Tag: bibliophile

Book Review: A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams).

A Streetcar Named Desire.

–   Tennessee Williams.

A Streetcar Named Desire has been on my reading wishlist since I studied American Literature for my Masters. Finally, I started reading it and it was worth it. This play was written by Tennessee Williams after World War II.

The story begins when Blanche DuBois decides to stay with her sister Stella and her husband Stanley in New Orleans. From the beginning, as a reader, you can tell that Blanche is hiding something that she is not okay. The signs that she has anxiety are seen from the get-go especially reading now when there is awareness about mental health issues. Stella is careful around Blanche and she knows her sister sensitive. Stanley Kowalski is Stella’s husband. The first impression of his character for me was that he is practical but that changed later.

Blanche and Stella come from an aristocratic Southern family and lived in a big house called the Belle Reve. Stella leaves the house after she falls in love with Stanley and this leaves Blanche responsible for the estate. Blanche is upset when Stella asks about Belle Reve and admits that the house is lost to creditors and now she has nothing. It does seem like she blames Stella a little bit for leaving everything behind for Stanley. When she finds out that Stella is pregnant, she is overjoyed for her sister.

Blanche and Stanley tolerate each other because of Stella but are constantly at odds with each other. Blanche is rude in the beginning about Stanley’s origins being different than theirs and later simply starts thinking of him as a brute. Stanley goes out of his way to poke at her and make her lose her fragile mental balance, he provokes her. Blanche is constantly on edge and slowly is starts unraveling the things that she has been through. She thinks highly of herself that’s evident but she is also vulnerable and scared most of the time. Mitch is Stanley’s friend who Blanche looks at as a potential suitor because she has always sought the protection of men. Mitch leaves her when he finds out things about her past and even tries to force her.

The characters of Blanche, Stella, Stanley, and Mitch all have their unique characterizations that add to the story. Blanche has a tragic past with her husband Trevor who killed himself after she found out about his homosexuality. It definitely indicates that Blanche feels responsible for his death because it follows the confrontation she has with Trevor. She is considered promiscuous by people in the town of Laurel because she seeks men’s company and that’s the reason she comes to New Orleans. Stanley defines the typical masculinity of the age with his behavior. He gets violent when he drinks and even hits Stella but at times she is the only one he is tender to and it is disturbing to read and understand.

The story of the play, the characters, and the setting come together really well. Even the musical cues while reading play a part in the plot though it might be more effective on stage. She is worried about her age and later she stops going out in daylight so people won’t realize her true age. Blanche is taken to a mental institution in the end but the decline of her mental health is evident as the story progresses; when Stanley rapes her it is in a way the last straw for her. Her understanding of reality and her fantasies blend together and she can’t tell the difference anymore. Stella is distraught when Blanche is taken away and regrets agreeing to it. The end is heartbreaking.

I loved reading this play and it is classic for a reason. The symbolism and the themes are subtly interwoven throughout the play which enhances the reading experience. I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading this play but I was pleasantly surprised. It is a must-read.

*Get you own copy from Amazon by clicking on the cover image above.

Currently Reading…(December ’19)

Here are the books I am reading this month and hope to finish them by the end of it.

1) Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontè.

My friend recommended this book to me years ago and finally, I am reading it. It’s completely intriguing and captivating. I particularly like the mystery element and descriptions of the setting which play an important part in the plot. I can’t put the book away till I finish at least 3 chapters in one go. It is going slower than I expected because my paperback has a very fine print which is making it hard for me to read at a stretch.

2) IT – Stephen King.

I decided to read this book after I saw the first movie earlier this year then decided to wait till I saw the chapter 2 as well. I usually don’t watch movie adaptations till I read the book but I wasn’t sure how I felt about reading horror. I enjoyed the movies but the book has so many interesting details and backstories. This is why watching the movies haven’t affected my enthusiasm to read this book. I am halfway through it already.

3) The Perfect Hope – Nora Roberts.

I read this book years ago and I really liked it. I read the Inn Boonsboro trilogy a while back and enjoyed the stories and the characters. Surprisingly, I didn’t read it again though for a couple of years like I tend to do. I just started it but I know I will breeze through it in a day if I get a chance. It is the third book of the trilogy and these are the characters I was waiting for to have their own story. I am excited to read it again.

Book Review: Lord of the Flies (William Golding).

Lord of the Flies

– William Golding.

Lord of the Flies is a book about a group of boys who end up on an inhabited island after a plane crash. In the beginning, the boys are excited to enjoy their freedom without any adults around to supervise them but then things start going haywire.

The plot of the novel seems pretty straightforward but as I read on I started to understand the deeper meanings and themes of the story. This is an allegorical novel and it is intricately layered throughout. The main character of the book is Ralph who kind of becomes a leader of the group of boys with Piggy, an intellectual boy as his sidekick. Jack is a choirboy who at first befriends Ralph, becomes the leader of the hunting party and eventually turns to the dark side.At first, everyone seems to be getting along well enough but eventually, they start drifting apart and then turn against each other.

The story starts taking a dark and twisted turn as it progresses making the reader cringe a little. The theme of good versus evil is the first thing that popped out for me as I was reading. The need to have a civilized order in society is ingrained in all humans and without that order, there is complete chaos. Ralph and Piggy represent the order while Jack and his group embrace the chaos. Survival is another important aspect of the novel.


Every little detail in the book has a purpose; it is symbolic. For example – the conch used by the boys represents the need for a civil order of humans. I found the book a little difficult to read at times due to its pacing and heaviness. The start of the plot is slow and for a few chapters, I had to be patient and continue reading. Then everything starts happening all at once and that keeps you intrigued also giving you an understanding of the chaos on the island in the story. There is so much in the novel I could talk about; half of it I understood completely after I researched the book.


It is difficult for me to say if I like this book or not. Like I said before it is an allegorical novel about the conflicts between savagery and civilization, good and evil, etc. It is interesting to read; understanding slowly the meaning of the novel, the symbols and themes keep you interested. There is so much substance in the story that it becomes heavy to read at a stretch. Though, it is not a book you can read again and again even if you liked it.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Book Review: The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini).

The Kite Runner

by Khaled Hosseini.

The book is set in Afghanistan in the year 1975 before the exile of the King Zahir Shah and the invasion of the Soviet Union. The story has two parts; one part takes place in the past while the other in the present.

The story is about a unique friendship between two young boys Amir and Hassan. The plot of the novel stays true to its protagonists and the main narrator of the novel is Amir. The story begins in Afghanistan in 1975 and later moves on to the United States of America and then comes back to Afghanistan. The plot develops on the basis of the bond between these two boys Amir and Hassan and as it progresses, it leads to betrayal. The story beautifully brings out every emotion the characters face may it be joy, guilt or redemption. It explores the different dynamics of the relationships between the characters in the novel.

In the novel, there is a stark contrast between the lives of the Afghans before the civil war and during the reign of Taliban. It was very interesting to read the descriptions of Kabul as it is not something that comes to our minds when we imagine it. The culture, people and the atmosphere of that time seems so realistic through the descriptions and feels a little reminiscent from the writer’s point of view. The descriptions in the book show a disparity between the way of life in the First World through Amir and then when he goes back to Afghanistan to rescue his nephew, through his narration we get to know the terrible condition of people in the war-torn nation.

Amir and his father are among the many that fled Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion and there are references to the kind of struggles they go through as the immigrant population of the country. The novel boasts of strong characters yet they have flaws which keep them grounded and relatable to the readers. It is an amazing book no doubt but at times it becomes difficult to read due to its heavy subject matter and themes. It is a book which gives us an insight into the lives of the Afghan people before it became a war-torn nation which is a fresh perspective for today’s readers.

The book is divided into two parts between the past and the present. The story doesn’t feel disconnected at any point even with the division. It actually shows the difference in the characters lives. Some moments stay with you for days after you have finished reading. It painted a whole new picture of Afghanistan before all the troubles. The characters are so genuine, you feel connected to their emotions and journeys from the start which makes their arcs more satisfying.

The Kite Runner is one of my favorite books of all time. It remains fresh in your mind for a long time after reading. The emotions of love for friends and family, guilt and redemption are main themes throughout the story. I highly recommend this book, it’s tragic yet beautiful.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Book Review: The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway).

The Old Man and the Sea.

-Ernest Hemingway.

Ernest Hemingway is one of my favorite authors. I have read a couple of books written by him now including this one and really liked it. The Old Man and the Sea is more of a novella than a full-length novel but still just as good.

The novella is a story of an old struggling Cuban fisherman Santiago. As the story begins, Santiago hasn’t caught a fish in 84 days and he is seen as the worst form of unluckiness. A young boy is his apprentice Manolin, whom he encourages to work on successful fishing vessels instead of him. What follows is an epic tale of an old fisherman going head to head with a huge marlin fish. Santiago is so determined to catch this fish and he puts all of his strength to make sure the fish doesn’t slip away from him.

The story has classic elements when it comes to its themes and symbolism. The theme of perseverance, man versus nature, isolation, strength, and skill, past and pride all come into play in this story. Some are more explicit while the others are a bit more subtle but constantly undercurrent to the story. Santiago refuses to give up even when faced with unwinnable odds and is determined to restore his pride and reputation by catching the fish.

The narration of the story is from a third person point of view which I think enabled me to get a complete feel of the overall plot and the characters. Hemingway’s writing style is powerful and descriptive. There are no big words used, the language is fairly simple. It is one of the reasons I personally like his writing style. The descriptions in the novel really give the complete feel of the physical aspects present in the novel. For example- the smells, the rough sea descriptions actually help visualize the scenario.

An unusual tale about a man and a fish resurrected Hemingway’s career and won him awards, praises, and accolades. Hemingway through his powerful writing and timeless thematic aspects make this short story unforgettable.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

My Favorite Fantasy Book Series

My Favorite Fantasy Book Series

I don’t read fantasy books that frequently but I have read a few fantasy book series now. This list is based only on the book series I have read till now and specifically the one I really liked. So, I made a list of the fantasy book series I have loved so far.

1) Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling.

Harry Potter was my initiation into fantasy books and also into book series. Before I never read book series preferring to read standalone works. What can I say about this series which hasn’t been said before; I can say that I love it! I have re-read the series over the years and it still brings me the same joy. The characters and the story is what hooked me when it came to these books. It remains one of the favorite books of all time.

2) The Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

I binge watched the first three seasons of Game of Thrones one summer during college. I loved the show and decided to read the book series. The pace of the books is slower in places but it is very interesting. The character insights and motives are something which is limited on screen but in the book, you get a perfect sense of the characters. It is actually my favorite thing about these books, the characterization. The books differ from the show but it is just as intriguing and wonderful experience reading the books as it is to watch the tv series. I hope the next book comes out soon, the last one ends on a cliffhanger.

3) Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Lux series is a fantasy book series which has five books in it. I have read works of this author before so when I read the premise of this book I picked it up. It is a really interesting read. I finished the first book almost overnight and the other four the following days. Katy moves into a new alien and meets her infuriating neighbor Daemon. The chemistry between these two characters is pretty evident from the start and I really liked the way their relationship evolved over the books, It is a teenage romance with fantasy and science fiction elements to it. It can be predictable at times but the overall experience was very enjoyable.

4) The First Law by Joe Abercrombie

The First Law is a trilogy written by the British author Joe Abercrombie and its set a mythical world. Honestly, I had never heard about this series before but the premise seemed intriguing so I read it. The books are unpredictable, violent yet maintain certain a sense of humor though it is gritty in nature. The series is a delightful fantasy series which kept me on the edge as the complicated characters draw you into their worlds. I went through this series pretty quickly and loved reading it.

5) Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

I know Twilight is kind of a controversial choice. I read Twilight when I was a teenager and I loved it. I found Bella pretty relatable with her awkward, clumsy and introverted nature. I am aware these books are not masterpieces but they hold a certain appeal especially to a specific demographic. I am fond of the series because it is nostalgic to me. I finished the books back to back and I have re-read them. I think the books are much better than the movies in comparison. Even in my early 20’s now, I still like this series for some reason.

These books are some of the best fantasy books I have read so far. I am sure there are much more amazing book series in the fantasy genre which I haven’t even read. This list might see some additions to it over the period of time.

My Favorite Book Quotes.

 

My Favourite Book Quotes.

 

There are lots of quotes from lots of books which I enjoyed reading. I can assure there will be many more lists here of my favorite quotes. This is the first of many. These quotes are the one that came to mind fairly easily so I decided to go with them.

 

1)    Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

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There are many emotional extracts in the book but this quote I like the most. Catherine says this to Nelly when she thinks they are alone but Heathcliff hears her. This moment changes the course of the entire plot ahead. I couldn’t help but feel heartbroken for both of them. Catherine is right in her own way though I wish she would listen to her heart and Heathcliff is left heartbroken after hearing this.

 

2)   The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

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This made me cry like a baby. Though I knew from the beginning that this book won’t have a happy ending, I was shocked. Augustus and Hazel as characters were so endearing; it was easy to get attached to them. This extract is from the letter Augustus leaves for Hazel as a kind of a comfort after his death and it perfectly sums up his feelings for her and it is a perfect goodbye he wanted her to have. It has the same effect even after re-reads.

 

3)  The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

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It tells about the biggest sin in life according to Amir’s father and it is true. No one realizes the impact there small selfish deeds have on the people who care about them. I never realized it before I read this; that stealing is a violation to all the good things in life and it leaves scars which don’t heal easily.

 

4) Easy by Tammara Webber.

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It tells us so much about the attraction between two people in simple words. Everyone desires someone this way at least once in their life and it is scary but a powerful emotion. It is about the pure passion between two people and it is described honestly through Jacqueline’s character throughout the book. The descriptions of emotions centering around lust and love throughout the book are really to the point and simply put, they are relatable.

 

5) A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway.

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I liked this quote the first time I read this book and I am not sure if I completely understood its depth. Now, after reading the book again, I understand the emotions so much better and this quote is one of most favorite ones. I can’t exactly explain its appeal to me but for some reason or the other, I find this quote extremely relatable. A Farewell to Arms is actually one of my all-time favorites books.

 

So, these are a few of my favorite quotes from books and there are many many more to go.

Kane and Abel by Jeffery Archer (Book Review)

Kane and Abel

– Jeffery Archer.

The story is about William Lowell Kane and Abel Rosnovski; William the son of a Boston Billionaire banker while Abel is an orphan, penniless immigrant from Poland. The two main protagonists have nothing in common whatsoever except the date of their birth which is 18th April 1906, born in different continents on the same day. The plot follows the lives of these two successful men and the animosity and hatred they share, spanning for almost sixty years. It’s the first book I read written by Jeffery Archer and I have followed his works since reading this one.

The narration of the story alternates between the two characters; one chapter is for Kane than the next one is for Abel. This gives an insight into the characters in detail almost simultaneously and it makes us understand these characters and their journeys. For me, it made me invested in the characters. The chapters are so interesting that you almost wish that point of view wouldn’t shift to the other character in the next chapter.

The element of ‘time’ plays a role in the plot especially the historical context. The book follows the protagonist from their birth into childhood to teenage then to adulthood. Both the World Wars take place during the time period of the book. It plays nicely into the story.  Abel, who grew up in Russia occupied Poland before the Germans captured it during World War I. While William loses his father in the disaster of the Titanic and it changes the course of his life. This setting plays a role in the way the characters are shaped; it can be clearly seen.

The heart of this book is no doubt the two titular characters who hate each other but have never met. They are unaware of the fact that they have met before and their lives have intertwined. Both the characters struggle to get where they are successful and powerful. Abel’s struggle is at times basic survival. He suffers during World War I, his sister dies in front of him and it is really heart-breaking. Kane, on the other hand, struggles with family issues after losing his father yet has some sense of security all the time. Their struggles might be different but the trajectory of their lives is in a way similar. I felt that their personalities too are very similar even if they don’t like each other which is ironic.

The book is slightly on the longer side because it does cover a span of sixty years. It remains interesting and intriguing throughout. Its one of my all-time favorite books. It made me a fan of Jeffery Archer.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.