Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Aj's Reading List

Dear readers and literary addicts, welcome.


It's been long, REALLY long since I've last read a novel. You see, I just finished class 12, and I was grounded from reading novels since last June, except for one week in February '12. I was grounded because I spent way too much time reading, that my parents dreaded this might affect my marks at school.

Now that we've got that out of the way, you might want to have a peak at my reading list for this summer.

1) Beautiful Creatures Series /Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

I read the first two books (Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness) back in March '11, which were mesmerizing. However, due to the long time it had been since I last read them, and the fact that they are really amazing, I decided to re-read the first two books, in addition to the new short story Dream Dark and the third novel in the series Beautiful Chaos. It's a series of magic and supernatural beings, with a thread of love linking things together, all while trying not to be cut in the process.

2) Lorien Legacies Series /Pittacus Lore

As in the previous series, I read the first novel (I'm Number Four) last year, but I'm going to re-read it this year, in addition to its new sister The Power Of Six. If you've seen the movie, then you pretty much know what this novel is about. If you didn't, it talks about alien races, and that one crazy race with the will to destroy the universe, and that other race that's protecting all others, after being near extinct by the action of the mad race.

3) Wake Triology / Lisa McMann
I’ve read many great reviews of this series, and an excerpt from the first novel Wake confirmed that.

4) Second Glance /Jodi Picoult

This would be my first time reading one of the works of Jodi. A friend of mine recommended her writings a LOT (YES, I’m talking about Kitten). I read an excerpt of the novel and I really liked it, so expect some positive feedback when I finish it.

5) The Truth About Forever /Sarah Dessen

In one of the previous posts on this blog, a fellow blogger highlighted this novel as being one of the best novels of 2011. I read an excerpt from this one as well, and it was pretty attractive.

6) ...
I have yet to decide here, I’ve been thinking of reading either Vampire Academy series or The Maze Runner series. What do you think ? Which would you recommend ?

List written by: Aj.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What's On Your Summer Reading List?

What better way to escape this heat than lying back and enjoying the company of a good book?

With the temperature increasing horribly during summer, we find ourselves trying to engage in any indoor activity as long as the heat doesn't get to us.. So tell us what you have been reading or planning to read this summer.

Share your list with us!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

[2011 in Books] By Kifah Al Mahruqi

The past year was a good year for reading. I had originally challenged myself to read 30 books and I managed to read 35. Mainly thanks to owning a Kindle and being in a book club. Here's my top 11:

1. Fall of the Giants by Ken Follet: at over 1,000 pages, Fall of Giants delivers all the elements that fans of Ken Follett have come to treasure: historical accuracy, richly developed characters, and an intimate portrait of a past world. The story follows five families across the globe as their fates intertwine with the events of World War I, the political struggles within their own countries, and the rise of the feminist movement. Stories of love and loyalty, from a forbidden romance between a German spy and a British aristocrat to a Russian soldier and his brother in love with the same woman. This is book one of a trilogy. I highly encourage all book lovers to read this. Don't be afraid by its size.

2. Miss Wyoming by Douglas Coupland: I love this book for its contemporary themes and capturing the absurdities of our modern existences. Susan Colgate, a teen beauty queen and low-rent soap actress. Susan has hit rock bottom and suddenly finds herself the sole survivor of an airplane crash, takes the opportunity to start all over again. Strange bizarre events follow. This could easily be made into a movie or tv series.

3. The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafakby: I loved loved loved this book and its lively characters are so full of little quirks, humor and darkness. The story of two families, one Turkish and one Armenian American, and their struggle to forge their unique identities against the backdrop of Turkey's violent history. Filled with humor and misunderstanding, this dramatic novel is about memory and forgetting, about the tension between the need to examine the past and the desire to erase it. Some parts were shocking towards the end and some characters were redeemed and some were not.

4.The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain: This book follows Ernest Hemmingway first wife Hadely as they first meet, fall in love, get married in and move to Paris in the 1920s. I loved the description of Paris at the time. The second part was a leap from the first.. I couldnt justify their passive actions.. it made me angry.. but that's a good book.. makes you react with its characters.

5. Before I go to sleep by S.J. Watson: the theme of memory and psychology really fascinates and it's a theme I continue to explore in this book. A woman wakes up everyday with no memory of the day before.. her life before.. what happens if she starts to keep a secret dairy? what will she discover? would she rather not know?

6.The Marriage Plot by Jeffery Eugenides: Madeleine is pursued (manically, coyly) by two suitors, fellow soon-to be graduates of Brown University, whose personalities and backgrounds are not so much from opposite poles as they are from different galaxies. Each suitor is a disaster walking but you end up liking one more and rooting for the under dog. As the novel progresses, each suitor learns that in order to love Madeleine, they must first learn to love (or at least tolerate) themselves. Cliché, right? Not in this book. I actually hoped it would end in a cliche happy ending.. but it didnt.. but it made more sense that way. Some choices are life altering..

7. The forgotten Garden by Kate Morton: I have a soft spot for anything Australian and was thrilled when I started to read this ti find out it is set in Australia even if it was just the first part. This is a long book.. the first half is a bit slow and takes time to build up the plot once it starts you can't put it down. This is a story of the past, secrets, family, memory and mystery.

8.Morning in Jenin by Salwa Abulhawa: this is a multi-generational story about a Palestinian family. Forcibly removed from the olive-farming village of Ein Hod by the newly formed state of Israel in 1948, the Abulhejos are displaced to live in canvas tents in the Jenin refugee camp there is always the waiting, waiting to return to a lost home. The novel's voice is that of Amal, the granddaughter of the old village patriarch, a bright, sensitive girl who makes it out of the camps, only to return years later, to marry and bear a child. The story of her brothers, one who is kidnapped to be raised Jewish, one who will end with bombs strapped to his middle. none is more important than Amal's own. Her story is one of love and loss, of childhood and marriage and parenthood. Mornings in Jenin is a deeply human novel - a novel of history, identity, friendship, love, terrorism, surrender, courage, and hope.

9. The help by Kathryn Stockett - Great story about life in the 60s in Mississippi for women and their help. This is the story of three women coming together to tell their story of being a black american maid - the racism, poverty and all their struggles and sacrifices. The characters are really charming and you grow to love them and their humor. Great book.

10. The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell :is the coming-of-age story of one of the most iconic characters of our generation.
Before Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw was a small-town girl who knew she wanted more. She's ready for real life to start, but first she must navigate her senior year of high school. the story of how a regular girl learns to think for herself and evolves into a sharp, insightful writer. learn about her family background , how she found her writing voice, and the indelible impression her early friendships and relationships left on her. I read this on a lazy weekend afternoon - short simple and swe

11. Room by Emma Donoghue : Sad book beautifuly written but leaves you slighly shaken. Imagine your whole life is in a room.. a kidnapped has and raises her son in a small room. their whole life is trapped in their room. Will they survive on the outside? if they ever get out? desperation, curiosity, struggle and fear all in one

[Favourite Book in 2011] By Hala

أن أُرشح أفضل أحدَ عشرة كتاب قرأته خلال عام 2011 يبدو مُربكاً قليلاً بـ النسبةِ لي لعدّةِ أسباب ربما لا تهمّ أحد سواي ، عدا ذلك بإمكاني أن أُرشح كتاباً واحداً – واحداً فقط وبشعورٍ شبه مؤكّد أنّ هذا الكتاب الواحد قد يُصبح أوّل عنوان تقرأونه في العام القادم 2012 وبـ ابتسامـة عريضة أيضاً !

 كيفَ أصبحوا عظماء ؟  لـ د.سعد سعود الكريباني

توقفت عن قراءة كتب التنمية البشرية لأنّها لم تكن فعلاً تحقق غاياتها معي ، وعلى أنّني لا أستطيع تصنيف هذا الكتاب ضمن (كتب التنمية البشريّة) إطلاقاً إلا أنّه أفضل بكثير .من كل تلكَ الكتب التي تُخبرك كيف تحرّك طاقاتك نحو الهدف 

هذا الكتاب أكثر بساطة مما تتخيلوا ، قصص جميلة حول شخصيّات عظيمة كان وراء إنجازاتها إلهامٌ ما من شخص أو شيءٍ ما. قرأت هذا الكتاب بشغف ، القصص مُدهشة وتحرّك الضمير الداخلي فينا نحو الشيء الذي أردنا دائماً تحقيقه لكنّ المارد فينا لا يزال نائماً ، هذهِ القصص توقظُ المارد بكلّ سلام ولا تفعل أكثر من أن تذكره بهدفه من الحياة

لا أزال أذكر أغلب القصص ، تلكَ التي جعلتني أندهش ، أبكي ، أضحك ، أبتسم وحتّى أبدأُ يومي بحماس أكثر.. سيكون هذا أجمل خيار لكم لـ بدءِ عام 2012 بتفانٍ ،لكلّ الذين يحلُمون بالكثير.. أمّا الذين لا يملكون حلُماً فلن يكون خياراً مثاليّاً 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

[2011 in Books] By Emma Williams

1.Worth Dying For - Lee Child
I had heard of Lee Child before but never really got into him until this year and now he has become one of my favourite authors so this is proof that trying new things works out! This was my introduction in Jack Reacher, the main character in most of Child's books and he is a force to be reckoned with!

2.Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie
I never get tired of this book. I must have read it over ten times and every Christmas I have to read it again. A true classic!

3.The Watcher - Brian Freeman
My mum recommended this book to me and I am so glad she did because after reading a couple of chapters of The Watcher, I went out and purchased all of Freeman's books!

4.The Coroner - M R Hall
One of my New Year's resolutions this year was to read more books by British authors so my first push into this was M R Hall's first novel The Coroner. I tend to lean towards thriller and crime novels so this was exactly my type of thing!

5.Port Mortuary - Patricia Cornwell
The Queen of crime and thrills, Cornwell never fails to impress me and like Barclay was someone that a couple of years ago I couldn't get into, but now I adore her work and am eagerly awaiting the next one!

6.Never Look Away - Linwood Barclay

I read this book after seeing it recommended on a couple of book clubs that I follow in the UK and was pleasantly surprised as having tried to read Barclay a couple of years ago and struggling to get into his style of work, I was glad I decided to give him a go again.

7.The Tiger Who Came To Tea - Judith Kerr
A childhood classic that I get out every time I am feeling homesick! This book is so British and so quaint that it just cheers you up within seconds.

8.The Point of Rescue - Sophie Hannah
Sophie Hannah is just brilliant. There really are no other words needed for her!

9.Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
A classic that I think is just the ultimate feel good example of chicklit as it works for all ages, all backgrounds and never gets old.

10.The Perfect Husband - Lisa Gardner
Gardner is another one that I just think has such a nice writing style that she keeps you gripped for the whole book and the way they all link in together makes the whole series brilliant.

11.Matilda - Roald Dahl
Everything about Roald Dahl's boos are brilliant and after not reading Matilda since I was a kid, I was reminded of it when I made a chocolate cake one day and someone remarked it looked like the ones the head teacher makes the boy eat in Matilda. That evening I went out and bought it so whether you are a kid or an adult, this book will get you smiling - and craving chocolate cake!

[2011 in Books] By Noor

When it came to books, 2011 was epic. I read 40 books. Give me something new I said, and apparently I got what I wanted. I read classics, which are basically something I can read forever. I read thrillers, enjoyed the ride. I read about history. I read really heavy books, they depressed me but here I am. I read books which made it to my favorites, but I also read really bad ones. Thanks to books, I always had company. I finished a book in a few hours, another in a month. I took my time with some because I didn't want them to end, and rushed others so that they do end. I believe if you love books, it's granted you go through an emotional roller-coaster when you read. I found such a joy in sharing books this year.

I read at college in the summer course, my free time was mainly spent so. I wrote reviews on the books that touched me. I even stayed up till 7 a.m. trying to find the words to describe Shantaram with. I highlighted so many quotes and realized I hungrily looked for a good quote in the pages I read. My reads gave me a huge deal of thoughts to ponder upon. Murakami's puzzling books provoked me. I loved trying to figure out what the author was trying to say in between the lines.

When it came to rereading I reread Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows with OmaniBookMania. That was a new experience. I never re-read books, even the ones I loved. I enjoyed the discussions thoroughly and it made me pay more attention to the details. I also reread an Arabic book I deemed beyond my comprehension and surprised myself that I enjoyed it the second time around.

Here are my top 11 reads, in random order:

1.Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts
Changed the way I view India entirely. One of the most heartwarming books I've ever read. Long but amazing. You go through so much with the main character, you love, fight, learn, dance, and most of all live. Roughly, it's about a fugitive running away from his past, crime and heroin to the enchanting Bombay. The Bombay he falls for, where he falls in love, finds true friends, a brother and a father-figure.He begins a new life, his past always ready to haunt him. He learns so much: acceptance, forgiveness, kindness. You're amazed at the simplicity of the writing. Simple words, simple sentences and unpretentious philosophy. Yet, you're provoked by this simplicity. It's like no other. It's so effortless. You will not be disappointed with this book.

2.The Windup Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami
Weird is one word for it. Captivating and mind boggling. Murakami is a genius. This year I've been introduced to him, and he's among my favorite authors. A couple's lost cat that triggers a series of never-ending adventures. This book as it's rightly called a chronicle, isn't just one book. Things happen, new characters show up, and there you are reading something entirely different thinking how can the author so brilliantly write this way?

I feel very strongly about this book, and I can't say what is it exactly that makes me think it a wonder of a book. Is it the characters? The journey of self-discovery they go through? A part of Japan's history opening up to me for the first time? The stories? The beautiful quotes that stared me in the face almost every time I read it? It's definitely a combinaton of all of them together. In addition, it's as if the author is pouring his soul out, so you can't but help be compelled to every page. Must-Read.

3.Let the Great World Spin - Colum McCann
The mother who lost her child in Vietnam and how she's still trying to deal with her loss, the unusual priest who has his own notions and he's doing what he can to make the world he lives in a better place, a prostitute who has all those dreams for her daughter which never materialized, and so much more and in the midst of it all, the brave tightrobe walker who walks in the air between the Twin Towers linking all characters together someway somehow. Brilliant story telling, beautiful language.

4.Matilda - Roald Dahl
A little girl who loves books, very bright and oppressed by her parents from a tender age. Need I say more? I've never read anything by Dahl before so this was the perfect book to get to know him by. I loved it. I just wonder what it'd have been like had I read it at a younger age.

5.The Prophet - Gibran
The Prophet speaks of life. It's not actually what you think it is. It's not full of philosophical ideas you won't grasp. Quite the contrary; it offers insights into daily matters. When you read Gibran speaking of love, prayer and giving you think what kind of life did he lead that made him capable of such wisdom? What did he go through? How on earth can he use such beautiful language to make you feel at peace with the world?

6.A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
I think that this book totally shifts the way I view Dickens. It has the feeling of a proper classic, yet it's different. It's full of raw human emotions. Love and hate. Patriotism. Family. Compassion and brutality. For me, A Tale of Two Cities is about how far we humans go for something we believe in or love. How far would you go for the greater good and how often are you misled in your path? How far are we willing to sacrifice for love and the happiness of the one we love? I'm a sucker for classics, and this one is timeless.

7.The Help - Kathryn Stockett
I loved it. I didn't know what it was about when I picked it up, so with no expectations whatsoever I found myself thrilled with the book. The author is so brilliant with telling the story, knowing just when to switch from one narrator to another. Just when you're absolutely hooked. You find yourself even more so with every chapter. It gets so deep, you hear stories you never even imaged. You feel their anger, their disgust, their submission. You wish it was different for them, you wish you could slap that character who couldn't be more annoying or insensitive, you wish you could tell them things get better. They don't need that though. They've learned how to cope.

8.The Time Traveler's Wife - Audery Niffeneger
Extremely interesting. It's one of the most interesting novels I've ever read, I felt the need to read almost every minute of the day. That's how good the author's style is. It's about a time traveler and his wife, which is obvious from the title. It's really amazing how the author managed to write about time travel which is a foreign topic, and she makes you understand what she's saying but still think about how complicated it all is, till you're exhausted with the 'how' and the 'why. Though this book doesn't mean something special to me, I enjoyed reading it a lot.

9.Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
War. The losses the characters suffered, how much they endured, the people who lost their lives in battle fields and those who died because there wasn't enough food. It's all so sad. You keep on thinking how wars are unnecessary, how evil and how they take away so much from a being. Of course, you're also amazed at people's endurance. It's a sad book let me tell you. Sad in a sense that you love the characters, you watch them fall apart, pull themselves back together and live on baseless hope. There's romance, beautiful love but the presence of loss and how they always anticipated it made whatever joys you found within the pages of the novel seem hollow.

10. الحب في المنفى - بهاء طاهر
كتب بطريقة بسيطة جدا تجعلك تحب الكاتب من أول الصفحات. تتعرف على الكاتب مجهول الاسم الذي يعيش في منفى يفرضه على نفسه في دولة أوروبية. تعلمت الكثير عن التاريخ من الرواية، عن جمال عبد الناصر و عما حدث بين إسرائيل و لبنان في التسعينيات.
وجدت اختلافا كبيرا بين الحب في المنفى و واحة الغروب. الحب في المنفى لها شعور اخر تماما ما يجعلني أريد أن أقرأ المزيد لبهاء طاهر.

11.ولدت هناك ولدت هنا - مريد البرغوثي
لا تسعفني الكلمات لأتحدث عن هذا الكتاب لكن لغة البرغوثي قريبة من القلب، بسيطة، غير متكلفة و مشاعره عن وطنه و عن عائلته صادقة جداً.

I'm blessed. Thank you 2011. And may 2012 prove even better, literature-ly at least.

[2011 in Books] By Susan Al Shahri

1."The Help" by Kathryn Stockett.
This story takes place in Mississippi in the early 1960s during the civil rights movement. This isn't a depressing novel about racism, though. The author managed to capture the irony and hypocrisy that defined that era yet still come out with an uplifting story that had me laughing hysterically at times, and in tears at others. One of the best 'first novels' ever written.

2."The Blue Bistro" by Elin Hilderbrand.
This easy-to-red novel takes place on Nantucket Island off Massachusetts. It revolves around the owners, employees and patrons of 'The Blue Bistro', a cozy upscale restaurant that comes to life during the summers. If you love food, sophisticated romance, and would like to know the ins and outs of running a restaurant, this is the book for you!

3."The Postmistress" by Sarah Blake.
Set in the 1940s in the middle of World War II, Blake follows the lives of three women; a postmistress in Franklin, Massachusetts, a young doctor's wife, and a reporter in Europe. The book was beautifully written, but for some reason it was a bit too slow for me. Not one to stop reading in the middle of a book, I finished it after a couple of weeks. It left me feeling heartbroken and empty. Apparently I don't read enough literature with sad endings.

4."The Prince of Mist" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
I can only find one word to describe this book; magical. This novel for young adults was originally written in Spanish in the early 1990s but was only released in English this year. It portrays the adventures of a young boy, Max, who escapes to a seaside retreat with his family during the war. As a sucker for magical realism and a great fan of Zafon's work, I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Philip Pullman and J.K Rowling's work.

5."Island Beneath the Sea" by Isabel Allende.
Set in the Caribbean island of Saint Dominigue (now Haiti) in the late 1700s during the slave uprising, this heart-wrenching masterpiece of a historical novel will entrance you from the very first page. Definitely the best read of 2011.

6."The Bean Tree" by Barbara Kingsolver.
I first discovered Kingsolver's books when I read 'The Poisonwood Bible', her brilliant award-winning novel. This short-read which takes place in Arizona is hilarious and the characters come alive from the very first paragraph.

7."The Trouble with Islam Today: A wakeup call for honesty and change" by Irshad Manji.
This nonfiction book caused uproar in the Muslim world a few years ago when it was first released. After reading it, I honestly don't see what all the fuss was about. Irshad is simply a young woman who grew up in a fundamentalist Pakistani community. She has some very valid points and reserves the right to express her own opinion. Definitely an interesting read.

8."Bridget Jones' Diary" by Helen Fielding.
Ultimate chick literature. I read this on a long haul flight across the Atlantic during the summer. Deeply amusing and perfect for long flights or a day at the beach when you're feeling mindless.

9."The Diviners" by Mararet Laurence.
I first read this novel ten years ago. It follows the life of Canadian feminist writer, Morgan Gunn who lives in a log cabin in Eastern Ontario. We are taken through flashbacks of her childhood, painful marriage to a Native Canadian Indian, and difficult relationship with her teenage daughter. Published in the early 1970s, this book is about a woman's search for meaning and identity. It's the kind of book I like to re-read after a few years because it touched me on a deeper level.

10. "Committed" by Elizabeth Gilbert.
I enjoyed reading Gilbert's bestselling novel 'Eat, Pray, Love' but for some reason I was able to identify more with this sequel. This non-fiction book is basically a skeptic's take on marriage and commitment. Witty, wise and hilarious. It's on my list of books to re-read at some point.

11. "The Book of Negroes" by Lawrence Hill.
This award-winning novel had me in tears from the very first chapter. It follows the story of Aminata Diallo, an eleven-year-old who was taken from her village in West Africa at the peak of the slave trade. When I first picked it up, I wasn't able to put it down for four hours. It's one of those books you should never pick up on a week night because you'll be sleep deprived at work the next day. I lost and regained faith in humanity a hundred times while reading this book. Heartbreaking, uplifting, and eye-opening.