people- make this novel an emotional, intense ride! The incidents span over decades and over continents.

The primary plot is about siblings Abdullah and Pari. The novel starts in the 1950s. Abdullah and Pari's mother died a few years ago. The two siblings live with their father, Saboor, and their stepmother, Parwana, and their half-brother Iqbal. To the three-year-old Pari, Abdullah has not only been a brother, but also like a parent. The siblings have a deep bond and deep love for each other.

Abdullah and Pari's uncle, Nabi, works as a servant and chauffeur to the rich Wahdatis in Kabul. One day, Abdullah and Pari's father takes them to Kabul to the Wahdatis. There, Abdullah and Pari are separated! The Wahdatis adopt Pari! Though they are separated, the deep love and memories that they share cannot disappear. For Abdullah, who cannot forget all the beautiful memories, it is very difficult to accept what has happened. But for Pari, at the tender age of three, memories can easily be forgotten. She comes to acknowledge the Wahdatis as her parents, and ultimately forgets Abdullah and the village where she was born- but even when she grows up, she finds that something is absent from her life, dim memories and lights come to her--- but she can't figure out what is missing. But one day, destiny may bring her to her past, one day, she may come to realize what has been missing.

The story is simple but vast, because of the characters, the subplots, the backgrounds. Told through a non-linear, varied narrative structure, the novel, as aforementioned, spans over decades, continents, and characters. I thought that the depth between the relation of Abdullah and Pari, at the beginning of the novel, had been significant but yet not enough to make it heartbreaking. However, in course of time, with the flashbacks, the novel grows intense and powerful. 

And the Mountains Echoed is not my favorite book by Hosseini. I didn't feel the deep emotions that I felt when I had read A Thousand Splendid Suns. But yet, like the author's other works, this novel was also deep and intense, simple and the storytelling was really fascinating. To be precise, I didn't love it, but I was overwhelmed by the beautiful writing style, the deep subplots, the depth in the subplots, and overall, the story!

4 out of 5


Friday, 21 June 2013

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's reviews. It is about the books that you are adding to your shelves.


Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

Letters from a Father to his Daughter by Jawaharlal Nehru

The BFG by Roald Dahl

The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Good Idea, Amelia Jane! by Enid Blyton

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.

Despite of my great love for adult and YA books, I also absolutely love middle grade and children's fiction! And Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton are two of my favorite children's authors!

And I'd been eagerly waiting for And the Mountains Echoed! I'm reading it right now! :D

''Eat, Pray, Love''- Book Review

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Published: 2006

Genres: Memoir

Rating: 4 out of 5


Eat, Pray, Love tells the story of author Elizabeth Gilbert's pursuit of pleasure, devotion, and the balance between pleasure and devotion. After a traumatic divorce and problematic relationship leave Gilbert heartbroken and miserable, she decides to engage a whole year traveling in Italy (for pleasure), India (for devotion) and Indonesia (for the balance between pleasure and devotion). And she does so. She becomes successful at her attempts to discover herself, find inner peace, find pleasure, and finally find the love she looks for. She enjoys the beautiful places, the beautiful food, and the beautiful language of Italy. In India, she finds the devotion and inner peace she had been looking for. In Indonesia, she helps a poor single mother and her children. And finally, she starts to fall in love again with a Brazilian man.

This book was tremendously inspirational! Gilbert's writing style and sense of humor are great. At one moment, she discusses some grave, intense and sad subject. But at the very next moment, she expresses her sense of humor in such a way that it makes us laugh out loud! I really enjoyed reading it, I enjoyed Gilbert's writing style. It is not just a travelogue, but in fact, keeping the travel stories as a background, Gilbert explains her attempt (and success) in discovering herself with great intensity, solemnity, and humor.

4 out of 5

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Random thoughts (bookish and non-bookish!)

Hello and happy Wednesday everybody!

Sorry for not being active for a while! I had been sick for the last few days... now I'm better, but since I couldn't attend school for a few days, right now I'm kinda busy catching up with the class.

Oh, a nice thing to share... It's quite cloudy and windy right now now. The last few days the weather was extremely hot... It's pleasant to see some clouds after so many days! :P

As for reading, I've been busy with Elizabeth Gilbert's ''Eat Pray Love'' for the past few days. I'm really liking it and hope posting the review within a few days.

Happy reading.


Saturday, 15 June 2013

''The Stars Shine Down''- Book review

Author: Sidney Sheldon
Published: 1992

Genres: Novel, Mystery, Suspense, Romance

Rating: 3 out of 5


The Stars Shine Down is the story of Lara Cameron, who grew up in poverty and with misery, but established herself as one of the most successful real estate developers. The books tells the story of her life, of the successes and difficulties that she comes through, her feelings, her lover, her career. She accomplishes everything: fame, wealth, reputation, the man she loves, everything. But then she is risked with downfall:  everything she has is in danger.

 The Stars Shine Down was an absolute page turner and a fast read. From the very beginning of the novel, it was engrossing. However, the middle part did seem a bit ridiculous. Again and again there was Lara builds this, Lara builds that, Lara accomplishes this, Lara accomplishes that. Though at first it was nice to read about these, soon they became so frequent that it seemed like they were being repeated. As soon as, however, Phillip enters the story and Lara falls in love with him, the story changes it's style and becomes more likeable. 

The character Lara had great depth. As the novel described her life in such detail, Lara really became an excellently-developed character.

The novel is not really a ''thriller''. It's something of a mixture of drama, mystery,  suspense, and some  romance. The truth behind the mystery was surprising. The ending was also wonderful and nice. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. It was a quick and light read.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

''Mansfield Park''- Book review

Author: Jane Austen 
Published: 1814

Genres: Novel, Romance

Rating: 3 out of 5


Previously this year, I read two Austen novels: Persuasion and Emma, and absolutely loved both of them. But I cannot say so in case of Mansfield Park. Though I appreciated the story and enjoyed it, Mansfield Park seemed a little lifeless to me. Every Austen novel has a life and energy in it. But sadly, I thought Mansfield Park lacked the energy, the flow. I liked this novel, but felt it was relatively dull.

Sir Thomas Bertram and Lady Bertram live in the spacious Mansfield Park with their four children, Tom, Edmund, Maria, and Julia. Lady Bertram's sister married Mr Price, a man with a low income, and is now burdened with several children and is suffering from financial difficulty. Lady Bertram's other sister, Mrs Norris, proposes that they should shelter one of Mrs Price's children, and thus, lighten at least some of Mrs Price's duty. Therefore, they plan to shelter the Prices's eldest daughter, Fanny. As said, the timid and shy 10-year-old Fanny arrives at Mansfield Park. At first she is very meek and afraid of everybody, but her cousin, Edmund shows kindness to her and they become very good friends.

Years pass, and when Fanny is eighteen years old, Sir Thomas goes to Antigua for business purposes. The house becomes rather light and carefree, because Sir Thomas had ruled the house very strictly. Two new characters join the story: Henry Crawford and Mary Crawford, siblings of the neighbor Mrs Grant. Fanny takes a distaste in both the brother and the sister, thinking that they are badly influenced by the city where they had grown up. However, the Betram siblings admire the Crawfords, and Henry Crawford flirts with both Maria and Julia, despite the fact that Maria is already engaged to Mr Rushworth. Edmund apparently falls in love with Mary, who is rather  ill mannered because of the influence of ill-mannered friends. Fanny dislikes the growing fondness between Edmund and Mary because of two reasons: firstly, because of Mary's manners. Secondly, Fanny herself has some feelings for Edmund. And then with a sudden surprise, Henry Crawford proposes to Fanny, expressing his deep love for her! But Fanny is strictly against this proposal. How can she accept such a man whom she saw flirting with both of her cousins at the same time, and whom she can never love, and who is very dissimilar to her tastes and ideas?

At the very beginning of the novel, I began to think it overly lifeless and even decided to abandon it, but soon it began to have a depth and flow that I began to like and enjoy this novel. But still, it was not enough. The novel lacked the humor, the life, the energy that is present in the other Austen novels I have read. The middle part is really good, with such depth, but the beginning and the ending seemed rather dull to me.

The characters were rather well developed. Fanny, Edmund, Miss Crawford and Mrs Norris had the most depths. Fanny's steady transformation from a timid and shy girl to a sensible and mature woman who knows herself- is pretty remarkable. Mrs Norris is the ''wicked lady''. At the very beginning of the novel, Mrs Norris offered to her sister and brother-in-law that she would be glad to take care of Fanny. But when Fanny was brought to Mansfield Park, where was all of Mrs Norris's ''kindness''? Mrs Norris repeatedly reminds Fanny that she is nothing but a sheltered girl from a poor family. One of the most shocking scenes was when, when the Betrams and the Crawfords are preparing to perform a play, and ask Fanny to play a role, and Fanny refuses, Mrs Norris says that Fanny has forgotten who she is, referring to her family status. It was one of the scenes where I hated Mrs Norris so very much.

The flow and depth in the middle part of the novel was rather remarkable, the depth of the characters and the situations was good, but overall, I cannot say that I loved Mansfield Park. I enjoyed reading it, but I thought it was rather dull and lifeless, if compared to the other Austen novels.

3 out of 5

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Really Random Tuesday

Really Random Tuesday is hosted by Suko. It  is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of.


Tomorrow I have a Maths test, so you can probably imagine how stressed I am today! :(

I can't find any other thing to share today... so, for now, Happy reading!

Friday, 7 June 2013

''Suspicious''- Book Review

Author: Heather Graham
Published: 2005

Genres: Novel, Mystery, Romance, Suspense

Rating: 2 out of 5


Heather Graham's Suspicious takes place in Everglades. In the novel, a successful alligator farm is situated in Everglades. Police officer Jesse Crane is startled after three deaths take place. A couple have apparently been murdered, and the remains of an alligator is found near the place where they died. Secondly, a man has been eaten by giant alligator. Along with these tragic incidences, Jesse is startled to see Lorena Fontier, the new nurse in the alligator farm. Lorena looks like a girl from a rich family, so what is she doing in this area as a nurse in an alligator farm? There is certainly something fishy. Jesse thinks that Lorena's presence here has a motive.

Lorena indeed has a purpose of coming here. Several years ago, her father had died. Her father had done researches that may have dangerous results, and Lorena has reason to believe that it is this alligator farm that has these formulas of her father, and that her father's death might be connected with this alligator farm. Eventually, Lorena confides in Jesse, and Jesse decides to protect her and investigate her doubts. Soon Lorena and Jesse fall in love, but danger is lurking behind.

I didn't like ''Suspicious'' that much. The characters were described in detail but sadly, they hardly had any depth. There was suspense at times, but that was very inadequate and infrequent. I didn't enjoy it very much. The characters are not developed well; the storyline is interesting but the lack of depth and suspense makes it disappointing. But however, it was not boring. This is my first Heather Graham novel and though I didn't like it, I appreciate Graham's writing style and will look forward to read more of her writings someday. 

Suspicious was a quick read and though not likeable, it was not unpleasant or terrible.

2 out of 5

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion. It is about the new words that you've encountered or spotlight words you love.

I haven't come across many new words this week, but still, I've come across a few which I am sharing below:

Superfluous being more than is sufficient or required; excessive. 

Forlorn:  Appearing sad or lonely because deserted or abandoned

Despondence: Feeling or expressing despondency; dejected

Rendezvous:  A meeting at a prearranged time and place

The definitions of these words come from

Monday, 3 June 2013

''A Thousand Splendid Suns''- Book Review

Author: Khaled Hosseini
Published: 2007

Genres: Novel, Historical fiction

Rating: 5 out of 5


A Thousand Splendid Suns is Khaled Hosseini's second book. The book describes the unrest in Afghanistan from the 1970s to the early 2000s- which was also the subject of Hosseini's first book, The Kite Runner

A Thousand Splendid Suns describes in detail the sufferings of women in Afghanistan during the Taliban rule. I loved this novel. Very much. It is a superb, fascinating, deeply moving tale, a an absolute page turner, very informative, and very touching.

A Thousand Splendid Suns tells the story of two women, Mariam and Laila. Mariam is the illegitimate daughter of Jalil, a wealthy man, and Jalil's former housekeeper. Mariam grows up in an isolated village with her mother, whom she calls ''Nana''. Jalil often visits Mariam, and Nana constantly comments against Jalil, trying to sink him in Mariam's estimation. But however, Mariam still deeply loves her father, and eagerly anticipates for his visits. One day, when Mariam goes to visit her father- Nana commits suicide, thinking that Mariam would drift away from her. Soon, Mariam is married to a man much older than her, Rasheed. Though initially he behaves well with her, he starts getting extremely abusive after she suffers from multiple miscarriages. 

Laila is two decades younger than Mariam. She grows up in the home of a loving, educated father, and a mother who has never been much of a mother to her. In the midst of the unrest in the country, Laila becomes orphaned, and is sheltered by Mariam and Rasheed. Laila comes to know that she is pregnant by her childhood friend Tariq, and when news comes to her that Tariq has died, she agrees when Rasheed proposes to marry her, who is at least forty-five years older than her. 

Though Mariam and Laila are initially very hostile with each other, gradually they form a deep friendship. During the Taliban rule in Afghanistan, everything changes. Women's sufferings increase. Poverty, starvation... Mariam and Laila, along with these sufferings, are also tortured by their husband, Rasheed. Their life turns upside down because of so much sufferings... but their deep friendship and unity will help them to survive and face the tortures that is inflicted by their husband.

The novel gives a clear portrait of the unrest in Afghanistan from the 1970s to the 2000s. The novel gives focus on the torture that the women faced during the Taliban rule.  

I liked the characterization and the characters. The two protagonists, Mariam and Laila, are developed excellently. The novel explores their childhood, background, happiness, sufferings... Personally, I cannot decide who is my favorite among the two- both are equally well developed. I felt sympathy for Laila for her sufferings, and I felt both sympathy and admiration for the brave and memorable Mariam. 

I loved this novel, a lot. It was beautiful and lyrical. I had also liked The Kite Runner, but A Thousand Splendid Suns... was great. 

5 out of 5

Saturday, 1 June 2013

''The Big Four''- Book Review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1927

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

Rating: 4 out of 5


The Big Four takes place over a rather vast time- more than six months, I think- and deals with a rather complicated plot. While I've come across several negative reviews about this book, I must say that I really admired this one. I liked the structure and style of The Big Four. I liked the overall story. 

Captain Hastings travels from Argentine to England to meet his dear old friend Hercule Poirot. Poirot, however, is himself planning to go to South America in order to deal with a case that offers him a generous sum. While Poirot and Hastings are talking, a mysterious person appears at Poirot's residence, who is very sick and weak, and tells Poirot about The Big Four, which is, apparently, a vast criminal organization. The man tells Poirot about the four people who run in this organization. Very soon, while Poirot and Hastings are absent, the intruder dies, apparently murdered.

The Big Four, as Poirot tells, is a vast and powerful organization that plans to take over the world, that is planning to control the world and change the world in an adverse way.  The four people who control the organization are: Number One, Li Cheng Yen, a Chinese man who is the head. Number 2, an American man. Number 3, a Frenchwoman. And there is the curious Number 4. It is Number 4 who repeatedly keeps meeting Poirot and Hastings, but every time with a different, genius disguise- disguises that are so genius that even Poirot has difficulty guessing who the person actually is.

Poirot decides that he will unravel the identity of the Big Four. He cancels his trip to South America. He takes a dangerous decision...

In this novel, Poirot takes the responsibility to solve several cases- and each case is, in some way or other, related to the Big Four. Poirot works to unravel the identities of Number 2, 3, and 4. Will Poirot be able to solve this huge problem? Will Poirot be able to save the world from such an incidence?

The novel is filled with wonderful adventures! Hastings narrates the adventures in a superb way. And the presence of Poirot is wonderful as well. The disguises of Number Four were also quite interesting. The novel has some interesting twists.

The novel is more a suspenseful adventure than a mystery. We see our two dear old characters, Poirot and Hastings, involved in dangerous adventures in order to unravel the Big Four. It also has some scares and a lot of suspense and thrills.

The organization, the Big Four, was itself very scary! As Hastings notes, the Big Four seems to have some ''superhuman'' qualities, as it comes to know about every actions and decisions of Poirot. 

Overall, I really liked this adventure-filled novel.

4 out of 5