books, REVIEWS

The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami

A short story collection in which Murakami explores the mundane and treads the thin line between magic and reality (as usual!)

This was my second short story collection by Murakami, having read Men without women I had a general idea about his style when it comes to short stories.

I always have trouble reviewing short stories as it seems to become more about the author than about the plot or characters, there are simply too many.

Which gives me full rights to fangirl on this review!

What I like about Murakami is how he squeezes out interesting moments from daily life and how he can focus on one moment and make it feel like time is not a factor, like he’s taken us on a story telling limbo.

Another thing I’ve noticed is how almost all of his characters are regular people, no one too beautiful, no one too out of reach. The one thing he does seem to work on his characters is their absolute mediocrity. People with unfulfilling jobs, broken relationships and silly thoughts.

The highlight of this book was The Second Bakery Attack and The Elephant Vanishes.

The first is a weirdly eventful night between a newly married couple who end up roaming around town looking to steal bread from a bakery.

The Elephant Vanishes is one of those of Murakami’s where he leaves things unanswered and flirts with the idea of endless possibilities. You can buy the book here

If you are new to Murakami, I’d suggest reading my blog post ‘Why I no longer recommend Murakami to readers’

Another Murakami I have reviewed is his latest Killing Commendatore

books, REVIEWS

A place for us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

I have always been secretly proud of my ability to express my thoughts on books in concentrated ways enabling readers of my reviews to decide for themselves if they would like to read them or not. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can or want to do that with this one, you HAVE to read it.

I’m going to stick to three main points of the book:

▪️The Storytelling

▫️The Characters

▪️The Relatability

▪️What struck me most within the first 50 pages of the book was how expertly the plot is handled and weaves around the characters. The narrative jumps ahead and around multiple times and it doesn’t take much effort to know when it’s taking place. I noticed subtle hints are included within the first few paragraphs of each new timeline and I’d automatically readjust the ages of each character to fit the narrative.

▫️At our core, we are all flawed and most of us try our best to do what we can to improve ourselves and adjust to our surroundings; to embrace our traditions and yet accept new ones. Writing such characters never seems like an easy task, but to write such characters and join their lives together in a way that compliments and completes them is exactly what Fatima has accomplished. There isn’t one character I could clearly point out and say was right or wrong. They all had their reasons behind their words and actions.

▪️Having been born in a foreign country and then lived almost all of my life outside of my own, there are things that I know and understand and experience regularly but have unfortunately never had the privilege to hear out loud. A Place for Us became my little place where I found solace in the five days I took to read it. It’s going to remain with me for a very long time and perhaps finally become the first book I might revisit year in and year out.

I had the privilege to talk to Fatima right after I read the book, it reminded me of what JD Salinger wrote in the incomparable voice of Holden: “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” Well, it happened! Thank you Fatima!

You can buy the book here

books, REVIEWS

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient is the type of book I wouldn’t shy away from calling the new representative of a whole genre, The Psychological Thriller!

#theguywiththebookreview presents The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

We have a loving wife who seemingly randomly shoots her husband 5 times on his face and kills him. The interesting part is that she stops saying or reacting to anything or anyone. She’s deemed unfit and sent to a psychiatric clinic where our protagonist shows up, Theo.

He is obsessed with Alicia’s high profile murder case and as a psychiatrist he wants to finally be the one who makes her talk and gets to the bottom of what happened that fateful night.

I enjoyed the ‘back and forth’ between Theo and the silent Alicia. There was a frustrating feeling with how Alicia kept quiet which builds up a lot of anticipation for the final third and the expected revelation of the book!

There were many theories that I had by midway but then I just gave up as none of them made sense even to me and I couldn’t be bothered making an effort which I knew would eventually feel foolish and stupid. I felt stupid any way!

Absolutely brilliant and a must read for anyone who likes a good twist!

You can buy the book here

books, REVIEWS

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

There is a certain charm to a book when one of the characters isn’t what normally defines a character. The Australian Outback was just the type of ‘character’ I love in a book!

#theguywiththebookreview presents The Lost Man by @janeharperauthor

There were three things which took center stage for me:

▪️The atmospheric feel of the Outback

▪️The protagonist Nathan’s claustrophobia

▪️The timing of the Big Reveal

Forming an image of the Australian Outback is kind of easy, just think about barren land all around you. But giving it character and defining the undefinable is what set the mood and the plot. The tree and grave, although tiny details, amazingly catapult us into the intricate rabbit hole that Harper creates!

I loved how even though the book is set in the vast expanse of the Outback, the protagonist always seemed to be struggling within himself and feeling bound from all sides, helpless. The claustrophobic feeling around his character made me want him to be free. I haven’t felt like that for many characters in recent times.

With most whodunnits my biggest issue is always the timing of the ‘Big Reveal’. I want it to be right at the end, preferably the last few pages. A feeling that leaves me jaw dropped and wowed! The timing in The Lost Man was exactly that, very well wrapped up right at the end!

You can buy the book here

books, REVIEWS

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Excuse me while I try to make sense of this book and my thoughts around it which not only I, but many others who have read it will remember for a lifetime.

#theguywiththebookreview presents Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

BLRW is an adventure fantasy which keeps moving across its massive size, there are not many pages where you don’t find Marlon James building the world around us. Crazy good part is that the places and characters he has created are not over defined and he leaves a lot to our imagination. The descriptions are part of the story and he doesn’t pause the story line to build the environment.

Second thing or probably the first thing that will come to your mind is the richness of the characters. There are almost no two similar main characters. The ease with which he introduces new types of characters is something I have not seen before.

With BLRW, MJ has blurred the lines between X-Men and Game of Thrones, mashing them together to give an experience unlike any other. The inclusion of Giants, Shape Shifters, Siamese twins, Smoke girl, Witches and many more is done with expert precision.

This has a very interesting effect of the era in which it takes place seeming to stand still, which was mastered by George RR Martin in A Song or Ice and Fire. MJ does the same and you get a sense of stillness in the world he takes you into.

The biggest challenge for me was trying to keep track of the names as well as type of the characters. It gets much easier halfway through once you’re acquainted to most of them. The other thing which might take a little effort is keeping track of the slangs and unique style with which many characters speak.

I think there are a lot of African references and styles used in the book which were lost to me, but I think would be much more appreciated by people having roots there.

Overall, I’m going to be recommending this to everyone. If you’re looking for a book which will take you to places you probably could never imagine yourself, this book is for you. Also, it’s the first in the Dark Star Trilogy, better read it now!

Thank you @PenguinUKbooks for sending me a copy!

Here’s the affiliate link to buy the book!

books

The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Jeckyll and Hyde relationship is one that has been read and watched and reread and rewatched and referred to and used as adjectives for years.

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#theguywiththebookreview presents The Strange Case is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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This is the type of Classic That can get you excited about the genre! Very strong use of sentence structures and dialogues; is spooky yet almost poetic in places which sounds ironic even to me while I write this. But it’s true, every word, period and exclamation point in this book is measured and has an impact. Similar but a more detailed example would be Dracula which had me surprised with the complexity in its writing.

What I liked most is that it takes place in basically a couple of streets and isn’t unnecessarily spread across locations. Very much focused on the characters and their relationship dynamics, a great example of how how Sci-fi isn’t just about, scientific fiction.

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I was heavily invested in the tug of war between Jeckyll and Hyde and at multiple levels I felt it to be an artful social commentary by Robert Louis Stevenson that’s valid even today and well human nature can’t escape from itself until the end of time and this book’s core will always remain applicable to us.

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A brilliant book and I can safely say, they don’t write books like these any more.

books, REVIEWS

A Long Walk to Water By Linda Sue Park

edfThe last few pages of this book gave me multiple goosebumps. Linda Sue Park takes us on a couple of walks, one to survival and the other figuratively to survival (to water).

The narrative alternates between two eleven year old’s: Nya and Salva. Nya is a little girl who makes two trips to a drying pond to fetch water for her family. Her only break includes drinking a little water when she reaches the pond and the other is between her two daily trips back home for a few minutes. Nya’s narrative is very innocent which is intertwined with Salva’s coming of age narrative which also starts at the age of eleven. Salva is at the center of the book with Nya lending short breathers in between. Salva’s story starts in 1985 when South Sudan is under attack which leads him to abandon everything and head for Ethiopia under the unwilling watch of random strangers also heading to the same place.IMG_20181017_171059.jpg

What Salva goes through during the course of this ‘walk’ is horrendous and almost unbelievable, and when I finished the book, I turned the last page to a note from the author saying that this is all based on a true story. (I really need to stop this habit of not reading summaries of books I pick up!) Everything I read had a much deeper impact on me after I found this out and this has to be one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read in a long time! (Closest to it is Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini)

At the end of it all, I had so much more appreciation for what we have been blessed with in our daily lives, something like water which we don’t even think about. We complain if edfthe water we drink isn’t as cold as we want it to be not thinking twice there are people even today who would thank God for giving them even boiling hot water to drink. This book has the capacity to humble us and be thankful, and for that reason I recommend it to every single one of you. I think this should be required reading in schools and a book that should be reread every year.

A Long Walk to Water has a 4.24 rating on Good reads (30,000 reviews). If you’d like to order one, here’s my bookdepository affiliate link

Hope you guys enjoy it! Do let me know if its something you’d pick up? If there is any book you’d like to recommend, I’m all ears!