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S. Shamma "Suad" (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

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Why Moms Are Weird
Why Moms Are Weird
by Pamela Ribon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.66

5.0 out of 5 stars Good kind of weird, 7 Mar 2013
This review is from: Why Moms Are Weird (Paperback)
I put off reading this book for months after I bought it. When I first came across this book, it was through amazon, and the title caught my attention, then the positive reviews caught my interest. I went looking for it at bookstores around me and couldn't find it anywhere, so I ended up ordering it online. When I first received the book, I admit I didn't like the look of it. I was worried that I have been duped by amazon reviews, the way I was with "The Hating Game" (, so I put it aside and figured I'd get to it eventually. Months later, it was still lying there on my bedside table, I picked it up and couldn't even remember why I wanted to read it in the first place or what it was about.

The minute I started reading it, I realized how wrong I was to have put it off for this long. I knew I was in for a treat, and I was. Pamela Ribon is an incredibly talented writer, and I've come to understand that she started off with her own blog, which then transferred to books. That must be why you could relate so much to her writing style, because it is very personable, it almost feels like every section is just another blog post. Absolutely wonderful. I like the fact that there aren't chapters, but more like moments. The whole book works that way, in moments. Each section describes a moment in Benny's life and when you put all these moments together you get the entire story, and you see Benny and all the other characters progressing in such a natural way.

Yes, I'll admit, as a chick-lit, it has its predictable twists and turns, and its typical happy ending, but Ribon does it in such a way that it seems more natural than other chick-lits. You relate to all the characters in this story, her mom's strange ways and how each layer is slowly uncovered throughout the story so we really understand why she is the way she is and why she acts the way she does. It's endearing in a way, and her methods of moving on are things I can definitely associate with. Jami's rebellion - although quite extreme - are also things you relate with. We all wanted to experience that kind of liberation at one point, the sort where you just didn't want to give a s*** about anything.

I was a little disconcerted with Mickey and Benny's relationship, it moved a bit too fast in my opinion, but then again, there were several passages that took place between them where Pamela Ribon just nails a certain emotion or situation, and I marked them all.

All in all, my first for Ribon, but definitely not my last. Can't wait to read more.

Speaking with the Angel
Speaking with the Angel
by Nick Hornby
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The angels have spoken, 3 Mar 2013
I am usually very wary when buying anthologies, because more often than not, you always get at least one or two fantastic stories, while the rest are mediocre, or terrible even. And after my experience with Nick Hornby's "About a Boy" - my first for him - I really didn't know what to expect, and I was looking forward to his story the least (yes, you must have deduced by now that I hated About a Boy).

However, this book pulled me in from page 1, with Hornby's very moving introduction. Hornby dedicated this book to his son Danny who is an autistic child, he then went on to describe very eloquently the plight of autistic children and what his experience as a father to one is like.

Now, I admit I did not like every story in the book, however out of 12 short stories, there were only 4 that I didn't quite enjoy as much as the rest of them. The stories are all first-person narrations written by a range of British authors, with completely different styles of writing who take you from a bizarre dog narrating his story, to a disgraced prime minister, to a security guard, to a death-row chef.

I will only mention my favourite stories in this review, and that includes the first story of the book "PMQ" by Robert Harris, who tells the story of what happens when Britain's Prime Minister goes AWOL and ditches his security guards to have a night out on his own leading him to a series of unfortunate events. It was such a great start to the anthology, it put a huge smile on my face, not only because it was wonderfully funny, but because of how well-written and cleverly executed it was.

My second favourite story was "Last Requests" by Giles Smith, which portrays a prison cook who prepares last request meals for death-row inmates. Smith takes us on the journey of this wonderful old woman as she contemplates preparing those last meals and puts everything she has into making it a meal that counts for them.

My third favourite was "NippleJesus", by Hornby himself. This was one of the most entertaining and interesting reads I've had in a while. In this story, Hornby examines what a simple controversial work of art can have on people. It is narrated by the security guard who was assigned to watch this piece of art and make sure no harm comes to it, and we are taken on the journey of this man who at first hates it, but then slowly grows attached to it and becomes very protective over it.

My least favourite stories were "Peter Shelley" by Patrick Marber, "I'm the Only One" by Zadie Smith, "The Slave" by Roddy Doyle and "Catholic Guilt" by Irvine Welsh. The rest of the stories were also very enjoyable reads.

This is definitely a book worth buying and reading. Highly recommended.

A Walk In The Park
A Walk In The Park
by Jill Mansell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.86

4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet as a cupcake, 28 Feb 2013
This review is from: A Walk In The Park (Paperback)
So, as all Jill Mansell novels, this was a book filled with drama, humour, and very quirky characters. The past few books I reviewed for Mansell, I had been quite disappointed and letdown by the storylines, especially all the redundancies and similarities between plots.

This one though, finally, was different and Mansell came through in the end. I can now say I actually really enjoyed reading this book! Sure, it's predictable in certain areas, and you kind of figure out what's going to happen way before it happens, but you need to really let go of your expectations when reading a chicklit if you think it's going to take you by surprise. Predictability is part of their appeal, it is why we like to read them, and why we enjoy them so much!

So in this book, we are immediately introduced to Lara, who had left her town 18 years prior when she was just sixteen because her dad kicked her out of the house, leaving behind her best friend Evie, and her boyfriend, Flynn. Moving in with her aunt Nettie, she started a new life completely disconnecting herself from her past. However, she finds herself moving back 18 years later upon hearing of her father's death and having been left the house in her name. Moving back forces her to deal with a lot of unfinished business, including that of her best friend, ex-boyfriend and much more. Within just a few chapters, both Evie and Lara are suspended in a whirlwind of drama.

And that is one of the things I actually really like about Mansell. She does not prolong the events of the story and deals with every problem, situation and dramatic event quickly and concisely, so that we don't have to hold our breaths for very long. Her straightforward style of writing is what appeals to me.

Other characters that add so much flavor to the story include Gigi, Don, Enjay Seven (an American rapper), Harry, Jamie and Ethan, all of which will put a smile on your face one way or another.

A truly enjoyable read, I will recommend this book, although it still doesn't rank as one of my favorites for her.

Norwegian Wood
Norwegian Wood
by Haruki Murakami
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Death is a part of life, 28 Feb 2013
This review is from: Norwegian Wood (Paperback)
Let me start off by saying that this is a very depressing book, but one that really touched me more than I could have imagined. Apart from the fact that I happen to be a huge Beatles fan, and so was immediately attracted to the title of the book, you have a wonderfully respected writer, a very interesting storyline, and a great setting both in time and place for a story to occur.

This is my first Murakami book, and he did not fail to amaze and impress. It's not just the content, but the writing itself - and perhaps that has a lot to do with the translation as well, so kudos to the translator - which was absolutely mesmerizing. The descriptions, the emotions conveyed, the thoughts expressed so non-eloquently by the characters and yet very eloquently by the writer, the scenery, the simplicity of the telling of the story made it such a beautiful book to read.

Unlike many of the other readers and reviewers of this book, I did not finish it in a day and I actually found I had to put it down a lot. Not because I would get bored, or because I didn't like it. On the contrary, it was because of the intensity of the book that I needed breaks in between to let it all sink in before I could go on reading it. It is the kind of book that you need to really submerge yourself into, and take it slowly, so you can really relish and take pleasure in this experience, as well as prolong it.

Norwegian Wood has been likened to Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, and I suppose I could understand the comparison and the resemblance between Holden Caufield and Toru Watanabe, whom the book revolves around.

Toru Watanabe is a student in Tokyo in the year 1969 (told you it was a great year), and the book portrays his relationship with Naoko - his dead best friend's girlfriend - Midori, Reiko, Nagasawa, Hatsumi and even Storm Trooper. The book opens with an adult Toru, having heard the song Norwegian Wood, going back in years to recall the events of that fateful time of his life where all these people meant one thing or another to him.

Murakami manages to catch your attention from the beginning, and only succeeds in holding it for the entirety of the book. Seemingly a love story of sorts, the book deals with so much more than just that, not shying from putting on display very deep emotional, human aspects for everyone to see. From loneliness, to friendship, to loss, death, impotence, adolescence, sex, humour and most importantly, hope - the book encompasses all of that and so much more. It is very real, and deals with very serious issues, one major running theme being suicide and death at a young age.

I will say this though, as depressing as this book is, it does try to inspire hope and positivity and moving on. One of the things I really loved is the symbolism involved where the characters are concerned. Naoko symbolizing death and impotency and tragedy is a complete contrast to Midori who symbolizes life and sex and hope and resilience, and we sit throughout the novel wondering whether Toru is going to choose life or death.

I cannot recommend this book enough, and I could go on analysing every aspect of it for days, and every reader comes out with their own perception and interpretation of it. This is a remarkable book, and should be put on everyone's must-read lists, in fact I completely agree with all those who said that Murakami really must rank among the world's greatest living novelists. It won't be my last for him, that's for sure.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry
The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry
by Rachel Joyce
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars And I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more..., 27 Jan 2013
The Proclaimers song was running through my head the whole time I was reading this story.

I don't really know what drew me to this book, or why I decided to buy it. I've never heard of Rachel Joyce, and I am not usually very keen on books or movies or any stories to do with older (40+) people - no offense. But this seemed like it had such an interesting premise, and although I resisted buying it the first few times, I kept going back to it every time I found myself at a bookstore. Eventually, I gave in and bought it.

When I started reading it, I thought it was going to be one of those stories that dragged and took me ages to finish. Not at all.

I was blown away by the wonderful prose, the descriptions, the passion, the struggle, and the realistic depiction of this bizarre journey. I found myself growing to truly love Harold and everything he represented, and found myself growing fond of Maureen and Rex, even. I was concerned for Harold's welfare, excited for him, and invested in his every step.

When Harold, a retired old man living in the comfort of his ordinary, uneventful life, receives a letter from an old colleague who had done him a great favour and disappeared from his life, he finds himself thinking of what is left of his life. She tells him that she is dying of cancer, and that upsets him more than he can imagine. He inadequately responds to her letter, but when he sets off to mail it, he finds himself walking past all mailboxes. When he stops at a convenience store to grab a bite to eat, the girl at the cashier tells him about her sick aunt and how sometimes you need to have a little faith that they will get better. It becomes Harold's purpose to continue walking, all the way to Queenie (his former colleague), in order to keep her alive as long as possible. He asks her to hold on, while he makes this long journey to her - on foot. In just his yachting shoes and everyday clothes.

He sets out on this 800+ (with all the stops and errors) mile journey from Kingsbridge to Berwick-upon-Tweed. The transformation of Harold and Maureen throughout this journey, while one is walking across the country, and the other is sitting at home waiting, is what I found most beguiling about this book. Their memories, the little bits and pieces you learn about them as the book progresses, how you start to put all the puzzle pieces together and figure out where it all went wrong and pinpoint when it was starting to get better again, makes it a worthy read.

A marriage once broken is now being put to rights, and you are rooting for them the whole way through. Not to mention all the eccentric and memorable characters that Harold meets on his journey that play a little part in his transformation. As Harold walks and walks and walks he observes that "life was very different when you walked through it".

This story portrays so many different emotions from sadness to pure joy, from desperation to hope, from hate to love - as well as the occasional dash of humour.

I loved the ending and the fact that Joyce did not reveal the inside joke between Harold and Maureen, leaving us to wonder about what it was that was so funny. It was the perfect ending in my opinion, a private moment shared between two people who have been married for as long as they can remember. And best of all, keeping it that way - private.

Fight Club
Fight Club
by Chuck Palahniuk
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars "A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection", 26 Jan 2013
This review is from: Fight Club (Paperback)
That's what it was. The experience of reading this book was a single moment of perfection. No more, no less.

Delving into the mind of Chuck Palahniuk was a wonderful, mind-blowing experience. His writing is simple, easy to read, refreshing and gets you straight to the point. He doesn't need to sugarcoat it, but is straightforward and says it like it is. I find it impressive that Fight Club is his debut novel as that sets the standard quite high, and seeing how the movie (which I had watched way before reading the book) had stayed very true to the novel proves to me what a great author he is, as it is a rare occurrence for a filmmaker to follow the events and even lines in the book that closely.

In brief, the book centers on an insomniac protagonist, who is finding it harder to cope with work, people, home and life. In the midst of this numb daze that has become his life, he meets Tyler Durden, who gives him a new perspective on life and makes it a lot more interesting. With this new forged friendship, they invent "Fight Club" and the eight rules are created. The fighting wasn't important, it was the rules that changed everything. The rules that made things get out of control and created chaos until the very last breath-taking page.

This is a dark novel filled with satiric humour. Palahniuk looks at society and laughs in its face, sometimes spitting in its face. It shows absolutely no fear, but keeps you at the edge of your seat until you are presented with a shocking finish.

Chuck Palahniuk deserves to be placed along with other significant writers, and this being my first book for him, I am now looking forward to reading Choke and Diary. I love that his style of writing is just so easy to read, and you could go through it quickly without it taking away anything from the story.

"Really what I was writing was just The Great Gatsby, updated a little. It was 'apostolic' fiction - where a surviving apostle tells the story of his hero. There are two men and a woman. And one man, the hero, is shot to death." - Chuck Palaniuk on Fight Club.

Absolute perfection.

One Hundred Names
One Hundred Names
by Cecelia Ahern
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £5.45

4.0 out of 5 stars Lacking An Element of Magic, 14 Jan 2013
This review is from: One Hundred Names (Hardcover)
I love Cecelia Ahern, even when one of her books disappoints, I still cannot get over this authour. She is spectacular in her style of writing, and remembering the impact her first few books had on me is enough for me to remain a loyal fan.

One Hundred Names was a good book, one that kept me reading and intrigued until the very end. However, I cannot bring myself to love this book. The way it was written and the way the story was told and the events unfolded reminded me a little of Emilie Richards and Diane Chamberlain's style. Don't get me wrong, Richards and Chamberlain are both great writers too, and I enjoy their books, however that is not what I expect from an Ahern.

I expect magic, make believe, enchantment and lots of charm! And that was sorely missing from this book. The concept is quite interesting, Kitty Logan - a journalist - has hit rock bottom when she falsely accused a man on TV and thereby lost her job, her reputation, and credibility as a journalist. Her only living ally is Constance Dubois - but not for long. Constance is suffering from terminal cancer, and is on her deathbed. Before she passes, she tells Kitty that there is one story she wish she'd told. Kitty makes it her mission to tell Constance's story after her death as a sort of tribute to her dear friend and editor, but also as a revival of her own career and life.

This story involves a list of one hundred completely random names - and it is up to Kitty to figure out the link between all those names and put it together in a story that makes sense.

Interesting, yes. But nothing spectacular about it. I enjoyed meeting the many different characters, the roles they played in Kitty's life, their back stories, the way they developed throughout the book changing their own lives, but also Kitty's. However, I was a the way it ended. When Kitty finally figured out the link, I expected something out of this world, but it was very lacked luster. Sometimes a little ordinary is good, I'm sure, but like I said, it is not what I expect when reading an Ahern. Furthermore, when Kitty first finds the list of hundred names, I expected a lot more than for her to just get in touch with a fraction of the list (namely 6 people).

I read her books for their unrealistic storylines, because Ahern has the gift of making the unrealistic seem attainable, rational even. And she always finds a way of hitting just the right spot in the telling of a story - be it by having an invisible friend, losing things and not knowing where they go, or having none other than Life himself drop by for a visit to give you a reality check. These are the things I love about Ahern, and these are the things I hope she continues to strive for in her stories.

This was a good story, but a little too ordinary by Ahern's standards.

The Future of Us
The Future of Us
by Jay Asher
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Silliest Book Ever, 11 Jan 2013
This review is from: The Future of Us (Paperback)
A very interesting concept wasted on this book.

When I saw it at the bookstore, I picked it up thinking it's going to be stupid because I wasn't impressed by the cover, but then I read the synopsis and thought wow, this sounds really good. I remember my sister was with me and said she wanted to read it after I was done with it.

I cannot begin to say how disappointed I was. For whatever reason, Asher and Mackler decided to create the most self-centered, most boring, silliest characters and give them the power of looking into their futures. The chance of a lifetime. An opportunity wasted on a bunch of relationship-obsessed teens who care more about who their future spouse is rather than attempt to make a change. In fact, Emma would rather change everyone else's future (sometimes spitefully), just so she could have a better husband. She does the stupidest things, from ruining a perfectly good carpet to kissing her best friend, Josh (who she knows has strong feelings for her) just to prove a point.

I am so annoyed with how undeveloped these characters are. They are given this AOL disc in 1996 that allows them a 100 hours of internet and find themselves on a Facebook page, and what do you do with that? Absolutely nothing!!

Not to mention that the writers didn't find it necessary to explain why this happened? Why they could suddenly see into the future, why they were able to access Facebook and what it all means? Suddenly Facebook disappears in the end, and that's it. End of story. Seriously?

To think that two people collaborated to write this silly book is beyond belief. When I think of incredible collaborative efforts such as Dash and Lily's Book of Dares or Will Grayson Will Grayson and then see this, I realize that not everyone has the right skill to share in the writing of a novel.

I cannot recommend this book to anyone, and I made sure to tell my sister just that. This was a case of judging a book by its cover and being right in that judgment.

Who Could That Be at This Hour? (All The Wrong Questions)
Who Could That Be at This Hour? (All The Wrong Questions)
by Lemony Snicket
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A great start to a new Snicket series!, 3 Jan 2013
What a fabulous start to the series. I picked up this book immediately when I read it was a Lemony Snicket book. No questions asked. Not even having read the synopsis. I picked it up and walked straight to the cash register.

Once I was out of the bookstore, I began to have my doubts. I flipped through the pages and the font size worried me. The illustrations even more so. I wondered whether I had erred in purchasing this book without knowing what it's really about or who its intended audience is (which here means I'm 25). It looked like a children's book, and don't get me wrong, it is! Indubitably.

What I failed to remember at the time of doubt was that several years ago I had read and enjoyed each and every one of his A Series of Unfortunate Events books (those had a sizable font and illustrations also). I figured, I will read it and probably conclude it in a matter of hours. I was correct.

However, I didn't think I was going to enjoy it as much as I did! Nor that I would enjoy it - dare I say - even more so than his first series! I was sad to see it end, frustrated at having to wait for another 3 installments, and terribly curious about what happens next!

Thirteen year old Lemony Snicket is a charming, intelligent, witty and quite optimistic young man - that is in comparison to his older self in the Unfortunate series - he is also, as we all know him to be, quite pragmatic. He hooks you in from page 1, and from then on, takes you on a strange and bizarre journey into his world, where you have a rare chance of delving into his mind as he meets some of the oddest characters and makes both friends and enemies.

As a young detective, he learns that he keeps asking all the wrong questions. The series tell the stories of four questions that he wrongly asked, starting with the first "Who Could That Be at This Hour?"

I loved it, and I would recommend it to both children and adults.

On the Road (Penguin Modern Classics)
On the Road (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Jack Kerouac
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

3.0 out of 5 stars An overrated bum, 29 Dec 2012
I wanted to read this book before the film is released, because as a rule, I always like to read the book before watching its film adaptation.

Now that I've read it I feel a little...let down.

I have been told that the book has been rated one of the top 100 greatest books of the 20th century, and I'm afraid I'm not sure why that is. It's not written that well, the dialogue was actually very annoying (especially Dean's) and I found myself skimming through his monologues. Were they meant to be inspiring? Get you thinking about the meaning of life perchance? I just found them confusing, I could list many more books with more insight than Dean and Sal's random conversations. And the writing style was seriously irritating and did not seem to flow, but then again I took into consideration that this book was written in a matter of weeks and so the rushed style of writing is just that...rushed. And it's completely understandable when a person is trying to put down into paper everything that has happened as accurately detailed as possible.

I found Sal's character a little...sad and pitiful. Holding Dean in such high esteem, looking up to him as his idol, when Dean didn't make much of an impression on me. With his wild, manic lifestyle, I would understand his appeal the first time around, and maybe the second, but his obsession over where Dean is, what Dean's doing and following him around and adjusting his lifestyle to Dean's was just too much for me.

And what's with the sweating? There was just so much sweat in this book. The jazzy parts were interesting at first, but then every jazz scene seemed to mimic the one before it. Same descriptions, same deranged movements and reactions from Dean, same phrases, same lost its magic.

I don't know what it is about this book that makes people love it so much, and Bob Dylan claim that it will change people's lives like it changed his. I didn't feel any life-changing effects post reading it. Did it make me want to pack my bags and hit the road? Well, yeah, sure thing. Who doesn't enjoy a road trip? Did Harry Potter make me want to carry a wand and go to a school of witchcraft and wizardry? Also, yes.

But did the book inspire me to just go wild and live my life one day at a time? To a certain extent, yes. And I say a certain extent because I have absolutely no interest in the brothels, and the drugs, and the drinking, and the stealing, and that doesn't leave much more to the story.

Through the length of years, you see many of the secondary characters moving on and developing, but it seemed like Sal and Dean just stayed put. There was no climax. The journey became predictable and redundant.

Thing is, I didn't hate the book. I enjoyed the spontaneity of their lives. Everyone needs a measure of spontaneity to make our lives a little more interesting. But it just didn't make me want to transform my whole life. However, I also love reading about other people's experiences, and this to me is a book about Jack Kerouac's experiences, so it did keep me reading until the end.

Perhaps the only thing that makes me wonder so much about it is the fact that it's been rated this high and given such high praise. Makes me wonder if I'm looking at it all wrong.

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