Tag Archives: harper collins

Book Review: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie Title: The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Author: Agatha Christie
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780007282265
Genre: Mystery, Detective
Pages: 297
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

The perfect kind of reading when there is nothing to read is a good Agatha Christie. It just shakes you up and your day is then made. It does not even take too much time to get through one. And of course when it is a mystery that involves the adorable Belgian, Poirot, then you know you cannot go wrong. You will love the book. I decided to go through the entire Poirot collection and hopefully finish it by the end of this year. So, I started where it all began – “The Mysterious Affair at Styles”.

Poirot’s first case and the grand dame of crime does it like no other. The setting is World War I and in England (but obviously, to begin with at least). The Styles mansion residents wake up to find Emily Inglethorpe poisoned and long gone. Captain Hastings is at the scene and this is where his dear friend Poirot enters the scene and everyone is under suspicion. The family, The servants, The neighbors and the well-wishers. Almost everyone.

The writing but of course builds up only towards the middle of the book. The rest of the time it is all about creating the much needed atmosphere of the book. The characters are almost synchronized by Christie brilliantly and Poirot – the one who holds all the threads and cards. It is funny how out of all the Poirots, I had not read this one.

At some point, I thought it was too long for a mystery, but then again, I just had to get that thought of my mind and dive into the book once again. “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” is vintage Christie – it has all the elements of crime – a good setting, characters, and a great detective that is just been introduced. For those who have not read it, I strongly recommend this one . Enjoy.

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Book Review: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate Title: The One and Only Ivan
Author: Katherine Applegate
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780007455331
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 252
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Off-late I had stopped reading Young Adult novels or anything close to in that genre or even children’s books for that matter. I did not find anything new in them. They were either set in magical worlds or in this world with fantastical creatures. Till I ended up reading, “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate.

The book is for young adult and is based on a true story of a gorilla named Ivan. For me, the book did a lot. Perhaps books that you need do come into your life only at that time. There is no other way to this so-called selection – when books find you and want to be read by you.

“The One and Only Ivan” is about Ivan – a gorilla who has lived in a cage for almost twenty seven years of his life. He has had Bob – a dog for company and Stella – an aging elephant. Ivan is a silverback gorilla – the kind who has to protect his tribe and family and here he is in a circus mall on the highway on Exit 8. He is a gorilla who paints – finger paints at that and those paintings sell. He watches television in his cage. There is nothing else to do anyway.

Ivan is close to George the cleaner and his daughter Julia. Mack is the owner of this theme based mall. He is the man in-charge. Life goes on as usual. Till one day, Ruby, a young elephant makes an entry. Circumstances lead to Ivan making a promise – that of saving Ruby’s life. Of setting her free, of not making her become another addition to the mall, which becomes the mission of his life. That is when the story takes off.

The reader learns about how Ivan came to be here and about his life. There is Ruby’s life thrown in and so is Stella’s. I liked the story because it rang true. It is based on a true story. There are characters which are thrown in for effect, but the story is that of Ivan’s. Towards the end, I felt that Applegate was rushing with the story; however, given the plot and the structure, I let that pass. To me, “The One and Only Ivan” was a book which is sweet, full of life, hope, a great and unique friendship and above all about freedom, which we sometimes take too much for granted and need to learn its value. A read for times when you have given up on all hope.

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Book Review: Lovers like you and I by Minakshi Thakur

Lóvers like You and I by Minakshi Thakur Title: Lovers like You and I
Author: Minakshi Thakur
Publisher: Harper Collins India
ISBN: 9789351160298
Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction
Pages: 224
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

“Lovers like you and I” by Minakshi Thakur was just another book that I came across at the book store at the Jaipur Literature Festival. I looked at it and the cover did not impress me at all. At that time for sure I was judging the book by its cover; however I realized that the proverb was just proved right in this case. The book was more and beyond the cover. It was a treat to read.

The book is set in Delhi, in the nineties – a different world. A world of possibilities of life and the chance that love would come true. The book explores various aspects of love through the eyes of young Nayan.

Nayan’s journey from that of a girl to a woman is full of questions, emotions, strange answers, life, its longing, despair and interspersed in all of this, are her men and relationships. Salil is the one who is constantly walking in and out of her life – with poetry and backpacking. The one who cannot stay. The one who cannot be held down.

Salil and Nayan’s relationship reminded me of innocence. It reminded me of how it is to love without expecting and yet there is this window open for it to seep through, unexpectedly. For me, “Lovers like you and I” was so much more than just a love story. I am sure the writer also wanted it to be a lot more than just that and that reflects throughout the writing.

“Lovers like you and I” is an ode to time gone by, to love and its ways of the past, to how it was meant to be with poetry mingled, with unrequited love just hanging there, in between and life just passing by, intermingling with space and ennui.

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Book Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN:
Genre: Fantasy, Coming of Age, Young Adult
Pages:
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

It was a pity that I had not read, “The Graveyard Book” yet. I had it with me for years and never got around to reading it. Like I always keep saying and believing in it: The time was not right. I was not prepared or right enough to read that book. Books choose you when they want to; otherwise reading them will just be another futile attempt. I guess it would have been that way with “The Graveyard Book” had I read it that time.

“The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman has it all – the elements of fantasy, which most of his other books also do possess. For me though, the storytelling of this one was beyond his other books. Nobody Owens is at the centre of this book, when his entire family (parents and sister) are brutally murdered one night in their own home, by a man, simply known as Jack. Nobody is but an infant and somehow manages to escape and find refuge in a nearby graveyard, where the spirits roam at night, with not a care for the world. Mister and Mistress Owens (a spirit couple) decide to adopt the infant and that is how he gets his name – Nobody Owens, Bod for short. There is something known as the “Freedom of the Graveyard” which not only gives Bod access to the graveyard and all its ways and passages, but also protects him as long as he is in the graveyard.

Jack obviously will not be satiated till he kills Bod. He comes back after years to finish the unfinished job and that is where the crux of the story lies. Actually, I take that back. The crux of the story lies in the spirits in the graveyard, in the mysteries of the graveyard and how a living boy is actually adopted not just by two spirits but by the entire graveyard and Silas – his Godfather – who neither belongs to the living or to the dead. I found the descriptions in the book (which were also funny at most times) of great interest. Gaiman has a knack for details – as a reader, you will imagine each and every line written. This I guess comes from him being a graphic novel writer as well. He can just somehow visualize to the hilt and transfer the power to the reader.

The plot is extremely tight and the read is a fast one for sure. The book I guess has no age barrier – it can be read by anyone, of any age and that is where the beauty of the writing actually is. You will fall in love with Bod and the other characters. In fact, Liza Hempstock, the witch was my personal favourite. I am most happy that I read this as a part of my “The Novel Cure Reading Challenge” and will definitely reread it sometime later. “The Graveyard Book” is a book which will warm your heart and also make you instantly want more of it – a sequel for sure, I hope.

Next Read in the Challenge: The Cuckoo Boy by Grant Gillespie

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Book Review: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett Title: Bel Canto
Author: Ann Patchett
Publisher: Olive Editions, Harper Collins
ISBN: 978-0-06-200172-6
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 401
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

For every book, there is that one reader who will love it more than any other book. For every reader, there is that one book that will make him or her love it more than any other book. According to me when books move readers, that is when the one can say that the book was written for him or her. For a long time now, I have wanted to write a review of this book, every time I have reread it. There were times I thought I could not do it justice. The book is of that magnificence and yet this time after I reread it for the fifth time, I thought to myself: I have to share this book with people who do not know about it. They must try reading it and feel if they do what I felt while reading it. With this thought, I share the book, “Bel Canto” by Ann Patchett with you.

“Bel Canto” is about human connections and how they can be forged, how are they formed in the most unseemingly circumstances and how as people we are linked by one strong fact: We feel for the others. We try and see their point of view, their joys, their sorrows, because ultimately we are all searching for the same thing: Happiness. Opera and Terrorism are at the core of this novel. It is difficult to believe. Even I thought the same before picking it up, however once I did; I read it in two days, without doing anything else. There was this book and my time and nothing else in between.

The plot is this: In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned Soprano is invited to sing at a birthday party of an affluent Japanese businessman, Mr. Hosokawa, so he can invest in business in that country. She sings for him and in the middle of it all, at the vice-president’s house (where the party is hosted), there is a terror attack and all the guests are taken hostage by eighteen terrorists and this is where the story begins. This happens while the American Opera singer, Roxane Cross is being kissed by her accompanist, quite suddenly at that. At the same time, a Swedish negotiator is called on for the task to communicate with the terrorists and know what their demands are. At the heart of it all, for the people – the hostages and terrorist, their lives change drastically so, as they come together in the act of living under the same roof – not by choice but by planned chance.

Ann Patchett is the master of storytelling in this book as far as I am concerned. Not a word is out of place and as a reader all I wanted to do was soak in the words and the feeling. The strangeness of the situation in the novel is dealt with grace and a lot of restrained emotion. The other diplomats’ feelings, their thoughts, the interconnections, the fear are all brought out magnificently in this book and all through one simple aspect: Music. For Patchett, that had to be the single most connect and it shows.

There were times I cried while reading the book. It was very overwhelming and I could not stop myself. The unreality of life within the mansion and outside of it has been depicted with great intelligence. While Mr. Hosokawa and Ms. Cross are at the core of the novel, Patchett has equal feeling towards her secondary characters and blooms their nature wonderfully so. It is almost as if the book is singing to you and all you have to do is read and listen. Take it all in as a reader and do not question anything, because where there is such great writing, you do not question it at all. I am only envious of you if you will be reading this book for the first time. You do not know what is coming your way. You will be glued to it.

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