Saturday, November 16, 2019

Amal Unbound Book Review by: Raheem Ahmad

Amal Unbound Book Review by: Raheem Ahmad
Aisha Saeed’s Amal Unbound is about a girl named Amal who lives in pakistan and goes to school. Her mother, Mehnaz, is pregnant, her father owns land and grows sugarcane and her sisters, Seema, Safa, and Rabia go to school and are very young to be helping their mother. Amal stops going to school to help her sick mom and is tired of doing the work. She goes to a shop nearby and sees a pomegranate. She buys the pomegranate but another man says he wants it but she refuses to give it to her. She goes home and later realizes she talked back to the landlord, Jawad Sahib. She is now forced into indentured servitude and serves for Jawad Sahibs mother, Nasreen Baji. There are other people in the house like Nabila, Fatima, Ghalib, Mumtaz, Bilal, etc. that work for Jawad Sahib. Amal reads poetry books she steals from the library and also teaches Fatima how to read. An adult literacy center opened and Amal befriends the instructor Asif, by learning and teaching how to use a computer. She goes to her best friend's sister, Hafsa, her wedding and later finds out Jawad Sahib murdered a diplomat’s son. He is later arrested and Nasreen baji will go to her other sons in Islamabad and the rest of the members go back to their families. 
My Rating:

I LOVED this book and would give it a 10/10. There are a few reasons; I am Pakistani so I am able to relate. Aisha Saeed’s story is based on Malala Yousefzais story of young women/girls in Pakistan being raped. She also mentions the desserts, clothing, and bazaar items that you can find in Pakistan. Saeed also uses good examples of imagery, similes, metaphors, and other literary terms in her book which you can see as you read. I definitely recommend this book, you will love it; it has comedy, relatable scenes, etc. 

Review of Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien by Ananya Singh

Book : The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

Fantasy novels are one of my personal favorites. Being able to escape from reality into a new, imaginative world is amazing. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien is an incredible novel that revolves around a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. He is approached by a wizard and a group of dwarves that persuade him to help reclaim their home from the great dragon Smaug. Along the way, Bilbo creates new friendships and learns a lot about himself.
In all honesty, there was very little for me to complain about. There were some decisions made by the characters that I disagreed with but I could look past them. Now, moving on to the good, there were many aspects of this novel that I loved. The description Tolkien uses to explain the characters and Smaug was astounding. It is very evident that he wanted his readers to experience the novel as if they were another character walking alongside Bilbo Baggins. His writing allows the audience to jump into the book. However, the style of writing is quite different than what we are used to reading today. The complex language may be hard to follow at times but it does not make the book unreadable. If you’re new to this writing style then you will get used to it as you read. The plot itself was captivating and unique. This concept is not something you can easily find in other fantasy novels. 
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The plot intrigued me even though I watched the movie. You can really see and understand how the characters develop as the story progresses. Fantasy novels are one of my favorite genres to read and Tolkien was able to create an extremely magical and unique experience. I give The Hobbit a 4.5 out of 5.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Macbeth Book Review by Raheem Ahmad

Macbeth Book Review by Raheem Ahmad
Macbeth is a Shakespeare tragedy involving the inevitable fate of someone, Macbeth who challenges natural orders. He defeats enemies of King Duncan and later is greeted by the witches after the battle and declared Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and future king of Scotland. Macbeth’s reaction is surprising to his companion, Banquo because it reflects his own secret ambitions, wanting to become king. Duncan stays at Macbeth’s castle overnight. Macbeth’s wife, Lady Macbeth encourages Macbeth to kill King Duncan. Later, Macbeth actually does kill Duncan and blames it on Duncan’s guards, who Macbeth also kills. After killing king Duncan and other people, Macbeth kills anyone who he sees as a rival. He also ends up killing Banquo but his son escapes. This confirms the prophecy of the witches that Banquo’s line would produce future kings. Macbeth is later isolated as all desert him even his wife, who was insane, dies. Macbeth confronts the opposing army safe in the knowledge  that no man born of woman can kill him. When Macbeth fights, the latter tells Macbeth that he was born with what we call Cesarean. Macbeth knows his fate is sealed and is killed violently by Macduff. Duncan’s other son, Malcolm, becomes king and balance in the society is restored. 
My Thoughts on the Book
I would give this book 5 stars out of 5. The writing style Shakespeare uses is amazing in this play. He uses advanced vocabulary words like; apparition, beldam, disdain, etc. Also, Macbeth shows consequences of blind ambition, unchecked power, gender issues/topics, etc. I like the way he writes the wars and death scenes of the characters. The characters in the play Macbeth have their own unique personality. Macbeth is ambitious, Lady Macbeth is mentally unstable, Banquo is loyal, Duncan is trusting, and the Witches are spiteful.

Othello Book Review by: Raheem Ahmad

Othello Book Review by: Raheem Ahmad
Shakespeare’s Othello is a tragedy that includes; marriage, downfall, etc. Othello, a Moor and general in the Venetian army, marries Desdemona, without her family’s permission. Lago, the antagonist of the play, plans with Roderigo to kill Othello. He gives his reasons to kill Othello, one was Othello sleeping with Lago’s wife, Emilia, without permission. Roderigo, falls in love with Desdemona and is in the plan because he believes if they destroy Othello, he can win her. Lago’s plan goes well and he preys upon Othello’s insecurities and convinces him that his new wife is having an affair with Cassio. Enraged, Othello kills his wife, despite her innocence in the situation. Once they realize Desdemona died, Emilia is killed by her husband when she realizes her role she played in Dedemonas death. Othello wounds Lago, who is taken in custody, before killing himself, thus bringing to an end a life marred by tragedy. 

My Rating: I would give this a 7/10 because Lago doesn’t have good reasons to kill Othello and loving someone’s wife isn’t a reason to kill them; not well written. The play Othello is based on a short story “Un Capitano Moro” by Cinthio so I wouldn’t exactly classify this as Shakespeare’s original. Another reason why I would give it a 7/10 is because Othello and Desdemona’s relationship is fake. He marries her privately and quickly changes his feelings for her and even ends up killing her. Besides that, the story has a pretty interesting plot; jealousy of two guys that end up dying and Shakespeare’s typical tragedy ending of everyone dying. 

review of Murder in the Bastille by Cara Black; review by Ananya Singh

Book : Murder in the Bastille by Cara Black

Ananya Singh

Aimee Leduc is a french private investigator based in Paris, France. She is at a restaurant working with a client whose business is facing charges. She pays attention to the woman sitting next to her as they are wearing the same jacket. The lady, when leaving, forgets her phone and Aimee follows so she can give it to her. When trying to find the lady, Aimee is attacked. When she wakes up, Aimee finds out that the woman is dead. Aimee, herself, is blind. Throughout this novel, Aimee sets out to find who committed this crime and why. As a fan of mystery novels, I picked this book up and decided to give it a try. I enjoyed some parts and disliked others. Beginning with the parts I liked, the plot was exciting and the characters were realistic and funny. The protagonist was extremely down to earth and definitely someone many readers can connect with. I enjoyed seeing Aimee having to navigate the world after the incident. As I stated, her character is realistic as she expresses fear and is not just a cold-hearted detective. Now, let us move on to the bad. At some points, the book slowed down. The scenes were unnecessarily stretched and became boring. In addition, the ending was a bit abrupt. Some questions were left unanswered but for the most part Black tied everything up. All in all, I recommend reading this book if you like suspense novels. 

Total Rating : 3.5/5

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Twelfth night by Shakespeare, A Review by Raheem Ahmad

Twelfth night Book Review by Raheem Ahmad
Twelfth Night is a comedy made by Shakespeare. It takes place in Illyria. It starts with Duke Orsino, a nobleman who is lovesick for Lady Olivia. Meanwhile, on the coast of Illyria, a storm caused a shipwreck and Viola, is swept onto the Illyrian shore. She believes her twin brother Sebastian is dead. Viola heard of Duke Orsino and wanted to work for him, so she dresses as a man and takes the name Cesario and goes to work in the house of Orsino. While Viola works for Orsino she realizes she falls in love with him. Orsino send Cesario to deliver a love message to Olivia, Olivia realizes she fell in love with Cesario. And so the love triangle begins; Orsino is in love with Olivia who is in love with Cesario (Viola) who is in love with Orsino. Meanwhile, we see the other members in Lady Olivia’s household; Sir Toby Belch, Olivia’s uncle, his friend, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, the lady of the house, Maria, the jokester Feste, and Olivia’s steward, Malvolio. Sir Toby, Maria, and Sir Andrew don’t like Malvolio’s actions (he tries to spoil their fun) so they play a prank on him. Maria writes a letter saying to do foolish things Olivia “likes” and M.O.A.I is her lover. Malvolio finds the letter and he thinks Olivia is in love with him. On the Illyrian shore, Sebastian is lost and assumes Viola is dead. His caretaker, Antonio, follows him around eventually leading to Duke Orsino’s domain, even though Antonio and him are old enemies. Sir Andrew sees Olivia’s attraction to Cesario and challenges him to a duel. Moments later, Sebastian shows up and Sir Toby and Sir Andrew mistakenly think he is Cesario. Olivia arrives and warns them not to fight him. Thinking he is Cesario, Olivia asks him for marriage. Antonio is in jail and begs Cesario for help, thinking she is Sebastian. Malvolio’s gone crazy (for Olivia’s love)  and they decide to put him in a dark room. Feste dresses as “Sir Topas” and pretends to examine Malvolio. Later on, Malvolio writes a letter to Olivia asking to be released. Finally, Cesario and Orsino make it to Lady Olivia’s house, Olivia welcomes Sebastian as her new husband, thinking he is Cesario. Cesario realizes her brother is alive and they reunite and Orsino falls in love with Viola and asks her to be married to him. Sir Toby and Maria secretly get married and Malvolio is furious of what they have done to him. 
My thoughts on the book:

I would give this book 9.5/10 stars because it is a great plot and lots of humor. The plot has a great start that is easy to understand at first but then it gets hard to catch up. With all the confusion and the events to note, it’s a pretty hard book to understand, which is why I would deduct .5 points for the rating. The humor is very nice. When I read the play I even laughed at some of the things that the characters were doing. I would recommend you read this play because it has some entertainment and good interesting themes and quotes to read and learn about. People that like to read Shakespeare’s comedies and can follow a complex plot. 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Book: Inferno by Dan Brown Review by Sanchita Dighe

Book: Inferno by Dan Brown                                                              Review by Sanchita Dighe

Inferno by Dan Brown was an amazing read that captivated my attention! It is quite similar to the other Dan Brown books, as it contains the same character, Robert Langdon, and is full of history and symbology references. However, it’s a completely new adventure that will grab the reader into a whirlwind of emotions. 

The book begins on a mysterious note, as an unknown person is shown to be killing themselves by jumping off a building. From there, the story gets complicated. The main character, Robert Langdon, is depicted to have landed in the hospital due to some violent injuries, and he has no memory of what had happened prior. When a sudden gunfight causes Langdon to realize he may have been involved with something dangerous, a doctor from the hospital, Sienna Brooks, helps him escape. 

With the help of Brooks, Langdon manages to discover the presence of a biomedical canister hidden within his jacket. Alarmed, he calls the US Consulate. While they wait for more instructions, Sienna tells Langdon that the canister seems to only open with Langdon’s touch. Langdon finds a tube inside, filled with a fluorescent chemical. They find out that there is a projector with the tube. Langdon and Brooks connect the messages inside the tube to Dante Aligheri, a poet who had redesigned the people’s version of hell. However, before Langdon can come up with a plan, armed men start shooting at the house, thus showing that the US Consulate itself is against Langdon. Langdon and Sienna both manage to escape. 

Throughout the course of the book, Langdon and Sienna tackle problems and solve the various puzzle pieces to figure out exactly what the opposing side has planned. Brown also adds the perspectives of other characters, which I found interesting, as some of the other characters mentioned seemed to have villainous motives. When the final goal of the opposing side is shown to be a “plague” that would destroy the entire world, Langdon and Sienna race against time to prevent this from happening. 

This book was extremely entertaining to read. It had the perfect amount of thriller and suspense, but it also discussed the problem of overpopulation and how some people believe ending the human race is the cure for it. It was very disconcerting at times to read the parts where the mastermind of the operation, a man named Bertrand Zobrist, talked about how a plague was the best thing that could happen to a growing world. It was scary to consider that people actually believed this, and although I know overpopulation will eventually bring about the downfall of this world, I cannot support a mass killing. Yet one could argue that Zobrist and the people who supported him were partially right, but the way they went about solving this problem was wrong. This book made me realize that ethics is a very complex and heavily debated concept. The characters were also developed with fascinating arcs, since I could not consider a single person, truly right or wrong. There were right ideas even in the wrongest person, and wrong ideas in the rightest. For example, Zobrist was considered the villain in the book, but his main goal was to save the human race in the future. His plan to do so was wrong, but his motive was complex. It was definitely intriguing to see the convoluted personalities of the characters. 

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes thrillers and a bit of history mixed with suspense! If I were to give it a rating, I would give it a 9/10 for a compelling concept and lovable characters.