Book Reviews, reading

A Series so Fowl

Many years ago, after I’d consumed the entire Potter series and embarked on the hunt for another series to fill my world, I came across a golden-covered shiny book designed to attract the eyes of passersby. I opened it, and, as I am wont to do in the middle of a crowded bookstore, started reading.

Here’s the first page:

Ho Chi Minh City in the summer. Sweltering by anyone’s standards. Needless to say, Artemis Fowl would not have been willing to put up with such discomfort if something extremely important had not been at stake. Important to the plan.

Sun did not suit Artemis. He did not look well in it. Long hours indoors in front of a computer screen had bleached the glow from his skin. He was white as a vampire and almost as testy in the light of day. “I hope this isn’t another wild-goose chase, Butler,” he said, his voice soft and clipped. “Especially after Cairo.”

It was a gentle rebuke. They had traveled to Egypt on the word of Butler’s informant.

“No, sir. I’m certain this time. Nguyen is a good man.”

“Hmm,” droned Artemis, unconvinced.

Passersby would have been amazed to hear the large Eurasian man refer to the boy as sir. This was, after all, the third millennium. But this was no ordinary relationship, and these were no ordinary tourists.

They were sitting outside a curbside cafe on Dong Khai Street, watching the local teenagers circle the square on mopeds.

Nguyen was late, and the pathetic patch of shade provided by the umbrella was doing little to improve Artemis’s mood. But this was just his daily pessimism. Beneath the sulk was a spark of hope. Could this trip actually yield results? Would they find the Book? It was too much to hope for.

A waiter scurried to their table.

“More tea, sirs?” he asked, head bobbing furiously.

Artemis sighed. “Spare me the theatrics, and sit down.”

The waiter turned instinctively to Butler, who was after all, the adult.

“But, sir, I am the waiter.”

Artemis tapped the table for attention.

“You are wearing handmade loafers, a silk shirt, and three gold signet rings. Your English has a tinge of Oxford about it, and your nails have the soft sheen of the recently manicured. You are not a waiter. You are our contact Nguyen Xuan, and you have adopted this pathetic disguise to discreetly check for weaponry.”

Nguyen’s shoulders sagged. “It is true. Amazing.”

How could I resist? I swooped it up.

The movie version will be out in 2020 so stock up on this and read it before the film releases! Take a sneak peak at the movie trailer here.

If you read one and can’t get enough and you’re looking for more, I have great news for you – Eoin Colfer has a new book out featuring characters of the same family! The Fowl Twins is set for release later this year.

You can bet I’ll be reading the new book as well as rushing to the cinemas when the movie comes out. I sincerely hope the movie retains the humour of the books.

Eoin Colfer is quite prolific and has penned other books as well. The one I’m most fond of is The Half-Moon Investigations.

Have you read Artemis Fowl? Or any of Eoin Colfer’s books? Which is your favourite? Any other YA or MG series you would like to recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

My Writing, Writing

Mini-Update

I have been light on writing-related work this year. No Short Story Challenge, and definitely no other brand new work. I’ve spent most of my available free time on editing and whipping older pieces into shape. Per my records, I have about 28 of these essays and short stories that I need to whittle and carve to perfection, or at least start submitting them if I find I cannot revise and edit them any more.

Despite that I have a couple of acceptances to report. One was my short story targeted for a YA audience, titled Miss Quit which found a home in the lit mag Youth Imagination. I wrote this as part of the Short Story Challenge 2014, and it had been simmering ever since. When I did finally send it out I got a fairly quick acceptance.

The second was my article for writers, titled The Maturation of a Writer at Walrus Publishing. I wrote this last year on the spur of the moment one day, while reflecting on the differences I felt as a more experienced writer now compared to when I had started out.

Do read them and tell me what you think! Feel free to post links to your own recently published work in the comments below!

Book Reviews

What I’ve been Reading

I haven’t been reading much. There, I said it. I’m ashamed to have said it but it’s the truth, especially coming from me – a person who used to finish 2-3 books per week with consummate ease. 

To clarify, I haven’t read too many novels this year. But to compensate, and because I’m writing 1 short story every month as part of the Short Story Challenge, I’ve been gobbling up fiction and essays from literary magazines everywhere, mostly online. 

At the rate of 1 short story a day, I might have easily read as much as 2-3 books a week! 

Despite that, I craved my novel fixes. So I got back in the game with two of the most talked about books that have recently been made or are going to be made into films. 

 

Divergent by Veronica Roth

I came to the Divergent party a little late, because I didn’t know how much I could stomach. I was also worried that it would end on a cliffhanger and I’d be forced to read the sequels just to know what happens next. 

Luckily I’m pleased to report this was not the case. I enjoyed reading the book. It ended on a note that surely promised a sequel, but it is no loss if you choose not to. 

Though I found it very exciting, the premise felt a little too derivative to me. The sorting of people into factions reminded me of the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter, and the violence between adolescents brought to mind The Hunger Games. I understand the appeal, of course, but I’m happy to see the sequels solely on screen, with my niece serving as my guide to plot lines that I may not follow. 

Here’s the trailer for Divergent:

 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

If you haven’t read the book already, then there’s nothing I can tell you about it. I knew that there was a halfway plot twist but I didn’t know what the twist was. Briefly, all that I can tell you about the book is this: 

On Nick and Amy’s 5th wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing. Nick is the prime suspect – because, almost always, it’s the husband that did it. The book is narrated alternately by Nick, and Amy’s diary entries. 

Now that I know the twists and the endings, I can safely say – please read the book if you haven’t already!

The film is out in October. The trailer is brilliant, as is the casting for the movie:

 

Right now I’ve started on The Silkworm, written by Robert Gilbraith aka JK Rowling. So far, all I can say is, JKR is JKR. She hasn’t lost her touch, or her sense of humour, or her writing skills, one teeny bit.

 

What have you been reading lately?

TV, Writing

Stories & Ads

Since the last time I posted, I’ve had a few published pieces:

This is my first published poem – a fun, light piece aimed at writers and their obsession with big words. I enjoyed writing it and was delighted to see it published in Page & Spine. They showcase excellent fiction as well. Do check out the site and read the stories.

This is my first published YA story. A teenage girl is dragged into a football competition, and is petrified about playing and making a fool of herself. Maybe she will get lucky and not have to play after all, or will she?

Work continues on the Short Story Challenge. I submitted my first sci-fi story to the group and to my surprise it wasn’t torn to shreds. Issues were pointed out gently, of course, which proved quite a relief for me. This was also the longest story I’ve written to date, clocking in at around 4,500 words. This, from a person who couldn’t string together a flash fiction piece even if pressed to do so at gunpoint. As I sent in the story, it dawned on me how I’d grown from writing short pieces devoid of meat to 5000 word tomes that had to be pared down rather than fluffed up. It’s a welcome change, and I hope I can continue in this vein.

When I’m not writing in my spare time, I’m watching TV. The last few months I’ve become engrossed in House of Cards, and Elementary. Both have sharp writing and dialogues, and are a treat to watch. Of course, I’m honing my writing skills watching television! Who says I’m only getting entertained?

Speaking of television, a recent ad quite amused me:

Presenting, the Daddy Cool ad of Blue Star AC:

It reminded me of Christopher Walken’s superb performance in Fatboy Slim’s video:

Enjoy both the masterpieces of dancing!