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One of the Best

November 26, 2011 Leave a comment

The Faithful Place by Tara French is an intriguing novel that mixes a mystery whodunit set within the dynamics of a dysfunctional family (and neighbourhood at times). This novel has wonderful prose, gritty dialogues, a complex and ruthless detective and a murderer whose motivations in the end make you feel sorry for him/her (don’t want to spoil by revealing the gender).

This is one of the best novels I have read this year and also is a kind of book that makes the passion for reading so rewarding. This is definitely a book worth spending time on.

Rating: 4.5/5

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Categories: Uncategorized

Burke Fan!

November 12, 2011 Leave a comment

I heard a recent interview by James Burke where he mentions that Feast Day for Fools is one of the top 2-3 books he has written. I just finished that novel and must say I completely agree.

How many authors exist who manage to write so consistently well for a writing career spanning nearly 3 dozen books. I think that makes James Lee Burke one of the greatest novelists of our times.

I am not going to waste my time explaining the plot (you can read it on amazon), but sufficient to say the writing is haunting and stays with you a long time after the book is finished – the plot in Burke’s book, while good, is really incidental.

Rating: why bother (just read it!)

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Mists of Avalon – A Mystical tale

October 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Mists of Avalon marks my initiation on the Arthurian Legends. King Arthur’s existence has not been proved; but a large body of work exists in relation to King Arthur and his companions.

Marion Bradley Zimmer took a different approach to retelling the story of Arthur – she approached it from the perspective of women around Arthur and managed to write an epic and complex story.  The book is written in rich detail and complexity of woman’s thoughts are laid bare – it does not have the simplicity that sometimes drives men’s actions but becomes an epic story of love, passion, conflicting loyalties and a fight to protect one’s own religious beliefs against someone else’s.

The people of Avalon believe in the Goddess and the priestess of Avalon works tirelessly to prevent the complete domination of Christianity with its belief in one god (Christ) and the subjugation of women. The main protaganist is Morgaine, Arthur’s sister and priestess of Avalon. She is up against Gwenhwyfer, Arthur’s wife who has unwavering faith in Christianity as preached by the priests. The story is about the politics behind this as both ladies try to influence Arthur to their needs. Within this overarching plot line, are deeply complex relationships of love that Gwenhyfer has for Lancelet, Arthur’s love for Lancelet and Morgaine’s relationships with various men.

It is a story as only a woman can tell. It does not have lot of action or battle scenes as one would expect from an Arthurian story; but it is a story so well told that you end up enjoying and savoring every page of this 800 page tome.

The author thru Morgaine puts up a lots of arguments against Christianity and its beliefs as were followed during the medieval times. The duplicity in Morgaine’s thinking however is that to prevent Christianity’s influence, she works politically and ruthlessly at times to increase Avalon’s influence on Britain’s throne. Spirituality is an intensely personal thing and sometimes these so-called well-meaning leaders of religious beliefs want to make it into a mass movement to have more people believe in their religion. Why cant they leave everyone alone and let each person delve within himself and live with answers that he hears.

Anyway, I am digressing here. If you havent read this book, go and grab a copy.

Rating: 4

Categories: Uncategorized

The Ultimate Advice in Market Speculation

October 12, 2011 Leave a comment

If my children ever take to stock market speculation, there is only one book I would recommend they read – ‘Reminiscences of a Stock Operator’ by Edwin lefevre. There is one quote from this book I would like them to etch in their memory.

“The speculator’s chief enemies are always boring from within. It is inseperable from human nature to hope and to fear. In speculation when the market goes against you you hope that every day will be the last day – and you lose more money that you should had you not listened to hope – to the same ally that is so potent a success-bringer to empire builders and pioneers, big and little. And when the market goes your way you become fearful that the next day will take away your profit, and you get out – too soon. Fear keeps you from making as much money as you ought to. The successful trader has to fight these two deep-seated instincts. He has to reverse what you might call his natural impulses. Instead of hoping he must fear; instead of fearing he must hope. He must fear that his loss will develop into a much bigger loss, and hope that his profit may become a big profit. It is absolutely wrong to gamble in stock the way the average man does”.

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Burke Fan Club!

October 11, 2011 Leave a comment

I have mentioned before that James Lee Burke for me is the Hemingway of crime fiction and I maintain that. I need my monthly dose of Burke – picked up ‘Cadillac Jukebox’ from the Dave Robicheaux series.

I read his books not so much for the plot but his lyrical prose, hard-hitting dialogues and some of the most complex characters (Dave and Clete Purcel) in crime fiction. His plots tend to be very similar across books but they rarely affect you as one gets caught up in the pleasure of reading his prose.

If you have not read James Lee Burke, please do yourself a favour and start it – You will  not regret it. Authors like him what makes reading such an enjoyable and learing experience.

Rating: 5

The Name of the Wind

September 29, 2011 Leave a comment

As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I have started reading books from the fantasy genre. It is fascinating as they are usually written on an epic scale, have a dash of adventure, heroism, romance, magic and a slew of complex characters. It might not be very deep in a literary sense, but can be very enjoyable all the same.

One of the well acclaimed fantasy series is the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. This is a story of Kvothe, an enigmatic hero. The first book of the series is “The Name of the Wind” which describes his early childhood and his teenage years at the University. The author has tried to write it in a first person form, which is difficult in a fantasy genre known for a vast array of charactres and sweeping plots. However, reading the first book, it seems the author has been able to do a reasonable job inspite of imposing that constraint upon himself.

Some of the reviews for this book compared it to Tolkein. I think that is an overstatement – this is nowhere close to an epic that Lord of the Rings is. This seems to be more influenced by Harry Potter series as it describes the adventures of Kvothe at the University (which follows the death of his parents).  The book is interesting enough for me to want to read the second book in the series. But it doesnt blow you away as lot of the reviewers seem to claim or would want to make you believe.

Rating: 3.5

Categories: Uncategorized

Word-Alchemy

September 24, 2011 Leave a comment

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way or your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away”.

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

 

Categories: Uncategorized