Recently I have realized I have more than 200 followers. I would like to say thank you to all people who follow and read my blog!!
At this occasion, I would like to tell you something more my reading personality and my dirty little secrets.
Wherever I go and whatever I do, there is always book with me. You wouldn’t find lipstick or mascara in my bag but definitely you would find a book. Even when I am sure that I wouldn’t have time for reading, I carry it with me anyways. Who knows, maybe I could spare 5 minutes for reading while I am on the bus. When I travel, I take 3-4 books with me although I know I would have limited time to read. But it doesn’t matter, it is better to have a book next to you rather than not to have at all. Recently, I have become progressive reader because….finally I got a Kindle!!!!! So now, both beautiful paper book and little cute Kindle travel around with me.
I must admit that nonfiction is what I love! When a book has a purpose and a meaning I am thrilled. Of course, I need to learn something. I do not read just for reading. Reading a book without importance and ideals is just waste of time. Just think, how enlightening it is to read Nelson Mandela’s autobiography or Christopher Hitchens’s memoirs! Simply delightful.
I confess, I am Moody Reader sometimes!
Sometimes I change my mind, sometimes I get bored with the book before I actually read it. It happens that on Monday I feel like reading classics, while on Tuesday I would go for autobiography. And my shameful bookshelf… half- filled with books that I have not read yet. Ohhh, don’t blame me for that, it’s books’ fault! All of them look so deliciously good in bookshops. When I am about to read book A, book B comes into the picture. So I read book B and book A ends up unread on the bookshelf.
No, no no! I am not Trend Reader
If everyone likes the book it does not mean I will read it. I won’t rush to bookstore or I won’t order it from Amazon just because most of readers praise some new release. When time comes and I feel that I want to read I will. It might be one, two or five years after publication because there is no time limit for happy reader. There are also “celebrity books” that become bestsellers not because of the rich and valuable content but thanks to money and great PR. Definitely they are not for me, not even if you pay me.
When I visit second- hand bookshops, I always look for something rather old and something I never heard about. There are many unknowns or forgotten books that deserve attention and coverage.
The only releases that I might be crazy about are Political Science studies. Cass Mudde and Hanspeter Kriesi are my favorite scholars, and their books are more precious than anything else. I might say I am Academic Trend Reader.
This was my bookish confession. Don’t judge me. You also have dirty little secrets, reader!
Jaimie Richards spent whole her childhood in Pakistan where she adjusted well to local culture and traditions. At the age of 16 she returns to her homeland, Australia. The girl feels more Pakistani than Australian though, and is having problems to accommodate to new place, fit into school environment and comprehend the rules of daily life.
This is a great young adult book. I strongly believe many young people could identify themselves with Jaimie. While the author shows the difficulties of young people coming or returning to Australia, the story refers to every person who tries to fit to the new culture. It might be Pakistani coming to Australia, Turkish coming to Germany, or Polish coming to The Great Britain. Regardless the origin of people, problems and difficulties are universal.
From Jaimie’s letter we learn how painful the changes are for a young person:
Dear Pakistan I have heard about what people go through when someone dies. Well, that is what I feel like right now. Something is dying.
Surprisingly, Jaimie’s parents are very passive characters. In fact, they play minor roles in her life. They appear here and there but I got impression they do not care or are unable to help their child, who goes through tough time. On the other hand, it happens in today’s world that teenagers deal with the pain on their own and sometimes parents are simply hopeless and cannot connect with their children.
Jaimie reminds the readers that there is also positive aspect of living in different culture:
But that experience of living in a different culture from you own is one of the most enriching things that can happen to a person. You have a different perspective on life from the one you would have had if you had been brought up here.
The author highlights that there are places like Pakistan, where life is very simple and places like Australia, where many people get into a trap of consumerism. Nevertheless, Hawke praises Pakistan too much sometimes. To illustrate, when Jaimie compares Australia to Pakistan she describes the latter in the following way: “It was being fair that mattered there”. With all due respect for Pakistan and people who live there, women’s life is neither fair nor easy in Pakistan.
The author reminds about sad true that in many cases immigrants are perceived by host country as less educated and less valued. As a matter of fact, not all of immigrants want to live from social benefits; many migrants are well educated, hardworking and could contribute to the host countries’ societies and economies. However, they are not treated fairly like some of people coming to Australia: “Another brilliant guy driving a taxi because his experience wasn’t recognized.”
The narrator is Jaimie herself. Each chapter devoted to her life in Australia is followed by letter to Pakistan. I don’t understand why the author went for this construction. I think it would be much better for the book if she wrote about Jaimie’s life from third person perspective and Jaimie’s letters would bring a breath of fresh air.
And a few words about the book cover. It looks like Jean Sasson’s books about women in the Middle East. When my husband saw the cover he said this books is about European woman married to a Muslim. In fact, any book about Middle East involving women has the same predictable cover. Since this is young adult book, I would like to see a young girl not mature woman. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying the cover is not beautiful but I expected something more ambitious.
Dear Pakistan is a great read. I would strongly recommend it to any young person who have difficulties to adjust to the new place. On the other hand, people who never changed their place of residence might find this book helpful to understand the problems of immigrants.
Overall rating: well-deserved 5/5
I received the book through NetGalley in exchange for honest review.
This historical fantasy tells the story of Ashtandukht, a star- reckoner, who travels across Sassanian Iran to hunt mythical creatures. She must face many obstacles on her path to retribution.
Without a doubt, A Star- Reckoner’s Lot is a perfect read for fans of combat and adventure. The fight scenes are realistic, and the surprises Ashtandukht meets on her way would satisfy every adventure’s enthusiast. Furthermore, the pace of the story is fast and makes the reader keep turning the pages.
Ashtandukht is brave and strong woman. Her life is not easy, she suffers after loss of her beloved husband. Her cousin Tirdad, who accompanies her during the journey, is fully devoted to her. No matter what happens, Ashtandukht can always rely on him. The third character, Waray- half- div, is minor character who is supposed to serve to complement the main characters. However, for me she is the most intriguing one. She is eccentric and mysterious creature. Actually, Waray does not talk too much. Most of the time she says “maybe”, but still she is the most compelling character.
There is not gratuitous amount of sex in the book, which I really appreciate. Few sex scenes do not take the reader aback and do not ruin the story.
The book cover catches the eye and attracts to read the synopsis. It is beautiful, looks like a billboard that definitely will help to sell the book.
The book has several flaws. First and foremost, I expected more detailed picture of the creatures. Description might not be so important in other genres but it is fundamental element for successful fantasy book. Memorable and fascinating description is a key to make readers feel the story.
In my opinion, the author did not exploit the potential of Iran. Historical background for fantasy book is a great idea but I expected to read more about the remarkable places and extremely rich culture of the country. Moreover, the author focuses on Nowruz holiday, while there is much more to explore in Iranian legends.
Darrell Drake has very specific writing style. His vocabulary is very rich and often he uses “big” words when actually simple ones would be more suitable. I am afraid that some readers might find the language a bit too heavy.
In summary, A Star Reckoner’s Lot is a decent fantasy read with historical background. I recommend it for combat and adventure enthusiasts.
Overall rating: 3.5/5.0
I received the book from the author in exchange for honest review. A Star Reckoner’s Lot will be published in October.
Revenants: The Odyssey Home is set in 1970s in USA. Betsy goes through tough time after her elder brother, Nathan, dies in Vietnam War. She becomes volunteer at hospital where war survivors get their treatment. At the upper floor she discovers mysterious patient. His face is deformed, and he cannot walk and speak. However, he uses his finger to communicate in Morse code with Betsy and her younger brother. The girl tries to do everything to discover elderly patient’s identity and take him home before he dies.
The book is about people who survived the Vietnam War and about those who lost their beloved ones. The war always brings death, damage and grief. Survivors are not the only one who suffer. Families that lost their relatives deal with pain too.
The argument between Nathan and his father shows the reasoning of those who join the war and of those who are against it. Nathan, as many young men, joined the army to prove himself, to show he was a real man. On the other hand, his father believed nothing good comes out of the war. There are always negative consequences- committed atrocities and lost lives.
I really appreciate the author for giving the book universal meaning. He touches the issue of Vietnam War, which becomes a symbol of any other war. We live in times when politicians send soldiers to the senseless military missions and when terrorist attacks happen every day.
Betsy, the main character, is young, passionate and believes in happy ending. She puts all her efforts to get the imprisoned elderly patient home. Probably she sees Nathan in him; helping the man is like helping her own brother to get home.
The congressman Hanna represents many politicians who support the idea of war. He encourages young people to join the army and to fight for their country. However, he shows ignorance and lack of compassion when he does not remember the name of soldier whose funeral he attends.
The story is based on Odyssey tale. Jamie, the mysterious patient, is a revenant. A person long forgotten and remembered again. Someone who returns home after long absence. It took Odysseus 10 years to get back home. Jamie was forgotten for 50 years, imprisoned in small hospital room, isolated from the rest of the world. After a half of the century he was found by Betsy, who tried to bring him back to life. Kauffman also shows that every action has its consequences. However, time cannot erase the things done. The price must be paid. Sometimes life does not go our way, sometimes there is no happy ending.
In my opinion, the Odyssey refers also to Betsy and people who suffer after losing someone important. She got through long time of recovery, grieving and missing her brother.
A small element deserves gratitude. Kauffman indirectly refers also to 1970s racism in USA. “Negro” working at hospital symbolizes the black people’s position in American society.
I think Revenants: The Odyssey Home cannot be classified into one genre. It is a war history, historical fiction, political thriller or even love story.
I really like the book’s structure. The chapters composed entirely of dialogs are followed by fully descriptive chapters revealing the true identity of mysterious patient. It keeps reader focused on the story.
The tittle perfectly suits the content of the book. It is memorable and honestly descriptive.
The only negative thing is that sometimes the plot gets a bit confusing and I was not sure to which character the author was referring to.
To sum up, Revenants: The Odyssey Home is beautifully written book. The author touches important subject of war and its consequences. Remarkable characters, interesting structure and perfectly suited tittle make the book really good read. I hope the book will receive all the coverage it deserves.
Overall rating: 4.5/5.0
I received the book from the author in exchange for honest review.
It is such a beautiful day! Let’s make it even more beautiful with quotes from one of the most talented writers of all times, Charles Dickens.
1 “A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other”, A Tale of Two Cities
2 “There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts”, Oliver Twist
3 “Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before-more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle”, Great Expectations
4 “Reflect upon your present blessings – of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some”, A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings
5 “No one who can read, ever looks at a book, even unopened on a shelf, like one who cannot” , Our Mutual Friend
6 “My advice is, never do to-morrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him”, David Copperfield
7 “No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused”, A Chrisman Carol
8 “Death may beget life, but oppression can beget nothing other than itself”, A Tale of Two Cities
9 “Credit is a system whereby a person who can’t pay, gets another person who can’t pay, to guarantee that he can pay”, Little Dorrit
10 “I know enough of the world now to have almost lost the capacity of being much surprised by anything”, David Copperfield
After long holidays I am coming back to my book blog. One of my destinations this year was Johannesburg in South Africa. It was an amazing trip! I have never learnt so much about history and politics during such a short period of time!
Unfortunately, I brought only three books from Johannesburg. The schedule was very tight and I did not have enough time for “book hunt”.
I could not leave Johannesburg without Mandela’s biography
The first book I bought was Mandela: The Authorized Biography (1999) by Antony Sampson. I bought this book in Exclusive Books in Rosebank. Exclusive Books is a charming bookstore where you can find various studies of African history, a lot of novels written by local authors and you can enjoy delicious coffee. I arrived to Johannesburg with the plan to buy Mandela’s biography and I wouldn’t leave the country without the book! I am currently reading it and I can already tell you that it is a must read book for those interested in both details of Mandela’s life and history of South Africa in general. The author knew Mandela since 1950s and was given complete access to letters from prison and all personal papers of Mandela. He also interviewed Mandela’s friends and associates. The author discusses aspects of apartheid system that you won’t find in most of the books on apartheid. I must admit that it takes me a lot of time to finish this book. I need to be in mood to read it, to absorb and process all information. I do not want to miss anything, I want to live the story. Note that the book was published in 1999, therefore it does not cover whole life of Nelson Mandela.
From women’s perspective
The Apartheid Museum is one of the most outstanding places I have ever visited in my entire life! The information I was exposed to was so extensive that I was unable to absorb everything during one day! After long walk around the Museum, I visited a store with souvenirs. Despite variety of available books, one book caught my attention: The Cry of Winnie Mandela (2004) by Njabulo S. Ndebele. After watching videos and reading all information in the Museum, I started to wonder how was it to be a wife of political and social icon imprisoned for 26 years. What sacrifices Winnie and other women made in order to survive? We always read stories of male leaders and admire them for their courage and strengths. In many cases women are simply forgotten. The author combines facts and fiction and talks about real women who were awaiting for the return of their husband. As he puts it, the awaiting is a pillar of life of South African women. I bought this book because Njabulo S. Ndebele is a local author and I believe he has the best knowledge about life in South Africa. Besides, I love the cover!!
And a bit of adventure
The third and the last book brought from Johannesburg is Elephant Song by Wilbur Smith. I found this book in souvenir store in Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto. The Elephant Song has nothing to do with South Africa political and social history though. This adventure book is located in Zimbabwe where Daniel Armstrong, a wildlife TV presenter, takes revenge on those who killed his friends. Politics, wildlife exploitation and English occupancy of the African continent. In other words, historical fiction combined with African adventure. The book was published more than 20 years ago but it still gets positive reviews.
Have you read any of these books? What do you think about them?
A tranquil and stable life of Shruti falls apart after she is brutally raped by politician-cum-goon, Salim Yadav. In order to find justice for herself and other rape victims, she accepts the offer of oppositionist politician Sharad Malviya, and enters politics. Soon she finds herself in the world led and manipulated by men.
I truly admire Tuhin Sinha for touching issue of unpunishable rapes in India. Shruti symbolizes every woman who was raped and could not find justice. It always works the same way. It is not criminal who needs to defend himself, it is raped woman who must to prove to the whole world that she did not provoke the rape. In other words, that she did not ask for it. Rapist walks fee and proud of himself while woman remains stigmatized for the rest of her life. There is also a problem with family’s attitude to raped women. Parents of Shruti are good example. Instead of supporting and helping their daughter to recover, they told her to forget about everything as soon as possible and come back to normal life. Take into consideration that her family was perceived as modern and progressive one.
The books shows the world led and manipulated by men. She did enter politics because Sharad Malviya convinced her to do this. He did chose the way for her and she followed him. Although Shritu thought about herself as strong woman, she allowed him to direct her. Sometimes people are able to sacrifice themselves in the name of love…
It should be highly appreciated that male author tries to write about women’s suffering and struggle. Writing from the perspective of woman, about her traumatic experience and feelings accompanied it is extremely hard task.
While I truly appreciate the whole idea and message the author sends, I need to point out some flaws of the book. The Edge of Desire is written like a report rather than a novel. The author passes too quickly from one event to another. For example, I would expect to read more about Shruti’s recovery but the author jumps from rape to elections. Of course, this fast pace makes book very readable and if somebody has reading slump this book might help to get over it. Nevertheless, the book lacks of depth. I would like to see more insightful analysis of the situations and feelings, transition from one event to another.
The book explains a lot about Indian politics and traditions but again, it lacks focus on what Shruti accomplished as a politician. What about her believes and visions for her country? The only ‘moment of Shruti’ was the introduction speech in Parliament in which she talked about pervasive rapes and blame that society puts on women. I think that examples of her tasks and achievements would make the story more convincing.
I got impression that author wrote this book is a hurry. Maybe this is because of Tuhin Sinha is a journalist and he is not experienced novel writer yet. There is a huge difference between writing article for a newspaper and writing a novel. If he wants to become respected author he needs to master his writing skills.
The Edge of Desire…I think the tittle is unfitting and misleading; I do not see any connection between the tittle and the content. The book is worth reading and should not be judged by its tittle.
Definitely my review is going to be too long but I admire Christopher Hitchens so much that few sentences simply would not be enough to analyze Hitch-22.
Hitch-22, is a memoir of citizen of both the UK and the USA, a socialist opposed to the war in Vietnam and a supporter of the US war in Iraq, an ardent atheist raised as a Christian, a war correspondent, a literature lover with thirst for booze, friend of both those admired and those disliked… Chris, Hitch or Christopher Hitchens.
Without a doubt, Hitchens was a prolific and colorful writer. In a candid way, he described his childhood and relations with parents. Certainly, the most dramatic and heart- breaking experience in his life was the suicide of his mother, Yvonne, to whom he devoted first chapter. He gave insight into, sometimes very cruel, life in boarding school. He also told the story of his first affection to another man. In a beautiful way, Hitchens described how his identity, or rather identities, changed over the years. He dedicated some chapters to the people who had special place in his life, such as Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie or Edward Said. Furthermore, he did not disappoint with articulate description of turning point events of the last few decades. Hitchens would not be himself if he did not include his unchangeable views on religion. The last but not the least, at the end of the book he shared with readers discovering of his Jewish identity.
Several elements make this memoir truly interesting and amusing piece. First, it is not a simple memoir, it is a book about modern history describing revolutions and wars. With Hitchens, you go to Cuba, Prague, Poland, 11/9 New York, Iraq under dictatorship of Saddam Hussain and many other places. That is to say, you get a lesson from a person who was a witness of events that changed the history. Next, Hitchens portrayed those who he admired and those who he despised. In fact, his life was so fascinating and inspiring because of people he encountered- from dictators to the best authors of our time. Finally, what stole my heart was his deep admiration for the literature. You need to be really well- read to try to truly understand Hitchens.
I really appreciate Hitchens for the part devoted to Salman Rushdie. Hitchens criticized journalists, scholars and the Left, who instead of attacking Ayatollah attacked Rushdie. As he put it “It seemed that the assassins were winning without a fight, and those who should be defending the citadel were weeping and scattering before they had even heard a shot or felt a wound”. What Hitchens highlighted was the fact that the same multiculturalism that brought Rushdie and other distinguish figures to the West, bases on moral relativism and moral blackmail, which turned into uniculturalism. He stated it clearly that the modern relativism promoted by particular groups, excuses terrorism, violence, and religious fanatism.
A few people would wish to get into argument with Hitchens and not feel foolish at the end of it. I think this memoir shows the biggest debate of Hitchens, a debate with himself. Some critics condemn him for his conversion from the Left to the Right. In my opinion, this book demonstrates fascinating process of transformation of views and believes, which is inseparable part of people’ lives. What I truly admire is a very open way that Hitchens talked about good and bad choices in his life. He always was a man of multiple identities. In fact, through whole his life he was trying to learn who he really was. Interestingly enough, after so many years he found out about his Jewish roots, which led him to Poland.
While he admitted his political change of heart, his atheism never shifted. He had strongly and clearly manifested his unchangeable attitudes to religion even in the last interviews before he passed away. One of the reason for his detest of the religion was a tendency of religious people to believe that the universe is designed with “you” in mind, or that there is a divine plan into which one fits whether one knows it or not.
Nevertheless, Hitchens disappoints with his endless and effortless defense of 2003 Iraq war. Actually, it is quite surprising that such a brilliant man, with very sober and logical approach to any aspect of life and politics was so stubborn in justifying the war.
And that memorable visit in brothel house in New York with Martin Amis… What strike me was his attitude to the women working there. A man who fought against injustice around the world, who promoted empowerment of women, described women in brothel house as “cynical little witches”. Frankly speaking, Hitchens disappointed me so much…
Those who expect hot details of his intimate life will be deeply dissatisfied. Hitchens did not want readers to know anything about the relationship with his wife. He never said anything about falling in love with her, in the first place.
Let me recall messages that Hitchens included in his memoir: Margaret Thatcher was a kind of sexy, while Marxism was good Communism not necessarily, life in boarding school can be brutal, Mother Teresa was not as good person as people believe she was, do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach, we learn whole life who we really are, true friends are always there for you, sometimes you need to be a fox.
The best summary of Hitch-22 would be Christopher Hitchens’s motto: “Get on with your own work, and behave as if you were immortal”.
I should say “rest in peace, Hitchens” but I think he would not like it.
I am a big enthusiast of brilliant Scandinavian writers, who in exceptional way present the dark side of human nature. The plot construction, damaged characters, historical and cultural elements make their books extraordinary. Particularly, I appreciate work of Stieg Larson, Jo Nesbo and Henning Mankell. Today’s post is devoted to my 10 favorite quotes from books written by those three talented authors
1# “I can be a regular bitch. Just try me” Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
2# “It did no good to cry, she had learned that early on. She had also learned that every time she tried to make someone aware of something in her life, the situation just got worse. Consequently it was up to her to solve her problems by herself, using whatever methods she deemed necessary” Stieg Larson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
3# “Isn’t it fascinating that Nazis always manage to adopt the word freedom?” Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
4# “Always retain the ability to walk away, without sentimentality, from a situation that felt unmanageable. That was a basic rule of survival. Don’t lift a finger for a lost cause” Stieg Larsson,The Girl Who Played with Fire
5# “What is worse? Taking the life of a person who wants to live or taking death from a person who wants to die” Jo Nesbo, The Snowman
6# “Many people believe that right and wrong are fixed absolutes. That is incorrect, they change over time. The job of the historian is primarily to find the historical truth, to look at what the sources say and present them, objectively and dispassionately. If historians were to stand in judgment on human folly, our work would seem to posterity like fossils – the remnants of the orthodoxy of their time” Jo Nesbo, The Redbreast
7# “Justice doesn’t only mean that the people who commit crime are punished. It also means that we can never give up seeking the truth” Henning Mankell, Faceless Killer
8# “When one historical period is replaced by another, there is always a group of people left over from the old society” Henning Mankell, The Dogs of Riga
9# “Society had grown cruel. People who felt they were unwanted or unwelcome in their own country, reacted with aggression. There was no such thing as meaningless violence. Every violent act had a meaning for the person who committed it. Only when you dared accept this truth could you hope to turn society in another direction” Henning Mankell, The Dogs of Riga
10# “History isn’t just something that’s being us, it’s also something that follows us” Henning Mankell, The Troubled Man