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The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell

Death of bees “The Death of the Bees” caught my eye because it had a fascinating cover. I knew it was the author’s debut novel but nothing more than that. The story is about two sisters Marnie and Nellie. Marnie finds the dead body of her parents and convinces her sister to bury it in their garden so that they are not placed in foster care. When someone questions them about their parents, they simply tell them that they have gone on a long trip. No one doubts them as their parents are perceived as irresponsible adults in the society. The children are haunted by the past and have issues but their neighbor Lennie, steps in and takes care of them as his own. Over a period of time, he gets to know about their parents death but decides to act ignorant. The story takes a twist when their grand-father visits and wants to take care of them.

This book is a fascinating one. When I started reading it, I could not put it down and was eager to know what happened next. The writing is simple yet very effective. Messages are conveyed as they should be, but in a cleanest possible way. When a story involves children and sexual abuse, we have seen different authors use different techniques to describe it (some not very pleasant). Lisa O’Donnell has used an approach where most of her message is implicit not explicit.

The characters in ‘The Death of Bees’ were extremely well-developed; almost to the point that I felt like I knew these two little girls and everyone who crossed their lives. Even characters who had little presence like Marnie’s friends managed to make an impact. In my opinion all of them contributed largely to the effectiveness of the book. I say ‘effective’ and not ‘enjoyable’ because the book is powerful. The emotions of the characters are high but not dramatic. Marnie and Nellie in spite of all that they have been through continue to be children at heart, looking for someone to love them, living simple lives while continuously knowing that their little secret could be revealed anytime.

‘The Death of Bees’ is a must read and possibly one of the best books of 2013. An excellent plot with a simple story telling style gets this book a very well deserving five smiley faces:



Zoo by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

51TEMzloFmL__SL500_AA300_ It is no secret that I am a fan of James Patterson. I like the books because they are quick reads and manage to be fairly entertaining without taking too much of your time. ‘Zoo’ was obviously a book I did not want to miss; it has all the elements that you would expect from Patterson … simple writing, short chapters, no major character developments and a different storyline. Though I must agree that this one was slightly tough to read specially because I am an animal lover.

Jackson Oz, a young biologist and a school dropout is working on a theory that explains why animals are becoming increasingly violent towards human beings. He calls this HAC for Human Animal Conflict. Nobody takes him seriously; that is till he takes a trip to Africa to study strange lion behaviour. He meets his lady-love Chloe who is convinced that HAC is an actual phenomenon and they work towards explaining HAC to the world.

Patterson books have very less character development, but with ‘Zoo’ I felt like there was no character development at all. Half way through the book I still was not sure I understood Oz as much as I would have liked too. I felt like Chloe was an unwanted addition as she was just there.. Supposedly a highly qualified ecologist but she did nothing that proved her qualifications. The plot was disturbing. Going through the animal attacks was like sitting and watching a zombie attack movie in the middle of night – all alone. Scary as hell!!

The pace of the story between the different chapters moved from agonizingly slow to ‘too quick to explain’. There were numerous flaws in the storyline .. Like why would Oz who seriously believed in HAC have a Chimp as a pet? But in spite of the flaws the book had; I was convinced that HAC could be a occurance in the future.

For actually driving a point and for showcasing a rare plot; the farthest ‘Zoo’ can get would be three smiley faces:


It’s Monday! What are you reading? 2013/03/25

This is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila from Book Journey.

Books that I read last week.
lg-zooDeath of bees

Books planned for the coming week.
You don't want to knowGilead


Challenges 2013 – Immigrant Stories Challenge

Immigrant Stories Challenge button 2012_Family

Colleen at Books in the City is hosting the Immigrant Stories Challenge in 2013. .

The only requirement of the challenge is that the books read for it include an immigrant story. The immigrants can be coming to or from any country – expand your horizons!

For this challenge, I am going to go with the “Just off the boat” level which requires of me to read a max of 3 books.


1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini


The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

200px-Kite_runner I have been holding “The Kite Runner” for a long time; moving it between my different books shelfs, my reading areas and even different bags – but I never really started reading it till last week. When I did start reading it, I finished it even before I realized. The story is about many things, but most importantly it is about friendship. A friendship between Amir; a privileged member of a dominant tribe and Hassan; his devoted servant. To hide an act of cowardice, Amir gives up on his friendship with Hassan and ensures that he is sent out of his house. For Amir too, things change when a war starts and he and his dad flee to the United States. Many years later, after his father’s demise Amir comes to know that Hassan was more than just a devoted servant. It is time for him to return the favor; but will he cave in because of his cowardice or stand up.

To begin with; the book had some excellent descriptions about the country and the places that Hassan and Amir lived in. The ignorance of the children visible in the games they played, Amir’s attempts to please his father and his sadness when things do not work in his favor and the uncle who is more father to him than his dad was; all reminded me of a very serene and normal environment. When the friends drift away from each other abruptly it broke my heart. I thought what every other reader must have, that Amir was a selfish and arrogant child and would grow up to be despicable. When he had to flee to the United States, I thought roles would change and that in a foreign country he would be the underprivileged one. I was glad that the story took a new and different turn. It was anything else but predictable.

I specially liked that the characters were all clearly defined and played their roles with the utmost justice. The emotions were duly sincere and equally raw in all the different scenes. The contrast of events, characters and situations was deep-rooted, honest and real. Like for instance, the portrayal of the area where the children live a carefree life and the drastic change of the same vicinity when Amir visits it after many years. Amir’s act of cowardice when he fails to save Hassan and his courage when he has to save Hassan’s son are just some examples of the contrasts depicted.

In my opinion “The Kite Runner” is a candid book, filled with honesty. The writing is almost flawless and enjoyable. An interesting read and hence a quick one.

Four smiley faces is fair



It’s Monday! What are you reading? 2013/03/17

This is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila from Book Journey.

Books that I read last week.

Books planned for the coming week.
You don't want to knowlg-zoo


The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

the_alchemist2“The Alchemist” was recommended to me a few years ago but I never got to it. This year it was my book club’s selection and I was thrilled to get to it. Our book club had varied opinions about the book and most of them viewed it the same way I did.

The book is an average read considering the fable like fashion in which it was written. The beginning was captivating and had the promises of an exciting, interesting self-help book (maybe even more). The story is of a shepherd who lives a simple life; taking care of his sheep and selling their fleece to fulfill his basic needs. He is deeply infatuated with the daughter of a businessman in the nearby town and is excited to meet her again this year in the pretext of selling the fleece. This is when he starts dreaming of a treasure. The gypsy woman he meets tells him that he will get his treasure but he will have to share 10% of it with him. An old king, gives him direction and teaches him how to read omens in exchange for 10% of his sheep. His travel from there on gets interesting, he loses his money, works for year at a crystal shop and then starts his journey again. This is when he meets the Alchemist who can transmute common metal into gold; can change into wind and has great wisdom. The Alchemist helps him to get to his treasure literally through a vast desert (numerous hardships).

The book was poorly written. It did have a lot of interesting lessons that were shared at various phases of his journey but not one of them gave me the ‘ah-ha’ feeling. Instances like when he turned himself into the wind annoyed me as there appeared to be a big disconnect between the reality in the beginning of the book and the magic / fantasy afterwards. In spite of the numerous flaws; the message was clear (at least to me) in that if you have a goal and are determined to reach it; the whole world will conspire in your favor. So yes, “The Alchemist” was mildly inspirational not in a spiritual or self-help kind of way; but in a more subtle “read between the lines” way.

3 smiley faces is all it gets