Monday, 7 December 2015

This One Time - Alex van Tonder

Kudos to Alex van Tonder for so convincingly narrating this cultural expose from the dark recesses of the American male blogger's mind. This One Time delves into the 21st century 'make it big' mindset of the world of social media - not matter what the cost. The plot unfolds from a drug addled life of excess, the anti-hero Jacob Lynch, more popularly known via his blogger pseudonym, Brody Lomax. The Brody Lomax blog features a daily rhetoric that spews among other things, a constant supply of unashamed sexism and misogyny to a hungry (mostly male) public. A narcissistic character is depicted via the infamous Brody Lomax, however glimpses of a conscience can still be found in the drug addicted Jacob, even though he struggles to separate the two personas. When a sitcom deal that horrendously exploits both the naive and fame hungry women of New York takes off, Jacob reaches an all time low in his addiction, and, nudged by his agent, decides to use one of the many 'freebies' available to a popular blogger in the effort to sober up and complete his manuscript. The freebie being an exclusive getaway to The Delphine, a secluded luxury lodge in rural Alaska. Twiddling (for the last time) the world in the palm of an ungrateful hand, this is the last decision Jacob would make before fate - or something else- intervenes.
This book is at times gruesome and has a heavy edge of the cringe-worthy, but it nails the 'never ever enough' present day culture of social media, and the length's people will go to to be the new hit.
*Book sponsored by Pan Macmillan

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Dare Me - Megan Abbott

Megan Abbott wrote this book in such a way the there can be no mistake, this was written by a woman - someone who has had first hand experience in the angst of the teenage girl. She captures the nuances and complex emotions of female relationships perfectly, displaying the typical 'pack' mentality that happens in high school where the fragility and force of hierarchy is so, so real. Seeming to have had almost first hand experience about the cheerleading world in general, the book captivates you with its strong characters, who at different levels are all competing in some way or the other. The book is narrated by Addy Hanlon, lieutenant of the girl hierarchy that is led by Beth Cassidy, captain of the squad and girl-bully of note. That is, until Coach Colette French moves in and breaks the vice hold that Beth has on the squad, and on Addy. This was a fantastic read, and kept me guessing alot. I did though, find the heavy American slang and ever present high school lingo a bit distracting, making me re-read some paragraphs to make sure I got the gist of what was said. A psychological thriller that involves bullying, sexual confusion and expose into the secrets and lies of girl-world, as Coach said, 'there's something dangerous about the boredom of teenage girls'

Saturday, 26 September 2015

 And The Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini  has a gift of creating characters that you feel like you’ve already met  at certain points in your life. Perhaps it’s a skill he acquired when he worked as a physician in California. The general atmosphere of his writing s sombre, with this imminent feeling of ‘something bad is going to happen’. Setting the scene in pre-war Afghanistan, I loved how he depicts the various faces, lives and personalities that can exist in a place typically typecast in the Western world . The characters were complex with full lives that one could place them anywhere in the world, except for the Afghan history and idiosyncrasies that underlie the story. Religion, culture and politics are the propellants of all his characters lives, and he certainly has a knack for depicting how the choices of one individual can impact so many people in generations to come. In the most haunting way, of course. I found the opening characters of Abdullah and his little sister Pari the most endearing throughout the book and was so invested in how their fathers onerous life would impact theirs. The characters became all the more believable as Hosseini chose not not stick to the third or first person only rule in his narrations, which gives the reader the different perspectives of each character. An Afghan by birth, the story telling is all the more poignant given the first hand experiences of the author.
Image result for and the mountains echoed

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Meant to provoke thought about the generations who survived WWll and born just after, Bernhard Schlink wrote this book as though it were really his personal journal. Often getting so lost in reflection that the reader (pun intended, thank you) almost feels like they’re looking at a private thought process taking place. I enjoyed how very stoic Hanna was, and yet indulged in a wanton relationship with a boy half her age. It also brought to my attention a simple privilege that I often enjoy, and yet never really acknowledge just how paramount it is to my livelihood and being: the ability to read. The plot is about a young boy who falls in love with a secretive older woman, who freaks out at what seems like irrational reasons. What’s surprising , is that Schlink chose illiteracy as the root of her secret – in a First World country. Or is it not that surprising given the incredible impact war has on human nature and that there could be more illiterate people in developed places than we may think? Hanna was my favourite character because she never wavered in what she believed, even in the face a life imprisonment. Micheal Berg, the protagonist, becomes so damaged by the ending of the relationship that he shuts off emotionally and takes on an arrogant veneer that will later ruin his adult relationships. As he becomes an adult, Micheal constructs two damaged caricatures in his mind - one of himself as an arrogant and untouchable academic, and one of her as an unlettered seductress - and becomes so convinced of these persona's that he takes it on as part of himself, and feels completely disconnected from Hanna all those years later when she had changed so much physically. With an abrupt ending and a litany of though provoking questions, The Reader is ranked one of the best German books written of all time, and has become a successful movie.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The Alchemist - Paulo Coehlo

I get why this book has remained popular after all these years since its first publication. Its so simply written. And states all these things that we already know about life and ourselves, though we hardly acknowledge because they're so fundamentally ingrained. These understated but profound aspects of living and believing that are so organic to the human way, that they're somehow no longer conceived or remembered.  Nuances of communication, and thought and logic and belief that we almost ignore, if we even remember that they're there.
For a Fantasy genre fan as myself, I found this book compelling because it almost makes the reader the protagonist  of the book. The actual protagonist - Santiago -  is simply referred to as the 'Boy'. As with all the important characters of the book, they remain mostly nameless when referred to. All the reader can visualize is their journey.
This is a book of journey and lesson. A good friend of mine inspired me to read it and it seemed to pop up randomly so many times in my life that it was meant for me to read it.  Coehlo often relays via the Boy, 'don't ignore the omens', and I dared not ignore this one.