Sleeping Beauties [A Review]

Sleeping Beauties, by Stephen King and Owen King

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   [Image courtesy of Amazon.com]

Okay, this is not one of my favourite Stephen King works. The only thing I like about this story is its interesting premise – What if women disappear from men’s lives? Do we want to? 

I think the problem with this book is that there were too many characters in there who didn’t have enough depth or distinctiveness, and that made it difficult for me to remember who’s who, especially at the beginning. And the pace was not fast enough to make it a page-turner. Neither was the narration gripping enough to send chills down my spine. The sub-plots were rather weak, and didn’t really work to beef up the characters. Despite having a story overflowing with characters, I couldn’t find one that I liked, and not even one that I hated.

So yup, the premise was the only thing that was anything Stephen-King-like in this book. 

VERDICT: Unless you are a hardcore Stephen King fan who must read every single publication of his, I think you can give this a miss. 😦

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The Land of Stories Series [A Review]

The Land of Stories Series, by Chris Colfer

The Wishing Spell, The Enchantress Returns, A Grimm Warning, Beyond the Kingdoms, An Author’s Odyssey, Worlds Collide

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[Image courtesy of Hachette Book Group]

 

O.M.G.!

This has to be my biggest, funniest and most enjoyable discovery of the year!

I stumbled across the series because the paperback version of the last and final book was featured on the “New Arrivals” shelf at the local bookstore, and the cover caught my attention. It looks like what an Enid Blyton book looked like thirty years ago, and when I browsed through the other books in the series, the first chapter of the first book even read like one! The child in me decided to give it a shot, never mind that it’s been classified under Young Adult (and sometimes Middle Grade). I’m so glad I did!

Besides looking like a set of classic Enid Blyton children’s fantasy storybooks, the series even contained all the magical elements of  creations like Narnia, Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, Inkheart and classic Fairy Tales. And last but not least, the characters, the things that come out of their mouths, and the things that happen to them were so hilarious that I often burst out laughing even while reading in commute. 

Colfer definitely has a clever way with words. While some may view the jokes as cheesy at times, I love all of them! It’s been a while since I’d enjoyed so much magic, wonder, imagination and wit in a single series. Plus, the plot was simple yet intricate with sub-plots, and the pace was akin to watching a good animated movie.

The only regret that I have is that I devoured the books in digital format too quickly. I should have bought the hardcover box set and savoured every one of the six books. I can’t wait to share these books with my kid when she’s old enough to read them.

VERDICT: Adult fans of children’s fantasy stories, wait no more. Go read the books and have some fun! Fairy tales will never be the same again, ever.

Origin [A Review]

Origin, by Dan Brown

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   [Image courtesy of Goodreads.com]

This has to be my favourite of all the books that Dan Brown has written since The Da Vinci Code. Because this book is such a timely read.

I think part of it has to do with the fact that we’re in an era in which we are questioning our future as much as, if not more than, our origin. Science is progressing at such a blinding speed these days, that it is hard not to think that anything is possible with the kind of technologies that will be available in the next few decades. Yet, when faced with “soul-less” technologies like super-computing, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and what not, one can’t help but wonder where the spiritual well-being of humans is going. We’re connected ubiquitously to one another by technology, but are we also losing the uniquely human connections in our everyday lives?

But I digress. This should be a review of the book, not what I think with regards to the dilemmas in religion and science.

Yes, the book is thought-provoking. While the issues raised in the story are not new, it is precisely because they are the perennial issues faced by mankind (and especially by this generation) that Brown is able to entice readers with its premise. 

In the tradition of Dan Brown books, everything happens and concludes within 24 hours, so you can imagine the breathtaking pace at which the story unfolds. Plus, many of the places, artifacts, quotes and history are real, so I couldn’t help learning at least a couple of new things about Spain and William Blake. And of course, the suspense grows with each chapter, and makes it hard for one to put down the book. Finally, the book has no lack of red herrings, and a conclusion that might just hint at Brown’s own inclinations where synthetic intelligence is concerned.

All in all, the book raises more questions than answers, and cautions against extremity. But then, humankind’s strength has always been our ability to look for and ask the right questions, hasn’t it?

VERDICT: Besides history, religion, codes and symbols, you’ll also get a quick flavor of the latest developments in science. So if you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller but would also like to use the time to learn something in the process, read the book!

The Circle [A Review]

The Circle by Dave Eggers

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   [Image courtesy of Penguin Random House]

 

I’m disappointed! 

The premise is an interesting one, and the fact that it got made into a movie, it must at least have something in there right?

But all I got were a predictable plot, two-dimensional characters, staccato narration, and an abrupt ending. Even the use of the scene where the shark devoured the octopus and seahorses as an analogy of what The Circle was doing was weak.

Now I wonder how bad the movie was, although the leads are among my favourites!

VERDICT: This is definitely not for science fiction/tech thriller fans, because it’s hardly that.

 

Ash and Quill, The Great Library series #3 [A Review]

Ash and Quill (Book 3)

The Great Library series by Rachel Caine

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  [Image courtesy of Goodreads.com]

There is a fourth book?!?! 

I started the book thinking that it will be the third and last one in the series, and I was actually excited about it, because the first two were pretty decent and entertaining (see my review of the first two books). 

Well, this third book is also pretty entertaining, especially in the last quarter of it, when I was just turning the pages to get to whatever terrible thing Jess was planning to do in order to save everyone. Unfortunately, I knew I wasn’t going to get an answer in this book when there were only twenty pages left and Caine wasn’t any closer to revealing Jess’s plan. I almost groaned out loud when the story ended on a cliffhanger, with one line at the bottom of the page that said “to be continued in Book 4”.

I guess I just have to kick myself for not finding out more before diving into this series. Now I wonder when the next book will be out, and whether I will still remember the plot and characters by then. Oh well, at least the first three books were page-turners.

VERDICT: Yes, this is one of those ongoing and incomplete series as of today, and I suggest you wait till Caine has penned and published the last book before picking up Book 1.

End of Watch [A Review]

End of Watch, by Stephen King

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   [Image courtesy of Goodreads.com]

 

I love Stephen King’s books, and this one has not disappointed me. 

The pace of the book is so fast, that I would have devoured it in one reading marathon if I could, but of course family and work duties didn’t give me that luxury. In the end, frustrated from having to tear myself away from the book each time I had to put it down, I sacrificed two hours of my sleep and finished the second half in one seating. 

King writes in a way that few can, and draws me into his characters every single time I read him. His mastery of the language helps, because the dialogues he creates give life to his characters, and his no-nonsense way of delivering a scene means it doesn’t come with pretentious descriptions or snotty words that some writers like to produce (and which, more often than not, tend to irritate me so much that I will just dump the book).

Some may say this finale to the trilogy is not as good as the first, and I have to admit, the ending was rather predictable. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the book. It didn’t stop that chill running down my spine either. King knows his craft well, and in the last decade or so, he has been using that craft to write about horrors that can be very real in today’s world.

Oh, and besides that chill, King has managed to make me cry at the end.

VERDICT: Read it!!! Get the entire Bill Hodges trilogy, if you haven’t read the first two books yet.

The Stormlight Archive Book #1 and #2 [A Review]

The Way of Kings (Book 1), Words of Radiance (Book 2) 

The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson

  Image result for stormlight archive Image result for words of radiance

  [Image courtesy of Wikipedia]

This took a while because both books are huge volumes with more than a thousand pages each, and I was reading a couple of other books at the same time.

I had held off getting into this series for the longest time, until I saw the announcement that the third book is coming out end of this year. I mean, these are humongous volumes, and I don’t really relish the possibility that I will need to go through them again when the new book is out.

Being a Brandon Sanderson epic saga series, it does not disappoint. The pace is fast, the plot intriguing, and the characters likable. Plus, unlike other mega series like George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones (I really regret starting that one, because I cannot see myself getting it to the end, EVER, thanks to the author’s delay in getting the next books out), this series does not have too many characters, and so does not run the risk of confusing its readers after a while.

What’s interesting too is the fact that Sanderson writes about honor in a world that was betrayed by the very essence of it, and parts of that narration feels eerily close to what we see happening today.  

What irritates me though, is the fact that Sanderson tries to be so obscure and mysterious about the hidden powers behind what’s driving all the events that I get utterly lost at times.

I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that when the third book comes out at the end of the year, I still remember the characters and the plot well enough to enjoy it without wondering what’s going on.

VERDICT: If you don’t like long epic series that are not yet complete, stay away till the last book is out.