Review: The Gun Seller

Posted 25 January, 2008 by Li in Books / 0 Comments

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here…the following posts I’m making are long overdue, lol.

The Gun Seller
By: Hugh Laurie

Everyone knows Hugh Laurie from shows like House MD and Jeeves and Wooster, he’s a talented muscian who can play a number of instruments and he’s a writer. The Gun Seller is his first novel (the second one, The Paper Soldier, coming out either late this year or next year), following a man named Thomas Lang, a hired man who gets caught up in international intrigues, double dealings and conspiracies of all sorts. But like Thomas (and the back of the book) says, he’s really a nice guy: he’s just caught up in the plot. It’s everything you need in a spy novel/thriller: a series of unique characters, some of whom you don’t know where their allegiances truly lie, a few “close call” cases, a few chases, mysterious meetings in obscure places, a number of revelations and a main character who’s got attitude and a mouth. Thomas is a wise guy, which makes the plot even more entertaining. What was particularly interesting about this novel is the way Hugh Laurie crafted the dialogue; it’s like you’re having a conversation with Thomas Lang. Thomas Lang himself has a very interesting way of observing what’s going on around him and the analogies he draws in relation are purely hilarious, which reflects just what a talented man Hugh Laurie is. The humour is quirky and witty and the pace never slows down in the book, which is great. I definitely recommend this book if you’re into the spy genre with a twist.

Rating: ★★★★☆

For more information about Hugh Laurie, check out HughLaurie.net || Order the book from the Book Depository

Review: The Pursuit of Victory

Posted 3 September, 2007 by Li in Books / 0 Comments

The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievements of Horatio Nelson
By: Roger Knight

Let me start by saying that there are a lot of Horatio Nelson biographies out there. Like, a whole slew of them. But I have to agree with a lot of the reviewers out there who mentioned that this was the book if you want to read about Horatio Nelson. Roger Knight is clearly an authority when it comes to discussing the life and achievements of Horatio Nelson. It’s very detailed and you can tell that he has poured over different types of source material to gain as clear of an image as possible of Nelson’s life, his thoughts, his situation, his motives, etc. The picture he paints of Nelson is surprisingly human, someone you can relate to, someone who has experienced not only victorious moments of character and capability but also moments of trial and hardship. We all know Nelson to be a renown admiral, a risk-taker, a capable seaman. But he also had his fair share of foul-ups, which was surprising as I hardly knew much of his life before the infamous Trafalgar. You have a glimpse, through this book, of Nelson’s path towards fame and renown, of what he learned along the way and the people who came in and out of his life. And not only does Prof. Roger put forth Nelson’s life in this book, but also the situation of Britain and the Navy during the period in which he lived, the politics surrounding the activities of the Navy and the threat from a volatile France and how it ultimately affected Nelson and his career. The book is neatly divided into periods of his life, concluding with how Nelson’s life had impacted the Navy, how it was portrayed by people in subsequent generations and what appears to be a mild form of historiography. Overall, Roger did an impeccable job at not only making it readable but also of bringing Nelson back to life so to speak. I cannot recommend this book enough; it’s a great read and also extremely informative and revealing of Nelson’s character.

Rating: ★★★★★

Order this book from the Book Depository

Review: Stardust

Posted 24 August, 2007 by Li in Books / 0 Comments

Stardust
By: Neil Gaiman

With the movie out in theatres, I decided to check out the novel. My first reaction was on how thin the novel was; fantasy novels these days seem to come in what is called “door stoppers”. I mean, they’re normally huge. So you can imagine the surprise I felt upon picking up Stardust. It’s only ten chapters long and you can pretty much finish it in one evening (I did). Because of how short it is, there’s not much intricate detail into the environment of the Faerie lands. This isn’t a bad thing or anything; Gaiman gives you enough detail to paint an image in your head as to where Tristan and the star are going and the situations they encounter. The story is pretty straightforward and quite to the point but lovely all at the same time; Tristan’s adventure to find the star and bring it back across the wall is fantastical. Gaiman doesn’t go into every single battle he’s fought and every single one of the situations they come across on the road, but you get a sense that they’ve done a lot before reaching back to the Wall. And it’s enough, in my opinion, because the core of the story is very much there. There’s not a lot of books like this out there, so it’s a nice change. Definitely check this out if you’re looking for a quick but interesting read.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Visit Neil Gaiman’s official website || Order the book from the Book Depository

Review: Jane Eyre

Posted 22 August, 2007 by Li in Books / 0 Comments

Jane Eyre
By: Charlotte Bronte

I think this might be the last classic I’ll be reading for a while now that summer’s drawing to a close and school is starting soon enough for me…I had picked it up because I heard it was a really good book and after reading all the Jane Austen books, I’ve been itching for another classic from that time period. I have heard the critiques that Bronte had made about Austen’s works so I wanted to see what sort of story and what sort of heroine she’d written about. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel, it certainly kept me up until wee hours of morning to find out what’ll happen next for Jane. The prose of this novel is a lot different from her sister Emily (which I found confusing for a good part of the time), which made it easier to read and understand. I agree with others who have said that Jane Eyre is definitely a different type of heroine; she’s a woman who strives to stand on her own. Not to mention there really is a sense of hardship throughout the novel as Jane struggles to find happiness and security. And Mr. Rochester is certainly an interesting fellow…you think he’s menacing and uptight and would be a source of problems for Jane but he turns out to be far more interesting that you first assume. It’s also interesting to note how the emotions play out in this novel…Mr. Rochester and (to some extent) Jane Eyre both express their emotions much more freer than what I had expected from customs during this period (then again, I’m not so much of a social historian compared to political history, so I might have missed that detail in British History). The one issue I had with this novel was around Chapter 34 – 37 (might’ve gotten the chapters wrong there). I think it went a bit too slow for the plot, despite the fact that it was establishing Jane and the St. Johns. It’s not enough however to dampen my interest in the novel overall.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Find out more information about Charlotte Bronte here || Order the book from the Book Depository

Movie: The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

Posted 12 August, 2007 by Li in Entertainment / 0 Comments

I always try to make a note of reading the books before seeing the movies when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations; I always like to understand where these adaptations come from. Plus, it’s fun to nitpick about what was kept and what was chucked in the movie adaptations (unless the adaptations are like LOTR and Pride & Prejudice where I really loved the adaptations enough to overlook much of the chucking and reduxing). Anyways, I understand that the Bourne movie trilogy is completely way off the mark when it comes to faithfulness to the plot of the novels. After all, the books were based in the time when the threat was really about the Cold War and the politics surrounding it. Vietnam was still a hardcore issue at the time, affecting some of the inner politics and decision-making made by pioliticians. Espionage was fueled by the Cold War. The movies merely reflect the times in which they are made–essentially, now. Anyways, watched the movie today with my family and from the three, this is easily my favourite one of the lot. As always, spoilers follow

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