Monday, June 13, 2016

Book Pact - 41 to 50

41/100 The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I saw a lot written about this book, and wanted to see what the fuss was all about. Crime thriller. I identified with it because I'm also the kind who sits on a train and imagines stories about the people living in the houses that I pass. This book has some seriously gripping storytelling. I read it at breakneck speed. But it kind of let me down. Right from the beginning, it was fairly obvious to me who did it. So I read on, waiting and waiting for the twist to turn everything topsy-turvy and make me draw a sharp intake of breath. But guess what, it was whoever I thought it was all along. So at the end of it, I'm like, meh !
Gone Girl, which this book reminded me of, was more satisfying for me, with its evil and unexpected twists and turns.

42/100 The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
Yeah, I'm in the phase of "Let's see what all the fuss is about." For this book, my verdict - a Thumbs Up. But then I would advocate any book that lies quietly on the table, exerting an intense magnetic pull on me when I'm forced to leave it aside while I attend to my duties in the Realm of Reality.
Ok, back to the book, yeah it is about a chillingly satisfying (for the reader) secret that affects the lives and worlds of many other families. And the characters -- I want to pound the floor in frustration while I say this -- I want to learn to create characters like these that are so real that I feel that I can reach out and touch them. Even though I've never felt many of the emotions in the book, I get the feeling that yes, this is exactly how I would feel if I were in that situation.

43/100 East Wind: West Wind by Pearl S Buck
This is the story of a young Chinese woman who has been brought up in the ancient ways (bound feet, subservience to men, the works) and who is married to a man who has studied western medicine and wants her to unbind her feet and wants to treat her as his equal (the horror!!) By the time she gets adjusted to those ideas, the winds of change blow even harder when her brother, who also goes to the west to study, brings home an American wife. I'm quite sure Indian lives and sensibilities were similarly torn asunder when the first few people brought home white spouses.
On one hand, the novel gives you an intimate look into the old Chinese home and customs. On the other hand, it is an exquisite study of points of view. How we view "others" and the disbelief about how "they" view us.
The last 50-70 pages dragged a bit, but I'd recommend it anyway.

44/100 Holes by Louis Sachar
Puttachi had placed a Wayside series book on hold at the library, but I couldn't pick it up on time. So on my next visit to the library, I went to the Sachar section to see if I could find some other book in the series. I didn't, but I found Holes, which had been recommended to me, but I had kind of placed it on hold (in my head) but since I was there anyway, I picked it up.
This is another of those books that remind me that in spite of the number of books I've read so far, I actually ain't read nothin' yet. Holes is the story of boys in a juvenile detention facility who have to dig holes every day. Why? We come to know, little by little, each piece of the big puzzle unveiled nonchalantly but oh-so-effectively until you're left gasping for breath (figuratively). The movie is on Netflix too, and I guess I'll watch it sometime. I don't think it is quite suitable for Puttachi yet, neither the book, nor the movie.

45/100 All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
What a book! Set in Germany-occupied Paris of WW2. Short, crisp sentences. In the present tense. Each sentence feels like it has been crafted with care, weighed, and then written down. Follows the stories of two main characters. Their storylines meet, oh-so-briefly, but it is like every step of each one's story is leading inexorably to their meeting.
How the author handles the POV of the girl who cannot see is a lesson in writing. How each sound and touch is highlighted, and we are made to "see" what she is "seeing." Wow.
On the lighter side, I was blow away by a huge coincidence. Both this book and the previous one I read, Holes by Louis Sachar, feature:
A can of peaches in syrup,
-- Which is the last bit of food available
-- Tinned by a woman who is now dead
-- Shared by two people
-- One of whom has come to rescue the other
-- Both of whom are starving and thirsty
-- The tin is with the one who is being rescued
What are the odds?

46/100 The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.
I'd read Eat Pray Love by this author just because everybody was talking about it, and I remember not being too impressed. However, I enjoyed the author's TED talk on Genius. This book was being recommended by a lot of people, and so I read it, and am glad I did. I'm glad I didn't dismiss the author just because of one book. The Signature of All Things is one of those sweeping sagas that stretches across decades, a period novel, a book full of new facts and information, basically, the kind I am partial to. Besides, there is this strong (literally) female protagonist, Alma Whittaker, who is scientific and curious and clever and brave and human, once again, the kind that I'm partial to. I'm in awe of authors who write books like this.

47/100 Princess (The Puppy Place series) by Ellen Miles.
Puttachi always finds her way to puppy books, and this is her recent discovery, about a family that fosters puppies, and obviously she insisted that I read "at least one" in the series, and I did.

48/100 Five Get Into a Fix (Famous Five series) by Enid Blyton
I have no explanation for why I read this. Call it nostalgia. And it was just lying around. And I didn't have anything else to read.

49/100 Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
I've been reading this book for the past ten months, I think. As a filler between two books. Or if the book I was currently reading was too large to carry in my handbag, I took this book along when I went out, and read snatches of it here and there. Finally I finished it yesterday. It is just like any other of Bryson's books, and I think you already know how I feel about his brand of humour (I like it). Only he can be crazy enough to waddle to the nooks and corners of a small Island (the UK) and make strange observations and experience the weirdest things and express it all in a way that, if it doesn't make you snort your coffee out of your nostrils, makes you grin non-stop without your knowledge, making you wonder later why your cheeks are aching.

50/100 Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
I read this aloud to Puttachi. It was slow at first, as both of us tried to adjust to this entirely new kind of story and language. The author makes absolutely no effort to dumb it down for children, in terms of language/slang/technology/action. I had to stop after nearly every sentence and explain a slang term, or an idiom, or some reference. I nearly gave up, but Puttachi begged me to continue, and then later, it became smoother.
Artemis Fowl is a boy-genius, a criminal mastermind, who kidnaps Captain Holly Short, a fairy, for gold as ransom. And this fairy is not a pretty and delicate, flitting and flying creature -- she is one of the highly-trained, technically-advanced creatures of the underground. It was a very different experience and we enjoyed it.

No comments:

- -