The Lives of Tao

thelivesoftao-144dpiIncidentally, this was a re-read. I had forgotten what an absolute gem this novel was, until I picked it up a couple of days ago. Straight afterwards, I headed  for a bookstore to get the next one – make of that what you will 😉

When chubby IT geek, Roen starts to hear a voice inside his head, he naturally assumes he’s starting to go mad. Luckily for him, this isn’t the case – he simply has a passenger in his mind – an ancient alien life form named Tao – whose race crashed landed on Earth eons ago. Now split in to two opposing factions – the Prophus and Genjix – the aliens are in a state of civil war whilst searching for a far away planet. Trouble is, one side won’t hesitate to sacrifice the entire human race in order to win. Meanwhile, Roen has to train to become a secret agent.

Jinkies! The premise was outstanding and got me completely hooked. I literally could not turn the pages fast enough – it was just that brilliant to be completely honest. The action, quick moving plot and tension filled moments combined with the occasional light hearted comedy kept me reading at an extraordinarily fast pace.

The characters of Tao and Roen were incredibly written. The portrayal of their symbiotic relationship was delightful to read as not only did it have its serious and emotional moments but it was also peppered with humorous interactions between the two. Their relationship can only be described as being fun and dynamic. There were also a couple of strong female characters mentioned, which for me is always a bonus in any given book. Other than that, all the other characters had also been  nicely written – especially Sean – he exuded power and fearfulness. In fact, he made the ideal villain in that respect.

Furthermore, I loved how we  got a glimpse in to Tao’s past experiences and some of his inner thoughts as the centuries went by. These short excerpts were pretty much perfect. In addition, this novel had some amazing ideas. Albeit, not always quite plausible, but certainly thought provoking nevertheless.

Grudgingly, I shall admit that sometimes the writing was a little clumsy (for want of a better word) in terms of sentence structure. In some rare instances, some sentences came off as being downright cringe worthy in terms of the language used. However, I found that these mistakes were easily overlooked.

To sum up, this was a very entertaining read and at times was emotional – which was surprising. This was an absolutely brilliant book –  I cannot wait to read the next one. In fact, I’m off to do just that 😀

Laters alligator,

Saz

 

The Prince and The Pauper

Once more I found myself raiding my sister’s bookshelf, looking for my next read, where upon I just happened to stumble across ‘The Prince and the Pauper’. Intrigued as I had never read any of Twain’s works before, I began reading. At first, the pace was rather slow, but after a couple of chapters had elapsed, I found myself turning the pages rather fervently.

Set in 16th century London, this historical satirical tale follows the lives of two boys born on the same day – the prince,  Edward Tudor and pauper, Tom Canty. An unplanned encounter ends with the two boys swapping clothes and consequently, in one moment, their identities. Edward is left wandering the city dressed in rags, facing hardships along the way. Meanwhile, Tom dressed in splendor, is scared of being found out.

Throughout the book, Twain had weaved beautiful and vivid descriptions of the city and palace. Not only this, but the language employed had a dramatic flair about it, which only added to the experience. Alongside this, the plot moved at a swift pace, continually alternating between the two storylines. The way the storylines came together towards the end was handled in a skilful fashion.

The characters and their interactions were absolutely brilliantly written. Through these interactions, splashes of humour had been thrown in which made me chuckle. Miles Hendon was probably my favourite character – he could easily be described as a knight in shining armour. His heroic actions coupled with his devotion towards the prince made it extremely difficult not to like him. Moreover, the way his storyline of lost identity parallels with that of the prince and pauper was cleverly done.

The characters of both the protagonists had been fleshed out properly and developed as the story progressed. Edward Tudor’s hardships taught him humility as he went from being an ignorant, selfish and proud prince to a reformed king. In contrast to Edward, Tom’s experiences didn’t really have the same effect – he didn’t undergo a personality change. Rather, his journey magnifies his most dominant trait – his kindness. It was easy to sympathise with both protagonists, especially as the story went on.

To conclude, I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. It was incredible to read such an eloquent writing style. A definite recommendation to anyone, who like me, is new to Twain’s works.

Happy Reading,

Saz

P.S. I did a theatrical performance on puns. Really it was just a play on words 🙂

The Indian in the Cupboard

After finishing ‘The Alchemist’, I was completely lost as to what my next read would be. After perusing my own bookshelves, as well as the library’s and still finding nothing, I hoped that my sister’s bookshelf would provide some inspiration. Desperate to find something amongst the various volumes she had gathered over the years, I came across ‘The Indian in the Cupboard’, which naturally piqued my curiosity.

‘The Indian in the Cupboard’ is a magical story about a boy that is given a cupboard and key for his birthday. After locking his new Indian toy in the cupboard, Omri is amazed to find his Indian is no longer a toy come morning. And so, the adventure and secrets begin.

The amount of enjoyment I got from reading this book took me by complete surprise. Although this was clearly a children’s story, the magic and charm it held, had me hooked right from the first chapter. The plot moved at a rapid pace with occasional splashes of humour thrown in.

The characters of Omri and Little Bull were extremely well written. Omri was very likeable and often showed his resourcefulness throughout the book from building Little Bull a tepee, to figuring out how to get the key back. Little Bull, despite being likeable, frustrated me at times with his constant demands and somewhat ungratefulness. However, considering this is the first in a series, I expect some character development.

Patrick, on the other hand was a whole new kettle of fish. His bad attitude, stupidity and constant thoughtlessness frustrated me to the point of wanting someone in the book to whack him one. I can only hope that as the series goes on, Patrick is given some major character development.

In a nutshell, I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone looking for an old-fashioned fantasy adventure. Needless to say, I will definitely be reading the next book in the series at some point.

As always, happy reading fellow bibliomaniacs,

Saz

The Alchemist

x500I cannot seem to remember a time when ‘The Alchemist’ wasn’t on my never-ending list of books to read. I was very intrigued to pick up this book as it was one that I would see literally everywhere – I guess it could have been interpreted as being some kind of omen 😉 Besides,  I had never actually read a spiritual book before…

This is a story about Santiago, a shepherd who longs to travel in search of the treasure he’s been dreaming about. As his travels take him to different places, he meets a variety of different people – all of which have something to teach him along the way. This is a story that gives inspiration, wisdom and hope.

One of the first things that struck me was the writing style. The way it had been written actually felt like someone was telling a story around a fire. How it weaved between the past and the present at the start seemed to be seamless, and as a result, the reading experience was amazing. This also came from the language used. Everything had been written in a very eloquent but simple manner, which for me just added to the beauty of the narration. The way the book shows that the journey is more important than the destination was brilliantly conveyed throughout the book.

When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”

I absolutely loved that fact that an assortment of characters were presented throughout Santiago’s journey, with each one having his own story and through that a lesson to give to the shepherd. Each character’s lesson was inspirational and thought provoking in it’s own way. I really liked the overall message about pursuing your dreams and how there are  omens scattered around that will help you to realise and fulfil your own personal legend and dreams.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Having said that, there was a few times where I found myself completely confused (well to be completely honest, it was a lot of the time 😛 ) and at a loss as to what the author was trying to convey. This happened especially towards the end part of the book. (This was where I felt that things were starting to get awfully strange). This might have been because some things just weren’t properly explained or that there were tenuous links drawn that just didn’t make complete sense to me.

“Because I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present”.

Yet I suppose this ambiguity was there on purpose in order for the reader to make his or her own interpretations. This freedom of interpretation was both good and bad in some respects. In fact, to be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure how I felt about this.

To conclude, I did enjoy reading this book despite being lost a lot of the time. The overall message about following your dreams and the biggest obstacle of doing so is the fear of failure was very inspirational. I would say that people should read this book, just to see what interpretations and conclusions they draw.

Happy Reading,

Saz

Scaramouche

37def8787ccfc2f16ac5dd433fe7a17eHow could I have possibly resisted a swashbuckling adventure threaded with betrayal, revenge and passion that had been set against the backdrop of the French Revolution? I cannot even begin to describe the surge of emotion that ran through me when I first started to read this novel.

Here’s a quick synopsis-

Andre-Louis was a provincial lawyer of unknown parentage, unconcerned about the growing unrest in France – until his friend is killed at the hands of a noble. Whilst taking refuge with a band of nomadic band of actors, he assumes the role of Scaramouche – a comical character, but one with a very serious message regarding society.

The character of Scaramouche had been written in an incredible fashion. One thing that struck me was how introspective and cynical Andre – Louis was. A flawed hero that perhaps deviated from the norm. This in itself added to the complexity and depth of his character. Although written in third person, his emotions and personality were all laid out in such a way that as a reader, you could not help but feel empathetic. The character development throughout the novel had been brilliantly captured. The other character that had been well presented was that of Marquis de la Tour d’Azyr. Despite being cast as the main ‘villain’, his portrayal nevertheless evoked sympathy to some degree.

“From robe to buskin, and now from buskin to the sword! What will be the end of you, I wonder?”

However, it can be argued that the secondary characters lacked this depth and complexity. To be completely honest, both the characters of Quentin de Kercadiou and Aline were exasperating – the former more so than the latter. Atleast Aline’s actions held some semblance of reason and logic as the story progressed – the same unfortunately, cannot really be said of De Kercadiou.

Moving at a fast pace, the plot was somewhat quirky as it took some unexpected turns along the way. The language used was absolutely beautiful; wit and emotion had been masterfully depicted through the exchanges between the different characters.

“Himself he protested that he merely held up to them the mirror of truth, and that it was not his fault if when reflected there they looked ridiculous.”

In a nutshell, this was a meaningful and thought-provoking novel that comments on class, inequality, freedom and one’s own role within society. It showed that in the end there were no heroes and villains – it was simply a case of people acting according to the (perceived) norms put in place by society.

Basically this book has it all – captivating characters that personify all aspects of human nature and emotions, a heart racing plot coupled with exceptional language. Simply a must read!

Happy holidays!

Saz

P.S., Archaeologists excavating a pyramid in Egypt have found a mummy covered in chocolate and hazelnuts. They believe it to be Pharaoh Rocher 😁