Author Topic: What books have you read/bought recently?  (Read 65298 times)

Offline westendboy

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Re: What books have you read/bought recently?
« Reply #255 on: April 05, 2019, 13:40 »


When I was a kid growing up, I consumed the usual Enid Blyton-s, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Then I entered Secondary One and I told myself I am graduating from these books and ready for something denser. I remembered stepping into Times Book Store in Lucky Plaza, walking past the romance section (I wasn’t ready for this yet) and going straight to the horror section… yes, I was ready to try something on the other end. I picked up Jay Anson’s The Amityville Horror. It scared the wits out of me and I fricking love it. Before long, I discovered Stephen King’s Carrie and my love affair with horror truly began.

I didn’t stop reading Stephen King until after Dolores Claiborne which I remembered was a complete miss for me. There after I only picked up his books selectively like Joyland and Doctor Sleep. They were good but didn’t hit the heights like his earlier books. Then came Mr Mercedes, the first part of a hard-boiled detective trilogy. This is King stepping out of his comfort zone of horror and trying something new. I have to confess I didn’t enjoy it at all. Most of the time it was a pain to read. When the narrative should move faster, King loves to engage in some tediously self-indulgent description replete with street slang and vulgarities. Letting us know who the villain is so early in the narrative isn’t a good move in my book. The climax also plays out like something out of a B-grade made for TV movie. But then The Outsider, another investigative thriller, was voted #1 on goodreads and here I go again.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

This is solid work from King, propulsive, tension-filled and nail-biting suspense up the Ying Yang. The story hinges on an impossible “what if” scenario – can a person be at two places at the same time? The story twists and turns to a payoff I hope explains the impervious situation satisfyingly and please don’t tell me there is an evil twin involved. Thankfully, there isn’t but The Outsider is not quite an investigative procedural in the classical sense. If you are a fan of those monster-of-the-week The X Files episodes, you are in good hands.

As usual, King nails that small town vibe and its cynical occupants to a T. The dialogue has immediacy and feels like it spout out of characters who are trapped in their own world. The plot is meticulously detailed, building up to a climax that has full-on supernatural trappings.

At nearly 500 pages, King could easily have shaved off the unneeded characterisations and the umpteenth fly-off-the-handle plot points. But for me, everything was compelling, even if King pokes fun at certain aspects without being preachy. Watch out for a scene involving Harlan Coben which is quite entertaining. I wonder how Coben feel about that passage about him.

The only thing that didn’t sit down well with me is that the book borrows a character from the Bill Hodges trilogy and with that came some big spoilers especially for End of Watch.

This is a fun read and King seemed like he was having a lot of fun writing this. It does have a cinematic feel to it and I loved seeing that creepy movie playing in my head as I devoured the book. The world we live in can sometimes be so cruel and unforgiving. If you think about it, the evilness in the story can be likened to the one we see in the world. We constantly feed this flagitious entity till it becomes alive and it looks like us staring back with a cynical smile. Yes, I can definitely believe that.
 

**** / 5
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Offline westendboy

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Re: What books have you read/bought recently?
« Reply #256 on: April 09, 2019, 11:20 »


The Wife Between Us came on my radar when I learned that it was #3 on goodreads Best Thriller of 2018 list. A blurb mentioned this novel in the same breath as Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. Even American crime writer Karin Slaughter gave it a thumbs up saying: “a clever thriller with masterful twists”. This is one of those times I just don’t get it; I felt like I was reading a different novel from others. This was a pain to get through.

It’s about a jealous wife, obsessed with her replacement. It’s about a younger woman set to marry the man she loves. The first wife seems like a disaster; her replacement is the perfect woman. You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships, but you will be wrong.

Someone needs to give the person who wrote the intriguing synopsis a raise because it worked. But hardly anything else worked for me and the ending felt like a slap. Okay, I sound like I am being harsh but I just want to be honest. Granted any novel is subjective so take my word with a pinch of salt.

The Wife Between Us is all about machinations and subterfuge. At the end of each of the three parts of the story, I didn’t see the twist coming. So kudos where it’s due. I especially enjoyed the first one at the end of part one, which put me in a tailspin and I had to reread that chapter to make sense of it. It was good, but it could have been great because I was put through 138 pages of a woman’s psychoneurosis of the tedious kind. This is Unreliable Narrator 101. It felt like the writers thought of the twists and then convolute the hell out of what is really a simple story that you have probably read a hundred times.

I didn’t find the main character sympathetic and she is mostly a cloying cornball, weaving around indecisively and constantly living in the past, making the people around her suffer in her inebriated wake. For twist #2 to work, the writers had to withhold certain information that would make her more sympathetic. Yes, it was mildly surprising, but I felt like I was being played. I like the feeling of being puppeteered by storytellers, but not like this. This was plainly manipulative of the highest order.

The ending… oh my my… so convenient and cheap. It still pisses me off when I think about it, a shocking ending that never felt earned.

I read somewhere that this has been optioned for a movie. I don’t know about that because it just doesn’t have a cinematic feel and they need to find a remarkable actress to pull off one of the greatest magic tricks ever. I wonder how they will achieve the twist at the end of the first act. I wonder…

 
**1/2 / 5
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Offline westendboy

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Re: What books have you read/bought recently?
« Reply #257 on: April 16, 2019, 18:26 »


Soji Shimada’s The Tokyo Zodiac Murders is an intriguing blend of meta-fiction and a locked-room mystery. It begins with a surreal tour into the mind of a mad man as he detailed how he is going to create the perfect woman using severed body parts from his daughters and nieces. There are diagrams and charts to help the readers visualise the crime scenes and investigation. At a couple of instances in the novel, Shimada even addresses the readers, actually it is more like taunting to me.



Our surrogates are two amateur mystery aficionados, freelance illustrator Kazumi Ishioka and his eccentric artist friend, Kiyoshi Mitarai. Think of them as an odd couple, much like Holmes and Watson. In fact, Shimada even wrote a short bit on the famous detective and kind of threw dirty water on him; I find it oddly funny but most would find it sacrilegious.

On the surface, the murders feel like impossible puzzles, but Kazumi and Kiyoshi constantly ask hypothetical questions, poking holes into the seemingly air-tight mystery. I had a lot of fun with this because I managed to get two copies from the library; his and hers copies. So we had a lot of fun dissecting the crime at different stages. At last, both of us hit the bullseye at different aspects, but my wife correctly identified the murderer and motive. Note to self: don’t mess with her!

Even though the concept is novel and the structure is unique, the pace feels uneven and only picks up in the second act. It does have a shocking revelation and a great falling action that is just so sad. The writing can also feel artless and mirthless. Forget about divine prose and character development; look at this as an extreme sudoku puzzle and it will appeal to the problem solver in you. I would also suggest to read it together with someone; I am sure you will get a lot more mileage out of it.
 

*** / 5
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Offline westendboy

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Re: What books have you read/bought recently?
« Reply #258 on: April 24, 2019, 12:00 »


There are no good guys. There are no bad guys. There’s only what needs to be done.”

These Orphan X novels are so good that every time one hits the shelves my life will revolve around it. Reading them feels like ogling at the uber cool violent excesses of a John Wick-Equaliser action thriller. The stakes go sky high in this 4th installment; this time he is targeting the man at the top, the President of the United States.

Someone at the very highest level of government has been trying to eliminate every trace of the Orphan Program by killing all the remaining Orphans and their trainers. After Evan’s mentor and the only father he ever knew was killed, he decided to strike back. His target is the man who started the program and who is now the most heavily guarded person in the world: the President of the United States.

Hurwitz doesn’t waste words. His prose resembles a sushi chef’s knife as he slices the meat effortlessly. The pace is relentless and the suspense is nail-biting. With each entry, Hurwitz ups the ante. It can’t be easy assassinating the POTUS and he does an amazing job detailing the tech used, making it very compelling. The action scenes are vividly described, situating me in the eye of the Storm of Carnage. I know he will prevail, but Hurwitz does a great job of making me feel that this time Smoak will take a bullet. That climatic gunfight really had my heart in my mouth and I gave a quick punch in the air as Smoak does the unexpected.

One of my favourite characters, Candy, is also back and I love how this time both Smoak and her objectives are inline. Some new characters are introduced and the groundwork is placed for a new installment (please tell me there are more…).

It is easy to see these Orphan X books as tailored for action junkies, but I will be the first one to stop reading if they are just that. Smoak is a fascinating character and he is currently one of my favourites. He has “a very particular set of skills, skills (he) has acquired over a very long career. Skills that make (him) a nightmare for people like (the scumbags that need to eat some lead).” This entry also finds him at a crossroads as he comes to terms with his purpose in life. This is the best one yet and I can’t wait for the next one!

 
**** / 5
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Offline westendboy

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Re: What books have you read/bought recently?
« Reply #259 on: May 08, 2019, 12:25 »


I made a mistake reading this after Gregg Hurwitz’s Out of the Dark. Tom Wood’s Victor, the assassin, would stand no chance against Orphan X’s wiles and prowess. The world building, the chops and the writing, Hurwitz is on a different plane altogether. Moreover, the first 200-page first act of The Enemy was a chore to get through because of the multiple sub-plots. But things did get better later on.

Victor, a former assassin-for-hire, has joined forces with a CIA special unit. His first assignment: Three strangers. Three hits. Fast and clean. Victor’s a natural for this.
It should have been simple. But with each hit Victor is plunged deeper into an unimaginable conspiracy where no one, least of all the people he knows, can be trusted. With the stakes growing higher by the minute, Victor realizes he’s been forced into playing a game he never expected. Because he’s the next target. And there’s no way out.


One of the things I like to do in my English class is to read examples of good writing and launch into aspects of effective writing techniques. I was giving up hope on The Enemy, then I hit page 231...

He saw fifty-one vehicles parked in a long row along the square’s west side. If the keys had included a radio fob, Victor could have just pressed it until the indicators flashed. There was no maker’s badge on the key ring either. Both had likely been removed by the team as a security precaution. Smart operators.

As they had numbered four (they are dead; killed by Victor), their car would have to be big enough to carry them all, so it would be a four-door sedan or SUV. Discounting the small sedans and coupes left thirty-six potentials. An SUV would stand out too much during mobile surveillance, so he dismissed those to bring the pool down another three. The team’s sedan would be a mid-range vehicle, again for anonymity’s sake, so Victor ignored those that were more than ten years old and those less than two, as well as the odd luxury BMW or Mercedes. Sixteen cars remained. The colour would be a muted tone, something that wouldn’t catch the eye. No red, white or black. Seven remaining. As the team were not native to Belarus and Minsk their car would most likely be a rental with a company sticker and Belarusian plates. Three left. As it had been parked since at least the previous evening, it would have picked up a parking ticket. Two left. Finally, smart operators always reverse-parked to facilitate a faster exit.

One left.


Wow! From this moment onwards The Enemy lifted off the page for me. This is a hired killer with the brains of Sherlock. And it didn’t end there - Victor has to deduce where the dead operators’ safe-house was just by observing the odometer and the weather. It had me in his pocket.

From this point onwards, it wasn’t just about completing the final mission; it was about Victor staying alive long enough to find out who wants to rub him out more. The dragnet is set and the walls are closing in, but he is a feral animal when he is cornered with seemingly no place left to go. It is a thrill to see him get away with the skin of his teeth and with all the subtlety of a kick in the teeth.

Until the next Orphan X comes along, I have an abled companion in Victor.
 

*** / 5
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Offline westendboy

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Re: What books have you read/bought recently?
« Reply #260 on: May 30, 2019, 14:31 »


I have had enough of thrillers, so I decided to launch into Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatore (it will be some time yet before I finish that tome of a book) and a funny one, Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette and this is such a divine hoot. I literally wore a smile on my face as I tore through it.

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect; and to 15-year-old Bee, she is her best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette vanishes. It all began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.


This book was highly lauded by my local papers way back in 2012 and it has been sitting on my shelf since then. When I got the news that the movie will be dropping soon, I dusted it for a read. I always love comparing both mediums of storytelling and with Cate Blanchett as Bernadette I doubt the movie can go wrong. She has the right airiness and poise to pull off such a nutty and lovable character.

Semple, once a writer for Mad About You and a producer on Arrested Development, has a deft hand with social satire and the drama of dysfunctional family. She has a unique way of taking the ordinary out of mundane and making it hilarious without making it feel pretentious. It may feel ridiculously funny on the surface, but a deep dive yields a surprisingly warm depth. Love how she pokes fun at the over-achieving world of Microsoft and rips them a new one. This is a brilliant social satire – while you are stifling down the umpteenth giggle, you are going to read about the sick and sad world we live in.

It was a bit of a challenge to get inside the novel initially because it doesn’t adhere to a traditional narrative and instead told the story through the daughter’s perspective relying on emails, correspondences, letters, reports, FBI documents and even an emergency-room bill. But once I got the hang of the mixed-media fiction I couldn’t get enough of it. Semple is so clever in the way she uses them so appropriately and yet it never feels repetitive. This is not going to be easy to replicate on film, but we shall see.

I went on a fair bit about the hilarity and comedy of manners, but the last act surprised me with a curve ball straight to the heart. My takeaway from this novel is the soaringly uplifting quality of self-acceptance in the face of expectations the world throws at us, and to embrace the “crazy” in all of us. Where’d You Go, Bernadette feels like a high five to the nutty side in all of us. Another one – it is never too late to launch into the second act of the movie of your life; no matter what age you are, you are not the finished product yet.

 
**** / 5

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Offline analogguy

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Re: What books have you read/bought recently?
« Reply #261 on: June 12, 2019, 18:48 »
Just finished reading "My Lovely Wife", Samantha Downing's debut novel.

Highly enjoyable, the pages just flew by. 

Touted as the new "Gone Girl".

https://www.google.com/amp/s/hellogiggles.com/reviews-coverage/my-lovely-wife-samantha-downing-interview/amp/

Offline westendboy

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Re: What books have you read/bought recently?
« Reply #262 on: June 13, 2019, 11:06 »


My favourite Stephen King novel isn’t a horror one; it’s Different Seasons (1982), a collection of four novellas, each one capturing an aspect of the four seasons. There was a time, come December, when everything would start to wind down, I would read Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption again and be reminded that I am doing okay as long as I have at least one true friend. I will let you in on any another tidbit: when I was learning the ropes to become a teacher, all the newbies were tasked to read a one-page text of our choosing so that our tutor can check on our enunciation and articulation. I read from the prologue of The Body from Different Seasons. When I was done, the Caucasian tutor immediately asked me where was the text taken from and I could see my fellow teachers scribbling it down likewise. King manages to elucidate ever so succinctly a particular human behaviour in that prologue. Presently, I own the third copy of the novel because the first two were loaned out to friends and they didn’t come back to me. It’s absolutely fine; I like to think that the novel has found its way into their heart just like it did for me. Elevation, just like Different Seasons, is a novella and it isn’t horror, and it is a gem of a read.

Part of the fun of reading is to find out as little about the plot as possible, so I will not divulge much, except to just say it’s a story about a man with a rather particular weight problem and how he saved a small town called Castle Rock from their worst selves.

Using weight loss as a narrative lynchpin isn’t new to King. He first did it in Thinner (1984) which is a helluva psychological horror-thriller. But Elevation approaches the weight loss idea in a unique way with free-flowing prose that brims with witty charm and nuggets of wisdom. King nails that small town vibe and speak effortlessly.

For me, one of the hallmarks of a good story is not being able to guess what will happen in the next page and with Elevation, I couldn’t, but perhaps it’s more correct to say I didn’t want to. It’s so easy to fall in love with Scott Carey who is stricken with the weirdest malady ever and hope against the inevitable.

The second act is devoted to the Turkey Trot, the Castle Rock long distance foot race where Scott’s dire affliction brings out the best in people who have mollycoddled with the worst in themselves and others. I devoured that section with a smile on my face. I must have looked really silly in the train on my way to class.

Back in my younger days, I used to run the full marathon every December. One week before the run, I would prep myself psychologically by reading King’s The Long Walk (1979), an early version of The Hunger Games where 100 people competed in a race and losers get shot. I loved running the arduous marathon with that crazy story in my head and believe me when I say I would never stop to walk. Now with Elevation, and with me being older and less springy, I think I may have found my new running companion story prior before running my annual marathon, albeit half-marathon now.


****1/2 / 5
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Offline westendboy

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Re: What books have you read/bought recently?
« Reply #263 on: June 20, 2019, 11:04 »


On the cards, this certainly makes for an interesting collaboration: a bestselling thriller writer who knows the blueprint like the back of his hand and an ex-president who has the know-all in the corridors of ultimate world-changing power. Does it work?

As the novel opens, a threat looms. Enemies are planning an attack of unprecedented scale on America. Uncertainty and fear grip Washington. There are whispers of cyberterror and espionage and a traitor in the cabinet. The President himself becomes a suspect, and then goes missing…

I had a running image of Kiefer Sutherland while reading The President is Missing and I wonder if I am the only one. I was weaned on 8 seasons of 24 stretching from 2001 to 2010. Each of the 195 episodes tells the story in real-time and it was compulsively addictive even if sometimes it was a huge stretch. With The President is Missing, I was picturing Sutherland’s Jack Bauer as the President, eluding gunfire and killing bad guys out to send America to hell (by hell, I mean a world without the internet).

Like the TV series, the novel is far from high art but it is an entertaining read while munching on popcorn. How I wish it opens up the White House with some interesting insights never privy to anyone, but alas no. If you are a fan of House of Cards (2013-2018) and The West Wing (1999 – 2006), nothing new is revealed here.

The main conceit is a silent wiper virus that will wipe out all software on devices – “your laptop computers will be useful only as doorstops your routers as paperweights. The servers will be erased. You will have no internet service… elevators stop working. Grocery-Store scanners. Train and bus passes. Televisions. Phones. Radios. Traffic lights. Credit-card scanners. Home alarm systems. Laptop computers will lose their software, all files, everything erased. Your computers will be nothing but a keyboard and a blank screen. Electricity would be severely compromised. Which means refrigerators. In some cases, heat. Clean water in America will quickly become a scarcity. No websites, of course. No e-commerce. Conveyor belts. Sophisticated machinery inside manufacturing plants. Payroll records. Planes will be grounded. Even trains may not operate in most places. Bank records. You think you have ten thousand dollars in your saving account? Fifty thousand dollars in a retirement account? You think you have a pension that allows you to receive a fixed payment every month? Not if computer files and their backups are erased…” And it goes on and on.

The writing is content with ramming everything down your throat with little subtlety. I don’t know about you but I had the privilege of straddling between two eras – with and without internet, and I can tell you it’s not a bad thing to go back to the time without it. I love those simpler days and human beings were a lot nicer.

The President is Missing reads like the equivalent of having a McDonald’s burger with lots of added cheese. It will no doubt fill your stomach and keep the hunger pangs at bay for a while, but it will not reawaken your dormant tastebuds to new sensations. It will not be a memorable meal.


***1/2 / 5
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Offline westendboy

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Re: What books have you read/bought recently?
« Reply #264 on: July 12, 2019, 22:25 »


J.D. Robb writes great sex scenes like she is a virtuoso.

Alright, that should get your attention. I absolutely mean it, but I will touch on this aspect later.

I take people’s suggestions on what to read seriously. The aspect that usually draws me to these book suggestions is passion. Real passion flows like an unbridled stream of enthusiasm and it is always contagious.

J.D. Robb (pseudonym of Nora Roberts) has written 47 “in death” novels to date, but I have never heard of her till my colleague shared so ebulliently her novels late last year. Her passion sold it, so I picked up a used copy of the first “in death” novel Naked in Death (1995) and she was right – this is superbly entertaining and J.D. Robb writes great sex.

The sex scenes are so well-written, especially the one involving the two main protagonists, that my toes curled up in a ball just thinking about it. That particular scene happens nearly halfway in the novel and when it drops you would realise that all the pages prior to it is foreplay. Robb does not even have to use explicit words to convey a kaleidoscope of sensations and a rhythm of feels. It was powerful, intense and downright sexy. It was so fricking good that I thought for a moment I have been doing it all wrong 😊and I have not even talked about what the story is about.

The year is 2058, Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she’s seen it all—and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she’s going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire—and a suspect in Eve’s murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it’s up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about—except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.

Another aspect that I enjoyed is Robb’s hardboiled lean prose and economically world building. Most authors would spent a lot of time establishing the future and its mechanics, but Robb’s way is simply to just write it matter-of-factly, as if interplanetary travel, police using lasers and guns are collectors’ items are everyday occurrences. The procedural aspects of it is also engrossing and the myriad characters interesting.

Perhaps the only weak spot is how things get wrapped up briskly in the last act and the plot feels familiar, resembling a Kevin Costner movie that I won’t say here. That said, I still had a lot of fun with this and I can’t wait to dive into the seedy and sexy world of Eve and Roarke. Bring on Glory in Death.


****1/2 / 5
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Offline westendboy

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Re: What books have you read/bought recently?
« Reply #265 on: July 17, 2019, 21:39 »


After his excellent The Thief, I made a vow to read anything by Fuminori Nakamura, but Cult X was one tedious read. So this is going to be a short review because I have nothing worthy to say.

When Toru Narazaki’s girlfriend, Ryoko, disappears, he tries to track her down, despite the warnings of a private detective he’s hired to find her. Ryoko’s past is shrouded in mystery, but the one concrete clue to her whereabouts is a previous address where she lived: in a compound in the heart of Tokyo, with a group that seems to be a cult led by a charismatic guru with a revisionist Buddhist scheme of life, death, and society. Narazaki plunges into the secretive world of the cult, ready to expose himself to any of the guru’s brainwashing tactics if it means he can learn the truth about Ryoko. But the cult isn’t what he expected, and he has no idea of the bubbling violence beneath its surface.

Inspired by the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, Cult X is an exploration of what draws individuals into extremism. This multi-faceted novel is nothing less than a tour de force, capturing the connections between astrophysics, neuroscience, and religion. It is an invective against predatory corporate consumerism and exploitative geopolitics, and it is a love story about compassion in the face of nihilism.


I took the above synopsis from the back of the book and it served a huge purpose. Sometimes I had re-read it again to understand WTF I was reading. The words are like black particles floating around before my eyes and I can’t get past two chapters at a time. The story isn’t compelling, neither are any of the characters.

There is a lot of very disturbing sex, but they are hardly well-written, and they made no sense. Women exist in the cult for the pleasure of men; consent is a dubious concept. I am no prude, mind you, and I can’t understand why do the people in the cult do what they do.

The writing is abysmal. Huge chunks of it are devoted to endless rants about philosophy, culture, disenfranchisement and religion. I skipped them. I am not sure if it’s the translation that is bad, but with a story this nonsensical I doubt it matters much. I have no fricking idea why there are so many rosy raves about this novel; maybe it’s just me. I rather poke needles into my hand, while reading this. At least this way I can feel something.


*1/2 / 5
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Offline westendboy

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Re: What books have you read/bought recently?
« Reply #266 on: July 30, 2019, 10:51 »


I have read so many novels by Murakami and this is first one that falls way off the mark; a complete slog fest and bore. It feels almost sacrilegious saying this, but this one just didn't endear me.

In Killing Commendatore, a thirty-something portrait painter in Tokyo is abandoned by his wife and finds himself holed up in the mountain home of a famous artist, Tomohiko Amada. When he discovers a previously unseen painting in the attic, he unintentionally opens a circle of mysterious circumstances. To close it, he must complete a journey that involves a mysterious ringing bell, a two-foot-high physical manifestation of an Idea, a dapper businessman who lives across the valley, a precocious thirteen-year-old girl, a Nazi assassination attempt during World War II in Vienna, a pit in the woods behind the artist’s home, and an underworld haunted by Double Metaphors.

All the hallmarks of Murakami's stylistics are present - the plot that goes off-kilter at the drop of a hat, characters that want to turn themselves inside out, the tender melancholy, the flights of fantasy, fortuitous encounters with oddball creatures, the adoring proclamation of good music and weird sex - but none of it coalesces into an organic whole.

The story is too small here, it felt like it was stretched out to fill up 680 pages. The prose rambles, and I find myself wanting to skip paragraphs that I have read 10 pages ago. The characters aren't compelling - the main narrator is obsessed with breasts, likewise with a teenage girl named Mariye whose dream is to be able to fill out a C-cup bra and nipples the size of olive pips. WTF! It got so ridiculous after a while. I had to ask my wifey whether young girls think of such idiotic stuff and she told me yes. Okay, I stand corrected on that tit-bit 😊

I really wanted to love this, but I just can't. 2* is what it will get from me and perhaps a 1/2 for that weird astral sex bit, that took immaculate conception to a whole different inception level.


**1/2 / 5
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Offline westendboy

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Re: What books have you read/bought recently?
« Reply #267 on: August 06, 2019, 09:48 »
Just finished reading "My Lovely Wife", Samantha Downing's debut novel.

Highly enjoyable, the pages just flew by. 

Touted as the new "Gone Girl".

https://www.google.com/amp/s/hellogiggles.com/reviews-coverage/my-lovely-wife-samantha-downing-interview/amp/


I am reading two other books before I hit A Lovely Wife, but unconsciously I will cycle back to this. A superb debut and absolutely mind-blowing.
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Offline westendboy

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Re: What books have you read/bought recently?
« Reply #268 on: August 08, 2019, 14:34 »


Glory In Death is the second book in the series, but it doesn’t have the same verve is the first one. Nonetheless, it is a very entertaining read and does peel a few layers of the main characters and the futuristic world.

In this second mystery, someone is slicing up famous women, making their throat gush out a fountain of red. Lieutenant Eve Dallas is tasked with finding the murderer and she leaves no stones unturned, including stepping on many important people’s toes in her relentless pursuit for the truth. Her heart beats for the victims and she makes it personal. Only multi-billionaire Roark sees the true Eve and loves her for it.

I love Robb’s writing style and this second in the series continues to be a breezy read. It may be a story set in the future, but it isn’t bogged down with explaining the mechanics  and technology of this future. Now and then, we are graced with super-cool inventive machines like the AutoChef (I would sure like to own one), a body dryer and a floating mattress (give me one of that).

We are introduced to a new character named Peabody whom I am sure will be a staple down the road. The troublesome relationship between Eve and Roark’s butler Summerset drew some giggles from me. But all that I mentioned are not why readers lapped up Robb’s “in Death” series. At the core of it is Eve and Roark’s relationship, which goes on a rollercoaster ride, but everything turns out great in the end. I am sure some readers probably went “awwww....” right in the end.

I didn’t quite enjoy this one primarily because I managed to guess who the murderer is and I wasn’t even trying very hard, so the surprise was lost. But that said, sign me up for the next one Immortal in Death. My friend did say that the first three books laid the foundation for the characters and I shouldn’t skip them. Once that is done, I will just go for the ones that are rated highly. I already have 12 that I picked up from bargain bins.

PS - there are over 50 in the series and wonder why no studios thought of picking up the rights to this. I am sure the huge fanbase practically guarantee initial success. We already Michael Connelly’s Bosch and Lee Child’s Jack Reacher gracing the screens, we absolutely need Eve and Roark in our lives.


***1/2 / 5
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Offline westendboy

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Re: What books have you read/bought recently?
« Reply #269 on: August 16, 2019, 11:43 »


This is going to be the easiest review I will probably write this year because the fun in reading this amazing debut is not knowing too much of the story and plot.

C.J. Tudor says this is Dexter meets Gone Girl. That sounds about right. I will just give you a basic story outline... This is about a couple, married for 15 years with 2 kids, with an interesting extra curricular activity to spice things up. They love to abduct women, torture and eventually kill them. Of course, they are having it too smooth for a while and when a body finally turns up, they will take "getting away with murder" to a whole new level.

I finished the last 70 pages in a furious flurry till 1.20am last night after coming home from a late night screening of Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood. Can't say I enjoy the movie because my mind was still reeling from a shocking twist at the end of chapter 60. I had brought the novel out and planned to read it any spare time I had. I looked up, uttering two words to my wifey sitting across me at the dinner table in Jack's Place. She understood my shock (she had read the book) and replied "so good right?"

Samantha Downing's My Lovely Wife is literally unputdownable. It gripped me from the opening pages and kept me riveted. This is one crackerjack of a read. The tone may be dark, but there are layers of black comedy that I adored.

The narrator is the husband who is never named (actually, I didn't even notice that till the next morning when we started discussing the novel). The subtext will hit you like a sledgehammer because he can be anybody. That's a scary notion.

On paper, I am supposed to loathe this flawed couple, but just like Dexter I find myself rooting for them, my allegiance to different parties will shift over the course of the story, sometimes in the space of a chapter. Their meet-cute is the essence of great romantic comedies and some of the episodes of their love for each other are adoringly depicted. You will love them and you will hate them in the course of 374 pages.

The plot is stellar and holds a barrel full of surprises. I literally had no idea how the story will proceed after each shocker of a twist. It's demented and nuts, but yet believable in a twisted way. When I finished it in the wee hours of the morning, I wanted to reread from page one because this time I want to catch all of Downing's incredible sleight of hand. I can't remember the last novel that made me want to do this.

Read this.

NOW.


****1/2 / 5
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