books, REVIEWS

WARLIGHT by Michael Ondaatje

I’ve been sitting with my laptop open since half an hour trying to figure out how to start talking about this book. I recently heard a literature critic share that one of the things we need to figure out while reviewing a book is the intention of the author with the letters bound into words strung up together to tell the story. And that’s exactly what confuses me about this book. What was the point? WAS there even a point?

IMG_5357.jpgAt the center of everything we have Nathaniel who seems to be around 30 years of age when he is recalling what he went through since he was a teen with his sister. Nathaniel and Rachel’s parents leave them in the care of a very shady individual who the siblings nick name The Moth. Their parents are off to Singapore from London. But things get slightly confusing when they find their mothers packed suitcase at home a few months after she’s apparently left.

The book is set in the years following Worldwar II and it does add to the overall mood, but it doesn’t seem as effective as you’d expect, the effects linger in the subconscious but its not what the book is about so the war-like rustic feeling fades quite early (Just an observation, neither a good or bad thing, I guess)

Ondaatje has worked a lot on the character development and you can tell he has been meticulous with the editing of his early drafts, you do not get any information which doesn’t play a part in developing the narrative. Every character has a part to play in the overall narrative and they all come together by the end, except one, the shadow, the father.

I feel that Ondaatje wanted to keep a secretive and out of reach narrative when it came to the father but it frustrated me because the way each character is brought to a closure by the end you expect/almost want him to do the same with the father. Doesn’t happen and its very disappointing.

Another tool used with the characters is he’s given them nicknames (The Moth and TheIMG_5070.jpg Darter) which make them seem more than ordinary, its a smart thing to do and it definitely is effective in giving them an added dimension.

Nathaniel doesn’t have a regular childhood obviously but some of his reactions are very unusual. When they find their mothers suitcase, you’d expect them to have a million questions but they seem to just accept the fact and go on with their lives. Rose on the other hand does have a lot of issues making her seem more human than him. His character fueled sometimes by his quiet and nonreactive nature seems very bland and inhuman (Although he definitely is not). I think if there were more one to one conversations between the siblings, it might have changed the feeling of Nathaniel’s impersonal and robotic aura.

By the second half of the book we do find a change in narrative and its more focused on the mother and her relationship with Nathaniel. There are some passages where you just want them to connect more and feel some emotion towards him. But in the end its just not effective, and leaves a pretty hollow feeling.

One thing which I was absolutely stunned by in some places was Ondaatje’s writing IMG_5255.jpgmasterclass! There were several passages I read and reread and read again! Absolute genius!

I’d recommend this book to people who like character focused books with a hint of mystery or basically just love great writing! As for the book critics suggestion to understand why an author has written a book, I guess while writing this review I seem to have figured its a story Ondaatje wanted to tell, a story which has no fancy objective, a book where you sympathize with someone who has had a broken childhood. I’ll be honest in saying that when I finished this book, I barely gave it a 3 star but now I’m leaning towards a 4.

If you’d like to buy this book, please use this Affiliate link, it helps me too!

books, REVIEWS

So Lucky by Nicola Griffith

IMG_4884Since the past year or so I’ve been hearing a lot about Own Voices and their importance. So I was really interested in reading So Lucky by Nicola Griffith sent to me by @mcdbooks
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It’s a book about Mara Targelli who you might call the ideally empowered woman in today’s world. Head of a huge company, a martial artist and fierce and straight forward in her dealings. Mara finds out she’s suffering from Multiple Sclerosis and things start to go south for her.
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You can read the summary for broad details of the book, I usually don’t get into those in the review so I don’t take away much from your experience.
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This book is not just about MS and what people go through when they suffer from it. It’s more of a social and political commentary on what happens with the disabled in society IMG_4934.jpgat large.
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Mara doesn’t want to be called the victim of her circumstances and wants to take hold of her life without the help of anyone, she readjusts her home to be self sufficient for her and starts an online campaign to help other people like her. Nicola Griffith gives a really good insight on how everyday life is affected by MS and it’s really helpful in educating us about it. I personally had no clue about how MS affects someone and this book made me research a lot about MS and I can say I do have a general understanding about it now.
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It’s also an interesting reflection on Social Media and how it can be empowering and can sometimes even a negative effect.
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Mara’s character is what holds the book together as the rest of the characters aren’t as involved and could be thought of as props to tell Mara’s story. The writing is very IMG_5191.JPGcomforting and not too complex. There is a certain hint of suspense in the second half of the book but it’s never the focal point.
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Overall a very good experience and maybe an important one at that. I’d urge you to pick it up, I think we could all benefit from reading about such topics. I’ve added HILD by Nicola Griffith on my TBR as well, its a memoir focussed on her experiences with MS.

What do you think? Would you read this book? If you have any good recommendations for books dealing with MS, I’d love you to comment below!

For a link to buy the book from Book depository, click here

 

 

books

Chapter 6: Pakistan. The Traveling Biblio Chronicles.

Chapter 6 is being taken over by Sarah Wazir from Pakistan.

Sarah has chosen a book which has influenced her feelings for Pakistan and I’m really happy that she’s taken time off to recommend us this book which I’m pretty sure will intrigue you as a reader. Also, I’d like to thank her for sharing a little of her personal story as well. I’m definitely adding this to my shopping cart!

You can find and connect with Sarah on Instagram @bookgirlingmoments

257B45C8-D0E8-4910-81FB-59CB91CB7302.jpeg“Ever seen a bullet smashed windscreen? The hole at the centre throws a sharp clean web around itself and becomes crowded with tiny crystals. That’s the metaphor for my world, this city: broken, beautiful and born of tremendous violence.”

I’d never heard of this writer, Bilal Tanweer, before or his books. I just got his book, The Scatter Here Is Too Great, on a whim and also because it was on sale at the bookstore.

What I ended up having was an unexpectedly eye opening experience. I’ve always had a fondness for my country Pakistan but I grew up all my life in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I had only visited my country a few times and while I loved it, I never embraced it as my home.

Until recently – when I moved here to Pakistan almost 2 years ago. It’s complicated how I 43599BFE-260E-4D32-974E-7340E4F2AEC2.jpegfeel about my country now. It’s a love-hate sort of relationship and if we were a couple, we’d be the on and off type of couple.

There are various reasons and factors that are responsible for how I view Pakistan but Bilal Tanweer’s book is one of those bigger, more influential factors. It was as if everything I’d ever felt regarding my country, he managed to put into words in the most poetic and mesmerising of ways.

In the book, there are several characters that are basically scattered around the city of Karachi. They don’t really have a connection to one another in terms of relationships but they’re connected with the fact that they are a part of the city as much as it is a part of them.

1572E3FF-0B46-4BE9-B79B-7BB396476E1D.jpegThe characters range from an old communist poet, a wealthy middle aged businessman, an ambulance driver, a heartbroken girlfriend, a solitary writer struggling to find words. And all these people and all their struggles and fights connect together to create a striking portrait of a vibrant but violent city.

This book is also often called a love letter written to Karachi, and despite the heartbreak and all that the city might take from you, it also gives something back. So there is value in being broken.

There are moments in this book that have hit me the hardest and it goes without mentioning, that yes, I have shed tears while reading it. And I would recommend this book to everyone, related or not to Pakistan, or even curious about the country. It’s a really deep book with metaphors and quotes that’ll keep you wondering about it, even 8A2F9ED0-E22B-4F70-973A-3276A0C142C5.jpegafter the book is over.

So that’s it for me. I really hope you enjoyed my piece and I hope that I was able to do justice to one of my most profound reads. You can also find me at: @bookgirlingmoments

And I’m so happy to have had the chance to participate in Faroukh’s blog segment, The Traveling Biblio Chronicles. Love the initiative.

 

Thank you Sarah for the beautiful review!

For a direct affiliate link if you’d like to order The scatter here is too great via bookdepository, click here

And here’s another Beautiful picture Sarah shared with us…

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This was Chapter 6 of the traveling biblio chornicles by Sarah Wazir!
This book travel series will continue next week when our next guest takes us on a little bookish journey to a new place!
If you liked this post, please subscribe here
Do consider sharing this with your friends who might like to read more from our hopefully growing diverse list over the next weeks and months.

Check out Chapter 1: Australia here

Check out Chapter 2: Afghanistan here

Check out Chapter 3: Egypt here

Check out Chapter 4: Palestine here

Check out Chapter 5: Kenya here

books

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

This is probably my 8th or 9th Murakami and I’ve finally come to realize Murakami doesn’t write to please anyone, sometimes it feels like he doesn’t even write to please himself. He writes because he needs to; he needs to free his mind of these thoughts that’ve made a home in his mind. And I have nothing to complain about that, we’re lucky he’s decided to!

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This is the first time I took notes and wrote bullet points to refer to when writing the review of the book. This is also the first time I’m deleting them since they will make the review seem mechanical. So free flow it is, dare I say, like Eminem, I’m a Kamikaze.

 

It’s been more than 10 days since I finished reading Killing Commendatore, I have two reasons for waiting so long to start writing this review. Number one being that sometimes I tend to get a bit excited as soon as I finish a book and end up mostly thinking about the later parts of the book. Second is for everything to sink in and remove all the little random bits like a brain sieve.

 

This book starts with a very magical Prologue which sets the scene for the book which is followed by a very easy flowing but unique first 200 pages. You can tell things are going to go crazy and can almost sense it, but when it hits, you’re not ready for it. The guiding light for everything is Menshiki, a character inspired by and a homage to Gatsby. Yes, Jay Gatsby! The plot is inspired from The Great Gatsby and Murakami does more than justice to it. The book has multiple references to Gatsby and the uncanny resemblance in the characters of Menshiki to Gatsby and the unnamed protagonists to Nick is beautifully handled. Their relationship is not usual as is with most Murakami characters. What was very interesting to me though, was although based on these evergreen characters, they didn’t over power the plot and they fit perfectly which sometimes isn’t the case. It could IMG_4267feel forced if not balanced properly to the new plot.

If you don’t know, Murakami’s picks for the three most meaningful books to him are The Great Gatsby, The Brothers Karamazov and The Long Goodbye. A few years ago he also translated Gatsby in Japanese. So Killing Commendatore is that much more interesting to fans of Murakami.

The book is set on a hill station in a quiet town in Japan, a silent but very atmospheric setting. The mood is created through numerous references to songs, the silence of the hills, the focus on any sounds of around the characters. Murakami fills up the void created by the silence really well and the characters, though isolated have strong and distinct personalities. Another thing very tactfully done is the inclusion of history (References mainly to the annexation of Austria in Nazi Germany)

Midway through Volume one something happens which we realize in the grand scheme of things isn’t as shocking (Kind of like we get used to characters being killed off in Game of Thrones but when Ned Stark is assassinated, we couldn’t believe it!) What I realized later on in Volume two is that I was underestimating the magical element in this book, a pleasant surprise!

IMG_4897Menshiki and our protagonist is joined by 2 other characters, a girl and her aunt which breath fresh air into the setting, especially the girl who becomes the center of everything that happens in volume 2 and Menshiki takes the back seat. I could go on about all the little things that Murakami does to give life to the characters, like how the narrator always notices paintings wherever he goes since he is a painter but I’d be taking a lot away from your experience of the book.

Overall, this book is to be savored, and before anything I’d recommend reading The Great Gatsby and also Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (which forms an integral part of the book)

There was something lacking about the ending, it wasn’t as dramatic The Great Gatsby but then again there are somethings F Scott Fitzgerald did that you can’t imitate.

If book depository ships to you, here’s a link so you can order right away – KILLING COMMENDATORE

books

Chapter 5: Kenya. The Traveling Biblio Chronicles.

We’re finally back with Chapter 5 of this series I’m extremely excited to finally cover Kenya which has been on my list since a long time. If some of you don’t know Bill from @Kenyan_library on Instagram, I’d highly recommend his account! His pictures are really imaginative and captions are always engaging. As goes with series Bill is going to recommend us a book based in Kenya and I really hope this is a good entry for you to African literature if you’ve still not read any based in the continent. If yes, I hope its a great pick for you from Kenya! I’m going to hand this over to Bill, take over buddy!

Instagram: @kenyan_library

Blog: kenyanlibrary

Twitter: @kenyan_library

Hello Friends, I’m Bill of (Kenyan_Library on Instagram/Blog) so happy to be part of Faroukh’s amazing project Traveling Bibio, thank you so much for having me. Let’s take a trip to Kenya through a recent favorite book that captures the true Kenyan Spirit.

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In the past, I have struggled to connect with Kenyan Literature and it didn’t help that my English teacher wasn’t as enthusiastic about it either. Majority of the books I came across were predominately politically driven and that just didn’t suit my contemporary taste. So I took upon myself to try out Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo crossing my fingers that this might be the book that finally reignites my interest in Kenyan Lit. I loved it!

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Synopsis

Following The Oganda family after the son (Odidi) gets gun downed in the streets of Nairobi we see the reputation of this vile action through the family’s grief & memories IMG_20180608_111118which opens the door to a dark past pelted with generational secrets that still haunt them in the present. At the same time, a young Englishman arrives at the Ogandas’ house, seeking his missing father; a hardened policeman who has borne witness to unspeakable acts reopens a cold case, and an all-seeing Trader with a murky identity plots an overdue revenge. In scenes stretching from the violent upheaval of contemporary Kenya back through a shocking political assassination in 1969 and the Mau Mau uprisings against British colonial rule in the 1950s, we come to learn the secrets held by this parched landscape, buried deep within the shared past of the family and of a conflicted nation.

Why You Should Read It

20180429100653_IMG_2049.jpgThe lyrical poetic narrative style is so cinematic & intertwined with so much emotion that you will feel every character’s pain, happiness, without being directly told. The first couple of pages might seem confusing but give yourself time to get used to the flow of the writing then  you won’t stop reading. The politics doesn’t overpower the story but lingers in the background which balances the narrative, putting emphasis on the family saga. Lush description of the beautiful Kenyan Landscapes and the local street life are brought to life through the 20180429100801_IMG_2052characters eyes, as well as the local slang and deep Kenyan proverbs make the experience feel authentic. It has its dark moments, you will weep at the author explores the injustices that take place through the hands of corrupt leaders and the poor state of living but you will also experience the local everyday life of a Kenyan, Using the public transport matatus, cuisine etc. I highly recommend you give it a try.

Thanks a lot Bill for your great recommendation!

For a direct affiliate link if you’d like to order DUST via bookdepository, click here

This was Chapter 5 of the traveling biblio chornicles by Bill Muganda!
This book travel series will continue next week when our next guest takes us on a little bookish journey to a new place!
If you liked this post, please consider subscribing here
Do consider sharing this with your friends who might like to read more from our hopefully growing diverse list over the next weeks and months.

Check out Chapter 1: Australia here

Check out Chapter 2: Afghanistan here

Check out Chapter 3: Egypt here

Check out Chapter 4: Palestine here

Here’s a picture of a bookstore in Kenya 🙂

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books, REVIEWS

Book Review: Eve of Man by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

Giovanna and Tom Fletcher collaborate to bring us the story of Eve and Bram.

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The premise:

img_1679The premise is very interesting, Eve is the first girl to be born in 50 years and obviously all eyes are on her in hopes that she can carry forward the human race once she comes of age. Eve is taken care of by a corporation based in a tower where she lives in ‘The Dome’ and is disconnected from the outer world. The only friend she has is Holly (An AI bot controlled remotely by ‘pilots’, one of them being Bram.)

 

The world:

The planet is drowned in water and the world outside the Tower is in shambles. There is a huge disconnect between what goes on inside it and what’s on the outside. The outside world barely gets mentioned until we reach the latter part of the book, which seemed like a big mistake.

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World building:

Normally when it comes to the dystopian genre you would expect efficient world building. But since the first half of the book is based inside the Tower and what’s outside img_3773it only comes in play in the second half, there is a huge disconnect. We’re kept in the dark (probably unintentionally) and it doesn’t work. Unless you’re only interested in what happens between Eve and Bram, you’d want to know more about this dystopian world.

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Narration:

Chapters are divided between Eve and Bram and it seems like each author wrote one of the characters chapters, there isn’t any cohesion between the two. This isn’t that bad a thing because each of the characters chapters is easily distinguishable and you could say each character has a voice of its own. I’d have enjoyed it a lot more if the tower and what’s outside had alternate chapters.

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Characters:

The characters are all extremely predictable. There’s no depth to any of them. Character img_3862development is non existent and sometimes even forced. I think there wasn’t a single one of them that had a distinct identity, it seemed that all of them were set to default character settings and let go.

The execution:

I expected this to happen and the answer is yes, the book turns into a Damsel-in-distress-where-is-my-savior plot. It was almost unbearable in the last 100 pages where every movement was thoroughly explained and there was nothing left for me to think about. Every thing was extremely dramatized and the one time something was kept a secret, it seemed forced and well, it wasn’t really a plot twisting secret.

Over all, I think I’d have enjoyed this and maybe even recommended it if I was a teenager. Unfortunately I’m no longer one.

 

books

Chapter 4: Palestine (The Traveling Biblio Chronicles)

Welcome to Chapter 4 of the Traveling Biblio Chronicles!

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Dounya Hamdan is taking us on a lovely little trip over to Palestine! I found Dounya’s account a few months ago on instagram @doonz____ and i love how she focuses her energy on life and things that are close to her heart, especially towards the cause of Palestine.

I’m really excited to hear your thoughts about this post that Dounya has written for us.

Dounya has shared a link to a donation site which works towards funding Palestinian refugee families in the Gaza Strip. As of right now $616,738 have been raised (Goal was $600,000 which has been crossed, but anything above it will of course be a appreciated)

Click here to donate: UNRWA Donation Link

Dounya is going to take over now!

IMG-2812.JPGLet me tell you about a place full of wonder, a place where you will find little treasures in the crevice of every cobblestone street, in every shopkeeper’s store and deep in the gardens that lay beyond every home.

Palestine is where my heart resides. It is the home of my mother and father, my grandparents and my resilient ancestors.

It is where I find solace while I sit atop my grandmother’s home watching the golden sun melt away into dusk. At nighttime, the moon generously illuminating the streets, walking beside me until I have made it home safely. The last time I visited my homeland was about a year ago and my heart is yearning to go back. Palestine is made up of many villages, each with their own customs and traditions.

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Every time I visit, it is a tradition to rush from the airport and drive straight to my grandparents’ home. I always find them patiently awaiting my arrival on their porch with their smiling faces and warm embraces.IMG-2821

When I am thousands of miles away from Palestine, my soul yearns to be reminded of its beauty – and so I delve deep into books that remind me of my homeland. I have read many great stories such as “Secrets Under the Olive Tree” by Nevien Shaabneh, “Fast Times in Palestine” by Pamela Olson and “I Saw Ramallah” by Mourid Barghouti.

I would like to recommend to other fellow readers a story that shows both sides to this beautiful vast land. The side that portrays what the Palestinians endure daily – the occupation, the apartheid wall, checkpoints and hope amid the sorrow. The other side portrays the Israelis and the belief that this land is theirs – that they have a right to a Jewish state. “The Lemon Tree” by Sandy Tolan instantly came to mind. It is a story of a Palestinian returning to his childhood home 19 years later only to find an Israeli woman living there now. The story unravels to show you pain and heartache, bitterness and love from both sides.IMG-4020

I truly hope you take the time to see for yourself the hidden beauty of Palestine, for it welcomes anyone with a soft heart and kind eyes.

This was Chapter 4 of the traveling biblio chornicles by Dounya Hamdan. You can buy the book here from book depository
This book travel series will continue next week when our next guest takes us on a little bookish journey to a new place!
If you liked this post, please consider subscribing here
Do consider sharing this with your friends who might like to read more from our hopefully growing diverse list over the next weeks and months.

Check out Chapter 1: Australia here

Check out Chapter 2: Afghanistan here

Check out Chapter 3: Egypt here