Yet Another Book

I was so excited when I started reading 'White Teeth;, I was so sure it was gonna be a good book. I have not liked it so far... It just isn't working for me. I tried really hard to read it but I found myself staring into space after reading a few lines. So.... I have put it aside for a few weeks and hope to come back to it in a different mood and HOPEFULLY enjoy it!

My friend brought back Purple Hibiscus, among other Nigerian books for me... I just started reading this. I am on page 71. It is not bad at all... I just want to understand why she called Pounded Yam, 'FUFU'. LOL!!!

I will write my review when I am done with it.

Over the course of my twelve-year reading career, I've come across the defining principle of many novels -- good triumphs over evil. In romantic novels, the rebellious guy wins the heart of the fair maiden, in crime thrillers the criminal is found and duly punished, and in spy thrillers the moles get a bullet in the head. Of course, this is hardly realistic -- bad stuff happens and it seems the bad triumphs over evil in many cases.

You can imagine from my rants that I prefer people who write as realistically as possible. I'll be introducing Stephen Hunter, someone I've come to admire (even though I've read just two of his books). They always have a bitter-sweet ending -- if you prefer 'and they happily lived ever after' books, then this guy isn't for you.

The Second Saladin

Paul Chardy, a CIA agent trained freedom fighters among the Kurds in Iraq, befriending their leader Ulu Beg as he helps in the fight for the Kurds to gain their freedom. Someone in the CIA betrays Chardy, and he falls into the hands of the Soviets. Somehow, someway, Ulu Beg believes Chardy to have betrayed their cause -- especially when his son gets killed.

Ten years later, Chardy has left the service, and the CIA recieves an alert -- Ulu Beg has crossed into the United States through Mexico. His mission is to assassinate a leading American political figure.

Against his wishes, Chardy finds himself pulled in to track his friend. As his trainer, he is the only one who can read Beg. The CIA wants him killed -- Chardy wants to save him. Between them is a woman who has known, fought with and loved both of them -- Chardy as a lover, Beg as a friend. What ensues is something you wouldn't find in your wildest dreams.

The Spanish Gambit (also called Tapestry of Spies)

Robert Florry was once a police officer in India during the British occupation. While carrying out his duties, he caused an innocent man to be hanged. His past comes back to haunt him when the British Secret Service use the leverage to recruit him to track down Julian Raines, a British poet and radical who was once his friend.

With suspected ties of working for the KGB [apparently, there was some speculation he was recruited by the Bolsheviks during his student days at Eton where he and Florry studied], Raines is one of the last people Florry would investigate. Even though they're no longer friends, Florry still has his reservations about Raines being a KGB spy.

You'll need to be a bit familiar with the Spanish Civil War and the opinions of the British political left. Again, you'll be left with a sour ending.

Let me know if you come across any Stephen Hunter books -- I've read just these two.

Hornet Flight

If you were told an 18-year-old son of a preacher teamed up with a Jewish girl during World War II to repair and fly an old, wrecked plane from Denmark to England, you might be inclined to disbelief. If the teller of the story is Ken Follett, however, you'll encounter a story by him at his very best -- writing World War II thrillers.

Unlike most other books dealing with Nazis and the second world war, this doesn't cast them in the eternal dishonourable fellows committing abominable acts. The focus is more on the inter-family rivalry, which gets Harald Olufsen (our hero) expelled from school and his brother killed, all at the instigation of Peter Flemming, a police officer.

One thing I loved about this book is the complexity of the characters -- no one is completely good, and none is completely bad, and we can sometimes sympathise with Flemming (the villain) when you consider he feels a sesne of duty to act the way he does (although he's quite overzealous).

What makes the book really engrossing is the tension between Harald and his love interest (Karen) who makes the flight with him, and Follett doesn't get too sexually explicit (if you've read Jackdaws and Lie Down with Lions).

There's nothing more to say, except that this is a good read.

When I FINALLY got into the book, I really enjoyed it.

The book begins with:

"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974"

My Review: This book is a saga. It tells the story of the main character's grandparents (brother and sister married each other!), parents (cousins married each other). Apparently, in-breeding is the main reason for the resulting Haemaphrodite, Callie.

The first 200 (and more) tell the story of her grandparents and parents... I didn't really find that interesting, I struggled through it.

Can you imagine living the first 13 years of life thinking you are a girl? Only to find out you are BOTH but more a BOY than a GIRL?

Born as Callie, the doctor who delivered her was OLD and distracted so he did not notice anything... Callie lived a normal young girl's life until PUBERTY. No period, No breasts, Broad shoulders, Lean hips... While all the girls in her year were growing breast, showing off about their periods.

Her parents had NO idea she was a haemaphrodite... her Mother starts to worry that she is not going through puberty as expected so Callie lies to her that she'd started her period, she also starts stuffing her bra. Callie was attracted to girls and she had a 'relationship' with 'The Object', a pretty girl in her school. She did try to have sex once with 'The Object's' brother and it hurt LIKE HELL so she stopped the penetration.

She knew she was different but successfully hid this until she was involved in an accident and it was during examination in the Emergency Room that the medical staff realised her 'Secret'... Her parents had some doctors see her and she was referred to a specialist doctor in New York. She went through some psychological evaluations and tests and found out(by reading the Doc's note without her parent's or doc's knowledge) that although she was raised as a girl - she had more of the male gene.

I think her life after the actual discovery was rushed because as I was getting more and more into the book, IT ENDED!!!

I will give this book 5/10 for the first 200 pages and 8/10 for the rest of the book.

On to my Next Book - White Teeth by Zadie Smith. This book BETTER be good or else someone's gonna pay! HaHa!!!

When you are reading a book, and you know it's interesting but it's still hard to read?!?!?

This book I am reading has a very good storyline but the author overwrites! I am struggling with this book and I have been so tempted MANY times to drop it and move on...


UPDATE (Sunday 15th October): The Book has really picked Up!!! I would recommend it to anyone if you just skip the first 200 pages... LOL!!! Almost Done!


Vera put up a post about a couple of his books HERE.

I have read a couple of his books and so far... what I have read, I have liked.

Have any of you read his books? If so, which of his books are your favourites?

If you're like me, you probably dump a book as soon as you see it's by a lady, simply because they tend to focus more on emotions -- and rarely do they write as well as their male counterparts when doing so in predominantly men-only genres.

Exceptions do exist however -- Patricia Cornwell, Linda Fairstein, and as I discovered this week, P.D. James do tend to hold their own.

I picked up Devices and Desires two days ago at my school library and found it very hard to put down -- from the first page till the last, Miss James kept me guessing, and the funny thing was that I guessed wrong all the way.

The book features her cult favorite Adam Dalgliesh unwittingly involved in a serial killer case -- the man who is called The Whistler.

From Publishers Weekly:

James ( A Taste for Death ) sets her 11th novel on Larksoken, a remote windswept headland in Norfolk, where the presence of a huge nuclear energy plant serves as a metaphor for the power of the past to rule over her characters. Commander Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard, in Larsoken to settle an estate left him at the death of a relative, is drawn into the investigation of a serial killer, the Whistler.

Dalgliesh's neighbors include the power station's director, Alex Mair; his elegant sister Alice, a cookbook author; acting administrator--and Alex's former lover -- Hilary Robarts; and anti-nuclear activist Neil Pascoe. The next signature killing , of the widely disliked Robarts, turns out to have occurred hours after a young man who firmly establishes his identity as the Whistler commits suicide.

The question of who murdered Robarts, then, centers around motive. This intricate, layered mystery may be read as parable: we can escape the consequences of our choices, political and personal, no more than we can shed our private histories. This is dark James, plotted with a slight unevenness but utterly faithful to her deeply and sympathetically plumbed characters.


I went to a Cancer Research Charity Shop in search of a book that would wow me after the long long Good Book drought I have experienced.

There were so many books, I didn't know what to pick so I asked a lady for her recommendations... Review

Anita Shreve now offers a skilfully crafted exploration of the long reach of tragedy in The Pilot's Wife. News of Jack Lyons's fatal crash sends his wife into shock and emotional numbness:
Kathryn wished she could manage a coma. Instead, it seemed that quite the opposite had happened: She felt herself to be inside of a private weather system, one in which she was continuously tossed and buffeted by bits of news and information, sometimes chilled by thoughts of what lay immediately ahead, thawed by the kindness of others ... frequently drenched by memories that seemed to have no regard for circumstance or place, and then subjected to the nearly intolerable heat of reporters, photographers and curious onlookers. It was a weather system with no logic, she had decided, no pattern, no progression, no form.
The situation becomes even more dire when the plane's black box is recovered, pinning responsibility for the crash on Jack. In an attempt to clear his name, Kathryn searches for any and all clues to the hours before the flight. Yet each discovery forces her to realise that she didn't know her husband of 16 years at all. Shreve's complex and highly convincing treatment of Kathryn's dilemma, coupled with intriguing minor characters and an expertly paced plot, makes The Pilot's Wife really take off. --James Barry ( Review
Epic in scale and intimate in approach, White Teeth is an ambitious novel. Genetics, eugenics, gender, race, class and history are the book's themes but Zadie Smith is gifted with the wit and inventiveness to make these weighty ideas seem effortlessly light.
The story travels through Jamaica, Turkey, Bangladesh and India but ends up in a scrubby North London borough, home of the book's two unlikely heroes: prevaricating Archie Jones and intemperate Samad Iqbal. They met in the Second World War, as part of a "Buggered Battalion" and have been best friends ever since. Archie marries beautiful, buck-toothed Clara, who's on the run from her Jehovah's Witness mother, and they have a daughter, Irie. Samad marries stroppy Alsana and they have twin sons: "Children with first and last names on a direct collision course. Names that secrete within them mass exodus, cramped boats and planes, cold arrivals, medical checks."
Big questions demand boldly drawn characters. Zadie Smith's aren't heroic, just real: warm, funny, misguided and entirely familiar; reading their conversations is like eavesdropping. A simple scene, Alsana and Clara chatting about their pregnancies in the park: "A woman has to have the private things--a husband needn't be involved in body business, in a lady's ... parts."
Samad's rant about his sons--"They have both lost their way. Strayed so far from what I had intended for them. No doubt they will both marry white women called Sheila and put me in an early grave--acutely displays "the immigrant fears--dissolution, disappearance" but it also gets to the very heart of Samad.
White Teeth is a joy to read. It teems with life and exuberence and has enough cleverness and irreverent seriousness to give it bite. --Eithne Farry Review
"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974." And so begins Middlesex, the mesmerizing saga of a near-mythic Greek American family and the "roller-coaster ride of a single gene through time." The odd but utterly believable story of Cal Stephanides, and how this 41-year-old hermaphrodite was raised as Calliope, is at the tender heart of this long-awaited second novel from Jeffrey Eugenides, whose elegant and haunting 1993 debut, The Virgin Suicides, remains one of the finest first novels of recent memory.
Eugenides weaves together a kaleidoscopic narrative spanning 80 years of a stained family history, from a fateful incestuous union in a small town in early 1920s Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit; from the early days of Ford Motors to the heated 1967 race riots; from the tony suburbs of Grosse Pointe and a confusing, aching adolescent love story to modern-day Berlin. Eugenides's command of the narrative is astonishing. He balances Cal/Callie's shifting voices convincingly, spinning this strange and often unsettling story with intelligence, insight, and generous amounts of humor:
Emotions, in my experience aren't covered by single words. I don't believe in "sadness," "joy," or "regret." … I'd like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic traincar constructions like, say, "the happiness that attends disaster." Or: "the disappointment of sleeping with one's fantasy." ... I'd like to have a word for "the sadness inspired by failing restaurants" as well as for "the excitement of getting a room with a minibar." I've never had the right words to describe my life, and now that I've entered my story, I need them more than ever.
When you get to the end of this splendorous book, when you suddenly realize that after hundreds of pages you have only a few more left to turn over, you'll experience a quick pang of regret knowing that your time with Cal is coming to a close, and you may even resist finishing it--putting it aside for an hour or two, or maybe overnight--just so that this wondrous, magical novel might never end. --Brad Thomas Parsons

I just started reading Middlesex and I am hoping and praying I enjoy it cos I am tired of 'blah' books. I spent £6.50 on three books, bargain innit? Although some charity shops sell their books for 50p each!!!

I will write a mini- review on each book when I am done.

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