Monthly Archives: June 2014

Runner by Patrick Lee

Runner by Patrick Lee Title: Runner
Author: Patrick Lee
Publisher: Penguin UK
ISBN: 9781405914994
Genre: Suspense and Thriller, Action and Adventure
Pages: 464
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3/5

Thrillers are not easy to write. There is always the case of what to give away and what to hide and also the fact that the reader, who reads the genre, has had some experience in figuring it all out. Then how does a writer get the reader to turn the pages, without guessing? Is that really possible after a point? Patrick Lee does it with his book “Runner”. I for one could not stop turning the pages. Yes, I know that is what they all say about thrillers, but this one, well for a lack of a better word, is really interesting.

“Runner” is a thriller on-the-road, quite literally so. There is an ex-soldier, Sam Dryden. Then there is a terrified young girl running away from her well-armed pursers. So but of course Sam saves her and keeps her hidden. Why is the girl running? Who is she running from? What is the idea behind it all? How is Sam involved in all of this? This makes for the rest of the plot.

Lee makes for a good story and yet sometimes you feel that the ends could have been tied better. The characters are strong and have a lot to do to take the story forward.

Now at some point, I thought I would not be able to finish the book, but after a point, the story did come interesting and I managed to finish it. “Runner” is not for the serious reader. Nor is it for the reader who expects some more out of a book. It is perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon, because you know that the pages will turn and the book will be finished in no time.

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The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob Title: The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing
Author: Mira Jacob
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9789384052706
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 512
Source: Publicist
Rating: 5/5

The past is beautiful and also has the power to be vicious. For it to rear its ugly head and not let go, till the demons have been put to rest. As a reader, I see this theme occurring again and again in books. I think that one cannot ignore it in any art form. The past is a strong element of nature that will not be ignored at all and it will be repeated again and again, just as it plays a central and vociferous role in Mira Jacob’s book, “The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing”.

“The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing” is a story of a dysfunctional family, of old ties, of relationships that cannot be forgotten and which honestly, is nothing new in the world of literature. What is new though is the way it is said. The narration is so strong that it made me feel that I was reading a book of a different nature and plot. As it happens in all family stories – this one also has a lot of grandeur, a lot of mess, a lot of fleeting and unsaid emotions, and a lot of past, present and future that tangles itself and slowly unravels the plot.

At the heart of this book is the Eapen family. The novel opens in Seattle where Amina Eapen gets a call from her mother, Kamala in Albuquerque, saying that something is wrong with her surgeon father, Thomas, who is now talking to family members who are no longer alive. This is where Amina flies down to check on her father and the story begins – back and forth between India and America and New Mexico and the Eapen family’s secrets and despair and love and longing are unravelled, chapter by chapter. There is a lot happening in the book and maybe that is what makes it so special, also not to forget that it keeps coming back to the core of the plot.

The family is just like any other family and yet it is not what it seems. As you turn the pages, you are stunned by the language, the tenderness and harshness of prose at the same time, the starkness and as a reader; I was only happy that it was a big read and not cut down. Every character has his or her part etched beautifully. No one is out of place. From Amina dealing with her issues and identity looming large to her brother Akhil who is struggling with his own demons. There is also a lot of humour infused in the book – dry as it may be but it definitely helps the reader get through the complex parts.

Jacob in a very tragic-comic manner talks of an Indian family in America and their past linked to their future. The journey from India to America in search of a better life and the consequences of it, are described in great detailed and told with great empathy. The book is honest and that is most needed out of any book. There are no frills or pretensions around it. There is a lot of food in it as well. There is a lot of drama. There is a lot of love and there are sentences and dialogues which are stunning and will leave you begging for more.

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Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder by R.J. Palacio Title: Wonder
Author: R.J. Palacio
Publisher: Corgi Books
ISBN: 9780552565974
Genre: Teenage Fiction/Literary Fiction
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

There are times I have seen that people are not kind. That is the easiest to be. Isn’t it? There are times when I have found myself not that kind and I have wondered: Why? Why was there a need to be rude or mean to someone? Just because someone was the way he or she was, did that mean that I had to become like this? Was it necessary? It is not about being mister goody-two-shoes either. It is just about kindness and “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio is all about that.

I had that book lying around with me for the longest time. I think for about a year and a half and I did not read it. I then moved to Bangalore and thank God for P, who spoke of the book and sent me a review copy, I finally read it and all I could do after that and during the read, was call her, text her and keep telling her how I felt. We talked a lot about the book and somehow, it just felt so good. “Wonder” is probably one of the best reads for me this year. I take it back. Not probably. Definitely so.

“Wonder” by Palacio is about August (Auggie) Pullman. A ten-year old boy. But Auggie is not your regular ten-year old boy. He is deformed beyond belief with surgeries and their scars that run across his face. He is something which you and I cannot even imagine and yet he is perfectly normal like any other child. Just that the world doesn’t see what his parents and sister see in him. He is truly a wonder and that you will come to see as you go along the book.

So Auggie’s parents decide that it is time for him to face the world that is to go to middle school and from there on Auggie’s life takes a very different turn. The book is about that one year of school and what happens thereafter to the boy who was born different.

The book is told by various perspectives. From Auggie’s to that of his sister Via’s (Olivia), his friend Jack, his sister’s friend Miranda, Olivia’s boyfriend Justin, and to Auggie’s friend Summer. All their perspectives have Auggie in it. This book is all about kindness and where it can find you, sometimes even in places, where you least expect it.

“Wonder” had me hooting for Auggie, like I have for no other character in fiction in a very long time. I also choked and cried in many places. It is not that Palacio has written an extremely melodramatic novel. It is just that sometimes, as a reader, as I could see myself in Auggie and in other characters in very different or similar ways and that shook me up. It is all about kindness and how far are we willing to go to accept the ones who are different. I think it all comes down to this in the world – acceptance and kindness and sometimes we just forget about them and I do not know why.

“Wonder” is just about life and the way we choose to live it. It is about a ten-year old who at times does not want to be what he is, but also knows that he has to live with what he is. It is about friendship and all the love that is there. It is funny and also sad. It is the book which will have you in tears at one point or the other and if you aren’t in tears, then perhaps you need to get your emotional quotient checked.

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1000 Feelings for Which There Are No Names by Mario Giordano

1000 Feelings for Which there are No Names by Mario Giordano Title: 1000 Feelings for Which There Are No Names
Author: Mario Giordano
Publisher: Penguin Books
ISBN: 9780143125280
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 256
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

There are feelings really for which there are no names. You do know what name or word applies to those feelings. But sometimes, names confound you. They leave you wondering, what is the word that should fit the emotion. And to add to that, if you find the words for a thousand emotions then nothing like it. This book has it all.

“1000 Feelings for which there are no Names” by Mario Giordano is a book which you can open to any page and be stunned by what is written there. It is not a self-help book. It is not a book which lends advice. It is just a book about life and Giordano has just observed and given thought to feelings and more than anything else, has given them names.

For instance, something as simple as this: “The regret over something that got broken”. We know it is regret. We know that. Maybe somewhere down the line, we are too scared to name it, perhaps thinking that acknowledgment will make us weak. There are one thousand such lines, such emotions and such situations that make the book what it is.

There were so many times in the book that I caught myself smiling or choking up. This book is just a breath of fresh air for so many of us out there, in the sense that one can instantly connect with it. I absolutely loved this book. It is one of those books that can be read at any time and I highly recommend this one.

Here are some nuggets from it:

1000-feelings-sample1

1000-feelings-sample2

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The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff

The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff Title: The Undertaking of Lily Chen
Author: Danica Novgorodoff
Publisher: First Second Books
ISBN: 978-1596435865
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 432
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

There could not be a better time to read Graphic Novels than summer. Why do I feel that? Well, not really for any other reason, but somehow summers as a child and while growing up, always remind me of comics and graphic novels by that are an extension of comics. So there.

“The Undertaking of Lily Chen” by Danica Novgorodoff is a heart-warming and at the same time, quite a ride of a graphic novel to read as the heat swelters away and there is only respite in more glasses of chilled water, with the air-conditioner braying along.

“The Undertaking of Lily Chen” is about Deshi, a hapless and very lost young man, living in China who has constantly been in his brother’s shadow and now his life takes a tumultuous turn when his brother dies. According to ancient Chinese custom, there needs to be a corpse bride to accompany his brother into the afterlife. There is a dearth of corpse brides and Deshi has been given the task to find a bride for his brother. Then he meets Lily Chen and his life takes a complete spin.

The illustrations are beyond gorgeous. The writing is funny, eccentric and empathetic. There is not so much drama, but at the same time the feelings and emotions are conveyed. I loved the book because of several reasons – one of course the illustrations, second because of the originality of the story, and third because it moved me. That I think are reasons enough and more to love a book.

“The Undertaking of Lily Chen” is a beautifully thought of and executed book. It breathes life and hope into the reader on so many levels. An absolute must read for all the graphic novel fans out there.

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