Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Author: Jane Austen
Genre: Romance, Literature
First Published: 1813
Pages: 368

Mr Bennet is an apathetic man of the working class, with no estate to his name. For Mrs Bennet, it became imperative then that her single mission in life is to marry off her 5 daughters to respectable gentlemen with some form of fortune. As the Bennet ladies mingle with society in search of a man, Elizabeth, the 2nd of the Bennet girls, quickly discovers that those with riches are not only full of pride, but are also prejudiced in their opinion of others with lesser possessions. Is Elizabeth right to judge the rich and famous as so? Will she ever find a man that will love her for what she is and not what she is worth? Or will her ready opinions of people render her guilty of being prejudiced herself?

It goes without saying that my favourite character of the entire plot would be Ms Elizabeth Bennet herself. Though she may not be as pretty and good-natured as Jane, she’s smart, head-strong and bursting with personality. My least favourite character (in fact I pretty much loathe her) is the girls’ mother, Mrs Bennet. She is forceful, pompous and the most inconsiderate mother one could ever wish for. As for the infamous Mr Darcy, his extreme arrogance was such a turn-off for me at first, but as the book progressed, his attitude was well more understood.

I believe Jane Austen has a gift for making her characters come to life. They are so believable and full of depth, it’s impossible not to feel some form of emotion over each character. I say this is a must-read for all inspiring writers and book-lovers alike.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sookie: Books 5, 6 & 7 by Charlaine Harris

I’ve been a bit of a Little Miss Lazybones lately. I actually finished most of the Sookie series available (except for the last 2 books) some time back, and since then have been engrossed in so many other books that I’ve side-lined writing my reviews for Sookie. As a result of my ungodly procrastination, I can’t exactly remember the details of these books, so I’ve decided that the best way to go about it is to list what I liked most from each.

In the 5th book of the Sookie Stackhouse series i.e. Dead as a Doornail, Sookie deals with her brother’s change into a werepanther, after he was bitten by another from the Hotshot community (the bite happened in Book 3). What I love most about this Book was that I finally understood what Claudine’s role in Sookie’s life was. In the first few series, I had been left wondering what a Fairy had anything to do with the world of vampires and werewolves, so the revelation here was liberating. I also like the introduction to Quinn; the tall, hunky and absolutely yummy character, who happens to be a shape-shifter. As usual with Charlaine Harris, there are a few plots brewing at the same time in the Book, but I thought they all blended together quite well.

The 6th installation of the Sookie Stackhouse series is Definitely Dead. In this Book, readers will see a lot more of Quinn and his yumminess, as he gets acquainted with our wry and sexy Sookie. What’s really great about this book is this:

1. Sookie finally tackles a budding relationship in the right way. Instead of falling straight into it (like her previous relationships), she starts things slow and with a sceptical mind.

2. Sookie gains some normality in her life when she discovers a friend in Amelia. Not that Amelia is quite that normal anyway (after all, she is a witch). But the fact that these two, both human girls with abilities, manage to find a common thread in each other was certainly a refreshing point.

In All Together Dead (the 7th Book), Sookie attends the vampire summit as part of the Queen of Louisiana’s entourage. The Queen has been charged for murdering her husband and is set for trial at the summit, and Sookie is needed for her ability. At the summit, she bumps into an old friend, Barry, the boy with telepathic ability just like Sookie, and together they find themselves embroiled in the biggest crisis they have ever encountered. For me, this is by far the most fast-paced and suspense-filled Sookie adventure yet. I really wish I could say more but that would just spoil the entire plot.

 Overall, I think books 5, 6 and 7 have definitely picked-up pace and is more thrilling and engaging than before. If you love mysteries with a mix of supernatural creatures then you would definitely love Sookie. I rate all three books a whopping 5 stars because I just love quirky Sookie!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Author: Stieg Larsson (Translated from Swedish by Reg Keeland)
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
First published: 2005
Pages: 644 pgs.
Challenge: Thriller & Suspense Challenge 2010

Mikael Blomkvist is a financial investigative journalist who with his business partner, Erika Berger, owns the Milennium; a financial magazine known for publishing independent articles of critique in the Swede business society. After writing a condemning article on Wennerstrom, a powerful business man, Blomkvist finds himself slapped with a libel suit and consequently sentenced to 3 months in prison. The unflattering media attention on him catches the interest of another Swedish mogul; Henrik Vanger.

Vanger, who has since retired from the business world, is plagued by a mysterious event that happened more than 30 years ago and gets in touch with Blomkvist, hoping that the latter would assist him in unravelling the truth to the mystery that has been haunting him for years. But before he makes the acquaintances of Blomkvist, he appoints an independent company to perform a thorough character investigation of the journalist, and in comes Salander; a 24 year old social enigma who happens to be an extremely intelligent agent and a resourceful researcher.

Along the way, Blomkvist and Salander cross paths and together they find themselves entwined in one of the most twisted and revolting crimes in Swedish history….

My Thoughts on this exciting mystery novel:

Yup. You got it. The Girl in the Dragon Tattoo was exciting, fast-paced and one of the most ingenious crime novels I’ve read for a while. I wanted to read this book after seeing a rave review about it by vvb32 and I’m sure glad I did. This is my first novel by a European author (who’s not British) and I was pleasantly surprised to say the very least. Like vvb32 though, I wanted to knock my head against the wall when I read the first few chapters as it tended to drag too much on the characterisation of each character. (I felt that the intro on Salander’s boss, as well as Blomkvist’s first meeting with Vanger could have been alot shorter). But once I got through that, Steig Larsson had me instantly hooked. I liked Blomkvist’s nature and how he approached the mystery. A word of warning though, the truth to the mystery is quite shocking and repulsive, and some readers might find certain parts of the book disturbing. Oh, and I wouldn’t do justice without giving the translator i.e. Reg Keeland the credit that he deserves. Not many translators out there are able to preserve the originality of a story in a different language, but I think Keeland did a great job as the novel was thoroughly captivating.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

Author: Nicholas Sparks
Genre: Romance
First Published: 1996
Pages: 272 pgs.

“I am nothing special; of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts, and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough. The romantics would call this a love story, the cynics would call it a tragedy….” (The Notebook, pg. 2, Miracles)

Noah Calhoun is an ordinary man who falls in love with the girl of his dreams at the age of 17. It was a brief summer love, and they are soon separated by fate. For Noah, the separation does not mar his feelings as he remains still very much in love with that girl who has now become just a ghost of his memories. After 14 years of living in the past, the girl suddenly appears on his doorstep and the story of Noah and Allie begin to unfold….

The Notebook is a story about love in its purest form, the devotion of a man to the love of his life, come what may, as he braves through the many obstacles that life throws his way. It’s a story about soul mates whose love knows no boundaries, their feelings for each other bound so strong that makes it possible for even the smallest of miracles to happen. It is a book that takes the reader through an emotional journey that would move even the toughest of souls.

Okay, before I go on further with the mushy stuff, I have to say that I’m not a huge fan of sappy romantic novels (I prefer love with a bit of bite – like Bella and Edward’s of Twilight). I had trouble getting past the first half of the book but I have to admit that this book really touched me in the end. Sparks is a great storyteller who has distinctively captured the essence of true love. I would definitely recommend this to all the hopeless romantics out there and what more with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this would be the perfect tool to reignite the passion for your loved one. Happy Valentine’s Day in advance everyone!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Broga at Sunrise

I've blogged about Broga a few times before (see here and here) and I think I would not do the place justice if I didn't post up some pictures of the place taken during sunrise. I finally managed to cajole a group of friends who were already planning a hike there, to wakeup at 5am (believe me, it was no easy feat - both the cajoling and forcing myself to wakeup from my very comfortable bed in the wee hours of the morning).

Together we climbed the hill and this is what I caught on camera, at the break of dawn from the hilltops of Broga:

As usual, I enjoyed the short hike and the waking up at 5am was a task well rewarded.


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