Saturday, April 26, 2014

This Week In Books - 26th April

This was a terribly sluggish reading week. Tch tch tch. I was able to complete only Jeffrey Archer's first Clifton fare and float lazily through the second, halfway. Work enslaved me. I was cornered...I was helpless...I was...who am I kidding? This was just one of those weeks when reader's block sets in and boy did it set in big time. Check out the stats below.

1. Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer (Clifton #1)
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 388
First Published: 2011

The Clifton Chronicles is an elaborate story panning the lives of the Cliftons and the Barringtons primarily, detailing the inevitable ways in which their families are intertwined. The first book is set in England and follows young Harry Clifton as he goes through school, and becomes best friends with Giles Barrington. There are a dozen characters who pop in and out, sometimes a little too conveniently but Archer keeps confusion at bay. I liked the neat and comfortably paced narrative in the beginning but soon after it becomes completely 'tell' and not 'show' which quickly led me to boredom.

If Archer had let his characters develop in our eyes (like Kane and Abel) this series would be engaging. Instead you listen to him place characters in a square and it becomes very easy to predict outcomes. By the end of the first book, the 'pow' factor becomes merely cliché. But I decided to go ahead with the second volume.

Maybe it gets better?

2. The Sins of the Father by Jeffrey Archer (Clifton #2)
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 352
First Published: 2012

Yes it does. I meant the cliché. It gets super strong and takes over the entire book.
So we have Harry sailing off to the United States and being arrested for murder because he assumed a different name. (I thought the reason was slim.) But fear not for he is a character in the Clifton series and he shall prosper, and quite extra-ordinarily at that, even in jail. He shall find a con-friend moments after being sentenced, the jolly good fellow giving him a 101 crash course to prison life in about one hour post which Harry gets the better of an a*hole warden and rises to the top by tricking the warden with his recollection of codes from the prison handbook. So, overnight he is a convict superhero!

If you think that's a little illogical, get this - Giles can't joint the army because he is colorblind and his crazy grandfathers judge him for it. They actually say he is just like his father, which hurts him so bad he walks into a different enlistment camp, joins the army and in a matter of a few pages, gets promoted multiple times, gets selected for special training, leads his platoon in two face-downs with the enemy, is captured as a PoW, goes to Germany, recuperates from his wounds, learns German, plots an escape plan towards which becomes a star-waiter (by recalling what his butler used to do at home), fools an entire group of officers, the leader being a dangerous, intelligent man, and escapes to Switzerland!

Yep. And I haven't even told you how the third superhero, Emma becomes a waitress...

Okay! I hear ya. I dared to wonder this morning about giving the third volume a chance but then read in the news about a scheduled fifth volume and I'm done. I don't want to read about the incredible Cliftons any longer. My guess is Archer will prolong the series until present day when it can be confirmed via DNA analysis that Harry is a Clifton and not a Barrington. So long fellas!

Anyone out there who has read till the current volume and still loving it?

3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Publication: Bloomsbury
Pages: 324
First published: 2003

I just began reading The Kite Runner. Mr. Hosseini knows exactly how to make you cry. My starting point into his modest back-list was A Thousand Splendid Suns which left me speechless.

I shed a few tears.

Gracefully like this...

  or maybe like'll never know!

The writing was grim and evocative, atleast in my opinion. The book was not without flaws, I'll admit. Anyway, my point is after reading that book, I wanted to read more Hosseini so here I am. This one is a picking up a bit slow and does have its share of 'telling' and not 'showing' but its building up nicely. Fingers crossed. Hoping to finish it in time for next week' post.

4. The Corrections by Johnathan Franzen
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 635
First published: 2001

The buddy-read item is progressing slowly but my friend and I are enjoying the book very much. I particularly love the observations Franzen makes through Chip and the exchanges between Enid and Denise regarding Alfred. Melissa has also been kick-ass so far.

I'm fast becoming a fan of the Franz. More later.

That's a wrap on this week's abysmal reading achievements. Here's hoping to pick up the pace as April says bye bye.

What did you read this week?

I do not own any of these images. They are mostly from and from around the internet. 

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