Book 18 of 2018- Warm Bodies by Issac Marion

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Warm Bodies is about R and Julie. R has a crisis, well he is a zombie so that only comes with the trade. R has no memory, no pulse and cannot recall his own name. R is also different from his fellow zombies. He eats people, but does not particularly enjoy it. He refers riding up and down the airport escalator and listening to Sinatra in his spare time.

Then suddenly, everything changes. Everything changes because of Julie, a living breathing girl he couldn’t get himself to kill and so brought back with him to the zombie lair. With Julie as his reluctant guest and then almost a friend, things begin to change. R feels himself changing. He feels none of his zombie instincts to kill and eat kicking in, instead he feels protective about her.

However, their unlikely friendship starts to stir and change things. What does the world reeking with the stench of the undead hold for these two? Will they change the world or bring upon more trouble upon themselves?

I cannot believe I am saying this, but I really enjoyed Warm Bodies. I never thought a zombie romance would interest me. I don’t even like zombies! The entire concept of zombies thoroughly creeps me out. The very idea of a human lacking its humanity is enough for me to cringe. Warm Bodies has been written well, you could probably finish this in 2 days. The story moves fast and I didn’t find myself losing interest midway at all. I especially like the idea of telling the story through the zombie’s perspective, since that’s not something I have ever come across in all the zombie fandom era.

Rating- 3.5/5.

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Book 17 of 2018- Ghachar Ghochar

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Rating- 4/5

 

I truly hope that 2018 will be a year of reading more of Indian writers, embracing them and falling in love with their writing. Keeping that in mind, I ordered my copy of one of the most spoken about books this year, Ghachar Ghochar. Ghachar Ghochar is a gibberish expression that signifies entanglement. Think about the condition of your earphones after they spend a day in your pockets, that’s Ghachar Ghochar.

Ghachar Ghochar follows a family as they traverse through poverty to riches, and how money changes their lives. A young man spends most of his time in a cafe in Bangalore, hoping for some clever anecdotes from a server he believes has insights into his life and state of mind. The family is poor, but there is enough to feed everyone, just not enough for wants that might arise out of greed. Their fortune changes when their uncle starts a business selling spices, they move out from their cramped home to a bigger dwelling.

There is a line in the book that really resonates- ‘It’s true what they say – it’s not we who control the money, it’s the money that controls us’. In the face of riches, the family is lost. Relationships change as the money comes in, their equation with each other changes. The implications of new money takes hold over the family. This is what ghachar ghochar represents, how money has the power to knot things up so badly, there is no hope for rescue.

I enjoyed the writing, there was warmth and unexpected strength in some characters. The representation of an Indian family did not feel odd, just natural.

 

Book 16 (and 15) of 2018- The Last Town and Tin Man

Yes, I know that I skipped yet another book but I will tell you just how I liked it here in a sentence. The 15th book of the year was The Last Town, the third and last book from the Pines series and well, it was underwhelming. I was excited to reach the conclusion and to read about how they fought the abbies or maybe how the abbies took over the world because that would make so much more sense. There is a conclusion in this book, but I guess it wasn’t the one that resonated with me. Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

 

Moving on, the 16th book of the year was Tin Man by Sarah Winman. I purchased this book without reading reviews and so I had no idea that people were already praising it. Tin Man is not a book you finish in one sitting, and I really hope you don’t. Tin Man needs to be relished. Every sentence in this book is like several pieces of juicy plums, the pit of which you suck at out of sheer joy and prolong it, just to enjoy the moment.

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Tin Man is a story about two men, and a woman who changed it all. It’s also a story that starts from a painting.

Men and boys should be capable of beautiful things.
If this phrase speaks to you, you know you need Tin Man in your life. Tin Man left me feeling warm, but also melancholic. Tin Man is the kind of book I want to hug when the sun is going down, take it out on a picnic and watch the world pass by. Sarah Winman has crept inside my heart and decorated her little space with paper doilies of phrases, each more beautiful than the other.
I am going to conclude this post with the notes I highlighted in my kindle. Why? Because these phrases are beautiful and all the encouragement you really need to sit down and read Tin Man.
When the breeze ripples, petals of pink and white and fuchsia fall on me and I imagine myself a garlanded pyre alight under the fiery sun
I try hard to be liked, I always have. I try hard to lessen people’s pain. I try hard because I can’t face my own.
I’m broken by my need for others.
There’s something about first love, isn’t there? she said. It’s untouchable to those who played no part in it. But it’s the measure of all that follows, she said.

Book 11 of 2018- Us by David Nicholls

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Have you read One Day? Yes, the movie starring Anne Hathaway and that other guy. I really feel they could have had a better male lead but okay whatever. One Day is a book I go back to when life’s uncertainties trouble me and I need a pick me up. So, I picked up Us without any hesitation at all.

Goodreads summary

Douglas Petersen may be mild-mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen-year-old son, Albie; then Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, and she can’t bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best anyway. Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage and might even help him bond with Albie.

The premise may sound tragic to you, but you must place unflinching faith in Nicholls’ writing because I know I do. Us is written in typical David Nicholl’s style, weaving sadness with heartwarming writing and making you smile through it all.

I oscillated between being frustrated with Douglas, being mad at Connie and relating to Albie to completely opposite emotions with every passing chapter. Douglas is not my favourite of all times character but he feels real and David deserves all the props for it. He has a witty way with words and you will find yourself getting emotionally invested with all the characters. Nicholls’ does not ask you to choose sides and I think that’s beautiful.

 

Book 10 of 2018- Pines (Wayward Pines #1) by Blake Crouch

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I discovered Blake Crouch through an Amazon recommendation. The first book I read is called Dark Matter and I recommend it to everyone who loves sci-fi because that book honestly flipped my mind, in a good way of course.

Goodreads summary

Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels…off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive.

Pines too, has flipped my head in a good way. Blake Crouch is so efficient at building tension and raising the momentum without disappointing you when you get to the end. Pines has been written to challenge our views about the environment and make us question and think. What else is a bigger compliment for a book than this? I loved this book to bits. I am going to finish the rest of the series soon and then also get started on the television series. Shall keep you posted.

 

P.S. I recently bought the all new kindle and realised that I had seriously misjudged it. My initial purpose was to buy the more expensive hardback or paperback versions of the books on it because it’s so much cheaper. I really didn’t think I will be using it or growing used to it anytime soon, but the Kindle is a nifty thing. I especially like that I can use the dictionary right on the device. I obviously still prefer actual books to the Kindle but this wasn’t a bad investment at all.

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Book 9 of 2018: We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

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First up, I watched the movie almost a year ago. I am fascinated by Tilda Swinton, always have been and then there was the added temptation of Ezra Miller. If you have watched the movie, you will know how delicious the tension between Swinton and Miller is and I recommend watching the movie even before you read the book (I know, this is a first) but trust me, you will be able to relate to the characters a lot better.

Coming to the book, this was 400 pages of beautifully observant writing. Shriver’s characters are inherently human, everyone wrestling with each other’s values.

 

Goodreads summary:

Eva never really wanted to be a mother – and certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin’s horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.

You can feel the tension throbbing between Eva and her husband and then between her and Kevin on a personal level. With this book, I could not afford to skip phrases in a hurry because every single phrase blew me away with its microscopic introspection of human nature.

I could not stand Franklin, Eva’s husband. Possibly the only issue I have with the book is just how mismatched Eva and Franklin seem. I cannot begin to understand what drew them to each other because their natures are so unlike each others.

I devoured this book for how electric the tension between Kevin and Eva’s characters are. From America’s gun problem to culpability and the burden of motherhood we place on women, We Need To Talk About Kevin is already one of my favourite books.

P.S. I have willingly skipped discussing my 8th read of the year.

 

Book 6 of 2018- Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

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Goodreads summary 

Maud, an aging grandmother, is slowly losing her memory—and her grip on everyday life. Yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth, who she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger.

But no one will listen to Maud—not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth’s mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend.

This singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud’s rapidly dissolving present. But the clues she discovers seem only to lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II.

As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more than fifty years ago come flooding back, Maud discovers new momentum in her search for her friend. Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth?

 

I am not quite sure what to make of this book. This was on my 2017 wishlist but I never got around to reading it. I believe that the writer has done a spectacular job of capturing Maud’s illness, dementia and the way the disease affects everyone connected to the patient. This is the reason Helen feels so real.  I want to credit Emma Healey for making me empathise with Maud, never once feeling resentful towards her.

However, the plot seems shaky at best and I wasn’t satisfied with the ending. The book is engaging but it failed to hold my interest for a stretched period of time. I probably won’t go back to this book again but I think I have walked away with a lot of humility and understanding about dementia and how life unfurls for them. If you must pick this up, do it for how much you will learn about dealing with dementia and the acts of kindness it strives to teach you.