Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Teased: Tender Graces by Kathryn Magendie

teasertuesdays31

All my tiredness flies out of the window when I see Grandma Faith standing in the mountain mists that drift in and out of the trees.


Title
: Tender Graces
Author: Kathryn Magendie
ISBN: 9780982175620
Publisher: Bell Bridge books/2009
Pages: 316

Tender Graces is one of those books which stays in mind even after you put it down. One doesn't wish the book to end at all. One is with Virginia Kate right from the beginning reliving her saga at every moment. This book begins with the mountains of West Virginia and in a way ends there. Virginia Kate does find a home in the swamps of Louisana and also frees herself from the burdens of love for her momma, Katie Ivene. In a way the setting is a metaphor for the turbulent feelings within Virginia Kate, and her brothers Micah and Andy for their momma.

Frederick is a salesman but quotes Shakespeare at every step, meets Katie Ivene, a wildly passionate girl-woman, who wants the good life, and they elope and get married. They have three children, Micah, Virginia Kate and Andy. Their married life has its ups and downs but goes totally bust after a few years of marriage. Frederick goes back to Texas to get enrolled in a school. Katie wants him back but he gets married to Rebekha. This makes Katie mad at Frederick and she sends away Micah with them. Meanwhile Virginia Kate misses her brother Micah, and after a while, Katie sends her away too keeping Andy with her.

Virginia Kate resents being away from her momma but is happy to see her brother Micah, although she misses Andy too. Rebekha does her best to make both the children feel at home and cares for them. After a while she has a boy Bobby but she doesn't change towards the older children. Katie Ivene meets a man and Andy too is made to go to his father without as much as a goodbye. Micah and Virginia Kate are thrilled to be re-united with their brother. Both the boys hate their momma for giving them up but Virgina Kate has mixed feelings. She cannot come in terms with their momma giving up on them.

Rebekha is a good mother, she gives them a solid base, and although she doesn't say it, she loves them for themselves. There is a strong bonding between the brothers and Bobby too takes to Andy, always tagging behind him.

Katheryn Magendie has created solid characters, and is very clear about inter-personal relationships. There is a strong supernatural element in this book, which in no way intrudes but makes it flow smoothly. And just when things get harder to bear, Virginia Kate gets the wisdom from her thoughts, what to do next. Her Grandma Faith is with her, to guide her. Miss Darla too senses when the girl needs her.

Katie Ivene is in no way evil, although her father and sister were. She is one of those woman, high strung and wild, who do not know what they themselves want. The reader does not hate her. Or doesn't pity her either but accepts her as she is. Kathryn managed to do that and that is what is the best part of reading this novel. One gets an inkling why she sent her children away from her before Virginia Kate does.

One just can't help loving Rebekha, long before the children do. She might be quiet and in the first appearance colourless, compared with Katie Ivene but she is grounded and knows what is best for the children. Frederick pales in comparison to her. Right since childhood Micah has loved to draw and he follows that calling. Andy and Bobby to go about excelling in their callings. And Virginia Kate finally understands why their momma let them all go. In the same home, in her momma's room. And at last she is at peace with herself.

With beautiful setting, strong characters, Magendie has written a very good book. One of the best books I read so far. One simply resents it when it ends. Thanks Kathryn, for the ARC.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

When the Lights went off the accompanist kissed her.

Title: Bel Canto
Author: Ann Patchett
ISBN: 0060934417
Publisher: Perennial/2001
Pages: 318

One of those books which defies description. Mainstay of this book are music, beauty in the unlikeliest of places and bonding between people as varied as air and water, maybe the sky thrown in.

It is about a kidnapping gone horribly wrong. The terrorists wanted to kidnap the President. However, he is at home watching an episode of a daily soap. For that he missed the greatest Opera Singer Roxane Coss, who had been called to sing for a Japanese businessman, Mr Hosokawa.

So now the terrorists have no president but around 200 unwanted hostages. For a moment they don't know what to do. Next morning they release most of the hostages, all women except for Roxane Coss. They think her presence would help them in their demands. The demands are not clear, they goals are not clear and best part is, they are in no hurry to kill anyone.

Slowly the hostages too relax and a bonding is formed between the terrorists and hostages. Most speak different languages and hence Gen, an interpreter is much in demand as he can speak several languages. Then it is discovered that there are two girls terrorists too. In all this, we can see people falling in love even though they know there is no future. There are endearing characters like the Opera Singer Roxane Coss, Vice-President Ruben Iglesias, Japanese Businessman Mr Hosokawa, and French Ambassador Simon Thibault.

For all the good rapport between the terrorists and the hostages, the end of their relationship is inevitable tragic. Even I was surprised by the ending. I wasn't expecting it. It only shows that love can be found anywhere. And music can overcome anything.

With wit, subtle irony, comic tragedy, this book is a must read. Go for it!

Mondays: Musings/Mailbox/whereabouts

Musing Mondays (BIG)
Now that we’ve come to the middle of the year, what do you think of your 2009 reading so far? Read anything interesting that you’d like to share? Any outstanding favourites?

There are some books I read in those six months that standout for me. I list those here. Click on the title to read my reviews:

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway**
The Suicide Collecters by David Oppegaard*
I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb**
My Father's Paradise by Ariel Sabar**
Mainline to the Heart and Other Poems by Clive Matson (Poetry)*
Sputnik Sweatheart by Haruki Murakami*
A Climb Through Altered Lanscaped by Ian Parks (Poetry)*
Breathing Out the Ghost by Kirk Curnutt**
The Horseman's Graves by Jacqueline Baker*
Random Acts of Heroic Love by David Schienmann**
Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji**
The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha*

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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.

Received only one book this past week:

The Wolves' Keeper Legend by Sylvia Weber

".... 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 once he once loved? All he could see in his mind was the last pictures 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-pearls 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..."

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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:

Baby Shark by Robert Fate
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I am in the midst of reading:


Tender Graces by Kathryn Magendie
Blasted by Kate Story

I posted reviews of:

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
A World I Never Made by James Lepore
The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha
Baby Shark by Robert Fate
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson


Saturday, June 27, 2009

The World I Never Made by James Lepore

Title: The World I Never Made
Author: James Lepore
ISBN: 978098608723
Publisher: The Story Plant/2009
Pages: 262

Pat Nolan arrives in Paris to identify the body of his estranged daughter, Megan. They have had a love-hate realtionship. However, when Pat looks at the body, he knows it is not Megan's. However, he doesn't let the Paris police know and gets the body cremated as soon as possible. Pat somehow senses that by faking her death, Megan is reaching out to him, asking for his help. He has to find her. Meanwhile, there are people who suspect that Megan is very much alive and only way to get to her is by following Pat. Abdel Lahani, a powerful Saudi businessman settled in Morocco has his own reasons to find her. Megan and he had a torrid affair and he is not prepared to let go.

Catherine Laurence, a Paris detective takes a long needed leave from her work and joins Pat Nolan on his quest for his daughter. Nolan and Laurence journey through France, Morocco and Czech Rebuplic with the French Police and a band of International Terrorists behind them. This proximity leads them to find love with each other. Both have demons to kill yet both their souls merge.

A World I Never Made is relatable in the present context of terrorism. The back and forth movement of the novel helps it understanding better. Pat and Catherine are moving in the present but Megan's story moves from the past. Both threads do not interfere with each other and only converge when it needs to be, not before. It also depicts fanatics at their best, with no rhyme or reason. It is an unputdownable novel.

Yet I found a few loose ends. When Megan and Pat do meet, they separate just as soon. It was kind of a let down. Catherine's relationship with her husband is mentioned but no reason is given why she hated him so much. And why she feels guilty now that he is dead. Terrorism is main theme of the novel. And it could have been covered in a bit more detail.

However, one does find redeeming features where there are people who take care of Megan, no matter what, hiding her and also giving their own lives for her. Megan is not really with the terrorists but she is researching about it. For those very reason, I can say it is a very readable book. Thanks James, for the signed copy!

Weekly Geeks: Trivia time

In this terrible heat (the temperature hovers from 109-111 deg F and humidity level is too high) I think I need to think of trivia for my readers!

1) How many books did P G Wodehouse write? How many of those are Jeeves books?

2) What is Ayn Rand's philosophy known as?

3) What does Bel Canto mean?

4) What is Manga? Do you recommend any to me?

5) Who wrote the Hardy Boy Series?

6) Who is best known for Stream of Consciousness works?

7) Pearl S Buck is best known for The Good Earth. Name any other novel by her.

8) Who first used blank verses in his poetry?

9) What is magical Realism?

10) Tell me two lesser known facts about your favourite author.

Feel free to answer as many as you wish in the comment section. And don't look at other people's answers. No cheating by googling the answers either!! I will answer 1-9..ok 10 too, next week.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Finds

Secret Son by Laila Lalami

For years, Youssef, a young man from a Casablanca slum, has heard his mother’s stories about his dead and respectably poor father, stories he used as inspiration for his own life. But when a religious group, known simply as The Party, moves into town, he discovers the truth—his father is a wealthy businessman and very much alive. Youssef sets out to find his real father and enters his Westernized world, setting off a chain of events with disastrous consequences. Secret Son, set in modern Morocco against a background of corrupt liberalism and Islamic fundamentalism, explores the struggle for identity and the myriad ways in which the political, the personal, and the religious bind us together.

T'Aragam by Jack W. Regan
Young Max Ransome watched his father die, killed by marauding phantors as they swept through T'Aragam at the bidding of the evil wizard Zadok. Barely escaping with his own life, Max is thrust into a whirlwind journey as he races against time to save T'Aragam, the world he loves, from a dark dominion. Can Max overcome the horror of his father's death and save T'Aragam from the grasping talons of its enemies?
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha

The Crying TreeThe death warrant arrived that morning, packaged in a large white envelope marked confidential and addressed to Tab Mason, Superintendent, Oregon State Penitentiary.

Title: The Crying Tree
Author: Naseem Rakha
ISBN: 9780230739543
Publisher: Macmillan/2009
Pages: 353

Irene and Nate Stanley's son Shep, has been murdered in their Oregon home, apparently in a robbery. A nineteen year old man Daniel Robbin gives himself up for the said murder and after nineteen years he is given the death sentence, that is to die by lethal injection. It ought to be a happy day for which any parent whose child has been brutally murdered awaits.

When Irene comes to know of it, she is somewhat disturbed by the news. Unknown to her family, Irene has forgiven Daniel and has also started writing letters to him, getting replies from him too. They had become friends of sorts. She is unsettled to know why Daniel had stopped appealing against the death sentence.

When she tells her family of her deeds, they are shocked by her revelation and she too is is stunned by the secrets her husband had kept from her all these years. She also wants to know why Daniel didn't mention any of it in his letters to her. Maybe he wanted to spare a mother.

Their family almost falls apart. Her daughter Bliss, now a public prosecutor, an expert on capital cases tries to help her mother meet Daniel before he is executed. How does it help both? What really happened that night? How is GDaniel connected to their son, Shep? Irene has to find answers for those and with her forgiveness, she sees redemption. For Daniel, her husband, herself and Shep.

It is not a easy read. The loss of a child is not easy to accept, not for the reader either. And initially we hate Daniel. Slowly our views change. Was he responsible for the killing? What made him go to the Stanley family that day? Why did he give himself up? Why did he stop his appeals? Fo a man who has no recall of a family, with a troubled teenage years, worst is assumed. Is it right?

The title speaks out. Under the Crying Tree, Shep is buried and the book ends with Irene coming back to that very place. A fitting end?

Naseem has tackled it very well, she has the power to pull in the reader. With as difficult as this book, it still can't be put down. And I kept thinking about the book long after I finished reading. That I think is part of good writing. To write a book which stays in mind. At places, it creates such vivid images. Thanks Naseem, for the ARC.

The book gets released on 7th July, 2009.

Booking through heatwave

btt button

Now that summer is here (in the northern hemisphere, anyway), what is the most “Summery” book you can think of? The one that captures the essence of summer for you?


With Delhi's temperature hovering around 109 deg F to 111 deg F, I can't think of books which conjure summer. It is too hot to do that when mind can't fathom this impossible heat. I am not into much of beach reading either. I feel those are very light reads and I can't read anything so light.

There isn't any specific book I can mention as summery read. It depends on my mood and the time of the month.

That leaves me with books which can be read any time. I will mention genres here not specific books or authors. Crime fiction, Mystery, Thrillers, Magical realism, Fantasy cover most for me. I like good strong women's fiction too, which have strong female protagonist. Then I can read poetry in summers. The late evenings are perfect for those.

Presently I am reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett and find that I like it. Next on my agenda is Company of Liars by Kate Maitland. There seem like perfect summer reads. At least for me. Bill Brysom works too along with a few other non-fiction.

What works for you? Heavy reading? Light reading? Poery? Comics? Or something else?

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BTW, I am only a few short of 1 00 000 hits! Help me reach that mark.


Baby Shark by Robert Fate

The Rumble of the Machines stopped everything cold. No one spoke, but everyone knew what was next.

Title: Baby Shark
Author: Robert Fate
ISBN: 9780977627691
Publisher: Capital Crime Press/2006
Pages: 270

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to take revenge
she had to be patient
OUR BABY SHARK
rose from the ashes
to kill the biker gang

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Forgetting nothing,she relived the hell of that night for days, weeks, and months. Better than anyone else, she learnt it all, defense, pool and how to be street smart. When time was ripe for revenge, she made for the kill, even alone if she had to.

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The above two verse describe the book in different ways.

Bikers enter a poolroom in the west of Abilene and coolly start a fight. Kristen's father is murdered in front of her and she is brutally raped, beaten and left for dead. With the help of Henry, whose son too was killed in there, she slowly recovers from her ordeal. Only in the physical sense. Even than she has some scars left. All she wants is revenge. The police is not ready to help. Infact they don't want to pursue the case at all even when told of the biker gang's identity. Some big guns are involved. With Henry, Sarge, Albert and Otis's help she learns all the skills ..how to defend herself use of guns and also be good at the pool table.

Kristen at 17, has seen too much which she ought not have. We don't blame her for wanting to take revenge. Infact we want it fast. Henry knows that they must not hurry. But bide their time. He has hired Otis to trace the bikers and he does it too. Kristen is known as Baby Shark for her poolroom skills. She had been turored well by her father's friend.

This is street literature with bikers, street languages and our baby knows how to survive is such a way. She had to learn it the hard way. She is a killer but is one with a purpose. Her character is well etched out and we love the chinese Henry and the PI Otis. Both care for Baby in their own ways wanting no harm come her way.

It made a good fast paced summer read. Thanks Robert, for the book!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday

wordyweds

Wondrous Word Wednesday hosted by Kathy of BermudaOnion

My words have been taken from Baby Shark by Robert Fate which I finished today:

1) Mesquite: Henry had used the tractor and charms to drag away the mesquite.

n.

Any of several small spiny trees or shrubs of the genus Prosopis in the pea family, native to hot, dry regions of the New World and important as plants for bees and forage for cattle, especially:

  1. P. glandulosa, native to the southwest United States and northern Mexico. Also called honey mesquite, western honey mesquite.
  2. P. juliflora, native to the Gulf Coast and Caribbean islands from Mexico to Venezuela. Also called algarroba.

2) Grifter: I'd teach you some grifter tricks and we'd be off'n running.

n.
  1. Money made dishonestly, as in a swindle.
  2. A swindle or confidence game.

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

"Until the drowned girl came to Laurel's bedroom, ghosts had never walked in Victorianna."

Title:
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming
Author: Joshilyn Jackson
ISBN: 9780446697828
Publisher: Grand Central/2008
Pages: 308

This is one of those novels which totally takes you in from the first line. With magical realism along with a murder mystery it has all those elements which sustains the interest till the end. The ghost part of it felt more like vision to me, which works well too.

Laurel is happy enough in Victorianna, Florida along with her daughter Shelby and husband David, who is into developing codes for PC games. Laurel too is into quilting which gets her good money. One August night she finds Molly, her daughter's best friend, standing beside her bed, who leads her to the swimming pool. Molly is floating lifeless in there and no amount of revival works. Laurel's main concern are her daughter and another girl Bet, she has almost adopted from a lower strata neighbourhood.

Laurel needs her sister Thalia, with whom she had not spoken for two years. Now Laurel and Thalia have a past, which threatens to spill over the Hawthorne household. Laurel's perfect life goes haywire and she doesn't know what to do. Shelby and Bet too have a secret about Molly which they aren't willing to share. Molly's death is closed as accidental but Laurel knows it is a murder. In the midst of all this, there is supposedly a pedophile roaming about. And he is a suspect in Laurel's eyes. In their journey towards unravelling the truth, Laurel has to face a lot of unpleasantness and the explosive ending leaves us shattered.

Whatever differences Laurel and Thalia have, it doesn't affect their strong bonding. Laurel knows Thalia would stand by her always. David is not too fond of Thalia but he too realises that Thalia can go to any length to keep Laurel and Shelby safe. The ghost part too works well and as a mystery it manages to keep that alive too. With beautiful prose, it was a pleasure to read it. Thanks Joshilyn, for sending me a copy!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesdays: Teaser/Whereabouts



I am mostly in Chicago writing down poems about the people, the factories and I hit hard with my harsh reality of a working class. Some of those might make you wince but they ought to make you get out of that lethargy and do something. That something could be just to look around. Misfortunes and social cruelties become part of life when we are apathetic and let them be. Come and fight it. And believe me nothing has changed over the years, centuries for the working class.

~Selected Poems of Carl Sandburg

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teasertuesdays31
"Her mother will cry some and so will her sisters
and brothers.
But all the others got down and they are safe
....and this is the only one of the factory girls
....who wasn't lucky in making the jump
....when the fire broke.
It is the hand of God and the lack of fire escapes."

~Page 18, Anna Imroth, Selected Poems of Carl Sandburg


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Weekly Geeks : Reading Challenges

"Reading Challenges: a help or a hurt? Do you find that the reading challenges keep you organized and goal-oriented? Or, do you find that as you near the end of a challenge that you've failed because you fell short of your original goals? As a result of some reading challenges, I've picked up books that I would have otherwise never heard of or picked up; that, frankly, I have loved. Have you experienced the same with challenges? If so, which ones? Do you have favorite reading challenges?"

At one time I joined any challenge I read about in the blog world. I was in some kind of a rampage as if I had to be a part of any kind of book reading. Somehow it became too much. I just couldn't keep track and at some point reading became a chore. The pleasure seemed to be all gone.

I woke up one fine morning. Decided to chuck out the challenges and can't tell you how relieved I felt. As if a big burden was gone from my head. Yes, challenges make us read books which we otherwise might not have heard. Now I do look over the challenge books and if I find anything good, I read it. I check the challenge books without participating in challenges at my own pace, on my own time.

However, I do take part in the following two challenges every year:

Canadian Challenge hosted by John Mutford
Southern Reading Challenge hosted by Maggie Reads

And a few more if I am inclined. I don't wish for challenges to rule over me. It has to be other way around.

Mondays: Musings/Mailbox/whereabouts

Musing Mondays (BIG)

Do you restrict yourself on how many books you take out from the library at a time? Do you borrow books if you already have some out? Do you always reborrow books you don’t get to?

Most of us would agree that there can't be too many books even if the TBR pile reaches the Moon! When I used to borrow books from the library, it was always 6 books at a time. That too because they didn't allow more than that. I used to finish those in a week and was back at the library much before the due date so that I could borrow another half a dozen.

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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.

Received the following:

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

Laurel, a high-end quilt maker, sees the ghost of a little girl in her bedroom one night. When it leads her to the backyard and a dead girl in the swimming pool, the life Laurel had hoped to build in her gated Florida neighborhood with her video-game designer husband, David, and their tween daughter, Shelby, starts to fall apart. Though the police clear the drowning as accidental, it soon appears that Shelby and her friend Bet may have been involved. Bet, who lives in DeLop, Laurel's impoverished hometown, was staying over the night of the drowning and plays an increasingly important role as the truth behind the drowning comes to light. Meanwhile, Laurel's sister, Thalia, whose unconventional ways are anathema to Laurel's staid existence, comes to stay with the family and helps sort things out.



The Texicans by Nina Vida

Vida's luminous, dramatic seventh novel finds Joseph Kimmel, a Missouri school teacher, heading to mid-19th-century Texas to claim his recently deceased brother's belongings; he's left for dead when his horse is stolen. Across the plains, after her Texas Ranger husband dies fighting Comanches, Aurelia Ruiz takes refuge at a Comanche camp and adopts their ways. Henry Castro, a Frenchman with dreams of creating an Alsatian-immigrant–populated town in his own name, not only rescues Kimmel but marries him off to Katrin, an unattached white √©migr√© whom a Comanche leader had espied and wanted for his own. The newlyweds head off to create a distinctive ranch, one that welcomes members of the Tonkaway tribe, Mexicans, escaped slaves, free African-Americans and others in distress.



Best Intentions by Emily Listfield

After tossing and turning all night, thirty-nine-year-old Lisa Barkley wakes up well before her alarm sounds. With two daughters about to start another year at their elite Upper East Side private school and her own career hitting a wall, the effort of trying to stay afloat in that privileged world of six-story town houses and European jaunts has become increasingly difficult, especially as Manhattan descends into an economic freefall.


The Painter of Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Epstein's sweeping debut novel, set in early 20th-century China, fictionalizes the life of Chinese painter Pan Yuliang. Born Xiuquing, she is orphaned at a young age and later sold into prostitution by her uncle, who needs the money to support his opium habit. Renamed Yuliang, she becomes the brothel's top girl and soon snags the attention of customs inspector Pan Zanhua, who makes her his concubine. Zanhua sets her up in Shanghai, where she enrolls in the Shanghai Art Academy and early on struggles with life study, unable to separate the nude's monetary value from its value in the currency of beauty. She eventually succeeds, winning a scholarship to study in Europe.


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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:

Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson
The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha
The world I Never Made by James Lepore


I am in the midst of reading:

The Painter of Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein
The Wolf's Head by Peter Unwin

Blasted by Kate Story
At the Threshold of Alchemy by John Amen

I posted reviews of:

Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton
The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

TSS: The 19th Wife, why I set it aside

On the Monday post, I had said that I have set aside The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff for the time being. Many asked me the reason for it. All those who have read it and loved it and those who have it on their wish list or TBR pile.

It isn't because I didn't like the way it was going. Infact I found it a fascinating account. It relates the story with history and I do like such books. The problem is not with the book. It is a MUST read as I see it. However, I am in some kind of stress and I am unable to concentrate. This book needs my full concentration...deserves it. I will get back to it and probably start it right from the beginning although I have read one third. Last year the same thing happened with The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. I think I got back to it after six months. And I never regretted reading it. It remains one of my best reads of 2008.

Blogging tips for protecting and more visitors to your blog

Most of you know that I lost my Reading Room blog to malware. Yes, I did create another one in its place, Everything Distils with Reading. Of course I lost my links, ranking, readership and lot more which I had built over three years. Yes, I am getting there but slowly. Three years of work can't be achieved in 50 days.

I explored and found a very simple rules:

1) Have a back up. I find importing blogger blog to Wordpress easy. Create a wordpress blog of the same name and import it, comments and all. You can do it on bloggers too but I found it cumbersome. Do whatever is easy and works for you.

2) Submit your blog to Google webmaster tools or Yahoo Site Explorer. Either works. They search your blog for any kind of malware and inform you. Keep checking regularly.

3) Don't clutter your blog. Keep it simple. More widgets you add, more chances of malware. Avoid animations, music, graphics unles you have those specific blogs. It also affects loading and results in lesser number of visitors. I avoid visiting those blogs which are filled with all kinds of gadgetry. It takes away the pleasure of reading, let alone commenting. Of course I do read them on my google reader.

4) If you have to have a site counter, go for well known ones. Statcounter or sitemeter work well. I had put good counter which was the culprit for Malware.

Explore the net as how to protect your blog. Blogs are extension of our creativity. Losing it is painful. Ask me how. I almost went insane.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Invitations for guest post/interviews

In this post, I invite my book blogger friends to do a guest post here. It can on any book review on my blog or any book you would like to recommend to me and my other readers. Any authors reading my blog too are most welcome.

You can also choose any other book related topic..authors, poets, book clubs..anything. The world is your oyster.

I too extend the same offer for other bloggers who would like me to do a guest post on their blog.

You can ask me interview questions too. And if you like, I too will send you interview questions. Let's interact more. Get to know each other more.

Please leave your interest to do either/both in the comments section. Please don't forget to leave your email id. That would help me sending out questions.

And if you wish to send me a topic for a guest post/interview questions, my email id is:

gautami.tripathy[at]gmail.com


Friday, June 19, 2009

The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

Title: The Heretic Queen
Author: Michelle Moran
ISBN: 9780307381750
Publisher: Crown/2008
Pages: 370

Synopsis

In ancient Egypt, a forgotten princess must overcome her family’s past, and remake history.

The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the 18th dynasty’s royal family—all with the exception of Nefertari, niece of the reviled former queen Nefertiti. The girl’s deceased family has been branded as heretical, and no one in Egypt will speak their names. A relic of a previous reign, Nefertari is pushed aside, an unimportant princess left to run wild in the palace. But all of this changes when she is taken under the wing of pharaoh’s aunt, and brought to the Temple of Hathor where she is educated in a manner befitting a future queen.

Soon Nefertari catches the eye of the crown prince, and despite her family’s history, they fall in love and wish to marry. Yet all of Egypt opposes this union between the rising star of a new dynasty and the fading star of an old, heretical one. While political adversity sets the country on edge, Nefertari becomes the wife of Ramesses the Great. Destined to be the most powerful pharaoh in Egypt, he is also the man who must confront the most famous exodus in history.

I will review this book by answering questions by other bloggers.

Becky: Did you enjoy The Heretic Queen? Have you read Michelle Moran's other novel, Nefertiti? If you did, how do you think they compare? Do you have a favorite? What is it about this book that you love most? (Or if you didn't like it, what didn't you like about it!)

Gavin: I am curious about Michelle Moran. Did you enjoy The Heretic Queen?

Louise: Why do you read historical fiction? Or is this one of the few ones you've read?

I liked The Heretic Queen. Though the author says it is mostly fiction, it seems plausible. It might have happened that way. I liked the plotting and the love between Nefertari and the Pharaoh comes through very strongly. However, I liked the intelligent, far sighted, learned Nefertari much better. She is skilled in languages and knows the politics of her place. What she doesn't know, she makes it a point to learn. She is considered the daughter of a heretic queen and she has to prove herself at every step. She does it with poise. She knows that she can only do it by beind calmness and with sanity. Anger has no place in her life. She does not even hate Iset, the other wife of the Pharaoh. Filled with historical details, it unravels many intruing part of politics and works for peace for Egypt.

I read Historical novels once in a while and only of those peruiod which interest me. I don't go in for historical romances. I need the plot, the political era and how a country progresses.

It is my first novel by Moran and I do plan to read more. As and when I get them.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton

Title: Angel's Advocate
Author: Mary Stanton
ISBN: 9780425228753
Publisher: Berkeley Prime Crime/2009
Pages: 292

It is what is called paranormal cozy mystery. I had liked the premise and asked for it from the author and she was kind enough to send it to me.

Bree is trying to make both ends meet in order to run the law firm Beaufort and Company. As she takes up cases for those who are already dead, there isn't any cash flow. So she takes up the case of a spoilt rich girl who has snatched mioney from a girl scout selling cookies. Everyone is outraged by it and Bree knows her name is going to be mud.

Then she is confronted by the ghost of that millionaire who needs her help to clear his name. According to him, he did not commit suicide but was murdered. Now Bree is doubly determined to find out the secrets carefully hidden by all. Lindsay is made out to be the troublesome teenager with no love lost for her. She is disliked by her family and friends. Bree thinks everyone needs a second chance and so does Lindsay.

With spirits as her aids, she goes about her work, digging into the deeply buried secrets in order to save Lindsay and her dad's from burning in hell for eternity. Bree is fair and she knows what to do even when confronted by spooky ghosts. Angel's Advocate is a breezy read. Comfortable and with a good ending. For that inbetween read, it works very well.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday

wordyweds

Wondrous Word Wednesday hosted by Kathy of BermudaOnion

My words have been taken from Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton

1) Pestilential (page 37): You are a pestilential man, Lieutinant.

pes⋅ti⋅len⋅tial
–adjective
1. producing or tending to produce pestilence.
2. pertaining to or of the nature of pestilence, esp. bubonic plague.
3. pernicious; harmful.
4. annoyingly troublesome.

2) Beignets (page 39):...set a tray filled with the coffeepot, a plate of beignets, and four cups of...

bei⋅gnet[ben-yey; Fr. be-nye]

–noun, plural bei⋅gnets Show IPA . 1. a fritter or doughnut. 2. French Cookery. any fruit, vegetable, seafood, etc., dipped in batter and deep-fried.

3) Exculpatory (page 52): Jst looking for every possible exculpatory road.

ex⋅cul⋅pa⋅to⋅ry
  [ik-skuhl-puh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee]

–adjective
tending to clear from a charge of fault or guilt.

Vacation time

I am on my summer vacations, reading, writing and sleeping. We must not forget the eating part either. Delhi is too hot. I needed to get away from it. So I am going to Nainital, a beautiful place, hill station really. It ought to give me a bit of relaxation.

So I will be away from 17th to 21st. Without internet. Ah, bliss! I will not be doing any sight seeing but just about relaxing in a resort. I need that. Actually all of us need that.

Yes, I will take along books. Can we survive without books?

The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha
The World I never Made by James Lepore
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Baby Shark by Robert Fate
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
Selected Poems of Carl Sandburg

I have scheduled a few posts to come up in the next few days. Don't forget to visit and leave your foot prints. I will catch up when I get back on Sunday.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bloggiesta

Bloggiesta
Host - Natasha at Maw Books


What to do during the Bloggiesta?

Anything blog related. Reviews. Back up posts. Guest posts. Invitation for guest posts. Tweaking the blog: templates, links, widgets. Planning for author interviews. Anything, everything to do with blogging.

How to play:

The date is Friday, June 19th beginning at 8am, Saturday the 20th and ending Sunday the 21st at 8am (8am your time, wherever you are). That is a total of 48 hours, of which you should aim high for a total of 18-24 hours spent on the challenge.

The hours spent on the challenge do NOT need to be in a row.

Sign up and more details on the site post here

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Although I signed for it, I am going away for a break, which was completely unplanned. I have scheduled a few posts. Reviews, memes and other related stuff, which will come up on their scheduled dates. Does that count?

Tuesdays: Teaser/Whereabouts

I am between memory and dreamscape, between my mother and lover, by the stars, on the earth, surreal imagery is what I seek. In this poetry book, I seek redemption from despair. They might seem clashing but they make me relive life as I see it. Food for the soul.

~At The Threshold of Alchemy by John Amen
( A book of poetry)
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teasertuesdays31

"I spouted fangs, poured salt in the principal's tank.
My virginity was a sock lost in the laundry.
The bottle replaced the cross. Electric guitars.
Hallucinogens. Trans Am belly-up in a ditch.
Graduation day: I came to, blood on my groin."

~page 72, At The Threshold of Alchemy by John Amen



Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mondays: Musings/Mailbox/whereabouts

Musing Mondays (BIG)

Do you feel compelled to read prize-winning (Giller/Booker/Pulitzer etc) books? Why, or why not? Is there, perhaps, one particular award that you favour?


I don't really feel compelled prize-winning books. If I find good reviews about such a book, in the blog world, I do check it out. I found quite a few of the prize winning books a drudgery to read. But then there are others I just couldn't put down. It depends on the storyline, plot, characterization and good prose not a mere prize.

However, I do check out Nobel prize winners. Ravindranath Tagore, T S Eliot, John Steinbeck, Pablo Neruda, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Orhan Pamuk are just a few I mention here. Booker prize winners work for me too.

Finally, the book matters, not the prize or any kind of hype.
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sb10067729n-003

Received the following:
in the wake of the boatman by Jonathan Scott Fuqua
from the author

in the wake of the boatman is a study of family dynamics and sexuality. The narrative concentrates on the life of Puttnum Douglas Steward, born during the middle of World War Two, and immediately considered better off dead than alive by his father. And so begins Puttnum's life. Spanning the next thirty three years, his is an existence of deep sorrow and humorous irony.

A World I never Made by James Lepore
from the author


Pat Nolan, an American man, is summoned to Paris to claim the body of his estranged daughter Megan, who has committed suicide. The body, however, is not Megan's and it becomes instantly clear to Pat that Megan staged this, that she is in serious trouble, and that she is calling to him for help.

This sends Pat on an odyssey that stretches across France and into the Czech Republic and that makes him the target of both the French police and a band of international terrorists. Joining Pat on his search is Catherine Laurence, a beautiful but tormented Paris detective who sees in Pat something she never thought she'd find--genuine passion and desperate need. As they look for Megan, they come closer to each other's souls and discover love when both had long given up on it.

Selected Poems of Carl Sandburg

In more than 150 poems, arranged in eleven sections -- from Chicago to Poems of Protest to Lincoln to Anti-War Poems to Poet of the People -- readers can see what Sandburg was made of and, in turn, what the poet thought the American people were made of. Sandburg's aim was to write "simple poems... which continue to have an appeal for simple people," and throughout his life the poet strove to maintain that important connection.


Renascence and Other Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay
1917. Pulitzer prize-winning American poet, this is her first book of poems. Contents: Renascence; Interim; The Suicide; God's World; Afternoon on a Hill; Sorrow; Tavern; Ashes of Life; The Little Ghost; Kin to Sorrow; Three Songs of Shattering; The Shroud; The Dream; Indifference; Witch-Wife; Blight; When Year Grows Old; Sonnets I-V (unnamed); and Sonnet VI (Bluebeard).


Although I had asked for the Edna St. Vincent Millay, Stacy of Stacy's bookblog was kind enough to send me Carl Sandburg book too along with it. I can't thank her enough for it!
Angels Advocate by Mary Stanton from the author

Money’s been tight ever since Bree Winston Beaufort inherited Savannah’s haunted law firm Beaufort & Company along with its less-than-angelic staff. But she’s finally going to tackle a case that pays the bills representing a spoiled girl who stole someone’s Girl Scout cookie money. But soon enough she finds that her client’s departed millionaire father needs help too. Can she help an unsavory father/daughter duo and make a living off of the living?
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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. Click the bolded titles for the reviews:


The Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill
Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill
In the Shadow Of the Glacier by Vicki Delany
The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

I have set aside the following books for the time being now:

The 19th Wife by David
The Known World by Edward P Jones

I am in the midst of:

The Wolf's Head by Peter Unwin
Blasted by Kate Story
Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton

I plan to review, which is long overdue:

The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

and any other book I finish

Short Story: Yvette by Guy de Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant in not unknown in the reading cirle. His short stories must have been read by one and all and at one time or the other. I have read almost all of his works and the endings are always twisted. They can be interpreted in various ways but not the way one has expected them to. However, I don't hear about him in this blog world. Today I thought I would showcase him. I found a few of his stories online and chose to re-read Yvette after say 20 years.

Yvette is about a girl who is already dead at the start of the story. The narrator is talking to someone he knows about as Comtesse. Comtesse Samoris, who has killed her own daughter, Yvette.

"The comtesse is nothing but a common, ordinary parvenue originating no one knows where. A Hungarian or Wallachian countess or I know not what. She appeared one winter in apartments she had taken in the Champs Elysees, that quarter for adventurers and adventuresses, and opened her drawing-room to the first comer or to any one that turned up."

"Madame Samoris is the type of these adventuresses, elegant, mature and still beautiful. Charming feline creatures, you feel that they are vicious to the marrow of their bones. You find them very amusing when you visit them; they give card parties; they have dances and suppers; in short, they offer you all the pleasures of social life.

She had a daughter who was just the opposite, a simple, virtuous girl, who wasn't aware of her mother's loose morals. One day she overheard her some people talking about the mother and her numerous men friends. Yvette confronted her and teld her that at the end of the month, they should retreat to an unknown village and lead a unsullied life or she will kill herself. The Comtesse disregarded this.

"At the end of a month the Comtesse Samoris had resumed her usual entertainments, as though nothing had occurred. One day, under the pretext that she had a bad toothache, Yvette purchased a few drops of chloroform from a neighboring chemist. The next day she purchased more, and every time she went out she managed to procure small doses of the narcotic. She filled a bottle with it."

And one day she didn't wake up. She was dead as she had claimed. The mother shed a few tears and resumed her old ways.

And what about the girl's death?

"Oh! they pretended that it was an accident caused by a new stove, the mechanism of which got out of order. As a good many such accidents have Occurred, the thing seemed probable enough."

Guy de Maupassant needs to be rediscovered because he was one of the greatest story tellers of all times.

And don't forget to
check out:

Short Story Sunday hosted by CB James
Short Story Monday hosted by John Mutford



TSS: This is where we talk about books, reading and other stuff related to those

Lately I have not written specifically for The Sunday Salon. I have been posting reviews or Sunday Book coveting. So what's so new today? Yes, I am on my summer vacations, reading a lot and blogging too. Write a poem a day. I don't really go out anywhere. It is very hot in Delhi right now. So staying in is cool!

I never used to watch TV much but I do that too. Mainly watching HBO or World Movies.

Last week I read mysteries mainly. Two Colin Cotterill books--Curse of the Pogo Stick and The Merry Misogynist, In the Shadow of the Glacier by Vicki Delany, and flipped through The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran, which I had read but forgotten to review. I participated in the Mystery Readathon. Here are my starting meme and wrap up posts for that.

Then Eleanor Bluestein was on my blog by the way of a guest post and interview.

I posted the following too:

Monday Musings/Mailbox Mondays
Teaser Tuesdays/It's Tuesday, where are you
Wondrous Words Wednesday
Booking Through Niche
Weekly Geeks: Catching up with reviews

I discovered a great number of book blogs too via most of the book memes like Musing Mondays, Mailbox Mondays, Tuesday Teasers, Booking through Thursday, Friday Finds, Weekly Geeks and lot more. I have subscribed to those through google reader, which now contains more than 400 blogs. Including those poetry/writers blogs I have to visit. Unmanageable, yes but well worth it!

I am currently reading Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton. I received it yesterday and as it looks like a fast read I started it this morning and ought to finish it by evening. I am also reading The Wolf's Head by Peter Unwin, a non-fiction about Lake Superior