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Review: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (By Robert Louis Stevenson)

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 137 pages

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

When London lawyer, John Gabriel Utterson, first sees Mr. Hyde, he’s struck by a sense of foreboding. He finds the infamous man as deplorable as the rumors state. And he hopes that he never has to lay eyes on him again. But fate has other plans. Dr. Jekyll, a respected man and Utterson’s good friend, refuses to share in Utterson’s disgust of Mr. Hyde. In fact, he seems to almost care about the strange, unlikeable creature. Strange events begin to unfold in the city and Utterson is inescapably pulled into them. At the heart of them all, he finds Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll’s unrelenting support of the man being hunted by the entire city. As he is compelled to investigate further, he finds himself in the midst of a nightmare he’d believed unimaginable, and a reality that would challenge everything he’d ever believed in.

My take:

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is known for being one of the earlier works on the topic of split personalities. But the book is actually way more than that.

The book has a very archaic writing style and, with it, the charm of that style. It’s actually quite easy to read as long as you read it slowly and not in any rush. The prose will not leave you feeling overwhelmed or like you’re missing out on anything; in fact, it’s written in an incredibly enjoyable manner.

As a story, it isn’t exactly what I had expected. I was probably misled by the many adaptations of the book (which I’ve not watched/read but only heard about). So I kind of expected a book that begins with a murder and proceeds to the split personality angle. The book is nothing like that and that’s a good thing.

It’s a little difficult, to be honest, to explain how amazing this book is (because that would inevitably lead to spoilers). So, I’m going to focus instead on why this book is so good. The main reason is that The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is emotion in prose. The book has an eerie sense to it that stays with you as you read it. But, it also has this beautiful, profound sadness.

It touches upon topics like the duality of personality (which is very different from a split personality) really well and forces you to remain in thought long after it’s done. It talks about the contradiction that all of us are, within ourselves, and our ability to choose to be one over the other at varied times. And in a world where all of us are juggling so many different things that require us to be so many different things, the book and its emotion hit pretty hard.

Then there is the emotion you feel for the characters themselves. In a book as short as 137 pages (or even lesser, depending on the format and publisher), Stevenson manages to make readers truly associate with the people within his story. Whether they appear for one scene or carry the entire story, or whether they’re good or evil, you feel for each character. You share in their angst, their fight (often internal), and their decisions. As a result, you are left enjoying every single aspect of the book that really pulls you in from the get-go.

As a story itself, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is written in a mixture of retellings and present events. A lot of it is also written in the form of correspondence. It’s definitely not a linear murder mystery if, like me, that’s what you’re expecting. And I wouldn’t call it a horror either. But, it is definitely disturbing in certain ways, and even more so because those angles are a little too real. All in all, it is quite exceptional in its ability to evoke emotion of varied kinds, and in the way in which it makes you look within yourself.

I’d definitely recommend The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to:

  • all kinds of readers
  • people who haven’t really read classics (It’s a great classic that is easy to read even if you’re not a fan of classics)
  • fans of psychological thrillers, mysteries, and horrors (It’s a multi-genre book and would appeal to most genre fans)

Also, it seems that Dr. Jekyll is pronounced Jee-kal or Jee-kill and not Jek-ill (That was definitely a bit annoying to get used to).

What did you think of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Let us know in the comments below!

– Rishika

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Review: The Adventures of Tintin, Vol. 2

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 192 pages

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Second in the eight-volume collector’s edition, The Adventures of Tintin, Vol. 2 contains Tintin in America, Cigars of the Pharaoh, and The Blue Lotus.

My take:

Volume 2 of The Adventures of Tintin is brilliant when compared to Volume 1. Individually though, it doesn’t reach that level of charm that the later books possess. Containing three stories, Volume 2 does get better as it progresses.

Tintin in America includes characters that are part of the earlier books. It’s just a brief mention though and you won’t really be lost if you choose not to read the previous ones. As a story, it’s quite random, with things happening abruptly and a little too conveniently. It doesn’t have an elaborately woven storyline and is also a bit racist. Of all the three books in Volume 2, Tintin in America is the worst.

Cigars of the Pharaoh has an interesting story. There is a bit of racism in this one too, but that’s quite negligible when compared to the others. It’s an interesting read and sets the stage for the next book too. It also includes characters that make appearances in later books (from what I remember). If you want to avoid the overly racist, not too great earlier books but at the same time don’t want to miss any central characters, then I’d recommend beginning the series from Cigars of the Pharaoh.

The Blue Lotus has the interesting, multi-layered, multi-dimensional type of story for which Tintin became famous. The story itself is quite interesting and (thankfully) has very little racism. In fact, at some point, the story mocks the stereotyping and racism habits of people too. All in all, The Blue Lotus comes across as the best part of Volume 2 and does leave you looking forward to Volume 3 and Tintin’s next adventure.

Highly recommended to:

  • people who enjoy Tintin
  • people who want to start reading The Adventures of Tintin (start from Cigars of the Pharaoh)
  • anyone looking for an interesting graphic novel to read

Let us know what you thought of The Adventures of Tintin, Vol. 2. Drop us a comment below!

– Rishika

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Review: That Last Weekend (By Laura DiSilverio)

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 312 pages

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Laurel Muir did not want to accept the unexpected but familiar invitation and return to Chateau du Cygne Noir – the castle turned BnB – for a weekend getaway with her friends. The tragedy that had struck ten years ago had sent those very friends on their own individual paths, the friendship strained, almost broken by what had happened. That event had ended a decade-long tradition of annual weekend getaways, and filled each of their hearts with doubt for each other. Driven by the need to rekindle that friendship and overcome the past, she finds herself accepting the invitation. But the past is not done with them yet. When a murderer strikes, the remaining friends are forced to face the truth – a killer lies in their midst. Thrown once again into a police investigation and with nowhere to go, they decide to uncover the truth this time. But Laurel does not know who to trust as she adamantly takes it upon herself to find answers. And as the skeletons in the closet are slowly exposed, Laurel finds that she may have been too ambitious and that her ambition could cost her her life.

My take:

First off, thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of The Last Weekend. Here is my honest review.

That Last Weekend is a ‘novel of suspense’. And it definitely keeps the suspense. The story is interesting and is filled with twists and turns, most of which you don’t see coming. Set in the present, the story touches upon events of the past through flashbacks. The transitions are smooth and comfortable to follow. They don’t break the flow and, in fact, add some interesting dimensions to the book.

The book gets right into it without much preamble. As a result, you take some time to get used to who’s who. That is still easier to do here than it is with a Mary Higgins Clark novel, though. Keeping with its ‘let’s get right to it’ beginning, the book moves along at a fast pace, without a single dull moment. It also has some good creepy elements which really set the scene perfectly. The writing style pulls you in and keeps you there, really allowing you to experience the entire eerie castle and small town setting, and adding to the suspense.

Yet, there are some aspects of the book that come across as a bit annoying. Some of the characters, for example. While Laurel seems level headed and easy to associate with, some of the other characters are just irritating. It wasn’t an in-your-face sort of irritation. It is just the way they are – not too pleasant would be the best way to describe it, I guess. You could chalk that up to the diversity that is existent in people. But their reactions to the events are just not sensible enough for someone who was in that situation. I have to admit that the diversity is what brings credibility and depth to such a story, but that didn’t exactly stop me from growling at the screen of my tablet at certain moments.

The last thing is that the story itself is actually incredibly interesting. It is twisted to a whole other level. But that itself is what made me wonder, “Can someone even be like that?” And that hint of incredibility brings down its appeal just a notch.

(Yes, I am aware that the last two paragraphs have me contradicting myself a lot. It was just that kind of a book.)

All in all, That Last Weekend was a more-than-just-good kind of read. It moved fast, kept me turning the pages, maintained its suspense well, and had a storyline that was convoluted to the right degree. It may not be the best suspense novel you read (given its few drawbacks), but is definitely worth reading especially if:

  • you like suspense novels
  • you like cozy mysteries
  • you enjoy murder mysteries and classic whodunits

That Last Weekend is scheduled for release on September 8, 2017 by Midnight Ink. I’d recommend grabbing a copy.

Liked or hated this review? Drop a comment below and tell us why. Also, let us know what you thought of the book or why you’d want to read it. And thanks for stopping by!

– Rishika

 

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Review: Buried (By Matt Shaw)

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 93 pages

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Todd wakes up after the celebration of his 21st birthday party to find himself locked inside a box. Broken memories begin taking over his mind, blurring the line between real and imaginary. Todd needs to distinguish fact from fiction before his claustrophobia completely eradicates that line. With time running out, Todd has to face his darkest fears if he is to ever learn who put him in a box, and find a way to get out alive.

My take:

This short novella takes around an hour to read. Keeping that in mind, I’m going to try to keep the review short too. Buried is meant to be a horror, and even a psychological horror. Its main theme is the claustrophobia that Todd faces, something that the readers are expected to associate with.

What’s good about the book is that it moves really fast. You don’t really feel the need to even take a break from it and can read it in one sitting. The second good thing is that it has this surreal dreamlike execution which gives off an uneasy, creepy vibe that has a lot of potential (although that remains highly unrealized). The third good thing is the few twists that the story contains – interesting, not very expected, and quite well presented. Fourth good thing – you can associate with some (not all) characters and even feel for them.

What’s bad about the book is that it does not really fulfill its aim of being a horror or psychological horror – it’s just not disturbing enough. Second bad thing – the claustrophobia was not really easy to associate with, and that’s coming from someone who actually has a touch of the phobia. The discomfort that Shaw intended for his readers to experience just did not materialize. The third bad thing was that it wasn’t a very well written book. Tense errors were abundant and that’s a real problem when you’ve already got a book that’s leaping from scene to scene every few sentences. Lastly, the story was interesting enough but its execution was just too blasé to do justice to the genre.

Should you read Buried? Sure, if you:

  • need something to pass the time on the commute home
  • need something to read as you wait for your appointment with the doctor/dentist
  • need something to read while waiting for a flight

Do you absolutely have to read Buried? Nope. It’s one of those books that tries hard to be dark, but fails because it’s barely disturbing, making it completely passable.

A lot of people did like this book though so do let us know whether you liked/disliked it and why. Drop a comment below. And thanks for stopping by!

– Rishika

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Review: Drained (By E.H.Reinhard)

 

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 157 pages

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Hank Rawlings has just made Agent in the homicide division of the FBI’s serial crimes unit. But the ex-Tampa Homicide Detective barely has time to settle into his new role before he’s sent to Chicago on a case. A serial killer who has managed to evade the law for years has resurfaced. His victims are turning up in dumpsters, drained completely of all their blood. And the body count is rising steadily. Rawlings and his new partner, Agent Beth Harper, have to dig deep and dig fast if they have any hope of catching the killer before he disappears again. But can they track down a killer who always manages to stay one step ahead? Or will the case cost much more than either of them is willing to pay?

My take:

Drained is your pretty regular, fast-paced, crime fiction. It doesn’t take a whodunit approach, but more of a will-they-catch-him approach. This brings in its own interesting elements as you see the protagonist and antagonist trying to out-do one another.

You get great insight into Hank Rawlings who played a supporting character in Malevolent and he comes into his own, evolving into a likable and strong personality. There’s also some light being shed on the relationship he shares with his wife – a relationship that was only touched upon in the first of the Lieutenant Kane series. There are other well-rounded characters that bring a wholesome feel to the story.

What I liked about Reinhard’s work, and it stays true in Drained too, is that he offers a certain amount of completion as far as motive, methods, and background of the antagonist are concerned. So you’re not left high and dry, wondering why someone would do what they do, and feeling like you didn’t get any closure.

The story moves along pleasantly enough, isn’t gore-filled, and keeps you turning the pages fast. The only thing it has against it is the play-by-play that is Reinhard’s preferred style. Personally, I’m not a big fan of having every action spelled out for me, so that can get a bit tedious to read (I’ve explained more about this in my review of Malevolent which you can read here).

All in all, Drained isn’t a great piece of literary excellence and, to be honest, I don’t think it’s meant to be that either. It’s meant to be a fast reading crime fiction with a considerable amount of suspense and twists, and a decent group of characters. On all those fronts, the book delivers. And it definitely keeps you interested enough to want to follow the series and Hank Rawlings’ FBI career.

Recommended to anyone:

  • who wants to indulge in some quick crime fiction
  • is a die hard crime fiction fan
  • as a travel read (it’s just 157 pages long)

– Rishika

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Review: The Time Machine (By H.G.Wells)

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 104 pages

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

When the Time Traveller tells his dinner company that he’s invented a machine that can move through time, his guests write it off as a fantastic idea. But days later, when the Time Traveller is late in joining the same party (and a few more) at dinner, he arrives with more than an explanation. He arrives with a tale of adventure from the future. He’s been to the year 802,701 which is populated by the graceful surface dwelling Eloi, and the nocturnal underground-dwelling Morlock. And the story he relates depicts a world very unlike the one we now inhabit, but one that will, one day, surely be ours.

My take:

Let me begin by saying that I have never really been a fan of classics. They often make for heavy reading and, to me, have just not been enjoyable. But The Time Machine is one of the best books I have ever read, and it really does deserve a perfect 5-star rating.

The only thing that could bring this down (and for some time, almost did), is the beginning. The book has a slow start and given the old writing style and lengthy explanation of concepts, makes for slow and heavy reading. The plus point here, though, is that the concepts were explained simply enough, while also incorporating some dry humor to keep it as light as possible.

But around one-fourth in, the slow progression changes… and how.

At one point, the book begins to pick up; and then it never stops. It just keeps moving faster and faster, making pages turn and the book, difficult to put down. And that is the smallest aspect of what was great about the book.

The Time Machine touches upon concepts of society, culture, humanity, belief, and the idea that the right to existence is not simple, but complex. A great deal of this is done through discussion and recap; but a large part of it is done through what is not said – from between the lines. That is why you become aware of the depth of the story only after you’re done and you’ve had a moment to reflect upon it.

The best part, though, is how easily and simply Wells evokes a plethora of emotions in the reader. The Time Machine really takes you on a journey – not just through time, but through a range of emotions that you feel incredibly strongly, in every fiber of your being.

There are parts so creepy that you can feel the tips of your fingers and toes tingling. They leave you just… disturbed, on edge, and looking over your shoulder for things you know are not real. Then there are parts that leave you feeling so very, very sad – all through one or two simple statements. And you’re left, long after you’re done reading, just thinking about the book and filled with this surreal sense of heavy acceptance.

There is also a need to mention here the amazing imagination that Wells possessed. The Time Machine presents fantastic and unique ideas and images, understandably making it a universal reference when it comes to science fiction and time travel. I’m glad that I put my general lack of inclination to read classics aside long enough to be able to get into the story. What I got was a story that was simple yet vivid, and brilliantly thought-provoking, emotional, and impactful. It will definitely be one of my favorite books of all time.

Recommended for:

  • Ages 15+ because some parts can be truly disturbing
  • Fans of science fiction
  • Fans of classics
  • Those who want to take a shot at reading their first (or one of their few) classics

Did you read/like The Time Machine? Do drop a comment to share your thoughts/opinion.

– Rishika

 

 

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Don’t forget to write a review… Please?

Have you ever stopped to consider the role a review can play in the fate of a book and its author? This is a question that everyone needs to ponder, whether you are an author or just a lover of all things that can be read!

How can a review help a reader?

Ever read a book so good that you thought everybody could learn something from it? Then, spread the word. Or ever read a book so bad that you simply had to warn other book lovers to stay away from it? Then, spread the word. That’s what book reviews help you do. Whether you loved or hated a book, you can tell others about it simply by posting your thoughts on Amazon, Goodreads, your blog, or any other platform or electronic store. That way, you help others decide whether they need to spend the money on that book or not.

With the growing number of authors in the market, self and traditionally published, readers have never had these many choices from which they can pick up their next book. And anything that can help you choose your next book can also be responsible for saving you hours of reading time or your finding your next favorite author. That is the power that a review has. You can be the one who wields that power. Your review is responsible for people choosing or ignoring a book. You can make people try out new authors, new styles, and new genres too!

By sharing your thoughts, you not only help another reader decide on a purchase, you also give the author an idea of what you would like to see more of and what you could do without. You help an author discover aspects of their own writing that they may never know existed. All it takes from you are ten minutes and ten lines. And just as your leaving a review helps others, reviews can benefit you too; because if most people who pick up a book leave a review, it can only help you discover books about which you didn’t know.

That’s great for readers, but how can a review help an author?

Today, the world of literature has more competition that it has ever seen. Indie authors have changed the landscape of the industry. And many of them are actually pretty awesome. But with so many choices, how do you know which new author to trust and follow?

That is where reviews help authors – they help set authors apart from one another. If people recommend your work, you get increased sales and a larger fan following. If people don’t recommend your work, you get critical feedback which can be incorporated in your next piece of work. As long as people voice their feelings and thoughts about a book through a review, the author will know which aspects of his work appeals to people and which doesn’t. And that can only help you, as an author, get better.

As an author, getting a review can be scary. And it isn’t always pleasant because for five people who love your work, there will definitely be a couple who don’t. This happens because even though certain people may like a particular genre, they have different expectations from the books in that genre. You meet some of these and you don’t meet others – that’s just how it goes. But every review, good and bad, is helpful to you. You earn from the good ones and learn from the bad ones.

 

Simply put, reviews help books and authors establish a following for themselves in the face of intense competition. As an author, a review can help you become a huge success or simply get better until you become a success. And as a reader, a review will help you find books that were previously unknown to you and you can help someone find their next favorite book too.

Lastly, reviews are a great way to share your thoughts, discuss the emotions you developed for a book and its characters, and even make friends over discussions sparked by matching or clashing reviews. When you look at it that way, don’t the ten minutes it would take you to drop a rating or a review become worthy of spending? Remember, as a reader, you hold the success of an author in your hands. So why not help them towards success if you like their work or help them get better if you don’t?

– Rishika

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