Tag Archives: bookreview

Book Review: A Spot of Bother

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Title: A Spot of Bother
Author: Mark Haddon
Language: English
Format: Hardcover

Review:
I am being very honest that when I picked this book from the shelves, it is because of “The Curious Incident of the Dog In¬†the Night Time“. That was one incredibly wonderful book — see how I used an adverb and and adjective just to make sure you know how I like that book. However, I also have learned from experiences, that one should never, never ever, hold their expectation about a book based on one’s previous encounter with books from a particular author.

Yes.

So, I read A Spot of Bother with a totally open mind. And I am glad that I did.

I have to say that I quite enjoyed the book. It is definitely different from Curious Incident, so if you were thinking of reading this one, don’t bother to try to find similarities. You wouldn’t find one, and if you do it must be a bit of a stretch.

For example I could say that it is about a family, but many stories are about families. So, I will stop talking about the other book, and would talk about this one as an individual book.

Right.

Like I said before, the story was around a family. A father, mother, a son, and a daughter. Every one of them has their own problem. I am not going to tell you about their problems as it is basically the plot of the book, and I don’t want to be the spoiler.

Maybe it is my personal thing, but I kind of like the male characters more than the female ones. In fact, I found the mother character as incredibly annoying. I really don’t like her. I am not sure whether the author meant her to be the bad guy in the story or what, but I do feel that way about her.

The story was incredible. I have seen some other reviews, that people don’t like this because this is too “soapey” — which I could not disagree due to the amount of drama involved. But what is a story without a drama in it? Some said that there is no originality in the drama itself, that there are plenty stories with similar premise… but seriously there are hundreds of stories with similar premise. My argument is how to make it stand out.

I think Mark Haddon nailed it. Yes true, in a glance I could see why it is just another family drama, but his dark humour, bitter sarcastic jokes, and psychological break down…. suddenly, you could see why he was so successful with the previous work.

I will rate this book 4/5, and would recommend people to read it. It would definitely be a great summer reading, or a company for your travel ūüôā

Book Review: Red Dog

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Title: Red Dog
Author: Louise de Bernières
Language: English
Format: Paperback

Review:

I know Louis de Berni√®res from his other book Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and love that book so much. It was probably one of the best book I have ever read. That is why I don’t have any hesitation to start reading this book — when I found it in my husband’s bookshelves. One thing I was not happy with — why didn’t my husband gave me this book much earlier?

This book is thin. Very. Especially if it is compared to Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

Not only that it is thin, but also incredibly light and easy to read too. I think it is just a perfect summer reading — unfortunately I did not know it and finished it before the summer has even started.

The¬†main protagonist is the Red Dog. Yes. A dog. Definitely a plus point from me. The human characters — although they’re basically the supporting character in the story, they are well described and definitely play an important role in shaping the story.

It is funny, and heartwarming. I can’t remember the last time I used that word — heart warming. I found it really difficult not to tear up a little in the last few chapters. Somehow I missed Chika.

Anyway I definitely will recommend this book, especially to those who like dogs. Yes, you can call me bias or something but from me, it is 5 out of 5.

Book Review: Saving Grace

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Title: Saving Grace
Author: Ciara Geraghty
Language: English
Format: Paperback

Review:

This book has been sitting for ages in my “to read” section, and finally I finished it. I have to say that finishing this book is quite a chore. Yes. A chore. And here is why.

First of all, it is not a bad book. I just found that the beginning of this book is a little bit draggy, and if I couldn’t get passed the first two chapter, I might not be able to go anywhere with this book. It is classic– if it is not clich√©, story about a woman who is described as far-from-perfect-borderline-self-destructive kind of protagonist trying to survive a trauma by finding the Mr. Right.

Not that there’s a problem with that in general. I just don’t quite like both the sentiment and the message sent by the story. So, before I rant further and start spilling the beans, I will move on to other things.

The characters. Well… I don’t like the main character. I don’t find the protagonist inspiring at all. I couldn’t remember most of the¬†other characters in the book either — they seemed like being thrown in just to patch the lack of the story the main character could give to the reader. Most of them¬†don’t add anything to the story really…

I believe that the author would like to insert a dry humour in the story. Well… some worked, some just completely… dry. I¬†do like the Irish touch in the story, and wish there is more about the Irish culture, or places, or whatever that could distinct this story from other chick-lits. It didn’t happen.

However in the last few chapters I started to feel a little bit emotional reading this book. Although I suspected that it is probably because the story hit too close to home. And, for that I give this book more brownie points.

In the end, this is still a chick lits. If you like chick lits in general, you will like this one. It is much deeper than most that I have ever read before. Better written too (especially because apparently this is a debut book). I would rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: South of The Border, West of The Sun

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Title: South of The Border, West of The Sun
Author: Haruki Murakami
Language: English
Format: Paperback

Review:

Hajime was the only child. Nobody could understand him, apart from the other only child at school, Shimamoto. When they grew up they went to different school and lost contact. But of course, I wouldn’t tell you the whole story, because what’s the point then? If you want to read the synopsis you could click here, and if you would like to read my review you can just go on.

This book reminds me a little about Norwegian Wood. I couldn’t say that I have the same feeling about them though. Because, although in a way I love Norwegian Wood more, I could relate to South of The Border more. South of The Border is not as dark and gloomy as Norwegian Wood, although dark and gloomy is still the theme of the book.

Unlike Norwegian Wood — South of The Border’s plot is really fast. It is almost as if I am watching a film while fast forwarding to the interesting bit only. Sometimes, I wish Murakami would elaborate more about some part of the story. That’s probably why I liked Norwegian Wood better than South of The Border. But I should stop comparing these books and focusing on South of The Border from now.

The main characer, Hajime do me anything. I don’t like him too much. I have to say that I don’t really like Shimamoto either. But somehow, these two people that I don’t really like could make a beautiful story between them. How bizarre! It is as if doesn’t matter how flawed the character, as long as in this book their existence complemented the other.

The ending… I really wish it could end differently, but I am glad it didn’t. I think it couldn’t be better than that. I think the whole plot was meant to lead to that kind of closure.

It is one of few books that I had to practically put so much efforts to put down. It was late and I was sleepy, but my eyes were glued to the page of this book. When I reached the last page, I was so sad the story ends there.

Of course, I would recommend this book.¬†It is perfect for summer reading, or for people who is new to “foreign literature”. I rated this book 4 out of 5.

 

Book Review: Roadside Crosses

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Title: Roadside Crosses
Author: Jefferey Deaver
Language: English
Format: Paperback

Review:
When a patrol officer saw a cross on the roadside he thought nothing about it. Not until…

Well… I shouldn’t tell you the story should I? If you want to read the synopsis you could click here. While I am going to do the review.

The main character of this book is Kathryn Dance, a kinesics expert — basically someone who observe one’s body language to interpret messages. Something that in the real life I don’t believe. But this is a book, so I enjoyed it. It is meant to be a fiction, isn’t it?

Anyway. Apart from the fact that I am not comfortable with “kinesics expert” thingy. I could say that I quite enjoy the book. I think it is Jeffery Deaver’s writing style that made me practically hooked to the story. I should say that he’s one of my favourites — and I don’t have many.

The fast paced storyline appeals to me. There is nothing that puts me off more than a dragging scene about two people reminiscing about something that has nothing to do with the plot (just for the sake of the word count).

I like the way he twist the plot without wringing it too much. I patted myself in the back for being able to guess the obvious. But boy… the last one, I did not expect that at all. It is always nice to have an unexpected something when reading a book.

Unfortunately, I don’t read the book according to its sequence. I did not read the first book, and this is the second one of the Kathryn Dance series. Maybe I could relate to this character more if I read it from the first book, but so far, I don’t have the same kind of fondness to Dance as to Lincoln Rhyme.

Would I recommend this? Of course I will. Despite of the characterisation, I would still rate this book 4/5 for the story alone. So yes, if you like crime stories, you would like this one.

Book Review: Maryam

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Title: Maryam
Author: Okky Madasari
Language: Bahasa Indonesia
Format: Paperback

Review:
After her divorce, Maryam decided to go back to her home town in an island of Lombok — a place she has never set foot for so many years. Little did she know that everything there has changed, and not for the better — especially for her people.

This is the second Okky Madasari’s book I have ever read. Entrok was the first one, and this incredible author has already got my attention.

I have to admit that Maryam is not as deep as Entrok was. I did not expect it to be. I have learned that not many books would be able to live up to the level where Entrok has been. But, Maryam, obviously has a special place in my bookshelves.

Madasari daringly picked one of the most sensitive theme¬†in Indonesia — the religious intolerance, especially to the minority groups such as (in this novel) the Ahmadiyya. It was obviously a difficult subject, and I could feel that she was tiptoeing while trying to be as factual as possible. It is hard not to offend the hardliners if she wanted to make a statement. But that’s the problem: trying to tiptoe around the subject while being factual couldn’t work. It has become somewhere in the middle.

Apart from what I have mentioned above, I love the way Madasari did not try to sugar coat the reality as well. The life of a divorcee, the cultural clashes, the filial piety, and the social responsibility was described really well in this novel. I was so absorbed in the storyline, which Madasari has made so simple — even with flashbacks.

The writing style was superb. It was flowing and it was clear and detailed. It did not try to be highbrow. yet it did not dumb down either. It was clear and informative, but it is still a very entertaining fiction. Obviously, it was a good read as I finish the whole book in one sitting while having a 12 hour flight home.

Would I recommend this book? Why wouldn’t I? I know that this one was written in Bahasa Indonesia, and if you don’t speak Bahasa it would be a little bit troublesome. But fret not, my dear readers because this book is already translated in English with a different title: “The Outcast”. So yes, I will still recommend this book.

I rate this 4/5 ‚̧

Book Review: Norwegian Wood

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Title: Norwegian Wood
Author: Haruki Murakami
Language: English
Format: Paperback

Review;
Listening to The Beatles’ song Norwegian Wood, Toru Watanabe was reminded of his life when he was a Drama student in one of the universities in Tokyo. The year was the late 60s and the early 70s, and Watanabe’s life was among the modern youth movement, more and more books, great musics (which is entirely subjective to my taste. Yay!) and of course the adventure of casual sex. It was also the year of self discovery, and when Watanabe found himself in between the past and the present.

This is the first book by Haruki Murakami I have ever read. Yes. Isn’t it just surprising?

I have heard about this book for ages, and I would love to read it. From the reviews I have seen before, the readers have given this a really high recommendation. Of course I have a really huge expectation when I started to read this book, and I know I should not have done it. But never mind, this book has fulfilled my expectation anyway. I was not disappointed at all.

The book¬†was narrated by the main character Toru Watanabe. It was interesting to access the mind of a introvert teenage boy discovering life and growing up. I found it so easy to like Watanabe, and most of other characters in the book. Heck, I love all the characters in the book, not necessarily like them, but love them nonetheless — even the most vile ones.

 

I love how this novel was written. It was written in a no-nonsense, simple, and straight forward attitude (you know like how a teenage student would), and yet it was beautifully penned (or typed…). I can still feel the presence of cultural influence, although it was translated to English (unfortunately I can’t speak Japanese ūüė¶ ), I can still enjoy the detailed description of the picturesque Japanese countryside or the busy Tokyo.

I thoroughly enjoyed the humour. It has touched my darkest sense of humour like no other novel has ever done before. It was witty, and funny, and it could depict the most profane sex scene without being crass (if that makes sense?).

Do you know what? I can’t believe it was written only a couple of years after I was born. I can’t believe that this book is almost as old as I am and yet it seems so modern. The story feels so relevant and incredibly easy to relate even today. I am not surprised that this is considered as one classics everybody should read. I am not surprised that Murakami has been considered as one of the best living legend in the world literature history.

Obviously, I would recommend this book to everybody who hasn’t read this. I might be the last person in the world that hasn’t read this book, but if there’s the next generation reading this review, I would still want them to read this book. This is definitely one book you have to read before you die. And I would rate it 5 stars out of 5.

 

Book Review: The Bone Collector

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Title: The Bone Collector

Author: Jeffery Deaver
Language: English
Format: Paperback

Review:

It was supposed to be Amelia Sachs last day of work in the field, but she had to be the first responder of the most grim crime she has ever seen in her life. The vistim hand was stripped to the bone before he died, and nobody knew who the unsub was.

I love crime stories. I have grown up with Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Marple, and Sherlock Holmes, and I always loved the thrill of whodunnit. I always loved the puzzle and for years been trying to read a more modern version of crime stories… And Jeffery Deaver was good.

The first Jeffery Deaver book I have encountered was The Blue Nowhere. It has been our little family’s favourite (or in this case my sisters and I, because my parents don’t read as much). Since then I always loved his works. And The Bone Collector hasn’t disappointed me at all.

Although I cannot say that I love the protagonists, I quite like how Deaver put them in the situations where the usual conflict of interests happen. I found the portrayal of the culprit however was way more interesting than the protagonists, and I found this very fascinating. I think crime stories is only as good as the cunningness of its bad guy.

 

It was quite easy to read. The only reason why it takes me a while to finish the book is probably because nowadays I only read before I go to bed. And I have been postponing this review for some times. I have a little problem with the dialogue, because Deaver use the “accented style” conversation. I don’t mind it as it might help to understand the characters better, but it was quite hard to understand for a non native speaker like me.

The storyline is quite engaging. I have to say I am not a big fan of POV-switching style as it could be confusing. But in this case, this is probably just the best way to introduce the mind of the criminal, and give a different depth to the depiction of the crime scene itself. I couldn’t imagine another way to do it.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves crime and thriller stories. I know that this is not a new book on the shelves, but if you haven’t read any Jeffery Deaver’s book, this is probably the best place to start. It has sequels too (I have read The Vanished Man, but it was translated in Bahasa Indonesia) that I couldn’t wait to get my hands to.

I scored this bool 4 out of 5 stars

Book Review: And The Mountains Echoed

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Title: And the Mountains Echoed
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Language: English
Format: Hardback cover


Review:
I always loved Khaled Hosseini’s work. His debut book — The Kite Runner has stolen my attention, and the second book A Thousand Splendid Suns has assured me that he is a wonderful writer. When I saw this book was open for pre order in Amazon, I was so excited and promised myself that I would read it. This week, I had the chance to read the book.

And The Mountains Echoed evolves around the life of two Afghans siblings who were apart by fate when they were very young. The wars, the changes in social and political situation in Afghanistan shaped their lives, and the lives of people around them. Hosseini captured them all in his beautiful storytelling about the life in Afghanistan and the lives of the Afghans from different point of views.

It was a struggle to put this book down. If only I do not need my beauty sleep in the night, I might have finished this book in only three days. Yes. The story was THAT addictive.

Of course t wouldn’t be fair to compare this book to the previous two. However, this book is incomparable after all. It has different depth in political and war situations, and definitely different characterisations which made this book so much different that Hosseini’s former works.

I wouldn’t lie to you. This is not a chicken soup kind of heart warming story. Instead, I found it dark, gritty, and incredibly brutal. Which I like so much.

So, based on those verdicts, I would recommend this book, and rate this book 4 out of 5 stars ūüôā

 

Book Review: Shame

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Title: Shame
Author: Salman Rushdie
Language: English
Format: Paperback

Review:
I have heard Salman Rushdie since I was a very young girl. Of course in Indonesia, it is almost impossible for me to come home with a copy — but I did not understand why. So while I got the chance to lay my hands on one of his books, I chose this one to start with.

Shame is a story revolving around a man named Omar Khayam Shakil who has three mothers and no father, living in a politically unstable fictional country. The story is narrated by an anonymous character who has never introduced himself to the readers, yet somehow it is not important as he has no involvement in the story itself.

It is just interesting since the beginning, but it became even more interesting when the anonymous character started to throw in clues about how similar the fictional country and cities in the story is to Pakistan and its cities.

For someone who has been completely blind about the political and military history in Pakistan, the story is such an epic journey to follow. Of course it would be highly exaggerated. After all, it is a fiction. However, the way it is written, the dark and gritty humour that was meant to be satire — has pushed the boundaries of political fiction, which some groups of people might find offensive.

The book is deep and critical, and mock so many things believed by some particular communities. It provoked the thoughts and made people questions, while at the same time never cease to entertain me as a reader.

I would have to say that I really love this book. This has everything I would expect¬†to read in a¬†socio-political fiction. It successfully portrayed the cultural movement, the political condition, and the social situation in details without converting into a university textbook (not that the university textbook is boring or something…)

This book deserves the rating of 5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those who are interested in the socio-political situation in the Middle East.