Thursday, August 28, 2014

Recent Book Grabs # 6: The mixed loot!

Hiya fellow book-lovers! <3

It's been a while since I mentioned the recent book-hoard. Wait. A while? It's been half a year since I last posted! On the personal front, I've been keeping busy with my new, and first job. It's been interesting so far - being with books all day has to be! - but leaves little time to get down to blogging. The books mentioned in this post have either been received for review, purchased, received as gifts or borrowed from friends. I'm sure they're all as exciting and beautiful as they look and I'll be picking them off the shelf one by one pretty soon!

The pile of beauties <3
Clicking on the book's title will lead you to its Goodreads page. 
#1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: A book that had been on my to-read list for a long time. Got this in the latest lot when I suffered from the book-buying frenzy.

#2. Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh: One of those titles we come to know of in school, among the list of popular books and their authors. I haven't yet read any of Khushwant Singh's books, being wary of the supposed 'bold' style of writing. This book that documents a story set within the India-Pakistan partition of 1947, something close to the hearts of many families in the two countries, including mine, seemed like the perfect book to start with this author.

#3. Selected Stories by Anton Chekov: The witness to my crazy forgetfulness when it comes to books, Chekov poked me once while I was browsing the shelf and I realized that my best friend had lent it to me some time ago! Eeeps!

#4. Wonder by R.J. Palacio: One of those 'I-know-it's-good-because-it's-been-popular-in-the-bok-blogging-community' books, Wonder was also a product of the latest book-buying frenzy.

#5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte: Having heard my mother say, 'this is my favourite book' for the hundredth time, I finally decided to get a copy for myself. It came with the month old classic-buying-book frenzy.

#6. Macbeth by William Shakespeare: I've never really read any of Shakespeare's plays either, so I figured Macbeth would be a good start. I've also been meaning to read it ever since I realized that one of the witches' songs was included in the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban movie!

#7. The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka: The book found it's way to my dad and he gave it to me. I'm quite looking forward to reading this, considering the popularity of both, the short story called The Metamorphosis and the author. 

#8. Matilda by Roald Dahl: Having been on my TBR since the time I had watched the movie years ago and time and again been swayed by the cuteness of the cover, I finally lost the reserve when I saw it in a random, new and brilliant bookstore I came across recently. Enjoyed reading this one! 

#9. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith: Once I read, and loved The Cuckoo's Calling, I 'had' to read the next book, didn't I? How can you ignore a book by JK Rowling??? I'm reading it presently and it's just a remarkable experience! :') 

#10. George and the Unbreakable Code by Lucy and Stephen Hawking: I hadn't heard of a children's story by Stephen Hawking. This seemed pretty interesting and is illustrated with sketches! Received for review, will be the next book I read.

#11. Invisible by James Patterson and David Ellis: Having read James Patterson's books, I'm somewhat naturally inclined to pick up his mysteries, especially those that sound! Read the blurb of this one and you'll know what I mean!

Despite having so much to do, to read and explore, I'm still around 11 books behind schedule in my year's reading goal. Not that it matters as much, considering how I do enjoy the most of what I'm reading, but still! I hadn't finished the goal last year and this time, I just have to. Have you read any of these books? Thoughts? What did you get lately?

PS- The Delhi Book Fair's on, and I've had mental debates whether or not to visit. I know it sounds silly, because I've never before missed any book fair if you don't count the last time because I had bumped my leg into a flowerpot and couldn't walk for a week. Strange things happen, yes, but this time it's just emotional. I think I'm getting to that stage where I can somewhat overlook it because I really am busy. There's work even over the weekends and I don't just feel that enthusiastic about it. The thought was a sad one when I realized, but I suppose it's okay. What do you think?   

Monday, August 18, 2014

Review: The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

Title: The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike # 1)
Author: Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
Published: April, 2013 by Sphere (Hachette)
Pages: 449
Find it at: Flipkart / Amazon
My Rating: 5/5!

*Declaration* I read this book mostly because it is written by J.K. Rowling. In fact, before it wasn't revealed that she is the true author of this book, I hadn't come across it, or knew of its existence. As a JKR fan, it was impossible to read the book without stopping in between and thinking, 'ohmygod. JK is brilliant!' So yeah, probably the review is biased, so if you think that's not the way you'd want to read, don't.

Blurb from Goodreads
A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide.
After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.

Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

Pic credit: Google
My Thoughts!
The Cuckoo's Calling introduces us to a new detective in the fictional world of crime and mystery. When I started reading the book, I'd expected Cormoran Strike to be like Jack Reacher maybe, being ex-military, but I was delighted to see that Strike's characterization was totally unexpected and I loved every bit of it! Strike's a private detective now, recently breaking up with his girlfriend, barely able to make a living. However, this information about a hero-protagonist doesn't make you feel bad. It's rather the opposite! You'd find yourself cheering for him whenever he gets a small success, and although I'm not entirely in love with this character, I do accept him as one of those whose stories have a magnetic quality to them. You just want to know what he's going to be doing. His own past and story is just as intriguing and every revelation makes you connect better with him. 

The mystery surrounding the supermodel's death is investigated by Strike with the help of his temporary assistant, Robin. It's never a pretty picture, but it most certainly wasn't as gruesome as I thought it'd be, going by the blurb. Perhaps it's because all the stinky details have been spread out evenly throughout the book. True, we see less of the kind of swinging action we're used to; I felt it's more Sherlock-style. Unraveling the mystery by going into psychological depths of people associated with Lula Landry, the model who fell to her death from her second floor flat. Strike digs into Lula's past and comes across a whole array of people making their living with the world of glamour. 

As I mentioned above, I found it more on the psychological side, where we receive bits and pieces of information, sometimes painfully slowly, but we're hooked on to the book nevertheless. Every suspect seems equally plausible, yet we have no idea how anyone could have managed to pull off the crime. The book did seem to get stretched in between, but it picks up pace in the second half. I know a couple of people who read mystery books backwards: they start reading from the beginning, and when they know what the crime was, they read the back pages to know who the criminal is, and then read the book, figuring out how the criminal managed the crime. I'm on the opposite side, though. Even if I'm clueless as to who it might be and how the crime was committed, I'd never want to know the solution in advance! I'd like to work through the mystery along with the detective, marveling at the manner in which he makes sense of the unrelated pieces of information. It was the same with Strike. At every revelation and deduction and sense of understanding of human behaviour, all I felt was awe at this brainy character! 

The other characters in the book lead parallel lives, though the focus is majorly on Strike. It was fun reading about those as well, and also intriguing, for it added up to making one feel like anything could be an important piece of information! Since there were quite a few suspects in my mind, with all of them having possible motives and we were steadily receiving information about each of them, I felt the ending could have been more elaborate. Although I very well know it wouldn't have been much use; the actual crime - the who and the how - had been explained quite clearly, but I still was left wondering about the other suspects and their suspicious activities. Apart from the well-knit plot, believable and realistic characters, the writing style was mature. I don't know if 'mature' is the right word. I suppose it could have been easier, but then, that's the style the author had adopted and apart from the fact that one would need regular use of the dictionary (if you really can stop to go through their meanings and not do with the implied ones), it suited the book just as well.

Quite a few to-be-remembered lines from the book:

“Humans often assumed symmetry and equality where none existed.”

“When you are young, and beautiful, you can be very cruel.” 

“How easy it was to capitalize on a person’s own bent for self-destruction; how simple to nudge them into non-being, then to stand back and shrug and agree that it had been the inevitable result of a chaotic, catastrophic life.” 

Recommended for: Mystery lovers, adult readers, JKR fans!  
PS- Super excited to read the next Cormoran Strike novel, The Silkworm! 


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