Wednesday, October 10, 2018

On Leopard Rock: A Life of Adventures by Wilbur Smith | ARC | A Book Review

On Leopard Rock: A Life of Adventures by Wilbur Smith | ARC | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

It's October once again. The leaves are falling down. As the song by Bethany Joy Galeotti goes. It's autumn in some parts of the world. I think Autumn is a magical time of the year. The leaves are turning gold and falling from the branches covering the ground in soft carpet. I haven't experienced autumn yet. As you know, I'm from the Philippines and we don't have autumn, spring, or winter. It's all just summer and rain. I am hoping that one day I could actually spend autumn in New York or in Paris, or in any other beautiful city in the world. 

So, the book I'm going to be reviewing doesn't actually have anything to do with autumn in it because most of what's in it happens in Africa. And as you may well know, Africa doesn't have autumn as well. I was so thrilled that I was asked to review this book. Until now, I can't help but wonder how it happened. Wilbur Smith is one of my favorite authors and to be asked to review his autobiography is  such an honor. I thank the book gods that this book found me. This is such an incredible book. It's not just a peek but a close look into the life of this famed author and his experiences. Where his stories came from and his great influences in his life and writing. I was so enamored by the book that it felt like reading one of the author's sagas. It didn't feel like an autobiography at all but rather reading of Mr. Smith's great adventures.

What a delightful adventure this is. I actually feel envy knowing of Mr. Smith's life growing up because it was filled with a lot of adventures and time spent in the African landscape which is just filled with wondrous gifts of nature. But it wasn't all safaris and fun, there were a lot of very scary incidents too that has marked the author for life. Though I could say that his experiences with lions and snakes are ones I surely wouldn't survive, but reading them here is both frightening and in a way comical. 

The thing that strikes me the most in this book is the author's close relationship with his dad. That's another thing that I envy. He kept that relationship till he was older and till his dad passed away. His dad was his own hero and the inspiration in more than one of his great stories. His dad was a larger than life figure who had greatly influenced Wilbur Smith as an author and as a person. 

Reading this was a really great and immersing experience. To actually have a better understanding of the author as a real person and know how his stories came to life because of his rich experiences is such a rewarding experience. It was like being there under the African sun and having to relive the author's childhood, all his mischief, his failures, all his struggles before he became one of the world's most published and widely read authors and being shown his first high as the first of his many amazing stories were published. 

Like us readers, the author humbly admits that he too is inspired by his readers. He recalled in this book some of the times when some of his  readers have touched his life because they have read his books. And I count myself one of those lucky people who have greatly appreciated Mr. Smith's gift for storytelling. My first encounter with Wilbur Smith was through Reader's Digest condensed books. If I remember correctly, The Sunbird was the first book I've read and my life was never the same after that. Yes, if you're one of his avid fan and readers, you know that his books are quite hard yet very engaging. Hard because it exposes the realities of life in Africa, or wherever the setting of the story is, the human struggles and frailties. It's blunt and honest and no holds barred. Not to mention sex and violence. But all these weren't there just to sensationalize the story but rather because they help make the story more authentic. 

With that said, my only wish is long life for Mr. Smith so he can continue to enrich the world with his wonderful stories. As I have said, I am so fortunate to have grown to love this author and his countless stories. I don't think a bookworm's life is complete without having known him or be enthralled by one of his numerous stories.

I would say, I'm not fit to rate this book. There was no need for that. I think this author has earned his laurels and is way past needing reviews. I just gobbled up and allowed this book to take me to the author's childhood, his years growing up in boarding school and be regaled with his experiences in the African  landscape. It was definitely a great feast for the senses. Again, I am so honored to have been given the opportunity to experience this book. So, I give this a pride of lions. A fierce autobiography fit for a very fierce man and talented author who have battled more than lions and deadly snakes in his life, who have accomplished more than most of the world aspires yet still humble enough to admit that none of his stories ever came easy to him. Even at this stage in his success as an author, he still says that he's just like the other writers who have struggles but he just kept on. 

Literature throws many great heroes at us, but real life invariably outdoes them.
The human need to seek out heroes is deep-seated and it’s been recognized by storytellers ever since Homer wrote his epic of the Trojan War, The Iliad, nearly three thousand years ago. My passion is to bring to life those heroes--and, if ever I need a model for one, all I do is remember that night when I was eight years old: my father, his Remington rifle, and three man-eating lions, rampaging in the night.
 - Wilbur Smith, On Leopard Rock - 

Thanks again, Gretchen Crary for the book copy and Mr. Wilbur Smith for sharing this wonderful experience with the world.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Clutch by Lisa Becker | A Book Review

Clutch by Lisa Becker | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

According to this story, men are like bags. And I find the comparison very amusing and very fitting. The author is very clever to come up with this idea. It's amazing. And yes, I did enjoy the story. Thanks again, Lisa W. Becker for the review copy.

For a person who likes bags and at one point, thought that the more I have them, I could have more variety and more choices to choose from. I used to think that it would be amazing to have bags in all colors to match outfits or have a different one whenever you feel like it. I'm not one who buys expensive bags. I used to want to have different styles for versatility. But now, maybe it comes with age, I realized I don't have to change bags as often and I want my bags to last. I realized, I don't need a lot of bags. Just one functional and durable one. And just like in this story, you don't need all these bags but one. One you can hold dear. 

And I guess, it goes the same with men. Unlike the main character in this story, Caroline, who had the luck or the misfortune of meeting these different kinds of men,  depending on how you look at it, I've only been in love three times. I have a lot of guy friends but I never ever thought of comparing them to bags which is a very clever and hilarious idea. I think the closest thing I could compare to having a relationship would be my jobs or the companies I've worked for. I think the explanation is very lengthy, so let's not get into that.  I guess, reading of Caroline's experiences with men is hilarious but if this were real life, it's actually disastrous. Yes, I do admit it's interesting to meet these varied types of men but I prefer not to engage with them knowing all these things from Caroline. I am  good just watching Caroline from the sidelines here. I don't envy her. But having a man and a best friend like Mike in her life is what I covet.

Mike, he's a good sounding board. A very reliable best friend. But the best thing about him is he wants to carve a path of his own even if it's going to be hard. Even if it would mean he could be disowned and not have the comforts and luxuries in his privileged upbringing. Not a lot of guys would have the same strength of character to turn away from that.  I know normally, a lot would bet his life living on dad's money.

Mike and Caroline. I think the reason why these two took a long while to realize they are what each one needs is because they've gotten so used to the idea that they're perfect together as best friends. It never occurred to them that they're perfect for each other more than that because of the bond and experiences they have shared. They are each other's rock. And this is what I liked most about the story. The fact that these two just simply did not see right away that they are just meant to be. It was frustrating having to witness Caroline go through these different dates or relationships and knowing that none of them were bound to last. And after each fall out, Mike was always there to deal with the aftermath. No question. He was always there. It was part of how things are. The ever supportive best friend. Ah, I just love best friends who end up together. I wish the same is true in my life.

The book is very perceptive. Again, I can't stress enough how clever  it is to compare men to purses. And it's a very accurate and very interesting metaphor which every girl could very well relate to and understand. I guess, if you have a friend who have gone through a lot of boyfriends and have not realized that she had been buying the same type of bag, just in different sizes and colors but it wasn't what she needed because it was not functional, poor in quality, and does not suit her needs, letting her read this book will probably make her come to her senses sooner than all those heart to heart talks combined. I think this is a very good book to understand men. I think every girl should read this book. The entertainment value alone is so worth the time.

With that said, I give this book 5/5 clutch bags. Again, this is a hilarious, perceptive, and very educational story. Nothing more to be said except for all of you to read it. I'm so happy that this book was handed to me. 

I don't need to drive you crazy. You're close enough where you can walk there all on your own.

- Lisa Becker, Clutch -