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Tag: challenge

Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll


Does it ever really happen that we are given a real second chance?

Another turn to bat, a few magical feet more to skid before we hit the wall

and ruin everything?

No, in real life that didn’t happen.

Summary: Cullen James is a young woman who lives in New York with her family. In her dreams, though, she lives in the magical land of Rondua, where she journeys with a boy called Pepsi and a bunch of talking animals, on a quest to find the Bones of the Moon. The dreamland, seemingly amazing, soon appears to be taking over Cullen’s life, as reality and fantasy begin to dangerously interweave.
My thoughts: Between reading Anna Karenina and a book of essays by Oscar Wilde, I started missing good ol’ fantasy fiction; which is why I decided to read this book and I am so glad I did. The only other book that I’ve read by Jonathan Carroll is The Land of Laughs, and while it was really great, this one is just something else.
The book is wonderful, and just the right amount of touching. It’s unusual, dreamy (literally) and just fantastic. The plot is set at a fast, exciting pace. The characters seem real and somehow, so does the wacky world they live in. The vivid descriptions make the fiction come to life.
I loved the book and I’d definitely recommend it! (If that isn’t enough motivation to read the book, note the fact that both Stephen King and Neil Gaiman recommend it.)
The review is a part of the What’s in a Name Challenge hosted at Beth Fish Reads (something you’d see in the sky)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood


This review is a part of the Dystopia 2012 Challenge hosted at The Bookish Ardour.

“A chair, a table, a lamp. Above, on the white ceiling, a relief ornament in the shape of a wreath, and in the center of it a blank space, plastered over, like the place in a face where the eye has been taken out. There must have been a chandelier, once. They’ve removed anything you could tie a rope to. “

About the book: The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel by
Margaret Atwood, which was first published in 1985.
Summary: (from Goodreads) Offred is a Handmaid in the
Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a
day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words
because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a
month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of
declining fertility, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their
ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and
made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her
daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. 
But
all of that is gone now…
My Thoughts: This may seem like a very halfhearted review
and I do not blame you for thinking that. I don’t usually tend to write reviews
about books I don’t like, unless they’re review copies, in which case I have
to. It’s because I am mostly unable to think of anything to write. But since I
read this book as part of a challenge, I decided to go ahead and write the
review.
I have seen this book compared to Orwell’s 1984 countless
times. I won’t try to tell you how wrong those comparisons were; I merely want
to show how wonderful I expected this book to be. What I got, instead, was very
clumsy writing; not to mention very little character development and an average
plot.
The book starts out painfully slow. The writing is childlike,
with short pretentious sentences, too many metaphors, an inconsistent narrative
and for some reason, no quotation marks. The authors tries too hard to sound
beautiful, scary, touching. Throughout the book, the reader is kept in the dark
about most important things, and instead presented with a whole lot of
irrelevant details. Till the very end you don’t get a clear explanation of why
the world is this way, what drove the characters and we never find out what
happened of half the characters.
So much of the plot is withheld for so long, and I can think
of no other reason why the author would do this than to attempt to keep the
audience intrigued. I wasn’t intrigued, just confused, slightly irritated and
sort of amused. The only reason I kept reading the book was because I had to
find out if the mystery ever ends.
I wish the book had a more intricate plot, or better
developed characters. The book would make a much stronger statement, if only
all the underlying themes such as gender, sex, caste, class and patriarchy
were, in fact, underlying. I like books that have a point to make, but not if
the message starts to hinder the plot and character development. I appreciated
the basic premise of the book, the world that the author has tried to create
and the impact she’s tried to make; but that basic idea was the only thing I am
completely certain I liked.

If someone asks me how I find this book, I won’t say I hate
it, because I don’t; I would just call it okay.

The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton

“He remembered a hornbill, which was simply a huge yellow beak with a small bird tied on behind it. The whole gave him a sensation, the vividness of which he could not explain, that Nature was always making quite mysterious jokes. Sunday had told them that they would understand him when they had understood the stars. He wondered whether even the archangels understood the hornbill.”

About the book: The Man Who Was Thursday is a metaphysical thriller written by G. K. Chesterton. It was first published in 1908, and is often considered to be the author’s best work.

Summary: The Man Who Was Thursday is the story of Gabriel Syme. He is a poet-turned- detective from Scotland Yard, who goes undercover to infiltrate the Council of European Anarchists. The Council consists of a group of eccentric characters, whose codes names are the names of the seven days of the week; Syme becomes the new Thursday. It is now up to him to stop the planned assassination of the Czar and the French president, without getting caught in the process.

My Thoughts: The Man Who Was Thursday is less than 200 pages and a quick read. It is also a fun read! I read the book in one sitting. When I was done, I couldn’t exactly form full-sentenced thoughts. The words that popped up in my mind were…. Nightmarish, literally. Wild. Bizarre. Surreal. Intriguing. Witty.
What I found wild was the fast pace, the kind that makes the book seem less like a metaphysical thriller and more like a spy novel. The plot races across the pages. The novel is an allegory, a great one, because it does not even try to convince you that it is literal. It is, at times, strange and eccentric and that makes it even more fun. You cannot miss a single detail and you just have to read between the lines. There are times when you lose track entirely of the many twists and turns in the plot; I’ll admit I was sidetracked a couple of times and I had to re-read a couple of paragraphs, but it’s intriguing how each time you re-read something, the deeper, intended meaning becomes clearer. The language is beautiful, though it does take getting used to. If not anything else, this book lets you experience the author’s way of simply playing with words.
Look at it one way and it’s a mystery novel, otherwise it’s a satire, or even a thrilling fantasy. The emotions involved in the book and the ideas about laws and religion and war, humanity and anarchy are all still very relevant. So whichever way you look at it, though written in 1908, the novel is timeless. I couldn’t write more about the plot or the ideas, without spoiling the book for you. This book is certainly a must read.
This review is a part of the What’s in a Name Challenge for “something on a calendar” hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-thon Challenge

This is a challenge hosted at Book Briefs as a part of the Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-thon.


“Ok, so how does this work? First you pick a book. Then you find pictures to represent the words in the book title. Then you put the pictures/clues together and try to guess what the book title is. Get creative and make it as challenging as you want. Make a post with your Book picture puzzles and go around to different blogs and try to guess some of the puzzles.”

Here’s mine.. I suppose it’s easy to guess…

German Literature Month – November

After seeing this on Vishy’s blog, I immediately decided to take part in it; I hardly have anything to do this November and it is about time I caught up on some German Literature.

German Literature Month is hosted by Caroline @ Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Lizzy @ Lissy’s Literary Life.

The weekly schedule for the month is –

Week 1 – German Literature

Week 2 – German Crime Fiction

Week 3 – Austria and Switzerland

Week 4 – Kleist and Other German Classics

Week 5 – Wrap up

I haven’t found the time to make a complete list of the things I would like to read. In fact, that’s good, because every time I make a reading list, I end up reading something entirely else. But there are certain German books, which I always wanted to read – these include Patrick Süskind’s Perfume, Max Frisch’s Mein Name sei Gantenbein, Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story, and Kafka’s the Trial. Along with that, some Bertolt Brecht, some Günter Grass, Ingrid Noll and something (anything) by Goethe.

Of course, I couldn’t even dream of finishing half this stuff. But you can call it my tentative list. Let’s just see how much I actually read. I’m definitely looking forward to November!

R.I.P. Challenge

I found this challenge over at Adventures in Borkdom. It is a yearly challenge hosted at Stainless Steel Droppings. The purpose of the R.I.P (R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril) Challenge is to read and enjoy books that could be classified as: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, Supernatural. R.I.P. VI officially runs from September 1st through October 31st.

I am officially signing up for Peril the First, which means reading four books of R.I.P. literature. And since I started reading Frankenstein today, that can be my first read. Though I might add a few Perils of the Short Story and Perils on the Screen!!

Update: I started the challenge by reading Carrie by Stephen King. I’ll link the reviews here as and when I post them!

Peril the First:

1. Carrie by Stephen King

2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

3. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carre

4. Ghost Story by Peter Straub

Peril on the Screen:

1. The Nightmare Before Christmas

2. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Peril of the Short Story:

1. Metzengerstein by Edgar Allan Poe

2. The Lame Priest by S. Carleton

Cujo by Stephen King

“They began to back up, and as they did, the dog began to walk slowly forward. It was a stiff walk; not really a walk at all, Ronnie thought. It was a stalk. That dog wasn’t fucking around. Its engine was running and it was ready to go. Its head remained low. That growl never changed pitch. It took a step forward for every step they took back.”



Cujo is a psychological horror novel by Stephen King. It is the story of a rabid St. Bernard. It is also the story of a little boy and his nightmares, a mother and a child, and an almost broken marriage.

Rating: 3.5/5

Summary: Cujo is a big, five year old St. Bernard, owned by the Cambers; a family in the town of Castle Rock, Maine. Cujo is a good, loyal dog; he loves his owners and they love him! That is, until he gets scratched by a bat and becomes infected with rabies. The dog soon loses touch with reality and turns into a crazy killing machine.

Four year old Tad Trenton lives in the same town with his parents, Donna and Vic. The little family has problems of their own – the scariest being the monster that seems to appear in little Tad’s closet at night. A frightening, wolfish animal that haunts Tad’s nightmares.

Fate brings the two together, when the only thing standing between the rabid dog and the mother and child is the broken down car they are trapped in.

My thoughts: Each book that I read by Stephen King, gives me one new reason to love him. This is not your typical thriller, and there are definitely some side-plots that seem unnecessary. The horror doesn’t start till halfway through the book and when it does start, not a lot happens. Still – I loved the book. For two reasons.

Firstly, as usual, Stephen King never disappoints you when it comes to the lives and the thoughts of the characters. Their stories are so intricately built – it is very fascinating. Even without the dangerous dog, there is a lot of evil in the town; just in the ways that people think, what they do. Each of the side-plots is a message on its own.

Secondly, what I love about King’s novels is that the monsters themselves are victims of circumstance. I pitied Jack Torrance (in The Shining) and I definitely felt horrible for ol’ Cuje when he got infected. I love that King has written parts from the point of view of the dog – the helpless creature, who hurts all over and doesn’t know who else to blame but the humans. The animal lover that I am, I really appreciated that King ended the book saying something positive about the poor dog. He wasn’t trying to be a monster, he was a good dog.

The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Grab your current read, open to a random page and share two teaser sentences from that page!

  • “Reading a book, for me at least, is like traveling in someone else’s world. If it’s a good book, then you feel comfortable and yet anxious to see what’s going to happen to you there, what’ll be around the next corner.”
The Land of Laughs is a fantasy novel by Jonathan Carroll. It is about an aspiring writer who wants to write the biography of one of the most famous children’s writers ever. It’s about books and writing and fantastical worlds.

  • Rating: 3/5

  • Summary: Marshall France was a legend in the world of books – children’s fantasy stories to be exact, till one day he just stopped writing and disappeared. Thomas Abbey, an English teacher, is an aspiring writer and a Marshall France enthusiast. When Abbey happens to meet Saxony Gartener, a fellow Marshall France lover; they together decide to do something that Thomas has been dreaming of for ever – write France’s biography. After much effort, the two end up in Galen, Marshall France’s hometown – hoping to persuade his daughter, Anna, to let them write the book. Soon, they realize that the town has some dark secret. Meeting a talking dog is the final straw, before Abbey realizes that France’s fantasy world isn’t entirely fantastical.

    My thoughts: I liked three fourths of the book. It is a book-lover’s dream: the way they obsess over France’s books, his characters, his magical worlds. The characters are wonderfully written; Thomas Abbey, the English teacher who is the son of the most famous film-maker and has always lived under his shadow. Marshall France’s books have had a great influence on him as a child, and even now. Then there is Saxony Gardner, the woman who shares an equal passion for France’s books, so much that she encourages Abbey to go through with his plans of writing the biography, and decides to assist him herself. Along with Anna France, the town of Galen is like every small town you have ever read about, quiet and private but lovable. They are also the proud owners of Marshall France’s memories. Together, the stage is set beautifully for a magical story to unfold. Only, it doesn’t.

    Ever since Thomas discovers the town’s dark secret, things become entirely chaotic. The story takes a sudden turn and starts running in that direction. Before you have time to digest what you’ve read, more information is thrown upon you, and just when you place it together, the book reaches an abrupt end. The story is great, but it is too rushed. And the writing is great, but it doesn’t seem like one book. There is no continuity; it’s as if it is written by too different writers; at one point, the author takes time to describe a stranger’s nails, and at another point; he ends a life in five words.


    Like I said, I fell in love with three fourths of the book. The end ruined it for me. It is an eerily beautiful and unique story – but it could have been so much more.

    Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman


    “As a rule, Fat Charlie felt embarrassment in his teeth, and in the upper pit of his stomach. If something that even looked like it might be embarrassing was about to happen on his television screen Fat Charlie would leap up and turn it off. If that was not possible, say if other people were present, he would leave the room on some pretext and wait until the moment of embarrassment was sure to be over.”




    Anansi Boys is a novel by Neil Gaiman. This is the story of Charles Nancy, son of Anansi. Despite being perfectly normal sized, he is known to all as Fat Charlie. 
    Those of you, who have read American Gods know Mr. Nancy quite well; And, those of you, who haven’t read American Gods, should.

    Rating: 4/5

    “God is dead – meet the kids”

    Summary: Fat Charlie hasn’t met his father in ages. When he finally agrees to invite his Dad to his wedding, he learns that he has, in fact, recently passed away. Fat Charlie reluctantly goes home to his father’s funeral, not knowing the chaos about to ensue in his life. Accidentally crashing and ruining someone else’s funeral is the least of his worries, because soon Fat Charlie learns not only that he has a brother he never knew about, but also that his father was Anansi, the Spider-god.

    Soon, after getting kicked out of his own house and life by his brother Spider, Charlie realizes the full extent of his troubles. After some wonder, much magic and trickery and a load of family troubles, Fat Charlie finally begins to accept and understand his heritage and destiny.

    My thoughts: I enjoyed this book. First of all, it is fun and funny. You just can’t help but chuckle after every two sentences. I loved the combination of dark humour and wit.

    It is also very engaging. In a wonderfully mystical and slightly eccentric world, Gaiman has spun together a magical story, adding bits of mythology and folklore along the way. If you think about it, though, the plot is normal and the characters are like you and me, people you can actually relate to – they just happen to be gods too; that’s all. There is much more to the book than African legends and children’s stories – you learn about family and courage, and most of all, you learn that everyone has the power to rewrite their story.

    This book is very different from American Gods. It is light hearted and much less complex. It may not be my favourite Neil Gaiman book, but it is definitely worth a read (and some re-reads!)

    The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland… (by Catherynne M. Valente)

    …in a Ship of Her Own Making.

    I am reviewing this book as a part of the Follow the Blurb Reading Challenge.

    When souls queue up to be born, they all leap up at just the last moment, touching the lintel of the world for luck. Some jump high and can seize a great measure of luck, some jump only a bit and snatch a few loose strands. Everyone manages to catch some. If one did not have at least a little luck, one would never survive childhood.”

    The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a novel by Catherynne M. Valente. The book was first discussed in Valente’s previous book Palimpsest (which I have yet to read!) and was officially published in May 2011. The novel, as the title very clearly says, is the story of a little girl’s adventures in Fairyland

    Rating: 5/5

    Summary: September lives an ordinary life in Omaha. That is, until the Green Wind takes pity on her and she is whisked off by him to Fairyland. Her adventure begins atop a flying leopard, and as September enters Fairyland, she realizes how little the normal world knows about fairies and other magical beings. She meets three witches and learns about the evil Marquess who rules Fairyland. To help one of the witches, September grandly decides to confront the very irritable Marquess. Along her journey, September befriends the dragon-like Wyvern who believes his father was a library, along with Saturday, a unique boy who can grant wishes; she meets a soap golem and a herd of migrating bicycles; and comes across more whimsical and fantastical things than you can imagine!

    My thoughts: This might be the closest I’d get to reading Alice in Wonderland! I’d like to think of this book as a short, sweet fairy tale for adults. It is a beautifully written tale too; the usual message of courage and strength for the younger readers mixed with magic, excitement and a subtle but striking sense of humour. Along with the wonderful illustrations at the start of every chapter, the book is a pretty amazing read!

    The novel reminds me vaguely of a lot of fantasy books, and yet Valente’s Fairyland is quite unlike most magical worlds. The characters are unique and lovable. The Wyvern-library cross breed, called A-Through-L, is definitely one of my favourite characters ever. September initially seems a bit heartless (like all children) but you grow into liking her. Even the comparatively minor characters, right from the cheeky Green Wind to the sly Panther are absolutely adorable.

    The descriptions are so vivid, that you feel like you are visiting the world yourself. Full of its twists and quirks, this novel is one of the most wonderfully weird books I have read in a long time.