Sunday, December 27, 2015

“The Searcher” by Simon Toyne – The Abyss of Redemption

The Searcher by Simon Toyne - book cover
The search for oneself is perhaps the most gruelling and well-known quest there is for literary heroes. More often than not, following that path leads them to some treacherous twists and turns, ones that take them deep into the darkness of an abyss they can't help but look into. And yet, they are pushed forward by an inexplicable sense of purpose, of duty, just like Solomon Creed in Simon Toyne's novel, The Searcher.

In this book that is meant to kick off a 10-novel series, we are introduced to Redemption, Arizona, where weird occurrences just pile up on each other. As a man local man is buried and the funeral is in process, a giant crash is seen in the distance along with a pillar of smoke: a plane somehow went down. As the sheriff tries to get to the scene of the accident, he comes across a pale man running down the road, with no memory of who he is, how he got there, or even any shoes. All he has is a handmade suit jacked and an inscribed book, both pointing to his name being Solomon Creed. Relatively soon, Solomon comes to his senses and starts to believe he ended up in Redemption for a very specific reason... to save the man that was being buried earlier today.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

“Cross Justice” by James Patterson - Family Shackles

Cross Justice by James Patterson - book cover
Once a hero becomes established in literature there often comes to question as to who he was before we were introduced to him. What life events could mold remarkable people, making them into the protagonists we yearn to follow and always learn more about. Most of the time we have to be content using our imaginations to fill in all the blanks, but there are times when we do get to ride the time machine and peer into the past we could only make up, as is the case with Cross Justice by James Patterson.

In this addition to the series, Alex Cross finds himself returning to his hometown that he had forsaken many years ago, all but left behind in his dreamy pages of his past. With his cousin accused of a brutal murder and none but the Cross family certain of his innocence, Alex feels he has no choice but to finally face the darkness that has been chasing him. Upon returning, he finds that the town itself has taken a stark nosedive, becoming a hotbed of drug trafficking and violent crimes. In a plot twist that seems to have become more the rule than an exception in Alex Cross' life, the investigation eventually leads him to some bigger, badder fish with darker, deadlier plans than just framing his cousin.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

“The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August” by Claire North – Immortal Quandaries

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
Hindsight may very well be one of the cruelest concepts of our world; how many times have you said to yourself “if only I had known”? Who  hasn't dreamt of being able to travel far back in time and retain the accumulated knowledge gained through life? Bill Murray gave us a small glimpse of the possibilities in “Groundhog Day”, and now Claire North (a pen name used by Catherine Webb) takes it to the next level in The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, spreading the power over a lifetime.

The premise in this story is quite an unusual one: Harry August is a man either blessed or cursed, but either way always forced to reincarnate as himself and begin the same life all over again... but still being able to retain the knowledge from previous lives which comes back to him by the age of seven. Though at first the news drove him to madness and suicide, life after life he starts to get the hang of it, and discovers he is one of a few “Ourobouros” in the world, people with his specific condition. What's more, many of them are part of the Cronos Club dedicated to helping their young members who are freshly reborn to gain their memories back as soon as possible. On his deathbed once again, Harry receives a surprising visit: a little girl warns him about the fast-approaching end of the world.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

“The Promise” by Robert Crais – Mr. Rollins' Rule

The Promise by Robert Crais book cover
The life of a fictional private detective is perhaps one of the most demanding ones out there. One can nary have a dame come into their office without being thrown into a five-layer conspiracy that leads to countless tragedies; the easier and more innocent-looking the case, the more it's certain to blow up into a terrifying nightmare. That's precisely what Elvis Cole finds himself dealing with in The Promise by Robert Crais.

The detective Cole is hired by a grieving mother and eventually is led to a house that looks way too normal... a house where a brutal murderer and fugitive are hiding. As Cole approaches, Scott James of the LAPD K-9 unit, along with his faithful German shepherd Maggie, track the fugitive to the house, but are confronted with something as terrible as evil itself: Mr. Rollins. A sadistic murderer with a penchant for high-powered explosives, he always follows a single rule: never leave a witness that could potentially remotely identify him... and Scott is the only such person left. As the deranged Mr. Rollins follows his one rule like one of Asimov's robots, Cole and his partner Joe Pike find themselves targeted by the police. The unlikely quatrain soon decide to pool their forces together, and follow the bloody trail of clues until the very bitter end.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

“Once Upon a Time in Russia” by Ben Mezrich – Riding the Perestroika Waves

When the era of communism dawned to a close in the Soviet Union, with the country becoming Russia in 1991, a very turbulent and violent period began during which the country faced a “Wild West”-type scenario, or at least as much as modern civilization permits such a thing to happen. The perestroika led to countless revolts and a change of regime, but most importantly, it left a huge chunk of power hanging in the air for anyone to claim as their own. Stability was lost, and with it was born the opportunity to get to the top of the world. Berezovsky and Abramovich were two of the most notable and dangerous individuals to have surfed the waves of the perestroika to personal success, leaving behind a trail of bodies and corruption.

In his book Once Upon a Time in Russia, Ben Mezrich takes it upon himself to give Western audiences insight into the lives of those two men, and consequently, how Russia functioned in the early 1990s. Though the book is unquestionably based on facts and research, it is written in the form of a novel, complete with an intriguing narration that almost makes you forget the reality of it all.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

“Pirate Hunters” by Robert Kurson – Sunken Legends

Pirate stories have fascinated mankind, especially children, probably ever since all their murderous antics and unhygienic lifestyles were forgotten. Though there may have certainly been much less glory and cleanliness to the stories of famous pirates than we were led to believe, it doesn't change a fact that some of them have managed to achieve downright legendary things, at least from a criminal's perspective. Arguably the best-known sea tyrant during the golden age of piracy, the seventeenth century, was Blackbeard, but there was another whose even greater notoriety was washed away under the seas of time: Joseph Bannister.

His exploits were nothing short of spectacular and apparently even more tale-inspiring than those of all his counterparts. As is the case with most pirates though, there came a point when his ship was sunk in one way or another, and needless to say not many have tried to retrieve it... at least not with the tenacity and determination of John Chatterton and John Mattera, world-famous shipwreck divers.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

“The Fold” by Peter Clines – Teleportation: Safest Form of Transit

The concept of teleportation is something that is still very much in the realm of science-fiction books and movies, but nevertheless it seems we cannot and never will stop yearning for it. After all, who out there hasn't wished (perhaps during a bout of laziness) for the ability to instantly cross over great distances and be wherever they wanted? Of course, there are plenty of theories out there as to why teleportation is possible/impossible and what it could and could not do us. In his book The Fold, Peter Clines essentially wonders what a space warp-type teleportation device would do not only to us, but the entire world.

The Fold begins by presenting the hero, Mike Erikson, a generally-unremarkable man with an average life in a small town in New England. As Mike soon discovers, enjoying an average life is something protagonists simply aren't allowed to do, and news from an old friend send him tumbling on a grandiose adventure. Allegedly, DARPA scientists have managed to open a “fold”, a phenomenon which capable of shrinking space allowing a person to cross great distances with only a simple step. As the scientists out there are affirming it, teleportation technology is finally at hand and the fold is the safest method of transportation you'll find out there, as well as the most accommodating for lazy people.

Monday, November 30, 2015

“The Guilty” by David Baldacci – Old Choices; New Consequences

The Guilty by David Baldacci - front cover
In his many past outings David Baldacci's Will Robie has proven himself to be a one-of-a-kind assassin, ruthless, effective and infallible. One after the other his targets were biting the dust, and he made short work of all his foes even when things were at their most complicated. However, in The Guilty Baldacci reminds us of how human he is, as Robie does the unthinkable: he fails a critical assignment, finding himself simply unable to pull the trigger. With his incompetence overshadowing the grandiose reputation he has built for himself, Robie is sent down on a path into his own past.

After finishing high school, Will Robie left his hometown and severed all ties with his family and anyone he ever knew. Now disgraced, he comes back to his roots as a heinous and unthinkable event transpired: his father, Dan Robie, stands accused of murder. What's more, the venerable attorney and locally-elected town judge isn't trying to defend himself at all, replying to his son's attempts to help him with nothing but anger and disdain. Still, Will feels something is amiss in the big picture and with Jessica Reel at his side he begins an investigation into the whole affair, as well as the past haunting his family, his father, and perhaps even the town itself.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

“Even Dogs in the Wild” by Ian Rankin – Scottish Standoff

Even Dogs in the Wild by Ian Rankin - book cover
The face of organized crime has changed rather drastically in Scotland since the old days. Whereas gangsters used to be universally feared and even revered by many, today the old sharks see many of their revenue streams either legalized or made non-viable through other social developments. Nevertheless, they still very much exist and are dangerous in their domains of operation, still playing parts that make the news and attract the public's eye, or at least it is the case in Ian Rankin's latest detective Rebus novel, Even Dogs in the Wild.

As has become somewhat customary with Rankin, there are multiple plot strands that are carefully weaved at the same time, eventually coming together in a moment where it all makes sense. To begin with, a former Lord Advocate by the name of David Minton is found murdered with a note promising revenge found on his body. In the city, a shooting took place with the target being the legendary gangster Big Ger Cafferty, and though he escaped he refuses to cooperate with the police, at which point detective Siobhan decide the only way to do so is bring Rebus back into the fold. While that's taking place, Malcolm Fox, another investigator, has been sent to Edinburgh in order to conduct surveillance on a Glasgow gangster and his son who are looking for a traitor in their ranks who made off with a ton of drugs.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

“The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto” by Mitch Albom - Traversing the Landscape of Sound

Up until the 20th century it can be said that the evolution of music was relatively slow, with certain genres and composition styles staying popular for decades upon decades, if not centuries. For instance, classical music has been evolving for hundreds of years while countless folk songs have gone unchanged since the dawn of time.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

“Children of Monsters” by Jay Nordlinger – Successors of Evil

Children of Monsters by Jay Nordlinger - book cover
Dictators inhabit the pages of our history books quite comfortably and have done so for quite some time. Tyrannies are nothing new, and they have existed for so long that many have developed a certain fascination with them, seeking to understand their mechanics to the very core. Perhaps because of sheer bad luck (or the Illuminati) the 21st century gave rise to a fair number of dictators who left their bloody marks on the world. But more than that, they also left their children, turning them into a chosen few who have been dealt a rather strange hand by life.

In his book Children of Monsters, Jay Nordlinger takes it upon himself to trace the lives lead by the would-be or eventual successors of the 21st century's most infamous dictators. Those include Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, Amin, Hussein, Pol Pot, and a others, totaling twenty. Needless to say, even though the book is focused on the children themselves the grand villains make their presence known on a few occasions. The book is rather neatly divided as Nordlinger devotes a chapter to each dictator's offspring, narrating the kind of lives they lead and what they had to contend with from a very early age.

Friday, November 13, 2015

“The Lincoln Lawyer” by Michael Connelly – Beverly Hills Rot

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
A lawyer's approach to justice dictates not only their level of success, but also the kinds of clients they will end up taking on. There are some who see it as their sacred duty to ensure a fair trial is given to all and that rules are followed to the letter so that the law may be applied to all equally and without discrimination. However, there is also the other side of the spectrum... those who see justice as being something malleable that changes shape depending on perspective. Mickey Haller is one such defense attorney, and in The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly he ends up taking a path most interesting.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

"Nemesis” by Catherine Coulter – No Rest for the Righteous

Nemesis by Catherine Coulter - book cover
These days new thrillers hit the shelves every day by the dozens, and while some of them are certainly great, it saturates the genre with re-hashed plots and devices. There always comes a point where a genre needs some creativity, some new life to shake things up... and that's precisely what Catherine Coulter does in one of her latest novels, Nemesis, a thriller featuring both Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich, FBI agents.

In this one, the plot is a rather intricate and complicated one. Lacey Sherlock, while waiting in line at the JFK airport, discovers that FBI agents never rest as a seemingly deranged lunatic threatens to throw a grenade into the crowd. As she defuses that situation, a bomb goes off in St. Patrick's Cathedral. With her life having taken a sudden and new direction, Sherlock follows suit and from that moment on is dragged into a terrorism investigation, one that starts small and yet spans the entire globe. She quickly becomes an important target for the terrorists and finds herself assailed by assassins as she tries to put an end to the conspiracy.

Friday, November 06, 2015

The Jacob Whaler Interview – The “Stones” Series and Literature

Jacob Whaler

Jacob Whaler

Personal site

Jacob Whaler is the author of the science-fiction series Stones and has taken to writing after spending much of his life gazing down financial documents.

A writer at heart, he moved away from the megalopolises he lived in for something quieter, living the author's dream.
Greetings to everyone, today we are taking a little detour from book reviews in favour of hearing the opinions straight out of an author: Jacob Whaler. In our email interview we asked him a few questions about his book series, Stones, as well as a few additional enquires as to his relation to literature in general. Without further ado, the interview:

Do you favor any one of the books over the others?
J.W. - I have to say that I love all of them. I spent the most time working on Stones #1, since it was my first novel ever to be published. All four of them just sort of poured out of me over a two year period.

How did you initially come up with the principal idea that gave birth to the series?
J.W. - The long answer to this is on my website and in my bio posted on Amazon. The short answer is that I found a piece of obsidian rock when I was 6 years old, and it became the idea for the books. I always felt something powerful when I held that rock in my hand, and I finally decided to write a story about it.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

“Goebbels: A Biography” by Peter Longerich – The Face of a Monster

Though the Third Reich may have only lasted a dozen years it remains to this day one of the most scrupulously studied regimes and time periods. The National Socialist movement paved the way for a tyranny the likes of which we seldom see, of unrivalled cruelty, discrimination, brainwashing and organization... a tyranny that set an ethnic cleansing into motion. Though Adolf Hitler was certainly at the forefront of the Third Reich, there was another man whose role in the whole thing tends to be overshadowed: Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's most trusted ally and the minister of public enlightenment and propaganda. One of Germany's most highly-respected Holocaust historians, Peter Longerich, has taken it upon himself to examine the man's life in as great a depth as possible, and his efforts gave way to Goebbels: A Biography.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

“Rogue Lawyer” by John Grisham – Justice, a Human Right

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham - book cover
Ever since humans have been living in society by some codes and standards we've tried to brush up on our sense of justice. Most agree that in a perfect world, justice is dispensed equally and without discrimination so that all may get what they deserve. Needless to say, we'll probably never reach that Nirvana, but we can certainly try... and that's exactly what Sebastian Rudd dedicates his life to in John Grisham's latest legal thriller, Rogue Lawyer.

Friday, October 30, 2015

“Saturn Run” by John Sandford and Ctein – Trials of the Cosmos

Outer space is something that forever has and most likely will continue to hold our attention and fuel our imagination. After all, it is a grandiose world of unimaginable proportions and unthinkable processes that gives way to just about every scenario the human mind can come up with, and more. There is nothing like going past the frontier and being the one to push space exploration to new horizons, to find another piece of the universal puzzle. Though our technology still has ways to go until we can actually make the trip, very few things can contain the power of the mind: John Sandford and Ctein take us into deep space in Saturn Run.

Monday, October 26, 2015

“E-Cubed” by Pam Grout – Through the Eyes of Quantum Physics

E-Cubed by Pam Grout - book cover
Throughout our history, we humans have come face-to-face with incalculable amounts of unexplained phenomena, and more often than not our inability to make sense of things led us to create explanations we could somehow make sense of. Thankfully though, the scientific minds amongst us have never stopped working in the right direction, and since the scientific oppression more or less ended we've been busy making discoveries and providing real answers to the questions that nagged us for years, if not decades or even centuries. However, as we found ways to explain various things our views on the subjects changed, allowing us to develop more accurate worldviews which allow us to better understand and interact with our reality. Pam Grout is someone who came up with her own worldview, and in E-Cubed she takes us deeper into it than before.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

“The Nazis Next Door” by Eric Lichtblau – Welcoming the Enemy

As much as we would like for wars to end when the conquered surrender and peace treaties are signed, the truth is that the spirit of conflict floats over the people for months, if not for years after. This was true for World War II as well; though the Nazi government may have been vanquished, it left a lot of living Nazis behind, people who had committed atrocities and seeking to start anew... a chance they got in America.

Eric Lichtbau has decided to write an entire book about the subject, which he titled The Nazis Next Door. From A to Z, this book is dedicated to the covert immigration that happened after WWII ended, when countless Nazis made their way to America in hopes of starting a new and quiet life, on a clean slate, free from all the atrocities and war crimes they committed. Needless to say, there are many who managed to slip in through the cracks, passing themselves off as European refugees... after all, there were more than enough of those around to blend in successfully. However, there are some other Nazis who received a bit of help in getting across the pond... help from the United States government itself.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

“Finders Keepers” by Stephen King – The Novel of Blood

Finders Keepers by Stephen King - book review
We've gotten rather used to the concept of there being popular figures and their fans. Most people make whoever's work they truly enjoy a part of their life... but there are some who start basing their lives around it, and worse, around the artist him/herself. The fear of crazy and dangerously-obsessed fans has no doubt plagued virtually everyone who had a brush with fame, and in his new novel Finders Keepers , Stephen King once again plays on it masterfully.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

“The Guise of Another” by Allen Eskens – Identity Trail

The Guise of Another by Allen Eskens - book cover
It seems that for one reason or another war veterans don't fare all that well in the world of literature. More often than not they are traumatized by what they've experienced, are alcoholics, down-on-their-luck, with the whole wide world pressing down against them. And yet they make for some of the best heroes, the unlikeliest of underdogs who go against the grain regardless of whether or not they will end up winning. In The Guise of Another by Allen Eskens we have the pleasure of following Alexander Rupert, that kind of war veteran, on a rather strange path to redemption.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 80

Great day to everyone, and welcome back once again for what is the 80th issue of Gliding Over the World of Literature, where we work tirelessly to bring the latest news from the domain of books to your computer screens!

Today, we will kick things off by checking out new upcoming books dedicated to analyzing all known portraits of Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth. Following that, we'll examine the curious case of the man who invents languages. Finally, we'll cap things off with the question: do our children still need to be taught literary classics?

Friday, October 09, 2015

“Operation Paperclip” by Annie Jacobsen – The Brilliant Minds of the Enemy

Operation Paperclip by Annie Jacobsen - book cover
No matter how much hatred one holds for the Nazis, there is no denying that they were at the peak of the mountain in terms of technological research. That is to say, they had some of the most brilliant scientific minds the world had ever seen working for the Third Reich. After the Second World War came to an end the winning countries had to decide what to do with those people, and that's when the United States put in motion the operation that would secretly bring over those Nazi scientists, putting them to work on American soil, for American interests. Annie Jacobsen has written an entire book about the whole thing, titled Operation Paperclip.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

“The Good Neighbor” by A. J. Banner – The Fires of Betrayal

The Good Neighbor by A. J. Banner - book cover
Small, peaceful and loving communities are about as disarming an environment as one could hope to find; after all, how could anyone have trouble in paradise? Well, as it turns out, in the world of literature paradise is the perfect place for things to go sour, and that's precisely what happens in A. J. Banner's first novel, The Good Neighbor.

Monday, October 05, 2015

“Pines” by Blake Crouch – No Exits from Paradise

This past summer a ten-episode show graced our televisions, called Wayward Pines. It earned a whole lot of critical acclaim, being the most-watched show in its running time, and sent a lot of people investigating on its source. Lo and behold, it was all based on a trilogy of books, called the Wayward Pines Series , written by Blake Crouch, with the first book which kicks off the strange adventure being appropriately-titled Pines.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

“Killing Reagan” by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard – The bullet that Changed it All

With the kind of security the President of the United States benefits from today, it would be hard to imagine someone succeeding in an assassination. No resources are spared in ensuring the safety of arguably the country's most important person, whether it be intelligence investigations, armoured cars, or security agents. However, looking back on America's history, it seems that assassinating presidents was dangerously close to becoming a viable hobby, with assassins having taken the lives of Lincoln, Kennedy... and nearly that of Ronald Reagan.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

“All That Followed” by Gabriel Urza – The Terror of the Unexpected

All That Followed by Gabriel Urza - book cover
The search for truth is an objective humanity has always been aiming for, and though there are certainly those who recognize ignorance as bliss, most people want to see reality in all of its beauty and horror... often not knowing what they are asking to see until it's too late. Regardless, it seems we always have and will continue to strive for truth and justice, no matter what the cost, as do the people of Muriga, a quiet Spanish town, in Gabriel Urza's novel, All That Followed.

Friday, September 25, 2015

“The Pentagon's Brain” by Annie Jacobsen – The Story of DARPA

The Pentagon's Brain by Annie Jacobsen - book cover
The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, better-known by its acronym DARPA, is a rather well-guarded secret of the state, and as such draws a lot of suspicion by its very nature. When such a huge and unknown mass of mystery hangs in the air, it always draws people who want to pierce it and expose its true nature. There is a certain amount of discrepancy between what people DARPA is all about... while some believe it is exactly what it claims to be and works to improve the country's defences in humane ways, others see it as a shadowed organization with a mandate to develop extremely dangerous and powerful experimental weaponry. And of course, there are all the scenarios in-between.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

“An Absent Mind” by Eric Rill – The Final Mile

An Absent Mind by Eric Rill - book cover
Though at first most people have very concrete goals and ideas as to what they want to accomplish before their time on this Earth is up, as we get older most of us shift our focus towards just trying to be happy and keeping it all together. Some have the misfortune of being left to scramble and make up for many lost years in their final stretch of life, as is Saul in Eric Rill's An Absent Mind.

Friday, September 18, 2015

“The Rumor” by Elin Hilderbrand – The Ruin of Words

The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand - book cover
Ever since most of us were young we were taught not to stick our noses in other people's affairs, not to jump to conclusions, make assumptions based on appearances... basically, we were taught not to gossip. However, we knew way better than to let those lessons get to us... whether we do it for the mere pleasure of this type of voyeurism or to convince ourselves we have it pretty well, there is no denying: gossip is fun. Of course, there are always those who take things too far and turn gossip, which is generally harmless, into an unforgiving tool of ostracizing punishment... and that's when it has the power to take it all away.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 79

Good day to you all and welcome for what is the 79th issue of Gliding Over the World of Literature! Today, we are going to kick things off by having a look at the peculiar situation Australian literature finds itself in when it comes to comedy. Following that, we'll be going back in time to see where it all started for Tolkien with his first story, the one that set the stage for all the masterpieces to come. We are then going to round things off by taking a look at seven cities that served as major sources of inspiration for waves upon waves of authors.

The Funny Problem

There may not be a medium out there that allows comedy to be expressed in its full radiance, apart from literature. Ever since it existed there have always been those who used the written word to bring smiles to other people's faces. Unsurprisingly, the genre has developed by leaps and bounds, becoming a science of its own today... a science Australia's literature department seems to have problems with, despite having all the tools to succeed.

Monday, September 14, 2015

“The Good Girl” by Mary Kubica – Filling in the Blanks

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica - book cover
Family secrets aren't usually that big of a deal... most have them, and they generally revolve around hilariously embarrassing moments or medical issues. It's not that often that you see a family keeping so many skeletons in its closet that it threatens to burst, but it's certainly that kind of story which gets our attention, and that's what we are treated to in Mary Kubica's The Good Girl.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

“Trail of Broken Wings” by Sejal Badani –A Burden of Shameful Secrets

Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani (Book cover)
The concept of actions and consequences is one we're all privy to and have experienced in one form or another... as a matter of fact, you've made it far enough to be reading book review blogs in life, chances are you've experienced the phenomenon in some surprising ways.

Perhaps unfortunately, the consequences of some decisions can take years upon years to make themselves known, and even if we don't really see it, the accumulation of the decisions we make and the secrets we keep can have a very powerful effect further down the line.

This is precisely the kind of thing three sisters are exposed to in Trail of Broken Wings , the first book by Sejal Badani.

Monday, September 07, 2015

“The Girl from Krakow” by Alex Rosenberg – Outlasting Evil

The Girl from Krakow by Alex Rosenberg - book cover
World War II, still fresh in the annals of our history, was without a doubt the deadliest and most far-reaching conflict we know of... for now of course, as we have a tendency to constantly outdo ourselves. In any case, the few years it spanned were some of the strangest and most tumultuous ones, at least in the 20th century, and so it is quite understandable why many authors choose it as the backdrop for their works of fiction, as did Alex Rosenberg in The Girl from Krakow.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

“Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg – Chivalry Never Dies

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg-book cover
The concept of dating (or “courting”, depending how fancy you are) is one that that seems to have undergone a tremendous amount of ages as societies have been developing over the course of thousands of years. We've constantly been inventing rules and traditions, and then reshaping them to fit whichever direction society tended to go.

Thankfully, it has come to a point today where people (in most developed countries at least) have a great amount of freedom in whom they choose to go out with and what they do together. This in turn seems to have complicated the world of dating a great deal in certain ways, mainly because we have a tendency to cause chaos when given free reign to do what we'd like to. Thankfully, we have one of the greatest comedic voices in Aziz Ansari to help us understand that convoluted world, along with the help of renowned sociologist Eric Klinenberg; they've written a whole book about it titled Modern Romance.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

“Alert” by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge – A Technological Terror

Alert by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge - book cover
While technology certainly has enhanced our lives and opened countless new roads and possibilities for us to take, it is nevertheless a double-edged sword and deep down most of us know that someone, somewhere will find a way to use these advancements for a greater evil. Many have already written about the pitfalls of our technological development and how it can be used for terror, and Alert by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge falls into that category.

Monday, August 31, 2015

“It IS About Islam” by Glenn Beck – Where the Extremists Came From

It IS About Islam by Glenn Beck - book cover
Extremism is far from being something new in this world, with virtually every religion having its fair share of adherents who are willing to take things as far as they possibly can, generally deciding to follow their teachings to the letter. Today, most of the world has its eyes turned on Muslim extremists, terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Muslim Brotherhood. Though relatively speaking these extremists are rather few in numbers, they have still managed to create a worldwide stigma against Islam that, in some places, is growing stronger and stronger as their actions grow more violent.

Friday, August 28, 2015

“Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates – Through the Lens of Race

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates - book cover
Though the law in the United States may very well dictate that everyone is to be considered equal, I believe we all know that in practice, many people simply don't see things that way. Racial relations have come a tremendously long way in the past century, but nevertheless things continue to be more difficult for minorities from a socioeconomic standpoint.

Unfortunately, it seems that there is a race-based divide between the people, with most of them preferring to cling to their own perspective and dismiss that of others. It's during times like these that a voice of understanding is needed, like that of Ta-Nehisi Coates in his book Between the World and Me.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

“H is for Hawk” by Helen Macdonald – A Falconer's Grief

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald - book cover
Grief is something that touches us all in different ways, and there is no way of predicting how one will react to the loss of a loved one. When it came to Helen Macdonald, probably few could predict what she decided to do in the wake of her father's sudden passing in the streets of London; she decided to raise one of the deadliest and most vicious predators, the goshawk. Even though she was already an experienced falconer, she knew that this journey wouldn't prove to be a usual one and test her in many ways... and she wrote a memoir of it titled H is for Hawk.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

How Editing Can Make or Break Your Book Explained by Bernice Fischer

Bernice Fischer

Bernice Fischer

Personal site

Bernice Fischer is an author hailing from South Africa who was virtually born into the world of literature and has recently published her first novel, Jeff Madison and the Shimmers of Drakemere , a work largely acclaimed as brilliant and promising.

When most aspiring authors think of writing their first book they are extremely focused on the writing itself. How should they get started, develop characters, create the setting, describe appearances... and so on and so forth. While learning about the process of writing is certainly important in the creation of a novel (after all, very few of us can make an enthralling story with instincts alone), there is much more to it. As a matter of fact, what comes after you've finished writing will take up a lot more time and effort than you imagined.

Though book editors aren't exactly heralded as heroes by most readers, they play a role equally important to the author's in shaping the final product. Frankly, I could go on and on all day about how important editing is, but I believe it can be far better explained by author Bernice Fischer, as she did in an e-mail exchange:

Friday, August 21, 2015

“Whitey” by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill – The American Al Capone

Whitey by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill (book cover)
When it comes to powerful old-time gangsters, it's mostly Italian and Sicilian names that come to mind (and perhaps a few Jewish ones), such as Al Capone, “Lucky” Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Vito Genovese and Joseph Bonanno, just to name a few. As you would expect though, they are far from being the only people to have taken organized crime to the next level. Amongst the many other deadly crime bosses that came and went during the 20th century is one that won't soon be forgotten, especially by the American law enforcement agencies: James J. “Whitey” Bulger. Seeing the necessity in chronicling his unusual life, reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill decided to write a book about him, and it is very appropriately titled Whitey: The Life of America's Most Notorious Crime Boss.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

“Three Moments of an Explosion” by China Mieville – A Celebration of the Enigmatic

I'm certain that at this point, no matter what your system of belief and morality is, you've come to the great conclusion that this world is a strange one, and it feels as if there will never be an end to the bizarre phenomenons we are incapable of explaining. Most of us choose to press onwards and not pay too much attention to that, taking it one day at a time and trying to keep things as normal as possible, both inside and outside ourselves. However, there are other people out there who prefer to take a completely different approach to that, instead embracing all the weirdness they can find, and even take it further, to as far an extreme as possible. China Mieville is an author who definitely fits that description, even being a founder of the “New Weird” literature group/wave/movement, whichever expression you prefer.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

“Street Poison” by Justin Gifford – From Robert Beck to Iceberg Slim

Street Poison by Justin Gifford (Book cover)
Contemporary black culture certainly has many prominent figures who majorly contributed to its development in the latter half of the 20th century, but few of them arguably had the influence of Iceberg Slim, a real icon of his time. In his biography Street Poison, Justin Gifford takes it upon himself to examine in as much depth as possible this unique man's story.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 78

Greetings everyone and welcome to Gliding Over the World of Literature once again, where we present the 78th issue for your reading pleasure. The first thing we are going to do today is look into the life of the late Gunter Grass, a Nobel Prize winner in literature and author of The Tin Drum and more recently, The Box. Following that we'll be moving to bittersweet territory and check out the ending of a beautiful secret (and illegal) library. Finally, we'll bring things to a close by having a look at how two of the century's greatest writers, Truman Capote and Harper Lee, ended up influencing each other profoundly.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

The Jacob Whaler Method of Writing

Jacob Whaler

Jacob Whaler

Personal site

Jacob Whaler is the author of the science-fiction series Stones and has taken to writing after spending much of his life gazing down financial documents.

A writer at heart, he moved away from the megalopolises he lived in for something quieter, living the author's dream.
Greetings dear readers, a couple of days ago I got in touch with Jacob Whaler (, author of the Stones series, in order to discuss writing.

More precisely, I asked him if he had any words of wisdom to share for aspiring writers who don't know where to start... and he gave me some of the best advice I've ever received on the topic. I decided it would be a crime to keep his insight away from the world, and so I am sharing it here today:

Jack Whaler says:

Thanks for reading my blog post and reminding me that I need to do more of them!

Yeah, for me it's all about getting my hands on the keyboard. Inspiration seems to strike when my fingers are moving. I rarely get good ideas for my books when I'm not at the keyboard. I have a feeling a lot of people "think" about writing a novel, but don't make any progress because they never actually sit down and start to write. Sitting in front of a blank page is a fearful and stressful thing. It's easier to just "think" about writing and spend a lot of time gathering ideas by watching movies, etc.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

“Invisible City” by Julia Dahl – The Jewish Outsider

Invisible City by Julia Dahl (Book cover)
Secular religious communities have always been a sort of attraction for those outside of them, a mystery that dares to be solved, a secret upon which we only gain momentary glimpses. As you may suspect, there isn't actually a whole lot of black magic, child sacrifices or supernatural happening behind those closed doors... rather, they just make for small societies that function differently from our own, with their proper internal functions. As a matter of fact, they are the perfect backdrop for murder mysteries, as is the case in Invisible City by Julia Dahl.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

“Against All Enemies” by John Gilstrap – Fearing the People

Against All Enemies by John Gilstrap - book cover
Even though we can all agree that governments are necessary building pillars for modern society to hold on, there is no denying that some of them seem to cause more harm than good in the end, or at least only serve the personal interests of those in charge. There must always exist a balance of respect and power between the government and the people, each one keeping the other in check as they co-exist. When that balance is upset forces tend to start shifting, metaphorical volcanoes come to a boil, and in the end, someone always fights back.

Friday, July 31, 2015

“Ghettoside” by Jill Leovy – Swept Under the Rug

Ghettoside by Jill Leovy - book cover
The South Central Los Angeles neighborhood has been depicted thoroughly in movies as well as literature... and yet, an overwhelming majority of us will never see the place with our own eyes or dive deep enough ourselves to gain an understanding of what's really happening there and why. Thankfully, there are brave journalists who do these things for us, and Jill Leovy is one of them. Her many years spent observing South Central have led her to make some interesting conclusions and realize truths that she puts to the fore in her book Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

“An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir – Dethroning Tyranny

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (Book cover)
Family and freedom: if there were ever more righteous causes to raise arms and fight against some enemy, we certainly haven't heard of them. The desire to protect those we love and having the freedom to choose as we desire are very important motivators, ones that worked when it came time for citizens to rebel against their tyrants and to fearlessly charge against fate and its overwhelming odds. This is what we've been fighting for in both reality and fiction, as is precisely the case in Sabaa Tahir's first novel, An Ember in the Ashes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

“No Safe House” by Linwood Barclay – Unseen Horrors of Suburbia

No Safe House by Linwood Barclay - book cover
The green lawns, the white picket fences, calm and quiet afternoons... what is there not to feel safe about when living in the American suburbs, where decent, hard-working folk have found peace for generations? After the horrors he and his family faced in the events of No Time for Goodbye, Terry Archer decided to go live in the quaint and safe haven of suburbia, albeit without his wife who decided to go on a self-imposed exile upon seeing that her demons have led her to harming Grace, their daughter.

Monday, July 27, 2015

“On the Move: A Life” by Oliver Sacks – The Master of All Trades

On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks-book cover
We grow up in this world and try to focus our efforts on some specific domain, hopefully mastering it as time comes along. There are some anomalies out there, outliers who seem to have been born with exceptional talents, with the potential to become masters at whatever they touch... and Oliver Sacks is one of those. As a man who managed to give equal focus to his physical and cerebral passions, Sacks became known for both his daring lifestyle and contributions to modern medicine. Recently diagnosed with terminal-stage cancer, Sacks has decided to give yet another source of insight into his life through his autobiography On the Move: A Life.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

“Barbarian Days” by William Finnegan – Around the World on a Surfing Board

For the casual observer from the outside, surfing seems like a cool and somewhat simple sport, one that doesn't evolve into anything more than a hobby. However, for people like William Finnegan, surfing represents a whole lot more than that: it is a way of life, one that can take a person around the entire world and can also be seen as a an international community with a high sense of camaraderie.

In his autobiography Barbarian Days, the international journalist William Finnegan discusses his surfing life from his earlier days in Honolulu to the globetrotting journey he embarked which ended up turning him into an anthropologist more than anything else. In these writings we get glimpses into what surfing meant for William and his friends at the time, what it means to become part of the surfing community, and all the details and intricacies associate with it that we couldn't see or think of from the outside.