The Mysterious Affair At Style– Book Review

Just when you think Agatha Christie’s books got old… she surprises you–practically arches one of her perfect eyebrows up–and, with a slightly devilish grin, triumphantly yells, ‘Ha! As if!’

 

..Leaving you staring after her awesomeness with your jaw practically passing out on the floor…

 

Hullo wonderful people!

Alright, dramatic reactions aside, let’s get on with the review and see what the back of the book has to say.

Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was the result of a dare from her sister Madge who challenged her to write a story.

The story begins when Captain Hastings is sent back to England from the First World War due to injury and is invited to spend his sick leave at the beautiful Styles Court by his old friend John Cavendish. Here, Hastings meets John’s step-mother, Mrs Inglethorpe, and her new husband, Alfred. Despite the tranquil surroundings Hastings begins to realise that all is not right. When Mrs Inglethorpe is found poisoned, suspicion falls on the family, and another old friend, Hercule Poirot, is invited to investigate.

Now I know what you’re probably thinking right now is something along the lines of, ‘Hey mate, that sounds like a perfectly ordinary novel; what’re the theatrics up there for then?’

If you haven’t read anything by Agatha Christie before, I ought to tell you here and now that her books (or the few that I’ve read by her, at least) have this completely mystic aura about them, and maybe it’s the writing style, or perhaps it’s the tone, voice, soul or even spirit in between the pages; but there’s something that just gets you glued to the pages right away.

“You gave too much rein to your imagination. Imagination is a good servant, and a bad master. The simplest explanation is always the most likely.”

So I get that the plot sounds completely ordinary and perhaps even a little mundane for a lot of you, but to a mystery-loving ranter like yours truly here, this was everything. It was my first-ever Hercule Poirot novel, and I have to say, I was certainly not disappointed.

I guess a part of me was comparing Sherlock Holmes with Hercule Poirot in some subconscious way or another. (In case you don’t know– Sherlock Holmes is a fictional famous detective starring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels (also Benedict Cumberbatch on BBC’s Sherlock, if you want a modern introduction); he also happens to be one of the greater loves of my life). So with two great detectives right there, I apparently had to compare them and see who does what better where.

Nope, don’t compare them, please.

“Sometimes I feel sure he is as mad as a hatter and then, just as he is at his maddest, I find there is a method in his madness.”

Poirot is a great little thing. And I don’t mean great in the Sherlock-Holmes-is-great sense; I mean he’s a wonderfully funny, comical and real character who’s surprisingly bubbly for someone so shrouded in mystery. I have noticed that throughout the entire novel, he spoke only with ambiguous wordings, literally making even the simplest facts seem doubtful. Because for some reason or the other, you think that maybe he’s lost a bit of his marbles with all the crazy cases he had to deal with, but oh boy is that man a genius. A genius so very mundane that it’s a tad intimidating how he doesn’t look or even appear it.

“Every murderer is probably somebody’s old friend,” observed Poirot philosophically. “You cannot mix up sentiment and reason.”

Christie’s novel, despite being a crime classic, was surprisingly breezy, humorous, and such an easy read. I guess what’s so impressive about her novels is that the amount of simplicity in them make them so amazingly crafted and complex that it kind of knocks you out and takes your breath away by the end. Her mystery was intriguing, definitely maddening and utterly amazing.

I know I have basically showered the book with compliments that seem out of place with a plot so simple, but this lady was not entitled the Queen of Crime for nothing, you guys. True, the way I felt kind of dumbfounded by the end wasn’t very flattering for neither me or poor Hastings (it’s written from his POV), but what can I say, I just love a challenging mystery. And this one?  This one was definitely one.


What about you? Read any mysteries lately? Will you give this one a go? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear all about it! 

Loads of love, 

Midnight Ranter (aka Ayaka) 

The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2)– Book Review

I feel like writing the review for this is a spoiler for the first…

ANYHOW. I have to; I feel like I literally can’t move on. God have mercy on our souls, seriously; for this is addiction and I’m afraid I don’t even want it to stop.

 

Just warning everyone now: This is a review for the sequel, so it naturally contains minor– or major, depending on you point of view– spoilers for the first book, so if you haven’t read the first, I don’t suggest that you ruin its beauty by spoiling yourself, really. It’s too precious. SO GO READ THE FIRST BOOK AND JOIN ME HERE LATER SO WE COULD SQUEAL TOGETHER!

****

“Two stubborn lovers, protecting each other from the very same threat.”

Shahrzad’s land was no longer the way it has always been. The king she once believed was a monster was, in fact, a beautiful, tortured boy with a curse that chained him and his city. Her land had turned into a divided kingdom with people dying left and right, and with other people brewing up storms of their own inside. A war was approaching, and Shahrzad had to do everything in her power to prevent the destruction of those she loved and held dear.

Forced away from the arms of her husband, Shahrzad is whisked off back into the Sea of Sand, surrounded by her family and friends and yet knowing and feeling that she didn’t belong there in the desert anymore. Not when they were plotting the downfall of her husband. Not with so much hatred suffused in the air.

“Destiny was for fools. Sharzad would not wait for her life to happen. She would make it happen.”

With the help of the growing magic in her veins, she strikes out on her own to end both the terrible curse that had enveloped Khalid for years on and the brewing war once and for all. But staying alive in a desert filled with enemies was a much more challenging task than she thought.

This book is far more action-packed compared to the first, and we get to see so much character growth in such a small period of time that it’s truly magnificent. It is a story of survival, magic, war, power and the thin, veiled line, that distinguished love from hate.

“It was easy to be good and kind in times of plenty. The trying times were the moments that defined a man.
And love? Love was something that did much to change a person. It brought joy as it brought suffering, and in turn brought about those moments that defined one’s character. Love gave life to the lifeless. It was the greatest of all living powers.
But, as with all things, love had a dark side to it.”

And what about Shahrzad? Will she be able to feel Khalid’s arms again, or will risking everything to get back to her one true love end in tragedy?

I rooted for these characters in every turn of every page. The beauty of it all was that you never knew who was the villain. Who caused all that anguish. And sometimes, it’s not even a matter of who, it’s a question of what. Emotions truly control us, and even though they may be the greatest fuel we could ever hope for, they are sometimes our downfall too, if we allowed our emotions to blind us from what is right and wrong.

I personally don’t believe I have ever been this attached to a book (or  a duology) before. It was so magical, so tender, so breathtakingly wonderful that it left me all crumbled up and aching after I was done.

No, honestly, I’m still drying my tears.

I don’t normally reread, but this? I’d read it a thousand times over and still fall in love with it over and over again.

Have you stumbled upon The Wrath and the Dawn yet? Have you read it already? Loved it as much as I did? Tell me your thoughts below, I love hearing them!

Signed,

Midnight Ranter (aka Ayaka)

The Wrath and The Dawn– Book Review

Beautiful. Simply and utterly so. That’s about the only word that befits this masterpiece.

 

Hullo my lovely readers!

I come to you from faraway lands with yet another tale to tell. More like, one to rally.

 

“It’s inevitable. When you meet the one who makes you smile as you’ve never smiled before, cry as you’ve never cried before… there is nothing to do but fall.” 

 

In a blazing retelling of the known classic A Thousand and One Nights, Renée Ahdieh (bless her soul), brought to life a compelling story of what it means to love, lose yourself to it, and come to terms with the wars that surround you.

In a land bathed in sand, lies a boy-king that inflicts pain upon a new family with each passing dawn. Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, Caliph of Khorasan, the King of Kings, marries a girl each night, only to have her dead come the following dawn.

Such a heart-wrenching tragedy befalls sixteen-year-old Shahrzad, when her childhood best friend, Shiva, is chosen to marry the monstrous king and thus, die the following dawn. Seeking comfort in her sense for vengeance and revenge, Shahrzad volunteers to be the next bride, only that she also vows to live to see the morning sun that follows her wedding.

I will live to see tomorrow’s sunset. Make no mistake. I swear I will live to see as many sunsets as it takes.
And I will kill you.
With my own hands.”

Putting her plan into action, supplied with the sheer force of hatred she felt for the murderer who dared call himself king, Shahrzad beguiles him by narrating a tale woven by her entrancing abilities as a storyteller. Intrigued, Khalid listened as she built a world of wonders and possibilities in front of him, with words so carefully chosen and picked that they left no room for anything but bewitchment. Wickedly, however, she stopped midway with the threat of the rising sun, and when he demanded that she continues her tale, she promises that she would–

 

Only that she would do so the following night. If she was allowed another night.

 

And surprising both himself and her, Khalid agrees. Just one more night.

 

Shahrzad managed more than just that, though. Night and night again, she sat across him, narrating tales long left untold, ones built from her imaginations and other built from messages she wanted to convey. Slowly, however, something that she had definitely not taken into account happened: Khalid, the murderous, cold-blooded killer she had vowed to kill, didn’t seem as monstrous as she had always believed he was. The monster was just a boy. A boy with stories of his own. A tale cloaked in darkness. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love; not just with the mystery behind his fierce ember eyes, but with the words he spoke so carefully, with the actions he took so lovingly, and with every bit of the Caliph she had sworn she’d end. But how could she? Despite her beating heart, she knows that such feelings are nothing but a great betrayal and dishonour to her best friend. To the people she loved and held dear.

 

But what was Shahrzad to do, living with someone she cared for more than she could ever let on? She knew that the truth wasn’t as simple and clear as it seemed; she knew that there must’ve been something more to the story, and so, she resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. She’d have to face the mighty Caliph of Khorasan. The King of Kings. Her beautiful monster.

 

But here’s the question: would their love be greater than the hate? Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

 

 

God.. Only upon rereading this was I reminded as to why this wonderful novel became my ‘Favourite’. And believe me, this title has never been in my rankings. I’d talk about the author’s writing style, but in truth, it’s more of a painting style, really. It was utterly entrancing. Captivating. Intoxicating in a way that only made you drown and not want to resurface, for there was such beauty in ever fold of her pages that you just couldn’t leave the story behind. And her characters? They were a story on their own, and I assure you, you’d want to read this book for at least getting  a chance at a glimpse at Shahrzad’s thoughts; for a look into Khalid’s head and for just a taste of his words, for they truly ring in your mind long after you’ve closed the book.

 

“When I was a boy, my mother would tell me that one of the best things in life is the knowledge that our story isn’t over yet. Our story may have come to a close, but your story is still yet to be told. 
Make it a story worthy of you.”

 

Read it. Read it, read it, read it. And tell me what you thought of this beautiful story of hate, revenge, secrets, the love for power, and the power to love.

 

Yours truly,

Midnight Ranter (aka Ayaka)

 

PS. I wanted to vote for the Blogger Awards this year and had a draft at the ready and everything, only to realise that I didn’t know enough people in the community round here to properly vote. So maybe with the year to come, I’d be able to vote after knowing more people in this wonderful realm of words painted on screens. 

Attachments– Book Review

Hullo most wonderful readers,

Let me just start this one by saying this: I was absolutely and horridly late to this ride. This book? This book was phenomenally romantic, sweet and real.

And before I even begin on the book itself, let me just (I’ll have a lot of ‘just‘s on this post–bear with me, I’m on full Fangirl/Ranter mode at the moment) say that I’ve taken one serious liking to Rainbow Rowell’s books and plots. Normally, in books, there’s this moment where you know that the characters are in love– that it has happened. But in real life, and in most of her books, there’s no moment of revelation, love just smooths over the characters and the plot like a fresh wave and you don’t feel the hit, no, you’re swept along with it. That’s one thing I truly love about her books. They’re real.

Okay, now onto the epic-ness:

Every woman wants a man who’ll fall in love with her soul as well as her body.

Meet Lincoln– a kind, sweet and cute IT guy working the night-shifts at a newspaper called The Courier. His actual job?

It’s to read the employees’ email exchanges and warn them when their email content contain flagged words (Swear words and the like).

Now for a guy like Lincoln, this job is just terrible. Sitting there, working through the late night, alone in a dimly lit grey room with nothing better to do than read people’s emails sounds about as depressing and creepy as his worst nightmares.

But then something catches his interest– not something, but someone. Two ladies, exchanging emails about their daily, if not comical, lives. He’s instantly drawn to how funny and genuine the two best friends were, and especially how smart and kind one of them was.

But the deeper he fell into that snooping-into-emails  pit (even though it’s technically his job) he couldn’t help himself. He has become so engrossed, involved and in love that every time he promises himself to stop reading their emails, his feelings just end up getting the best of him.

So what could he do when he’s fallen for someone he’s never seen before? Will he ever see the face behind the personality that enchanted him? And if he does, will she believe in love before first sight? Will she dismiss the fact that he’s crossed one-too-many lines? Or will Lincoln never get his happily-ever-after for what he’s done after all?

There are moments when you can’t believe something wonderful is happening. And there are moments when your entire consciousness is filled with knowing absolutely that something wonderful is happening.

This book, set in late 1999’s, is a story of wit, humour, friendship and true love. It tests whether love could exist for character, soul and mind rather than looks and what follows. It’s light-hearted yet deep in ways only true love can be, and I realised, after finishing the novel, just how much I’ve enjoyed and loved it.

 

You’ll definitely be rooting for Lincoln in every page, though, because he’s set out for something every one of us wants: a love that bloomed for the mind and not just your eye’s light.

 

I’m really glad I finally got to read this one. And if I hadn’t written a review for it, I wouldn’t have gotten my closure and would’ve never moved on to any other book.

 

And did you read Attachments yet? Will you? If you did, did you love it as much as I did? Give me your thoughts below, I love reading them!

 

Signed,

Midnight Ranter (aka Ayaka)

This or That Book Tag

*fake cough*

Howdy everyone!

So if you’ve been around for a while now, I’m hoping that you already know how very irresponsible I get with tags even though I get so honoured when I do get tagged.

 

It’s an issue– I’m working on it.

 

Pausing the blabber now, I’d like to thank the wonderful, most gracious and awesome blogger from Train of Thoughts  for tagging me, and I apologise (greatly) for taking so long to do it. But hear this, ladies and gentlemen: that girl’s blog is just one of the most fantastic ones I’ve ever come across. It’s so organised, pretty and professional– I truly look up to her for it. So do check it out; it’s epic.

Also, the tag was originally created by Ayunda @Tea and Paperbacks.


Now onto the rules of the tag:

  1. Mention the creator of the tag;
  2. Thank the blogger who tagged you;
  3. Choose one of the options, you don’t have to tell the reasons why you chose that but you can also do them if you want to;
  4. Tag 10 other people to do this tag to spread the love!

Two of these are done. The questions?

  1. Reading on the couch or on the bed?

Uhhh.. That’s a tough one. I’d read anywhere as long as my book’s in my hand.. but I guess I read more on bed since it’s where I get my free time (don’t tell my mum– I’m normally supposed to be asleep).

2. Male main character or female main character?

As a wise man once said, (aka my father) gender doesn’t really matter. Males have certain ways to view things and so do females; and it’s refreshing seeing either on my pages.

3. Sweet snacks or salty snacks when reading?

See, I’m a weird person (surprise, surprise). Where people normally eat sweets to stop getting dizzy, I eat them and get dizzy. It’s weird, I know. Therefore, I’d go with salty– even though I normally don’t eat while reading to prevent getting any crumbs on my book.

4. Trilogies or quartets?

Quartets since I like stories lasting for a while.

5. First person point of view or third person point of view?

I read more third than first (I like the first POVs though). Also, I write in third. I like it because it’s a greater scope on things and normally more descriptive.

6. Reading at night or in the morning?

Whenever I’m free, basically. Which is mostly at night.

7. Libraries or bookstores?

Remember the bit where I said I was weird? Amplify that, please.

You see, I get too attached to books. So attached that I actually don’t like giving them away once I have them. Therefore, I don’t borrow books– nor from friends, family or libraries. So bookstores it is.

8. Books that make you laugh or make you cry?

I don’t normally laugh out loud with books; I just smile, grin or just chuckle. But books making me cry? Hell, there’s a whole list of that. So I go for crying because that’s one of the prominent evidences that books do make you feel something.

9. Black book covers or white book covers?

That’s one weird question. Twilight has both a black and a white edition– did the content change? Uh, no. As long as the book’s worth it, I’m in– all colourful spectrums aside.

10. Character driven or plot driven stories?

Er.. both? I mean, a story is made of both plot and character.. so I guess it’d be incomplete if one dominates the other. *shrugs* Don’t take my word for it, though.


Nominees!

I’ll nominate five and the rest? If you’re reading this, have a blog and want to do it, just comment below and I’ll love to check it out!

  1. Birdie Bookworm
  2. Bookslayer Reads 
  3. The Fun in Reading Books 
  4. Clockwork Bibliophile 
  5. Maniac With Books 

I’m going to have to search for more book-lovers out there in the near future; but until then, I hope you all enjoyed my bookish rant and have a great day ahead of you 🙂

Love,

Midnight Ranter (aka Ayaka)

The Giver– Book Review

Heya Readers!

It’s been quite the while since I’ve last written a book review, and seeing how this book has been a great read and not so popular around my peers, I thought I’d start with it.

 

This haunting story centers on Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he’s given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.

–Goodreads

Jonas’s world is a place practically void of emotions– the passionate ones– and of feelings. It is ruled in a manner that eliminates all sentimental control and stimulates critical and practical thoughts and actions only. In our society, we, as humans, have learned, over time, to trust our instinct and primary feelings; whereas in Jonas’s world, such characteristics are nonexistent.

The rules and regulations throughout the book are applied through the constant reminder of a threat lurking behind every act of rule-breaking. Meaning that the government has successfully established a sense in the Community people to acknowledge the punishment that would come whenever a rule– however small or insignificant– hasn’t been followed.

The goal of the difference in worlds is to eradicate all possibilities of wars, conflict and chaos and to ensure safety and regularity to the living humans through orders and strict rules.

The Receiver of Memories (and Giver) is like a safe filled with vital, almost volatile information. To the society, this fickle information is too much of a burden to carry and hold, so they use the Receiver of Memories to do just that for them. Their function is to store memories of the past in their minds and endure all the pain that come with such a responsibility. They are necessary because the Community has lived for what seemed like ages and ages without having those memories, so acquiring them all of a sudden brings great torture to them; therefore, the safest and most ideal way to deal with the memories is to store them inside only one person– or so they thought.

Jonas was selected to bear such a responsibility because he had the following qualities: Intelligence, Integrity, Courage, Wisdom (or the ability to acquire it) and, finally, the capacity to see-beyond.

 

One of the most prominent ideas through the story is not judging a book by its cover. In the novel, we are introduced to Jonas’s world as this futuristic, advanced and ordered world– a realm without chaos, pain or conflict. However, to the contrary of the Community’s beliefs, their world is far from the perfect place they picture it to be. The Giver in the novel has repeatedly hinted and stated that without the Memories, the community people, however advanced in their science and technologies, lack many things and, as I quote, ‘know nothing’.

Another theme that flowed in the story is the power of emotions. The people in Jonas’s society have been constantly deprived of true emotions, making them turn to shells with the faces and bodies of humans, but with the emotional capacity of robots– which is almost completely absent. When Jonas starts his training with the Giver, he gets access to the feelings humans felt in the past– like hunger, loneliness, anguish, loss and sheer, full-forced happiness. Such emotions never existed in his life before then in such extent and when they did, they drove him to the realization that the life he had been leading all his life was utterly and completely wrong– and that had him take his first step towards freedom.

The power of emotions did that.

 

And I loved that novel to bits because of that.

 

Signed,

Midnight Ranter (aka Ayaka)

Ayaka in Wonderland (beware: majorly lengthy post)

Wonderland is supposed to be this fantasy Underland with peculiar characters and creatures.

 

Well, my Wonderland consisted of a fantasy I once drew in my head and that I suddenly saw painted in the real world. What’s that fantasy, you ask? Book kiosks, I answer.

 

Now lets backtrack a bit. My family and I decided that for the summer holidays this year around, we were to visit Egypt (yes, the place with the Pyramids and Pharaohs– cool place, people). The trip was rather busy and interesting; but being the bibliophile that I am, I set out to search for books there too. My first stop was this popular bookshop called Alf Bookstore (Alf is the first letter in the Arabic alphabet– don’t know what that has to do with books).

I went in and was glad to find a nook of good YA books as, apparently, the people there mostly just read Arabic books, so English stuff are rather scarce. Anyhow, the book that got my interest was The Martian. I’d heard good things about it and wanted to check it out; besides, it was the only book that I could get from there, really. Anyhow, I flip the book to check out the price, and God, it was for 160 Egyptian Pounds (13 point something pounds). In Egyptian standards, that’s not just high, it’s skyrocketing high. So my father advised that I let go of the book for now until I find another bookshop and compare prices.

 

Next stop: Shorouk Bookshop (Sunrise Bookshop. Weird names, I swear). Long story short, it’s the same scenario, with the same prices.

 

Now let me tell you, I was on the brink of giving up; thinking that I’d just get my books from the UK and that’s that. But nope. There was this glimmer of hope that shone through, known as Soor El-Azbakeya (Azbekeya Book Market; I don’t even know what to do with these names). What’s that, you ask? It’s a market, I answer. But for books, not veggies.

 

I don’t recall seeing anything like it before. It’s basically a street brimmed to every nook with books stands and kiosks and mini shops. Books everywhere. From the walls to the chairs to the grounds to, at some point, even rocks (they used it as tables, I think). To a book nerd like yours truly, this was fantasy coming true. My very own Wonderland.

 

But wait right there, it’s not heaven just yet. Why?

Because most of the books were bloody Arabic books! And the ones that weren’t academic books or classics, were books that I’ve already read *facepalm*.

 

At that point, I assure you, I was completely out of hope– especially so, considering the fact that I didn’t bring any books with me for the holidays, so I was a bit bummed about the whole ordeal. Standing there, basked under Egypt’s mighty sun (no wonder the Pharaohs were mostly half naked), you could say that any enthusiasm I had had just about evaporated.

 

But then I pass by it. It. The shop that not only answered my prayers, but also brightened up the rest of my holiday. It was called The Book Corner, I think (hard remembering everything in the heat).

 

I stroll in, brushing all the glossy covers under my fingertips, and skimming through the stands with my eyes. I saw books I’ve read, one’s I hadn’t, others I never even knew existed and all that was just too much for my bibliophilic self.

 

I ended up hoarding six books that I have wanted for quite a while but couldn’t make time for them:

-Fangirl

-Landline

-The Perks of being a Wallflower

-Beautiful Disaster

-A Beautiful Wedding

-We Were Liars.

 

And.. guess the price of all 6?

 

160 Egyptian Pounds. -_-

 

Anyhow, that was my little bookish adventure over the summer. I’d want to wish all those who started school a great year (I’m homeschooled) and I know I’ve been incognito lately but that’s because we moved houses and I lost my phone and was rendered without Internet access for quite the while. I’m back now though and I’ve truly missed this place.

 

Lots of love,

Midnight Ranter (aka Ayaka)