Friday, July 31, 2009

"In the desert" from The Black Riders by Stephen Crane (1871-1900)

I have been thinking about those lines for a while now. Thought I would share it here with you all

"In the desert" from The Black Riders by Stephen Crane (1871-1900)

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said: “Is it good, friend,”
“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;
“But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart.”

Sumptuous Friday find!

The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Miller

British author Millar offers fiercely funny (and often inebriated) Scottish fairies, a poignant love story as well as insights into the gravity of Crohn's disease, cultural conflicts and the plight of the homeless in this fey urban fantasy. Due to the machinations of the obnoxious Tala, Cornwall's fairy king, only a few humans can see the 18-inch-tall fairies who alight in Manhattan: Magenta, a homeless woman who thinks she's the ancient Greek general Xenophon; Dinnie, an overweight slacker; and Kerry, a poor artist/musician who hopes her Ancient Celtic Flower Alphabet will win a local arts prize. Fairies Heather MacKintosh and Morag MacPherson scheme to put Dinnie and Kerry together, rescue fairy artifacts and prove that in love or war, music is essential. Neil Gaiman provides an appreciative introduction.

Witch Trials in Modern India

I have read a lot of books on the Salem witch trials. And I have been horrified by it, as I ought to be. Most of us think of it as something which is in the past, and simply move on after deploring the past with platitudes.

Is it in the past? And gone? Not so. Here I will highlight that aspect. Witch trials are still happening in today's India. Scary, isn't it?

What is the reason that it still persists? Superstition? Religion? Those do not even scratch the surface. It is more on the lines of property rights. Brand a woman as a witch, throw her out of the village and grab her property. It happens with those women who have no family support and no one to speak for them other than themselves. Some times it is also done to settle scores against women who have spurned sexual advances from powerful men. Those women too aren't spared who question the societal norms or go against it. How can a man's ego, any man's ego, stand that?

Mostly childless and helpless widows face the brunt because the husband's family don't want to share their property with her and want her gone from their fold. The villager elders instead of supporting the woman even instigate the perprators for woman to be thrown out or sometimes killed. When mobs come out what does a woman do? The law either turns a blind eye or turns up after the deed is done. With virtually no witnesses, the culprits go scot-free.

Sometimes religious beliefs too allow a woman to be tortured. Hinduism too has stories about witches and if something happens to someone, the woman is blamed and all come out against her. In recent years, as many as 700 women have been hunted down as witches.

Most of the witch trials end up in killing. NGOs have come up, spreading awareness, providing for helpless females but it still isn't enough. As long the feudal spirit persists, superstition rules the roost, spreading awareness will not help.

Frankly, the Govt is apathetic too, which is a shame. Maybe it thinks, brushing it under the carpet will make it go away.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Japanese Literature Challenge 3

Japanese Literature Challenge 3 is being hosted by Dolce Bellezza.

Quoting from her blog:

"This year, all you have to do is read one work of Japanese origin. It can be literature of course, but don’t feel confined to that. You may choose to read poetry, biographies, short stories or even manga. If you are willing to read one such piece, you’ve met the challenge. If you read more, all the better.

The time frame is between July 30, 2009 and January 30, 2010."

I thought I can take on this challenge. Mainly because I am aiming to read Haruki Murakami. I like his writing and this is a perfect way to read more of his works.

And I can go for books on Haiku, Haiga, Tanka and Manga etc by other authors too...

Booking through funny bone

btt button

What’s the funniest book you’ve read recently?

Going through my archives, I find that I have not read real funny books lately. That may be one reason, why am so down and out and kind of unreading mode. I do need to change my reading a bit and add at least one funny book a month.

However, I did find three Colin Cotterill books, which were funny because of Dr Siri Paiboun, the 73-year-old coroner of Laos, who has the spirit of Yeh Mind, thousand- year-old Shaman sharing his his body and who is a detective too when it needs be. Coterill's books are funny with that underlying note of seriousness. Do check out my reviews of the following by Colin Cotterill:

The Merry Misogynist
Curse of the Pogo Stick
Disco of the Departed

Now I better check out more funny books for my reading pleasure!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday


Wondrous Word Wednesday is hosted by Kathy of BermudaOnion

Followings words are taken from The Lost Book of Salem by Katherine Howe

1) Simulacrum (page 52): The interior assembled around her out of the gloom, a perfect simulacrum of a first-period, pre-1700 house.....

  1. An image or representation.
  2. An unreal or vague semblance.
2) Obfuscations (page 113): ...(Liz) had a way of clearing aside her obfuscations to articulate what Connie herself was not able to say.

1. Mental confusion.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Becoming the Villainess by Jeannine Hall Gailey

I am moving between real world and mythology, both familiar as as well as fairy tales. Comic books come alive and myth becomes reality, reality merges into magic. I am in awe of the all the dimensions I am going through. It takes me through such a range of emotions, that is undescribable.

~Becoming the Villainess by Jeannine Hall Gailey

While you pray beneath your mother's
tree you carve a phoenix into your palm
with a hazel twig and coal;
every night she devours more of you.

~Page 31, Little Cinder, Becoming the Villainess by Jeannine Hall Gailey

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mondays: Mailbox/whereabouts

Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia, In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren and New Crayons is hosted by Color Online. Check all three which are related to books you receive in the past week.

The previous week, I received four books. This past week, nothing! Maybe tomorrow, I might receive something!


It's Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? is a weekly event hosted by J. Kaye of J. Kaye's Book Blog, "to list the books completed last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finish this week."

I finished the following:

The Lost Book of Salem by Katherine Howe

I am still in the midst of reading:

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

I posted reviews of:

The Wolves's Keeper Legend by Sylvia Weber
The Lost Book of Salem by Katherine Howe


Musing Mondays (BIG)
Do you have an account with an online book database site (LibraryThing, Shelfari, GoodReads etc)? If so, do you have a preference? Do you use it for - your own record keeping? finding new books to read? social networking?

I have accounts in all three but seldom use those. Frankly, blogging takes all my time and I don't really wish to invest more time in networking. I would rather write poetry, in that time!

The Lost Book Of Salem by Katherine Howe

Marblehead, Massachussetts
Late December

Peter Petford slipped a long handled wooden spoon into the simmering iron pot of lentils hanging over the fire and tried to push the worry from his stomach.

Title: The Lost Book of Salem
Author: Katherine Howe
ISBN: 9780141038117
Publisher: Penguin/2009
Pages: 456

Note: This book is available in the US as The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.

Plot summary:

Connie Godwin, a Harvard graduate student is looking forward to do research for her post-doctoral. She gets a phone call from her mother Grace to go over to Salem to check out her grandmother's House, which has not been occupied for the last twenty years. With some misgivings Connie agrees as it is summer. When she reaches Salem, she can feel something strange happening to her. The house is indeed in a bad shape, hidden by creepers and trees. However, Connie is not detered by it and manages to make it somewhat liveable. While going over the old books, Connie finds a key in a bible along with a parchment with Deliverance Dane written on it. There is a mention of some short of Almanac or Receipt or Shadow book. To know more about it, she goes around visiting old Church and the library. Meanwhile she meets Sam, who works as restorer. Her mentor in Harvard is after her to find the book and soon.

Connie wants to know what is in the book and why is her mentor so much interested in that book? And what is the common facter between Deliverance Dane and her grandma, mother and herself. How are they connected?

What did you like most about the book?

This novel is based in Salem, where witch trials took place and Deliverance Dane, was one of the accused. Even though she is a healer, she is taken to be a witch and hanged. Where myths, illiteracy, mis-information persists, such happenings are no surprise. The book moves back and forth from 1691 and 1991 effortlessly. We can see history happening and how to come in terms with it in the present.

What did you think of the writing style?

With historical facts, and folk lore, the writing style does not jar. At some point, one simply doesn't wish to put down the book. I read it four hours straight!

Which of your readers are most likely to enjoy this book? Why?

Those who wish to know more about Salem witch trials and history leading upto it will like the book. Also those readers who have read The HERectic's Daughter will love it.

What did you think of the main character?

Connie is not one to give up. She has to know who is Deliverance Dane and how is she (Connie) connected to her. She has some power but she isn't aware of those until she arrives in Marblehead.

Any other particularly interesting characters?

Connie's mother Grace is interesting too. We don't get to know her they way weknow Connie. We know her from her telephonic conversations with Connie and from connie's thoughts.

Share a favorite scene from the book:

Connie does find the book and reads it save Sam. Finally she resorts to spells to save him. A non-believer, she cannot escape her legacy and her power hitherto unknown. Also the fact that she burns the book when she realises that in the wrong hands it would do much damage.

What did you think of the ending?

Connie ends up researching about Deliverance Dane and redeem her from being an outcast.

TSS: Completion of Southern Reading Challenge Three!

As most of us are aware, Maggie of Maggie reads is hosting Southern Reading Challenge 3 from May 15th to August 15th. One has to finish three books.

This is one of the two challenges I join and try to complete. This year I finished the challenge much ahead of schedule.

I read the following books. Just click on the title to read my reviews.

1) A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

2) Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

3) Mirror Blue by Thomma Lyn Grindstaff

4) Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton

5) The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

6) The Texicans by Nina Vida

I had started The Known World by Edward P. Jones but just couldn't concentrate on it. Hope to finish it soon though.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Weekly Geeks: Seraphic Mandrake by Kate L. Stone

I received Seraphic Mandrake by Kate L. Stone from the publicist. I liked the title and the premise. This is debut novel by Kate L. Stone and is pegged as fantasy+noir fiction. Whatever that means. In the present times there are so many genres that a reader is kind of confused. I think some genres are pure hypothesis.

Coming back to the book, I liked the protagonist, who is part magician and part something which no one is aware of until the end. He is out there to save the world, at the expense of himself. He can't trust anyone other than a nymph, who has a dark past. With the help of weird creatures like snaky lions, tigerish tortoises, wolfish sparrow, our hero is very enterprising and never alone. With biting, pungent humour, this book moves forward in a real good pace. I felt bad when I finally finished it. Even though I loved the novel, I find it difficult to review it. It is one of those books which defies descriptions.

I found the following sentences, interesting:

The mouth bows against continent

When one reads it in the context of the story, the mouthy bit makes a lot of sense.

Another whopper is:

Any star exaggerates an imaginative triangle.

Now tell me, which mathematician wouldn't appreciate that?

Lastly, I gotta say this:

A choice decides

I give it 5 stars and recommend for all to read this book.


Check out the Weekly Geeks to learn more about this!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Am I opening a can of worms here?

As most are aware, mine is a book blog. I write reviews and book related stuff here, including book memes. In my side bars, I don't have any kind of gimmickry or display. I like to keep my blog simple, readable and explorable. Most important for me that it ought to load faster when one clicks on the link via blogroll, reader or anywhere else.

On my part, I too like visiting those blogs which don't have too much clutter and entice me with their book reviews and/or book memes. I also know which book blogs are balanced and which book blogs cater to my reading interests. There are those bloggers, whose reading recommendations I have followed religiously as I trust their judgement. Also I have read genres I otherwise wouldn't have if I had not read good reviews about those. Then there are those much hyped book blogs, which don't entice me to visit them although I do follow those on my google reader.

Nowadays I seldom take part in any book giveaway as most are for US/Canada. I don't really blame them as shipping costs are exorbitant. And in this time of recession, it does makes sense not going international. And even if the few which are international, the genres don't interest me. Until last year I used to take part in every giveaway irrespective of the book interested me or not. I learnt my lesson and now I am choosy. I do get a few review copies. Some I ask for and others, authors/publicist send me after contacting me. That suits me fine. I get lesser books but good ones at that, which are more to my liking.

I do get a lot of awards. Although I do go and acknowledge those to the giver, I seldom make a post here and pass it on. I know all of us book bloggers deserve all the awards there are out there. We work hard on our reading, on our reviews and on participating in memes too. Community building is great and mutual respect is of utmost important.

I truly cherish my blogger friends as they have rallied around me whenever I have needed their support, spoken or unspoken. Today I felt like saying all this on my blog and so I did. Let reading take precedence over anything else!

So what do you say to all this? I would really like to know your thoughts.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Friday Finds

repeat after me by Rachel DeWoskin

On Manhattan's Upper West Side, several months after 1989's Tiananmen Square massacre, young college dropout Aysha Silvermintz is recovering from an emotional collapse. Teaching an adult class on English as a second language, she meets a young Chinese student named Chen Da Ge, an even more unstable soul she finds herself falling for. Under the pretense of helping him gain citizenship, but hoping for a romantic relationship, Silvermintz agrees to marry Chen, whose feelings and past she still finds a mystery. Silvermintz narrates her story from 13 years later, and the parallel narrative finds Chen dead and Silvermintz living in Beijing with their daughter. Immersing them both in the world of Chen's past, Silvermintz struggles to gain a better understanding of her husband and their time together.

Far North by Marcel Theroux

Global warming has decimated civilization, and narrator Makepeace Hatfield is the sole survivor of her Siberian settlement. After coming across another survivor and seeing a plane in the sky, Makepeace heads out to find other settlements. Unfortunately, Horeb, the first settlement she finds, is Hobbesian, and the camp's leader, Reverend Boathwaite, sells her into a slave gang. Marched a thousand miles west to an old gulag, Makepeace spends five years as a slave and eventually escapes after she's dispatched as a slave-guard to a ravaged city now known as the Zone. Teaming up with another escaped slave, the two try to trek back to Makepeace's original home, but tragedy strikes again.

Booking through preferences

btt button

Which do you prefer? (Quick answers–we’ll do more detail at some later date)

Reading something frivolous? Or something serious?

Something serious

Paperbacks? Or hardcovers?

Trade paperbacks

Fiction? Or Nonfiction?

Mostly fiction

Poetry? Or Prose?

Both work for me!

Biographies? Or Autobiographies?


History? Or Historical Fiction?

Historical fiction

Series? Or Stand-alones?


Classics? Or best-sellers?


Lurid, fruity prose? Or straight-forward, basic prose?

Straight forward, basic prose

Plots? Or Stream-of-Consciousness?


Long books? Or Short?

Long books

Illustrated? Or Non-illustrated?


Borrowed? Or Owned?


New? Or Used?


Guest Post by Sylvia Weber, author of The Wolves' Keeper Legend

A couple of days back, I had posted a review of The Wolves' Keeper Legend by Sylvia Weber. Do check it out by clicking on the title. Here is a guest post by her.

Homeland of heroes by Sylvia Weber, author of The Wolves' Keeper Legend

There is a deep and unbreakable bond between Portugal and India. This love story started in the fifteenth century, with the journey of Vasco da Gama across the Atlantic and Indic oceans. At that time, India was like a distant, beautiful lady in the dreams of a Poet. Everybody sighed for her and everyone wanted to find a way how to reach her. Multiple obstacles had to be overcome, the fear and the preconception had to be defeated. The Portuguese child had to go through a voyage of maturity to become a man and conquer her love. And so he did, travelling in his little caravels, facing abysses and mountains of water, unknown monsters and countless perils.

Since that time, India remained in our hearts, as a world of magic and music, of mysticism and culture. Beauty that words cannot describe, with her golden skies, her deep blue sea, her sumptuous temples and her majestic peacocks. How I remember the Jewel of the Crown, by Christopher Morahan and Jim O’Brien and the Passage to India, by David Lean, images that marked my vision of India forever.

India is, for me, a country of heroes, more than anything. Three personalities to whom I look up with reverence and the most respect, and whose footsteps I try to follow every day of my life. None of these, I must say, is more or less important than the other – all of them are heroes who the world couldn’t live without.

The first of my heroes is Gandhi. He was born at 2 October 1869 and deceased in 30 January 1948. Since 1915, he lived in India and operated a true peaceful revolution against the British imperial tyranny. A revolution of heart, of mentalities, with no weapons but the power of word. He fought against oppression and discrimination, standing by those ones who couldn’t defend themselves, because they had no power and no voice. He gave a soul to India and this is the reason why he is called the Father of the Nation. There is no way how we cannot admire this man who moved mountains with his ideals and beliefs.

The second of my heroes, but never the least in terms of greatness, is Mother Theresa of Calcuta. She is my strongest reference and my highest ideal. This extraordinary lady lived to serve the human being, seeing in the poor the image of Jesus. Her heart could embrace all a nation and the world. She is the image of perfection, of abnegation, of generosity. She gave up everything, a comfortable life, to live side by side, hand in hand with the “poorest of the poorest”, to give a little joy to those to whom life was only suffering, to build hope where there was only darkness. She saved children, old and ill from the despair of loneliness, she took the food from her mouth to alleviate the hunger of others. Her home was India, her heart was India.

The third, whom I’ve been with in Portugal and who I will never forget is the Dalai Lama. He is an absolutely fascinating personality, with a Philosophy of life that, being practiced, would change the world. He never talked only about the Tibet of his heart, but he has a vision of a whole world of Peace, where all mankind hold hands and builds a better future. He talks in behalf of the children, the victims of war and poverty, the unprotected. In his vision, the sharing, the acceptance and the forgiveness are paths to achieve higher wisdom and Peace. Also, I must say, it was India the country that gave him refuge and home when his life was threatened and when he had nowhere to go.

So, I have all kinds of reasons to love and respect India – the beauty in body and soul of that lady who Portugal fell in love with.


Thanks for writing this, Sylvia. Goa is a legacy of Portugal. One can still find traces of it there. And do visit India, whenever you can. I am very glad you wrote this.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday


Wondrous Word Wednesday is hosted by Kathy of BermudaOnion

Only one from Blasted by Kate Story

Yammering (Page 141): My ears still sounded with the last echoes of incessant buzzing, the yammering of thousands of voiced insects.


  1. To complain peevishly or whimperingly; whine.
  2. To talk volubly and loudly.

To utter or say in a complaining or clamorous tone.


The act of yammering.

hit and run

Last evening I was hit by fast moving bike. Apart from a swollen arm, I am ok. It could have been much worse if I had fallen on the hard asphalt and hit my head or something. But only my right arm was hurt and no bones were broken. And no bleeding either. There is a bit of internal clotting and of course swelling. I had dislocated the same arm three years back, in July 2006. It had mended nicely and when the bike hit me, my first worry was a fracture. My guardian angel must have been working over time. Yes, it is vey painful as of now but I am very happy to alive and thriving!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kill Word Verification---get rid of those little letters----A repost

This button was created by Bethany of B&b ex libris. In her own words "I have created a button, that hopefully becomes a movement. A movement for what? Well I am going to call it "Kill Word Verification: rid the world of useless typing."

I am all for it. I am joining this movement from now onwards. Frankly tell me, how many spam comments do you really get? I don't have word verification, neither do I have comment moderation. And truthfully I do not get spams. If I do, those are very rare and in between. I delete those instantly. So what is the big deal? So come shake it, folks! We need hassle-free blogging, i.e, commenting forum. Don't we?

I hate it even more when blogs have word verification along with comment moderation. I think that is being paranoid. However, many bloggers do not know that they have word verification as it can't be seen by blog authors.

If you have it and don't know it, then you should do the following steps:

Go to dashboard---->Click settings---->Click comments----->Scroll down to Show word verification for comments?----->Click No---->Click Save Settings and you are done!

Help spread the word about this movement:

Write a blog post about this and make use of the button. Down with useless typing!!

Feel free to voice your thoughts here. Be nice about it though!

Tuesdays: Teaser/Whereabouts

I am looking for a papyrus-pearl in a stone pot. I am hoping that it will cure my mother Awena and bring me closer to my father, who has been cursed to stay away from his people and made the wolves abode as his own. They too love him like a kin. And I who has been brought up by another set of wonderful parents, stiil hanker for my real father and mother.

~The Wolves' Keeper Legend by Sylvia Weber


There was a child, yes! But he died... He was killed by the weavers, a little while after he was born.

~Page 231, The Wolves' Keeper Legend by Sylvia Weber

Read the review of this book by clicking here.

The Wolves' Keeper Legend by Sylvia Weber

Title: The Wolves' Keeper Legend
Author: Sylvia Weber
ISBN: 8781843864998
Publisher: Vanguard Press/2009
Pages: 238

Book Blurb:

From the beginning of time, it seemed that rivalry between man and wolf was at the root of man’s dislike for the animal, discovered only too well by Sealgair. Was his fate forever to be condemned to isolation, to see terror and hate in the eyes of the ones he once loved? All he could see in his mind was the last picture of Awena’s beloved face, which he carried in his heart for all his life.

Was the only way out to discover the special secret held by the papyrus-pearl in the stone pot - what secrets could this hold? And which stone pot could keep that precious secret when there were so many of them?

Seanns’ quest to find the pearls and uncover the secret ended with tragic consequences, resulting in him not only discovering the truth of his birth and who his real mother and father were, but the realisation that his father lived among the wolves.


It took me a while to get into the book. It began in a narrative style, which was hard to fathom at times. However after 50 pages, the book bgan to grow into me. It is about a boy Seann's who does not understand what makes him love those wolves or why does he like Awena, a woman, who is lost in her own world and cannot recognise anyone. He feels love for her as much as he does for his own mother. He knows she is in some kind of a inner prison and he longs to release her. He along with his friend and an old shephard undergoes that journey, which is dangerous but has to be undertaken.

His affinity for wolves is revealed to him but it shocks him so. For all his 13 years, he comes to possess a wisdom, which isn't understood by most. This novel is written with fantasy elements. And is very atmoshpheric too at times. It does drag at times but the magic of the book manages to hold it to a certain extent. I expected a better ending but under the circumstances, it does make sense. One can't help love Seann's, Maise, and Awena.

The evil magician keeps Awena and Sealgair separate but he too can't get Awena's love. Love can't be forced. It has to be given out of own's free will. And it can't be killed either no matter what. The wolves might be the enemies of men but they too know which human is to be trusted.

Received this book via Pump Up Your Book Promotion’s July Authors on Virtual Book Tour. Thanks Tracee!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Guest post by Jack W Regan, author of T’Aragam

Guest post by Jack W. Reagan, author of T'Aragam.

Here he tells us how he got around writing this book. You can visit his site to learn more about the book. He is in some kind of a book tour to promote his book


By Jack W. Regan

I sat huddled over my laptop, the comfortable noise of a public library swirling around my ears. Comfortable, except for the screaming of the small child two aisles down.

I could only make out a few words: “WANT…BOOK!” it shrieked. Ah, so the little tyke wanted a book. One would have thought from his screams he was being fed feet first to a pack of wolves. I wouldn’t want that. Of course I wouldn’t.

I looked back at my screen, where text covered the first half of the page and left off abruptly, the blinking cursor the gatekeeper to a vast expanse of white, uncharted space. I glanced at the clock. 6 pm. Still two hours of writing time ahead and I was stuck.

The child screamed again. Death by wolf might not be so horrible, I thought. An idea struck me. Wolves! I could…! No, wait. I’d already used them in Chapter Seven. Blast.

It wasn’t unusual for me to be here, at the library, this time of day. I was quite the regular--ever since I’d seen the announcement in that writer’s magazine: Novel Writing Competition - $25,000 Cash Prize.

When I read that advertisement, I’d already been working on a novel, a young adult fantasy, for months, albeit with little success. Rewrite after rewrite, viewpoint changes, major plot shifts, lengthy strings of profanity…nothing worked. It just wouldn’t click.

Then I had read the magic words: twenty-five thousand dollars. I had looked at my calendar, checking it against the deadline, and my blood cooled. Only six weeks. Six weeks to churn out what had been eluding me for months, with no respite in sight!

I knew I had to try. Every possible day, I’d dragged myself to the library and sat there for hours, ensconced at a reading table or in a study room, typing away on my laptop. Until today, when things had come to a literal screeching halt.

The child was still going strong, despite his parents having bribed him with ice cream, a pony, and even a BMW on his sixteenth birthday.

I counted the days in my head…twelve. Twelve more days before I had to turn in my manuscript. And I was stuck.

At last, the parent surrendered and hauled the child across the library toward the exit. I tried to show my joy in a gentle, sensitive manner, but leaping into the air and clicking my heels together may have been a bit extreme.

As they disappeared out the front door and the rest of us patrons breathed a collective sigh of relief, I turned back to the laptop and squeezed my eyes shut, fingers poised, twitching, above the keyboard.

The fingers dropped and I wrote the first thing that came to mind: “Somewhere in the distance, he heard a scream.” I smiled.

Twelve days later, I typed “The End” at the bottom of the manuscript and sent it off to be judged. It wouldn’t win the $25,000, but I would ultimately end up with a book in my hands: “T’Aragam: the Max Ransome Chronicles.”

Turns out, it was worth the long hours, the panicky feeling when you don’t know what to write, and even the screaming child two aisles down. Besides, if he bothers me while I’m working on the sequel, I can hit him with my book.


Thanks Jack, for the guest post. I really enjoyed reading this.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mondays: Mailbox/whereabouts

Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia, In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren and New Crayons is hosted by Color Online. Check all three which are related to books you receive in the past week.

After a dry, drab and barren week, I received four books. From authors/publicists.

1) One Scream away by Kate Brady
2) Drawing in the Dust by Zoe Klein
3) The Jewel Trader of Pegu by Jeffrey Hantover
4) The Magicians by Lev Grossman


It's Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? is a weekly event hosted by J. Kaye of J. Kaye's Book Blog, "to list the books completed last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finish this week."

I finished the following:

The Texicans by Nina Vida
One Scream Away by Kate Brady
The Jewel Trader of Pegu by Jeffrey Hantover
The Wolves Keeper Legend by Sylvia Weber

I am in the midst of reading:

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

I posted reviews of:

The Texicans by Nina Vida
One Scream Away by Kate Brady
The Jewel Trader of Pegu by Jeffrey Hantover


Musing Mondays (BIG)
Do you feel disappointed when the cover’s don’t match the story? Have you ever been completely misled by a book cover?

In a short answer, I have been disappointed by certain covers. I don't like movie covers. Those are misleading. And sometimes, the cover is very good, the book sucks, or the cover is so bad that one doesn't want to pick a really good book. For all their perennial value, I don't like gold embossed hardbound books. I am somehow put off by that gold lettering.

The Jewel Trader of Pegu by Jeffrey Hantover

Title: The Jewel Trader of Pegu
Author: Jeffrey Hantover
ISBN: 9780061252716
Publisher: Harper Perennial/2008
Pages: 227

This novel is set in 1598 in Burma. A period and place, most of us know nothing about. Abraham is a 28 years old Jewish Gem merchant, who leaves Venice to seek his fortunes in Pegu, a Burmese kingdom. He is able to fit in the culture, yet follow his own faith. However, he is asked to do a task, that is to serve young brides so that they bring good luck into the families they are married, in exchange of his pursuits. This task is only performed by foreigners. He is revolted by it yet can't avoid it. He performs it without attachment and making is easy for the brides. Thus, he meets Mya, who is barely more than a girl. Next morning tragedy befalls on her and she ends up living under Abraham's protection. Eventually, both fall in love. All this time, there is social and political changes taking place, which affects them. And their future seems a distant dream.

Told in epistolary way, it speaks of people, places, culture, their customs and their way of living. Abraham describes all of his observations to his cousin in Venice. He makes it all come alive in his letters. It is a travelogue as well as a work of fiction, set in a time period that is not known to most. Yet, it is so vivid and makes us feel as if we are in the midst of it. Abraham denounces the custom, yet can't escape it. He also makes lasting friendships with local people. He can assimilate it and yet practice his own religion. His love for Mya has no boundaries. He can't leave her and go back to Venice. Mya is illiterate. But she too gets to say her thoughts and let us know her feelings about Abraham. Initially both speak different languages but eventually come to learn about each other.

This novel makes an impact and makes us question customs which are barbaric, yet looked up as fate. Such customs do exist in certain parts of the world. Historical or not, few things have not changed at all. This book is a serious read, meant for those who wish to know about new places, cultures and customs. And also about those emotions which can only become richer with time. Nothing can change that. A book well worth reading. Thanks Jeffrey, for the novel.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

TSS: Readingless days

scattered everywhere
I see my books
pleased with my collection
fantasy, memoirs
magical realism, historicals.

yet my mind refuses
to pick any.
I enjoy the readingless days
writing poetry
or short fictions.

"when books are my life,
why am I slacking on my reading?"

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Finds

The Other Hand by Chris Cleave
is shocking, exciting and deeply affecting in its evisceration of how one hideous event brings two alien cultures into collision: the lawless predation of an oil-frenzied corner of Nigeria, and the ordered suburbia of Kingston-upon-Thames.

Call Me Ahab by Anne Finger intricately embroiders vivid new lives for a range of characters from art and literature whose stories we think we already know. Captain Ahab, Goliath, Vincent Van Gogh, Helen Keller, Frida Kahlo, the dwarf from a Velazquez painting, and Shakespeare's Gloucester- all magically shift shapes, eras, and places in Anne Finger's astonishing and stirring prose. These elegant stories rewrite the lives of the unusually embodied, imbuing them with magic and depth to show us how we collectively misrecognize what it means to inhabit a body that looks and works apart from the ordinary.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

TBR: To be or not to be, that is the question!

btt button

Do you keep all your unread books together, like books in a waiting room? Or are they scattered throughout your shelves, mingling like party-goers waiting for the host to come along?

I have 200+ books with me, which need to be read. Last week I tried to sort through my books and took out around 30 books and put them in another shelf so that I get back to those sooner or later. My books are all mixed and in a way I like it that way. When I look at my books, I say, thats the I have not read! Somehow I feel happy when I see my read books and un-read books together. It's like finding something in a haystack! My books are everywhere..on chairs, tables, under the bed, ON the bed, beside my PC and what not! Both those are read and also those which are unread.

The same is not true for my poetry books. I keep those separately--read and unread ones. Even then I like to pick up random poetry books.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One Scream Away by Kate Brady

Title: One Scream Away
Author: Kate Brady
ISBN: 9780446541527
Publisher: Forever/2009
Pages: 423

One Scream Away is all over the book blogging world, either reviewed or in giveaways. It is what is supposed to be psycho thriller, or should I call it romantic thriller? The latter sounds more like it.

Chevy Bankes is free from prison and is hunting for Beth Denison. On his way to her, he kills a lot of women and leaves behind lots of clues including antique dolls. After he kills those women, he calls Beth from their cellphones and lets her know he is getting nearer and nearer. He likes to listen to the sreams of those women he kills and keeps a record of those.

Neil, a ex-FBI agent is brought in see how is Beth involved in all this. At first it is taken that she is somehow involved with the murderer or is an accomplish in those murders. Neil discovers she is a woman with a past and can go to any length to protect her six year old daughter. Although Beth lets him protect her and her daughter, yet she conceals her secret. Chevy is always one step ahead. He knows exactly the whereabouts of Beth and her daughter and is getting closer and closer.

Neil falls for Beth in a very short period of time. Ok, she has a sweet daughter but that isn't any reason for falling in love with her so fast?

One Scream away is kind of a fast read. And utterly forgettable after reading it. Chevy has some problems. He has a mother fixation and loves his sister Jenny dearly. And kills woman for no apparant reason. A true psychopath one might call him. However, killing so many innocent women just to get to Beth did not gel with me. I found there are too many people trying to protect Beth but what about those other women, who were killed? And what took the police so long to learn about Jenny, especially when she had gone missing since she was a small child? And how does Chevy find her after all these years. Beth kept her past hidden for seven years. If she had told it all seven years back, Chevy would still be in jail, all those women still alive and no novel written by Kate Brady! Is that a good thing or bad, I am not sure!

I like psycho thrillers. And getting into the killers mind. And not being able to predict till the end about the motivation. Here I could predict it much before and somehow knew about Chevy's mother and his sister right in the middle. And I am not really all for drop-dead georgeous ex-FBI agents whose brains seem to be in the wrong place.

This book is for those, who don't wish to think much after reading it. For all its fault, it is definitely a very fast read and I did like the epilogue. That redeems this novel to a large extent. Of course it works well for increasing your book count too.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesdays: Teaser/Whereabouts

I am in that not nowhere world, otherwise known as cyber world. Shady people stalk in chatrooms with fake names, and no faces. If discovered, they turn into ruthless killers. I am a survivor running and hiding from those dangerous masked people.

~Kill For Me by Karen Rose


The last guy who messed up this badly was separated from his head. There had been a lot of blood.

~ Page 95, Kill For Me by Karen Rose

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mondays: Mailbox/whereabouts

Musing Mondays (BIG)

We all know the old adage about not judging a book by it’s cover, but just how much sway does a book cover have when it comes to your choice of book – whether buying or borrowing? Are there any books you’ve bought based on the cover alone?
Covers do make a difference. I seldom pick out books with cartoonish or movie covers. I also stay away from explicit covers. I like those to be sober, and relevant to the content in the book. Clean cut covers attract me. Size too matters. I don't go in for bigger than usual books. I also know that covers can be deceptive. Sometimes they don't do justice to the book and put off prospective readers. Fonts too make a difference. Certain fonts put me off. And others call out to me to pick the book!


It's Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? is a weekly event hosted by J. Kaye of J. Kaye's Book Blog, "to list the books completed last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finish this week."

I finished the following:
The Texicans by Nina Vida
I am in the midst of reading:

Blasted by Kate Story
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Renascence & Other Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I posted reviews of:
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
The Texicans by Nina Vida

Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia, In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren and New Crayons is hosted by Color Online. Check all three which are related to books you receive in the past week.

I received only one book:

The Lost Book of Salem by Katherine Howe
This book is available in the US as The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.

I was mighty pleased to receive this book.

The Texicans by Nina Vida

Oscar Ruiz, born in Mexico, came to Texas when he was fourteen.

Title: The Texicans
Author: Nina Vida
ISBN: 9781569474778
Publisher: Soho Press/2006
Pages: 296

What led you to pick up this book?

The Author, Nina Vida contacted me and asked me if I would like to read and review The Texicans. When I said yes, she sent a copy to me. I am very glad I said yes!

Plot summary:

The novel is based Texas in 1843 and spans 12 years. Joseph Kimmel's brother dies in Texas. Joseph, A Polish-Jewish school teacher, has to go there to settle the financial issues of his brother. On his way to Texas, he marries the orphaned Katrin to save her from an Indian chief. Although he does not want to, he ends up with two slaves and also Aurelia, a Mexican woman who is supposed to be a witch. He becomes obssessed with her. He becomes a very rich rancher with the help of the two runaway slaves, and also with the help of Comanches, Tonkaways, and Vacqueros.

What did you like most about the book?

First of all I liked Aurelia, who is supposed to be a witch. She has some healing powers and it is assumed she can cure many diseases. Joseph is a rightous man, who believes in the equality of men and woman irrespective of colour of the skin. He has no plans of marrying anyone but still he marries Katrin to rescue her from an Indian chief. I also liked the narration. My interest didn't waver and I finished it at one go.

What did you think of the writing style?

Nina Vida does know how to keep her readers interested. Her writing style totally takes one in. It might be fiction but depicts that period very well.

Which of your readers are most likely to enjoy this book? Why?

Those who like Historicals and also wish to read about colonisation will like this book. With strong characters and the undaunted human spirit being intact, this ought to interest those who like good reading.

What did you think of the main character?

Joseph is a good man. He knows what he has to do. Aurelia is no witch. She can cure people but thats about it. Katrin, emerges to be a strong woman. She knows Joseph doesn't love her yet her world surrounds around him. She has good business acumen too.

What is the central character’s biggest problem?

Joseph is obssessed with Aurelia and he neglects Katrin for her. To give her credit, Aurelia does not encourage Joseph.

How do you think he feels?

Joseph feels torn between his duty and obssession.

What effect do the people in the book have on one another?

Joseph loves the so called slaves. When Xenophobic rangers destroy everything, he has to hunt them down to take revenge.

What did you think of the ending?

It has a befitting ending. Nina Vida does not gloss over it. She has been very rational about it. It is a book about initial colonisation. Joseph cares for the people. He may have acquired land and built a town, but he knows that people need schools, hospitals, markets and builds those for them. He has a sense of justice and is a good man. Despite his obssession for Aurelia.

The novel speaks of trials and tribulations of men and women and emerging from the shadows and how to become a part of the mainstream. Yes, I am going to check out more books by Nina Vida! One of my friends swears by her books.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Weekly Geeks : Globe Trotting

Are you a global reader? How many countries have you “visited” in your reading? What are your favorite places or cultures to read about? Can you recommend particularly good books about certain regions, countries or continents? How do you find out about books from other countries? What countries would you like to read that you haven’t yet?

I do read books set in any country. I like to explore new places this way. However, going through my archives, I find that I have not read any books set in South America and read very few books set in Central America and the Caribbean and Africa. I have to remedy that soon. I want to read books set in all the African countries and also Central America. Maybe I should plan my reading countrywise.

Slow and easy

I started out with grand plans for July and fell flat on my nose! Reading is going on a snails pace. Maybe the snail is faster.

And the fact is, I am thriving in this no-read phase! I am enjoying watching TV as much as I can, sleeping just as much and blogging like crazy.

I look at my TBR piles and feel nothing. No hurry to read. Thats a good thing, that no guilt feeling, isn't it?

I think I will go on a blog improvement project. Not that I like to add to many gadgetry to it. I prefer to keep it clean. That way loading is faster and lesser chance of malware.

I asked in another of my posts and asking again here. Would anyone like to do a guest post here or like me to do a guest post on their blog? Let me know here or on my email: gautami.tripathy[at] We must keep some posts for those rainy days.

Meanwhile, let me relish this non-reading phase!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Finds

    The World in Half by Cristina Henriquez

    Book blurb:

    Miraflores has never known her father, and until now, she’s never thought that he wanted to know her. She’s long been aware that her mother had an affair with him while she was stationed with her then husband in Panama, and she’s always assumed that her pregnant mother came back to the United States alone with his consent. But when Miraflores returns to the Chicago suburb where she grew up, to care for her mother at a time of illness, she discovers that her mother and father had a greater love than she ever thought possible, and that her father had wanted her more than she could have ever imagined.

    In secret, Miraflores plots a trip to Panama, in search of the man whose love she hopes can heal her mother—and whose presence she believes can help her find the pieces of her own identity that she thought were irretrievably lost. What she finds is unexpected, exhilarating, and holds the power to change the course of her life completely.

    Thursday, July 9, 2009

    Booking through must read unreads!

    btt button

    Give me the list or take a picture of all the books you have stacked on your bedside table, hidden under the bed or standing in your shelf – the books you have not read, but keep meaning to. The books that begin to weigh on your mind. The books that make you cover your ears in conversation and say, ‘No! Don’t give me another book to read! I can’t finish the ones I have!’

    In the last count I had more than 200+ unread books. However, I take this question is for those books, which we have had for ages and think we will get around reading those some time or the other. There are certain books our conscience doesn't allow us to giveaway or throw and we are always hoping to read those. Here is the list I remember as of now:

    Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dosteovosky
    Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder
    War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
    Love In the Time of Cholera by Gabrial Garcia Marquez
    Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
    The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
    The Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
    The Russia House by John le Carre
    The Joyluck Club by Amy Tan

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009

    Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brook

    I used to love this season. The Wood stacked by the door, the tang of its sap still speaking of forest.

    Title: Year of Wonders
    Author: Geraldine Brooks
    ISBN: 184115458
    Publisher:Fourth Estate/2001
    Pages: 304

    Year of Wonders is about plague that took place in 1666, in an isolated Mountain village. The plague might have come there with an bolt of cloth from London. Anna Frith, the narrator, is a housemaid. In the midst of all this madness, she emerges as a strong heroine, who tries her best to heal. The plague destroys almost all of the village and also reason. Poeple go frenzy with madness and resort to witch hunting. Anna comes out stronger out of all this with faith, and love for people.

    She loses here own family. That doesn't deter her from offering her services for healing those who need her. The minister of the village insists that they quarante their village so that it does not spread far and wide. Apart from a few handful, everyone agrees to it. In a way, 1666 becomes an Year of Wonders instead of Year of Plague.

    Anna Firth comes out to be strong woman. She has faith in their minister and most important in the young wife of the minister. Their relationship is not that of a mistress and a servant but more like two sisters. Both love each other. Elinor teaches Anna to read too. Mr Mompellion, the minister loves his wife Elinor, which seems to be reciprocated well.

    For all her goodwill, her healing powers, Anna is torn with misplaced love too. She is one of the survivors of the plague and she knows what she has to do at the end of it. We don't see Anaa failing us at any time and she has got her priorities right too. In those times when a woman was taken for a witch just because she could heal, Anna survives in more ways than one. With good writing, this makes an extremely readable book. Brooks has made that period of time come alive for us.