Book Review: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

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Book Covers

Amazon listed Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee as their most pre-ordered book since Rowling’s final book in the Harry Potter series – The Deathly Hallows (2007) and I’m not surprised why. In fact I think it was one of the most anticipated books of 2015. So, naturally, the expectations from the book were sky high. The book is the sequel to the major American classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, which is personally one of my favourites and it drove everybody crazy when its release was announced.

Go set a watchman by Harper Lee focuses on Scout Finch who is no longer a six year old. She is now a twenty-six year old Jean Louise Finch who returns to Maycomb, Alabama from New York. The book is about her struggle to understand the perception of her home county. Just like its prequel, Go Set a Watchman raises the issue of racial inequality and talks of the political view of the city through the eyes of a young woman.

Jean Louise Finch starts to question the beliefs her father had instilled in her when she was a child and the things she learns which in my opinion, make her grow as a person. It makes her separate her conscience from that of her father and thus, helps her create her own identity.

The book starts off at a very slow pace and isn’t as captivating as one would expect it to be. Many minor characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are seen as major characters here; yet character development was rather scarce. However, the best part about the book is that it will, along with Jean Louise, make you learn something. You’re reading about Jean Louise and her problems with perceptions, opinions of her own and others, and you’ll realize that it implies to us all. Some parts in the book left me awe-struck. Like when Uncle Jack is speaking to a grown up Jean Louise, he says, “It’s always easy to look back and see what we were, yesterday, ten years ago. It is hard to see what we are. If you can master that trick, you’ll get along.” This was indeed a very wise advice. Speaking of wisdom, I was disappointed that we did not see much of Atticus Finch in the novel, but the fact that it serves a purpose in the book, makes it bearable.

In an honest conclusion, Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee is not as brilliant as its prequel and is rather slow; but it is in entirety a good book and everybody who devoured To Kill a Mockingbird should definitely read this once, however with lower expectations.

Guest Review by Sherry Verma (Instagram | GoodReads | WordPress )

About the book: Go Set a Watchman | Harper Lee | Harper Collins | Fiction | 278 pages

Book Review: Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

Revenge Wears Prada : The Devil Returns is the sequel to the very popular book ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, based on which a movie starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway was made. Revenge wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger tells the story of Andrea after she leaves Runway (and Miranda, the ‘devil’).

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The sequel starts with Andy’s marriage to Max Harrison, a suave businessman belonging to one of those old rich families in New York. Andy has now started a wedding magazine with none other than Emily and they have become almost best friends. However, the freedom she enjoys in her work seems to come under a threat as somebody from the past comes back in to her life. Her wedding day starts with a dream involving Miranda Priestly and a note sent by her mother-in-law-to-be asking Max not to marry Andy.

This book is all about Andy, nowhere is it about Miranda Priestly. I mean, yes, she does come back, as the chief editor of Elias Clark who is interested in acquiring Andy and Emily’s business. But the story is more about the implications of this and its effect on Andy and her family rather than Miranda taking revenge.

There are bound to be comparisons with The Devil wears Prada, especially since the book has enjoyed so much popularity. And so, when you compare the two, Revenge wears Prada falls short.

The book is still funny, especially the titles of each chapter and Weisberger’s tone remains cheery and smart. But Andy keeps on thinking way too much about every little thing and running away from important issues. There was strangely not much of a connect between the two books as the characters seem so much different. I felt as if all the characters had essentially changed into somebody hard to recognize. After reading Devil Wears Prada, could you have imagined that Andy would start a wedding magazine, of all things?

The book is still entertaining, yes, but it is too much about Andy and less about Miranda. The brilliant character of Miranda Priestly that Lauren Weisberger created in Devil Wears Prada is almost wasted in the sequel.

About the book: Revenge Wears Prada | Lauren Weisberger | HarperCollins | Fiction | 320 pages | Rs. 299

Note: A copy of this book was provided by the publishers, Harper Collins.

Books releasing in August 2013

July’s gone and August has already started! It’s that time of the month when you are no longer broke. It’s that time of the month when you get that long awaited SMS on your mobile. It’s that time of the month for which you slog the whole month. Finally, you don’t need to gaze wistfully at the glass front of your favorite book store, which you pass by everyday while going to work. And of course, since it’s pay day, it’s time to BUY MORE BOOKS !

And here comes BOOKS AND A LOT MORE to the rescue ! Check out this list of books releasing in August !

1. THE WHITE PRINCESS by Phillipa Gregory, Simon & Schuster

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Phillipa Gregory is famous for historical fiction, especially ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ which also got adapted into a movie, starring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson. ‘The White Princess’, the latest novel by Gregory is part of ‘Cousin’s War’ series. Philippa Gregory has a reputation of breathing life into female historical figures who would otherwise never get any space in popular media.

Buy The White Princess from Flipkart.com

2. THE CUCKOO’S CALLING by Robert Galbraith/J K Rowling, Hachette India

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J K Rowling, who needs no introduction, wrote this novel under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith to publish without hype or expectation, till the truth was inadvertently revealed, after which it topped the best seller lists. Having finished reading this book, I can say that this is a MUST READ (Full review here). I hope to read the next book in the series and wish it comes out soon. The book releases in India on 5th August, 2013 (Tentative).

Pre order The Cuckoo’s Calling on Flipkart | Amazon

3. THE BONE SEASON by Samantha Shannon, Bloomsbury

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‘The Bone Season’ is a story set in 2059 with a female lead, Paige Mahoney. This is the debut novel of Samantha Shannon, who signed a six figure book deal with Bloomsbury, to publish the first three books in a seven book series. Film rights for this book have already been optioned by Imaginarium Studios.

Pre Order The Bone Season 1st Edition from Flipkart.com

4. CROWFALL by Shanta Gokhale, Penguin

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Shanta Gokhale, a novelist and an art critic, narrated the conflict between tradition and contemporaneity in her marathi novel ‘Tya Varshi’ (In That Year) published in 2008. Crowfall is the English translation of the same work. Steeped in sensuous detail, ‘Crowfall’ takes in art and identity, music and communal madness, and the clash of the old and the new to etch a finely nuanced portrait of contemporary Mumbai.

Pre-order Crowfall on Flipkart | Amazon

5. THE COMPETENT AUTHORITY by Shovon Chowdhury, Aleph Book Company

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The book is set in India, a few decades into the future, when all is not well. Mumbai does not exist on the map, Chinese have nuked large parts of the country, with Bengal being a protectorate of China, etc. The book is a funny satire on Indian Society and as per reports, it is “a superlative feat of the imagination that is unlike anything you have ever read before and will appeal to readers of literary fiction and avid fans of timeless, wildly satirical, comical masterworks such as Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut and Animal Farm by George Orwell.”

Pre-order on Amazon | Flipkart

6. THE ORCHARD OF LOST SOULS by Nadifa Mohamed, Simon & Schuster

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Mohamed’s debut Black Mamba Boy was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and many other awards back in 2010. Her latest is set against a backdrop of political upheaval in late 80’s Somalia and follows the stories of three different women, whose lives are thrown together as their country descends into a state of civil war.

Pre-order The Orchard of Lost Souls on Flipkart

7. A COOL DARK PLACE by Supriya Dravid, Random House

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This is Supriya Dravid’s first novel. A mother daughter bond formed in the afterlife, memories stored in Ziploc bags and the horrific struggle to piece together a past that’s been through the shredder, A Cool, Dark Place is all of these plus the unsettling realization that one’s life was ghost-written by two drunks.

Pre-order on Flipkart | Amazon

There are also other books that are expected to create some noise in literary circles being released in August, which aren’t going to be released in India as of now. Only imported editions will be available online and probably in certain book stores. They are as follows:

1. The Glass Ocean by Lori Baker, Penguin

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The Glass Ocean’ is Lori Baker’s first novel although she has three short story collections to her credit. In the novel, 18-year-old orphan Carlotta Dell’Oro imagines the story of her parents and her own existence. The writing has a dreamlike and lyrical quality and is expected to delight connoisseurs of literary fiction.

Check out the book on: Amazon | Flipkart | Goodreads

2. Necessary Errors by Caleb CrainPenguin

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Crain is a literary critic and journalist. ‘Necessary Errors’ is his debut novel. It is about the lives of 20 somethings living in Prague. In Harper’s Bazaar, Emily Cronin describes Necessary Errors as “a sparkling first novel by the literary critic Caleb Crain about youth, ambition, and self-invention in early-’90s Prague.”

Check out the book on: Flipkart | Amazon | GoodReads

3. The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara, Knopf Doubleday

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In 1950, a young doctor called Norton Perina signs on with the anthropologist Paul Tallent for an expedition to the remote Micronesian island of Ivu’ivu in search of a rumored lost tribe. This book is an anthropological adventure story and a thriller, all rolled into one.

Check out the book on: Flipkart | Amazon | GoodReads

4. The Color Master by Aimee Bender, Hutchinson Press

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Aimee Bender is the author of the best selling book ‘The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake‘ and she returns with this collection of short stories. She has proven herself to be among the most imaginative, exciting, and intelligent writers of our times and is known for her surreal plots.

Check out the book on: Flipkart | Amazon | GoodReads

5. After Her by Joyce Maynard, Harper Collins

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‘After Her’ is a coming of age story of Rachel and her sister Patty along with being a thriller about a serial killer. Joyce Maynard is an American author best known for her memoir ‘At Home in the World’ and a short affair with J D Salinger. ‘To Die For’, a movie starring Nicole Kidman, is based on her novel with the same name.

Check out this book on: Amazon | GoodReads

6. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride, Penguin

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The book is about a slave boy who disguises himself as a girl to escape the pre-civil war unrest and joins John Brown‘s anti-slavery crusade. He is the author of the American Classic ‘The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to his White Mother‘. James Mcbride is also a rockstar in the Rock Bottom Remainders, a band consisted of acclaimed writers.

Check out the book on: Flipkart | Amazon | GoodReads

There are a lot many books releasing in August but mind you, only the books bound to be good have been mentioned here. Cool

This shall now become  a regular feature and other posts COMING SOON are:

1. Book Review of ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ by J K Rowling/Robert Galbraith

2. Top Non Fiction Books releasing in August

3. Books with Indian Authors releasing in August

Expect a lot more in the coming weeks !

Note: All images in this article have been taken from different sources and none of them belong to me. Dates mentioned are tentative and may change.