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Posts tagged ‘Conn Iggulden’

Random Notes on Illness, Books and Love…

I have been so ill…for the last two weeks I have been confined to my bed with multiple disorders including a low blood cell count that has led to such weakness that standing on one’s own two feet for more than a minute is risky (On account my loosing balance and falling) I have not been this ill, ever in my adult life – never been this sick to be unable to stand, write or even read. Anything remotely difficult or challenging makes my head ache and eyes water…I mean Shakespearean Sonnets are not even difficult but there, cannot read it!

It is times like this one really misses one’s true blessings – never a very active child (I mean physically! I hated sports, though I was always active enough to run around the house doing all I want!)I was never weak and this past two weeks I am all namby pamby . Make me lift the serving spoon and my arms ache. Make me walk from my bedroom to the drawing-room and my head spins! I hate not having control over my body which in turn impacts how much I have control over my mind and me losing control over my mind – a very very bad thing! But now as I write this post, I miss the strength and the stamina to go on and on. In a brief spell of time, I seem to have become this wishy-washy person who is no longer in charge of her life and this makes feel worse because I never really appreciate good health and stamina as something that makes life better! Now of course, I know better and once I get back to my old self I am going to make sure I never go back down this road again!

What have I been doing these last two weeks – no prizes for guessing: reading? I read Conn Igulden’s War of Roses, I read Arnold Bennett’s The Grand Babylon Hotel,  I read Claire Benson’s Murder at Sissingham Hall, I re-read all the Harry Potters (Trust me there is no better antidote to bad humor or ill health) as well as all the feel good classics – Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Jane Eyre and Little Women. I also started on New Grub Street by George Gissing and am loving it. Somebody should do a study in sick room and reading patters – me thinks it will show a lot about the psychology of the person and may even give correct prognosis about by when the sick person will be healed (I know the last part is a very 19th century, but one never knows! These days I am trying to live with a mind over matter principle, because I would otherwise be unable to get through simple tasks of the day like taking a bath!)

The only upside of this illness is again to make me aware how blessed I am. As you can figure out, I am pretty ill and incapable of simple acts like cooking cleaning etc. My parents are very old and 2500km away from where I stay so dragging them so far is out of question. My sister is in teacher’s conference and out of the country….so who is taking care of me at home (I refuse to be admitted at the hospital; I am sure I will become more sick!!!) My flatmate/my best friend/my mentor all rolled into one. Very rarely does one come across in life a friend who puts his or her life on hold for your sake – well I am truly blessed to have her. She has taken care of my meals, ensures I eat the right stuff at the right time, cooking, cleaning and managing my ill humors when they raise their head! She has been an angle though she hates the comparison and would rather be called a mysterious la elegante damsel. Well damsel or not she was my knight in shining armour and I am so blessed to have her in my life. The doctor said that my body was reacting to some unpleaseant shock which may have happened months ago but to which I did not react properly then and its coming out now. I can think of what happened and now that I think back, I did bounce on my feet very early, perhaps a bit too early! However if betrayal and dishonesty were the root of my illness, surely the love and care of my flatmate, my friends and all my well-wishers (and trust me I have many for I was besieged during this illness with cards, flowers, calls and a genuine wish on everybody’s part to actually help me!!) should serve as the protective shield against any such damage.  May be it’s my illness that’s making me maudlin or too much of Dumbldore’s advice (When you read 7 Harry Potters in two days, Dumbledore is as real as it gets! Besides wisdom is wherever you want to see it) but love does make a person a whole lot better!!!

P.S. I will for sure go back to review of all the books I have read from next week – big time catch up needs to be done!!

The Vacation Finally Cometh…..

Finally vacations here….I can’t believe it actually here and by the time I can actually believe it, it will be 6th January and back to work! (They should have back to work stationary like they have back to school stuff! I know I get a whole new set of notepads, writing books, pens and sticky before I commence work every New Year…but it would be really awesome to have a back to work stuff! It will be a perk us up for Monday kinda thing!) Anyway, 6th January is mercifully away, and while I acclimatize myself to a very short vacation, it’s time to kick back shoes and let my hair down and have FUN FUN FUN!!!!

Every year during this time of the year, I go back home and to the old rambling house that my parents live in. But this year, due to one reason and another, I ain’t making the homewards journey. While there is no denying I will miss the traditional gaieties of the year, there are consolations to be thought of and plans to execute.

Presenting to you my top 5 holiday activities –

  1. Get the house back in shape – lately I and my roomie have worked so hard that the house is in a mess! It’s a wonderful apartment, nestled among low hills overlooking stretch of green fields and while commuting back and fro remains a challenge besides the godforsaken earth shattering rent, the fact is it’s a great place and recently gone to bits! So doing up the house is on the agenda big time – thanks to Stefanie I have planned a terrace pool as well some lovely wall hangings which have lain around for ages!
  2. Writing – Have not picked up the pen and paper, er…ok! Hit the keypads on the word document in a while and it’s as good as a time to make up!!! I am going to write once again diligently for the next two weeks, even if it’s only for a couple of hours!
  3. Transfer music to IPOD – There are some old classic CDs lying around that I have been planning to convert and transfer to my IPOD FOREVER…simple task but no idea why I never did it!! I will get that completed for sure or blast!
  4. Read – Goes without saying….what else is the point of vacation if one does not read. The List is long and varied. Some of the top to be read for these holidays are – War of Roses by Conn Iggulden, The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (yes! I am on LTR re-reading trip!), Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, (part of my December Classic Spin) Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, The Kashmiri Shawl by Rosie Thomas, and The Murder at Sissingham Hall by Clara Benson. I am also participating the readathon for The Classic’s Club Annual Readathon event on 4th January but have not decided on the book as yet! (Feel free to suggest!)
  5. Party – Loads of parties lined up – kicking off with my birthday eve party tonight (I know I am too old for it, but for some reason I never had a party when I was young, so I guess I am making up for lost years!) an awesome Christmas eve party and a potential getaway for the new year!

The calendar is packed and so are my days and night and though I am doing the traditional going home this year, I think I will have oodles of fun! Will let you know on 5th January, how the time had flowth! Until then, here’s to good cheer…vacation is finally here!!

Urgent Help Required for the Inspirationaly Challenged

Inspiration has left me and for once mu hyper active brain is completely devoid of subjects to write about. This usually does not happen to me, but this lack of creativity could be stemming from the fact that I slept I think 18 hrs of the last 24 hrs which is highly unusual in someone who is an insomniac and then spent the rest of time in complete mundane tasks like laundry, grocery etc. I am not saying that these tasks are not essential but sometimes I feel that these necessary but absolutely mindlessly boring tasks actually blunt one’s minds!

Jane Austen observed as much in Emma, when Mrs Elton complained of her giving up music because a married woman has much to do, despite Emma pointing out ample opportunities for her to pursue her interest. In today’s world I feel the same holds true – we get so wrapped up in what’s petty and banal, that we lose sight of bigger and more important things. The problem is when you try to look at the bigger picture and let go of the smaller things, the other will think that he/she has an advantage over you and can exploit you for his/her own needs . And because you are looking at the bigger picture, you let the other win because in the wheel of life everything will balance out. Bollocks!!

I am rambling…..I need help!!!!!(Yes I am aware that for you have thought so for some time!)

Seriously, I am completely without an idea on what to write…. I thought I will write about the Conn Iggulden’s The Conqueror, but I have not finished the book and want to hold off until I reach the end! (So many books start with a promise and end up being a disaster, so I will not shoot off until I reach the end!) I thought I could share my thoughts on 50 Shades of Grey…but 1. I have not read the book…am not sure am liberal enough to read it either….(Yeah me a prude) 2. What can I possibly say that not already been said…I mean the book is selling because of the publicity and not because it’s a great work of literature and to write about I believe will inadvertently give it more attention than necessary. I thought inspired by Eggton, who I consider one of the bestest of best of HA HA bloggers, I would do a take on my journal….Unfortunately, my youth was anything but interesting….I just filled pages and pages of whining about how I never got any attention and wrote in a pedagogic fashion because all my friends were having fun while I took a high moral ground on how fate left me down …re-reading it made me want to throw up my dinner…me thinks me will burn the journal…I am surprised my parents did not murder me for being such a crybaby…They should have and no one would have blamed them, least of all the adult me!!! I Maybe my prudiness is a result of my whinny adulthood…I also  thought about writing on friendships which can be picked up from any point, but it’s such an exhaustive and poignant topic, that I was drained of my energy before I began… (Maybe I am so tired because I slept so much!!!!)

So, finally, I decided to ask all my wonderful patrons – What would you like me to ramble on? What is the first thing that I can talk about, which will in turn make you raise your eyebrows – tell me and the words will floweth…..name the book (if I have not read I will read it via kindle or in the good ol’ fashioned way!) you want more quirkiness from my flatmate and my life – name a subject and we will both dive in to give diverse versions of the same… maybe there is an old blog you want me to a blogquel on (Yes I invented that…it’s a sequel for blogs!!!! I am bored, but still a geniusJ) just name it!

Think of this as a charity project to prevent someone from growing absolutely prosaic…sob sob…HELP!!!!!!

Bring on the Sunshine……

Ahem Ahem….So Thanks to the magnificent Lill and Jill, (awww I am still so touched…sob! sob!!Thank you Guys!) I have been nominated for the Sunshine Award. I would like to take these 15 seconds of fame and Thank my Father/Mother/dog/cat/neighbour/fellow students at my University from Slovakia and Turkmenistan…..No I have not really lost it (yet!)  and I  am not really doing this, so please do not drop your jaws or start reading another blog!!!

So per the Sunshine Award rules, here comes the detail –

  • Favourite Colour – Oh! Gosh! There are so many of them that I love – red, blue, aquamarine (I know its just another shade of blue, but it sounds nicer), pale yellow …let’s just say I am a colourful person (Yes! I know this is a really bad pun, but I was tempted!)
  • Favourite Animal – Oh! I am so old-fashioned here ….give me a doggie anyway!! I mean a doggie and not a dog; there are differences between the two – one is more of an impersonal creature and the common noun can often be used as an adjective….the doggie is a friend preferably a golden retriever type of friend who is always around to share your chicken and life…..I hate apartments cause you cannot bring up a doggie here.
  • Favourite Number – All even and never odds…don’t ask me; got something to do with childhood memories of times when we learnt HCF and LCM
  • Favourite Non Alcoholic Drink – You mean there is any other type of drink in this world? Er…water and tea!
  • Favourite Book – Oh! The list is long and only the brave can survive …here goes Pride and Prejudice and everything else written by Ms Austen, To kill a Mocking Bird, All Terry Pratchett, All Harry Potters, Everything written by Conn Iggulden, All works of William Dalrymple, Wild Swans, All works of John Steinbeck, All works of Orhan Pamuk, War and Peace, All works by Saki ….I will stop now that you have an idea!
  • My Passion – Let me start counting …reading, writing, cooking actually food, travelling, history, architecture, talking nineteen to a dozen, bugging my best friend when she is trying to watch a movie, laughing, dancing, theatre …I think I should stop!
  • Prefer giving or getting presents – Giving, I love giving surprise gifts, but my problem is always choosing the right gift for the right people. Love receiving food or book type gifts though!

Have we reached 10 yet? Does this list end?!!!!

  • Favourite Place – Mountains and more mountains…anywhere in the world
  • Favourite Day of the week – Friday; after I shut my office laptop and head for car parking…yay yay no work and only play for two days!
  • Favourite Flowers –  Not particularly flowery or planty…it’s a struggle to keep my Moneyplant alive but I do love Bougainvillea …reminds me of spring during my university years when there would be a riot of various colour of them and it would seem as if somebody had poured large vials of paints on the trees

Phew done!!!!

Finally the part I really like – I would like to highlight the following blogs for being brilliant, wonderful, funny, beautiful and generally enriching lives –

http://somanybooksblog.com

http://12novels.com

http://nonamesnofaces.wordpress.com

http://freepagenumbers.wordpress.com

http://classicconfusion.com/

http://tamarindandthyme.wordpress.com/

http://eggton.com

http://ayearofreadingtheworld.com

http://eagleeyededitor.wordpress.com

http://photobotos.com

Thank you all of you for inspiring me every day to laugh more, read more, write more and think more, especially from point of views contrary to my own!!

And here’s saving the best for the last – Thank you Lill and Jill for sharing your lives with us! You two make life a fun place to be in with all your roller coaster adventures and experiments! Discovering your site was one the best things and I think everyone should take a big slice out of your celebration of the joyous and downright funny takes on all the “moments” of each day!!  You gals are the best! Thank you for all those moments of sheer sitcom joy!!

More on History and Story

india calcutta bookstore
india calcutta bookstore (Photo credit: FriskoDude)

Continuing on my previous musings of historical novels, I must own that my very first introduction to the genre of historical novels began with M M Kaye’s The Shadow of the Moon- set in 1857 India, it chronicles the Sepoy Mutiny through the principle characters of Captain Alex Randall and Winter de Ballesteros.  It might not be her most famous book, especially when one compares it to her epic work – The Far Pavilions, the immortal love story of Captain Ashton and Princess Julie, in the backdrop of the third Anglo Afghan War, but maybe I read the former at an impressionable age, it remains a favourite! I know all the high brow’s are lifting thier eye brows at my taste, but I love MM Kaye…so there!

When it comes to historical novels,nothing  beats the genre of James Michener and lately Edward Rutherford. Of all Michener’s writings, The Source remains my all-time favourite and a comfort book. I am obsessed about Israel and a story about this land is told through the multiple layers of its history and the heirs of Ur (the first man), it’s bound to much used in my collection! Then there are what I consider flighty historical novels – Leon Uris and his Mila 18, Exodus and The Haj, all of which I have read and re-read and adore, but cannot be really considered serious body of history, many be excluding Exodus. They are great reads, but thier historcial depth leaves a lot to imagination! Then there is Michelle Moran; she has written exhaustively about Egyptian History – Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen and Cleopatra’s daughter, but I believe the one book that is far better than all of these is her last work – Madam Tussaud. It’s a rich complex tale of young a Marie Tussaud, an artist specializing in wax figurines and forced to make death masks in the background of the French Revolution. Again great stories but no sense of real history. Then there is Lord Jeffery Archer and his Cane and Able and Where the Crow Flies and Only Time will Tell. Great reads set usually during the period of 1890-1950s, documenting the rise and fall of iconic characters and their loves and lives. Read em, enjoy em and forget em! There is Philippa Gregory and her mammoth works on Tudor England, especially The Other Boleyn Girl and it’ sequels, The Queen’s Fools, The Virgin Lovers etc. Not particularly correct history, but then I could be completely mistaken!

In terms of serious classic historical novels, I think Umberto Eco and Hillary Mantel lead the brigade. I took forever to read The Name of the Rose, but once I finished it, I was in awe of the whole work. Not many people like the book and there is enough controversy around the same, but at the end of the day it’s a very good read. Wolf Hall is also a modern classic as Mantel explores the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell in a brilliantly researched book, which keeps very close to history. There is Robar Harris and his Imperium, Lustrum and Pompeii and if you cannot guess, they are all based on Ancient Rome and I am not particularly fond of them and find these works tedious! There is John Masters and his series of novels based on Colonial India, The Nightrunners of Bengal, The Ravi Lancers and his most famous Bhowani Junction, though I think his best work is The Nightrunners. Alex Rutherford, the pseudonym for the husband and wife duo of Michael and Diana Preston who have written a very accurate and extremely captivating series on the first five Mughal Emperors of India. A S Byatt is another well-known literary figure requiring little introduction. Her Possessions captures the beauty of Victorian England and merging with lyrical poetry that traces the forbidden love affair of Randolph Henry Ashton and Christobel LaMotte.  I am even more enamoured of her “The Childern’s Book’ which traces the lives of Wellwoods and Cains through 1890’s to 1914, though there are times I do feel the story should “get a move on”. Colleen McCullough and her Master of Rome series is also an exhaustively researched work that traces the end of Roman Republic.

My unmatched picks are Conn Iggulden, and JG Fuller and Peter Carey. Iggulden has written extensively on rise and fall of Julius Cesar in his four part novels – The Empire series. But my personal favourite are his Conqueror series that traces the rise and fall of Chengiz Khan and Mongols during 15th century. Rich in details and customs, it not only presents Chengiz in wholly different light, without any apologies for his deeds. Valerio Massimo Manfredi is another of my favourites. I loved his The Alexander Trilogy, but my real prized possession is The Lost Army, based on the accounts of Xenophon and his Anabasis and the legion of 10,000 that was sent to support Artaxerxes II against his brother, Cyrus of Persia, it is tale that vividly captures the life and times of Ancient Greeks and one of the most remarkable adventures in human history. JG Fuller won his Pulitzer for The Seize of Krishnapur and I must own its one of finest accounts of the Indian mutiny without any unnecessary glorification to the cause of either side and a true account of men and women tested in most trying times. Oscar and Lucinda is Pater Carey’s best. He has written The True History of the Kelly Gang – epic tale of a family through the various stages of Australian history and can be aptly called the great Australian novel. But nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing compares to Oscar and Lucinda, the obsessive compulsive gamblers on a boat to Australia and an incorrigible bet of transporting a glass Church from Sydney to Bellingen, come together to make a classic read!

To end with, I must confess, I have a huge thing for Salman Rushidie’s works, though many a times his writings take me on an intellectual trapeze act where my mind can no longer follow! I know enough has been written and cried about Midnight’s Children, so I’ll let it be and instead talk about The Enchantress of Venice that interplays and alternates between 16th century India and Akbar’s court and the 15th century Florence! It’s filled with images and scenes that bring it to life two magnificent eras of world history with all its caprices!

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