Category Archives: Book review

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Standard

My love for books will never cease. I make it quite clear with the ever increasing number in my bookshelf. Even though this review is old since i have kept putting it off, I finally decided I will try to do it some justice and finish it off. When you first read the first few chapters of the book, in no way shape or form are you prepared for what is to come. The book is actually based around two distinct characters although, they do highlight Lisbon Salander more because of her very disturbed past and very popular tattoo.

Lisbeth is one of a pair of sleuths. Her partner is Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist with Millennium magazine, in Stockholm, who is hired by an aging industrialist named Henrik Vanger  to investigate a vanishing. Forty years ago, his niece Harriet went missing from the island where he lives, during a meeting of the Vanger clan. Henrik believes that she was murdered, and he suspects every member of his scowling family.

He believes there is noway that Harriet could have left the Island the day she went missing and believes that one of his relatives did the deed. With this in mind his been hiring investigators and even unearthed the entire island looking for her. Mikael was requested to write Henriks autobiography and in the mean time also investigate on the murder. During this cross section Mikael bumps into Lisbon and they both begin the investigation together.

What you find out of is that theres a serial killer on the loose in the island and also that it has a lot of to do with a nazi who believes in killing jewish women. When I mean kill, I mean brutally raping and making them suffer. The story takes the reader around a very twisted world where it first begins with Lisbons very tragic and yet heart wrenchingly tragic rape which she gets back on her feet from and takes her revenge in a way that only reminds me of the movie “I spit on your grave”.

This book was one of the most interesting reads I have had in a long time. Even though it did remind me a bit of Agatha Cristie I believe it had that fabulous twist that no one expected. Its another harsh hit at us in terms of what animals the Nazis and their followers were. The brutal reality of what Jewish people had to go through and how politics plays a hand in everything.

I recommend this book to everyone because its such a fantastic read and everyone should definitely get their hands on it.

To kill a Mockingbird

Standard

I have read review after review about this book and i have always wanted to get my hands on it… but just never got the chance. Even though its an old book its still one of the best books ever released by any author. The story line is based around two kids and how they see the turn of events that affect them and their family. The book is told through the eys of these two kids, who have been brought up by their father.

The story takes place during three years of the Great Depression in the fictional “tired old town” of Maycomb, Alabama. The narrator, six-year-old Scout Finch, lives with her older brother Jem and their widowed father Atticus, a middle-aged lawyer. Jem and Scout befriend a boy named Dill who visits Maycomb to stay with his aunt for the summer. The three children are terrified of and fascinated with, their neighbor, the reclusive “Boo” Radley. The adults of Maycomb are hesitant to talk about Boo and for many years, few have seen him. The children feed each other’s imaginations with rumors about his appearance and reasons for remaining hidden, and they fantasize about how to get him out of his house.

Atticus is appointed by the court to defend a black man named Tom Robinson, who has been accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a young white woman. Although many of Maycomb’s citizens disapprove, Atticus agrees to defend Tom to the best of his ability. Other children taunt Jem and Scout for Atticus’ actions, calling him a “nigger-lover”.

Atticus establishes that the accusers—Mayella and her father, Bob Ewell, the town drunk—are lying. It also becomes clear that the friendless Mayella was making sexual advances towards Tom and her father caught her in the act. Despite significant evidence of Tom’s innocence, the jury convicts him. At this point of the book, Jems confidence in the legal system faulters and he realises that the truth is not important to people who give out verdicts based on skin colour.

At that point the book takes an unfortunate turn for the Robinson family and we witness a little bit of what people went through in those times when they were different. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee tells of  how a series of events shook their innocence, shaped their character and taught them about human nature.

Why you shouldn’t READ or WATCH twilight

Standard

So it all began when twilight was first released. Like every other vampire movies/books fan, I too wanted to get my hands on the books. So my boyfriend, being the extremely wonderful man that he is surprised me with the first ever book one day. Boy wasnt i the most happiest person. So i sat my ass down and read. At first the book confused me beyond anything else. The author kept on making bella say stupid things like “edward is so perfect” throughout the entire book. Now correct me if im wrong but in which world did you come across a vampire who SPARKLES in the sun?

So do i learn my lesson? I mean ofcourse i was extremely disappointed with the book but I have this knack that when I start reading a series I need to finish it. So my poor boyfriend ended up buying me the first 3 books and poor avocado the 4th. So I thought book three was the best out of the lot but then I had the misfortune of reading book 4, and my  oh my.. if you havent….. then DONT.

Throughout the entire series the author creates a main character which is an empty shell. Her appearance isn’t described in detail;  I read every book and barely had any idea of what the main character looked like; as far as I was concerned she was a giant turd. Appearance aside, her personality is portrayed as insecure, fumbling, and awkward – a combination anyone who ever went through puberty can relate to. Its sad and so uneventful. The final book was just a waste of trees that had to be cut down to print that god damn version. Bella has a blasted baby who turns out to be half and half and the funniest thing is they round up a whole bunch of weird ass vampys for a battle with the “great” voltury or something and the entire battle i believe lasted a mere half an hour… and 30 minutes of it was all verbal. Now isn’t that an inspiring take of a vampire bloodshed anyone would want to read about? Oh yeah all you people who got excited about the werewolves…. they actually are not even werewolves.. they turn out to be shape shifters… ohh yeahh… jacob black is a no good shape shifter. sighh

And the movie?
The movie is just the same uninspired crap shat out onto a film reel. If you like the taste of shit on your sandwiches, you’re probably gonna like it as your dessert as well. The same principle applies with Twilight.

Beyond that, it’s just a romance novel with the occasional vampire teen drama bullshit peppered here and there. It doesn’t really break any new ground in the realm of vampire fiction, other than portraying vampires as a family of uncomfortable retards who prance around the woods eating deer and bunny rabbits. Theres loads of adjectives used to describe Edward and his great body… which to be honest was just crap in the movie.

I am still confused as to how the directors of the movie chose two complete and utter retards for the movie. Both are so uninspiring as actors.. specially bella… Edward is too busy trying to look pretty while he sparkled.

Cleopatra’s Daughter

Standard

Cleopatra's DaughterThis book was launched on the 15th of August 2009 if I am not mistaken. I remember the first time i saw it on one of my favourite book bloggers sites and i wanted to get my hands on it immediately. I read every review written about it and i just couldn’t wait till it came to Sri Lanka because i know that the famous book stores we have dont really bother to check out the latest up and coming authors and purchase their books. The only launches you would see within a week of the actual publishing date would be either the Harry potter or Dan brown series (which i love by the way). But still I just knew i had to get my hands around this book. As fate would have it i had a friend by the name of Cupcake 🙂 who knew i was dying to get my hands on this book and got it down for me as a gift. Well you should have seen my excitement when i saw this book. sighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.. love at first sight.. and yes I am a bookaholic if no one has noticed by now.

The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two– the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander–survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.

The Author sticks to every original historical detail that was paved along the lives of these heroes. The fateful tale of Selene and Alexander is brought brilliantly to life in Cleopatra’s Daughter. Recounted in Selene’s youthful and engaging voice, it introduces a compelling cast of historical characters: Octavia, the emperor Octavian’s kind and compassionate sister, abandoned by Marc Antony for Cleopatra; Livia, Octavian’s bitter and jealous wife; Marcellus, Octavian’s handsome, flirtatious nephew and heir apparent; Tiberius, Livia’s sardonic son and Marcellus’s great rival for power; and Juba, Octavian’s watchful aide, whose honored position at court has far-reaching effects on the lives of the young Egyptian royals.

The parts in which that ticked me off i guess was the fact the most of the book is based around the 11 year old selene, who by the way acts and speaks as an eighteen year old which confused me immensely. The latter part of the book takes you to the love story of princess Selene and the tragedy surrounding Prince Alexander. It shocks you but also keeps you enthralled with suspense. The saddening fact about this book is that the book ends when the love story for Selene begins.. and i can only hope that the author continues this story with another book about Princess Selene and……. :p (read the book)

After reading this book I realized that she might actually get into my list of favourite authors as well as the book just got selected into a favourite read. If your looking for it then trust me its worth it. Buying it here is questionable but if your impatient then waiting for it to come here is never going to happen. Thanks cupcake. 🙂

The bookseller of Kabul

Standard

bookseller-of-kabulIts been ages since i wrote a post or even logged into wordpress to check on my blog. I guess i was either too busy or just didnt have the urge to write anything.  So all i have been doing for these past few days is just reading, and damn have i read a ton of books and i thought ill just share a little bit about them. Long time back i came across this topic “The bookseller of Kabul” but then its always hard to find a well known book here in Sri Lanka as soon as its launched.  So once i got my hands on this i just couldn’t put it down. The book is based around a true story of a Russian author who chose to live with one of the most famous booksellers in Kabul to understand the culture and the lives of the people.

In my view the book was excellent. The book tells a story of the booksellers family and what they go through specially once the Taliban regime entered Kabul. The way they burnt his books and forbid people to ever read again and the way they coloured every picture of any living organism in his books so that no one will ever see them and be corrupted as they say.  Whats surprising is that Sultan Khan (Bookseller) was always a modernized man who believed in freedom and human rights.. but the irony is that it never reached to the extent of his family. The females of his family had to still obey him and cover themselves up and ask his permission before they chose to do anything.

When the Taliban Rilled into Kabul in September 1996 16 decrees were broadcast on Radio Sharia as follows.

1) Prohibition against female Exposure

2) Prohibition against music

3) Prohibition against shaving

4) Mandatory Prayer

5) Prohibition against the rearing of pigeons and bird fighting

6) Eradication of narcotics and the users thereof

7) Prohibition against kite flying

8) Prohibition against reproduction of pictures

9)Prohibition against gambling

10) Prohibition against British and American Hairstyles

11) Prohibition against interest on loans, exchange charges and charges on transactions.

12) Prohibition against washing of clothes near river embankments

13) Prohibition against music and dancing at weddings

14) Prohibition against playing drums

15) Prohibition against tailors sewing womens clothes or taking measurements of women

16) prohibition against witchcraft

“Shakila is sitting on the only piece of furniture in the room, a sofa which has been brought in for the occasion. She watches from a distance and is forbidden to either smile or dance. Happiness would hurt the mother she is leaving, sorrow irritate the future mother in law. A brides face must be non committal, she is not supposed to turn her head or look around, but must stare fixedly straight ahead.”

“She is waiting for wakil to be let into her so they can walk out together. He enters rather shyly, they greet each other, eyes on the floor as demanded, they walk out, shoulder to shoulder, without looking at each other. When they stop they must each try to put one foot over the others. The winner is declared the boss of the marriage. Two chairs have been put out in the yard. They must sit down at the same time. If the groom sits down first the bride will dominate all decisions.”

Its an overwhelming book, specially when you consider all the rules and regulations they put up with and go through. We could only think and assume how tough it is for women who live in those countries. The only change you see is that once the Taliban left the singing and dancing all commenced once again but still.. there are certain rules and laws that the people of kabul, or more or less the men refuse to let go of, as they dont want to lose the control they have on the women of Kabul.


Books, Books.. Read all about it….

Standard

So i was one of those crazy book addicts who went to the book fair.. and not once mind you.. twice.. and i loved every minute of it. It was horrendously crowded and you get pushed around and all that.. but when you see those books… ahhhhh.. now thats when everything just starts to go right.. So i walked all over.. practically memorized everything and got my hands around some amazing books that i have wanted for soo long at unbelievable prices. So my list of purchases contained:

The beach House, The White Tiger, Anna Karenina

The bookseller of Kabul, The Host, Eclipse and the Last Concubine

And it was all a steal for the prices that they were giving them out for, but word of advice.. before you go.. have a set of books you want to buy listed out. Check the prices of the book in many stores before you buy them coz sometimes ul find the same book dirt cheap somewhere else. And for all you dan brown fans out there, The lost Symbol has landed in the country and the best choice is to get it at the book fair coz you get your 20% discount. 🙂

So whoever hasnt gone yet.. my advice is to get ur asses there SOON coz it all ends tomorrow.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Standard

a-thousand-splendid-sunsI remember the very first day i first read a review on the Kite runner. I was in school and i was going through the book reviews on the Time magazine. I dont know what got me hooked, but i knew that i had to get my hands on that book. So i made it a point to get it as soon as it came to Sri Lanka. From that day onwards i was one of those people who just kept saying Kite runner was one of my favourite all time books. I dont think any author other than Jean Sasson has brought out the true horrors of the pain that the muslim people have gone through.

I remember i saw A thousand splendid suns in the book store one day when i walked into it and i quickly grabbed myself the very last copy. The funny thing was i didnt read a single review of the book and when i started reading this book i actually had tears in my eyes for the number of pain the girls go through.

The book is based on two girls decades apart in age but who ultimatly count on each other for every bit of support. Miriam is a unwanted child who was born a “Bastard” as refered to her by her mother frequently. Her father, a rich man from Herat had an affair with his housekeeper and nine months later the outcome was mirium. When her mother became pregnant with her, her fathers three wives refused to have her there and thinking of his own reputation he made a small shack for them far out in the outskirts of town. As a child Mirium loved her father and thought the world of him, eventhough he only came to visit her for two hours every Thursday.  After her mother dies tragically, Mirium’s father marries her off at the age of 15 to a man double her age so that he can save face in the eyes of his community.

During her married life she goes through a lot of hardship as she suffers countless miscarriages and gets beaten up by her husband daily. There was even an instant in which he made her eat pebbles so that her teeth broke. In the same neighborhood lives a beautiful girl named Laila and a boy named Tariq, who are close friends, but careful of social boundaries. But during the course of their budding teens, they discover their friendship has turned into one of love for each other and they realise that being with each other was exactly what they want. War comes to Afghanistan, and Kabul is bombarded by rocket attacks. Tariq’s family decides to leave the city, and the emotional farewell between Laila and Tariq ends with them making love. Laila’s family also decides to leave Kabul, but as they are packing a rocket destroys the house, kills her parents, and severely injures Laila. As fate would have it Laila is taken in by Rasheed and Mariam.

After recovering from her injuries, Laila discovers that she is pregnant with Tariq’s child. While this takes place, Mirium notices her husbands blatant acts at getting Laila interested. Now a man of 60, he sees a longing passion within him to marry the 14 year old Laila. As Laila is in a terrible position she arranges to marry Rasheed, who is eager to have a young and attractive second wife. Laila, who has been told that Tariq is dead (by another ploy of Rasheed), gives birth to Aziza, a daughter. Rasheed is unhappy and suspicious, and he becomes more abusive. Mariam and Laila eventually become confidants. They plan to run away from Rasheed and leave Kabul, but they are caught at the bus station. Rasheed beats them and deprives them of water for several days, almost killing Aziza.

A few years later, Laila gives birth to Zalmai, Rasheed’s son. The Taliban has risen to power, and there is a drought, and living conditions in Kabul become poor. Rasheed’s workshop burns down, and he is forced to take jobs he is ill-suited for. The family sends Aziza to an orphanage as they dont have the money to feed her and because Rasheed doesnt consider her important as she is a female. Then one day, Tariq appears outside the house. He and Laila are reunited, and their passions flare anew. When Rasheed returns home from work, Zalmai tells his father about the visitor. Rasheed starts to savagely beat Laila, and Miriam couldnt bare it any longer so she kills Rasheed with a shovel. Miriam refuses to come along with Tariq and Laila because she believes that the Taliban regime will find them and kill them. Her worst fear was for the children. So Laila and Tariq leave for Pakistan with the children. Mariam confesses to killing her husband and is executed by the Taliban government.

The story was truly heartwarming and a shock to the system. You notice the changes and the pain a woman goes through eventhough she utters no words to disrespect her husband. People say u dont know what true pain is, unless you go through it your self, and this book shows it all to the readers. The author brings out the true atrocities and pain of Afgan women through this book.

Just for your knowledge : Some of the Taliban Laws

Taliban restrictions and mistreatment of women include the:

Amazon.com Widgets

1- Complete ban on women’s work outside the home, which also applies to female teachers, engineers and most professionals. Only a few female doctors and nurses are allowed to work in some hospitals in Kabul.

2- Complete ban on women’s activity outside the home unless accompanied by a mahram (close male relative such as a father, brother or husband).

3- Ban on women dealing with male shopkeepers.

4- Ban on women being treated by male doctors.

5- Ban on women studying at schools, universities or any other educational institution. (Taliban have converted girls’ schools into religious seminaries.)

6- Requirement that women wear a long veil (Burqa), which covers them from head to toe.

7- Whipping, beating and verbal abuse of women not clothed in accordance with Taliban rules, or of women unaccompanied by a mahram.

8- Whipping of women in public for having non-covered ankles.

9- Public stoning of women accused of having sex outside marriage. (A number of lovers are stoned to death under this rule).

10- Ban on the use of cosmetics. (Many women with painted nails have had fingers cut off).

11- Ban on women talking or shaking hands with non-mahram males.

12- Ban on women laughing loudly. (No stranger should hear a woman’s voice).

13- Ban on women wearing high heel shoes, which would produce sound while walking. (A man must not hear a woman’s footsteps.)

14- Ban on women riding in a taxi without a mahram.

15- Ban on women’s presence in radio, television or public gatherings of any kind.

16- Ban on women playing sports or entering a sport center or club.

17- Ban on women riding bicycles or motorcycles, even with their mahrams.

18- Ban on women’s wearing brightly colored clothes. In Taliban terms, these are “sexually attracting colors.”

19- Ban on women gathering for festive occasions such as the Eids, or for any recreational purpose.

20- Ban on women washing clothes next to rivers or in a public place.

21- Modification of all place names including the word “women.” For example, “women’s garden” has been renamed “spring garden”.

22- Ban on women appearing on the balconies of their apartments or houses.

23- Compulsory painting of all windows, so women can not be seen from outside their homes.

24- Ban on male tailors taking women’s measurements or sewing women’s clothes.

25- Ban on female public baths.

26- Ban on males and females traveling on the same bus. Public buses have now been designated “males only” (or “females only”).

27- Ban on flared (wide) pant-legs, even under a burqa.

28- Ban on the photographing or filming of women.

29- Ban on women’s pictures printed in newspapers and books, or hung on the walls of houses and shops.

Apart from the above restrictions on women, the Taliban has:

– Banned listening to music, not only for women but men as well.

– Banned the watching of movies, television and videos, for everyone.

– Banned celebrating the traditional new year (Nowroz) on March 21. The Taliban has proclaimed the holiday un-Islamic.

– Disavowed Labor Day (May 1st), because it is deemed a “communist” holiday.

– Ordered that all people with non-Islamic names change them to Islamic ones.

– Forced haircuts upon Afghan youth.

– Ordered that men wear Islamic clothes and a cap.

– Ordered that men not shave or trim their beards, which should grow long enough to protrude from a fist clasped at the point of the chin.

– Ordered that all people attend prayers in mosques five times daily.

– Banned the keeping of pigeons and playing with the birds, describing it as un-Islamic. The violators will be imprisoned and the birds shall be killed. The kite flying has also been stopped.

– Ordered all onlookers, while encouraging the sportsmen, to chant Allah-o-Akbar (God is great) and refrain from clapping.

– Ban on certain games including kite flying which is “un-Islamic” according to Taliban.

– Anyone who carries objectionable literature will be executed.

– Anyone who converts from Islam to any other religion will be executed.

– All boy students must wear turbans. They say “No turban, no education”.

– Non-Muslim minorities must distinct badge or stitch a yellow cloth onto their dress to be differentiated from the majority Muslim population. Just like what did Nazis with Jews.

– Banned the use of the internet by both ordinary Afghans and foreigners.

Wedding Babylon

Standard

Wedding babylonI was one of the lucky few who won one of the book giveaway competitions recently and had the honour of getting my very own autographed copy of this book. You wouldnt believe the agony i went through waiting for this book, but all i can say is that it was all worth it. The book is based around the wedding planners of penrose and all the humanly horrid things they have to put up with just to make the bride happy.

Imogen Edwards-Jones – author of Hotel Babylon, Pop Babylon and Fashion Babylon which has been made into a TV series  is at it again. She has released a book that spills the beans about the UK wedding industry. She takes us behind the scenes of the excesses of the industry and focuses on the real life bridezillas.

Its all based on the rich and famous and the horrid decisions they make when it comes to their weddings. I know that we tend to think that most weddings in this country costs an arm and leg, but wait till you see the prices that these so called families are throwing out for ridiculous things that doesnt even last for over an hour sometimes.

They pay attention to detail and make sure they do whatever it takes to destress the bride on her wedding. The book lifts the veil on the excesses of the wedding industry – the scams which inflate the prices of everything from flowers to cakes to marquee hire and the wedding disaster stories of high jinxing at the altar and disastrous low comedy in the speeches. It highlights how the potential for things to go horribly wrong is never higher than at a wedding and how the dream day is never far from becoming a nightmare. It shows you how catty mother in laws can get and worst of all your own mother. It shows you how some mothers seems to think that it is their big day and they make it a point to make a statement. A great book to read and laugh about specially for the brides who have already gone through it, and even better for the brides to be as you can get some great pointers.