Book Recommendation-Trust Me by Angela Clarke


Sometimes, now a days while going book shopping, doesn’t there sometimes feel a disparity in book titles? Some books have names which are deep, metaphorical, such as “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, “The Fault in out Stars”, “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter”, “and Tuesdays with Morrie”. Then there are books with downright atrocious names, “Twenty and Still a virgin”, “Can Love Happen Twice”, and some other books at the Kuwait Airport with tacky titles like “Conquests” or something like that.
Then there are inbetweeners with good names, which have meaning but don’t go as deep and could be more powerful. They are fine; though they feel cheesy and more effort could have been put in, maybe. Trust Me is that sort of a book. But make no mistake, it is a fantastic book none the less.
Trust Me is the sort of book you need to put your entire attention in when reading. If you breeze past it, it’ll be meh. But if you take your time, take it page by page, see how the characters talk, and how they talk and react, the clarity with which their actions and situations are described, and how every location is portrayed, it feels entirely different from just about every other cop thriller story you have read.
It’s a formulaic story: A young female cop who feels she needs to prove her worth, her friend working with her team as a computer analyst, a case which is handed to them, another which they stumble upon by communication with a woman brave enough to do something. But it’s an amazing story.
I loved the characters the most, especially Kate, the brave woman. The story is divided into chapters which center on different characters: Nasreen, Freddie, Kate and Nigel. Kate and her chapters stood out the most. They didn’t move the plot forward as much as the others. Hers were the most character and emotion heavy. Who she is, her past, how her life has been. But most of all, throughout the book, what I loved about her was her strength of character. Her character is hands down one of the most amazing and powerful characters I have read.
The characters are themselves usually formulaic. But the way they handle situations or how they look at their desk when telling something, or how they react to a name make them stand out.
The story, like all great thrillers makes great use of misdirection. It has the second best use of misdirection I have seen in a modern thriller, second to “No Time For Goodbye” by Linwood Barclay. There are times when you go, “This is it. I knew this would happen”, and the story goes like, “”Nuh-uh. Not like this.” Even in the end there is a clever twist, which I never saw coming. It was fantastic.
The actions are extremely detailed. How the characters speak how they climb the ladder or how they are assaulted by the main villain. There is great attention to detail in all the actions. You can see the actions in front of you and every inch of its execution.
If there is something which gives this book an edge over every other book of this genre are its emotions. The emotions are nuanced to the littlest detail.
It’s these little things which add realism to the story and make it authentic. It makes the characters feel like human, the situations grave and tense and life threatening. It also has one of the most heart thumping ending ever. My heart was in my mouth the entire time.
Trust me, Trust Me is a great book. It is a fine modern thriller. It does a lot of things right and gives a great ride to the readers.


The Fault in our Stars-The Best book I’ve ever read


Ever since I’ve delved into stories, in the form of video games, movies, books and songs, I’ve had a great disposition towards stories which are real, deep and heartfelt. There is a lot of variation in the presentation of stories in all the mediums; but the emptions, or what the story makes you feel when presented to you remains constant. If a story is well executed, it will make you feel things. Make you cry, or cracking up with laughter, or put you in a deep state of thought. It could be a movie, a video game, a song or a book.
Like I said, I have a soft spot for stories which are real, deep and heartfelt. These are often stories which revolve around characters. Show them growing, having beautiful interactions. Movies about human will and love, and which tear you up or leave you with a single tear at its sheer beauty. I haven’t been able to put it exactly. But stories which leave a deep impact on you, especially emotionally.
The Last of Us in video gaming. That game is a masterpiece. I have played over 200 games by now, from 2005, on the Gameboy, Gamecube, PSP, PC and PS3. Never have I ever played a game remotely like The Last of Us. Its story, its direction, its execution. I remember applauding and having a single tear at the corner of my eye when I ended this game. Naughty Dog (the developers of The Last of Us) managed to make a game and redefine what a game could make you feel. Never before had a game left such a deep and lasting impact on me.
Movies like Good Will Hunting, Wall-E, Filmistaan, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Up in the Air, Dil Dhadakne Do, Piku, This is Where I Leave You have drawn and mesmerised me. They are beautiful films with stories about the human condition; with amazing character development and inspiring or amazingly emotional dimensions.
These movies are amazing. However my disposition for story has often lead me to alienate various other fantastic movies. Which may have amazing direction or cinematography but not so great in story, such as Gladiator, Zootopia to name a few.
In terms of books, there are only two. Two books, which have stories so powerful, so impacting, you felt for their characters and were as much a part of their problems as they were. I’ve mentioned this in a number of articles. One if A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. The second one is The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green.
I’ve mentioned in various articles before how much I love this book and the bar at which I keep it. It’s a beautiful book.
At its basest, The Fault in Our Stars is a tale about life, not cancer. It uses the background of people with cancer to shed light about life. It talks of such vivid and real concepts and describes them perfectly. “Funerals are for the living”, “Depression is not a side effect of dying. It’s a side effect of cancer”, “Pain demand to be felt”, “I’m on a rollercoaster that only goes UP”.
I cannot describe how much a lot of these quotes and concepts have impacted me. I remember, me reading to my friend (now my girlfriend) and she reading me back our favourite verses from The Fault in Our Stars. It was a beautiful talk.
Then there are the characters. The book has two types of characters: those with cancer and those without. Most of the characters without cancer are in some way related to the characters with cancer. The characters are real, their sufferings as real and painful and heartfelt as those with cancer. All the characters, with and without cancer are all reeling from the side effects of life. John Green beautifully explains that with every sentence.
Hazel’s mother was one of my favourite characters in the story. Her character was powerful. A parent whose child has cancer and she knows her child will most probably kick it from cancer. She embraces it and chooses one of the most beautiful, poignant way of reacting to it. Even though that particular dialogue is never given that much attention whenever we talk about this books greatest scenes, it is exceptionally moving and powerful.
The Fault in Our Stars also does something which happens rarely in the world. It talks about people with a disease like normal people. Not people who are less than anyone because of a disease or deserve our pity.
At the same time, it’s not a preach about cancer. It’s simply a story about people, with cancer.
The emotions of this book are very well written and powerful to say the least. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. I know a lot of friends who’ve cried at this book, who’ve sat thinking about their own feeling, while or after reading it.
I feel the same intensity of emotions on each of my five reads of this book.
While there are a lot of heavy memories for this book, there are also a lot of lighter ones associated with it. While also being one of the most emotionally intense stories, it is also one of the funniest and hilarious ever. A lot of the humor comes from Gus, with his combination of wit, spontaneity and word play. This doesn’t mean other characters don’t have their moments. They all get their moments to shine comically.
I laughed and I chuckled and I giggled a lot of the time reading The Fault in Our Stars. The Fault in Our Stars even doesn’t cheapen humor or depreciate it as a place holder or make it feel inappropriate or sheepish, which most modern stories tend towards. It has the best use of humor I have ever seen in a book. It made me laugh even at the most intense of moments without undermining the emotions or the laughter. The humor worked very organically.
With its combination of emotion, humor, reality, life and characters, The Fault in Our Stars stands as one of the most complete novels of this decade. It has a delicate sensitivity towards cancer; never mocking, caricaturing or exaggerating it.
It is a book everyone must read once in their life.
Now, most people will disagree with my next few words. Because we often reserve this word for movies, or games or novels or songs which are revolutionary, defining, usually epic in nature. Words we don’t often associate with Young Adult Fiction. We’ve used this word for The Godfather, The Empire Strikes Back, The Last of Us, Uncharted 2, and Half Life 2. The Fault in Our Stars is a masterpiece.

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I’ve had this post pent up in me since the day I revived this blog in 2016. This is the Book Recommendation I have wanted to write since the beginning, and I’ve finally found the impetus to do so after watching the terrible movie adaptation( Lol!).

But this book is amazing. Absolutely amazing. I hope all my feelings regarding this book have been properly conveyed to everyone reading this article. This one, and this book, are close to the heart.

Happy Reading!

Book Recommendation-All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven


All the Bright Places is a novel which if you buy, you’ll see is termed as the next “Fault in our Stars”. I’m truly flattered it is compared to TFIOS and that is high praise. Because TFIOS has to be one of the most mature, heart-breaking and most complete works I have ever read. Like I said, it is mature, real, not the least bit fake or phony, heart breaking, gut wrenching and uncompromising in its quest for showing us the reality of cancer, and it has the best use of humor I have ever come across in story telling medium. Even in its serious moments, the book pulls off humor without making it feel awkward or forced. But most of all, why TFIOS succeeds, is it’s a book which covers all of the above, but not a book about those things. It’s a book about life. It’s not a book about people with cancer about their cancer or about a disease. It’s about the lives of those people with the disease. It’s a simple story about life; which encompasses everything we know. Hence why that book is a bench mark for all books to be compared against. I’ve been very vocal in saying TFIOS is tied for my favourite book, alongside A Thousand Splendid Suns, and this comes off to me as a huge honor.
Even though All the Bright Places is compared to TFIOS, in my opinion it falls a bit short of TFIOS. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. TFIOS is in itself such a high benchmark, missing it by an inch means the book is amazing. This is because All the Bright Places falls short in two places. One, it isn’t as encompassing as TFIOS in its theme. As in, while TFIOS is a story about life, ATBP isn’t. Second, ATBP has a number of clichés in its story, which is something I felt TFIOS is devoid of. But ATBP has enough to stand on its own and be an amazing book which will hook you, reel you in and then throw you back.
ATBP is a milestone book. It sheds so much light on the human condition. How sometimes we get dragged deeper and deeper into our own darkness, how everyone neglects it because either, a) we are a freak or b) it’s just who we are, and how we are labelled as a freak for doing things differently or because we just don’t fit in. ATBP rises above the mediocre heart break and whiny adult fiction and at times adult books. It gives a story worth reading and getting into and feeling. It gives a story worth remembering.
All the Bright Places centers around two leads, Theodore Finch and Violet Markey, and how one fine day, they discover each other in the craziest of situations and then the story unfolds. Little spoiler, if it can be said so, the story is told from the perspectives of both, Theodore and Violet. It adds so much narrative power to it, because it shows us, and makes lucid to us the impact one person has on the other and how the same actions affect both of them.
ATBP is, like TFIOS uncompromising. It doesn’t flinch away from reality, nor does it try to sugar-coat whatever goes on in a high school or our lives. It doesn’t shy away from making the reader go to ground zero of the emotional travails its characters are facing.
Which brings me to how well Jennifer Niven has described the characters and their emotions. I won’t delve into this, since this would risk giving away important plot points. All I’ll say is, the way she writes, if you read properly, you can feel what the characters are feeling and sympathise, or empathise with them. This is one of the places where this book shines. In its portrayal of emotions. This book gets it. It gets it right, right down to the last detail. It hits you hard, and you can only think how it would affect somebody in real life and the actual pain associated.
It made me do so. Think about so many things in our lives which we just take because that’s how they are, and never stop to think whether they are right or wrong.
This is a book which will stay with you. It is, a book which has the power to sensitize you to some things, traditions and behaviours which we just take. ATBP is a book which I believe we should all read, and must be read by all people at a young age, because of what the power it holds. To change some aspect of our humanity as well. This is me straying possibly far away from the book, but this felt important to say.
All the Bright Places is the latest in the books which aims to show that the Young Adult genre is more than heartbreaks and stupid crushes. It shows that Young Adult fiction can stand for more. It shows that all young adults have issues which are big to them and they must deal with, which seem small to adults, who either cannot, or choose not to sympathise.

All the Bright Places is a must watch for anybody who wants to read a novel which rises above the various novels which are unoriginal or unambitious or formulaic. ATBP has various twists and turns and some lessons on life; how things can form you and how you must live with them. How sometimes, things change you in a way that you can never go back, sometimes because you don’t want to.
All the Bright Places is one of the best books I read in 2016. I’m sure all of you who will read it will come to the same conclusion. And as usual, anybody who knows me personally is free to borrow this beauty for a read!
Happy Reading!

Book Recommendation- The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud


I came across The Screaming Staircase at the book fair, near a staircase which was screaming. Heheheheheh.Okay on to the recommendation now.
The Screaming Staircase has been one of the most enjoyable reads of this year. Beating out the likes of Alice Sebold, Eva Ibbotson, Charles Duhigg, Harlan Coben and many more. It’s not that The Screaming Staircase has a prose as powerful as A Thousand Splendid Suns or Sleeping on Jupiter, or philosophy as deep as Paulo Coelho, or insanely amazing and powerful dialogues. It’s, just a book I took up, and then proceeded to ignore the world for hours till I finished it. I had so much fun reading this book. I literally did not put this down. I went past my own bed time just to read another chapter. A book may not be very good objectively, in terms of its plot or characters or whatever, but if a book pushes you to such things, it’s a good book for you.
Just because I’ve said The Screaming Staircase doesn’t have the best prose or plot or dialogues that powerful, doesn’t mean they are no good.
The first winning point is the concept of The Screaming Staircase. In the world of The Screaming Staircase, in England, a new problem has emerged. There are ghosts that are there in the world. All the little creaking you heard at night, all the weird sightings at night. You guessed it. Ghosts. Ghosts have emerged in this part of the world and it’s up to specialised teams, made of children (because they can sense ghosts very well. And not five year old. But more of ten and eleven and early teenagers if I remember correctly.).
At the top of the book, you will see Lockwood and Co. written very magnificently. Lockwood and Co. is one of the various ghost hunting agencies in the world. It has the narrator Lucy, George, another member and the leader, Anthony Lockwood.
Another winning point about this book is the chemistry of these three together. George is the well, nerd of the group. He likes to study all cases (as in, cases of catching the ghost), read deep into the history of the case and the place (the location of the ghost haunting) and be prepared for anything. Lucy is the newbie. She doesn’t read all that much and is more hands on. Anthony Lockwood, better known as just Lockwood, is the charismatic leader of the group. He is smart, hands on, knows how to play people and get his way and always steps up to a challenge.
The three of them mesh together and form a team you root for the whole time. All three characters feel like real life persons as well, with their back stories fleshed out and their reactions being what we would most probably do in such a scenario.
Another winning point of the book is the world. Jonathan Stroud builds up a world from scratch. He details every little aspect. The types of ghosts. How the problem started. The counter measures taken by the government. The agencies and their history. Such as Lockwood and Co. and the various other agencies in existence for a long time. The weapons used against the ghosts. The tactics used at the place of the haunting. The origin of the haunting. Every little thing you could think of is there. Jonathan Stroud left no detail when describing the world.
There is however one gripe I had with the book. Like we all know, every thriller or book of this sort (I can’t put a finger on the genre), there is a mystery and then a huge climax. Sadly, the climax and the huge mystery deals with humans, rather than ghosts. There was a big battle, yes, but the main mystery was with humans. It’s tough to articulate it. But if your premise is a ghost world, then your huge issue should be related to ghosts, not an accident and a cover up by humans. That was a gripe for me.
Now, onto more winning points. Another winning point is the ease with which it is read. Like I said above, it is a book I could not put down. There aren’t any complicated plot twists or any tough words. It is a breeze to read through and a joy. It’s a simple book.
The Screaming Staircase is a book I would tell everyone to read. It’s just a simple, fun book that you’ll love from the moment go.

It’s beeeeeeeennnn a long time since my previous Book Recommendation. I’ve read a couple of books in the past week, but I can’t think of why I would like to recommend those books. I’ve read Chocolat by Joanne Harris and The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, and I’m going to be doing thorough re-reads again in order to capture their essence which I believe I missed on my first read of both the books!

But The Screaming Staircase is one hell of an amazing book. I loved it thoroughly, and while it is termed as a kids book by many people, I’d rather read this book than many other adult writers. Kids books have such hearts and souls and fun. They draw you towards them!

To everyone, do try and read this book if you get a chance. It will be money well spent! TIll my next post, Happy Reading!

Book Recommendation-The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson


The 1950’s in America were an uncomplicated time. People were always excited for anything and everything and at the same time, content. Their lives were different from how we live our lives today.
The people then weren’t afraid of nuclear weapons. Hell, they used to go out into the desert to actually watch nuclear weapon tests. Shoe stores had X-Ray machines to measure your foot size, which your body with radiation into a state of higher energy, which meant you would be pumped up to buy your shoes (No, it was not a marketing thing. They were just excited people keen on doing new and crazy stuff). They had atomic toilets that glowed and came in and out of the walls. Trick shops that sold porn under the counter. Scientists who came up with new and exciting ways to end the world. Children making bombs to mark their graduation day. Or almost causing a fire in their homes while playing with matches.
People had such zeal back in the 1950’s. They were easily excited by anything new, no matter how dangerous. They didn’t give a damn about radiation ash falling all over their body. They didn’t care about the amounts of radiation going into their body while getting their shoe sizes done. Then again, maybe they didn’t know about the harmful effects. Maybe they were ignorant about them. But they were blissful. And they appreciated all little things about the 1950’s that made the 1950’s what they were.
Our book, “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid” is set in Des Moines, Iowa in the 1950’s. Back then, Bill Bryson, the author of the book, was still a kid, who thought he was from a different planet, and had super powers. Which he often used to punish evil people and wrong doers.
In the process of showing us growing up in the 1950’s, Bill Bryson also sets a world of the 1950’s. And also shows how the world has changed over time. He takes up these small details of the 1950’s and juxtaposes them with today to show the contrast.
I don’t remember all the points he put up, but one point I remember vividly. It was about Des Moines. Bill Bryson talked about what made Des Moines Des Moines, and how it was different from every other city. Des Moines had its own downtown, different from every other city. It had its own range of restaurants and delis and shops that made it unique. The shops that only the residents of Des Moines knew about. Unlike today, where every city has the same global brands and stores, making them virtually indistinguishable from every other city. Hell, that’s how every other city in the 1950’s was as well.
That’s what I love about this book. It sets up this beautiful amazing world, tells us what people used to do and how satisfied they would be. And it makes you think about what is missing in our lives. Why do most of the people we know sad, or inactive, or why are so always on the move and never at ease. Maybe the picture that Bill Bryson painted was incessantly optimistic, and didn’t show all the sadness as well, but I think even then it would still be better than today.
Another aspect I love about this book is the humor. Bill Bryson describes the most mundane of things in the most hilarious of ways. And with the 1950’s littered with crazy things (Trust me, everything in the first paragraph is a mole and what I haven’t written is a mountain), there was no dearth of humorous incidents for Bryson (Such as kids stealing beer!).
“The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid” is a light read. It has no serious message. It’s just a story about growing up in Des Moines, Iowa in the 1950’s. It’s a fun book, one that you’ll find recommending to other people to read because of how amazing it is.

A crazy book you’ll find yourself quoting in a looootttt of places. Full of these stupid little things that you can use in arguements. Ask me, I reference this book a lot whenever I want to supplement how stupid the CIA has been!

Book Recommendation-The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón


The Shadow of the Wind. A book by Carlos Ruiz Zafón in our world. A book by Julian Carax in the world spun together by Carlos Ruiz Zafón in this novel.

The Shadow of the Wind, both the books that you get to know about, the one you read whole written by Carlos Ruiz Zafón and the one you get to know about by Julian Carax are both books that seem of a different era of writing. A different style of writing books altogether. You don’t find books like these anymore. You will fall in love with the one by Carlos Ruiz Zafón because of how well he has written it. The words. The way Zafón strings together his words and the perfect way with how each character’s words feel real. His ink drips with the beauty of the Barcelona it is set in. His words give rise to the characters who are running around, bathing in the storms and rains and snowfalls and sunlight and bullets of that Barcelona. And the words and phrases he uses! Bellicimo. Beautiful. Words fail short for the masterful way he strings his words together. ‘A secrets worth depends on the people from who it must be kept.’ ‘The violet streaks of sunlight from between the clouds. ‘As if I believed that with that kiss I could deceive time and convince it to pass us by, to return some other day, some other life.’ As the tale goes on and on, you want more. More of the words, more these characters running around for their quest. You want to know their stories, the ones who are alive and also the ones who are dead, or about to die. Because as long as we remember someone, they never die. Even if we remember them in the dusty recesses of our mind.

The book, Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón centers around Daniel Sempere, a boy of ten who finds the book “The Shadow of the Wind” by Julian Carax in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books; feeling as though the book by Carax was waiting for his, maybe even before he was born. That night, he goes back home and reads the book full, well into the next morning. He has never heard about the author, Julian Carax. Nor has anyone else. All that is known is his books have a high price in the book collectors’ collection due to a legend related to all books by Carax.

Intrigued, Daniel sets off to uncover the legend of Julian Carax, who he was, or is, and what happened to him ,as his last steps are shrouded in mystery, and so his life.

The book by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is a thriller, a drama, a love story, a coming of age and a documentary about the Spanish Civil War. Whew! Most authors can barely manage a good thriller and this guy multitasks his genres. The book by Carlos Ruiz Zafón easily sneaks its way into one of the best books I’ve read. Like I said, nobody writes books like these anymore. It’s rare to find such dedication to a book and such detail and insane characterization as well. This book is almost perfect. Had it not been for a single hiccup in the story, the book would have been perfect (for me). Well up among my two favourite books, The Fault in our Stars by John Green and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini.

Now as for the hiccup. In most stories, especially thrillers, only the keen readers, whose singular quest is to find out the identity of the killer or the plot twist before its reveal and read and re read every page to be sure of the details find out. But in The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, the revelation of the twist is not grand. Because the chapters preceding it give you all the information you require to guess the twist and when it finally comes, you’re like “Cool. I know. Cool. Had to be it” rather than “Oh My God! Are you kidding me? No No No” sort of a feel.

The Shadow of the Wind is a rare book. Very few writers now a days write even stories remotely close to this one. Fact is, most of us writers now a days limit our imagination to an acceptable limit that we feel is fine. Carlos Ruiz Zafón lets it run wild and lets all those words fall on paper. We write a bit in fear of exceeding that limit. Zafón has set no limit and hence writes fearlessly. This is one book I would recommend to everyone. This book is a must read. One of the most amazing tales ever spun that deserves all praise showered on it.

It has been a long time since my previous book recommendation, that being of The Curious Incident of the dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. This is sadly because the quality of books I’ve read in the past couple of months has been abysmal to say the least. Books that seemed great but were anti-climatic, or books that were just too darn stupid. Finding books that really make sense and feel great are becoming tougher and tougher to find. The Shadow of the Wind and The Gift(by Cecelia Ahern)(Never thought i’d like a Cecelia Ahern book) have been the two good books I’ve read in the past month or so, despite having read about six books.