Friday, September 16, 2016

Summer reading - fiction

This has been a whirlwind of a summer! Lots of developments at professional front (wrapping my postdoc and starting my new faculty job!) and personal front (moving to my new home and setting it up) dissolved days into strings of hours that passed in a blur of activity. Looking back at the past couple of months, I find it incredible how much can be done each time the Earth completes a single spin on its axis!

One of the things that made this transition doubly amazing is that I re-'kindled' my romance with books (pun intended!). I guess it almost comes with the territory of packing and unpacking books into neat stacks, mulling over the color of new bookcases, fussing over bookends and creasing out tired-looking book dividers out of brown boxes. So it is only natural that I resume my blogging in this year sharing the titles (with my ratings and brief reviews of them) which provided me cozy corners amidst their pages when none existed outside.

1. The Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 3/5
Review: Part of the Inspector Alan Grant Series. Okay for patient readers, as all the action is strictly cerebral.

2. The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammett
Genre: Detective fiction
Rating: 1.5/5
Review: Frequently hailed as one of the greatest american detective writings but hugely overrated in my opinion. The protagonist Samuel Spade conjures information out of 'thick' air and leaves you feeling like a fool.

3. The Kindness of Neighbors - Matthew Iden
Genre: Thriller/suspense
Rating: 3.5/5
Review: Short and crisp. Worth a quick read.

4. Behind Closed Doors - B. A. Paris
Genre: Modern thriller
Rating: 3/5
Review: Debut novel of the author. Fluid prose, well written. Not in the same league as Paula Hawkin's The Girl on the Train though.

5. After Anna - Alex lake
Genre: Modern thriller
Rating: 2.5/5
Review: Suffers a bit from Hannibal Lecter complex. But overall an okay time-pass read which does not require too much attention.

6. Good Omens - Neil Gaiman and Terry Patchett
Genre: Satire/Humor
Rating: 4/5
Review: Antichrist has arrived and has been kind of .. misplaced! Angels, fallen and otherwise, take it upon themselves to locate him and try to avert the apocalypse as they have got too attached to the imperfect ways of humans. Oh my god good (especially Mr. Crawly!). Do yourself a favor and please go and read it now. Note to self: read it again asap.

7. The Codex - Douglas Preston
Genre: Thriller/Treasure hunt
Rating: 3/5
Review: Good. If you like lost manuscripts, ancient tombs and trails, survival tales sort of things, this is for you.

8. Murder with Peacocks - Donna Andrews
Review. You got it. Forgettable!

9-15. Joe Dillard series (Books 1-7) - Scott Pratt
Genre: Legal thrillers
Rating: 3/5
Review: Ranges from average to some flashes of interesting twists. Definitely for fans of Grisham (I am not one of them).

16. The Professor - Robert Bailey
Genre: Legal thriller
Rating: 3/5
Review: Thoroughly american writing, enjoyable in parts. Passable.

17. Between Black and White - Robert Bailey
Genre: Legal Thriller
Rating: 2/5
Review: Continuation of characters from The Professor. Could have been an engaging story but writing is a let-down. Merely passable.

P.S. I wanted to try out legal thrillers once and I think I have had my fill with them for some years with 9-17.

18. Breakthrough - Michael C. Grumley
Genre: Scientific thriller
Rating: 3.5/5
Review: First book of a 3-part series. Involves conversations with intelligent dolphins, nuclear submarines, aliens, and apocalyptic undercurrents in shifting ice of Antartica. Engaging read.

19. Pines - Blake Crouch
Genre; Post-apocalyptic thriller
Rating: 2.5/5
Review: First book of wayward pines trilogy. Gave me a major divergent deja-vu. Will rather go for the TV series (if at all).

20. Diamond Dust - Anita Desai
Genre: Fiction (short stories)
Rating: 3.5/5
Review: Amazing as always, Anita Desai tells tales about flawed people in her flawless prose.

21. Sweetness at the bottom of the pie - Alan Bradley
Genre: Young adult detective fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Review: First book of series about the 11-year old charming and precocious Flavia De Luce, who goes about unraveling mysteries armed with her chemistry set and unbridled energy. Highly recommended especially for young girls. I am definitely going back for a second helping of this pie.

Currently reading:

1. Fragile Things - Neil Gaiman
2. One more thing - B. J. Novak