A blog about books Gayathri is planning to read!

Gayathri your FB posting made me curious, surely I will not able to tackle the list. But here are some reviews. Enjoy maadi:
Swerve In the early 15th century Western Europe was just emerging from a couple of centuries of plague, famine, and conflict. .....so they looked back 1500 years or more to the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome. .. to relearn ..what had been lost during the Dark Ages. .. Poggio Bracciolini, a papal secretary whose Pope had been overthrown ...discovered On The Nature Of Things, by Lucretius ..a seminal document of the emerging Renaissance. .. who taught that the soul did not survive death and that all living things were made up tiny particles or atomi.
Epicureans called on people to enjoy a good life ... who did not concern themselves with anything so insignificant as human affairs. This has a modern ring to us, .. and those who followed his ideas were often in danger of perseuction or even execution....on the tumultuous political world the Church and secular powers struggled to dominate, ..whose development turned or "swerved" dramatically as a result of Lucretius and other classical writers renewed popularity.

The Swerve should become an essential part of the library of anyone interested in the late medieval and early Renaissance eras.

...Greenblatt seriously overstates the role of Lucretius, whose influence, until the mid to late 18th century was arguably quite marginal. Peter Gay's The Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Paganism, .. deals at length with the influence of Lucretius on French Enlightenment thinkers, many of whom really were "pagans", i.e., materialists and epicureans.   ... Montaigne in his Essays, on the other hand, quotes Lucretius repeatedly, often without attribution, indicating that Lucretius's naturalism, if not his Epicureanism, was appealing to him.
 Greenblatt .. .. is a lively writer, but I think the public would have been better served by more balanced presentations, such as can be found, for example, in the writings of Anthony Grafton, who is especially good on humanism during transitional period between the Renaissance and the French Enlightenment. Grafton also traces the interrelationship of humanism and modern liberal ideas in a way that is attractive and convincing.
 Very profound probably you will sleep better as you nod off!
The Fault in Our Stars
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

A review
... I am a Nerdfighter, and I watch John Green videos religiously. However, TFIOS fell a little flat for me. Most points I want to make have already been addressed, .. My main problem with the book is that the characters are just not believable. They do not speak like teenagers. They do not even handle situations like teenagers do.
another review
.. It covers a topic that is difficult to talk about and is often avoided. It has been challenging for me to get through; however, I feel like I should add my perspective. I was diagnosed with cancer at 10. I am now 15 years old and a teen-age cancer survivor. I am a volunteer and advocate for pediatric cancer awareness.
This book has gotten negative reviews based on several points:
 "The characters are not believable. They do not speak like teenagers. ..
......Have you spent time with any of us? They are believable as teen-age cancer patients/survivors. We may look like teen-agers, but in our heads, we are not.
..... I have seen my own parents (and siblings) and the parents of other friends struggle with this. Many times, they do not have their own identities anymore. ....
I hope everyone can read this with an open mind and an open heart. Then, reach out to the patients and survivors in your communities. They are wise beyond their years, funny, brave and inspiring.
A book probably written with the best intentions but may be over done! I guess overall a good book!
The Cuckoo's Calling (A Cormoran Strike Novel)
A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide.
 A review:
This book is so well written that I suspect that some years down the road we will hear the author's name is a pseudonym of some famous writer. .. You could feel the weather, the tension, the pain, the atmosphere in the gatherings. .. It is a wonderful mystery with a surprise ending, and I look forward to more by the same author.
 You're right. It was just revealed that J.K. Rowling is behind this book. 
The Silkworm is her second book (following the Cuckoo's Calling) featuring the wounded military veteran turn detective Cormoran Strike and his trusted young assistant Robin Ellacot. The crime fighting dual get caught up with the murder of a known novelist. 
Look to borrow this. No point in making the author richer than she is!
... The book is compelling and moving. Tartt is a master of foreshadowing, letting us know just enough of what is to come that we feel helpless to put down the book. I found myself staying up late for several nights, turning page after page to connect the dots. ..
This is not to say that the book is necessarily realistic; ... it constantly evokes earlier books rather than real life. ..
Tartt took over a decade to write The Goldfinch, and polished its language over that time. In Las Vegas, for example, Theo describes his new quarters as "the kind of room where a call girl or stewardess would be murdered on television." ..
What's not so perfect? Though Tartt captures the subtleties of several different kinds of relationships ..never quite ring true. ..
Finally, and this is not Tartt's fault, I'm sure, the paper in the hardcover edition is too thin. I suspect the publisher winced at receiving an 800 page manuscript and decided to print on thin paper in the hope of creating a less intimidating volume on bookstore shelves. When reading page 403, you have to ignore the backwards shadow of the words on page 404, overleaf.

Tartt tackles broad themes in this book: to what degree can we control our fate? Or does life unspool in response only to forces beyond our control, including randomness? .. Can humans create objects that have souls, and what obligation do we have to our creations, and is there any meaningful way in which artifacts make life worth living? .... In a profile of Tartt ....raises such questions as "whether it is possible to be good, what part love plays in our behavior and what in life is true and lasting."

It's a wonderful book, worth every penny and every hour needed to read it.
Sounds a good read. Esp for a Indain-epic-phile. But 800 pages?
 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fukú—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love.

 Meet Oscar de León. ... Oscar was a slick Dominican kid who seemed to have a typical life ahead of him. .. the time he hit puberty, Oscar gained a whole lot of weight, became awkward both physically and socially, and got deeply interested in things that made him an outcast among his peers...His few friends are embarrassed by him, girls want nothing to do with him, and everywhere he goes Oscar finds nothing but derision and hostility. And he's not the only person in his family suffering through life: his mother, a former beauty, has been ravaged by illness, bad love affairs, and worry regarding her two children; and his sister Lola, another intense beauty, has been cursed with a nomadic soul and her mother's poor taste in men.

The kicker about the de León family? They just may be the victims of a bona fide curse (a particularly nasty one at that, called a fukú) ..The de Leóns are on a collision course with disaster, but can they break the curse before it's too late? "you can never run away. Not ever. The only way out is in."

 "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" is a phenomenal novel that is hysterical, hypnotic, heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal parts (and quite often at the same time). The plot is a madcap high-wire act balanced with astonishing dexterity by Junot Díaz. If he has a misstep it is in the denouement, which is rather sudden and slightly lacking in clarity for an otherwise thorough novel. Nonetheless, I loved, loved, loved this book. And, naturally, I highly recommend it.
I have to think about it.
"Green Eggs and Ham."
As a certified elementary school teacher and practicing preschool teacher (3-year-olds), I highly recommend this book! There isn't a day when I don't hear "Ms. Molly, read 'Sam-I-Am!'" .. In later years, "Green Eggs and Ham" and other books as endearing (whether the children will realize it or not) may lead to a love of books and reading which may help them succeed in school.
I have no doubt that my students will forget who "Ms. Molly" is in their teenage years and beyond, but they will ALWAYS hold in their hearts a special memory that is "Green Eggs and Ham."
This book has been around for such a very long time and it is still going strong.
Aside from the simple words, the book portrays a very important message - do not be afraid to try new things. As a parent and counsellor, I can attest to the fact that message can be one of life's greatest learning experiences not only for children but for adults as well. We never know what we can accomplish or what we can achieve until we try. In addition, some things are not always what they seem. If you have never read a Dr. Seuss book, you have no idea of what you or your children are missing. Of all the Seuss books, this is an all-time favourite.
 I suspect Gayathri has already read this.
Omnivores Dilemma
When I bought this book for my dad he simply said, "A book about food?" I laughed and tried to tell him it is probably more about what is wrong with the country (government, business, foreign policy) than it is about food.

...For instance, I had no idea we used so much fossil fuel to get corn to grow as much as it does. The book provides plenty of other interesting facts that most people don't know (or want to) about their food.

 A lot of cool facts here that I never knew or took the time to care about (I never knew the mushroom was so mysterious). I would have liked him to talk more about trade, different areas' food specialties and also how preparing a meal such as his at the end seems a little too time consuming even for the outdoors enthusiast.

I think all Americans - conservatives, liberals, whatevers - can enjoy this book. Liberals for the "return to nature mentality," conservatives for the same reason: Pollan rails into Animal Rights' activists and shows how though they may have good intentions; they would rather upset the balance of nature before they kill anything.
A good read but frustrates as you can do nothing about the things that are wrong!
the Hunger Games
 Wow. I was barely able to put this book down for a second after the first few pages got me completely hooked. Suzanne Collins narrative here has an immediacy to it that, when combined with the very dramatic life-or-death plot, is incredibly compelling. It's entertaining, and incredibly disturbing all at once. If this was merely a good read, I would have given it 4 stars, but they say great art leaves you changed after you experience it... and this book definitely did that. Suzanne Collins has, with one amazing work, propelled herself onto my top shelf.

Parents, caveat emptor! The storyline is brutal. ..
The story is basically about a teenager who is forced to compete in a 24-man-enter-1-man-leaves event. I don't want to spoil it by saying any more, .... But take an old fogey's advice and read this book.
.. I think it's fair to say that we weren't really expecting something like The Hunger Games. At least I wasn't. But reading it gave me a horribly familiar feeling. .. Collins has written a book that is exciting, poignant, thoughtful, and breathtaking by turns. It ascends to the highest forms of the science fiction genre and will create all new fans for the writer. One of the best books of the 2008 year.

 .. Once a year the government chooses two children from each of the twelve districts to compete against one another in a live and televised reality show. Twenty-four kids and teens enter, and only one survives. .
I described the plot of this book to my husband, particularly the part where Katniss and Peeta fake being in love to gain the audience's approval and the very first thing he said was, "Oh! That's the plot of They Shoot Horses, Don't They?"
Oh! And did I mention the dialogue at all? The humor? Yep, there's humor. We're talking about a story where adolescents hunger for blood,....

It occurs to me that there has never been a quintessential futuristic gladiator book for kids. .. The future of this book will go one of two ways. Either it will remain an unappreciated cult classic for years to come or it will be fully appreciated right from the start and lauded. My money lies with the latter. A contender in its own right.
You've got to hand it to Collins: No one can plot a fantasy novel like her. Nobody. She has you not from the first page or the first graf, but the first *word*. She creates believable, likable and riveting characters, ridiculously addictive survival scenarios and a rich world to boot. If you aren't up until 4 a.m. finishing this thing, you're a corpse.

My only problem with this novel also happens to be a very big problem: the overall premise. 
 I think I will give it a miss.
Golden Boy by Abigain Tarttelin
.. In almost all ways I have come increasingly to believe that the less you know about a book going in the better off you are. As general note, however, one should know that this is a circumspect style narrative in which we hear from five different narrators. Our protagonist is the eldest son in a family of four and each of the family members (plus a love interest) take it in turns to give their side of the story. This can make for a sometimes fractured but very illuminating style of reading once you figure out who all the names are attached to.

 In summary, this is a book to be treasured not only for its narrative flair but also what it has to say about us as a species and is sure to cause endless conversation in groups that read it. Golden Boy is one of those rare books that makes me wish I had more than five stars to give out.
Golden Boy is the story of an intersex teen growing up as a boy in a family divided in how to deal with his birth defect. The story was definitely interesting and held my interest, but it was a bit melodramatic for me. ..
I didn't find the story all that believable and the end was a little too simplistic. As I said, it held my interest, but I wasn't moved emotionally by it. As I was reading I kept thinking it was a plot for a Lifetime channel movie.
 The gift of rain
The recipient of extraordinary acclaim from critics and the bookselling community, Tan Twan Eng's debut novel casts a powerful spell and has garnered comparisons to celebrated wartime storytellers Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene. Set during the tumult of World War II, on the lush Malayan island of Penang, The Gift of Rain tells a riveting and poignant tale about a young man caught in the tangle of wartime loyalties and deceits.
In 1939, sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton-the half-Chinese, half-English youngest child of the head of one of Penang's great trading families-feels alienated from both the Chinese and British communities. He at last discovers a sense of belonging in his unexpected friendship with Hayato Endo, a Japanese diplomat. ....
There is a tremendous amount of historical fact and, of course, as in any Malaysian novel aimed at an international readership, a great deal of information on the complex social background of the country. What is quite amazing is that despite this the pace of the story never becomes bogged down by a heavy load of background detail. Indeed where the novel succeeds best is in the strong drive of the narrative, and in the painstaking recreation of the setting.

"The Gift of Rain" is in every sense a "big" book, not only substantial in size, but also in theme, and in the amount of incident that is crammed into it. It's hard to know just how to pigeonhole it. Literary fiction? Thriller? Historical novel? Big screen kung-fu movie with Hollywood glitz and glamour translated to the page? The novel combines elements of all of these, yet succeeds very much on its own term, raising important questions about loyalty and betrayal, predestination and free will.
 .. The Japanese in general singled out the British and the Chinese for humiliation and brutal treatment, but Philip is protected.

Naturally, such protection comes at a price. Philip collaborates with the Japanese and thus betrays his country and his people... It is an uneven novel, but it is a creative work that rings in many places both historically and morally true. Despite some false notes, it was on the "long list" for the 2007 Man Booker prize.
A bit too heavy for me.
Burial rites

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question: How can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?
 .. The writing is beautiful, the research fantastic. - I am recommending it to all my family and friends.

Burial Rites is a welcome rarity in that equal value is given to literary merit as storytelling. Unfortunately, Agnes's developing relationship with her jailer family is unconvincing, as is her friendship with the Reverend Toti. Her willingness to ignore warning signals about Natan is a bit too convenient.

 Burial Rites is a very worthwhile read and I'll be looking out for future works by the author
Different could be worthwhile.

The space between us
The author of Bombay Time,If Today Be Sweet, and The Weight of Heaven, Thrity Umrigar is at adept andcompelling in The Space Between Us—vividly capturing the social struggles of modern India in a luminous, addictively readable novel of honor, tradition, class, gender, and family. A portrayal of two woman discovering an emotional rapport as they struggle against the confines of a rigid caste system, Umrigar’s captivating second novel echoes the timeless intensity of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were WatchingGod, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows inBrooklyn, and Barbara Kingsolver’s ThePoisonwood Bible—a quintessential triumph of modern literary fiction

Using turbulent India, with all its social, environmental and economic problems as a background, author Thrity Umrigar tells a very humanistic tale of love, loss and ultimately betrayal. Two very different women who, in their struggle to cope with their heartache and sorrow, discover an inevitable commonality, a spiritual unity, even though they are divided by the seemingly insurmountable gulf of money, opportunity and class.

The author excels in vividly bringing to life the sights, sounds and smells of Bombay, the street urchins, the stray dogs, the impoverished nut vendors, and the hollow-eyed slum dwellers, a city mad with greed and hunger, power and impotence wealth and poverty, where the weak and vulnerable are elbowed out of the way, and where the poor treat the middle class like royalty, when they should actually hate their guts.

I was immediately drawn into this book which, at first, seemed so promising. 
Will look for it. I have a weakness for 'Indian'  


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