Thursday, June 30, 2011

White Cat by Holly Black

"Memory is slippery. It bends to our understanding of the world, twists to accommodate our prejudices. It is unreliable. Witnesses seldom remember the same things. They identify the wrong people. They give us the details of events that never happened. Memory is slippery, but my memories suddenly feel slipperier."
White Cat is a fantasy novel written by Holly Black. It is the first book of the Curse Workers series.
Rating: 3/5
Summary: Cassel's family are curse workers - people who can influence your mind, emotions and memories by touch. Cassel may not be a worker himself, but that's not the only thing that makes him different from the rest. He is haunted by the memories of killing a fourteen year old girl. He is a killer, and the only thing that protects him is his family. But as people who practice dark magic go, Cassel's family has a terrible secret too. And it is about to come out!
My thoughts: If not anything else, this book is definitely quotable. I found the writing very involving, and I liked the simple but descriptive style. The ideas are fresh and well implemented. I loved the characters, especially Cassel. Then again, I would have liked to know a bit more about them, but I guess that's the downside of reading only one book from a series. The plot is a bit 'slippery' and in the end you're left wondering how the hell the book ended so fast! It somehow felt like an introductory book, rather than a separate novel all by itself. Overall, the book is an entertaining and exciting one-time read. But I don't see myself reading the rest of the series any time soon.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Teaser Tuesday #13


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Grab your current read, open to a random page and share two teaser sentences from that page!


Caves of Steel is a book by Isaac Asimov, the first book in the Robot series. The novel takes place three thousand years into the future, when humans have started living in space with their robot helpers. Basically, the Earthlings hate the Spacers, and vice versa. The main theme of the novel is a murder of a Spacer, which is investigated by a human detective, Elijah Bailey and his robot partner R. Daneel Oliver. Here is my teaser for this week, from the book:

"Most Earthmen were Medievalists in one way or another. It was an easy thing to be when it meant looking back to a time when Earth was the world and not just one of fifty. The misfit one of fifty at that."

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Awful German Language


"The inventor of the language seems to have taken pleasure in complicating it in every way he could think of."


"The Awful German Language" is the most outrageously funny essay I've read in a long time. It was written in 1880 by Mark Twain as a part of the book "A Tramp Abroad."

As an English speaking person learning German as a second language, he explains his exasperation with the language using a bunch of wildly amusing examples. Personally, German being pretty similar to my mother tongue, it wasn't hard getting used to most of the rules; I can only imagine how complicated it otherwise must be.

The worst are, of course, the genders of the common nouns and Twain has a lot to say about them:

  • To continue with the German genders: a tree is male, its buds are female, its leaves are neuter; horses are sexless, dogs are male, cats are female - tomcats included, of course; a person's mouth, neck, bosom, elbows, fingers, nails, feet, and body are of the male sex, and his head is male or neuter according to the word selected to signify it, and not according to the sex of the individual who wears it.

The longest English word has forty five letters and no one bothers using it!! That's more than you can say for most German words!

  • Some German words are so long that they have a perspective. These things are not words, they are alphabetical processions. And they are not rare; one can open a German newspaper at any time and see them marching majestically across the page - and if he has any imagination he can see the banners and hear the music, too. They impart a martial thrill to the meekest subject. "Generalstaatsverordnetenversammlungen" seems to be "General-states-representatives-meetings," as nearly as I can get at it - a mere rhythmical, gushy euphuism for "meetings of the legislature," I judge.
It's not just the words that seem to irritate the writer, it is also the names! This incident had me laughing for an hour:

  • German names almost always do mean something, and this helps to deceive the student. I translated a passage one day, which said that "the infuriated tigress broke loose and utterly ate up the unfortunate fir forest" (Tannenwald). When I was girding up my loins to doubt this, I found out that Tannenwald in this instance was a man's name.

The writer doesn't stop at calling German language ridiculous - he does suggest ways to improve it. One of these includes removing the Dative case entirely!!

  • Personal pronouns are a fruitful nuisance in this language, and should have been left out. For instance, the same sound, sie, means you, and it means she, and it means her, and it means it, and it means they, and it means them. Think of the exasperation of never knowing which of these meanings the speaker is trying to convey. This explains why, whenever a person says sie to me, I generally try to kill him, if a stranger.

Of course, this essay is pretty biased, because English is basically built on exceptions and German rarely strays from the rules, making it much easier to learn! Still, I loved it. And I'm sure anyone who has ever learnt German as a second language will agree with every single thing Mr. Twain has to say!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

10 Reasons why I love Book Blogging!



Happy 1 year Blogoversary to The Broke and the Bookish!! Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new Top Ten list complete with one bloggers’ answers. This week's topic:

Top Ten Reasons I Love Being A Book Blogger

1. Writing: I get to do what I love the most on a regular basis!! And ever since I started blogging about books, I never ran out of topics. Book blogging got rid of that occasional case of writer's block!

2. Coming out of my shell: I didn't start this as a book blog, and I still do post other stuff as well. But I never talked about books as much as I now do. I guess finding so many fellow book bloggers has made me way more expressive than I was! Which brings me to my next point.

3. Getting to know other bookish people: Ironically, I don't have many "real-life" friends who love reading as much as I do. And most of those who do like reading, don't read the type of books that I do! Blogging gave me the chance to interact with so many like-minded readers.

4. Recommendations: Not to mention, all the wonderful book recommendations. There are so many books I read, so many new, wonderful authors I came across, since I started reading book blogs.

5. Book Reviews: I love reading book reviews, almost as much as I love reading books! I like to know what other people think about a book I've read!!

6. Authors: Getting to know so many authors, reading what they are upto and better yet, interacting with your favourite writers; that's definitely one of the best things about being a book blogger.

7. No Boredom: Having something to do all the time; reading or blogging about reading!

8. Leaving my comfort zone: For good! I've read so many books from so many different genres in the past few months, books that were recommended to me that I would never have picked up myself - YA, for one.

9. Keeping Record: I never really kept record of the books I read. Now I set goals and challenge myself to read and actually follow through with it. And...I avoid making excuses about not having time to read!!

10. A huge TBR heap: I am never going to have 'nothing good to read', for at least the next hundred years!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

I had a very busy day. But here I am, finally getting in the spirit of Father's Day. Just like great moms, fiction is also full of awesome fatherly figures, if not fathers! Here's a list of (some of) my Favourite Fictional Fathers:

5. Rupert Giles (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) - Buffy Summers's Watcher and the school librarian. He may not be her real Dad but he's everything you'd want a father to be! He's loving and caring and always there when Buffy needs him!!

(when Giles turns into a fyarl demon but Buffy recognizes him!)
Giles: How did you know it was me?
Buffy:
Your eyes. You're the only person in the world that can look that annoyed with me.


4. Marlin (Finding Nemo) - The cute little clownfish from Finding Nemo who literally crosses the world to find his son!!

Marlin: What if they don't like me?
Coral: Marlin!
Marlin: No, really.
Coral: There's over 400 eggs, odds are, one of them is bound to like you.

3. Danny, Jesse and Joey (Full House) - I used to love this show, and these three were pretty great dads!

Stephanie: (passing by Joey, Jesse and Danny) Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.
Jesse: (the teacher looks at them confused) What? Elizabeth Taylor's daughter had 7 fathers.

2. Death (Discworld) - Death is awesome. Of course! (even as a dad and granddad!)

"All right," said Susan. "I'm not stupid. You're saying humans need... fantasies to make life bearable."
REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.


1. Arthur Weasley (Harry Potter): As if it weren't awesome enough to be the father of six awesome Weasley kids (and one Percy), he's also like a father to Harry!! And his obsession with Muggles makes him absolutely adorable!

(when the boys drove his magically modified Ford Anglia)
Mr. Weasley: "Did you really? Did it go alright? I -- I mean ... that -- that was very wrong, boys, very wrong indeed..."

Happy Father's Day, people!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Something From the Nightside by Simon R. Green


"Everything you ever feared or dreamed of is running loose somewhere in the shifting streets of the Nightside, or waiting patiently for you in the expensive private rooms of patrons-only clubs. You can find anything in the Nightside, if it doesn't find you first. It's a sick, magical, dangerous place."
Something from the Nightside is an urban fantasy novel by Simon Green. It is the first book in the Nightside Series.

Rating: 3/5

Summary: John Taylor isn't just any private detective; he has a special psychic gift. He can find things with his private eye! John has been living in London for five years, away from trouble, when Joanna Barrett comes to him, asking him to find her daughter. Taylor soon realizes that he needs to face his gruesome past, and return to the Nightside to find this missing girl. He reluctantly agrees, and the couple head out to the dark, mysterious city - London's evil twin, praying to come out alive.

My thoughts: My first thought was that it would make a good movie, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The book screamed "trying hard to impress" though. The descriptions of the Nightside were as often and in as excruciating detail as of Edward in Twilight. And there were too many explanations for my taste! It was also slightly dramatic, a bit overdone at places. That being said, I did not entirely hate the book either. I found it pretty good, actually. It was entertaining. It was a quick, short read. It was gripping, the language was okay and the concept of the Nightside, though not entirely original, was nicely implemented. I do see myself reading the rest of Nightside series, though probably not in one go!

(This post is a part of Book Lovers's Blog Hop)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Top Ten Harry Potter "Aww" Moments!



Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is Top Ten Awww Moments (moments that made you go "awww")
Because there's exactly one month left for the Deathly Hallows Part 2 to release, I've decided to dedicate this week's TTT to just that! Here are my Top Ten Harry Potter Awww Moments:

1."Wangoballwime?" (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
Not that I particularly love Harry and Cho together, but this was absolutely cute.
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2. "Nitwit, blubber, oddment, tweak." (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone)
Classic, right? Dumbledore's pretty aww. I remember him saying something like "Pip pip" too sometime.
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3. “He accused me of being ‘Dumbledore’s man through and through.”
“How very rude of him.”
“I told him I was.”
Dumbledore opened his mouth to speak and then closed it again. Behind Harry, Fawkes the phoenix let out a low, soft, musical cry. To Harry’s intense embarrassment, he suddenly realized that Dumbledore’s bright blue eyes looked rather watery, and stared hastily at his own knees. When Dumbledore spoke, however, his voice was quite steady.
“I am touched, Harry.” (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince)

I bet you're saying 'aww' as we speak.
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4. "Er-my-nee," croaked Ron unexpectedly from between them. They all fell silent, watching him anxiously, but after muttering incomprehensibly for a moment he merely started snoring.
Ron. is. so. cute.
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5. “I don’t think you’re a waste of space.”(...)“Well ...er...thanks, Dudley.”Again, Dudley appeared to grapple with thoughts too unwieldy for expression before mumbling, “You saved my life.” (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
Okay, I won't call it my favourite moment. But it was unexpected and nice coming from Big D.
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6. Harry did not really listen. A warmth was spreading through him that had nothing to do with the sunlight; a tight obstruction in his chest seemed to be dissolving. He knew that Ron and Hermione were more shocked than they were letting on, but the mere fact that they were still there on either side of him, speaking bracing words of comfort, not shrinking from him as though he were contaminated or dangerous, was worth more than he could ever tell them. (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince)
Isn't this the best friendship ever? I love them.
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7. “There are all kinds of courage,” said Dumbledore, smiling. “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom.” (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone)
Neville's awesome.
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8. Black’s gaunt face broke into the first true smile Harry had seen upon it. The difference it made was startling, as though a person ten years younger were shining through the starved mask; for a moment, he was recognizable as the man who had laughed at Harry’s parents’ wedding. (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)
...right after he asks Harry to move in with him. It's one of my favourite books in the series! I love all of James' past, just the four Marauders that is - without Snape butting in.
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9. "NEVER-INSULT-ALBUS-DUMBLEDORE-IN-FRONT-OF-ME!" (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone)
I love Hagrid and how much he loves Dumbledore!
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10. "Not my daughter, you bitch!" (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
Of course. :)
By the way, I absolutely hated it when Sirius, Dumbledore, Moody, Dobby and Fred died, so no "aww"s there!
What are your favourite Harry Potter moments?


Teaser Tuesday #12


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share two teaser sentences from that page!


I took a pretty long (a week) break from books. I am halfway done with Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut, but then I decided to read something else for now. So my teaser this week is from a fantasy novel called House of Many Ways, a sequel to Diana Wynne Jones's Howl's Moving Castle. It's a magical book!

"The fat book she had in her hand was called The Book of Void and Nothingness. Not surprisingly, when she opened it, the pages were blank. But she could feel under her fingers each empty page sort of purring and writhing with hidden magics."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Blame It on the Weatherman

It's raining like crazy. I hope it stops raining. I love to sit at home and read and sip hot coffee while it's raining outside. When I was a kid I used to love to play in all the puddles! I used to love the rains - the smell of the mud and the lush green grass, that sort of thing - until I started having to drive myself home from places. I was coming home from class the other day, and I was soaked and stuck in a huge traffic jam and feeling pretty sorry for myself, when I saw this car next to me - a wedding car. Can you imagine? Just stuck there for over an hour. There was the couple in the back seat looking absolutely miserable - and suddenly I felt a lot better. There is a mean satisfaction in knowing someone's having a way worse time than you!

Incidentally, my pet cats had the first rains of their lives this time. I spent a whole lot of time yesterday building a sort of a "cat kennel" in my back yard, where they could spend the night without getting wet! Now all I have to do is wait and see how long it takes them to rip it to shreds. The cats are all grown up, about to turn one now, but that doesn't stop them from running for their lives, tail between the legs, every time it starts to even drizzle. It's fun to watch!!

Not always, though. You know, we were waiting outside this hotel the other day and it was raining pretty heavily. Anyway, I saw a furry white cat, completely soaked, trotting along the street with a piece of meat in its mouth. Personal experience made me wonder why it wasn't hiding. But this cutie calmly jumped its way up on the roof of a hut and under some branches of a tree above. I heard small high pitched mews and could make out three of the sweetest little kittens scampering up to their mommy. The cat went on to feed the meat to those tiny balls of fur, licking them and gently playing about with them. It was adorable.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Teaser Tuesday #11 - The Thief of Always

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Grab your current read, open to a random page and share two teaser sentences from that page!

My teaser this week is from a book that I just finished reading. It's like a children's book, that is also for adults called The Thief of Always, written by Clive Barker. A little boy named Harvey is sitting at home, bored, with no idea what to do. The idea comes though, when a man named Rictus comes flying into his house through a window. He invites Harvey to spend some time at a wonderful place called Holiday House. Harvey gladly agrees. Soon though, Harvey realizes that Holiday House isn't as magical as it seems.

I loved the book right from the first line. So that's what the teaser is:

"The great gray beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive. Here he was, buried in the belly of that smothering month, wondering if he would ever find his way out through the cold coils that lay between here and Easter."

Top Ten Settings In Books


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there will be a new Top Ten list complete with one bloggers’ answers. This week's topic:

Top ten settings/worlds in books:


1. Discworld (Discworld series by Terry Pratchett) Particulary Death's home, though I would prefer that I didn't have to die to go there.

2. The Ministry of Magic (Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling) I know most people would choose Hogwarts, but I just think the Ministry is more, you know, original. Or Gringotts. Or the Forbidden Forest. Or the Burrow. Ok, all of it!

3. Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle series by Diana Wynne Jones) That castle is awesome - and so is the book!

4. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books (The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón) There are tonnes of thousands of books just waiting to be picked up - what's not to like!?

5. The Parallel Universes (The Chronicles of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones) I love the idea of the different universes, and that each person has spiritual doubles in the rest of the worlds!!

6. The Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams) I just don't seem to be able to choose just one planet.

7. The Marsten House (Salem's Lot by Stephen King) Actually the whole town is kind of creepily awesome.

8. The Graveyard (The Graveyard book by Neil Gaiman) Hardly my favourite Neil Gaiman book, but I like this setting.

9. Holiday House (The Thief of Always by Clive Barker) The supposedly blissful, magical place that turns out to be something else - I love it!!

10. The Overlook Hotel (The Shining by Stephen King) A hotel with a personality that manipulates its guests? Not quite original but it did scare me - a lot.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

(image courtesy: here)

On Writing by Stephen King is actually two books. The first is a vivid description of his childhood and what got him into writing: his autobiography of sorts. In the second part he tells us what, how and how much to write.
The title of the book might fool you into thinking this is "How To" book. It's not. It's a memoir. Even if it were, this book is the most refreshingly honest "How To" book I have ever read.

The first part of the novel is as entertaining as an autobiography can get. I don't particularly like reading autobiographies. What King has written, is a series of anecdotes loosely stringed together. You know where he grew up, you know which schools he went to, you know he went through some pretty bad times(who doesn't?); but you know all that through a bunch of hilarious exploits! I found the narration in the first part of the book rather spectacular!

In the next part of the book, King takes a broad approach to writing. He doesn't give you a list of seven things you shouldn't do - with no further explanation given. No. He writes about his experiences with writing. He talks about the process, not the results. He keeps the book very practical; he tells incidents that help you give that underlying advice to yourself, rather than a numbered list of things to do. Those never work, this will. He tells us how he wrote the book Carrie or The Stand. He writes with much ease about his shortcomings as well. King doesn't just write about himself - he also tells us about other authors. There is no "sit in a quiet place" and "write five pages a day" here. If that's what you're looking for, you'll be disappointed.

I can list down the things he mentions. Writing paragraphs, giving descriptions, adverbs and the passive voice (which happen to be his pet peeves!!) But I think it's best to read the entire book! I would recommend it to anyone who loves to read and write. It's awesome!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mini Review!

Books I wish I read when I was a kid. Yes. I read it right now. Call me crazy...!

When I was little, I read an awesome book at my aunt's place. It was something about some bunnies...I can't remember what. And it's killing me. Ugh. Anyway, I also read Matilda back then. By Roald Dahl, of course! And I love it. Of course. I didn't read any other books by Dahl though - a very stupid thing to do.

Anyway. I've always (firmly) believed that it's never too late to read a children's book! With me, it's totally okay to read (and love) a children's book - even when you're nineteen, that is. So. I did! You know, like I read the likes of the Graveyard book by Neil Gaiman and found them nice. Now I finally read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

It was like being a kid again. I mean, it did seem silly reading the book now - but I can see how I would have totally loved it as a kid. Blame my house full of Enid Blyton books.

Just a quick summary: Five lucky kids win a day trip to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory - the biggest and the best in the world! A day long tour with Mr. Wonka himself, and a lifetime's supply of Wonka chocolates. Then things go very wrong, as they usually do. But everything turns out fine, as it usually does.

It is one of the funniest and most fascinatingly whimsical children's books I have ever read! And the most delicious one too!! And you know, there is that whole dark side to it. I guess it's more obvious in the movies.
The descriptions are magical and when the chocolate doesn't seem delicious enough (which is never) there are absurd Oompa Loompa songs to crack you up!

Unless you're ninety, in which case you might not like it just as much, read this book! Go, now!