Ripley Under Ground

Title: Ripley Under Ground51yfuwhrkkl-_sx323_bo1204203200_

Author: Patricia Highsmith

Published: 1970

This was certainly a worthy sequel to ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’. I honestly cannot believe I hadn’t read this sooner!

Six years have passed since Ripley murdered Greenleaf and inherited his wealth. Now, he lives in a beautiful house in France surrounded by world-class art, vintage wine and married to an heiress. All seems to be perfect in his world until a phone call from London destroys his peace. An art forgery scheme set up some years prior is threatening to unravel due to an American asking one too many questions. Ripley will stop at nothing to preserve his tangle of lies.

Ripley is the same audacious, street-smart rogue free of guilt and morals. And yet there was amazing character development. Ripley seemed to be different in some aspects; such as showing an almost protective side and being a little bit more squeamish than before. Both these developments are well expected. The other characters are also well fleshed out.

The plot was fast paced and absolutely brilliantly written. Tension and suspense made this a captivating read, with a skosh of humour thrown in. I was kept on the edge of my seat throughout, mainly because Ripley kept telling everyone his secret. Small references to the previous book are littered throughout the book, which made the whole transition from the two books seem smooth and made the book flow better. Everything that has happened between the books is told in a concise and detailed manner, leaving any questions answered satisfactory. I felt like this book was a little bit darker than its predecessor, especially towards the end.

“Honestly, I don’t understand why people get so worked up about a little murder!”

Oh the ending! The ending felt like the proper cat and mouse game between Ripley and Inspector Webster was about to kick off. Annoyingly, Highsmith ended the novel on a bit of a cliffhanger, which naturally made me wonder if the next book (‘Ripley’s Game) was going to pick up from there or whether the events will be glossed over, with references made in the context of a flashback.

This was a very worthwhile read. If not for the plot, then definitely for the character of Tom Ripley. His complexity, audacity and smoothness are just astounding. Rightly labeled as the ‘most seductive sociopath’. This book has all the elements of a spellbinding read – lies, impersonation, murder and more lies.

Cannot wait to continue the series!

Happy Reading,

Saz

 

Sofia Khan is Not Obliged

Title: Sofia Khan is Not Obliged
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Author: Ayisha Malik

Published: 2015

My friend and I were browsing books in Word on the Water (a bookshop on a barge!) when she turned to me and asked when was the last time I had read a book by a person of colour (PoC) or about a PoC protagonist. I actually had to stop and think for several seconds. After what seemed like an age, all I could mumble was “To Kill a Mockingbird” as an answer. This was met with a shake of her head, accompanied by a somewhat amused smile. Deeply shocked that I had never read anything by or representing a PoC, coupled with the fact that it never occurred to me that this was an issue, I quickly asked for any recommendations she might have.

The story follows Sofia Khan – a young hijabi Muslim living in London and working in the book publishing industry. Sofia is ready to swear off all men after a broken engagement. However, she accidently pitches the idea of a Muslim dating book to her boss! Now she must throw herself in to the Muslim dating scene in order to gather stories for her book and maybe the chance to find love!

Sofia’s voice was fresh, witty and downright sarcastic. It was impossible not to like Sofia straight from the get go. Her character came across as being very strong willed yet flawed, which only added to her charm. All the other characters are well fleshed out to the point where you feel like you actually know them as you’re reading along.

“I’ve always hated words of comfort. I don’t know if you should trust a person who says ‘It’s going to be OK’ unless they’re going to personally try and fix it.”

Although set in a Pakistani household, I still found the book to be relatable (I’m from an Indian household). I absolutely loved how there were interspersed Hindi and Urdu words. This just made the book more real and relatable for me. I lost track of the number of times I was nodding along with what Sofia was saying, and internally thinking ‘I know right – tell me about it.’ Not to mention, there were a number of laugh out loud moments throughout the book.

On the surface, this story does come across as being lighthearted and warm. Don’t get me wrong – it is, but it also has some serious undertones. Complex issues are addressed and dealt with but in no way does this take the fun out of the book. It was a perfectly balanced book with the perfect blend of romance, comedy and realism.

I thought the ending was going to be typical and somewhat predictable. Yet, this was not the case! Much to my surprise, the book took a completely different turn from what I had anticipated, which actually made me like it that little bit more.

Not much else I can say to be honest! An absolutely amazing first novel and unputdownable (I managed to finish this in one read). Cannot wait for the sequel to come out and to read more about the wonderful Sofia Khan.

Happy Reading,

Saz

 

A Monster Calls

Title: A Monster Calls a_monster_calls

Author: Patrick Ness (an original idea from Siobhan Dowd)

Illustrator: Jim Kay

Published: 2011

Please excuse the rambling and incoherent nature of this review. I’m still feeling a little numb from finishing this story.

This book defied all my expectations. When I first picked it up, I thought it was going to be a nice light hearted read, perhaps even something that will just wash over me. I have never been so wrong in my life.

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

The whole story was beautifully written and illustrated. The concept itself was just stunning. It was unpredictable, emotional and a little odd in its own way. How the story deals with loss, grief and sadness was just incredible. I cannot even begin to articulate how this book made me feel. It reached out to me on a very personal level; a level that very few books have been able to reach to, which is why I love this book, as it helped me to deal with my own grief and loss. Simultaneously, I also hate this book simply because it ripped my heart in two pieces and made me feel extremely vulnerable.

Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?

Never has a book made me feel a whole spectrum of emotions – from chuckling to myself  to being on the verge of tears. This book was able to put in to words those raw emotions that are usually hidden away in some dark corner, where nobody really dares to speak of them. In that way, I think this book was beyond brave and very honest.

This is a modern fairy tale that is not necessarily a happy one, but it is one that needs to be read.

Happy Reading,

Saz