Monday, December 29, 2014

“The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton – Stories and Judgments

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton - book cover
As has been mentioned in virtually every review of The Luminaries, there are times when grandiose authors seem to be just born out of blue and crash down into the world of literature like flaming comets, and Eleanor Catton, its author, is certainly one of them.

Before getting into the book itself, I would like to warn potential readers that it is around 848 pages long (depending on which edition you choose I suppose), and is actually the lengthiest Man Booker Prize winner in history. In other words, this is the kind of book that requires dedication on the part of the reader to get through the whole thing and be immersed in it. It does take a bit to start up, and though there are most certainly always things that retain your attention, you will need a certain amount of patience and diligence to enjoy it thoroughly. In any case, what I mean to say is that those who don't like long books because of that sheer characteristic would probably do best to steer clear from this one... otherwise, proceed onwards!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

“The Last Letter from Your Lover” by Jojo Moyes – Love Finds a Way

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes - book cover
As those of you who have taken to reading this review site regularly doubtlessly already know, romance novels are certainly not up my alley, unless of course there is something extraordinary about them, and let's face it, there aren't that many books in any genre that could be labeled as such.

However, from time to time, either when the mood itself swings in that direction or perhaps the holidays come creeping around I do find myself in a state of mind to give one of them a chance, and in this case I had the pleasure of choosing The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

“Tennessee Williams” by John Lahr – Theater of Tortured Souls

Tennessee Williams by John Lahr - book cover
It is said that artistic creativity, the kind true geniuses are bestowed with, never comes for free, always taking some sort of toll on the person... and as it happens, in some cases that toll ends up being their entire life, as was the case with Tennessee Williams, arguably one of the most prominent and influential playwrights of our time, perhaps even the greatest one the United States had ever seen.

In Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, John Lahr provides us with a rather detailed and in-depth biography into a strange and tormented life, a review into a fascinating fate. one that dragged its owner through hell and back and gave birth to an eternal star.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

“100 Sideways Miles” by Andrew Smith – Steering Your Own Life

100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith - book cover
It seems that even though coming of age novels are pouring out one after the next, there is little new to introduce into the genre at this stage. Let's face it, the transition into adulthood can certainly be frightening, confusing, disorienting and enlightening, but it is something everyone goes through (barring some notable exceptions, we all know one of those) and in the end, there are countless other topics in life that deserve more attention.

Nevertheless, they do have an undeniable appeal, perhaps due to our ability to relate to them so easily, especially when the author manages to surprise the reader and make the subject feel fresh, which is something I believe Andrew Smith did in 100 Sideways Miles.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

"The Rabbit Back Literature Society" by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen – A Study of Mysteries

The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen - book cover
As strange as it may be, it feels as if books are perhaps one of the few constants which we take for granted in our universe; once something is written on a page, it stays the same forevermore. Though virtually every book review can be different, they are all going to be discussing the same, never-changing subject, the words on the page. However, if that certainty is to be shattered, then new and interesting paths are certainly opened up to the writer, and that is something Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen achieved when he penned The Rabbit Back Literature Society.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 66

Good day to all of you, fellow literature enthusiasts, and welcome back for the entry which marks the 66th issue of Gliding Over the World of Literature. You'll most certainly be glad to know that today the topics at hand will be kept fairly light and will actually provide you with some interesting reading materials, ones that will keep you gripped on a binge.

To start things off we are going to delve into a list of ten book series that will most certainly make you want to hermit up in your cozy dwelling for the entire holidays. Following that we will go deep into the past in honor of Alice in Wonderland's 150th anniversary, and conclude it all by checking out how Tolkien's Middle Earth mythologies actually have beneath them a very complex and intriguing system of politics.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

"The Broken Eye" by Brent Weeks – The Rise of a New Dawn

The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks - book cover
The world created for us by Brent Weeks in his Lightbringer series is, following the second book in it, The Blinding Knife, is in a rather chaotic state: the satrapies lie in ruins, the old gods have reawakened, the world is plunged into a terrifying civil war, Gavin Guile has been captured and stripped of his powers... in other words, in the third book in the series,

The Broken Eye, our protagonist Kip has his work cut out for him. Without giving away anything in the review, this book feels like the first half of a two-part finale, one that becomes increasingly focused on Kip's trials and tribulations as he attempts to navigate the cruel and unforgiving politics and power games of his world as well as elude a sect of assassins while trying desperately to find a way to salvage his universe, to stop it from descending in the eternal abyss of pain, desolation and suffering.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

"The Blinding Knife" by Brent Weeks – The Abyss of Chaos

The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks - book cover
The second book in the Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks, The Blinding Knife, picks up exactly where the last book left off, and needless to say, if you haven't read the first part yet, The Black Prism, then you should do so before potentially tackling this book for this is one of those series that needs to be read in the proper order to be enjoyed and understood.

Monday, December 08, 2014

"The Black Prism" by Brent Weeks – The Colors of Fate

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks - book cover
Though in the real world politics and struggles for power are the cause of much pain and suffering, in the world of the book they are the fodder that makes for grandiose and epic stories, the kind literature doesn't forget. The Black Prism by Brent Weeks is the first part of the Lightbringer series, and though it certainly is in the realm of fantasy and magic, its overwhelming story is still founded in the very familiar realm of power and politics.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

"The Orientalist" by Tom Reiss – The Enigmatic Faces of Lev Nussimbaum

The Orientalist by Tom Reiss – book cover
There come many times where real life brings to us stories so incredible and sensational that they feel as if they belong more in the realm of literature fiction than anything else. Of course, as is often the case, lives that took dangerous twists and turns are more or less shrouded in mystery, and perhaps one of the most fascinating ones is that of Lev Nussimbaum. Thankfully though, Tom Reiss has taken it upon himself to retrace and chronicle the life of this enigmatic man across the many countries he visited and people he crossed in his book titled The Orientalist.

Who exactly was Lev Nussimbaum? His story begins in rather complex conditions and he gets thrown to the wolves, being forced to escape the Russian revolution aboard a camel caravan with little more than what he had on his back. That decision led him on a life during which he more than likely took on multiple identities, though in the end re-inventing himself as Esad Bay, effectively making the transformation into a Muslim prince. It can be said that the more surprising part about that. He is believed to be the author of the eternally and internationally-popular "Ali and Nino", and has also written biographies of Nicholas II and Stalin, as well as a review of the Azerbaijani oil industry.

Monday, December 01, 2014

"Revival" by Stephen King – Eternal Bonds

Revival by Stephen King (book cover)
In recent years it seems that with his fans, Stephen King has been delivering largely hit or miss literature, at least if his book reviews are to be trusted. Fortunately, it seems that he managed to find his footing with his more recent works, and in my opinion Revival is certainly a grand step in the proper direction.

To explain the story as basically as possible, it begins with the introduction of Jamie Morton, a young boy who develops a deep and somewhat dark bond with the Reverend Jacobs who only recently arrived in town. A macabre turn of events pushes Jamie into the arms of tragedy, and the good Reverend to curse the name of God and leave the town forever.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 65

Greetings to all of you and welcome back for the 65th issue of Gliding Over the World of Literature, our glorious news journal from the world of books where life is explored in all of its extremes, as long as they can be reached through letters of course.

To start things off we are going to be taking a look at a stanza from “A Litany For Survival” by Audre Lorde, where a poem shook the hearts of many during the recent events in Ferguson. Following that we will be paying a tribute to a great crime writer, PD James, who recently met her demise at the young age of 94. Finally, we will move on to lighter things an take a look at ten of the more interesting words that authors had the audacity to invent.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

“The Escape” by David Baldacci – Brotherly Affairs

The Escape by David Baldacci – book cover
David Baldacci has long ago established himself as a master of thriller literature, and needless to say, he has further cemented that title for himself with his latest book detailing the exploits U.S. Army special agent John Puller, titled The Escape.

To put it as briefly as possible, Puller is brought in once again to lend a hand in a matter of national security: he must find and bring in his own older brother, Robert, who recently escaped from the most secure prison on the planet. Of course, Robert wasn't there because he got lost on the way to the supermarket; he was convicted on charges of treason, amongst other crimes against the country. As John inches his way closer and closer to his brother he makes many interesting acquaintances and discoveries, all of which only seem to muddle the picture even further, ultimately casting huge shadows of doubt on where true alliances lie, how guilty Robert truly was, and whether or not he will be found in time, at least before those who want him dead do.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"The Perseid Collapse” by Steven Konkoly – The Initial Response

The Perseid Collapse by Steven Konkoly (Book cover)The fantasy of humanity's collective doom and sinking back into a technological oblivion is one that has pervaded literature for ages, and exponentially so with the incredible scientific advancements made in the past couple of centuries.

Steven Konkoly is a writer who decided to take a more realistic approach to the whole thing, gifting us The Perseid Collapse, the book which serves as the sequel to The Jakarta Pandemic and as a prequel to Event Horizon. As was mentioned in our review of the prequel to the Perseid Collapse series, the focus was placed on the survival of certain individuals during a most deadly flu pandemic.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

“Lucky Us” by Amy Bloom – Life in Disappointments

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom – book cover
When most people are dissatisfied with what they have, they either tend to: complain about it and pretend that will fix something or actually try and make incremental improvements to their lives in the direction they see fit. And then, of course, there are those like Eva and Iris in the novel Lucky Us by Amy Bloom, who decide to journey across the country in search of some kind of fulfillment.

The novel basically tells the story of these two sisters, relating to us the many different experiences they undergo while traveling from one end of the country to the other. We get to witness the country from its discreet small towns to the grandest and most luxurious of casinos and hotels, but perhaps more importantly, we are given an opportunity to explore its equally-entertaining spectrum of people.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

“The Nixon Defense” by John W. Dean – The Architect's Testimony

The Nixon Defense by John W. Dean – book cover
The Watergate Scandal certainly remains one of the most infamous moments in U.S. Presidential history, marking a moment where a President was ousted from power not through force, but through exposition and law. Despite the extensive investigations and inquiries made by numerous parties into the affair, there are still many question marks pending to be answered, in great part due to the complexity of the entire cover-up that followed.

John W. Dean was the White House Counsel at the time of the events and was labeled by the FBI as being “the master manipulator” in charge of covering the whole thing up. After he lost position for obvious reasons in 1973, Dean began publishing numerous books about his experiences in the White House, and most recently he published The Nixon Defense, examining that infamous scandal and aiming to answer the question as to what Nixon actually knew.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 64

Good day to you all and welcome back for the 64th issue of Gliding Over the World of Literature, where we constantly strive to brighten up your day, and hopefully, give you an extra bit of knowledge you didn't have before.

We are going to start things off by checking out a new exhibition at the Museum of London dedicated to the legendary Sherlock Holmes. Following that is a rather inspiring story about one man's struggle with literature and the ability to read a novel from start to finish. Finally, to cap things off we are going to turn our attention to the peculiar writing practices and habits of the greatest authors of our time.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

“Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy” by Karen Abbott – A Game of Queens

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott – book cover
The Civil War which led to the creation of the United States of America is a subject that is thoroughly covered in school (or at the very least, in most education systems), but even so many of its notable topics are left out, some because there is simply no time for them, and others because they aren't exactly well-known. The role which four women – Belle Boyd, Emma Edmonds, Rose O'Neale Greenhow and Elizabeth Van Lew – played in the conflict falls into the latter category.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

“A Separate Reality” by Carlos Castaneda – Unlearning the World

A Separate Reality by Carlos Castaneda – front cover
To begin with, I feel I must open with the statement that this series of books by Castaneda needs to be read in the order they were published in; otherwise, you are going to have a hell of a time comprehending, analyzing, following and being entertained. If you haven't read The Teachings of Don Juan yet, I would suggest you begin your journey into this wondrous world over there.

In any case, this time I believe I can skip over the various concerns I previously addressed about this whole series in regards to the veracity, accuracy and believability of what is written, and simply re-state that regardless of whether or not the incredible events described throughout the books transpired, the ideas put forward in them still remain as separate and extremely interesting entities on their own.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

“Seven Locks” by Christine Wade – The Despair of Abandonment

Seven Locks” by Christine Wade – Book Cover
Ever since our distant ancestors began to live in societies, having the respect of one's neighbors has always been, to varying extents, an important rule of survival, especially in smaller societies where everyone knows everyone else. When neighbors start turning on each other, or worse, mobbing up on a specific target, then survival quickly becomes a very real issue.

In Seven Locks by Christine Wade, we are told a story set in the late 1700s in pre-Revolutionary America, that of a mother who has to contend with the never-ending persecution from her neighbors following the sudden and mysterious departure of her husband, leaving her alone on the farm with the children. At first the rumors say that her nagging drove him away... after a while, as rumors always tend to, they snowball into the idea that the wife murdered him and ground him into sausage meat. The story is that of the mother and her lifelong struggle to survive and make a home for her children in the most dreadful of circumstances.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 63

Good day to you all, and welcome back to Gliding Over the World of Literature, for what is the 63th issue already. On this most special of holidays we are, rather obviously, going to center ourselves on the topic of fright, horror, and anything that pertains to the domain of the terrifying and unusual.

We will begin with a rather eye-opening exploration of some enthralling and yet rather morbid science and medicine books, describing practices pertaining to the fringes of those disciplines. Following that, we will take a look at five of the most frightening monsters found in literature today. To finish things off in the right spirit, we will turn our eyes to the timeless works of H.P. Lovecraft, a true pioneer of horror, and the consideration of bringing his stories to the silver screen.

Monday, October 27, 2014

“Notes from a Small Island” by Bill Bryson – The American Perspective

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson – book cover
The British Isles have often been portrayed, from the North American perspective at least, as having lots of charm and mystery to them, with their inhabitants having so many close similarities and, at the same time, vast cultural differences. It feels like a bizarre place on Earth where all is different and yet the same.

American author Bill Bryson had the chance to fully immerse himself in this fantastic world upon moving to Britain in the early 1970s. However, after spending many years there he looked back on the home country he left, and concluded that his people clearly needed him, to fend off alien abductions and whatnot.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

“A Christmas Hope” by Anne Perry – Murderous Holidays

A Christmas Hope by Anne Perry - Front book cover
The Christmas holidays are a double-edged sword; though some revel in the celebratory occasion they present, others merely see them as a reminder of loneliness and emptiness. In Anne Perry's A Christmas Hope, we are presented with a somewhat paradoxical picture: Claudine Burroughs, a woman who lacks in nothing can't help but see the coming holidays as the latter. Nothing in her life seems to satisfy her desire for entertainment and excitement, and things don't promise to be any different this year... until she makes the acquaintance of a young poet, Dai Tregarron. Or more precisely, until said poet becomes the scapegoat for the murder of a young prostitute, smuggled into a high-class party.

With Claudine seeing that, obviously, there is some sort of major cover-up happening by the high class of London society, decides that a murder investigation is precisely what her holidays needed, and sets out to find the culprit, despite very well knowing the kinds of people she will inevitably end up crossing, should she get close enough to the truth. I'll say it straight away: if the murder mystery itself is what attracted you to this book from the very beginning, then you are going to be a bit disappointed for in terms of being a whodunit, this book is a rather simple exercise for the answer is virtually clear from the beginning. However, the telling of the tale itself is still worth the read if you really find yourself craving a Victorian murder mystery, for the development of the intrigue gives way to some rather enthralling descriptions of the environment and of society at that time in general, enough to get lovers of the period excited about revisiting it.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

“Pinnacle of Deceit” by Eric Rill – A Childhood of Guilt

Pinnacle of Deceit by Eric Rill – book cover
The thriller genre has recently seen a brilliant addition to its already grandiose list of promising authors (promising in terms of what their future will bring, of course) when Eric Rill published his first novel, Pinnacle of Deceit.

The main premise of the story is rather simple: there are four men who grew up in an Arizona orphanage, and many years later, they now find themselves as targets of a mysterious and terrifying killer, the unstoppable doom seemingly destined to turn their lives into a living hell.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

“Getting Life” by Michael Morton – Stolen Years, Wasted Lives

Getting Life by Michael Morton – Book cover
Shattered teacups can be replaced, broken walls can be repaired, but time can never be rewound: the days, months, and years lost can be replaced by no means known to man. In Getting Life, Michael Morton chronicles the twenty-five years of his life that went down the drain as he spent them behind bars for the murder of his wife, a crime he did not commit.

In the book, Morton discusses pretty much the entire ordeal, from the morning when he went to work for the last time all the way to his tenacious fight to have DNA tests conducted and his final “victory”, being acquitted.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

“Blood Aces” by Doug Swanson – The Birth of Gomorrah

Blood Aces by Doug Swanson – Book cover
Big great cities, especially ones revolving around gambling, are almost guaranteed to have some sort of bloody history behind them, with their founding fathers (and/or mothers, of course) being drenched so deep in corruption they revel in it. As you can imagine, the history of Las Vegas is far from being different; gangsters have put in place, managed and controlled (and let's face it, still do) the whole thing around the concept of gambling.

Though there are certainly many to either thank for or blame, depending on your point of view, for what modern Las Vegas has become, Benny Binion is certainly someone who played a crucial role, and is yet somewhat under-explored and left out from most history books.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

“Baudelaire's Revenge” by Bob van Laerhoven – A Poet's Resurrection

Baudelaire's Revenge by Bob van Laerhoven – front cover
A majority of crime novels these days, taking place in the modern world, allow the protagonists to benefit from a host of different technological innovations which permit them to move their investigations forth. However thrilling it may be to see the sprawling web of technology catch all criminals, nothing can really replace the satisfying and accomplished feeling of pure logical deduction, something offered generally in crime novels taking place in centuries past, as is the case with Baudelaire's Revenge by Bob van Laerhoven, winner of the Hercule Poirot Prize for best crime novel.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 62

Good day to everyone, and welcome back once again to Gliding Over the World of Literature! In our 62nd issue we will open things up with a curious story, that of an unpublished photograph of Oscar Wilde going for auction in October, found in the family album. Once that's over with, we'll jump into the incredible world of “Here” by Richard McGuire, delving into the remarkable milestone it became in comic books and tracing its journey from inception to conception. Finally, we will finish things off by giving some thought to the topic as to whether or not the news is replacing literature in our daily lives.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

“A Life in Books” by Warren Lehrer – Finding Identity in Literature

A Life in Books by Warren Lehrer – Front book cover
The need for self-understanding and a personal identity is something virtually every human on this planet has, but we all go about it in different ways. While some people undertake grandiose journeys around the world, there are others who prefer to delve deep onto odysseys into their own minds.

In A Life in Books by Warren Lehrer we are treated to the latter as we are presented the fictitious biography of Bleu Mobley, a man who had a rather interesting life, going from living as a child in a public housing project to becoming a journalist, a professor and a best-selling author, amongst other things.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

“Adultery” by Paulo Coelho – The Nature of Fulfillment

Adultery by Paulo Coelho – Front book cover
Though most of Coelho's novels are rather well-appreciated by most people, Adultery is one of his more controversial ones, where it seems that people either love or hate it. The novel tells the story of Linda, an upper class housewife who seems to have it all: a promising career, a loving husband and wonderful children.

However, she can never find true satisfaction in her idyllic life, and chooses to propel herself onto a rather daring adventure that may compromise the life she was already worked so hard to achieve. Stranded between the fears that everything may suddenly change and that, on the other hand, everything may remain the same until the end of her days, Linda comes to learn a lot more about herself than she bargained for.

Friday, September 26, 2014

“The Rembrandt Affair” by Daniel Silva – Bloodshed in the Name of Art

The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva
It would seem that the world never ceases to find occupations with which to prevent master spies (and as it happens, art restorers) from resting on idyllic vacations, or at least, such is the case with Gabriel Allon in Daniel Silva's The Rembrandt Affair.

Once again we followed the (at this point) legendary Mossad agent as he is taken on a trek across the world in search for the perpetrators of a heinous and rather mysterious crime in Glastonbury: the murder of an art restorer and the theft of Rembrandt painting.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

“The Lucky One” by Nicholas Sparks – Seeping Secrets

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks – Front book cover
Let's face it, most pictures of people we don't know, even if taken professionally, have only the briefest of effects on us, being generally unmemorable, partly due to our inability to relate with them. However, there are some photographs which cannot fall into the category of the forgettable; there are some pictures where the depicted people end up touching us inexplicably. It is not unheard of for people to be drawn to complete strangers based on nothing more than their photographs and undertaking journeys to find them.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

“Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight” by Jay Barbree – A Cosmic Conqueror

Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight by Jay Barbree – book cover
At this stage the life of Neil Armstrong has already been rather well documented, but the fact of the matter remains that his more introverted personality still left many blanks, questions to be answered, and room for who-knows how many more interesting facts.

Thankfully, the man who is perhaps the most successful space journalist in history and close friend of Neil Armstrong for more than fifty years, Jay Barbree, has stepped up to the challenge of re-telling the story of the first man to walk on the moon in as much detail and accuracy as possible.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

“The Confabulist” by Steven Galloway – Illusions of Memories

The Confabulist by Steven Galloway (Book cover)
As we get older, with the help of our ever-degenerating brains, memories start to become fuzzier and fuzzier, in the sense that it becomes harder and harder to tell where blanks were filled in with the power of imagination. Some would argue that this state of affairs places countless people in a terrible predicament, and they certainly wouldn't be wrong. However, as we can see in The Confabulist by Steven Galloway, blurring the line between real and false memories can end up making life much more exciting than it has any right to be.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

“Eichmann Before Jerusalem” by Bettina Stangneth – The Biggest Cog

Eichmann Before Jerusalem by Bettina Stangneth – Book cover
There is certainly no denying that Adolf Eichmann, otherwise known as the “Manager of the Holocaust” was a despicable human being responsible for the suffering and demise of countless people, and crimes for which there is no atonement. Nevertheless, he remains in himself a rather interesting figure, and the study of his “work” and the influence he had on people's minds both during and after the war (after he escaped in exile) can certainly yield some curious findings, both on the Holocaust and the human mind itself.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 61

Greetings to you all and welcome back for another issue of Gliding Over the World of Literature, with this one marking our 61st entry into our endless journal.

This time around, we are going to launch things off by checking out ten biographies revolving around fictional characters, but written with the intent of making them read as much as possible as if they were real people.

Following that, we will take a short detour towards the macabre and find out how, in the worst of cases, books can end up influencing people negatively.

Finally, we will take a look at a rather humorous and yet sadly-accurate list from Cracked which lays out the four principal reasons as to why high schools breed hatred and disdain in children towards books.

“Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty – The Liar's Butterfly Effect

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – Front cover
Deception is a rather interesting concept, observed even in various species of animals, at least the smarter ones. However, none except for humans have taken it to such a grandiose level, to the point where for many people, it is an essential part of daily life. What's more, the methods of deception have grown increasingly elaborate, though at the heart of it all remains the same principle: the need to lie.

We even make the distinction between good and bad lies, to the point where people consider it an acceptable part of living in society. However, as the novel Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty exemplifies it, even the smallest of lies can have the most tragic of consequences, and our seemingly natural need for deception can drag us deeper into the darkness than we ever imagined.

Friday, September 12, 2014

“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick – A Matter of Defining Humanity

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (book cover)
At this point most of you have no doubt heard of the classic movie Blade Runner starring Harrison Ford, about a bounty hunter named Rick Deckard who is tasked with the “retirement” (AKA destruction, killing, murder, whichever suits your fancy) of numerous androids, robots made to be as human as possible in every way, allowing them to blend in with them.

However, the novel on which the movie is based on, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick seems to get considerably less attention, which is somewhat understandable when taking into account its philosophical approach to the storyline, rather than something in line with the movie.

Friday, September 05, 2014

“Graduates in Wonderland” by Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale – School's Out Forever

“Graduates in Wonderland by Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale – book cover
The step from the pre to the post-graduate world is a big one to take, one virtually nobody forgets, no matter if that final graduation was in high-school or university; being thrust into the big unknown full of expectations from it is an unparalleled, once-in-a-lifetime experience, the one during which we actually do some of our most crucial learning and adapting. Though the experience is, in itself, similar for most people, we all go through our own unique trials and tribulations, and in Graduates in Wonderland best friends (and authors of the book) Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale chronicle their post-graduation lives in as much detail as possible.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

“The Cellist of Sarajevo” by Steven Galloway – Four Fates Into One

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway – Book cover
The loss of humanity is perhaps one of the greatest afflictions that comes for those who get embroiled in the immortal and restless spirit of war. Decisions must often be made between preserving one's humanity, or one's safety and well-being.

In The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway we are presented with a rather grandiose and powerful exploration of how individuals preserve their humanity and redeem it in the most harrowing of times. The story touches on the lives of four characters, eventually intertwining with each other.

Monday, September 01, 2014

“Artemis Awakening” by Jane Lindskold – Atlantis in Space

Artemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold – Book cover
The idea that somewhere out there exists an idyllic place, one that fulfills all of our desires and fantasies, one where life goes by effortlessly and in pure pleasure, is an idea that keeps many people going, one that gives them an outlet to escape through. Though most people go to that place in their minds, very few and far in between are those who actually set out to find it physically, which is exactly what Griffin Dane does in Artemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold.

Friday, August 29, 2014

“The Club Dumas” by Arturo Perez-Reverte – The Musketeers Revisited

The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte – Front cover
With The Club Dumas Arturo Perez-Reverte dishes out yet another page-turner, following the long and twisted journey of Lucas Corso, a middle-aged book hunter whose job is to seek out the rarest of works for private collectors. The death of a known bibliophile and the manuscript he left behind, that of the original The Three Musketeer, lead Corso to be brought in as an authenticator.

Faster than he knows it, Corso becomes embroiled in a sinister world involving cults and demon worship, a world where far too many characters appear as if they have been plucked out from Dumas' arguable magnum opus and rearranged or modern times.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

“Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell – Breaking Free of Herself

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – book cover
For many people, heading off to college is a defining experience, and perhaps the first time some are thrust into a completely alien setting on their own. Needless to say, there are countless novels out there detailing this rather common experience, but frankly-speaking, most of them feel like copies of each other and rather coarse attempts at sensationalizing the experience and portraying it in nothing but its extremes. That is what, in my opinion, makes Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell stand out amongst the countless other novels detailing the college experience.

Monday, August 25, 2014

“Lord of the Flies” by William Golding – The Evil in the Hearts of Men

Lord of the Flies by William Golding – Book cover
Lord of the Flies by William Golding is perhaps one of the best-known works of literature on an international scale; so many spin-offs, recountings and even parodies of it occurred that it would be hard to live life without encountering it in one form or another.

The infinitely famous book has a rather simple premise: a group of English schoolboys are washed up on a deserted island following a plane wreck, leaving them stranded in the middle of nowhere with none but themselves to rely on. The lack of adult supervision certainly is an important factor, and the way I see it, the novel is more of an imaginary experiment thought out on paper, one that delves deep into the human soul and the evil that lurks within.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

“Wayfaring Stranger” by James Lee Burke – Preservation of a Self

Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke
There is no denying that from our perspective, life is a rather lengthy journey, one that transforms us many times over. And so, it shouldn't come as a surprise that countless questions surrounding our identity tend to be explored from time to time, with perhaps one of the more well-known ones being whether or not we remain ourselves when our morals and values change, or if we become someone else.

In Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke, we are presented with the story of Weldon Holland, a man whose rather extraordinary and unusual life leads him on a path of constant struggle, eventually putting in question whether he is himself, or has become someone completely different and unrecognizable.

Friday, August 22, 2014

“Midnight in Peking” by Paul French – Crimson Foxes

Midnight in Peking by Paul French – Front cover
While the world was recovering from the First World War and, unbeknownst to all but the most perceptive ones, preparing for the second one, the Orient had its fair share of troubles. For one, China was dealing with an internal conflict as well as a Japanese invasion, with the inhabitants of Peking steeling themselves for the seemingly inevitable during the final days of the city's colonial period.

As if tensions weren't already running high enough, a young British schoolgirls, Pamela Werner, was found brutally murdered at the base of The Fox Tower, one of the city's more famous landmarks. Midnight in Peking by Paul French is a non-fiction crime book, a novelization of the whole affair, following the investigations led by the British and Chinese police, as well as Pamela's own father.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 60

Greetings to you all, and welcome back for what is the 60th Issue of Gliding Over the World of Literature, where we take you on journeys around the wide world, bringing to you the most exciting of literary news. This time around, we will begin our travels by heading over to the Shanghai Book Fair, after which we will turn our attention to the modern-day “Alexandre Dumas”, finishing things off with a rather interesting scientific study which proposes some curious conjectures in regards to the powers of literary fiction in regards to understanding other people.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

“War of the Whales” by Joshua Horwitz – The Giants of the Deep

War of the Whales by Joshua Horwitz – book cover
The ocean is in itself a vast mystery of which we have done nothing but scratch the surface so far, and though it covers so much of our planet, we often tend to forget about all of its innumerable inhabitants. Whether we realize it or not, our noisy ways have already affected marine life tremendously, and in War of the Whales Joshua Horwitz explores this issue from a very realistic and interesting way.

In this book, we follow two protagonists who eventually team up: the attorney Joel Reynolds, and the marine biologist Ken Balcomb. Together, they attempt to expose a covert piece of technology used by the U.S. Navy: a high-intensity sonar detection system which forces whales towards beaches, where they recently started washing up at an alarming rate. Naturally, there are many people out there who would prefer to see such a truth muffled, leading Reynolds and Balcomb on an epic uphill battle where not only the legality, but also the morality of it all are debated.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

“The Skeleton Crew” by Deborah Halber - A Macabre Blessing

“The Skeleton Crew” by Deborah Halber - front cover
As advanced and progressive as modern investigative techniques may be, the fact of the matter remains that every year countless deaths go unsolved, and what's more, countless victims remain unidentified. Indeed, in the United States somewhere around forty thousand people die every year, leaving nothing but a mystery, their identities being completely unknown.

There are countless ways to end up biting the dust without leaving any means of being identified behind, ranging from a careless adventure in the woods with no ID to falling victim to natural disasters or even serial killers. The number of cases just keeps on piling up, but as is explored in The Skeleton Crew by Deborah Halber, the police are not the only ones investing themselves into these cases.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

“Landline” by Rainbow Rowell – A Redemption from the Past

Landline by Rainbow Rowell (book cover)
Landline by Rainbow Rowell tells the story of Georgie McCool and her dissolving marriage, one that seems to be falling apart like a house of cards, regardless of what she, her husband Neal, or the children want. Right around Christmas time, after having planned a trip to Omaha for the Holidays, Georgie gets the opportunity of a lifetime; writing the script for several episodes for a new hit television show, which would require her to stay put for the vacation.

Contrary to her expectations, Neal decides to pack the things, take the kids, and head on out without her. Not knowing which direction exactly this whole marriage is taking, and whether or not it can still be considered as actually current, Georgie makes a startling discovery, one that will allow her to muddle the concepts of time and space and perhaps save the relationship before it ever really started to crumble... or maybe ensure that it never happens in the first place.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

“The Hundred-Year House” by Rebecca Makkai – The Rotten Depths of History

The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai (book cover)
Family history is a rather fascinating thing; though most of us may know general details about our genealogical tree's occupants for the last hundred years, few of us really have a concrete idea about what they were truly like.

In The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai, we are presented with two researchers, Doug, a down-on-his-luck academic, and Zee Devohr, a Marxist literary scholar who fervently defends the various records (files, not music records, naturally) kept at her house from the former, whose research leads him to be in dire need of them. Slowly but surely, the two of them end up foraging through the Devohrs' family house history, and start getting acquainted with its many inhabitants over the past hundred years, one by one.

Friday, August 08, 2014

“Classified Woman” by Sibel D. Edmonds – The Powers that Be

Classified Woman by Sibel D. Edmonds – Front book cover
We are all aware to one extent or another that the government is, at least to a certain extent, open to corruption, and things aren't always done as the rules state they should. In other words, governmental organizations and agencies, especially ones relating to national security, have taken the habit of operating in secret, which in turn gives them more power than they arguably ought to have over the population.

In her book Classified Woman, Sibel D. Edmonds, former FBI translator, looks into this whole thing based on her first-hand experience as a worker in the field who got drowned in bureaucracy and silenced upon trying to expose a colleague who covered up serious crimes involving foreign officials. Though she did provide a testimony in regards to the happenings of 9/11, they were never included in the final report.

Monday, August 04, 2014

“The Skin Collector” by Jeffrey Deaver – An Artist in the Flesh

The Skin Collector by Jeffrey Deaver – book cover image
It has been around ten years since Lincoln Rhyme made all the headlines as the NYPD's hero to have caught the notorious Bone Collector. Just when it seems that Rhyme may live out his days as a genius forensic detective in relative ease and peace (at least as much as the job allows that), a fresh scourge takes hold of New York City, prowling its seedy underbelly in search of more and more victims.

Naturally, as the case goes, this new threat calls for Rhyme to put himself and his team of experts on a relentless, 24/7 manhunt in search of a demented maniac who takes please in tattooing his victims with poisonous ink, leaving cryptic clues on their skin... clues that point to the infamous case from a decade ago, leading things to become much more personal than Rhyme had anticipated.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

“The Heist” by Daniel Silva – The Worth of Truth

The Heist by Daniel Silva –  book cover
In The Heist by Daniel Silva we are once again treated to the exciting adventures of Gabriel Allon, super Israeli spy and, somewhat incomprehensibly, an art restorer (I guess everyone needs a hobby). As it happens, Allon's talents in the world of art serve him time and time again, stumbling into one case after the next, with each one seeming to be made specifically for his skills.

This time around, Allon puts his powers to use in the investigation of the murder of a British diplomat, businessman, and spy, an act of which his dear friend has been accused of. Rather quickly, Allon learns that the spy had more than a few secrets up his sleeve, but one stands out amongst the rest: the location of one of the most famous missing paintings on Earth, Caravaggio's “Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence”. And so, Allon sets down a very dangerous path which, once again, takes him traveling around the world in the search of a very powerful, mysterious and rather lethal collector.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

“The Cairo Affair” by Olen Steinhauer – A Dead Man's Story

The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer – front book cover
The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer is certainly not your typical thriller, being more of a postmortem investigation led by multiple people in different countries, each with their own reasons for doing so.

The real “protagonist” of this whole affair is Emmett Kohl, an American diplomat who was suddenly murdered while dining in a restaurant in Hungary. As the investigation around this tragic event starts to unfold, it becomes clear that there was no shortage of people out there who would have preferred to see Emmett with the dead rather than the living.

Friday, August 01, 2014

“Act of War” by Brad Thor – Battles Unseen

Act of War by Brad Thor – Front book cover
There is seldom one specific event which launches a country into war; generally, a treacherous succession of events leads to an eventual boiling point, at which the catastrophe erupts. In Act of War by Brad Thor, the United States are, unbeknownst to most of course, being subjected to such a chain of events, with an attack on them seeming rather imminent. In these darkest hours the U.S. Government calls upon their most resourceful and secretive agent, Scot Harvath, to travel to the most dangerous zones around the whole wide world, carrying out the missions not a single other person on the planet could be trusted for. However, winning the kind of war that isn't fought on battlefields is a much more complicated affair than Harvath or his superiors had anticipated.

As you can tell, Act of War doesn't pretend to be anything it's not: it is a military and espionage thriller taking place around the world, moving forward at a breakneck speed, seldom, if ever, stopping to enjoy the sights. From the very beginning where we are dropped into the mountains of Karachi, Pakistan, following Scot and his team as they search for a high-profile Al Qaeda member, the action picks up and never stops right up until the last sentence.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 59

Good day to you all, we would like to welcome you back for the 59th issue of Gliding Over the World of Literature! Today's topics will be me of the more leisurely variety, being a sensible mixture of serious, adventurous and educative.

We are going to begin by looking at how women are being treated unfairly when it comes to the Man Booker Award, after which we will have a glance at a mysterious poem which managed to make its way round the world seemingly of its own accord, and conclude by indulging in some of the greatest teachings utopian and dystopian novels have gifted us with.

Monday, July 28, 2014

“A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson – The Universe in a Nutshell

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson - Front cover
The history of our universe is, relative to us at least, virtually so infinitely long that we could not hope to learn it all in a single lifetime. Thankfully though, us humans aren't the kind to be bogged by such challenges, and we have been trying to retrace the universe's history and understand how humanity has come to where it is today, and how we have come to know all that we have.

In A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson attempts to do just that; he tries to explain how and why humanity, and the universe as we know it in general, have come to develop from seemingly nothing into what we are today.