Thursday, November 13, 2014


Title: I Am the Messenger

Author: Marcus Zusak


Although by no means it carries the historical weight of his other book, the Book thief (which I haven’ read but have watched), it is simply brilliant and touches your heart the way a good emotional book can.

And I finished it in half a day. Which is a good sign in itself, considering my current predicament.

It spins the story of the most ordinary guy called Ed Kennedy, which is so ordinarily human that things started to happen to him. An avid player of cards,(which doesn’t say much since he always loses and has been just a way to keep his band of friends going through life’s motions) Ed one day was trapped in a lousy bank robbery where he emerged a hero by stopping the robber from getting away. As simple as that. And he made the papers.

After that, he received a card. An ace of diamonds with 3 addresses on it. He soon learned that at each place, help is needed, one way or another. This practice came again with 3 more cards with 3 more instructions on each; and all, was a cry for help. Ed became someone’s long lost love, wings that a girl needed to fly, a saint in a neighborhood that sorely needs one, among others.

Yet the journey became more significant when in the journey of helping others, he discovered himself. He learned of things he should’ve noticed before, dug deeper into his friends’ soul then he was comfortable before, and loved with a love that asked for nothing in return.

­Ed Kennedy was ordinary, but his heart is made of gold. He deserves the ending, much like I think all good people deserve something good in the end. And there is actually one basic underlying thing that everyone in the world needs, but cover us with material stuff in order to hide the need of it; and of course, it is love I’m talking about. Not only that kind of love we normally talk about, but also family, friends, our pets, a kind stranger now and then…any kind of love, in its purest form.

After all, the world needs everyday heroes like Ed. We don’t need to be someone with a title, someone who has formal power to brighten people’s lives. And most often we overlook those who are close with us, just because we never had noticed things we should. Help and give live unconditionally, people.

Rating: 10/10

Monday, October 20, 2014


Title : Italian Shoes
Author : Henning Mankell

This book is basically about a guy who messed up.

He hated his family because he had bad memories of a dysfunctional family, and the resentment from it I guess brought him to the path he led after.

He left his girlfriend just because he felt like it.

He amputated the wrong arm of a patient eventhough he knew he had to check beforehand for any problems.

He left his job and became a hermit on an island he inherited from his grandparents. Everything was fine until one day his girlfriend came back after 44 years, with news that shattered him.

He had to deal with her illness and impending death. He had to accept his daughter that he never knew he had. he had to face the woman who life was ruined due to his malpractice,

He learnt a lot about life that he had until that fateful day, ignored.

With the help of a gift of Italian shoes that his newfound daughter presented.

Plot was okay-ish but I felt depressed, just as I feel depressed reading other depression novels. But yet the depression level wasn't too bad,

Snow can delight, but also destroy, eh?

Rating : 7/10

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Title : The Professor
Author : Charlotte Bronte

How exactly different this particular sister of Bronte can be from her contemporaries, if I can call them so?

Forget the drama of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and even Pride and Prejudice. This classic brings reality right to your doorstep and knocks sense in you, letting readers see what life actually has been for people in that age.

So it is about William Crimsworth, an orphan who was schooled in Eton because his rich uncles can afford it, but received the help grudgingly as he knows that he will be indebted to them. As he ages into maturity, he formed plans to seek his long lost brother, a rich trader in hope for a fresh start in life. That went bad, however, as he was treated far worse than anybody else working at the mill. With the help of his new acquaintance, Mr. Hunsden, William ran away to Brussels for a new life.

He became a teacher, or professor, as the Flemish calls it, and circumstances brought him to meet Frances Evans Henri, who he then falls in love. Sufficient to say that Charlotte Bronte brought us full circle, ending the book not at the climax, but followed through to calm peaceful times where the ending gives us a sigh of relief.

Brush up your French, though. My rudimentary skills were put to a test.

To those realists (like me!) you'll love this extraordinary ordinary book.

Rating : 10/10

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Short blurb.

I found an easy platform to access free online courses on a multitude of topics at, an initiative by Harvard but now joined by a lot of renowned universities. (Alma mater, when is your turn?)

Currently enrolled in a course on Dante and also a course on Capitalism. Those interested in learning should at least check it out. You can actively participate in the timespan they give, or do it in an audit mode where you don't have to submit any homework/do exams etc etc for grading.

Have fun!

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Title : The Paris Vendetta
Author : Steve Berry

Short blurb ; was wandering in Kinokuniya stacks in KLCC last week, saw Berry's new book on Lincoln. Held it and a second later, some stranger kind enough recommended it. So thank you, stranger, I will buy it as soon as the price gets affordable. Ha.

So the book I'm reviewing, the Paris Vendetta, deals with the Napoleon treasure lost by time. Remember the Amber Room (review here :  where the Antiquarians were looking for it? So one of them, Sir Ashby, joins another group called the Paris Club (originally envisioned by Napoleon himself) that aims to reap in profits from speculation of the world's stability. The vision was to keep terror and war at a level enough to incite fear and order from the masses, and speculate in it to profit from the business branching off from the security needed by nations.

Using Napoleon as a central figure, they try to gang up and start a venture that controls all the banks and governments of the world, with the objective of using Napoleon's lost treasure as a startup to the business. In this book, personal vendettas are also revenged on. Most importantly, Henrik Thorvaldsen, the Danish who has become Cotton Malone's best friend, has an agenda of his own.

Cotton Malone had to balance this journey, siding on the government (yes, working with no other than ex-boss Stephanie Nell), and protecting Henrik from using his vendetta to destroy himself. Apparently, Sir Ashby was the one who ordered the elimination of Cai, Henrik's son.

The book has a lot to deal with the Merovingians, Napoleon himself and also his quests around the world. It also talks about the derivatives market, which resonates oh-so-much with me right now. Capitalism is evident throughout the Paris Club's intentions.

They found the treasure, yes. Vendettas were revenged. And Henrik...oh well. Cotton has to try move on.

Rating : 6/10. Berry becoming redundant. Back to classics!

Friday, October 3, 2014


Title : Slaughter House-Five (also called the Children's Crusade)
Author : Kurt Vonnegut

Hello, we meet again sci-fi.

Here we are with a top rated book, and I hated its guts.

It weaves a story of Billy Pilgrim who tells us about his war experience and also...his love of Trafalmadore. And his time travel episodes.

So Billy Pilgrim shares his journey being a soldier in WW2, experiencing the horrors first hand and coming back to become and optometrist as expected of the family. During a brief stay in a hospital while wounded, he was introduced to Kilgore Trout. Pilgrim became obsessed with the ideas that Trout presented through him (well one can say his time travel is so like our flashbacks that we have everyday) and these ideas created a safe haven where Pilgrim could retreat and be in control of himself again. His stay in Trafalmadore was, I think, a fantasy where he ran away from the confines of reality and even break from normalcy when his wildest dreams come true. Lets see..well, he was some sort of an alpha-male specimen on that planet, and that outrageous notion of having a family with Montana Wildhack clearly explains why.

While it gives a lot of lessons on WW2, bombing of Dresden and the conditions of the war "participants" (basically everyone he met on his war journey), it ticks me off so much by the way Vonnegut writes. His sentence structure and most annoyingly, the repetition of the sentence "So it goes". What?

This books jumps crazily all over the time periods and jumbles up stuff, so much so that its absurdity is comical. Intentional, obviously, but how painful it seems when a topic so serious is discussed this way. 

Anyway...while in war, soaps were made out of Jews' fat. Horrifying idea, which after some google-ing was proven untrue. (

Enlighten my skepticism, learned ones. But no.

more on the book :

Rating : 2/10

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Title : Skeleton Coast
Author : Clive Cussler

Another Cussler, this time featuring Juan Cabrillo, chairman of the Corporation, proud owner of the ship Oregon.

And the face to where CIA turns to when they need to do "dirty stuff". As usual. 

So this time Cabrillo, on his way to a rendevous with the Congolese army to hand in tagged weapons, found himself embroiled in a search for the missing HMS Rove and the sacks of diamonds rumored to be still on board. Sloane McIntyre, DeBeers cunning representative had pursued the clues in order to claim the diamonds, but can't seem to find it on the ocean floor of the coast of Nigeria. Cabrillo met her when she started exploring the giant metallic snakes that fishermen around the area told them about, and one thing led to another. They were also caught in the middle of a high profile kidnapping, which has deadly consequences to the environment. Driven by personal hatred, Dan Singer plotted revenge on his former colleague and a lesson to the world by spilling oil into the gulf and raising the temperature if the ocean by a few degrees in order to generate a hurricane to hit America. 

Usual Cussler stuff, full of action, yet it becomes almost monotony once you've been an avid reader of his books (yeah that's me). 

But I learned stuff about hurricanes. And I met Dirk Pitt again a wee bit. So that's worth the time.

PS : i'm getting slower at reading, aren't I?

Rating ; 6/10

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Title : The Historian
Author : Elizabeth Kostova


First up, I have never actually read that much about it. Not even Bram Stoker's. Not even a dracula movie, although I had glimpses of vampires on TV (where I had hurriedly change channels) due to my lack of interest. 

So this is my first formal foray into a fiction-y reading of Dracula, or real name Vlad Tepes. Oh wait. I watched a documentary on his descendants before. So this book deals with it's history, where Dracula was reigning in Wallachia, in the Transylvanian area of Europe. Okay help me out if I get some facts wrong, I really need to brush up my history and geography. So Dracula fought bitter battles with Mehmed II, the sultan of Istanbul at his time, and swore that he will outwit the sultan and his other enemies by being immortal. 

So this one PhD student, Paul, stumbled upon a strange book with a dragon engraving which he puzzled upon. He brought it to his advisor, who trembled visibly and began telling him about the supposedly legend of Dracula. Cutting things short, we are brought into a historical chase where Paul's daughter, with the aid of a young man, ran in her father's steps to retrace her own story while saving him from Dracula. In the race, she learnt about her mother, Helen, and the story behind Helen's disappearance and close ties to Dracula. All along things were learnt through writings of various individuals, and some lives were lost/ became undead through the process. 

We are brought through the streets of Istanbul (thankyou for the walk down memory lane!), Budapest (who would have known before that Buda and Pest is separated by a river?), Bulgaria, France, etc etc. 

Book was a bit confusing in the first pages (know who you are as the narrative) but it gets more interesting as it progresses. Family ties woven into a journey of learning. 

Sparked in me again the longing of learning history in good libraries, writing about it and sharing it in ways accessible to the world. Someday, when things are stable enough for my dream to be realized. 

Please be advised this is a historical fiction. Draw lines where you should. 
Rating : 8/10

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Title : Room
Author : Emma Donoghue


Posted my review of Frog Music ( while on the road, so I might not stressed enough how she writes really well.

In Frog Music, Donoghue writes an adventure thriller jam-packed with interesting characters, but Room is really something else.

And reading Room reminds me of Little Bee that I read earlier in this year.

Room lets us into the world of Ma and I, and their world that revolves in the room they live in. Never given the chance venturing out, I learns about life as he sees it; the room. Ma has to invent stuff such as exercises around the room and explanation as to why the man comes only at night. 

Until one day, I learnt a little about reality. And together they hatched a plan to run away from their world of the room, to the world which holds promise although is ridden with harsh realities. 

A police investigation turned into a hauntingly beautiful novel. Must read. 

Rating : 10/10


Title : Southern Seas
Author : Manuel Vazquez Montalban

I read this back in Professor Dienst's class. Not the last book, by the way. Kept stalling due to my awful experience.

God. Professor, I wished we did another Ripley book.


So this is about Pepe Carvalho, a detective who is more interested in his gastronomy and other annoying habits rather than focusing on the investigation itself. His assignment was to look for Stuart Pedrell, a businessman who went missing a year ago.

But instead of talking heavily about the plot Montalban went winding over food and it's recipes (yes you can easily get 5 recipes from this book), how skillful he is in his wines and sex. Not the kind people are interested/worth reading anyway. Seriously, I am not trying to dissuade with all my heart from reading it, but....nope.

Yet Montalban has around 19 Carvalho mysteries, and is a very celebrated writer, so...maybe a clump of people in this world are entertained.

Rating : 2/10 and how I wish it could go lower. Just thanks for bringing me around Barcelona.

PS : so far a lot of other reviews online and in class have similar views as me. So, blame isn't entirely on my shoulders. Urgh yuck.


Title : Snow
Author : Orhan Pamuk

Whoever reading enthusiast has heard of Pamuk, and hasn't read his My Name is Red?


His literary fame was enough for me to pick up his book in the Strand (oh how I miss the rows of second hand books on the New York pavement!) and stash it for "future" use.

Listless with the dismal life I am now leading at home, and missing seeing snowflakes fall on the ground, I figured out "future" in Pamuk's case is now.

This book, translated from Turkish tells about the life of a political exile poet nicknamed Ka and his struggle in finding his own voice back. Having sought asylum in Frankfurt, Ka came back to Istanbul for his mother's funeral and found Turkey same yet somewhat changed; he wanted his childhood memories back. Better yet, he wanted to relive it.

Driven by this and the urging of a friend to discover a lost schoolmate, Ka travelled to Kars, a forgotten Turkish town near the Armenian border where snow, suicide girls, religious freedom, a coup, and a beautiful woman held him back.

Desperate to find meaning in the topsy turvy of sleepy Kars while waiting for the roads to reopen, Ka experienced more emotions than he had for years. Poems flow out of him incessantly, he felt moved by the slightest event, and Ipek, the lost schoolmate beguiled his heart and soul. Terrified of the revelations he experiences, Ka tried to make the best out of the situation; taking sides in the coup and at last, destroying many hearts, including his own.

Orhan as Ka's friend wrote this memoir as a remembrance for his poet friend after Ka was shot in Frankfurt, 4 years and 36 days after leaving Kars forever.

Pamuk walked the journey that Ka traveled while in Kars, met the people central to Ka's poetry, and tried to find the assemble of 19 poems Ka had produced in his stay there. Only one was discovered through an old video of Ka's televised reading of it.

The rest of poems, as the souls who inspired it, were lost forever.

Rating : 9/10. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I am back, and I have graduated!

Hey people. 

Abandon is a loaded word. 

Although that was kind of what I did to this blog, my time still has been occupied beautifully with books. 

So, reviews coming up. 

Meanwhile, I have graduated ( yes I am revealing who I am nowwww) from Rutgers University (hey my beloved alma mater is now Big10! Woohooo!) with a double degree in Economics and Human Resource Management. 

Yes I question myself everyday why oh why didn't I triple major in English too. Note : Must believe in yourself. 

Currently seeking for the next step in life. Have some plans, waiting for answers. 

Keep waiting for some reviews, folks. 

PS : should also put some humble reviews on the Broadway shows i've been to. 

PPS : just saying. Phi Beta Kappa! 

Saturday, May 3, 2014


The perfect ending. A comprehensive list of crime fiction books from dear Professor Dienst.

ps : some suggestions were from what we did in class throughout the semester.


My class reading list (all books are in a part of a series, so might be worth checking out all)
  1. Red Harvest - Dashiell Hammett
  2. The Real Cool Killers - Chester Himes
  3. Ripley's Game - Patricia Highsmith (read all 7 in the series!)
  4. The Laughing Policeman - Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo
  5. Fatale - Jean Patrick Manchette
  6. short readings from Andrea Camilleri, Cornell Woolrich, and Massimo Carlotto
  7. Southern Seas - Manuel Vasquez Montalban (ergh)
  8. Case Histories - Kate Atkinson
  9. Nairobi Heat - Mukoma Wa Ngugi
  10. Brother Kemal - Jakob Arjouni
The standard list
  1. Edgar Allan Poe complete works
  2. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series (4 novels, 56-ish short stories)
  3. G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown 
  4. Marcel Allain & Pierre Souvestre's Fantomas
  5. Agatha Christie complete collection
  6. Georges Simenon's Maigret collection (75 books)
  7. Georges Simenon's other books (also called hard books)
  8. Raymond Chandler's collection
  9. James M. Cain
  10. Jim Thompson
  11. Cornell Woolrich
  12. Richard Stark
  13. Tony Hillerman
  14. Michael Connelly
  15. Sue Grafton
  16. Sarah Paretsky
  17. Megan Abbott
  18. Stieg Larsson's Girl With Dragon Tattoo series
  19. Natsuo Kirino
  20. Qiu Xiaolong
  21. David Peace
  22. Martin Solares=Junot Diaz=Garcia Marquez
Literary Mentions
  1. Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn
  2. Leonardo Sciascia's "Equal Danger"
  3. Jean Claude Izzo's Total Chaos
  4. Michael Dibdin
  5. Colin Cotterill
  6. Luiz Alfredo Garcia Roza
  7. Andrey Kurkov
  8. Ian Rankin
  9. Honore Balzac
Historical crimes (me zoning into this list first)
  1. Robert Van Gulik
  2. "Aristotle's Crime"
  3. Philip Cairn
  4. Josephine Tey
  5. Umberto Eco
  6. Jason Goodwin
  7. Oakley Hall
  8. Jacqueline Winspear
  9. Alan Furst
  10. Philip Kerr
  11. Bruce Alexander
  12. Boris Akunin (I got Professor Dienst's copy!)
  13. Walter Mosley
  14. James Elroy
  15. Didie Daeninckx
Movies! (yes yes yes)
  1. Maltese Falcon
  2. The Big Sleep
  3. Out of the Past - Tourneur
  4. High and Low - Kurosawa
  5. The Long Goodbye - Altman
  6. Chinatown - Polanski
  7. Thief - Mann
  8. City of God - Meirelles
  9. Gommorrah - Garrone
  10. Children of Men - Cuaron
  11. The Constant Gardener - Meirelles
  12. Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) 
  13. Strangers on the Train
  14. Momento
  15. Twin Peaks series
  16. maybe a movie from Chester Himes' books
  17. BBC's rendition of Case Histories
  18. OBVIOUSLY HOLMES. but Professor liked the Jeremy Brett version, I stick to Benedict Cumberbatch. We agreed that RDJ's Holmes ain't that good, though.
Check out the Bulwer-Lytton website for some fun too!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Title : The Giver
Author : Lois Lowry 

Wait. Does that mean they really spell Lois without the "u" here? Never thought of that. 

This book is categorized as a children's book, but I do struggle to understand how can kids even fathom what this book really wants to deliver. I was hashtagging #deep all over this novel.

Maybe kids like Matilda would get it. Roald Dahl had set a fine example.

Sci-fi lovers, here's a tame diversion!

The Giver tells us about a Utopian society where rules govern the community, so much that it will not feel emotions. Love, pain, hunger, etc is non-existent in the Jonases' household. In fact, in the whole community. And the fact that the whole world is built of similar communities gives an impression akin to Orwell's 1984. People are given specific roles when they come of age, and deviating from it means that you're out. Not everyone can give birth, and babies are assigned to families. You get the drift. 

But this young special boy is given the special role. He will feel when everyone remains numb. He will remember things that people have never even dream about. 

He will try and change the people. 

PS : yes I am back! Will update stuff!

Rating : 10/10 must read even if you have a healthy dislike towards sci-fi. Orwell's line of thought, people


It was an enigma to me actually while I was reading Atkinson's book. Crime fiction? Really?

But I laughed it off thinking it absurd. Surely Professor Dienst knows better.

Yet, little that I know, he did asked us the same question in class today? What does the crimes in this book mean? What purpose does it serve, really?

Enough of class material.

I was intrigued by the "feel" that I got from the book, that I decided to watch the BBC series. Since Case Histories is part of a series featuring Jackson Brodie as the main character, I had watched the first 2 episodes that corresponds to this book.

All along I was telling myself, " This is so gonna be Jodi Picoult-like."

I was right.

Both episodes hung loosely onto the book, changing tiny facts to the case which bothered me as stories like this depend on the small bits to push it through. The obvious stuff is still there, and Brodie was all you can ask for on screen. He had that appeal in himself that he acted more like a confidante rather than the normal private eye we usually encounter, making you feel that the cases were never meant to be solved in the first place.

Amelia and Julia fared better on screen compared to the book, but Laura was a little bit plain.

Lily Rose was Lily Rose. Theo wasn't that gigantic though.

Overall, I would not say it is a remarkable rendering of the novel, but worth to watch, nonetheless. Especially if you want to see how things flush out using graphics rather than an over-active imagination.

The part where Olivia's killer did the deed was funny or absurd, depending on your level of seriousness. It was dramatic and garish (at least it was for me). It serves the purpose of fleshing out the reasons behind the killing but I felt that the producer took too much liberty on that one.

Oh well. Brodie is Lucius and how can Lucius be so yummy.

Help me wrap that thought into my brain folds.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Someone had cut an onion while I was at the end of the story.

Although critics went around saying that this is just a fictional account, a speculation on the first Everest attempt, I must say that Archer made sure he wrote a good one at that.


This book outlines the life story of Mr George Mallory (, the man who was rumored to be the first man to reach the tip of Chomolungma, along with Mr Sandy Irvine. Their success is still unknown to be true, as they had met with their deaths on the cliffs of Everest, a couple hundred feet away from the top. The only clues supplied by their fellow climbers were the absence of Ruth Mallory's photograph from George's wallet, and a picture in a Kodak camera that is lost.

Paths of Glory spins a tale around the English amateur mountain climbers of Mallory's time, each vying for recognition and position. Will the climbing expedition's fate be different if it was Finch who made the final ascent with Mallory instead of Irvine?

Although historical, Archer woven enough emotion and drama to make you want to enclose yourself in a hole and finish the book. And be proud to have shed a tear or two at the ending, for you felt the struggles of the personas as if it was your own.

Rating : 10/10

Beginning to like you, Mr. Archer! Can't wait to read Kane and Abel!

PS : There is also a documentary on him on PBS I think, if you want to get closer to the man who might have push historians to rewrite the textbooks.


Title : Case Histories
Author : Kate Atkinson

As much as I find the book fascinating, I think I am reverting back to the classic detective fiction. Now I have a big problem cherry-picking the fine line between aforementioned genre and the crime fiction I have been recently delving in to.

Case Histories revolves around 3 cold cases that happened  years ago, long forgotten but for the families. In the same week, all three were revived when new clues surfaced and the families decided to contact private detective Jackson Brodie.

Case 1 : Olivia, the baby in the family went missing from the tent she and her sister Amelia were sleeping in, one summer night. She was never to be found again. Case reopened when Olivia's sisters, Julia and Amelia found the Blue Mouse that accompanied Olivia wherever she went before her disappearance, in their deceased dad's study.

Case 2 : Laura Wyre, the baby of Mr. Theo Wyre, brutally murdered while she was working her first day in her dad's office. Was the act random or actually targeted at Theo? Since the murderer in the bright yellow golf sweater was never found, Theo became obsessed with finding closure. 10 years had gone by, and Theo felt that he had to know the answer before finally reuniting with Laura.

Case 3 : Michelle, seen holding an axe with her husband's head chopped off and her baby, Tanya, wailing. Was she delusional, or what thrown her off balance? Shirley, Michelle's sister, didn't want an answer to that. She just wanted Tanya.

String along Nicola Spencer, who was suspected to be cheating on her husband, and Mrs. Binky and her cats, who believed in Jackson the way no one does. With a marriage torn apart and a brutishly handsome face, Jackson was in for a ride.

He solved the cases in a mild manner, so that everyone in different ways found closure. He found his, too.

Rating : 9/10

I still love Fatale more, professor.

PS : Saw online that there is a BBC series on this. Worth watching! (and yes I love BBC)

PPS : Jackson Brodie is Lucius Malfoy!

Monday, March 24, 2014


Title : The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Author : F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

You want curious? Fitzgerald gives you curious. 

I ordered this book with the Amazon giftcard I received from a survey (yay splurge!) as this book, as a lot of classics, is expensive. 

When it came in the mail I thought I was tricked. 

It was a book larger than normal paperback proportions, very thin, with big handwriting. Really? Best part is when there are empty pages. Imagine. Empty chapters. 

The contents, however, were classy. It tells you about the life of Benjamin Button, right from when he was a newborn old man to his last stages of life as a kid. Yes, it is a reverse agig process that Benjamin had. From being a shunned baby of the society, to the dazzlig husband and the object of admiration, to the last dregs of life spent playing with his own grandchildren. And I mean play as in playmates, not a grandfather-grandson relationship. 

A marvel. 

Rating : 10/10

Review of movie coming up!

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Title : Fatale (translated from French)
Author : Jean-Patrick Manchette

The best book in my Crime Fiction class so far.

Since it is so straight-forward and Aimee is so no-nonsense.

The book tells us about Aimee, who first killed out of necessity then turned it into a job. She jumps from one town to another, avenging the middle class by destroying the aristocrats of the society. She stumbled on this particular town, got to know the high society, and with an insider who is ready to spill the beans, managed to concoct a plan that makes that select group of people hate each other. Hating enough to kill.

Although it does seem a simple story, Manchette writes in a fashion which I found eye-opening. There are some parts of the book where I just stopped reading to catch my breath and re-focus my conscience. She made me as ruthless as she is in the story. But it did not border at all with Hammett's killing where we move on so quickly after a death. In Fatale, all deaths come as a terrible blow. This book made deaths personal.

Some quotes which took my breath away;

 "Well, it's the same as ever, isn't it? It seems slow, but actually it is quite fast. Sex always comes first. Then money questions. And then, last, comes the old crimes."


Rating : 10/10


Title : Little Bee
Author : Chris Cleave


That is what I will use to describe this book.

It is about a girl named Little Bee who escaped from Nigeria, fleeing the grasp of capitalism (oil) that destroyed her village and everything she knows of in the world. Little Bee managed to smuggle herself onto a barge heading towards the UK, and she found herself in a detention center for 2 years. Released early, she hold onto only what she has; her new obsession of English and a business card.

A call in the early hours of the morning jolted a family into a spiral of events that subsequently shaped their future. Little Bee repesents fate; and helps us question life dynamics as we know it.

A refresher from the genre i have been delving in a lot recently. 

Although it seems like I can't really run from crime. 

Rating : 10/10

Monday, February 24, 2014


Title : The Alexandria Link 
Author : Steve Berry

The end signals a change for me. Move on from Berry, it has became too predictable. 

Cotton Malone comes back to save his son's life, Gary. With the aid of his ex-wife, both try to find their son only to discover that the kidnapping is a ruse for something bigger. Something America, Israel and Saudi Arabia will die for. The truth of the Holy Land. 

The speculations on the Old Testament and the New Testament fuels the plot of this novel. All of the mysteries were said to be cleared by the contents of the long lost Library of Alexandria. Did Cotton saved the day?

Oh yes. As predicted. 

Wiki page on Library of Alexandria, for history readers. (Can't call ourselves buffs yet, eh?)

Rating : 7/10

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Title : The Laughing Policeman
Authors : Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo

Professor's intro : Whomever had encounters with The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo (which by the way is awesome!) should be more familiar with this book. 

So I read it. The Laughing Policeman is the 4th installment in the 10-book series by husband and wife team Sjowall and Wahloo. The background is Sweden, and  it is categorized as noir fiction. 

This being my 4th official noir fiction book, I kind of have an expectation and a basis of judging already, which in this case clouded my judgement far too much for my liking. 

But here it goes. 

A mass murder of 9 people in a bus happened on a dreary, rainy night. As the crime scene was "tampered" by 2 deadbeat cops who tried to get the first glimpse, the case was meeting a dead end. A team from the homicide squad was assembled, and as time crept by, additions were made from other precincts. All were puzzled by this big question, why on Earth is Ake Stenstrom, one of their own, was on the bus and subsequently was killed?

The uncertainty of everything brought all if them in circles, abandoning norms to second-guessing and pure trajectories. 

Was this case a result of an unfinished case that happened years ago?

Plot twist: the end was already in the beginning. 

Case solved. 

And my headache intensified with the names and places that I can't get myself familiar with. This is a big topic in class, i predict. 

Rating : 8/10

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Curiosity got the better of me. 

Why on earth did Professor Dienst assign the second best when we could read the best?

Having to make do with the resources I have, I turned to the screen. Maybe that was dear Professor's intention anyways. 

Although I said that Ripley's game (refer blogpost before) wasn't that noir, he was an interesting character enough to prompt me to understand his character more. Hence the movie. 

Having not read Talented Mr. Ripley yet, I was in for a surprise. This was the base for our character! How did he get rich, who was Dickie Greenleaf, and who Tom Ripley was before he is who he is in Ripley's Game. It was beautiful watching the preview of the book while knowing that this is about another book entirely. 

Putting both the movie Talented Mr. Ripley and the book Ripley's Game on the table, I suggest that we read the whole series (nicknamed Ripliad)!

1)Talented Mr Ripley
2) Ripley Under Ground
3) Ripley's Game
4) The Boy Who Followed Ripley
5) Ripley Under Water

Boy oh boy, looking at the last installment gives me shivers. (Watch the movie!)

And...that might be a good gift for my upcoming birthday,no?


Title : Ripley's Game
Author : Patricia Highsmith

This was more normal than I thought. 

Tom Ripley in this installment of the series has already enough money and happiness in the world to want to dabble in crime anymore. Until a request from an acquaintance came at a perfect timing that he can't refrain himself from suggesting the perfect murder. 

Using the powers of persuasion and threat of death, Ripley brought two strangers together to plan murders of some members of the Mafia. The plan backlashed somehow, and Ripley found himself changing from a spectator to having an active role in events. 

Mafiosi dead, Hamburg safe, money earned, and one regretted but inevitable death. Ripley tried to persuade himself that this death will definitely come in the space of few months, so it didn't matter. 

Ripley wasn't that noir in the first place for me to judge him. He was just taking chances and putting stuff together, great schemer he is. 

Definitely on the light side of noir, although the book cover and presence of garrots suggest otherwise. 

Rating : 8.5/10

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Title : KL Noir
Author : various

Taste of some local scene. 

One day I was discussing my crime fiction class to my friend, and as usual I get so hyped up trying to deliver a decent enough reproduction of the class' discussions. One thing led to another, and he offered to lend me his book titled KL Noir. For that I thank you, Syuk. 

I normally detest reading short stories. Might stem from the recurring memories of my mediocre jabs into writing while in school. Maybe.

I read this book in hope of a real noir fiction I expected it to be. Turns out that the stories were more fantasy and sci-fi than I wanted it to be. I know that one of the tenets of noir fiction (narrator as a grey area person) was drummed in hard by these authors, which I applaud. The most disappointing thing was the way they portray the fine line between surreal and reality. Reading the 2 novels I have for class before this, I can feel myself immersed in the role of the narrator, and I felt as strongly as how the character feels in the storyline. In these stories, I felt somehow detached, like I was looking over from afar, watching the events unfold while I am safe in my coccoon. Which should not be the case as I know my KL more than I know Harlem or Idaho, no?

I must also say reading them reminds me of my essays a long time ago. Obviously I wasn't as good as these people, but some sentiments stirred memories.  Too many big words, no strength in flow. 

Withstanding the lash of criticism from amateur me for this book branding itself as noir fiction, there are some of the stories that I suggest you guys check out. They bring out the dark side of humanity that is local to Malaysians. 

I will like to recommend this book as a dark phantasma-ish tome to whoever that likes the genre.

Link below is a paper on tenets of noir fiction.

My two cents. 

Rating : 5/10

Monday, February 3, 2014


Title : The Real Cool Killers
Author : Chester Himes

My second (and better) crime fiction book for class. 

Himes writes from Harlem, a colored neighbourhood where crime happens at a daily basis. The existence of whites in the area arose suspicion and hatred (note: this is the early years after Civil War), which led to an inevitable occurence that happens in a crime novel; crime. 

Galen, a twisted white was shot while running away from a herd of people. The question for the police department is; who shot him? The blacks? The Arabs? The police?

What about the motive? Why does a respected businessman has to be killed? 

Oh well. It is such a simple book, I love how it flows. 

But the end is unexpected.

As usual. 

After discussion in class, I like to point out one of the biggest idea that we talked about ; how this crime serves as a mask to cover up the real problem Himes wanted to address which is the racial discrimination among Americans back then. 

Rating : 9/10

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Title : Red Harvest
Author : Dashiell Hammett

Hold onto you breath, as I present you the masterpiece of noir fiction!!


I mean, Raymond Chandler (noir fiction champion) obviously adores Hammett. But that doesn't mean we have to agree 100%. Or maybe i haven't quite acquire the taste for noir books. 

Yes, I am taking another English course. Crime Fiction. Hence, Hammett...

Background layout so as to not confuse you why I am so amateur in commenting about the book (one might argue I really am still amateur and yes I agree, you caught me). 

So noir fiction differs from the detective fiction in the sense that it is not as clear cut and the detective doesn't necessarily be innocent like Holmes or Poirot that we usually read about. This is why it is called noir, which means black in French, which signifies that the story will be somewhat twisted and goes against the lines of the normal genre fiction type of books. So you get the gist of it.

Red Harvest is about a detective from the Continental Detective Agency, called to Personville by someone who was murdered right from the start. The Op (detective) sets to clear Personville/Poisonville of its corruption and gangs and basically make the city clean again. What makes him noir is that he pitches the big bosses of town against each other as means to effectively clean Poisonville. While all this is going on there will be multiple dozens of characters to confuse you and yes, multiple murders to make this novel more different than our ol' friend, detective fiction. 

Yes, it is harder to keep track of characters (mind, I read a lot of action novels, I know this) and yes, it's storyline makes me annoyed and feeling like murdering someone (oh no, effects of the murdering!) but it is a good book, nonetheless. 

If you want cobwebs to be intricate, might as well embroil yourself with Hammett. 

Rating : 8/10 

I must remind readers that ratings are totally biased towards my feelings. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014


Title : Jackdaws
Author : Ken Follett

First Follett book. And it was rewarding. 

Picture a week before D-day in occupied France. A team code named Bollinger from the French Resistance had failed in a mission that can cripple the entire German army stationed in France. As the Allied forces prepare for the invasion, German troops under Rommel had to use all their wits to prepare to fight back. Communications was key. The heart of it was Reims; which the Bollinger circuit had wanted to sabotage. 

In London, SOE knew this failed attempt was their best bet. So they sent in the Jackdaws. Code named Jackdaws, 6 women in disguise will try to finish what Bollinger had started. 

Good book. Will have more Folletts in the future!

PS : I knew I read about pip emma and ack emma somewhere. Thanks for the refresher. 

Rating : 10/10 

Monday, January 20, 2014


Title : Frog Music
Author : Emma Donoghue

Received the book via Goodreads First Reads. And I was a happy girl. 

Took Frog Music with me for my West Coast trip, so I was happy for the background to be historical San Francisco! Emma Donoghue writes eloquently in a fashion I rarely have read before. I love how sexily thrilling she turns a mystery in, what with the rich profusion of personas and intermingling feelings smashed in a compact and simple storyline. I also love the "going against norms" characters at that period which gives an extra kick to the plot. Some might see the language as provocative, but I must say, brilliant, Emma. Simply brilliant.

Rating ; 10/10 because why not? 

PS : It will be out in the market April 1,2014. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Title : Jefferson Key
Author : Steve Berry

Get ready, historical fiction fans!

I will list out the points of interest first. 

Honest Abe. Thomas Jefferson. Andrew Jackson. James Garfield. Andrew Johnson. George Washington. John F Kennedy. William McKinley. Theodore Roosevelt. Ronald Reagan. 

Civil War. American Revolution. Spanish-US War. 

Pirates @ privateers! Captain Kidd, Blackbeard, Jolly Roger. 

Jefferson's key and cipher. For the lost Letters of Marque from the Congress. 

Mentions of Masons, Templars, Greeks, Egyptians. 


Intrigued enough?

Read it! 

Rating : 10/10