Wonderful Books, Marvelous Authors

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Books Blog: These are just a few of the many books I have read over the past year.

Richard Flanagan’s “The Narrow Road to the Deep North”,

Richard Flanagan, an Australian author, has written The Narrow Road to the Deep North. It is a detailed account of his father’s POW status during World War II with the Japanese captors. The story is filled with dazzling brilliance and there’s almost no doubt about it. In 1943, an Australian POW (prisoner-of-war) group was taken captive by Japanese soldiers. They were made to work in the Java jungles. The Thailand-Burma railway or “Death Railway” was built from Bangkok to Rangoon through Burmese jungle. These dying captives are starved and dehydrated without food or water.

Two characters stand out to me and I thought about them all the way through the book. They are Amy, Ella and Darky Gardiner (author’s father). Their emotional quotient was crucial in the heart-touching story. It was hard to believe that Darky Gardiner died in the jungle. I was shocked by the circumstances in which he died. Dorrigo Evans, the doctor, thought that Amy would return to him. Ella, poor Ella!

The book reads almost like a long poem. It is a magnificent narrative. It was awarded the 2014 Booker. It was well-deserved. But, I do have a hinge. “The Lives of Others,” by Neel Mokherjee, could have won the Booker Prize. It’s a bit cheeky of me, to suggest this. Nope. But, I sympathize with the story of “The Narrow Road to the Deep North”, which won the Booker.

Neel Mokherjee’s “The Lives of Others”:

Yes, “The Narrow Road…” was a long and difficult book. But, I found “The Lives of Others” to be far more compelling and complex. It is a rich piece of narrative that reads like a dream (and it was the winner). I enjoyed both books immensely and could form my own safe conclusion. These books are a treasure trove of shining gems. These books are amazing examples of modern English literature.

“Lisey’s Story”, Stephen King:

“Lisey’s Story”, which I’ve just finished, was a wonderful experience. It was worth the effort to read a tomb of more than 550 pages. It was the horror story Stephen King is famous for. But it’s not. It’s more of an emotional thriller that will haunt you until the very end.

The supposed “action” (minimalist though it is) begins at the 248th pages (I took it down) and it never stops. It was tedious to read the first half of this novel before that. Although the first half was lacking the action I expected, it wasn’t bad. The book’s main purpose is to find the epic subtle elements within the mundane things that Lisey and her husband have done. This includes Mr. King’s favorite: black humor. Epic is the right word. I persevered and was rewarded by the brilliant second part with plenty of ‘action.’ When I finished the second half of the novel, it was like saying goodbye to sleep. I can say that I adored the story, especially after the harrowing childhood experiences Scott and Scoot shared. King’s writing is brilliant, clear and true to King’s style.

“The Ice Twins” by S.K. Tremayne”

S.K. Tremayne is an incredible spine-chilling thriller. It’s an emotional and psychological thrill ride. It’s so well-written, I read it almost obsessively.

The story takes place on a small island in Scotland and is about twins who mistakenly identify themselves (of identical twin sisters). One twin dies and another lives. The portrayal of a family ripped apart by grief and pain after the loss of one of their beloved ones was something I enjoyed. Four stars are given to the author for his storytelling prowess.

“Hungry as the Sea”, by Wilbur Smith:

Just finished reading Wilbur Smith’s 1978 novel, “Hungry as the Sea”, The best thing about Mr. Smith’s writing is his ability to tell extraordinary stories.

Wilbur Smith books are a great choice if you’re looking for a book full of adventure, history and intrigue as well as revenge, romance, and humor. His books are a favorite of mine. In addition to his riveting descriptions and search and rescue of salvage tugs on the ocean, Smith’s writings about ships in storms is outstanding. This is the best part of Smith’s book. While Africa is his main focus and will always be, “Hungry As the Sea” can also be used as a stand-alone adventure thriller. This book is highly recommended. This book is a must-read.

“Warlock”, by Wilbur Smith:

Since last month, I’ve been reading “Warlock” and just finished it. Lately, I have been devouring books and Wilbur Smith has been high on my list. He is undoubtedly one of the most important adventure writers of all time. It is a joy to know that he remains at the peak of his abilities and means. This title was a special experience for me.

In the days of train travel, this book was often displayed at stations along the East Coast corridor. It was on several occasions that I wanted to purchase it, but couldn’t. So I decided enough was enough. It was my first time reading the book so I purchased it. The epic treatise was so overwhelming that I couldn’t believe my eyes. “Warlock”, a book of more than 500 pages, depicts great African adventures – starting with the era of Egyptian Pharaohs.

This book is so adorable that you will love to read it in large chunks. I own a hardback copy. It was like reading a milestone in my life. I felt a sense of accomplishment when I read one of his most important works.

“Khullam Khulla: Uncensored” by Rishi Kapoor:

Rishi Kapoor, the heartthrob of yesteryears, has written a self-portrait. His autobiography “Khullam Khulla” (uncensored) was a delightful read.

It was completed in four days. This was just how long it took to finish this highly recommended book. Many personal stories and anecdotes are shared here that I didn’t know. For instance, Nafiza Ali was offered the part of Dimple Kapadia in Bobby. There are so many other details that will make you reminisce with nostalgia. The book is well written, engaging, and a page-turner. It is one of the best autobiographies to come out of Bollywood. I give the book a conservative three-and-a-half stars, with four heavily tilted. Unputdownable.