Saturday, January 31, 2015

“The Moving Finger” by Agatha Christie – Lethal Shame

The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie - book cover
Dark secrets are seldom hidden away forever in literature; rather, they are locked in a Pandora's Box to be opened at the most convenient time. As one might expect, the British countryside is practically made of and built upon dark secrets, or at least that's the case in Agatha Christie's The Moving Finger, which it should be noted, was actually one of her personal favorite works of her own, and in her eyes it is one of the few that truly stood the test of time.

In any case, in this book we are once again presented with the lovely old lady sleuth Miss Marple as she is called in by her friend into her small village during a period of great duress. Someone has been exposing people's dirtiest secrets through a series of letters, an event followed shortly by a rather suspicious suicide. As if that wasn't already enough, an apparent murder has been added to the list of reasons as to why one should always stay in densely-populated areas when in England. Miss Marple, being a true expert in the cunning and bloodthirsty ways of the British countryside dweller, decides to head down there and do what she does best.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 68

Good evening to you all, we bid you warm welcome once again to this week's issue of Gliding Over the World of Literature. In this 68th outing we will begin with the hot and heavy and drift towards the cool and light.

To kick things off, perhaps the greatest discovery made (in the pertaining domain) since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls: seventy metal books found in a cave in Jordan which could offer yet another perspective, and perhaps unlock some secrets in Biblical history. Following that, we are going to check out some of the most wondrous cities of this world that were known to inspire many literary titans over the years. Finally, we are going to end things on a rather lighthearted note, by looking at a peculiar and yet adorable fusion of books and public spaces, at least in London.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

“The Narrow Road to the Deep North” by Richard Flanagan – A Life in Grey

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan - book cover
The impact of a moment is never truly retained or remembered once it has passed; everything that occurred will eventually have been forgotten, and one's life won't really be of importance, in the end at least, but to the person living it. Nothing in this world can endure and stand in the face of the endless test of time, and even the greatest atrocities can be inadvertently pushed back beneath layers of forgetfulness.

However, there are those who remember for as long as they can, who try to make us know and remember our history, what men and women are capable of doing with, for and to themselves. One such forgotten event in history (but thankfully, not in literature) is the building of the Thai-Burma death railway which took place in 1943, where countless nameless POWs lost their lives and were erased from history.

Monday, January 26, 2015

“The Laughing Monsters” by Denis Johnson – Insidious Greed

The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson - book cover
The hunt for wealth is a topic which has fascinated mankind for as long as the concept of it has been around; untold riches seem like the universal key to a better life, the door on the other side of which all our grievances are nonexistent and all our dreams come true in the blink of an eye. Of course, even though everyone understands that there are realistic limits to what wealth can achieve, they still go in search of it, both in real life and literature, no matter how perilous the adventure, regardless of how much they must corrupt their own worlds in the process.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

“Dust” by Hugh Howey – Visions of Extinction

Dust (Silo Saga - Book 3) by Hugh Howey - book cover
As you may have gathered from the previous review of the second book in the Silo Saga by Hugh Howey, Shift, the stage was rather well set for the last part of the series, Dust, and expectations were soaring rather high... to such an extent that many people, myself included, had a lot of trouble imagining how he could tie all the loose ends together.

Many a book in literature has suffered deeply from the author's inability to wrap things up and give a solid ending... and thankfully, that is a fate Dust has certainly avoided with unimaginable success.

Friday, January 23, 2015

“Shift” by Hugh Howey – The Fall of Bionic Man

Shift (Silo Saga - Book 2) by Hugh Howey - book cover
Through arts and literature Man has sought to develop himself from within, to elevate himself intellectually and spiritually... and through technological progress and science, Man sought to take complete control of the world, becoming the master of his own fate.

However, as Hugh Howey explores it in his Silo Saga, there is a certain threshold to how much humanity can discipline itself, and how much it can control what it unleashes into the world. The second volume in the series, Shift, takes us back into the strange dystopian world presented in Wool, essentially continuing the chronicle of mankind's downfall following its incapability to master its own doings.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

“The Body in the Library” by Agatha Christie – Deadly British Countryside

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie - book cover
If Agatha Christie is to be believed, then the most dangerous place on Earth to live in is the British countryside. Populated by lovely retired folks and wealthy families, it seems to be a secret war zone where polite murder is part of the daily curriculum. Fortunately, this kind of set-up has given writers such as the afore-mentioned godmother of whodunit mysteries the perfect fodder to craft one timeless novel after the next, as was the case with The Body in the Library.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

“How to be Both” by Ali Smith – Structural Lawlessness

How to be Both by Ali Smith (book cover)
As I've taken to mentioning it in virtually every single book review dealing with romantic literature, it really isn't my cup of tea, but in the interest of keeping an open mind and preserving a varied reading experience, I do give some of them a spin from time to time. How to be Both by Ali Smith is a novel which attracted my attention because I felt its different approach to the entirety of the structure could potentially make for a surprising read.

Basically, we are told two love stories, each one taking up half the book. One takes place in the fifteenth century during the Renaissance, while the other one is set in the modern day. Needless to say, though both stories seem unrelated, as they progress they become thematically-linked to one another, and Smith really manages to make the two distinct tales feel like they belong together, progressively fusing them into one in many ways.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 67

Good day to everyone and welcome back for another (chilly) edition of Gliding Over the World of Literature! Even during these cold and windy winter days we haven't taken (much) of a break from bringing to you the most interesting weekly news from the domain of books, and so today we are going to begin our adventure by exploring the Book of Mormon and what differentiates it from literature of its own time. Following that, the hardback format will receive the spotlight as we examine what makes it so sacred. Finally, we will cap things off with a very fitting dive into ten of the most majestic and sensational winters to be found in literary history.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

“The Murder at the Vicarage” by Agatha Christie – Marple's Debut

The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie – book cover
Though Agatha Christie has certainly gained untold levels of notoriety for her stories featuring the unforgettable Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, it is sometimes easy to forget that somewhere down the line, she created a sort of counterpart: Miss Marple. A lovely aged lady, Miss Marple is rather gifted when it comes to powers of deduction, and often unwittingly finds herself in the middle of quite morbid affairs which call upon her specific talents. Her run in literature was no less impressive than Poirot's, netting an array of stories, and this review will focus on the beginning of it all, The Murder at the Vicarage.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

“Murder on Fifth Avenue” by Victoria Thompson – Membership Revoked

Murder on Fifth Avenue by Victoria Thompson - book cover
Victoria Thompson seems to have made a living on murder mysteries, with virtually every single one of her novels being titled “Murder on/in”, leaving little to the imagination as to the nature of these books. Naturally, this means that she has developed an aptitude for this sort of work, and like virtually every review is going to mention, she hasn't stopped improving since the beginning. One of her more recent works is certainly a testament to that, and it sports the title of Murder on Fifth Avenue.

Friday, January 09, 2015

“Empire of Sin” by Gary Krist – The Vortex of Corruption

Empire of Sin by Gary Krist (book cover)
The city of New Orleans is one with a rather tumultuous history, and upon a closer review it becomes apparent that the many events that took place and the people at their center are true fodder for literature. Gary Krist most certainly saw the potential in that, and in his book Empire of Sin decided to focus on a very specific, three-decade period, the 1890s to the 1920s, arguably the most criminally-active time in the city's history.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

“The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert – Our Grand Legacy

As virtually every review of human history has pointed it out, before we came to the planet five mass extinctions have occurred, referring to either specific events or short periods of time during which the biodiversity on Earth was very suddenly and drastically lessened. Perhaps the most famous mass extinction we are all familiar with is that of the dinosaurs, when a stray meteor plunged them to their deaths and leaving the rest of the smaller organisms to develop.