1Q84 – Haruki Murakami

1q84It’s been a while since I last wrote a book review, but how could I resist writing about the wonderful 1Q84?

I have been a fan of Murakami ever since I read Kafka on the Shore. My first book of his was Norwegian Wood, which I enjoyed but definitely did not give me any insight into what his true style is.

After discussing more with Murakami fans, I thought “Ok, let’s pick up this Kafka book”. Suffice to say that I was completely drawn in by his surrealistic style, and since then it’s been a never ending purchase of one after another of his books. Continue reading

The Casual Vacancy

the-casual-vacancy-waterstonesAbout the author

I suppose there is no need for me to introduce J.K. Rowling, but if you don’t know who she is maybe Harry Potter will sound more familiar? She is indeed the author of the 7 famous Harry Potter books, which were turned into 8 blockbuster movies. Thanks to her breakthrough with Harry Potter, she has an OBE for services to children’s literature and is J.K. Rowling is the recipient of numerous awards. When the idea for Harry Potter came to J.K. Rowling, she was unemployed at the time and the success of the novels successfully propelled her out of despair and into fame.

After the Harry Potter novels were finished and the last of the films had been released, she announced that she would be writing a “novel for adults”. Let me reassure you straight away, we are not talking about more 50 Shades of Grey! She simply meant that it wouldn’t be a children’s novel as Harry Potter was meant to be. Which brings me perfectly to the novel, The Casual Vacancy. Continue reading

50 Shades of Grey – what the fuss is all about.

Like many I suppose, I had been hearing about all the fuss around 50 shades of Grey and wondered what it was all about. I even noticed Annie Mole, London blogger, taking pictures of people reading it on the tube and thought “what’s the big deal??”. So when I finally made it to the book store and read the back of the book, something clicked and I finally understood why it might be funny to catch people reading it in public.  Continue reading

Book review: Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates

I chose this book because I overheard the man from the bookshop advising it to someone else. As I am always on the look out for a new read, I thought “why not ?” and picked up the book and left. I had never read a novel by Joyce Carol Oates before even though she is a famous author, and I was not disappointed by this one.

About the author
Joyce Carol Oates is an American author who has published over 50 novels. Some of her most famous include The Gravedigger’s Daughter, Black Water and What I Lived for. She has won many awards, including the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for the novel Blonde.

She was born and grew up in New York, was interested in reading from a very young age, and started writing at the age of 14. At the age of 19, she won the “college short story contest”, already showing her talent at writing and a precursor to her following success as an author. Continue reading

In the land of blood and honey: film review

I first read about In the Land of Blood and Honey in Vanity Fair, in which there was a long article and a cover dedicated to Angelina Jolie. The article sparked my interest for the movie, and I was pleased to think that a star as huge as Angelina Jolie is, had chosen not to go for a cliché movie. Indeed, she could have gone for the style of movie she usually acts in, or she could have gone for a huge budget – lots of special effects – Hollywood production. Instead, she chose the theme of the Bosnian war, a subject that matters to her and that she felt deserved covering. I say, kudos to her. Similarly, she decided to choose local actors and the film was shot in Hungary. Continue reading

Book review: The White Tiger

In search of a new read I picked “The White Tiger” off our bookshelf in the living room. I couldn’t find the blurb to read but thought it looked interesting and so started reading, and interesting it was. Aravind Adiga won the Man Booker prize 2008 for this book, and it is no surprise.

Adiga uses the interesting narrative of a letter to tell the story of his main character in the book. The first chapter starts us reading along as “The White Tiger” writes a letter to His Excellency the Premier of China, and so we learn about the White Tiger’s life as he so wishes to tell us. We have no real idea where he is going with his letter, and no real idea who this man is and what we will be finding out about his life. What unravels is the tale of a young boy, trying to fight his way out of poverty and what society is dictating he should do with his life.

The book provides an unusual yet interesting insight into India and its culture. Through the main character, we learn of cultural rituals, they way people are brought up in India, the differences between the rich and poor. We learn of the hardship people suffer in India, of the poor living conditions and of corruption, and we learn of the differences that exist within the different parts of India itself. Through this letter Adiga succeeds in telling us the story of a nation that is on the rise, yet still has many faults. We empathise with the main character, even though part of us feels like we shouldn’t really. Adiga also manages to make us empathise with the second main character, even though he is a bad person who makes other people’s lives miserable. And yet, seen through the eyes of The White Tiger, we manage to feel sorry for this person.

Adiga tells us the story of the White Tiger in the order he sees fit, therefore sometimes leaving us in the lurch with a feeling of having been cut off half way through a very good story. But in the end, we find out everything we wanted to know and the book ends in a very satisfactory manner. No need to worry, this is not one of the books where you end up wondering what happened.

It is a truly excellent book and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a new read, anyone interested in India, anyone planning to travel there and many more.

 

Book review: Harry Potter books 1-3

I hardly need to write an introduction to the now very famous story of Harry Potter, the boy who discovers he is a wizard on his eleventh birthday. Harry, who grows up in a rather un-loving family made up of his aunt uncle and cousin, is dreaming of a life far away from them, when his wish is granted and he gets whisked off to wizard school. There, he meets his two best friends Ron and Hermione, and together they go on rather dangerous adventures, nearly getting themselves killed but emerging as the heroes in the end. All along, we learn about the fantastic world of magic, wizardry and everything that comes with it, including quidditch and muggles.

J.K. Rowling has managed to write a truly enthralling story about magic, mixing in not only fantasy but also the ordinary lives of young children who turn into teenagers and the world surrounding them. She shows great imagination be it in the names of characters, in poems and songs she makes up, or the various existing beasts and plants the students are confronted with. Harry’s life and that of his friends can so easily be related to that it is a joy to read, and also easy to follow and start to feel real empathy (or hatred) for the characters.

Re-reading the books for about the 6th time, I am still rediscovering bits and really enjoying the read. It’s incredible how much one can forget over time, and particularly get stuck with what is shown in the movies, which is a little unfortunate. Although the films are good, they of course miss out a lot of important parts and details that can really only be found in the books.

Reading the books again, now knowing the ending, is also really interesting as you pick up on small details and clues throughout the stories, even in the very first books, which make you think back to the way it ends. I don’t know if J.K. Rowling knew the ending when she started writing, but the way she has managed to bring together and tie in all the tiny bits and pieces and details is very impressive! Re-reading the books also makes you remember details you may have forgotten, as for example how Harry finds out about the Chamber of Secrets in book 2 as I had. It is simply a joy to discover or re-discover all the characters in the Harry Potter books, from the most obvious ones like Dumbledore, to some you might have forgotten, and to think of the adventures that are to come.

If you have not yet read the Harry Potter books then I highly recommend them. They will provide many hours of fun, anticipation, sometimes frustration and sadness, followed by joy, and you probably won’t be able to put them down. Even if fantasy is not your favourite genre Harry Potter is easily accessible to everyone and to people of all ages. If you have already read the books, then I strongly recommend reading them again for all the reasons stated above. J.K. Rowling has succeeded extremely well with her books and I am sure they will be handed along through many generations.