Monday, May 29, 2017

Review: A Tale For the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

5 stars for A Tale For the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.

This book comes recommended by someone holding a senior management position in my workplace and is subsequently loaned to me by the same. I will be fibbing without batting an eyelid if I am to say that there is no pressure whatsoever in my quest to read this book with the hope that I will like it somehow. It does not matter that the book is passed to me with the accompanying message that it is perfectly fine if I do not enjoy the story as we all have our preferences, there is just this something at the back of my mind that troubles me. What if?

Well, I am glad to say that my worries prove to be unfounded. Truth is, by the time I am well into the so-called third chapter, any discomfort along with the "what if" has wholly dissipated. The story is... WoW. Totally unexpectedly exceptional. I am captivated by the way the author pens this story that feels more like reading a memoir (her memoir) than fiction. With true events - 11 Mar 2011 earthquake, tsunami and catastrophic meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear reactors to name a few - weaved among a cast of fictional characters, the author explores what it means to live at the moment in time, now.

Never mind that it is not a message in a bottle but a Hello Kitty lunchbox that is cast out onto the ocean, all the same, the stories contain within transport me across time and space into schoolgirl Nao's world where she lives to tell the tales of her family and especially that of her 104-year old great granny whom she feels is the only person who truly understands time.

Time as the theme in this book is as interesting as it is mystifying. The book title, for instance, carries a double meaning. (1) A Tale for the Time Being. Time being as in the moment in time. A Tale for the Moment in Time (2) A Tale for the Time Being. The Being which is Time. A Tale for Time. Do you feel this way too when you first come across the book title?

Time and again, the author brings me on an emotional roller coaster ride as I alternate between first person Nao and third person Ruth's narratives. Just when I am so utterly absorbed in Nao's world, I am pulled out from that alternate world back into being Ruth the observer again. And this is where the real challenge lies; to sleep or stay up to find out more.

Finally, in case you are wondering, yes, I am aware right from the beginning that third person narrator, Ruth, shares the same name as the author. And that by itself, is a beauty in A Tale For the Time Being.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Review: The Fireman by Joe Hill

Did Not Finish The Fireman by Joe Hill.

I read this book because it is voted the best horror story in Goodreads Choice Awards 2016. Sadly, in this case, what is voted as best by some do not sit well with me and I decide to throw in the towel at 2% shy of a quarter of the book.

The story starts off well with a sense of mystery and foreboding. However, the plot degenerates soon enough and I feel as if I am reading a meaningless novel about controlling and manipulating fire as a weapon to protect and avenge the wronged.

This book just seems wrong on so many levels; I am not sure why it is a horror story in the first place let alone understand it as the best. One thing I know for sure, at least for me, is that this book will bag the award for the biggest disappointment of 2016 if there ever is one.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

5 stars for Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.

Dark Matter is science fiction at its finest.

This is a story about the concepts of quantum mechanics and multiverse, a hypothetical space or realm consisting of possibly an infinite number of parallel universes of which our own universe is only one. Together, these universes comprise everything that exists: the entirety of space, time, matter, energy, and the physical laws and constants that describe them.

I know it sounds complicated but, no, one does not need to be a student of physics, cosmology or astronomy to read and understand this book. I am certainly not one but nevertheless, have enjoyed the story tremendously.

At the core of it all, this novel is obsession - and thus, insanity - with a box. A box that set the wheels in motion to possibilities of eradicating regret and finding the one world where the right choice has been made.

On a deeper level, this story sets me thinking about our world. What is our known universe made up of? Is it crazy to consider the possibility that all of us exist and is a part of a larger and more mysterious reality than we have ever known of? Will we be content to live with our choices and learn? What of paths not taken? To what extent will we go to claim the lives we dream of? And the list of questions goes on.

Intense and gripping, this book is a huge page turner. It is easy to read and even easier to associate oneself with the world building as it hits so close to home in a modern day setting. The pacing of the heart stopping moments is second to none. Just when I thought the dust has settled and I can take a breather, something comes along to stir things up and the whole adrenaline rush starts all over again.

This book is a must-read. Do yourself a favour if you have not already done so. Go get a copy and be prepared to be blown away.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Review: The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4) by Lisa Shearin

2 stars for The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files book 4) by Lisa Shearin.

I finish reading this book more than five days ago. I know I should have found time to write and post my review before I indulge in the next book. But I choose to procrastinate. One day becomes two. Two becomes three. And before I know it, I am at the last two chapters of the next book and I still have not reviewed The Ghoul Vendetta yet. Truth is, for the life of me, I have no idea what to write. I am at a loss for words!

As you can guess from the above, yes, I do not have an enjoyable time with this book. The first half of the story is still acceptable, but as I read along, I find myself getting restless and flipping the pages faster and faster. There is pretty much nothing new. Nothing exciting. As usual, Agent Makenna Fraser and her partner, Ian, are back in action to tackle the criminal creatures that go bump in the night. So, what's new? Zilch.

On a fair note, the story content is fine and the writing is good. But somehow, the story just comes across as uneventful and I am bored to tears. There you have it. My review. Not a great one but it is the long and short of it.