Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Book Review: The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

Dear friend,

Generally, I’m not a big fan of coming-of-age or teenage novels; they usually tend to be repetitive and uninspired. However, The Perks of Being a Wallflower was definitely something else. I’ve never read anything like it and I rarely get hooked up so easily by a book and seem to finish it in less than a week. Sure, the book isn’t long or tedious, and the simply yet intricate writing style definitely made this book an easy read, however; I cannot deny that I wasn’t attracted to Charlie’s beautiful story. Once I got through the first chapter of the book, I couldn’t put it down.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is told in a series of letters that were addressed from Charlie to an anonymous reader (presumably, you). Charlie begins his freshman year of high school very confused. He is friendless, a result of his only friend Michael, committing suicide only the year before. Most people think of him as weird because of his easy ability to cry and the fact that he’s so quiet. When he meets two seniors named Sam and Patrick, everything changes. Sam, Patrick, and their other friends begin to integrate him into the real world by exposing him to sex, drugs, rock and role, and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Charlie begins to learn about friendship, sexuality, while learning how to understand his complicated family. By the end of the book, we begin to learn that Charlie’s freshman year is one of the most effective years of his life.

I cannot deny that I really loved Charlie’s character; he is so honest, real, blunt, and likable. From the start it seems that Charlie has a unique way of thinking and acting, and you may spend a lot of time trying to work out what’s “wrong” with him. After a while I realized that I relate to Charlie a lot more than I thought, and that we all probably relate to Charlie in some way or another. Thankfully, the book is wonderfully written and the language it conveys is very real and authentic. Stephen Chbosky commanded Charlie’s blunt character perfectly, with referencing enough pop culture elements such as books, movies, and songs that relate to the storyline in so many levels. Unfortunately, there are some scattered cheesy bits that might turn off some readers, and to be honest; I wasn’t completely shocked by the revelation at the end. Regardless however, the book cleverly manages to pull off some very nice and sometimes quite funny writing about family, friendship, and figuring oneself out. This book is a definite pick-up for younger readers and teenagers but I also invite the adult readers to invest their times in this novel. You will certainly love it as much I did, and maybe more.

Love always,
Angelo

~Rating~

Summer Readings

I’ve just received my first order from Aramex (using big brother’s account) and the damn thing cost 10.500KD just to be delivered, it’s robbery I tell you. I thought it would be a smart move to exploit my brother’s Amazon Premium account and get some nice discounts, but now I’m thinking of it, it really didn’t do me any good. Oh well, I guess there is no use in crying over spilled milk.

Anyway, here are the six books I ordered from Amazon, which they came in the right time since I finished reading Artemis Fowl – Book One yesterday. Any suggestions on which book should I read first?

Book Review: A Year In The Merde

I picked up this book while browsing at Borders in Heathrow International Airport as I was exchanging flight to return back home. The fact that I spotted it after publishing “The French Way of Life” post was a clear sign that I have to dive in its pages. And thank God I did. Stephen Clarke has intricately crafted a novel that is half guidebook and half fictitious autobiography that bursts with witty humor, rich language, and simple execution.

A Year In The Merde recounts the fictional adventures and misadventures of Paul West, an English businessman sent to Paris to create and open an English tearoom as he encounters the language and culture of Paris. Throughout the book, Paul gets to experience French charm, French inefficiency, sublime French food, slimy French corruption and political intrigue, a seemingly endless series of strikes, and more sex than he can shake his weakened British stick at. It’s informative, humorous, and outrageous, all in the same time.

It’s pretty important to mention that the author himself is a British expat residing in Paris, so we can definitely assert that those affairs that Paul goes through aren’t necessarily fabricated. However, it is also important to note that those incidents are exaggerated a bit, especially when it deals with sex and public strikes. Also, I wasn’t real interested in Paul; he is shallow and lacking any qualities to make me root for him to succeed, but it was the supporting characters that was genuinely satiated with life and realism. Furthermore, the most interesting thing to observe is the interaction between the French and the English and just laugh out at the stereotypes and misconceptions that have with one another. In the end, I can candidly conclude that Merde one of the most enjoyable books I have read recently. The story is well told, with just the right balance between understatement and outright hilarity. A definite pick-up for those of us who love and hate France. If you loved this book, make sure to grab the following two books that are part of Paul West hilarious trilogy.

~Rating~

Book Review: Beginner’s Greek

If you like or watch chick flicks, this novel will seem eerily familiar to you. As a matter of fact, it has all the components to become a B-rated romantic movie. Even though the main setting of the story is the modern time, the story is quite simple and old-fashioned. The writing is sophisticated but uninspired. The characters however were so unbelievable that sometimes I wanted to throw the book across the room; they were “too good”, “too beautiful”, or “too nasty”.

This first debut novel by James Collins sees the protagonist Peter Russell off on a flight from New York to LA where he encounters the beautifully, enchanted soul mate Holly. Throughout the duration of the flight, both Peter and Holly manage to “hit it off”, and by the end, they exchange phone numbers. When Peter returns to his hotel room, he discovers that he lost Holly’s phone number. Years later, when Peter and Holly meet again, she’s on the arm of a womanizing but charming author who also happens to be Peter’s closest friend. The two eventually marry, and resigned, Peter marries the dull but sweet Charlotte. At first, it seems Peter and Holly weren’t meant to be, but fate proves it sometimes has a funny way of working things out as many precedent events and twists become to take turns.

Despite being written by a man, Beginner’s Greek reads somewhat like literally chick lit. Unfortunately however, as much I enjoyed following the plot and grasping the relationships amongst the characters, it just didn’t seem real, especially the characters’ behavior. Even though the book is too wordy for its own good (more than 400 pages), I felt I was missing huge chunks of the story. However, despite all of this, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. To be fair, the book has a clever character progression and the plot manages to entice all the elements of the story in one tight package where eventually the novel reaches its satisfying conclusion. However, it will take perseverance to see it through, especially to those who are unfamiliar with the romantics. It is definitely not a terrible book but it is also not a great book either, it’s just a “solid good” book.

~Rating~

Read With Me (Spring Edition)

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I managed to grab some books and novels to read during the spring. I’d love if somebody would join me and read a book or two from my selection. Who knows, you might find something that interest you. Anyway here are the books that I purchased yesterday:

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A delicious, modern and romantic novel that revolves around missed opportunities, second chances, and lost love. From what I understand, it’s about a man named Peter Russell who shares a flight (New York to LA) with what he considers his soul mate, but unfortunately, he loses the girl’s phone number after they departed. Then the story takes a comedic turn as Peter struggles to find her again.

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My friends were always amazed that I still haven’t read Jane Eyre despite the fact that I read most of Jane Austen’s novels. I assume most of you have already read it in high school or maybe some time in your life. Thus, I decided to step up and read what is considered the best-written works in English Literature.

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After reading McEwan’s Atonement and falling in admiration with the prose and narrative of the author, I decided to read his other works and mostly his greatest. Saturday is considered to be one of them, and it speaks about a neurosurgeon called Henry Perowne who resides in London. According to the short synopsis, Perowne has planned a series of jobs and pleasures culminating in a family dinner in the night of a huge demonstration in the streets of London against the invasion of Iraq; however, the day is disrupted by an encounter with violence that leaves him to summon a greater strength to perceive the life that is dear to him.

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Haruki Murakami is hailed as one of Japan’s famous novelists, and recently his work has been translated to English. Norwegian Wood is considered one of his finest. The story is set in Tokyo the late 1960s, a time when Japanese students were protesting against the established order. While it serves as the backdrop against which the events of the novel unfold, Murakami (through the eyes of Toru and Midori) portrays the student movement as largely weak-willed and hypocritical. The story also retains a grand love story that is filled with complexity and symbolism.

Book Review: The Thirteenth Tale

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Very few authors manage to fracture the English literature world with a powerful debut novel, and I consider Diane Setterfield as one of those few. The Thirteenth Tale combines the elements of gothic stories and the arousing voice of ghost tales with a hint of mystery in an exquisite narrative that doesn’t take itself too seriously (which is good). Those who love books that talk about the love of reading books will find something special within the pages of this novel.

The Thirteenth Tale is about the power of stories as much as it’s about the darker side of written fantasy. The narrator, Margaret Lea, is not so much living her life through books as avoiding her life with the use of books, especially since she runs her family bookstore. One day she receives a letter from Vida Winter, a famous novelist, asking her to come to Yorkshire and listen to her story and write her autobiography before she leaves the world of the living. And so begins a ghostly adventure of mystery, sorrow and discovery that consumes Margaret’s life and forces her to actively participate in the story in order to a reach a firm conclusion, and discovers the answers for her many questions.

Obviously, the main characters of this novel are Margaret Lea and Vida Winter, and both of them were brought to life nicely due to the simple and yet intricate writing. The most prominent aspect of the novel is the smart gradual unraveling of this mystery. It’s really hard to put down once you reach a part where you starve to know the next, and there are many parts that challenge you to do so. This is truly a pleasant book to read with extremely satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended.

~Rating~

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Review: Atonement

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Before divulging deeper into the review, I need to inform you that I have read the novel prior watching the movie, and because of that, I had high expectation of the movie because the book was simply beautiful in every way. Not only the movie met my expectation but it also managed to exceed it. It’s some kind of miracle to find a motion picture that is written, directed and acted to perfection. Atonement swept me up on waves of humor, heartbreak and ravishing romance I have never witnessed in a long time. Christopher Hampton who wrote the screenplay of the film did an amazing job in capturing the essence of the characters and the evoking emotions from the novel. And the director Joe Wright polished his adaptation skills once again after his successful acclimatization of Pride and Prejudice in 2005. The performance is utterly magnificent. James McAvoy and Keira Knightley had vividly sprung the characters of Robbie Turner and Cecilia Tallis to life, and both have demonstrated their merit in leading roles. Of course, it was Saoirse Ronan and Romola Garai (who played the role of Briony Tallis at 13 and 18 years of age, respectively) that stole the show with their splendid performance. The cinematography is so beautifully captured, especially the Dunkirk scene where Robbie surveys the evacuation site in one breathtaking shot. The ending, which, both happy and tragic, is as wrenching as it is genuinely satisfying with a surprising twist that will leave the audience in tears.

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Atonement is simply the best movie I have seen in 2007. No two-hour film could ever capture all the riches of McEwan’s masterly novel, but Wright and Hampton’s Atonement comes beautifully close, while adding sensual delights all its own. This movie is a must and a worthy contender in every award it is nominated in.

The Bottom Line

A+