Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Trying to get into the swing of things

Ever since I completed Jules Verne's "A Journey to the Centre of the Earth" I have been really lazy to pick up another book. And I'm not sure why.

I mean, I really enjoyed reading my last book and I felt like I was back being a bookworm again. I really couldn't wait to get started on the next novel.

But I read the Prologue from James Rollins' "Map of Bones" and haven't touched it again since. It always seems so difficult to get started with a book, but once I do, I can get lost in it.

Laptops, ipads, facebook and blogs take up more time than they should. I need to get back into a book . . .

Friday, November 1, 2013

Book Review: "A Journey to the Centre of the Earth" by Jules Verne


I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure of Jules Verne's "A Journey to the Centre of the Earth."

A very well-written book, told from the point of view of Henry, Professor Hardwigg's nephew. They embark on a journey which sees them enter the crater of Mount Sneffels in Iceland, roam around in the interior of the earth, before exiting out of another volcano crater in Italy.

The story revolves almost exclusively around three main characters: 1) Professor Hardwigg - mineralogist, obstinate, determined, maybe a little crazy but ultimately right; 2) Henry - the Professor's nephew, analytical, level-headed; 3) Hans, the Icelandic guide who accompanies the Professor and Henry on their journey. Hans is perfectly disciplined, reserved and an immaculate handyman.

The characters compliment each other nicely and the narrative and dialogue flows smoothly throughout the story.

The three characters endure a few fascinating encounters with different sorts of weather and environment conditions below the earth, along with huge plants and animals and seas. The most interesting part of the story for me also turned out to be the most frustrating. 

Professor Hardwigg and Henry discover a cemetery of human bones and see in the distance another HUMAN living in the interior of the earth. Disappointingly for the reader, they freaked out and ran away and nothing more was mentioned of this. It seems that Jules Verne had this immense idea and then kind of backed out of it, and didn't quite know what to do from henceforth.

After that encounter the story rapidly closed up right at the time when I was just getting in to it and expecting the three of them to find a way to the very centre of the earth.

One more thing that irritated me was their exit from underground to ground level. Henry kind of passed out as they were accelerating on a man-made raft balancing on rushing lava, so as he is the one telling the story, he wrote how he didn't remember anything after passing out until they were lying on the side of a volcano in Italy! Man, that frustrated me so bad!

But nevertheless, it was a great read, very worthwhile and I definitely recommend this classic if you haven't as yet opened up its pages and joined the great adventure it is.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - National Geographic 125th Anniversary Collector's Edition

MizB holds a grand weekly event called "Teaser Tuesday" where participants share a couple of sentences from a current read to tempt you into reading that particular book.

Today I'm sharing something from a magazine instead of a book - National Geographic 125th Anniversary Collector's Edition with this dazzling unfolded front cover:

My teaser:

"Photographers use their cameras as tools of exploration, passports to inner sanctums, instruments for change. Their images are proof that photography matters - now more than ever."

Do you subscribe to National Geographic? Will you consider it?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Teaser Tuesday with Jules Verne

MizB hosts a pretty good book event called Teaser Tuesday. We simply choose a couple of sentences from our current read and tease you all into reading the book yourself! Let's hope this works, then . . . 

You really should pick up Jules Verne's "A Journey to the Centre of the Earth" and read it. Here's a teaser: 

"When I at last began to resign myself to the fact that no further aid was to be expected from man, and knowing that I was utterly powerless to do anything for my own salvation, I kneeled with earnest fervor and asked assistance from heaven."

Me with the subject of this week's Teaser Tuesday

A great teaser, don't you think? I'm relishing each page of this adventure. Click here to read my latest review of the book. 

Have I persuaded you to read it?!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Jules Verne provides a great adventure

It was way back in 1864 that Jules Verne's "A Journey to the Centre of the Earth" was published and made available for public reading. At almost 150 years old, this work has stood the test of time and continues to charm its readers, particularly me!

Professor Hardwigg and his nephew Harry, accompanied by an Icelandic guide, Hans, descend into the crater of Mount Sneffels where the real journey begins. An intriguing tale of survival and discovery ensues. 

This book is written from the point of view of Harry and mixes great fiction with scientific fact and a whole barrel of thrilling discovery, which even in this year of 2013, still resonates as remarkable.

I have several more chapters to finish this delightful novel!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Finally finished Inferno!

Just finished reading Dan Brown's "Inferno" (at long last!) after a stop-start adventure with his latest novel. Finished half of the book within the last week and it has got me back into reading again. (I always say that after finishing a Dan Brown novel)

The most stand-out thing for me was the 'villain' of the story, Bertrand Zobrist. He dies right at the start of the novel, but as the story goes deeper, he becomes less of a villain in my mind, and more of a hero, despite the somewhat controversial nature of his plans.

Basically Zobrist's theory says that in order to stop the uncontrollable growth of the human species and its destined extinction, there must be a huge cut to the population. Not seen as an act of killing, but rather an act of saving, Zobrist actually manages to carry out his plan successfully.

Yes, Robert Langdon and his 'accomplice', Sienna Brooks, run around Florence, Venice and Istanbul in vain, as Zobrist's plague was released to the world several days before the date they thought it would be poured out to the world.

Turns out that it wasn't a 'plague' after all, at least not one which kills. Bertrand Zobrist created a vector virus with his sharp intellect, which was way ahead of its time. This airborne virus was programmed to affect random people, roughly one-third of the world's population, making them sterile.

No-one would be killed, no-one would suffer, just 33% of the population would no longer be able to reproduce. Thus the population of humans would mercifully be lowered to a more sustainable number.

I actually guessed that this would be the outcome when Sienn Brooks announced that what he did was more dangerous than a plague. So I felt quite chuffed when in the next few chapters it was revealed exactly as I thought! :)

And so it turns out that the 'good guys' eventually listened to and embraced somewhat Bertrand Zobrist's ideas and that this culling of the population wasn't such a bad thing after all.

There is a fine line between 'good' and 'bad' and sometimes 'bad' is portrayed as 'bad' simply because we don't quite understand it yet. A very interesting read based on a very real problem we are encountering in our world today.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Teaser Tuesday from Dan Brown's Inferno

This is a weekly event hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

I am currently making my way through Dan Brown's recent novel "Inferno" after a lengthy hiatus from reading. 

I'm back into the swing of it again and enjoying it a lot. Here's a snippet I'm sharing with you today:

"Every time Zobrist glances over at me, his green eyes ignite a wholly unexpected feeling inside me . . . the deep pull of sexual attraction. As the night wears on, the group slowly thins as the guests excuse themselves to get back to reality. By midnight, I am seated all alone with Bertrand Zobrist."

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Baptistry of San Giovani - A Layer Cake?

In Chapter 53 of Dan Brown's latest novel, "Inferno", Robert Langdon and Sienna Brooks find themselves at The Baptistry of San Giovani in Florence.

Brown describes it like this:

"Adorned in the same polychromatic facing stones and striped pilasters as the cathedral, the baptistry distinguished itself from the larger building by its striking shape - a perfect octagon. Resembling a layer cake, some had claimed, the eight-sided structure consisted of three distinct tiers that ascended to a shallow white roof."

Here is a picture of the Baptistry of San Giovani:

And here's a layer cake:

And this is a traditional Sarawak layer cake:

I say that is quite an accurate comparison!

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Baptistry of San Giovani - The Gates of Paradise

In connection with Teaser Tuesday over at Miz B's blog, here's my snippet:

In Dan Brown's "Inferno" we read from the end of chapter 53:

"Crafted of gilded bronze and over fifteen feet tall, the doors had taken Lorenzo Ghiberti more than twenty years to complete. They were adorned with ten intricate panels of delicate biblical figures of such quality that Giorgio Vasari had called the doors "undeniably perfect in every way and . . . the finest masterpiece ever created."

It had been Michelangelo, however, whose gushing testimonial had provided the doors with a nickname that endured even today. Michelangelo had proclaimed them so beautiful as to be fit for use . . . as the Gates of Paradise."

This is The Baptistry of San Giovani, which Brown described in the above passage:

It's located next to the more famous Il Duomo, in the heart of Florence, Italy:

And here are the "Gates of Paradise", the doors of The Baptistry of San Giovani:

I must admit, they are stunningly impressive!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Beginning a sentence with "because"

I have excitedly begun the adventure of reading through Dan Brown's new novel, Inferno. 

Immediately I have noticed within the first 80 pages a similar layout to Dan Brown's most famous novel, "The Da Vinci Code."

Langdon meets a girl, he's in trouble, they are running away from police, trying to piece together some clues. It seems Brown is going back to the successful layout of his greatest work. And that's fine with me.

When I was at school, my English teachers always taught me never to begin a good English sentence with the word "because." So I've avoided it ever since. It was therefore surprising somewhat when I came across this line on page 28 of Inferno:

"Because the walls were nothing but metal screens, Langdon found himself watching the inside of the elevator shaft slide rhythmically past them."

Shock horror! Dan Brown wrote a sentence starting with "because!" Is he purposely writing wrong English? Or is English grammar more flexible nowadays?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Amazonia review

I finished reading Amazonia by James Rollins and thoroughly enjoyed it.

A U.S. agent stumbles into a small village in the Amazon after 4 years since setting foot in the jungle. He entered the jungle with one arm, but came out with two! Unfortunately he died from a plethora of cancers that very same night.

Another team is sent into the jungle to find out what happened to Agent Clark, but discover shocking truths, lies and death along the way.

Amazonia is a page-turner, and I specifically hurried up to finish it as I have just purchased Inferno, Dan Brown's latest novel!

I'm going to be a busy reader :)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Amazonia by James Rollins

I've started collecting some James Rollins books. I read "The Judas Strain" some time ago and really enjoyed it, one reason being because it is in the same style as Dan Brown.

"Amazonia" is another James Rollins novel, the second of his works I have begun reading. I'm 100 pages in and it's riveting. I would say it's definitely a page-turner!

The scene is set in the Amazon jungle in Brazil where an American agent has been lost for 4 years. He suddenly turns up in a small village with 2 arms, and dies a short time later. Turns out 4 years ago he only entered the jungle with ONE arm!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (April 30th) AMAZONIA

For this weeks Teaser Tuesday I'm sharing a passage from "Amazonia", a book I've just started reading this week.

Amazonia is one of a series of books written by James Rollins. I bought three of his books at a recent book fair here in Kuantan, for just RM8 each!

James Rollins is actually the pen name of the author James Czajkowski - you can understand why he chose Rollins to be his more recognisable author name!

Here's a teaser from Amazonia:

"She turned to her brother and said matter-of-factly, 'The only cure is to cut the victim's penis off and extract the fish.'"

I'm sure that passage tickled you!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dan Brown's new novel is "Inferno"

So Dan Brown has completed his new novel which will be entitled "Inferno". 

Inferno is due for release in USA and Canada on 14th May, 2013. It is another Robert Langdon thriller. I'm not sure how much longer we'll have to wait for it here in Malaysia.

I had been wondering when this announcement would be made ever since I finished reading his last novel, The Lost Symbol.

The Lost Symbol came in for mixed reviews, so who's excited for Inferno?

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