Rambling about books

Book review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (20th Anniversary Edition), by J. K. Rowling

Celebrate 20 years of Harry Potter magic with four special editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw …

Twenty years ago these magical words and many more flowed from a young writer’s pen, an orphan called Harry Potter was freed from the cupboard under the stairs – and a global phenomenon started. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has been read and loved by every new generation since. To mark the 20th anniversary of first publication, Bloomsbury is publishing four House Editions of J.K. Rowling’s modern classic. These stunning editions will each feature the individual house crest on the jacket and sprayed edges in the house colours. Exciting new extra content will include fact files, profiles of favourite characters and line illustrations exclusive to that house. Goodreads.

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Book review: North Korea Undercover, by John Sweeney

Award-winning BBC journalist John Sweeney is one of the few to have witnessed at first hand the devastating reality of life in the controversial and isolated nation of North Korea.

Posing as a university professor, Sweeney went undercover to gain unprecedented access to the world’s most secret state. He spoke to people who have seen the horrific dark side of the regime and saw things which have been hidden for years from the eyes of the western world: huge factories with no staff or electricity; hospitals with no patients; uniformed child soldiers; and the world-famous and eerily empty DMZ – the De-Militarized Zone where North Korea ends and South Korea starts – all framed by the relentless flow of regime propaganda from omnipresent loudspeakers.

Sweeney also visited South Korea and met defectors from the North who told him the other side of the story: gulags within a gulag state, dire poverty, blunted lives, hideous torture, effective infanticide of disabled babies, stick-limbed children dying of famine and mass graves of political prisoners that could only be dug when the spring thaw set in.

With the world’s eyes focused on North Korea, Sweeney’s timely account is a stunning piece of reportage from the country the author describes as the strangest place he’s ever visited. A combination of first person experiences, new and revealing interviews, and history, North Korea Undercover examines the country’s troubled history and provides a window into life there today. Goodreads.

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Book review: The House Between Tides, by Sarah Maine

Following the death of her last living relative, Hetty Deveraux leaves London and her strained relationship behind for Muirlan, her ancestral home in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. She intends to renovate the ruinous house into a hotel, but the shocking discovery of human remains brings her ambitious restoration plans to an abrupt halt before they even begin. Few physical clues are left to identify the body, but one thing is certain: this person did not die a natural death.

Hungry for answers, Hetty discovers that Muirlan was once the refuge of her distant relative Theo Blake, the acclaimed painter and naturalist who brought his new bride, Beatrice, there in 1910. Yet ancient gossip and a handful of leads reveal that their marriage was far from perfect; Beatrice eventually vanished from the island, never to return, and Theo withdrew from society, his paintings becoming increasingly dark and disturbing.

What happened between them has remained a mystery, but as Hetty listens to the locals and studies the masterful paintings produced by Theo during his short-lived marriage, she uncovers secrets that still reverberate through the small island community—and will lead her to the identity of the long-hidden body. Goodreads.

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Book review: Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, by Salman Rushdie

In the near future, after a storm strikes New York City, the strangenesses begin. A down-to-earth gardener finds that his feet no longer touch the ground. A graphic novelist awakens in his bedroom to a mysterious entity that resembles his own sub-Stan Lee creation. Abandoned at the mayor’s office, a baby identifies corruption with her mere presence, marking the guilty with blemishes and boils. A seductive gold digger is soon tapped to combat forces beyond imagining.

Unbeknownst to them, they are all descended from the whimsical, capricious, wanton creatures known as the jinn. Centuries ago, Dunia, a princess of the jinn, fell in love with a mortal man of reason. Together they produced an astonishing number of children, unaware of their fantastical powers, who spread across generations in the human world.

Once the line between worlds is breached on a grand scale, Dunia’s children and others will play a role in an epic war between light and dark spanning a thousand and one nights – or two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights. It is a time of enormous upheaval, in which beliefs are challenged, words act like poison, silence is a disease, and a noise may contain a hidden curse. Goodreads.

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Book review: Fatherland, by Robert Harris

It is April 1964 and one week before Hitler’s 75th birthday. Xavier March, a detective of the Kriminalpolizei, is called out to investigate the discovery of a dead body in a lake near Berlin’s most prestigious suburb. As March discovers the identity of the body, he uncovers signs of a conspiracy that could go to the very top of the German Reich. And, with the Gestapo just one step behind, March, together with an American journalist, is caught up in a race to discover and reveal the truth – a truth that has already killed, a truth that could topple governments, a truth that will change history. Goodreads.

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Book review: Touch, by Claire North

This was the book that I should have read before The Sudden Appearance of Hope, but by some wrong calculation, I end up reading this after the said book. On hindsight, it was actually a favourable mistake; whilst I do enjoy The Sudden Appearance of Hope, I have to say that it still doesn’t hold a candle against The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, while this one right here do come quite close on par. No, seriously, this book is so good! Everything about it is amazing! I have no complaint whatsoever.

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Book review: Modern Romance, by Azis Ansari & Eric Klinenberg

Do you know why I like Azis Ansari? Go and watch his stand-up shows, and/or watch the pilot episode for Master of None. I don’t think I need to elaborate on how interesting it is to listen to Azis Ansari. Having said that, I am beyond excited when I saw this book whilst I was browsing a bookstore last year. The theme of the topic reminds me of an episode where Azis was a guest on The Conan Show and he was talking about online dating and how he’s not into that. It was funny, and imagine having to read a whole entire book on his thoughts about romance; modern romance to be precise. Will Azis be as funny as he was in The Conan Show, as sarcastic as during his stand-up shows, as witty as his character in Master of None?

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