Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pratchett Marathon- The light fantastic

This book continues where the first one left off (color of magic I mean). But like any disc world book you can also read it standalone.
Twoflower and rincewind fall off the disc but reality makes an adjustment and brings them back as Rincewind has one of the eight most powerful spells imprisoned in his head. When you thought he was a pathetic wizard as he is plain pathetic you now know there is a reason.
The uncommon duo have a lot of funny adventures together and this time around they even get to the big computer in the sky ands visit death while running around with an old barbarian and a damsel in distress. Cohen's characterisation has been one of the best I have read and I loved it. The part of the book where the trolls come in is pretty hilarious as well. However it ain't completely consistent with what is there in his later books. Maybe I am over thinking as frankly it does not matter. The wizards whether in 8 eight orders or in a university and the trolls whether in the outlands or in the city are funny!!
The luggage returns in this version. I really wish I had sapient pear wood suitcases that can swallow people. I have a long list and to my advantage I know where they live too. :)
The red star and the suspense built up to uncover its real purpose was an intriguing secondary and in some places the primary story line though that won't be my favourite part of the book.
The review would be incomplete (not that mine are complete or detailed) without mentioning Trymon the wizard. Another decent character though I hoped we could have had some more of him.
Overall it was a good read and is definitely much better than what most authors churn out but definitely not his best. I like the watch and death series much better.
My favourite line as it was so apt to something happening in my life is ,"Within every sane human being there is a mad man waiting to get out." :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pratchett Marathon - The color of magic

I think i have told this a thousand times but I absolutely love Terry Pratchett. I have read most of his books (95%) including the young adult ones he has written. As I am struggling with a bad case of writer's block, i have decided to read his books as they never fail to inspire me. There is something beautiful in each of them and I cant help just falling in love all over again.

I finished the color of magic yesterday and i couldnt help laughing thinking about Rincewind and his dislike for adventure. He i guess ends up getting what he does not really want just like most of us in life do. :)

For the uninitiated, Color of Magic is the story of Rincewind, the most inept wizard in DiscWorld acting as a guide to Twoflower one of the first tourists Ankh Morpork has seen. Twoflower has a lot of money and hence a lot of attention from everybody in the town. They escape from Ankh after a few unfortunate incidents lost in translation and Rincewind makes every effort to get Twoflower safely home. He has been entrusted with that responsibility by none but the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork. They have a lot of strange adventures with Death, Luck and Fate being silent (most of the time) spectators to the drama of their life. The book is a beautiful kaleidoscope of amazing scenery woven together and though i would not call it Pratchett's best, it is definitely one of those books that does not have a dull moment.

I dont know if it was the sword fighting his battle, or the lady playing dice to save his ass, or him calling TwoFlower crazy or the luggage following them around or Hrun the Barbarian's adventures - I dont know what i loved best. It was hilarious and helped me unwind amazing well.

I am going to get started with the light fantastic now. Lets see how it goes!

Habibi - Craig Thompson


I like graphic novels - but i usually hope to chance upon them. This time around, someone gave this to me and told me it was a good book - high expectations set and there it went.

Dark, Depressing, Deceptive, Desperate and Disappointing Habibi might be but Deep it is not. Somewhere in the process of trying to write something beautiful, the author has lost the depth. The plot follows the strange relationship Zam a black boy has with his adoptive mother. The two escaped slaves survive in an abandoned ship in the middle of the desert. I would like to imagine the ship came from a time long ago when there was water in that place and was abandoned after a wreck. Or that it was made in the middle of the desert and dragged around by a bunch of optimists who wanted to find an ocean that was never there. Whatever way, the ship was the most romantic thing about the book.

Zam and Dodola are seperated by the sands of time and whether and how they get back together forms the rest of the plot. The images are beautiful and disturbing in places, but the reason I could not completely enjoy the book was because of the stereotypes and the way the author had tried to bring the old and the new together. Somehow setting something in an ancient land and then throwing in modern condos in the same book was a little too much to digest.

The emotions are beautiful despite them being inappropriate. Maybe, I found them so because I know that there are always socially unacceptable things that are beautiful. I do not condemn the author that. I only wish it had been a little less stereotypical and a little more poignant. I would give it 3.5 of 5 stars mainly for the art and also for the attempt at such an unconventional story line.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Surprised

I am surprised i liked this video - I chanced upon this in Neil Gaiman's blog and i really think the way it has been picturized is beautiful. 




Expendables 2

What happens when you dont want to let go? What happens when the you in question is (or are) old action heros? The answer - Expendables 2!!!

I am not an action movie fan. I dont mind them but i never go about hunting for something like that to watch. However, they do cater to the inherent violent streak in me, so i do enjoy a few of them. Despite the action heroes who are more suited to play grand daddy roles in Hollywood posing around with guns, despite the feel of it being a RajiniKanth movie (with only the heroes shooting and the villains never being able to manage one), despite the predictable death and revenge story, I liked this movie.  Dont ask me why because there is no great story line to congratulate or amazing hunks on screen or even decent dialogues, still in between all that mindless gun totting and macho dialogues, there is something which makes this movie tick and that is why it is worth a one time watch.

Unrelated but related - Liam Hemsworth is cute. 
The dialogues suck big time, but then if all you are going to do is shoot, what do dialogues matter?? The most apt one was there towards the end when Stallone looks at the new plane being gifted to him and says "This belongs in the museum" and schwarzenegger says "So do we." I loved that.

Watch it if you are damn bored and want a Rajini movie in English. Watch it if you want to believe that Hollywood can be like Kollywood sometimes but can still have better action scenes. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Under Orders - Dick Francis

Well well well, it looks like I am in a book reading spree now. 4 books in a week (5 rather if you count the buddha one i read) is a good count for someone who has not been able to read more than 2 books in a month.
I hope that slowly i will be able to throw around the wonderful pieces of wisdom (according to yours faithfully) pretty soon and balance life. :)

Coming back to the main intention of this post (or should i rant in one and write the book review in another? nah, let me do it in this), this book features Sid Halley, the ex jockey turned private investigator and we watch as he tries to make sense of the multiple deaths in a race horse. Yes - this is another racing novel (set in the racing world is all i meant) from one of the better thriller writers.
Sid Halley is asked to investigate a possible fixing of race horses by a Lord and within hours, the jockey who won a race on the Lord's horse is found dead. As if to deter him from investigations, a crazy reporter is all set to paint a bad image about Halley. Not caring about the image being painted around him, Halley decides to investigate the murder of the jockey (who had incidentally left a message much before his death that he was scared for his life). To complicate matters, the trainer of the horses commits suicide. Halley is convinced it is a murder and he tries to focus on solving the crimes, undeterred by what it could cost him personally.

A well written book with a decent climax - thats Under Orders for you. I actually like Sid Halley's characterisation (after Whip Hand i think) and so I might be biased when i say - "Go and read it on a lazy evening." :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sneak peek


Elephants are amazing - even if in captivity. There is something about them i so love

The christmas thief - Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark

Let me say this first - team work does not work for everyone all the time. Atleast, in the case of this book, it does seem more than obvious.

After enjoying her All around town and placing her on a higher rank in my list of authors i like, i am seriously let down by this book. Christmas stories usually remind me of movies in which geeky looking kids get their wishes to come true or those in which there is way too much love in the air. I am a sucker for that - I do not deny that. But, that is not what i want to read in a mystery!!

The plot follows a con artist - Packy Nonan who has made away with millions of investor's dollars. He has hidden it in a flask in a christmas tree and has skipped parole to steal it and skip the country. There is only one problem - he is Vermont where one of his cheated investors Opal, has chosen to vacation with super sleuth (supposedly) Alvirah (she used to be a cleaner before winning the lottery and becoming a sleuth), detective Regan and her fiance Reilly.

What could have been an awesome thriller is way too slow and has a slightly boring vocabulary. I persisted and finished the book but i doubt if i would recommend it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Naan Ee (Eega)

Let me get this straight - I love telugu movies. I watch the new and popular ones with a world of enthu that is difficult for me to fathom at times.

This one was a good watch. The plot for the uninitiated follows Naani, a firework maker who is in love with Bindu who lives in the opposite house. Though she likes him, she never expresses it and they have a strange relationship. All is well in paradise until Bindu is coveted by a rich industrialist. He wants to attain her no matter what and as a first step kills Naani, whom he rightly suspects is Indu's love. In the moment of his death, Naani hears Bindu confess her love for him. He dies and is reborn a fly. The plot after that lies in Naani getting the revenge that is his due as a housefly.
It was hilarious and though illogical, it seems to be pretty well made for an Indian fantasy movie. The fly getting masks from Bindu who is a miniature artist was a little too much but at least they tried to make her a micro artist and bought some logic into the story so i am not complaining.
It is definitely a must watch on those empty weekends where you are not sure on what to do. You will laugh.

Shattered - Dick Francis

I like Dick Francis though I would not call him my favorite. I chanced upon this book in a second hand store and finished it in a jiffy. The plot follows Logan, a glass blower who after the death of his friend Martin in a steeple chasing accident is entrusted with the care of a video. He does not know what it contains and it is stolen from him along with a considerable amount of money before he can see it. His house, Martin's house are raided and all video tapes stolen. To add fuel to the fire, he is beaten up by unknown assailants whom he later identifies as a jockey valet, her daughter and her friend. What they want from him is something he does not seem to understand and he starts on a race to figure out what it is.
Throw a good looking cop and a crazy doctor in the equation and you have a well written thriller. I would not call it his best as he is not writing about horses, the world he seems to be the most comfortable in. He seems to have researched glass blowing as a profession, but it is not the same as him writing about horses. I liked the book but I would not call it as a must read.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Buddha - The four encounters - Osamu Tezuka

I am a sucker for graphic novel and comic collections. I love all those box sets and I love reading books which are part of a series - or atleast looking at them and wondering what the plot would be. :) (There are exceptions of course)

This is one series that i have been wanting to read for a long time now (there are quite a few books that i have been wanting to read and not got around to. So many books are written all the time you see). I almost bought this collection in Crossworld a while ago but stopped myself as i was not sure if i would read it all. Today afternoon, I was in the bookshop and I thought i would flip through the pages to see if the story stuck. Since book one was not there, i started with this one. Before I knew it, I had finished the book sitting right there. This has not happened in the past as i never sit for so long in a bookshop! I do read books mostly comics like Archies.

But this was a brilliant read. The image, the dialogues, the story line, the numerous characters- large and small - everything was amazing. It was one of those books written to be read, enjoyed and pondered. Siddhartha has been portrayed as the boy he was - there is no attempt made to show him as anything. The whole book is just an interconnected series of story arcs each effortlessly leading to another. It could have been longer but the writer and illustrator have stuck to a good pace. The images are damn good and I would love to finish this series sometime soon and perhaps try to own it.

All Around Town - Mary Higgins Clark

I have been through a reader's block for a while now without reading much. Whenever I am stuck in such a scenario, my easiest way out is to pick up Dick Francis/Mary Higgins Clark/Agatha Christie or reread some book. This time around, I found this amazing shop in Koramangala which had a lot of books for a 100Rs. I picked up a couple of the first two authors.

The plot in this book seems simple. Laurie Kenyon was kidnapped when she was four and released when she was six. She has no memory of those two years of her life and she seems to have over come the tragedy and the fear and moved on. What Laurie is not aware of is the fact that her scared four year old self created multiple alter egos to help cope with the abuse she experienced while in captivity. After her parent's death in an automobile accident, the latent personalities come out and her sister Sarah is worried about her young sister. On top of it, one of the alters Leona, writes love letters to a professor in the college. He is found dead, stabbed with a kitchen knife in Laurie's bag and her fingerprints are all over the scene of crime. It is up to Sarah to defend the sister she has always loved and to the Doctor Justin to bring out the demons in Laurie's life and help her make peace with them before she ends up in jail.

Her abductors have still not forgotten her and want her to not remember them as there is a lot at stake for them. The plot culminates in an interesting climax and the author tries her best to give you a thriller that is racy and still unpredictable with well thought out twists all over the place. A good read which I would recommend if you like pop corn thrillers.

The long dark tea-time of the soul - Douglas Adams

I loved Hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy. As far as i am concerned it is one of the best books i have read. I have however, never had a chance to read any of the Dirk Gently novels by Douglas Adams. I havent seen one displayed in the book shops i frequent to make it an impulse buy as well. So when I chanced upon this book in a second hand book shop in Gokarna, I jumped at it (literally).

Dirk Gently is a detective - not one with your normal magnifying glass snooping around for clues, but one who has unusual methods of detection. He believes in the connectedness of things so to a casual observer he might seem nuts - he would seem so to one who is paying attention to him in detail as well, but that is another story altogether.

Kate is trying to follow the current love of her life to Norway and after she tries to help a guy stranded in the airport without a ticket or a passport, she moves away and thus escapes from being a part of the airport that blows up.

A strange chance leads to the meeting of these characters and also multiple Norse Gods who seem to have crazy tempers. The plot is all over the place and the book is still an interesting read simply because it is so fantastically unbelievable. I loved the experience and though i might not reread the book, I would recommend it for the sheer joy of going through absolute impossibility

Friday, August 17, 2012

Travel

They say that travelling opens your mind to a whole new world of possibilities. New places, new ways of life, new people and of course new thoughts. I am back from a beautiful trip and I am seeing the logic in these thoughts. It's such a beautiful world we live in and more often than not I don't even notice it as i am way too busy thinking about my world with its crazy complications and politics. The last five days have been magical and I find my reality so surreal in comparison.
I know I can't vacation always but I guess I can always be ready and fit to travel.

The clouds parted

From the instant my eye opens to greet this world
I am way too busy
Coming up with one list after another
What to wear, cook, eat, do, finish
It is one endless tirade
I keep trying
To do what I know not
To what end
To what joy I guess not
When I pause to ponder

But pause I don't
For then I lose the time I have for my precious lists
Today I have stopped my lists
For how long I know not.
But try I will to savour this moment
And these clouds above me
Which part as if to welcome me.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Solace for the soles

I am really bugged and frustrated - which explains why i am writing right in the middle of the night when i am half asleep. Maybe, i am rambling. I really wanted to buy a sports shoe today (I have never owned one - as tough as it might be to believe - school canvas shoes dont count ) I walk around in normal chappals and unlike most women,I dont own more than 2-3 pairs of footwear at any given time. 

I have been thinking about getting something more comfortable for my frequent walks (Catwalk footwear cant be used for walking as i have found out the hard way) I walked around Marathahalli for close to an hour and went to all the shops - Adidas, Nike, Reebok with two tortured souls (i wanted solace for my sole - funny i think or maybe not). I did not find one that I liked and that was comfortable. 
The sales men were not too helpful - neither were the sales women. They gave up on me after 10 mins. Now i think, I have given up. My bathroom chappals should do for a long time now. :( Or maybe, my luck would change and my soles would find solace.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid - Bill Bryson

I love Bryson and I think this is one of his best books ever. I have been through this tough phase of not reading anything for a really long time. This well written book which broke the spell follows Bryson's childhood in Des Moines, Iowa. Bryson was a part of a generation where television was a wonder and so were a lot of household appliances. I was spell bound by his style of writing and could not put the book down. I could relate to parts of his childhood and i thoroughly enjoyed reliving a past I had almost forgotten. His characterization of people was brilliant - his working mom, his sports writer dad, his older siblings, his many friends,relatives and acquaintances. 

The book has a lot of interesting descriptions and that makes it difficult to put down. The wonder in looking at a plastic globe on top of a building, watching a bad movie with popcorn in some theater, hacking into a vending machine, watching boring tv serials which never make sense anyway because they are right there to entertain you, waiting for the gifts you so want, wanting to kill and zap down people who irritate you, being awe struck by technology that was fledgling then and pretty usual now, having a working mother - some of the things that Bryson described in so much detail, i could relate to my childhood. I loved the thunderbolt kid and his many dreams and desires.

The best parts of the book involved his interactions with other kids like wanting to go watch "shows" in the Iowa fair, his pride over the place he grew up in, his interesting description of his relatives - especially the one whose throat had a hole in it. A very interesting and amazing read coming from a time when everything was though to be good for you - including cigarettes, DDT and of course alcohol. A generation gone by that i doubt will come back in this information enriched age where we know not how to wonder at simple things though we assume that we know how things work. :)