NBA Finals Wrap

On Friday, the final game of the 2019 NBA season saw the Toronto Raptors edging the Warriors to win their first title. This was a fairy tale result twenty-four years in the making. In truth, theirs was a championship that defied the odds, a team that got swept in last year’s playoffs. During the course of the long grind, they retooled, adding slotman Mark Gasol from Memphis. This was in addition to their offseason moves, where they traded for two starters: long-range sniper Danny Green and many-time All-Star Kawhi Leonard. In the process, they had to ship out homegrown star DeMar Derozan, but the dude never got them to the last dance. The NBA is a business, and you often have to make tough decisions for the greater good. 

The Bounces of the game

The regular season ended with the Raptors having the second seed in the East. In like manner, they also had the second-best record in the entire league, behind only the Milwaukee Bucks. This guaranteed them homecourt advantage should they progress all the way. In the first round, they lost Game 1 to the inspired Magic, a trend that would continue for most of the postseason. In all their East series, they trailed against their opponents. Down 0-1 contra the Magic, they swept the next four to face the spirited Sixers. That was a tough seven game standoff that played more like a chess match. In a must-win Game 7, the score was tied with seconds left when The Klaw hoisted a jumper while fading out of bounds. The ball hit the rim four times before falling through. Game Over!

Against the wall

In the East Finals, they had their backs against the wall. Contending with the Greek Freak, they faced an 0-2 deficit. At times, it seemed like Kawhi was the only consistent gamer. His workload against the Bucks was Herculean, that his missing strings of games during the season seemed logical. Even the commentators were debating on the right time for him to sit. They were able to gut it out and won the next four, booking a spot in the Finals against the reigning champs. 

Banged-up

While the Raptors performed admirably during the showdown, they were up against a banged-up Warriors fold. These Dubs have been here for the last four years; they were tired. In Game 5 versus the Rockets, Kevin Durant went down with a scary calf injury. They had to wing it in the first four tilts. With Klay Thompson also missing Game 3, they faced an uphill battle. You’ve probably heard by now that Durant returned prematurely for Game 5 and ended up walking in crutches. Buoyed by their superstar, they escaped that contest with a one-point win. With Klay going down again on Friday, they were out of options and crumbled. Raptors win, 4-2.

The Klaw

Much has been said about The Klaw’s brilliance over these playoffs. He had been a light in the Raptors’ darkest moments, pulling them out of the brink. His defence has always been elite, but his development as an offensive weapon was like beholding a master at work. Early in his career, he had been a slasher/post player who used his upper body strength to overpower defenders in the post. Over the years, he honed his midrange game, before moulding his three-point shot. He has been very dependable from beyond the arc, and his complete game was on full display throughout this postseason. No doubt he carried the Raptors on his back. 

Coach Nick’s wiliness

We have heard of Kawhi’s greatness, but of Coach Nick’s wiliness we have not…until today. He outsmarted Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer, frustrating Giannis and forcing him to take ill-advised three-balls. In the finals, he was undaunted in employing a box and one defence against Steph Curry, a tactic most often used in high school and college ball but rarely seen in the pros. His mission: to shoot down the Dubs’ lone offensive weapon during the absences of Klay and KD. Nurse notably went with backup Fred VanVleet to start the second halves instead of the bigger Green. The former did a marvellous job on Steph. He is a rookie head coach, getting the gig last summer after the front office fired Dwayne Casey. Add rookie chip coach to the mix, joining the likes of Pat Riley and more recently, Steve Kerr. He had some balls to emerge victorious at all three road games at Oracle, one of the toughest places to win. In the last game ever at that ageing stadium, he engineered a game plan that shut the door on any Warriors’ sliver of light. However, this comes with an asterisk: they played against a hobbled Warriors dynasty.

Predictable

The Dubs were out of sync. As mentioned, they were missing two All-Stars and were in the Finals for a fifth consecutive time. The extended grind took their toll across the entire roster. While Kawhi was overused during this postseason run, imagine multiplying that effort times five. To confound the Raptors, they employed the occasional zone defence. In Game 6, they were able to contain their opponents for three successive trips down the floor, only for VanVleet to hit an ice-cold three. The Dubs’ attack became predictable, almost always relying on a Curry pick-and-roll or isolation. Their half-court offensive sets became a barrage of threes, only this time they weren’t falling. They tried to wring Iggy and Draymond for points, but both were in way over their heads.  

O Canada!

In the end, one cannot remove what the dinosaurs brought to the fight. They came with a lot of grit and they took the task seriously. They were not content with stealing a game or two; even with two or three victories, the locker room was a famously sombre place. At the grandest stage, everyone chipped in. Kyle Lowry was a lovely second banana, not only burying threes, but also running the show. Mark Gasol was the best centre on the hardwood, outworking Kevon Looney and Andrew Bogut for pivotal scores and boards. As per above, VanVleet made life more difficult for Curry. Serge Ibaka came alive during the homestretch. In six games, the Raptors were no doubt the more consistent team. They fought for every loose ball, were more aggressive, more balanced offensively, and were the hungrier defensive squad. The Klaw may have run off with the MVP, but this was without question a team effort. As they now are the first non-American quintet to win the Larry O’Brien trophy, they did not only have the weight of the big city on their shoulders, but also the entire country. Boy, did they deliver.     

Posted in culture and politics, Travel | Leave a comment

Long Weekend (again)

We are in the midst of another long weekend. Tomorrow is the Queen’s Birthday, and this is celebrated as a day off across this state (New South Wales). Temperatures have steadied after freezing conditions last week. The chilly weather has inspired an early start to the ski season, with a dumping of snow unseen at this time of the year since 2000. The Snowys is the place to be right now, to traverse the freeze with your skis, poles and toboggans. Aside from contending with the steep chair lifts, you must be mindful of your snowplows. On another note, the mid-year sales are in full swing, and I was able to do some shopping on the eve of the extended break.

What to read

My book for this weekend is The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri. I’ve had this novel with me for weeks now. I initially found the excessive description daunting and gave up in favour of Baldacci’s The Last Mile. I was deep into the latter when I decided to scan Beekeeper again. This time, I found out that it wasn’t so bad. While there was lots of flowery prose, the plight of refugees and their stories are worth the slog. Beekeeper is well reviewed and highly rated, with some even praising it as ‘beautifully written’. While I wouldn’t go that far, it is certainly an eye opener. I also read that overwhelming demand made this book ran out of print, so maybe I was too quick to judge.  

What to watch

There are a few sporting events unfolding at the moment. The French Open is at its final stages, with Aussie Ash Barty taking the women’s crown. The week was full of Barty’s giant-killing, culminating in a daring comeback against unseeded American teen Anisimova. The Queenslander was hardly troubled in the decider, taking the first set 6-1 before securing the second, 6-3. She becomes the first Aussie to win in Paris since Margaret Court in the 70s. Hard to believe, but only three years ago she was out playing club cricket; now she’s won her maiden Grand Slam. ‘King of Clay’ Rafa Nadal and Austrian Dominic Thiem will contest the men’s championship, a rematch of last year’s finale. Rafa handed Federer in the semis his worst defeat at a slam in eleven years, while Thiem outclassed Djokovic in a rain-interrupted match that went the distance.

Meanwhile, the FIFA Women’s World Cup is underway, also in France. Prolific goal scorer, Sam Kerr, will captain our side as we aim to withstand the group stages, survive and advance. There has been some negative press about the coaching change, especially so close to the Cup. As they say, ‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating.’ The Matildas’ performance will be the burden of proof. This marks the eight sequence of the quadrennial juggernaut, where twenty-four teams vie for women soccer’s ultimate honour. While the action is riveting, the schedule is the only problem. Play unfolds at unholy hours, and you wouldn’t want to be staying up until four am. If you prefer something more tolerable, there’s rugby league, which airs at a more convenient timeslot.   

What to chow

The warmer weather is a good and welcome change. While the nights remain chilled, the mornings are more palatable. So, what will we package with these temperatures? Right now, eating soups and spicy food would definitely be an evening thing. With daytime temps at 22 degrees, feasting on laksas and chicken broth would be silly. Therefore, stick to the staples for the day, and level up with some soup and chilli at night. Since this is winter, avoid ice cold drinks and yoghurt; instead, opt for lighter beverages such as tea. All in all, since temps hover around the twenties, warm is better than cold. When in doubt, take warm.

Final word

I was planning to include what to wear but find this unnecessary given that one, I am posting this mid-weekend and two, this would be simplistic. If you’re in Sydney, don’t forget to check out Vivid. This fusion of lights, ideas and music makes the city come alive at night. This year, it’s bigger and brighter than ever before, with more venues and events added. Meanwhile, the weather is mild; let’s make the most of the sun. This time next week, it’ll be back to those winter woollies.   

Posted in culture and politics, Travel | Leave a comment

Autumnal reader

denva

Six weeks have passed since my last inventory, and now fall twenty nineteen is history. Since my last list, I have normed almost five reads. I started off with Connelly’s finest and I’m now chipping away at my first Baldacci. In between, I breezed past Mitch Albom’s latest, fought with The Subtle Art, and The Rosie Project absolutely gripped me. Here is the reader in full:

 

  1. The Poet (Connelly). My fifth Connelly read of the year, many have lauded this as his best ever output. A killer opening line with well-made characters, the suspense keeps you guessing till the end. A Denver reporter investigates a series of double murders that shocks Middle America. When the darkness hits close to home, Jack McEvoy is drawn into a web of deceit and a psychopath on the loose. He does his best to take advantage of this story, and chaperones the FBI for an exclusive scoop. Things may not play out the way he wanted, and he soon realises that he could be next for dinner.

Beautifully written, and a murder mystery par excellence, Connelly’s novel continues to resonate twenty years later. The book is one of Connelly’s first forays outside of Harry Bosch. In doing so, he has created a landscape on par with Bosch, if not better. He has likewise sculpted one of crime fiction’s more memorable heroes.

 Rating: 5/5

 

  1. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (Mark Manson). What can I say? Millions of other readers have various opinions about this one. Women don’t get it, while male readers adore it. Some say it’s a Zen rip-off, with the author taking from various trees and appropriating them to suit his purposes. Others see the coarse language as a front for empty talk. I say it’s in the middle of those two, at times an enjoyable read while being hard to follow at other instances. Manson starts his sections with stories – both personal and external ones. I love those accounts, from the Buddha to his rebellious teens, from the Fifth Beatle to William James (the Father of Modern Psychology). However, after starting his chapters with these lovely stories, Manson goes on full-on self-help mode and that’s where we start getting this dense prose. In short, I absolutely adore half of the book but I guess true-blue self-help material is not my cup of tea.

Rating: 3.9/5

 

 

  1. The Next Person You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom). The long-overdue sequel to The First Five People You Meet in Heaven, this was one of the easiest reads I’ve had in a while. Someone had said that she read it all in a day. I managed to finish in about four days, but I could definitely have completed even sooner. Here we are introduced to Annie, who suffers a tragedy after what was the happiest day of her life. She gets to meet her five people, some strangers, other more familiar. She gleans her mother’s love, the same person she fought with while she was growing up. When she was a girl, a misfortune happened that had long-lasting consequences. She blocked out what happened that day in the fair, but grasps this secret in heaven, where she meets Eddie, the man who saved her.

It is never too late to change, to know the truth, and to care for a loved one. Parts of the book were cheesy. I liked the use of the changing sky in Five People but I thought this was a bit like Photoshopping the background ala Incredible Hulk. The constant change in the heavenly sky was rather unnecessary AND distracting. However, most of the book was very sound and robust and made for an engrossing read. Albom’s writing is divine; I wish all books were this readable.

Rating: 5/5

 

  1. The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion). His latest novel, The Rosie Result, was getting some love, so I decided on perusing the first leg of the tripod. I gathered that it was highly rated, and with good reason. Don Tiller is a genetics professor in Melbourne whose structured life is only supplanted by his lack of a love life. His unromantic life is in stark contrast to that of Gene, his best friend, who has an open relationship and takes full advantage of this arrangement. After several disastrous dates, he decides on writing a questionnaire, a key component of the Wife Project.

Soon, he meets Rosie, an independent, tardy, smoking, drinking ‘barmaid’ who, on the surface, is everything that Don dislikes. However, Rosie’s search for her missing father intrigues him, and soon they are mixing cocktails and flying to the Big Apple, all in the hope of finding Dad. Don’s well-planned routine is soon turned upside down, although he couldn’t remember a more enjoyable time than the present. Don learns that he cannot subsist alone, and that he can meet his perfect match but that won’t make him happy. Chapters are relatively short, with breaks among them. This book elicited a stream of emotions; Don’s uncanny point of view inspired a few laughs. While the author’s perspective of Asperger’s offended some ‘purists’, I thought Simsion handled this the right way. A million and a half readers couldn’t get it wrong.

Rating: 4.8/5

 

  1. The Last Mile (Baldacci). This marks my first venture onto Baldacci-land. He has a resemblance to Grisham, not just physically but also in his fast-paced, action-packed writing style. Like the latter, he was also an erstwhile attorney. In addition, his work is always well-received. This 2017 thriller is the second salvo in the Amos Decker series, which concerns a man who has hyperthymesia. Simply put, Decker has the gift of remembering everything, and sees angles beyond the scope of an average mind. Decker helps the Bureau when things get personal. He is drawn to a case with uncanny similarities to those of his own. More importantly, the accused is a former football player like him. The book’s title comes from the colloquialism among death row inmates of the walk between their cells and their last farewell. Full of suspense and with a powerful cast, this one is turning out to be a real page-turner. Call me a Baldacci convert.

Rating: 4.6/5

 

Six weeks, five books, and five different authors. I examined four novels and one self-help book. Even in the thick of my skimming, I’m still discovering new names. Happy reading!

 

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Posted in Books, reviews | Leave a comment

John Wick 3 reviewed

jwick3

This weekend David and I saw John Wick 3 at the cinemas. My other movie buddy was exploring the sights of Europe. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about the sequel. Indeed it ticked all the boxes: a commercial, critical, and audience success. I was tossing between Detective Pikachu and Parabellum. What ultimately tipped the scales towards the latter was how it debuted at number one at the North American box office, unseating Avengers: Endgame. This was something that Pikachu wasn’t able to pull off.

 

Premise

The premise of the movie was another main drawcard for me. The picture could’ve been titled John Wick v the twerps, given the film’s plot. Towards the end of the second instalment, John Wick was rendered as ‘excomunicado’ after eliminating a member of the High Table. Here we find out that he has a $14 ‘billion’ bounty on his head. From the start, he has his work cut out for him, pitted against man-mountain Boban Marjanovic. While looking for help, he is met with constant adversity along the way, which the massive reward no doubt fuels. This episode had the feel of The Fugitive starring Harrison Ford, except Wick’s pursuers went well beyond the bureau. Furthermore, this third chapter reminded me of another Keanu film, Street Kings. He was basically a one-man killing machine there, usurping the system and taking out the trash.

 

 

Unrealistic but funny

He exhibits his fighting skills and gains the help of a few Good Samaritans along the way. There are several vehicle chase scenes, including a killer bike standoff where Wick tries to outclass six samurais. Johnathan is a fighter and gamely takes them on, whether riding on horseback, on a bike, or atop buildings. All through the movie Johnathan is a battered wreck, bloodied and knackered. ‘All this for a dog?’ ‘It’s not just any dog,’ he responds. The plot is very unrealistic as a bruised fighter cannot merely flick the switch and pulverise his opponents. Yet that’s the magic of cinema: we get to enter a realm where that’s not only possible, but the status quo. He is Lazarus reborn, an aberration whose only certainty is rising from the dead. Meanwhile, I also observed that this was a bit more humorous than its predecessors, with Lawrence Fishburne supplying most of the laughs. The fight scenes, while intense, also supplied some chuckles. In some ways, this outing reminded me of Jackie Chan’s action comedies.

 

Well-made

The critics consensus states that the film is brilliantly choreographed, and I couldn’t agree more. From the action sequences, to the theatre moments, from outdoor scenes to indoor pieces, the flick’s landscape is indeed well-made. In particular, there is a desert chapter where John wanders while on his last legs. The angles were beautifully shot and was made for the big screen. The Continental Hotel, a main battleground for most of the feature, also had those deceptive glassworks that was a sight to behold. The inclusion of various languages also adds colour. Javanese and Belarussian conversations breathe new life into this instalment.

Parabellum could be graphic at times, especially the nail scene involving an overworked ballerina. The latter’s suffering, though of brief screen time, proves that the director is willing to incorporate heavy issues into his work. There is also (another) dog scene where a guy kills Harry Berry’s canine. This turns into all-out war, and a reminder not to mess with man’s best friend. I found the movie to be about 55 percent action. From the trailer, I had expected it to be a bigger action flick. Keanu Reeves has now been part of two game-changing film franchises, The Matrix and John Wick. The latter series has re-established him as an enviable action star in spite his being middle aged.

 

 

Worth it

Before, I ended my viewing of John Wick 2 feeling disappointed. This was the case more so since I saw it in VMAX. Oddly enough and almost exactly two years later, I suspected that this production would leave me feeling the same way. Yes, it was clearly an overrated picture. Yes, I was disappointed. However, I didn’t go in expecting to see an Oscar Best Picture nominee. My friend said it was ‘okay’, a valid point. He called Hotel Mumbai and Avengers good, so he is perceptive about deserving movies. Still, all things considered, Parabellum was worth a watch; too good that they might even consider a future addition. You must note though that the franchise peaked at the original and went downhill from there. The critics and audiences may both beg to differ but I must stress that I’m not too sure about those glowing reviews.

Rating: 3.5/5

 

jw1

Posted in movies, reviews | Leave a comment

My blog topics

This will be post no. 152 for me. Over the last few years, I have shared my thoughts on a lot of different things and have done this on a consistent basis. If you’ve been following my blog, you’re familiar with the things I write about. Call this your quasi-introduction to my themes.

1.Books. Since at least 2017, I have regularly shared my most recent reads on Mot Juste. That year was when I started taking reading seriously again, capping off the year with thirteen completed works. Usually these inventories would be in groups of five books. This year, I have done two such lists. I am two reads away from posting a third one. Books are easy choices since many bloggers could relate to your haul, even going for similar material.

2.Movies. Another easy choice, as there are many movie buffs out there, and the Hollywood pull steals movie hearts the world over. I’ve always been a film buff, whether by going to the cinema or through watching DVD’s. Looking back from the start, I evaluated such films as Monsters University, The World’s End, and Elysium way back in ‘13. It’s good to reward your readers by sharing your thoughts on the latest picture. Moreover, I always refrain from including any spoilers. At first, I struggled with crafting reviews that were devoid of any giveaways. There were not enough ways to express myself. However, through time, I gained my voice and have advanced the art of the spoiler free review.

3.Travel. I’ve been to a few places through the years, including Melbourne, Tasmania, and New Zealand. However, blogging about travel doesn’t necessarily involve visiting exotic locales. I’ve managed to share my stories: whether in Saturday class or dissecting State of Origin. While the pictures and descriptions matter, your story is still king. Besides, relying purely on travel isn’t very sustainable for the average Juan. Unless you are a regular voyager, you would end up posting infrequently. Such is the case with a fellow ‘traveller’ who was off with a flying start, but now tends to post in trickles.

4.Literary and throwback posts. Since six years ago, I’ve imparted some poetry, fiction excerpts, and short works through Mot Juste. In 2013, I revealed my experiences in Newtown and Auburn and anatomised Dead Europe. Last Christmas, I wrote about a hailstorm. Other times I did a retro post which considered the significance of a particular day or work. My blog has also been a showcase of my past efforts. Whether it was showing my work from high school, uni, and beyond, Mot Juste is a platform for my past, present, and future.

5.Posting in Filipino. I only started doing this a couple of years ago. My memories of a funny professor jumpstarted this. Soon I was writing about the kindness of strangers, my auntie and her farm as well as Buwan ng Wika (Language week). Writing in Filo makes it a personal crusade while also brushes up my command of the written language. Furthermore, it adds some colour. It has been a joy and honour to communicate in my language.

6.Culture & politics. Aside from loving movies and books, I’m also an avid follower of pop culture and politics. The most recent report that I could think of is my article on Assange. Of course, it hasn’t only been about Wikileaks. Donald Trump, Digong, Alec Baldwin, and Kim Jong-Un are just some of the big-name characters that I’ve tackled on my blog. I’ve also dealt with Qantas, the Egyptian revolution, and The Simpsons, to name a few.

In sum, Mot Juste is a melting pot of my likes, knowledge, and portfolio. The first one hundred and fifty posts seem like a blur, but each one of them matters.

Posted in culture and politics, Literary | Leave a comment

The mum post

mothers3

Over the past few years, there has been at least one occasion on my blog where I paused and paid tribute to all the indispensable mums out there. I thought the time was right for an encore, today being Mother’s Day and all. These are a few reasons as to why mothers are irreplaceable; ‘let us count the ways.’

 

Role models and gurus

They are our first role models. Prior to the age of housebands, mums were traditionally the one who spent more time with the kids. Whether biological or foster, grandparents or same old, aunt and stepmoms, they play huge roles in our upbringing. Whether tough love or gentle love, they always show us the way.

 

They are our first teachers. They help us through the baby steps until we could manage on our own. From rudimentary crayons and pencils, their prowess enables us to graduate onto bigger things. Not only do they guide us on how to paint; they are likewise our maths tutor, English professor, Science mentor, and Debating Club proof-reader. They are the masters of multitasking, and no challenge is too tall for them.

 

 

 

Giants and dreams

They support our dreams. From the get-go, they are our biggest coach, our most fervent supporter. They plant the seeds of our ambitions and never fail to guide us and pick us up after every fall. They cheer us on during soccer matches, taste our defeats during chess tourneys, even give us tips for drama class. Our success is theirs, and no one is more elated each time we win. Conversely, when things go bad, no one understands our pain more. No one is more willing to break down our missteps.

 

We ‘stand on the shoulders of giants.’ As mentioned earlier, their prowess enables us…This applies not only to our dreams, but also to our decisions. They show us how to make the right decisions, and we stand on their shoulders to fully see. As we become more seasoned, we are able to make these choices ourselves, something that wouldn’t have been possible without their help.

 

mothers6

 

 

Names and firsts

They could be even more: our first cook, seamstress, barber. We learn many recipes from her. Meanwhile, I’ve spoken to a few people around and many have said that their mums used to cut their hair. The mother is the epitome of the home, the veritable homemaker. Her presence brings light into most houses, her resolve steadies an unruly ship. She acts as a nurse and cares for the household. Her positivity is infectious, her work ethic contagious. The same applies regardless of setting: whether in a shack or mansion, a shantytown or Beverly Hills, mothers are the one beacon that is truly imperative.

 

There are many ways to call her. From mum to mummy to mama, we all have our own endearments. These labels may change from country to country, nation to nation, even region to region. However, that doesn’t remove what the name connotes: a pivotal figure who teaches us many things, who care for us deeply, who corrects our mistakes, who show us the ways of living. Think of it as a framework for our betterment.

 

Always

The role of mothers may have changed over the years. Feminism, women’s rights, and gender equality have all made their mark. Women are not only in the workforce, but in some cases, are on equal footing than men. Sporting events have awarded self-same prize money between men and women combatants, even though the former have a more arduous path to the title. Female artists are having more voices, even the power to decide Oscar winners. Yet while change is inevitable, some things never do in our hearts. Despite school, friends, college degrees, work, and our own families, we will remain the clumsy little kids who yearn to be in mum’s good graces.

From my heart of my hearts, I wish these one-of-a-kind women a HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

 

mothers

 

 

Posted in Literary | Leave a comment

Authors’ bazaar

Some of us love the thrill of a new author, while others flourish in the tried and tested. I tend to be both of these, although I lean towards the latter. Over the past year, I’ve been consumed with Michael Connelly’s projects, just as I’d been with John Grisham a lifetime ago. Since the New Year, I’ve only read a handful of names: Connelly (4), Brett Ellis (2), Andre Agassi, Kobe, and Jodi Picoult (2). While going through your favourite’s body of work is enjoyable, it pays to diversify your reading portfolio. Allow me to share with you a few of my top novelists.

 

bosch

 

Michael Connelly. If you’ve been an avid follower of my blog, you’ll see Connelly’s imprint. Connelly’s name is present through every reading list that I’ve compiled. To be honest, I read my first Connelly about two years ago. I loved it so that I’ve taken in fourteen of the Harry Bosch series, two-thirds of the total. To paraphrase Professor Crawford (in Finding Forrester), his writing is something that we should all aspire for. I’ve reiterated how he has just the right balance of dialogue, plot, description, and character development. His books are hard to predict, even for a seasoned reader. His use of smoke and mirrors, and pulling rabbits out of hats, make him arguably the best crime writer alive. Some contemporaries may have sold more books, but none have matched the critical acclaim that has followed practically his entire output.

 

camino

 

John Grisham. I initially started reading Grisham many moons ago. I began with a battered copy of The Firm up until his latest release, The Reckoning. One must note that I never read any of his Theodore Boone series. Grisham is a prolific, master storyteller. He is on the rarefied field among those having the most book sales ever. Every year, Grisham’s latest becomes an instant bestseller and both his fans and critics eagerly await. All this has been done for an extended period of time. Grisham is notable for being the king of the legal thriller. Most of his novels have some legal bit, if not all. They often also contain male protagonists working against the system and fighting for the marginalised. In recent years, Grisham has elected to go with a couple of female leads. Grisham also alternates between big city scheming, and small-town politics. While his novels have been hit or miss among audiences, I have only failed to finish a few. This is a testament to his readability and sustained excellence. Out of over twenty Grisham novels, picking my fave is hard since so many of them are terrific.

 

jodi

 

Jodi Picoult. A recent addition, Small Great Things was my introduction to this writer’s universe. I remember chipping away at the book while I battled two colds. Not as engrossing as Connelly, but a lovely read regardless. I’ve done some research on her and found out that her books tackle contemporary issues. They are well-researched, and often involve the main character having a moral quandary. Some of these points include: youth suicide, mass shootings, euthanasia, and racial politics. I’ve only read two from her list so far, though I’m looking forward to reading a few more. Like Grisham, she has stood the test of time and each new book makes people talking.

 

matt

 

Matthew Reilly. I remember working on Contest, Reilly’s debut. Although a greenhorn at the time, Contest read like the work of someone who’s been penning novels for years. Through time, Reilly has produced two great book series: The Scarecrow one and the Jack West Jr. escapades. Having read all but one of Jack West books, Reilly’s work is adventure-driven – reminiscent of a Hollywood blockbuster. The latter series reminds me of Indiana Jones, complete with cryptic messages, car chases, and globetrotting. Reading Reilly is also supporting quality Aussie fiction. While having humble beginnings, Reilly shone to become a bestselling author. His story highlights the determination and patience to succeed in a small market.

 

AOL BUILD Presents: Mitch Albom "The Magic Strings Of Frankie Presto"

 

Mitch Albom. My former religion teacher recommended Tuesdays with Morrie to our class, short of calling it a must-read. Based on a true story, the book deals with complex themes such as ageing, friendship, and finding meaning in life. I may have read this after high school but as they say, ‘better late than never’. Since then, I’ve consumed four more of his books. They may be short reads, but they are powerful ones. Albom uses simple prose, but always with a fiery message. True events inspire some of his books, making them even more alluring. His characters and the situations they face, are very much relatable. As someone once told me, he read Tuesdays while sunbaking as it’s the perfect beach read. With similar themes and page counts across his portfolio, I guess you could say that about most of his work.

 

Honourable mention: Michael Crichton’s Rising Sun was among the first novels I finished, together with Harry Potter. I’ve managed to sneak many more of his work onto my reading list. His writing could be difficult to decipher at times, because of the science background. However, Crichton died in 2008 and has released nothing new this past decade. Obviously, there are a few other bestselling juggernauts who are not on this list. Kindly bear in mind that this is a very subjective collection.

Posted in Books, Literary | Leave a comment