Book review: Library of Souls

I was ecstatic when I found that the final installment of the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children” series was out late last year. The previous book left readers off with a cliffhanger as the children were in the midst of a great escape plan, where protagonist Jason Portman just discovered he had a new powerful power.

It was wonderful that the “Library of Souls” dived right in from where it last ended, and managed to live up to my expectations to deliver a solid ending to the trilogy. This is particularly so given that the earlier two books have set a remarkably high bar.

In the third book, I relished in the author’s continued use of actual vintage photographs that he had personally collected throughout the years to enmesh them within the fictional story plot. For me, this is exactly what elevates this series from good to excellent for I love how it breathes new life to these old images that have been repurposed for a new use. This picture in particular stood out for me: Continue reading

Book reviews: Irene and Camille

Pierre LemaitreAfter an excruciating two-year wait for the Commandant Verhoeven trilogy, I was overjoyed to know that the two remaining books were finally translated from French. They truly did not disappoint and consistently kept me at the edge of my seat that I did not even realize that I had devoured them in one sitting.

When taken as a whole, this three-part series – “Irene, Alex and Camille” in running order – by author Pierre Lemaitre string together as a coherent read. (Read here for my review of the second book “Alex”) Individually, they function equally effective as standalone detective stories.

In “Irene,” the author laid down most of the groundwork to set up his central protagonist Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven. The first case Verhoeven had to deal with was a succession of gruesome murders where the victims were brutally hacked up and methodologically arranged in an almost illogical manner. The pressure ratcheted up when the cases received public attention after the media caught wind of the cases and sensationalized them. Continue reading

Book review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years of Pilgrimage

Colorless TsukuruI was thrilled to bits when I received Haruki Murakami’s latest book from a friend since it has been almost three years when he released his 1Q84 and it has been highly anticipated by legions of the Japanese author’s fans, including myself. A huge thank you to you know who you are for gifting me with one of the most thoughtful gifts I have received in a long while.

Murakami’s newest offering is as expected oozing with his typical writing style and themes – a lonely man in his mid-thirties feeling displaced in a big city while harboring a deep sense of solitude.

Before jumping the gun, I would like to rave about the gorgeous design for the hardcover version published by Alfred A. Knopf of “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years of Pilgrimage”. The dust jacket features five cutout panels, four filled with colors and the last transparent to reveal the complex train lines in Tokyo underneath. When viewed from a distant, the cover forms the shape of a deconstructed left hand, a pictorial description tying in closely with the author’s writing.

“You know in a sense we were a perfect combination, the five of us. Like five fingers,” Ao raised his right hand and spread his thick fingers. “I still think that. The five of us all naturally made up for what was lacking in the others, and totally shared our better qualities.” Continue reading

Book review: The Three Evangelists

Thank you everyone for your kind words in the last blogpost and I am just so glad to be up and running again. This week, I am back with another crime fiction and just in case you did not know how much I love this genre, you can read it HERE, HERE and HERE.

I was won over by French crime fiction during my last encounter with “Alex” by Pierre Lamaitre, which is packed with a generous dose of thrill, suspense and gruesomeness very much on par with their Scandinavian counterpart. And allow me to boldly say this as a Scandi-novel fan, I did find Lamaitre’s style slightly more entertaining. [My review of Alex HERE]

Curiosity got the better of me and my venture to sample other French authors landed with me with Fred Vargas “The Three Evangelists.” Fred Vargas is the pseudonym used by talented French historian, archeologist and award-winning crime fiction writer Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau.

The Three Evangelists is the first part of the Evangelist trilogy, where Vargas devotes quite a bit of ink to introducing and setting up her main characters. There was not one, not two but a total of three amateur sleuths joined by former disgraced policeman Armand Vandoosler, who found themselves embroiled in the case of a mysterious tree planted in front of the house of retired opera singer Sophia Simeonidis. More worryingly though was the sudden disappearance of Simeonidis herself shortly after.
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Book review: Americanah

The best way for me to summarize “Americanah” by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is to describe the wonderful warm and fuzzy feeling after completing the book. Even though it was a work of fiction, the experiences described felt raw, personal and compelling in a way that could only come from someone who had been through all of them.

Americanah is the story of young lovers Ifemelu and Obinze who first met in high school in Nigeria which was then under military rule, a period dominated by upheavals and uncertainties that drove the poor as well as the well-educated locals to look elsewhere for greener pastures. Such circumstances inevitably forced them to search for better lives, Ifemelu to the U.S. and Obinze to England, and separated their fates.

While in foreign lands, their identities instantly transformed as they became African migrants confronted with new sets of problems they had never imagined. At the top of the list would be to secure the right to reside in their host countries, be it legally or illegally, and this book was upfront about the migrants’ insecurities and hardships, which were driven by a myriad of reasons.
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