Monday, November 30, 2009

Musings Monday/What are you reading on Mondays?

Musing Mondays (BIG)How does your reading (or your blogging) fare in the holiday months? Do you read more or less? Do you have to actively make time to read?

Actually it depends. During summer holidays I read a lot. I can manage more books as I have lots of time on my hand. But other holidays, not much. If my mood strikes, I read like crazy. Or not. I like to go out more often during winters. Hence reading takes a backseat.


I finished:

White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner
Cold Skin by Steven Herrick
Midnight Magic by Betina Krahn

I am in the midst of reading:

North Of Calcutta by Duane Evans

I plan to read:

Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas

I re-posted reviews of:

Frantic by Katherine Howell

A Passage to India by E M Forster

Crime Fiction Alphabet: In the Shadow of the Glacier by Vicki Delany

People were of two minds about Reginald ("Call me Reg") Montgomery. They either hated him or thought he was the best thing to happen to this town in years.

Title: In the Shadow of the Glacier
Author: Vicki Delany
ISBN: 9781590584484
Publisher: Poisoned pen Press/2007
Pages: 302

Molly Smith, a constable in the small town of Trafalgar, British Columbia, stumbles upon the body of Reginald Montgomery while on beat duty. Reg had arrived into the small town only a few months back with his wife Ellie and had made as many friends as enemies. He was there to built a Grisly bear resort. A Vietnam war dodger has left land and money to be used for building a garden to honour the war dodgers. Reg was one the leading opponent of the garden and his is found murdered.

Molly Smith is assigned the duty of assisting veteran Detective Sergeant John Winters, who too is new to the town and not very happy about his fresh, eager-faced young assistant. Mainly for the reason that her mother is foremost in wishing for the garden to come up and is dead against the grisly resort. The town is divided as old timers wish for the memorial and youngsters know once that comes up, tourism would take a dip. Even Molly's father is opposed to the plan of building the garden.

A playing dirty TV personality arrives in town and he gets outside agitators supporting both sides into it and it turns really dirty. Meanwhile Molly's best friend is being stalked and ends up injured one night, for which Molly blames herself.

With many suspects for the murder, which includes Molly's mother, Winters and Smith look out for all kinds of clues and secrets to solve it. Also they have to nab a small time biker thief, who has stolen Molly's bike, that too from the police station.

This is the first in the Molly Smith series. Set in the Canadian wilderness, it takes us through beautiful mountainous town which was a very peaceful place before the murder, its crime rate being very low. That murder changes everything. Vicki Delany does manage to hold interest. Although there are many suspects, actual murderer is only caught in the end. It is a mystery one can breeze through fairly easily. No nail biting suspense but it doesn't fall flat either. For mystery lovers, I say go for it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mailbox Mondays

Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia.

Here is what I got in my mailbox:

1) White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner from the author

When her black sheep brother disappears, Amanda Janvier eagerly takes in her sixteen year-old niece Tally. The girl is practically an orphan: motherless, and living with a father who raises Tally wherever he lands– in a Buick, a pizza joint, a horse farm–and regularly takes off on wild schemes. Amanda envisions that she, her husband Neil, and their two teenagers can offer the girl stability and a shot at a “normal” life, even though their own storybook lives are about to crumble.

2) Deep Floating Lovers by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli from the author

Springtime in northern Michigan: a picture-perfect scene. Until struggling mystery writer Emily Kincaid gets a visit from her foul-weather friend Deputy Dolly, who frantically demands Emily's help. Sandy Lake's receding waters have revealed a bullet-pierced skull, along with a keepsake that could mean serious trouble for a man Dolly once loved.

3) A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein from the author

It's about a devoted dad whose parental concerns fester into a toxin that eventually poisons his life. There's nothing polemic or didactic about Grodstein's story, but she's written such an incisive diagnosis of aspirational America that someone should hand out copies at Little League games and ballet recitals…What Grodstein captures so strikingly is the anxiety of a father's love, that aching affection that can flip in a moment of panicked disappointment to full-blown disgust.

4) The MJ Tapes by
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach from Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit

In 2000-2001, Michael Jackson sat down with his close friend and spiritual guide, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, to record what turned out to be the most intimate and revealing conversations of his life. It was Michael's wish to bare his soul and unburden himself to a public that he knew was deeply suspicious of him. The resulting thirty hours are the basis of The Michael Jackson Tapes.

5) Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino by bookmooch

Tokyo prostitutes Yuriko and Kazue have been brutally murdered, their deaths leaving a wake of unanswered questions about who they were, who their murderer is, and how their lives came to this end. As their stories unfurl in an ingeniously layered narrative, coolly mediated by Yuriko's older sister, we are taken back to their time in a prestigious girls' high school-where a strict social hierarchy decided their fates-and follow them through the years as they struggle against rigid societal conventions.

6) Cold Skin by Steven Herrick from the author

This is a compelling story of Australian teenager Eddie Holding's struggle to make his war-scarred dad understand his need to work in the mines after graduating from high school. Told from the perspective of nine characters in the small town of Burrga, we soon learn that, despite the mayor's optimistic hope for the town's future, nothing will be the same after a young girl's body is found along the nearby river's edge.

7) In an Uncharted Country by Clifford Garstang from the publicist

The award-winning stories that make up this linked collection showcase ordinary men and women in and around Rugglesville, Virginia, as they struggle to find places and identities in their families and the community. They experience natural disasters, a sun-worshipping cult, Vietnam flashbacks, kidnapping, addiction, and loss. The book's opening story, "Flood, 1978," follows Hank, who comes to understand his father's deep sense of grief over the death of his wife. Later, in "Hand-painted Angel," Hank's sons see the family spinning apart as their father ages and family secrets are disclosed. In "The Clattering of Bones," Walt mourns the collapse of his marriage after the loss of a child, but in the collection's title story he recognizes his emotional need for family. The concluding story, "Red Peony," unifies the collection, as many of the book's characters come together for a tumultuous 4th of July Celebration.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Find: War Dances by Sherman Alexie

War Dances by Sherman Alexie

From National Book Award–winner Alexie comes a new collection of stories, poems, question and answer sequences, and hybrids of all three and beyond. In a penetrating voice that mixes humor with anger, Alexie pointedly asks, “If it is true that children pay for the sins of their fathers, then is it also true that fathers pay for the sins of their children?” Many of the stories revolve around the complexities of fatherhood; in the title story, the Native American narrator recalls his alcoholic father's death as he confronts his own mortality, and “The Ballad of Paul Nonetheless” is the tale of an eccentric vintage clothing salesman whose sexual attraction to his wife fades following the birth of their children. The collection also contains stirring defenses of artistic integrity; “Fearful Symmetry” is an incisive account of working as a young screenwriter for a Hollywood studio, and the poem “Ode to Mix Tapes” endorses hard work as the key ingredient behind any creation.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Booking through Thankful Thursdays

First I wish all my American friends A Very Happy Thanksgiving!

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What books and authors are you particularly thankful for this year?

I am thankful to have read a lot of good books this year. A few of those are:

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

The Suicide Collecters by David Oppegaard

I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

A Climb Through Altered Landscapes by Ian Parks (Poetry)

The Lost Book of Salem by Katherine Howe

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

Judah's Lion by Anne Caston (Poetry)

Also I am thankful to have discovered the following authors:

T L Hines

Karen Rose

Katherine Howell

Louise Penny

Colin Cotterill

Clive Matson (Poet)

M J Rose

Betina Krahn

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday


Wondrous Word Wednesday is hosted by Kathy of BermudaOnion

Taking a word from White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner

przyjaciel: (page 344): "Hush, przyjaciel, I told you about the other fire. You never listen to me."

From Proto-Slavic *prijatelь



m. friend

A-Z Wednesday: A Passage to India by E. M. Forster

This is a repost.

Title: A Passage To India
Author: E. M. Forster
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Pages: 416

I read "A Passage to India" by E.M.Forster more than 2 decades back. This was one of the novels prescribed for in the English Elective syllabus in my 12th std. I had read that from the exam point of view. I picked it up again after 23 years. I had a different perception than before. Previously I had done only character studies. This time I could see it in a broader perspective.

The social structure of India under the British Raj has been portrayed very vividly in this book.The eternal clash between the East and the West, and prejudices and misunderstandings has been brought out very well.

All the three religions, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity have been shown to co-exist with each other. A Passage to India has all the dimensions of political situation, psychological effects and different religions. Christianity, though adequate for normal relationship and practical affairs, is too sallow for deeper human relationships. Islam is a faith that is more aesthetic and cultural than a binding spiritual faith. Hinduism does not guide the daily conduct of affairs. This is what is very interesting. Forster could bring out the positive as well as the negative aspects of the different religions so well.

This book has been dubbed anti-British for obvious reasons as the author tends to have a sympathetic view of the Indian under British Raj.

A passage to India concerns the relations between the English and the native population of India during the colonial period in which Britain ruled India. The novel takes place primarily in Chandrapore, a city along the Ganges River notable only for the nearby Marabar caves. The main characters are: Aziz, a Muslim doctor; Godbole, a Hindu Professor; Fielding, the head master of the government college ; Ronald Heaslop, another British official: Mrs Moore and Adela Quested, two visitors from Britain. The relationship between he Indians and the British official speaks a lot about the then British Raj. The British official is ever sceptical of the well-meaning Indian.

Forster ends A Passage to India with a bittersweet reconciliation between Aziz and Fielding, but also with the realization that the two cannot be friends under contemporary conditions. Aziz makes an important concession when he admits that Adela was brave to withdraw her charges, and expresses regret for the aftermath of the Marabar expedition. Aziz thus completes a movement from kindness and generosity of spirit to bitter and cynicism and back. Fielding, in contrast, realizes that he is in fact a true Englishman and belongs among his own race; to defy his race and maintain an active friendship with Aziz would be just, but not pragmatic. This brings back the theme of responsibilities and limitations of racial identity, as Fielding accepts the sacrifices he must make to retain his English identity. In this manner Forster ends A Passage to India as a tragic but platonic love story between the two friends, separated by different cultures and political climates.

Forster does not express any definitive political standpoint on the sovereignty of India in his book. Fielding suggests that British rule over India, if relinquished, would be replaced by a different sovereign that would be perhaps worse than the English. However, Aziz does make the point that it is British rule in India that prevents the two men from remaining friends. Forster thus indicates that British rule in India creates significant problems for India, but does not offer an easy or concrete solution.

Forster's description of the city of Chandrapore in the opening chapter creates interest to read further as one can visualise the scene unfolding before one's eyes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday: Teaser/Whereabouts


  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"The little ghost was crawling away from him now, touching everything in its path. It was getting bigger, spreading like a spill of milk across the bush.

~Page 217, White Picket Fences, Susan Meissner


I am in San Diego, with my aunt Amanda. My dad seems to have been disappeared in Warsaw. He has made me promise not to tell anyone what is he looking for. I don't wish to be anywhere other than my dad but the state won't allow me live alone. I try to as invisible as I can be in my aunt's place and in the school I am kind of forced to go. While helping my cousin Chase for a sociology project, we stumble upon some closely guarded family secrets.

White Picket Fences, Susan Meissner

Monday, November 23, 2009

Crime Fiction Alphabet: Frantic by Katherine Howell

Title: Frantic

Author: Katherine Howell
ISBN: 9781405037976
Publisher: Pan Macmillan/2007
Pages: 282


From Kathrine Howell's site:

In one terrible moment, paramedic Sophie Phillips’ life is ripped apart – her police officer husband, Chris, is shot on their doorstep and their ten-month-old son, Lachlan, is abducted from his bed. Suspicion surrounds Chris as he is tainted with police corruption, but Sophie believes the attack is much more personal – and the perpetrator far more dangerous...

While Chris is in hospital and the police, led by Detective Ella Marconi, mobilise to find their colleague's child, Sophie's desperation compels her to search for Lachlan herself. She enlists her husband's partner, Angus Arendson, in the hunt for her son, but will the history they share prove harmful to Sophie's ability to complete her mission?


We want to find Lachlan just as much as Sophie, who is beyond consoling. Can anything be worse than death? Yes, disappearance of a child comes under that category.

The whole of police force is looking out for him but Sophie has lost faith in their ability. She sets about finding him, at one point going over the edge.

For a paramedic, saving lives is so important. If someone dies, they have to face the wrath too. Sophie knows that and is frightened by what could happen to her son. Who kidnapped him and for what purpose? With Chris in hospital, she has no one but Angus to turn to. Can he help her? Does he help her? How far can they go to save that child? The line between right and wrong blurs. Are Sophie's means justified?

The novel is fast paced, keeps us on edge. It is very difficult to know who took that child and why? What is the motive? Does Chris too has something to hide? Katherine Howell has a lot of potential. She does well with keeping our interest alive.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Monday: Musing/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.

I received the following two books:

1) Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas
2) The Scottish Thistle by Cindy Vallar


Musing Mondays (BIG)
What books did you read while in school? Were there any that you particular liked, or even hated? Did any become lifelong favourites?

We had English Elective in our Senior School years. Apart from the course books, I read a lot of classics..Novels, Dramas, Poetry etc.

Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights remain my perennial favourites. I read and loved Rebecca too, along with lot more books. I read almost everything by the Bard. Wordsworth, Keats, Shelly, Browning, Burns, Frost, and comtemporary poets interested me a lot. They still do.

However, I don't like Jane Austen Novels. And also Hemingway. Period


I finished:

The Scottish Thistle by Cindy Vallar

I am in the midst of reading:

North Of Calcutta by Duane Evans

I plan to read:

Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas

I posted reviews of:

The Dead Room by Heather Graham
The Imposter's Daughter by Laurie...
One Foot in the Black by Kurt L. Kamm
Tender Triumph by Judith McNaught

Sunday Salon: Poetry Reading Challenge ending on May 16, 2010

Hosted by Lu

You can pick any book of poetry, but it has to be contemporary poetry! Published in the 20th or 21st century. For the next year, pledge to read:

The Shallow End – 2-5 books of poetry – Your choice, poetry or poetics, just enough to cool off with your healthy dose of verse.

In the middle – 6-10 books of poetry – A little bit more ambitious, but not too much that it’ll be over your head.

Dive in to the Deep End! – 11-15 books of poetry – That’s right, jump in there, get all the way in. You know the only way to test the water is dive in.

As I write poetry, I read lots of it too. So I am diving right in into the Deep End.

Here is what I have on my platter right now:

1) Selected Poems by Robert Lowell (
2) Renascence and Other Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892–1950)
3) Thirst: poems By Mary Oliver
4) Becoming The Villainess by Jeannine Hall Gaily
5) At the Threshold of Alchemy by John Amen
6 Poetic Musings of an Old, Fat Man by Harry E. Gilleland, Jr.
7) Slamming Open The Door by Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno

And I have read the following poetry books in 2009:

A Climb Through Altered Landscapes by Ian Parks
Mainline to the heart and other poems by Clive Matson
Magdalene and the Mermaids by Elizabeth Kate Switaj
A House of Bottles by Robin Merrill
Selected Poems of Carl Sandburg
Judah's Lion by Anne Caston

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thriller & Suspense Challenge 2010

I simply can't resist joining Thriller & Suspense Challenge 2010 hosted by Book Chick City

Timeline: 01 Jan 2010 - 31 Dec 2010
Rules: To read 12 thrillers in 2010

Don't forget to check the sub genre's here.

Now for the read list:

1) The Memorist by M J Rose
2) The Likeness by Tana French
3) Child 44 by Tom Robb Smith
4) Theft of the Master by Edwin Alexander
5) Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
6) Last Last Chance by Fiona Maazel
7) Sinai Tapestry by Edward Whittemore
8) Blasted by Kate Story
9) Deadly Exchange by
Geoffrey M. Gluckman

I had wished to finish the above books in 2009. As I couldn't, I will read those in 2010. I ask for suggestions from you all as well. I know I will read lot more thrillers than the stipulated 12!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Find: How to Leave Hialeah by Jennine Capó Crucet

How to Leave Hialeah by Jennine Capó Crucet

From Publishers Weekly

In this engrossing collection—sometimes intense, at other times darkly humorous—debut author Crucet portrays the daily challenges, heartbreak and family ties that penetrate Hialeah, a working-class Cuban-American neighborhood in Miami. In El Destino Hauling, a young girl pays witness to a night-long family funeral for a father who was run over by his son, perhaps by intent. The Next Move follows a grandfather left to struggle through the day without his wife while she's visiting family in Cuba. In Men Who Punched Me in the Face, a woman repeatedly drawn to abusive men convinces herself she enjoys being hit. A story set in the Cuban countryside finds a young woman struggling to make ends meet with just three prized possessions: a rooster, a bar of soap and Kotex maxi pads. Crucet details vividly the daily struggle that leads Cubans to prize their heritage above much else, but also illuminates a powerful need to escape the past.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Booking Through Posterity

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Do you think any current author is of the same caliber as Dickens, Austen, Bronte, or any of the classic authors? If so, who, and why do you think so? If not, why not? What books from this era might be read 100 years from now?

I am a big fan of Dickens and Bronte, and have read almost everything by them. Although I have read 6 novels by Jane Austen, I am not an Austen fan.

If by current authors, we mean authors in the 20th century, then there are quite a few whose works ought be read 100 years from now on. Steinbeck comes instantly into mind. His writing is timeless as it relates to land, people and all those emotions needed for survival. The struggle, the triumph are eternal and anyone from any period of time can connect with that.

Ayn Rand's work might survive, but then her philosophy of objectivism is not much understood.

Amongst poets, I would like to think of Neruda, Mary Oliver, Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath. In different ways. All these poets touch our inner core in some way or the other.

Tender Triumph by Judith McNaught

Title: Tender Triumph
Author: Judith McNaught
ISBN: 9780671742560
Publisher: Pocket Books/1983
Pages: 375

Katie Connelly is the daughter of wealthy grocers. She is somewhat pampered, spoiled and lives in a world of her own. She is also slightly bored with her life. She doesn't know what to make of the tall, dark and handsome Puerto Rican man who rescues her from the harassment of a drunken ex-boyfriend outside a bar one night. Ramon Galverra is very much a sensual male. Physically, he reminds her of her cheating, abusive ex-husband. Despite that she feels attracted to him. She also senses that Ramon is hiding something from her. Ramon is a powerful tycoon on the verge of bankruptcy and he has nothing to offer Katie other than a simple life in a small cottage in Puerto Rico. Also Ramon is not afraid to express his true feelings for Katie.

It isn't one of the better books by McNaught but it isn't boring either. I finished in three hours while travelling. And that's not a bad thing.

This book does feel racist at times. Tender Triumph is written in the early eighties. Considering that, it is in no way politically correct for the present times. I think the racism is more due to ignorance on the author's part. Although I like Judith McNaught novels, I too have felt her writing is racist. In One and Always, she is disparaging towards India and it customs. I felt that she wrote what she had read or heard about India, without researching it.

I also feel that she does much better writing historical novels than contemporary ones.

Thanks to Stacy for the book.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday


Wondrous Word Wednesday is hosted by Kathy of BermudaOnion

I am taking up a stanza from Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich

"And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here"


  1. Having battlements.
  2. Indented; notched: a crenelated wall.

[Probably from French créneler, to furnish with battlements, from Old French crenel, crenelation, diminutive of cren, notch. See cranny.]

crenelation cren'e·la'tion n.

A-Z Wednesday: One Foot in the Black by Kurt L. Kamm

Title: One Foot in the Black
Author: Kurt L. Kamm
ISBN: 9781435706262/2007
Pages: 241

This book is a story of a wildland firefighter. Greg has some major issues with his father, a Saginaw city firefighter. He craves for love and acceptance from him. But his father is unconcerned about his own family. Greg's mother loves him but she too is abused by Greg's father. After a while she too leaves her children to their own devices. Greg is no longer close to his younger sister, Vicky.

Greg decides to join the fire department to prove something to his father. However, his father is only too pleased to see him leave home and does not want anything to do with him. Greg goes o California to become a seasonal firefighter with CDF. From there he goes on to LACoFD Helitak-Attack training academy. When his crew is trapped on a mountainside in an explosive wildfire in which his captain TB dies, he suffers from major trauma. Meantime, his father too dies in a fire in Saginaw, the night before this. Greg accepts his mentor's death but he has problem coping with his father's death, whom he had hated all his life. He feels that his father deliberately deserted him by dying before he could prove himself to him. Greg finally finds peace within his family of firefighters.

I had not read about anything on firefighting before this. It opened my eyes to the dangers of fire. And to the fact that firefighters endanger their own lives to control it. This has been well researched. And makes a real good read. One does not wish for it to end. Wildland fire is one of most dangerous of fires. Kamm has written a good book which is both enjoyable as well as informative. It has a good pace and finishes very fast. I liked the ending too. I say, go for it!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays: The Imposter's Daughter by Laurie Sandell

Title: The Imposter's Daughter
Author: Laurie Sandell
ISBN: 978-0316033053
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company/2009
Pages: 256

A memoir told in the graphic way, this grabs our eyeballs right from the beginning. The author has no knowledge what her father is, other than what he pretends to be and/or tells his family. Growing she discovers that his whole life is a sham and by the same virtue so is theirs. She can't accept it. She writes about her experiences in My Father, the Fraud and her whole family turns against her.

The author tells us about her childhood, growing up years in a funny, witty, cynical way. The deceptions of her father are heart wrenching and her sadness seeps into us too.

She experiences it, substance abuse and lot more and writes about all those here in a clinically detached way. A good read for all those who like memoirs. I enjoyed the writing, the graphics, the story and all. I read it for the Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon.

Thanks to the author for the copy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Crime Fiction Alphabet: The Dead Room by Heather Graham

Title: The Dead Room

Author: Heather Graham
ISBN: 9780778325208
Publisher: Mira/2007
Pages: 379

The book opens with an explosion where Leslie's fiance Matt Connolly is killed and she is injured. Even a year later, she can't get over it. She is an archaeologist and immerses herself in work to forget him. However, now she is capable of seeing and talking to ghosts after that explosion.

On the behest of her boss Brad, she returns to lower Manhattan, the site of explosion to investigate a newly discovered burial ground. She finds restless spirit roaming the site, who are trapped there in time. Leslie stays in the Hasting House, the place where the explosion had taken place killing Matt with three others. She is not afraid of the dead. She can see ghosts but she can't see Matt. Yet he visits her in her dreams, giving her clues of the explosion and trying to protect her from harm.

Joe, Matt's cousin is investigating the disappearance of a very famous social worker. Their paths cross and both sense that is something sinister going on. Leslie can feel the evil in her bones. By the day, Joe protects her and at nights Matt comes in her dream. She does feel a pull towards Joe, who looks so much like Matt. Are they able to save her from the evil?

The Dead Room is fast paced, has that element of mystery and undying love which is beyond comprehension. The world of living and dead merges here at one point. Very suited to the story. The ending might disappoint a few but I thought it was perfect.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Monday: Musing/Mailbox/Whereabouts

Musing Mondays (BIG)
With the holiday season now upon us, have you left any hint – subtle or otherwise – for books family and friends might buy you for Christmas? Do you like to receive books, or do you prefer certificates so you can choose your own?

If someone chooses from my wishlist, it is ok! Otherwise I prefer gift certificates. Gives me flexibity to buy anything of my choice. However, it can be detrimental too. Too many choices sometimes makes the decision difficult!


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:

Tender Triumph by Judith NcNaught from Stacy of Stacy's Books. It was one of her free books offer of November.


I finished:

Tender Triumph by Judith NcNaught

I am in the midst of reading:

Literally nothing!

I plan to read:

Night of Flames by Douglas W. Jacobson

I posted reviews of:

Fault Line by Barry Eisler: Repost for Crime Fiction Alphabet
The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman: Repost for A-Z Wednesday
Dust by Susan Berliner
Soul Catcher by Leigh Bridger
Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

TSS: Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

The Sunday

"Augustus saved my brother like a bull for the slaughter, so why shoulsdn't I be next? And who better to do the job than you?"

~Page 393

Cleopatra's Daughter
Michelle Moran
ISBN: 9780307409126

Publisher: Crown/2009

Pages: 448

When Octavian's army arrives into Egypt, first Marc Antony and then Cleopatra kill themselves, leaving their children in the hands of their enemy. The 10-year-old twins, Selene and Alexander, along with 4-year-old Ptolemy are taken to Rome. The younger child dies at the sea.

Octavian brings both the children to his sister Octavia's house. She had been abandoned by Marc Antony yet she loves those children as her own. Selene and Alexander stick to each other, both dreaming of getting back to Egypt someday. They are educated as befitting as their age and class. Selene is encouraged to take up drawing and painting. Octavian, for all his faults, does not trwat then badly and he is also concerned about Rome and his people. He builds the city so that they live in it with convenience and no hardships.

The various relationships are complicated and everything does seem confusing for the young Selene, but she too can see the contrast in the workings of her father Marc Antony and Octavian (Augustus). The slave rebellion, and to make a home for the orphans are only a few issues taken up.

Historically, the Roman Civilization was much developed than we can envisage, much progressive in its thinking and most important of all, women had the right to marry as many times as they wished to. Poets, rulers, politicians and even the masses seem to have had visions for the future. No wonder, the Roman Empire lasted a long time.

Selene tries to understand her world with the world she is living in. She sees much ups and downs and yet knows how to survive. She also learns that serving the people, and having a sense of justice can never go wrong.

Thanks to the author for the book.

Also check out the following reviews:

Book Addiction
Historical Tapestry
Medieval Bookworm
S. Krishna's Books
Reading Rumpus
Diary of an Eccentric
Scaling Mount TBR

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Soul Catcher by Leigh Bridger

Title: Soul Catcher
Author: Leigh Bridger
ISBN: 9780982175682
Publisher: Belle Bridge Books/2009
Pages: 284


Story Summary

From the gothic eccentricity of Asheville, North Carolina, to the terrifying recesses of the Appalachian wilderness, from modern demonology to ancient Cherokee mythology, Soul Catcher follows the tormented journey of folk artist Livia Belane, who has been stalked through many lives by a sadistic and vengeful demon.Livia and her loved ones, including her frontier-era soulmate and husband, Ian, a Soul Hunter, have never beaten the demon before. Now, in this life, it's found them again.


I won the ARC of Soul Catcher in the BBAW. With that story summary, I picked it up as soon as I received it. The setting is good and the concept interested me. Hindu mythology is replete with reincarnations and re-births.

In Soul Catcher, angels, demons and other creatures co-exist in such a way that there is always a clash between them. Livia is a reincarnated soul, although she can't remember anything. She also has the power to vanquish the evil Demons and catch their souls. Here she is made to fight a pg-faced demon. She is assisted by some of her friends and her husband over the re-births, Ian. He too seems to be born again and again as Livia is. This only should have made it a good novel.

Somehow the character of Livia didn't appeal to me much. Everyone is going out of their way to help her and somehow she seems very ungrateful about it. Her only redeeming feature is her unique bonding with Ian. The novel is not as fast paced it ought to be and seems to drag at places. The violence and the excess of sex scenes too might put off some readers. It didn't exactly put me off although at times I felt those were not needed in such large quantities.

For die-hard readers of paranormal stuff, this book might work. For me, it didn't. Maybe I ought to avoid Urban Fantasy!

Also reviewed by:

Wendy's Minding Spot

Books Books and more Books
Novel Addiction
Maymay's Memos
Falling Off The Shelf
Giving... Reading A -Chance

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dust by Susan Berliner

Title: Dust
Author: Susan Berliner
ISBN: 9781440126598
Publisher: IUniverse/2009
Pages: 216

Book Blurb:

While unloading groceries in her Rock Haven condo, Karen McKay notices a strange swirl of red, green, and blue dust. The swirl follows her inside, lifts a porcelain ballerina from her wall unit, twirls it in the air, and throws it to the floor, shattering it into pieces. The following evening, Karen hears her neighbor's dog barking loudly. Upon investigation, she finds her neighbor, Marion, at the bottom of the stairs?dead. At the top of the stairs, a colorful whirlpool of dust circles ominously. Now the feisty librarian must consider the unthinkable: Could the dust be responsible for her neighbor's death and, if so, would it kill again? Karen turns to her ex-husband, Jerry, for help and together they bravely confront the mysterious dust. But will their daring actions cost them their lives?


With a very familiar setting, and people one can connect with, Dust makes a very comfortable read. Set in a modern Condo, the multi-hued dust is what sets the pace of the book. THe dust gets mayhem in its wake and disappears just as easily. And it all happens to people in the Condo or those who come to visit the Condo on pretext of work or social visits.

Karen can see the dust very clearly but somehow it doesn't harm her. She along with her ex-husband Jerry, set themselves the task of eliminating the dust. They have no one but themselves as no one is prepared to believe that Dust can creat havoc by destroying things and killing people. All the deaths seem like accidents. No one is any wiser.

Fast paced, with simple dialogues and great rappot between Karen and Jerry, Dust is a fast read and entirely delightful. THey might be divorced but they doo seem to understand each other.

I really liked the way they try to kill the live Dust by eliminatiing it through the elements. With an unpredictable ending, it manages to hold our interest. I read it at one go. During the Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon.

Thanks to Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tour for the review copy.

Friday Finds

Fugue State by By Brian Evenson

From Publishers Weekly

Evenson accesses dark, unusual facets of human frailty, powerlessness and fear in this collection, haunted by themes of amnesia, aphasia and creeping infirmity. Hecker, the protagonist of O'Henry Prize–winner Mudder Tongue, can't control which words he says and is incapable of expressing even the nature of the problem to his daughter, who thinks he just needs to get out more. A similar terror informs the title story, in which a plague of amnesia afflicts the area where Arnaud lives. The stricken forget their own names, bleed from the eyes and mouth, then lapse into unconsciousness and death. Arnaud catches the illness, and as he makes his way through a landscape of quarantined apartments, looters and corpses, he interacts with the dead and soon-to-be-dead in an effort to try to remember what he is trying to accomplish. Other ailments make cameos—blindness in Helpful, insomnia in Dread—and the thematic anxiety is heightened by graphic novelist Sally's foreboding black and white line illustrations. This intense, nightmarish collection captures the fear of night terrors, when one wakes in the middle of the night, unable to move.

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman

From Publishers Weekly

Ackerman tells the remarkable WWII story of Jan Zabinski, the director of the Warsaw Zoo, and his wife, Antonina, who, with courage and coolheaded ingenuity, sheltered 300 Jews as well as Polish resisters in their villa and in animal cages and sheds. Using Antonina's diaries, other contemporary sources and her own research in Poland, Ackerman takes us into the Warsaw ghetto and the 1943 Jewish uprising and also describes the Poles' revolt against the Nazi occupiers in 1944. She introduces us to such varied figures as Lutz Heck, the duplicitous head of the Berlin zoo; Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, spiritual head of the ghetto; and the leaders of Zegota, the Polish organization that rescued Jews. Ackerman reveals other rescuers, like Dr. Mada Walter, who helped many Jews pass, giving lessons on how to appear Aryan and not attract notice. Ackerman's writing is viscerally evocative, as in her description of the effects of the German bombing of the zoo area: ...the sky broke open and whistling fire hurtled down, cages exploded, moats rained upward, iron bars squealed as they wrenched apart.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Booking Through Bad Books

btt button

Do you read everything all the way through or do you feel life really is too short to read bad books?

There was a time when I had to finish any book I started, no matter how boring or trashy it was. I felt compelled to read it. Now I don't. I simply stop reading, chuck it out (not literally!) and move on to the next. Why waste time when there are so many other choices? There have been times, when I have stopped reading books, which are not bad or borng only to get back to those later on. There are instances when I simply skim through it, read the last few pages and done with the book.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday


Wondrous Word Wednesday is hosted by Kathy of BermudaOnion

Patrìn by David Morley

…………or pateran,
……..pyatrin, or sikaimasko.
……The marker used by Roma
..that tells others of their direction,
often grids of branches or leaf-twists or
..bark-binds. Used for passing on news
…..using prearranged forms, patterns
……..or permutations of these. Yet
……….it also means a leaf, or
………….simply, a page.
………….Simply, a page
……..yet it also means a leaf
……or permutations of these
using prearranged forms, patterns.
Bark-binds used for passing on news,
..often grids of branches or leaf-twists
……that tell others of their direction.
………The marker used by Roma:
………….pyaytrin, or sikaimasko,
……………..or pateran.

Patrin is the Romanes word for 'leaf.

Patrin (or pateran, pyaytrin, or sikaimasko). Marker used by traveling Roma to tell others of directions, also used for passing on news using prearranged signals. Also, a leaf or page (Romanes). The poem in a way defines Patrin, in a visual way too.

A-Z Wednesday: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Title: Neverwhere
Author: Neil Gaiman
ISBN-13: 9780380789016
ISBN-10: 0380789019
Publisher: HarperTorch/1997
Pages: 370

I came to know of Neil Gaiman from the blog world. I won American Gods from Dewey in a book giveaway. I had asked one of my friends to get me Neverwhere when she visited India. I started Neverwhere today and did not put it down until I finished. Next, I will read American Gods.

Neverwhere is a page- turner through and through. Richard is just an ordinary man with a heart of gold. One day while on a dinner date with his fiancée, he stumbles upon an injured girl in a sidewalk. He helps her and his life changes forever. Without wanting to, he is sucked into a world, which he never knew exists. In underground stations, abandoned buildings and sewer pipelines/channels, a dark and murky world exists unknown to the real one. He wants his life back but he cannot have it back.

In this magical tale of fantasy world, we get to meet many interesting characters like marquez de Carabas, Door, Hunter, Old Baily and angel Islington. Mr Croup and Mr. Vandemar are creepy and totally evil. They are so matter of fact about their evil nature. That makes it so much more chilling. Richard gets embroiled into their world all the while wanting to get back to his world. Labyrinths and wild strange beasts engross us until the end.

It is the modern day Alice in Wonderland, with so much vivid imagery. Nothing feels out of place here. At certain places, one simply stops and savours the sheer beauty of words. It is scary, whimsical, has a great pace, imaginative and very alive. Wit and humour is maintained throughout. Our protagonist is like any other man, not a superhero. More than anything else, one wants to re-read it as soon one finishes. Neil Gaiman is an author to watch out for.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny

"All of them? Even the children?" The fireplace stuttered and cackled and swallowed his gasp. Slaughtered?"


Title: The Brutal Telling
Author: Louise Penny
ISBN: 9780312377038
Publisher: Minotaur Books/2009
Pages: 372

The opening lines set the mood and tone of this novel. How can one wish not to know more? In the village of Three Pines near Montreal, with no crime ratings, a murder is committed. The body is found in a bistro and antique store. The victim is a total stranger and the motive of the murder is almost impossible to find out. And Chief Inspector Gamache arrives with his team to investigate. Even he is flabbergasted.

The villagers are rather closely knit. The Bistro is owned by Oliver and his gay partner Gabri along with B & B next door. Gamache's investigations lead him to a small hut in the deep woods. Now this hut contains priceless antiques. Who owns it and how has he come about the antiques? When Gamache gets into the bottom of it along with his team,
Jean Guy Beauvoir and Isabelle Lacoste, he finds the identity of the victim, , the motive, the weapon and the original place of murder. However, the mystery of the murderer doesn't get to be resolved any time soon.

When Gamache gets into the bottom of it, layer by layer, he is just as astounded as as to find the identity of the killer. Although this is not the nail-biting, seating on the edge of the chair kind of mystery, yet it has that cozy feel to it. We do wish to know more. Chief Inspector Gamache is a likeable character, maybe genial at times but has a keen sense of observation and is a force to reckon with for those who are on the wrong side of the law.

What appealed to me most was the eccentric poet, Ruth. She speaks in riddles, yet she has great understanding and depth. Her presence in the book makes it mystical.

Louise Penny is worth checking out. Thanks to Staci of Life in the thumb, for the ARC. She was kind enough to send it all the way to Delhi!

Also reviewed by:

Michelle's Masterful Musings
Kittling Books
Ms. Bookish
Jen's Book Thoughts

Monday, November 9, 2009

Crime Fiction Alphabet: Fault Line by Barry Eisler

The Last thing Richard Hilzoy thought before the bullet entered his brain was, Things are really looking up.

Title: Fault Line
Author: Barry Eisler
ISBN: 9780345505088
Publisher: Ballantine Books/March 2009
Pages: 302

Alex Treven, a top shot laywer is scared to wits when two of his associates are murdered and his house is burgled. All of them are in one way or other, involved in the invention of encryption application and patent for it is pending. Alex has no family, as they are all dead, except for an enstranged older brother Ben, who has not been in the vicinity for the last seven years, not since their mother died.

Alex, after much thought turns to Ben, who is an undercover agent, who is currently in Istanbul, having the dirty job of eliminating terrorists. Or find, fix and finish, as he calls it. Although Ben resents Alex contacting him, he nevertheless arrives to save Alex. Another lawyer Sarah Hosseini, who too knows all about the encryption, has to be taken into confidence. Although Alex trusts her, Ben does not. And he has reasons not too. All the while the resentment the brothers have for each other, boils over and almost escalates into one killing the other.

It has lots of actions, twists and turns of events, the bonding between the brothers, although both don't know it nor show it. Both are likeable in their own quirky ways. One can't write more without revealing the plot and that is not done for crime fiction.

As with most thrillers, it too is unputdownable. One really likes the unhurried, detailed way Ben goes about his work. He knows he has to clean the world and he goes about it in a clinical manner. Barry Eisler is a writer worth checking out.

Monday: Musing/Mailbox/Whereabouts

Musing Mondays (BIG)
Does your house have a communal bookshelf? If not, is your bookshelf centrally located so everyone has access to it?

My bookshelves are centrally located. Anyone can access those and pick out any book they want. My nephews and nieces do it all the time. I don't mind that at all. Today my younger brother too picked up my copy of The Art of War by Sun Tzu, which he needs for a project. I was mighty glad to give it to him.


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 had a mailbox slump. I did not receive a single book this past week.


I finished:

Selected Poems of Carl Sandburg

I still am in the midst of reading:

Theft of Time by Terry Pratchett
Cult Insanity by Irene Spencer

I plan to read:

whatever takes my fancy

I posted review of:

Selected Poems of Carl Sandburg
Hoodoo Sea by Rolf Hitzer
Receive Me Falling by Erica Robuck