Khaled Hosseini’s ‘And the Mountains Echoed’

And the Mountains EchoedIn a village in Afghanistan, a man sets out on a journey with his two young children. Ten-year-old Abdullah has no way of knowing that this journey will tear him away from his beloved younger sister and change the course of both of their lives forever. From here, we’re taken on a journey through the history of Afghanistan and its people, covering major themes such as war, class, race and immigration.

As with all of Khaled Hosseini’s books, ‘And the Mountains Echoed’ is beautifully written. Each of the characters, even though they may appear only briefly, feel so completely real they could almost walk off the page. I also feel like I’ve definitely learnt a lot more about the changing culture of Afghanistan.

But when I was asked if I enjoyed reading this book, I didn’t know quite how to answer. I don’t really have any strong feelings either way. I didn’t dislike it, but at the same time I definitely don’t think that it lived up to its potential. Given how much I enjoyed his first two novels, this one fell a little flat.

The blurb describes this book as an epic, heart breaking tale of a brother and sister who refuse to be separated. I disagree. This is more of a collection of stories about a group of people all loosely connected to each other, which collectively come together. At its heart, this book is not really about the characters themselves, it’s more of an overarching statement about human nature, love and loss and about Afghanistan’s relationship with its citizens – both at home and abroad. Continue reading

Book release countdown…

After an intense hour browsing the internet for books to buy – and having read countless reviews and bloggers top read’s lists – I’ve come to the conclusion that most the books that I desperately want to read haven’t been released yet. With this in mind, I thought I’d put together a list of my own top five books to look out for this year. Make a note of the dates!

1. And the mountains echoed – Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury, 21st May 2013)

From the bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, And the Mountains Echoed is set in Afghanistan in the latter half of the twentieth century and focuses on the devastating effects of war on a country and on the families that live there. The author has a history of exploring powerful, evocative issues and it’s had rave reviews from everyone that’s read a preview copy.

2. Prisoner of Heaven – Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Phoenix, 11th April 2013)

Admittedly, this isn’t technically a new release, but I’ve been waiting for months for the paperback version to come out and it’s finally (almost) here! Previous books in the series – The Shadow of the Wind and The Angels Game – created an intricate world and a fascinating cast of characters. The Prisoner of Heaven completes this gothic, literary themed trilogy. Hopefully this lives up to the expectations I’ve got from the first two!

3. The Golem and the Djinni – Helene Wrecker (Blue Door, 15th August 2013)

This debut novel from Helene Wrecker has been compared to The Night Circus and A Discovery of Witches – both of which are amazing books that would probably make it onto my all time favourites list. Set in 19th century New York, it’s described as a tale of two fabled creatures, one made of fire and one make of clay, struggling to live, love and to overcome a powerful, villainous adversary.

4. MaddAddam – Margaret Atwood (Bloomsbury, 29th August 2013)

Margaret Atwood is one of those rare authors that, in my opinion, can write amazing fiction about any subject under the sun. This hugely anticipated finale to her dystopian trilogy (which also includes Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood) is being released at the end of the summer and I’m practically counting down the days.

5. The Winds of Winter – George R. R. Martin (Voyager Books, TBC)

I’ve put this one on the list because I want it to come out soon, but I’m not holding my breath. The author hasn’t given many clues as to when the manuscript will be finished, but sample chapters keep being released to keep everyone on tenterhooks. With a pretty dramatic cliffhanger at the end of the last instalment, I’m still hooked. If anyone has any news on this one, let me know!