Saturday, August 25, 2012

Book Blogger Hop: 24/8/12- 30/8/12

Book Blogger Hop

Welcome to Book Blogger Hop hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-for-books. This week's question is;

What is your favourite thing about blogging?

My answer: 

Blogging allows me to be creative and to escape from the everyday routine. It is something I do just because I'm passionate about it. It has also helped me to write better and put my ideas together. I can proudly say that I too belong to world wide web, not just in my presence in Facebook but for my presence in a much sought after websites, the world of books n book blogs. 

The other favourite things about blogging is I get to have a say on the books I read, why I love them or hate them and be critical of the works of fiction. It makes me appreciate the effort of writers and makes me hope that someday I too would call myself a writer of fiction and not just a writer of blogs. 

So what's your favourite thing about blogging? Do drop me a comment and happy hopping.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review: Remarkable Creatures

Title     : Remarkable creatures
Author : Tracy Chevalier
Genre  :  Historical fiction

First sentence reads: Lightening has struck me all my life.

Rating: 5/5

I just finished reading three books by Tracy Chevalier and decided to write the review of Remarkable Creatures first. Why? Because it was so very different and unique. The first sentence was so tantalizing and hooked me to know why Mary felt the way that she did. The thought of a girl to have discovered something significant that changed the way scientific community thought of evolution and extinction was inspirational.

Set in early nineteenth century, this story tells the extraordinary tale of a simple girl born in the seaside town of Lyme Regis in England and that of the intelligent spinster Elizabeth Philpot. Mary Anning was struck by lightening when she was a baby. She is not only unusual in the sense of being struck by lightening and surviving it but also because she has the eye for finding fossils which her coastal town is famed for.

Lyme's beach were brimming with fossils but only a serious fossil hunter with an eye for hidden treasures could extract them out from the clay soil. Mary and her brother Joe collect fossils found on the beach and cliff side of beach between Lyme and Charmouth to be sold in their curie stall to supplement the family income. The people of Lyme Regis were not fond of those fossil hunters or people who collect curies. Thus Mary was a loner and found her solace in fishing ammonites and gryphaea out of muddy beach sand.

Elizabeth Philpot, a spinster who has resigned to the fate of never finding the one, relishes in intelligent pursuits. She and her two other sisters relocated to Lyme Regis after their brother gets married and takes up their family home for his new life. Elizabeth who initially resisted leaving London is enchanted by the quiet Lyme Regis town and the prospect of starting a new hobby in the curious fossils she found in the beach.

Despite their age difference, Mary and Elizabeth become fast friends in their passion for finding fossils. The quiet life of Mary and Elizabeth  takes a sharp turn when Mary uncovers a huge fossil in the cliff by her home. That was the beginning of many more discovery which not only elevated Mary's reputation as a fossil hunter but it also created a buzz in the scientific community on the origin of earth and possibility of extinction of god's creatures. Together Mary and Elizabeth ride the turbulent waves evoked by Mary's fossil of unknown creature, riding into the cusps of new hope, of times where woman were not accepted into scientific community and of forbidden love.

I enjoyed every bits of this story. The story was narrated by both Mary and Eliabeth and I appreciated the author for allowing us to get into both their minds. The narrators were lovable enough, though there were flawed in their own ways yet they redeem themselves in putting their friendship and passion for fossils above all. The setting of the story, Lyme Regis was interesting to read about. The story was beautifully written, with a delicious mixture of various tones, at time serious, at times quickening the pulse and definitely with a little humor. I felt like coming back from a long beach holiday after closing the book and each time I look at a seashell I would remember Mary Anning and the ever loyal Elizabeth. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a historical fiction with a interesting scientific discovery.

Favourite quotations

I have long noted that people tend to lead with one particular feature, a part of the face or body. My brother john for instance leads with his eyebrows. It is not just that they form prminent tufts above his eyes, but they are the part of his face that moves the most. - Elizabeth Philpot

To me looking for curies is like looking for four-leaf clover; its not how hard you look, but how something will appear different. My eyes will brush over a patch of clover, and I'll see 3,3,3,3,4,3,3. The four leaves just pop out at me. Same with curies. - Mary Anning

We say very little, for we do not need to. We are silent together, each in her own world, knowing the other is just at her back.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Book Review: The Red Queen

Title: The Red Queen
Author: Philippa Gregory
Genre: Historical fiction

First sentence reads: the light of the open sky is brilliant after the darkness of the inner rooms.

Rating: 4.5/5

Now I know the reason behind Phillipa Gregory's bestsellers, history comes alive in her writing. It was an engrossing read and it took me two days to finish the book.

Margaret Beaufort is a pious child born into the House of Lancaster. The house that was ruling England at that time under Kind Henry IV. A child who thinks she is born to fulfill a certain destiny, a calling and that is to be the queen of England and to sign her name as Margaret Regina.

She is sent off by her mother to be married to the Tudor house, with Edmund of Wales. She gives birth to a son, whom she names Henry after the King. Good times were fast changing for the Lancaster house when the King falls into a long spell of madness and the queen Margaret of Anjou is threatened by the presence of  the house of York. Margaret falls further into troubled times when her husband and guardian Edmund dies in battle, leaving her with her son and protective brother-in-law jasper. 

Praying hard to know that there's more to her life than just re-marrying, she determines to put her son on the throne. Guided by the believe that her house is the sole true ruler of England and her religiousness Margaret plans the plot to guide her son to the throne regardless of any obstacles. 

I found Margaret determinations and ambition fascinating. She is a courageous woman, a woman who knows she is on the  path of righteousness and glory for herself and her house. Her numerous failures were humorous at times and just proves that this is one woman who waits for the right time to shine. It was a brilliant story and though Margaret may not be right all the time, the readers would tend to stick with her cause and see how far she would go to make her dream come true. The other characters in the novel were equally fascinating to read about, the cowardly second husband, Margaret's 3rd husband, nicknamed the fox, who's loyalty is nonexistent and pledges his support to the winning side always and also Jasper the battle hardened brother-in-law.

Favourite quotes

~ I am not yet ten years old; but I have saints' knees. This has got to count for something, whatever my old lady governess may say to my mother about excessive and theatrical devotion. I have saints' knees. ~

~ She raises her eyebrows at my ringing emphasis. 'They wont like it', she says, and she goes out of the room to tell my brother-in-law Jasper that the girl is being stuborn and will not name her son for her dead husband, but has chosen her own name for him and will not be dissuaded. 
I lie back against the pillows again and close my eyes. my boy will be Henry Tudor, whatever anyone says.

~ 'King Richard may appear to be my master, but don't forget your son and his ambitions, and he is only one step from the throne this morning, and my beloved stepson as always.'
'But which side are you on?' I demand in frustration, as his men mount their horses and raise his banner.
'The winning side,' he says with a short laugh, and thumps his chest in a salute to me, like a soldier and is gone. ~

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Saturday Snapshot - 4th August 2012

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

Below are the photos I snapped when I went for a holiday in Mabul Island, Sabah. An island known for its proximity to the splendid diving and snorkeling spot, near to Sipadan (one of the best in the world). My stay at Mabul Island  was made memorable by the picture perfect island, the humble and friendly people and also the amazing underwater creatures. The island was so far remote from the hustle and bustle of city life that time basically stood still. Hope you like the pictures posted below: 

A boat ashore at the shoreline near Sipadan Water Village

This is the lodge that I stayed for the night in Mabul Island, perched above crystal clear green water =)

Tranquility that's hard to describe, thus a snapshot to remind me of that very moment and place that was picture perfect

Plenty of corals and fish 

Sun set observed from our lodge, Billabong scuba

More pictures are in my newly started travel blog, Happy Saturday to all.