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Showing posts from June, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: The Carrie Diaries (2010)

Published inDaily Times / Saturday, June 26, 2010

Published under the Title: A Tale of Two Carries

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

As a 30 something single ‘girl’ living in New York City, Carrie Bradshaw has arrived.

A strong, independent female who goes through several suitors, stands by her (3) loyal friends, pursues and gets pursued by one very elusive Mr. Big, Carrie cheerfully models Versace, Chanel & relationships and turns her (universally unacknowledged) insights into a successful news column.

That Carrie, we know well. She is a fictional character living the dream.

As a 17 year old high school student from Castlebury High still fantasizing about making it big!, she ruefully admits to having nothing figured out and secretly entertains hopes of writing a book that would change the world. The Carrie from the diaries is not yet fluent in ‘Manolo Blahnik’, though the fashionista in her can be seen trying to break free. ‘If it’s deliberate, its fashion’ she declares at one point as sh…

BOOK REVIEW: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse

Novella By Stephenie Meyer

Published inDaily Times / Saturday, June 19, 2010
Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

The last time Bree Tanner was seen, she was being escorted out of the pages of Eclipse. Stephenie Meyers resurrects Ms Tanner in an Eclipse novella, sends her back to the beginning and hands over the reins of the story. This means that Bree is officially promoted to chief narrator, which is an interesting departure from tradition. The Twilight Saga is almost entirely told from Isabella Swan’s perspective and little is known about Bree before her arrival at the end of Eclipse.

Bree’s perspective is less rosy. With good reason. Her adventures begin in Seattle — the source of all the trouble and Bree is at the centre of the storm. These events have been mentioned in the early days of Eclipse and are central to the storyline.

Eclipse, of course, is the third installment of the highly successful Twilight series. And Twilight is Stephenie Meyers’s masterpiece. While Breaking Dawn — the last bo…

VIEW: The Dawn of Twilight (Introducing the world of Stephanie Meyer)

By: Afrah Jamal
Published in The Post Dec 2008?

Till September 2008 it was easy to be oblivious to the Twilight phenomena. That was before a determined salesperson went around citing bestseller status to foist all four books on the credulous; before its movies’ theatrical trailer hit the internet in HD and definitely before the (magnificent) soundtrack made its unofficial debut. Since then the time has come to set aside any prejudice against young adult novels and enter the world of Stephanie Meyers, bestselling author of the Twilight Saga.


Given Twilights’ alleged crossover appeal (it was initially submitted under both A - Adult and YA - Young Adult) and the fact that all four books along with a Complete Illustrated Movie Companion are perched atop Amazons best seller list, this should not require major compromise. Even so the series is brought home more for the (ignoble) purposes of forensic examination in a (cynical) bid to determine its professed entertainment value if any, than …

BOOK REVIEW: Inspirations: Selections from Classic Literature by Afrah Jamal

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / 12 June 2010

Paulo Coelho — the best selling author from Brazil — brings forth his latest offering, an anthology that can be likened to a piece of art. But it is art with a difference that uses beloved masters as its centrepiece, held up by the ancients’ philosophy to accentuate the contrasts and their unique interpretation of elements to justify the contours. Still, the proportions seem all wrong and the colours clash. Coelho’s creation is hard to understand and impossible to appreciate, or would be without the voice over.

On the surface, it is a simple, albeit bizarre little collection where carefully chosen passages from well-thumbed editions have been bound in one volume. Coelho scoured the globe looking for stories that once served as his inspirations. Then he agonised over which segments to include while trying to decide upon the best placement.

Once inside, readers encounter fact and fiction, fairy tales and …

BOOK REVIEW: Seeds of Terror: The Taliban, The ISI and The New Opium Wars. Reviewed By Afrah Jamal

Published in Daily Times / June 5, 2010

With money at the root, opium at the core, smugglers at the back and the Taliban in the lead, an ancient form of commerce feeds a burgeoning terror industry. Gretchen Peters is convinced that hunting down the elusive top tier leadership must be in conjunction with targeting the source of their (fire)power.

The ‘House of Terror’ has branched out. But are the pious, holier than thou Taliban ‘doing drugs’? Seeds of Terror seems to think so. But it does not cast them as drug barons or junkies but as profiteers — patrons of a trade they have perfected to an art. Peters sees this as an economic miracle (of sorts) given that it originates from “one of the world’s most remote and backward regions, where the transport network and infrastructure is almost completely shattered”, but where the Taliban have nevertheless “managed to integrate an agricultural product — albeit illegally — into the global economy”. This crude yet effective form of commerce keeps …