Tag Archives: mystery

Book Review: After Dark by Haruki Murakami

4.5

afterdark

Translated from Japanese by Jay Rubin.

A short, episodic novel set during a single night from midnight to dawn, After Dark begins with Mari, a young student reading alone at a Denny’s in an anonymous city, probably Tokyo. Her solitude is broken by Takahashi Tetsuya, a young trombone player who claims to have a common acquaintance with Mari, her older sister Eri Asai. Through the rest of the night the novel follows Mari’s encounters with Takahasi and other people, all awake during the night, caught in their own circumstances. There is also Eri Asai, a beautiful model caught in an extended sleep, and her connection to a businessman struggling with the aftereffects of his actions.

The narrative is temporal, with each chapter taking place at a precise time. The prose is sharp, hypnotic, detailed and mystical – the events are being narrated by a mysterious, collective “point-of-view”, a neutral observation. There is a cinematographic quality to it, with detailed descriptions and precise, sometimes abrupt, movements of the “point-of-view” through the city, from one place to the next. It lends the story an enigmatic and uneasy feel.

The novel is somewhat characteristic of magical realism with its touch of other-worldliness in a normal, real world; a heightened awareness of mystery; authorial reticence, etc. Though the novel has no plot, seems to have no purpose, it still captures our attention. It’s not a novel for the purpose of entertainment or escapism, rather to pause and mull over the events and circumstances of the characters. It asks questions, but doesn’t answer them. The characters’ conversations are sometimes non-sequitur, and range from the mundane to the philosophical, forcing us to pause and reflect, to dwell on what is happening and what is not, even if we ourselves can’t find an answer.

One of the stronger themes seems to be alienation in a modern world, a metropolis. Alienation of the reader from the story; alienation of the two sisters from the world, each other and themselves; alienation of Mari from the other people she encounters who are so different from her. And despite it, the inexplicable and surprising things that make for common grounds and lead to a connection, an understanding between two people. The novel also explores the idea of mysterious and nocturnal things that lurk around during the night, and hover at the edges of our worlds.

This was my first Haruki Murakami  work and probably a good, short introduction to a kind of writing that has captured my attention. I hope I read more of his works. After Dark is a mysterious novel with wonderful writing and I really liked it.

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Book Review: Love on the Boardwalk by Christi Barth

3.5 gems

love the boardwalk

***I was provided an e-ARC by the author in exchange for an honest review.***

Summing up this book in one word is quite easy. Sweet. Love on a Boardwalk  was a sweet, light-hearted and fun read that left me feeling all happy and gooey. There was no unnecessary drama whatsoever in this book and that just endeared it me more. Not to mention Trina Trimble. For me Trina was the essence and the center of this book. It is so so hard not to love her. She is the kind of person who you look at and start smiling for no reason. She is the kind of person who makes you happy and good about yourself. An independent, and self-sufficient woman, Trina was the best part of this book for me. She can easily crack you up and show you a gala time. A true happy-go-luck chica. She lives life king-size with no regrets.

“I try things and fail at them all the time. It’s called living with no regrets.”

Trina flits from career to career. She changes careers as frequently as women change shoes. She has done it all from being a dog walker to being a shoe designer. And she’s loved every moment of it. Currently she is a private-eye in training. And of course she’s having the time of her life here too chasing bad guys and donning different disguises. While working undercover in a strip club, Trina runs into the-hottie-who-could-have-a-been-a-summer-fling, Brad Hudson. Brad is celebrating his “un-honeymoon” with some cold bears and fake boobs. What else is a man supposed to do when his fiancee has dumped him for a JOB. Though even the bountiful breasts and asses hanging out of their underwear are not enough to get Brad out of his funk. But in walk a exuberant girl with a 1000 watt smile, a girl he actually knows, Brad’d mood soars. What ensues is a whole lot of fun.

The book never gets too serious. Ever. It’s all fun and games. There are a couple of conversations that are serious in nature, but Trina makes it a lot of fun. Trina is a very intuitive and observant woman. She easily picks up on Brad’s mood and cajoles him into talking his heart out. Brad on his part too, being the great cop that he is, knows how to wheedle her secrets. Their chemistry is good and with the entry of their friends Cooper and Darcy, things get a lot more fun. There is a conversation between Bradley and Cooper (oohh Bradley Cooper) that I very much enjoyed. Cooper tells Brad outright, that he should get over his ex and that the blame at least part of it, of his failed relationship lies with Brad too. Brad does try to keep that in mind and looks back at everything he did wrong, and everything he wants to do right, now, with Trina.

Brad does get a bit patronizing with Trina, but largely he supports her and understands her and even helps her. Trina on her part doe get pissed off at Brad, but the next day she comes back with a big smile on her face. I love the way Brad describes Trina:

“You take ordinary things and turn them rainbow bright. It’s what makes you so special.”

I also loved how easily Brad could pick up on Trina’s insecurities and help her get rid of them, not just with her career, but her relationships too. Trina is a bit insecure about her looks. She believes that she is just a rebound fling for Brad. The way Brad just tells her it’s not so is beautiful.

“I’ve been thinking about what this would be like, too. Ever since that night I almost kissed you on the beach back in June. Say you’re right. Say I can have any woman I want. The woman I want is you. Because you’re perky and fun. Because you’re adorable and you make me laugh all the time. And because you’re far more beautiful than you give yourself credit for. I want you, Trina. You’ve got adaptability and smarts that can’t be measured by essays and bubbled answer sheets. I don’t want a distraction. I don’t want a random hook-up. I want you.”

Trina is a very optimistic person who lets bygones be bygones. Her philosophy in life is very simple:

“If you try, you’ve got a chance at succeeding. Failure isn’t guaranteed. If you don’t even try at all, you’ve already failed.”

And that’s a lesson Brad learns from her. On the surface Love on a Boardwalk is a fun and  fluffy romance, but there are a couple of things like the aforementioned quote that we can very well imbibe in our day-to-day life.

Seeing Cooper and Darcy together made me want to read their book too. And the best part Trina and Brad are a part of that too. One of the best things I liked about Brad other than him being a total sweetheart and accepting Trina as she is, was *shhh it’s a secret*, Brad is a dancer! The way he confesses that to Trina is so sweet, not to mention the naked tango. I would’ve loved to see them dance together. Trina being Trina manages to turn Brad’s insecurities into dust and accepts him as he is. In fact she loves that he is a dancer. She even wants to enter a dance competition with him. She is like a dream come true for Brad. The perfect woman.

Over all the book was engaging a a complete roller-coaster ride of laughter. It was so hard not to smile or laugh at all times reading this book. Trina’s sarcastic and witty humor and Brad’s funny nature stole the show. With the addition of Cooper and Darcy things only became more fun. A great read. Now I know where to go when I want to laugh my heart out. Christi Barth you are an absolute winner for me!


Book Review: Erased by Margaret Chatwin

4

Erased book cover

 

*** I received a copy of the this ebook through Read-It-And-Reap (Goodreads) for an honest review.***

After a long and tiring day, I was about to sleep but decided to just have a look at the book I was planning to read next. An hour and a half later I realised that sleep was a foregone thought. I could not let go of the book, it was that captivating.

Book Description (This blurb is what got me interested) :

There’s that moment – you know the moment – when you emerge from sub-consciousness and enter full awareness. Now imagine reaching that moment with a pounding head, throbbing body, hospital ID band around your wrist, and no memory. No idea why you hurt the way you do, or how you got where you are. No clue what your own name is, or who the people next to you are.

I’m seventeen-year-old Ryan Farnsworth, and that’s what happened to me. Now I have to walk a mile in my own, unfamiliar shoes; view myself through the eyes of a perfect stranger; live the life a former me chose. I also need to figure out why that former me tried to kill me.

As the blurb suggests, Ryan Farnsworth is a seventeen year old who has survived a suicide attempt but has lost all his memories in the process. This novel takes us through his journey as he rediscovers himself and  makes amends for his past sins.

The novel opens at the suicide scene and instantly sucks you in. It is a scene that could have easily been under-or-overwhelming. It was perfectly executed. And it was a good beginning. The author is to be applauded for her realistic narrative in the book. Written from the POV of a seventeen year old, it is a believable and empathic voice .

This was not my first time reading a novel in which the protagonist lost his/her memories. But it was one of the best I have read so far. Ryan is broken, not only because of the emotional strain but also because of the physical pain. He used to be a football jock, he now has the strength of a baby. He has to accept the fact that even a simple push can land him on his ass (and it does, many times).

Ryan’s painful struggle is palpable and his emotional pain potent through each and every page. There were moments when I wanted to introduce a few of the characters to a hammer. Really, he has so many broken bones (on the mend) and no memories, and they are just interested in him reclaiming his position on the game field! Seriously?

Ryan’s father was such an a**hole at times that you just wanted to beat the guy over the head to make him see the point and decide. He was also willfully blind. Ryan’s brother Lucas is a different case altogether.

We get only one life to live, Ryan is blessed to get two. In the first he is almost a monster. In the second we see him trying to make reparations, because even though he can change himself, he cannot change the past. Though I knew of his atrocious acts, I could not bring myself to hate him. Nor could I hate Luc, though his reactions seem unjustified for a part of the story.

I personally thought that the title is appropriate in more than one way.  Not only is Ryan’s memory erased, his whole personality is too. He is virtually a blank slate with a strong conscience. I also think that the title also stands true for Luc, though I won’t go into details.

For those who love a romantic angle, Ryan does have a sweet and innocent relationship. But what made this book special is the part about Luc and Ryan.  It is both painful and beautiful to witness.

This is a good book. I usually tend to avoid this genre (I am not fond of high school dramas and such), but not once did I feel that this book was a wrong pick. I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on another novel(same genre) by Maragret Chatwin. Enough said.