A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

51u33eyhhl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Though heartrendingly sad, this book is a beautiful story about finding hope in grief, letting go and moving on. It was too poignant by the final chapters, inducing emotions in every sentence, making you wish for more pages, just to delay the inevitable ending. And I highly suggest the illustrated paperback over a digital copy.1i2a8lConnor was surprised to see a giant yew tree monster by his window, but not terrified. For his life was taking him through far worse things to worry about. Mom had started treatments and he was a regular target for being picked. He felt alienated and suffocated by the sympathy and pity around him from friends and teachers. So he shouts at the monster, who then starts telling folktale like stories at night, each with contradicting ideas. Anything more than this might be a spoiler for the reading experience.

Loved the way author kept the supernatural element and real life interspersed- monster visits as surreal as it could be and school life as real as it would be. Though the story is in the small universe of a 13 year old boy, roles played these limited characters were far sufficient to convey the right emotions. Like his grandma, with whom he is not comfortable with that unavoidable eventual moving in.
“You and me? Not the most natural fit, are we?, but we have something in common – Your mom.”capture

I remember finishing the book by about 1 am in the morning and being left with almost moist eyes. All I wanted then was to hug my mom, would have even called her if not for the late hour.

The b&w illustrations were stylized and beautiful, extremely detailed and perfectly transcending with the printing. Now I am overly excited for the already hyped Doctor Who spin off – Class. With a writer like Patrick Ness, it shouldn’t go wrong.

And here is the movie adaptation trailer, looks pretty amazing. And like someone in comment section said, Liam Neeson has really branched out for this one.

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On The Banks Of The Mayyazhi by M. Mukundan

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Mayyazhi river, Mahé, Puducherry

We are so used to stories and historical accords of European colonization and the atrocities they inflict upon the natives. Well, this book says the story of now union territory Mahé, which was previously a French colony and an ace example of communal harmony and cultural assimilation post colonization. French settled here along with the natives, getting mixed with culture and believes, raising their generations. It’s really interesting and refreshing to read on life at Mahé, in its innocence and ignorance, where kids grow up hearing stories of Indian mythology and Joan of Arc. Also stories of the times where, religion language and ethnicity barely made any difference in day to day life.

Author has done an excellent job in conveying the essence in right amount of words, giving stories about various factions of Mayyazhi, on Mahé being home for them. Then followed the local helplessness on rebellion since they have been seeing and living along with French for generations as friends and family.
“Where will the white people go, this is their home too.”
It gets pretty visceral by the end, with accords of old people waiting for French ships with the hope of seeing their friends for one final time, the mental struggle within some locals on choosing whether to move to France or stay in Mahé..

Gotta admire the author for putting together all these aspects in and around the love story of a rebel torn between his future, ideology and family, pulling us through the moral confusion with side tracks of ancient stories of the soil. Prose was a little difficult, thanks to accented conversations and french names.

Would have given 4 stars if the book had ended before last two chapters, something I have an issue with many books contemporary to this one.

 

Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology

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“So Persephone is the daughter of this chick Demeter
who is the goddess of like fertility and crops and whatnot
and she is also incredibly hot.
So hot, in fact
that Hades is down in the underworld (which is also called Hades actually)
and he looks up one day and he sees her and he goes “DAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAA
AAAAA
AAAA
YUM.
I gotta get me some of that.”
So he just pops on up to the world in his black chariot of ultimate wretchedness
and he says “Hey, little girl do you want to come to hell?”
and she probably would have said no
only he kidnapped her.”

Now you have the idea, read along myths like a stand up comedy. Go, have a few good laughs, If you are up for this.

If bettermyths.com is your reason to read the book, prepare to be a bit disappointed. Nevertheless, this is a hilarious take on popular myths with little care given on writing, punctuation and language. Book is laugh out loud funny for most parts, at least till you find the usual style annoying. Then on it feels like an overstayed welcome, a trying too hard charade with occasional laughs, extirpating whatever interest you build up with these myths so far.

I have found the book really funny for the stories I am familiar with. Then there were many original myths unknown to me, ruined by this teenage ranting. This isn’t a one sit read material, but an episodic spoof for popular myths from cultures all over the world. A better analogy to this book, would be those hishe and honest trailer videos. Better understood after knowing the source material.

If you love mythologies, and are not easily offended, this is a definite reco from me. Even if you tend to be offended easily, epilogue is a go. That’s some serious arguments on science, religion and mythology, which might help you experience all the same with improved tolerance. And go have a few good laughs.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

The knack of reading this book is either being rich enough to afford a physical copy or tricking some-one into gift you the same. After seeing the hard print alone did I realize the extent of detail that was lost in ebook reproductions. And the book comes with its own soundtrack 🙂hol-cover2

It is a well-researched scholarly article on a fictional non-existent film, laden with tons of references and footnotes, also happens to be written by a blind mad man, compiled by a messed up tattoo artist, and published by some mysterious editors. Inception gives a familiar yet novel Lovecraftian feel, Pickmans Model or Cool air to be exact, where protagonist learns about Zampano(this book’s Pickman or Dr.Monaz), posthumously though – a weird guy who lived a secluded life shutting himself in a nearby rented apartment, with his uncanny research. Lead soon finds himself obsessed with the dead guy’s newfound material which turns out to be on a strange in-explainable homemade movie. The film contains some seemingly real life footage – experiences Navidson, a Pulitzer prize winning photojournalist and his family encountered on moving to a new house, which happens to be bigger on the inside than outside. And it’s not a Tardis with perception filter. Well, the House rearranges on itself in space and leaves one five and a half minute hallway down to earth, sometime soon after being occupied by this young family.

Navidson records are more like those eerie mad Tardis episodes, or the mysterious Island and Black smoke of Lost. Messing up with its inhabitants, making fun of known physics and logic. Those Hi8 records deals more with psychological effects the house has on the family and people associated, aspects of male dominance and female strive for attention, relationship studies, semantics etc. And reader knows all this because, its written in the form of compiled research with footnotes, multiple references, verbatims, transcripts of interviews, journal entries and so forth. Truant, Navidson and Zampano are shown as confused males who were deprived of their right to name what they inherently understand as their own.

And beware, this book has got nothing to do with Da Vincis Demons or the Truks.

With a preface that literally says- This is not for you, the fully remastered coloured edition pretty much looks like the compilation House of Leaves boasts itself to be. Accords of Truant is in Typeface and Navidson records are in Times New Roman, and unlike other books where different timelines are separated with chapters, here the stories pretty much meddle each other, leaving readers only one distinction element – font. And Navidson and Truant are expressed like two poles of personality, a well organized successful family guy trying to understand the anomaly in his newly bought house to a washed out tattoo artist in company of hookers researching on the former. And more and more he dwells into the research, more is he lost from his social life, much like his predecessor Zampano.

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This edition was extremely faithful to its commitment on colour coding and fonts – every time the word house was printed they kept it blue, Minotaur parts red and striked out since Zampano wanted it off his research collection. In fact the publishers were so committed that they blued haus in a german name burghausen which was a reference, on a side note, by a right column, printed inverted.

Inside its splintered timeline, the book was as sick as the House itself and had with its weirdness, maybe a tad obsessed over the Navidson Records as well. Much surprisingly there is little follow up for the book except for The Whalestone letters, a series of letters from Truants mom over her life at asylum. They were elegantly written and heartrendingly beautiful. Also serves its purpose of giving the much suggested confusion for an open ending, thus being the essential House of Leaves companion.

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From Whalestone letters, take this as my apology for a review this long

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There were pages that needed to be read on mirror, stroked off red references, nonsense blue boxes with and without text, nonsense blue boxes with black colour, gaps in pages that made reading like watching a tennis match from net-side, pages with few lines, single lines, single words even, and prints that needed to be turn in 45, 90, 180 degrees and its multiples. It doesn’t end there, there were transcripts of interviews with people like King, Donna Tartt, Kuberick, Hofstadter, David Copperfield and more. Verbatims in French, German, Greek, Latin and other fonts that I couldn’t fathom. Links to legends and stories like Minotaur, Beatrice, Dante, Bible, references that link back to book by page numbers. Maybe to add agoraphobia with the eeriness of house exploration, there were pages where writings were squeezed into descending smaller blocks much like the reducing walls.

“Doorways offer passage but windows offer vision”, And this book offered both, once you are past the initial vagueness and dilatoriness.

This book is a satirical proof that given the required resources and right amount of motivation people can research on anything to any extend much like this review. And Navidson Records if exists would have been the new age Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity, and House of leaves itself would be The Fourth Kind.

Here is a link to the track mentioned by the end of the book, five and a half minute hallway, from album ‘Haunted’ by Poe, She is Mark’s sister and this was done as a companion to the book. Pretty snazzy for a book to have its own soundtrack.

The fully coloured remastered edition does feels like facsimiles of Turant’s Zampano research. And within all its weirdness it manages to be a well written open thriller that keeps you on the edge. I would give the book 5 stars for being weird and awesome.

Rendezvous with Rama

A Mountain of Madness in space, probably one of the finest First Contact story of all time, whose influence is readily visible in most of pop culture sci fi. Though never evasive in details Rendezvous with Rama is a big scientific tease, that does not deliver. At least not everything in the first book of a long series.

A near future Earth with interstellar travel, where scientists have exhausted almost every pantheon except the Hindu Gods in naming celestial bodies, intercepts a huge alien starship for asteroid somewhere outside the orbit of Jupiter and names it Rama. Then follows the chronic rendezvous by a manned survey vessel which investigates the alien world through its course till perihelion.Every single time they mentioned space drive, I was imagining Infinity Probability Drive and Heart of Gold, thank you Douglas Adams.

I couldn’t help but compare it with Lovecraft’s A Mountain of Madness all through the read, though one links to Ancient Astronauts and other to Future ones – Shoggoths in hollow earth and Ramans in an enormous steam cake hollow cylindrical ship. Loved the scientific explanations with the Raman ship, astronaut maundering, thrilling discoveries and detailed descriptions of an alien universe. Also it was quite cool to have it written from two aspects, from the pov of investigation crew and dissection by diplomats at space guard. That forgettable sequel of Independence Day totally stole the Space guard idea, though it didn’t help them in any way.Hats off to the imagination he put in developing the universe of Rama and connecting the same with known physics, especially the interaction differences astronauts experience in the alien atmosphere.

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Pretty sure, Rama’s circular ocean was the inspiration for Interstellar’s Cooper Station. And it would be amazing to see the whole world unravel in big screen, high time too. But there were issues in execution, atleast to me as a reader. The initial exploration and deductions off that gigantic space ship was totally contradicting with whatever got revealed by the end. Might make sense in further installments, still it leaves a sense of in-completion.