Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Books reviewed in 2008

I have not listed here those books, I have not reviewed. I have put this link up on my rightside bar, too. Click on the title for the review and feel free to link it to your review post! You too can leave a link for me. I was behind my target of 150 books to be read this year! I read 127, out of which I reviewed 97. I might review a few of those left. But then I might not.

I read a vast and varied genres. And as I see it mostly female authors. There are some new first authors here. Worth checking out. I have also starred(*) and double starred(**) those books, which I liked/loved. Do click on the titles to read the reviews.

Here are the the book reviews, month wise. Maybe I will do a post for the best 5/10 reads of 2008. Tomorrow?


Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay*
Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst
The Witch's Trinity by Erika Mailman*
The Tenderness of Wolves by Steff Penney*
And One Rode West by Heather Graham
Riley in the Morning by Sandra Brown

Nov (6).....90

The Witness by Sandra Brown
Mo'Dirty Still Stuntin' by Darrell King
The Dead Room by Heather Graham
Artificial Imagination By Kalpanik S.
Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handel
The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy*

October (15)....84

The Good Person Guide by Richard Bayer
The Outcast by Sadie Jones**
A Dog About Town by J F Englert
Eragon by Christopher Poalini
Immortals: The Crossing by Joy Nash
The Best of Friends by Joanna Trollope
Sir Cook, The Knight? by Erik Mortensen
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier**
The Kings of Innocence by Michael Burns
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi*
Booth's Sister by Jane Singer
A Dog Among Diplomats by J F Englert
Ariel by Sylvia Plath**
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent*

September (2)...(70)

Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins
Dear John by Norma L Betz*

August (1)

The Dark Child by Camara Laye*

July (5)

The Time in Between by David Bergen*
ADMIT ONE by Emmett James
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
Shelf Monkey by Corey Redekop*
One Foot in the Black By Kurt L Kamm

June (19)

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
Down to a Sunless Sea by Mathias B. Freese*
The Road from La Cuava by Sheila Ortego
Day of Wrath by Larry Bond
America's Hidden History by Kenneth C. Davis

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen
Matrimony by Joshua Henkin
The Awakening by Kate Chopin*
Adventures of Spirou and Fantasia--Robot Blueprints and other stories by André Franquin
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak**
Once Upon a Time When We Were coloured by Clifton L. Taulbert
Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Dolors
Perfect ..On Paper by Maria Murnane
The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Romantics by Pankaj Mishra
Quiver---Poems and Ghazals by Javed Akhtar
The i Tetralgy by Mathias B. Freese
On Human Bondage by W Somerset Maugham
Tangled in Wisteria by J. Andrew Lockhart*

May (10)

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
The Second Journey by Joan Anderson
Tintin: The Black Island by Herge
Tintin: The Lake of Sharks
My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk*
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood*
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco*
The Sounds of Poetry--A Brief Guide by Robert Pinsky*
Roots by Alex Haley*
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe


Twelve Red Herrings by Jeffrey Archer
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie**
Yellowknife by Steve Zipp**
Did I see Angels? by Kathryn Maughan*


Hearts and Minds by Rosy Thornton*
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie**
The Last Single Woman in America by Cindy Guidry
Circle of Three by Patricia Gaffney
Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler
Collected Stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
Asterix and the Great Crossing by Goscinny and Uderzo
Shop your Closet by Melanie Charlton Fascitelli
Asterix in Spain by Goscinny and Uderzo
Asterix and the Mansions of the Gods by Goscinny and Uderzo


Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher**
American Gods by Neil Gaiman*
Mercy by Jodi Picoult
Babyproofing your Marriage by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O'Neill, and Julia Stone
The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan


Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult
Once and Always by Judith McNaught
After the Fire by Belva Plain
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman**
Morning comes Softly by Debbie Macomber
Double Take by Brenda Joyce
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami**
The Wind Dancer by Iris Johansen
Heart of Thunder by Johanna Lindsay
A Creed for the Third Millennium by Colleen McCullough
The Road by Cormac McCarthy**
The Silken Web by Sandra Brown
French Silk by Sandra Brown

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And One Rode West by Heather Graham

Title: And One Rode West
Author: Heather Graham
ISBN: 0440211484
Publisher: Dell Books/1992
Pages: 465

This year I have a lot of romances it seems. I have not reviewed all of those. However I thought I would review this.

Christa's fiance has died in the civil war and she is heart broken but her brothers do return to their families. Meanwhile their plantation is under threat of being confisticated by the Tankees, whom Christa hates. But the only way to save it is by marrying one. Union Colonel Jeremy McCautley, who sister is married to one of Christa's brother arrives there to say goodbye to his sister but somehow ends up accepting Christa's proposal of marriage even though both hate each other. He knows both have sold their soul to the devil. Under the circumstances, he tries to get the best out of the bargain. Only problem is, his wilful wife is not ready to bend to his way.

He does make her come west with him although she is not too keen about it. Despite not being able to stand each other, their passion is very palpable. (But that's what is supposed to happen in romances!). The second half is about the journey and interesting. We see the bonds between Christa and her brothers Jesse and Daniel. Jeremy too is much attached to his sister Callie, who is married to Daniel.

Good for those who like romances. It has all the ingredients of it. However, I think I will give romance novels a rest. I have had my fill of those.

Riley in the Morning by Sandra Brown

Title: Riley in the Morning
Author: Sandra Brown
ISBN: 0553104144
Publisher: Bantam/1985
Pages: 193/Hardcover

Riley gatecrashes at a party being thrown by his enstranged wife, Brin Cassidy. Riley is the host of the TV programme, Riley in the Morning and Brin, its producer. And she had thrown that party for Abel Winn, who owns another powerful network and wants Brin as its producer.

In that party, as the bartender has not come, Riley ends up being one, all the time watching Abel making a play for Brin. In the end, Riley refuses to leave and stays the night there in the guest room. He wants to know why Brin walked out on him seven month ago after fifteen months of marriage.

It turns out to be a night of remembering the past. They end up reliving it. The story goes back and forth. In the process Riley injures his right hand and he has to get it stitched. The bantering between the two is good but the reason for Brin leaving Riley seems trivial. Infact as soon as I get to know it, the novel holds no interest. At least for me.

Sandra Brown can write good love scenes. That is one highlight in this. At one time I felt, there is too much of it. I think I will stay away from Brown for a while. For her die hard fans, I would say pick it up. Who knows, you might like it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney

Title: The Tenderness of Wolves
Author: Stef Penney
ISBN-10: 1847240674
Publisher: Quercus/2008
Pages: 450
Rating: 4/5

I had bought this book to be read for the 2nd Canadian Challenge. I had started it but for no apparent reason set it aside. I picked it up again a few days back and was thinking why did I leave it in the first place. It is suspenseful and is very gripping after 50 pages. One just needs to go one.

It is set in 1867, Canada in a settlement of Dove River. A man, Laurent Jammet, a trapper, trader and loner,
is brutally murdered and Mrs. Ross finds him. She also finds that her seventeen year old son is missing. She has no way of knowing if he is involved in the killing. Parker who is an old friend of Jammet, arrives into the settlement and is taken to be a suspect of the murder and jailed. Mrs Ross, after helping Parker escape the jail, sets about tracking down the killer as well her son. It is harsh winters but that does not deter her from her goal.

We find many other characters setting about in journey to catch the killers. No one knows who truly killed Jammet, who had no real friends except perhaps Francis, Mrs Ross' son. The past and present both intermingle at some point. The story being told from the perspective of its characters, although Mrs Ross is the main one. We get glimpses of her relationship with Francis and her husband, Angus, who somehow is resentful of the boy.

This is a very atmospheric book, told from the point of view of immigrants, Indians and others. It very suspenseful too, which continues till the end. Mrs Ross and Parker are bonded in subtle ways although both keep away from each other as much as they can.

The short chapters help us keep going. After the second half, one can't put the book away. The journey by the various characters is the search of one's inner self. Thats how I saw it, felt it. At the end of it, it gets the families closer to each other.

This is a somewhat sad book, with complex characters and has that underlying message that wolves attack only when they are threatened. Unlike human beings. Maybe the animal world does have something to teach us. It is not a book for everyone but for those who like serious reading, I say go for it. I am glad I read it in 2008!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Witch's Trinity by Erika Mailman

Title: The Witch's Trinity
Author: Erika Mailman
ISBN: 978030735153
Publisher: Three Rivers Press/2007
Pages: 257

As soon as I received this book, I started reading it. I couldn't put it down until I finished it. Long after finishing the novel, it stays in mind. I would call it one of the best reads of 2008.

The novel is based in a small town in mediaval Germany, which is suffering from severe famine. Food is scarce on the table. And it is severe winters too. Meanwhile a Friar arrives into the town carrying with him a book called Malleus Malefaction, which is supposed to be a guide for identifying witchcraft. He implies that the town is under the spell of witches which are conniving with the Devil.

The narrator, Gude Muller is an old woman living with her son, daughter in law and their two children. She knows that due to the food shortage, her daughter in law wants her out of their life and thus is afraid what she might tell the friar to gain favours.

When Gude's friend, Kunne is taken for a witch and burnt at the stake, Gude knows it is her turn now. Despite her son's support and faith in her, she is very scared. Gude has hallucinations, which seem very real to her. She is filled with guilt because of those and half believes that she is a witch herself. That is most scary part of this book.

This book only emphasises the madness of witch hunting, which kind of spread to all parts of the world like an epidemic. It needed only a few words out of the mouth to condemn someone as a witch. The very poor or the very outspoken were targeted and burnt at the stake without any trial or hearing. Believe me, it still happens in a few parts of India. What has really changed?

It is a very well written novel, which keeps one totally engrossed. After reading The HERetic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent, I am very glad I read it. I recommend both to be read one after the other. They are written in entirely different styles with a common thread of witch hunting.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst

Title: Lost and Found

Author: Carolyn Parkhurst
ISBN: 9780316033497
Publisher: Little Brown/2008
Pages: 369

I had read so much about this book in the blog world and also I found the cover very attractive too. So I requested a copy of it from the author and her publicist was kind enough to send me a copy. I had finished reading a while back but got around reviewing it only today.

The novel starts with a mother-daughter duo, Laura and Casey, taking part in a reality show named Lost and Found. There are assorted group of other duos too. Almost all of them have certain secrets hidden in their closets. The creators of the show want those secrets to come out in the open.

We get to know each one of the participants by their own reflection about their lives and relationship with the other person. Each is hoping to win to better their lives. In the trials and tribulations of the reality show, their souls are bared to us.

Each of the participant has flaws and that only endears them to us. The contestants also come into terms with themselves accepting themselves as they are. The main thing is what they find, losing out in the show. Laura and Casey too come into terms with each other. The show helps to bind them although they go their own ways in the midst of it. Each group bonds with each other in their own ways.

At some places I did find the novel long-winded but all in all it is a good read. Parkhurst chose each of the pair very wisely and her way of writing is good too. It sure pulls at the heart strings at some places.
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Title: Sarah's Key
Author: Tatiana de Rosnay
ISBN: 9780312370848
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin/2007
Pages: 293/Trade Paperback

Sarah's Key too interested me via the blogging world. The publicist of the book was kind enough to send me a copy of it. I am very glad I requested and received this book. This book opened up facts I had not known before. That the French police being responsible for rounding up thousands of Jews in Paris and sending them to Auschwitz to die. Those included more than 4000 children between the age of 2 to 12. Those children were citizens of France. But it did not matter a fig for the police. And the people too turned a blind eye. It seems that France has kept it well hidden from the world.

It is July 1942, Paris. Sarah is a ten year old girl, who is taken away from her home along with her parents, in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, she hides her 4 year old brother in a cubboard which is not visible. She promises to come back for him. Her parents are taken away from her and unknown to her, sent to their death.

After 60 years, Julia Jarmond, an American journalist settled in Paris investigates the roundup. She stumbles upon certain secrets which almost rips apart her life. But she knows she has to find out what happened to Sarah Starzynski. And she keeps doing it no matter what. The past and present run in parallel. It keeps the reader rivetted till the end. It stays in mind long after reading the book. We cry with Sarah, for Sarah. We need to know what happened to her. Where did she go? Did she survive at all?

I am glad that I read it. I am glad I got to know about the French connection. It is fiction but it is totally based on facts. And this has made me look up more material on that period of time. What I want to know why did the French keep it all hidden? Even now not much is known about it.

As it is said in the book. Remember. Never forget.

Such books should be read by ALL of us.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy

Title: The Triumph of Deborah
Author: Eva Etzioni-Halevy
ISBN: 9780452289062
Publisher: A Plume Book/2008
Pages: 355

Book Blurb:

In ancient Israel, war is looming. Deborah, a highly respected leader, has coerced the warrior Barak into launching a strike against the neighboring Canaanites. Against all odds he succeeds, returning triumphantly with Asherah and Nogah, daughters of the Canaanite King, as his prisoners. But military victory is only the beginning of the turmoil, as a complex love triangle develops between Barak and the two princesses.

Deborah, recently cast off by her husband, develops a surprising affinity for Barak. Yet she struggles to rebuild her existence on her own terms, while also groping her way toward the greatest triumph of her life.

What led you to pick up this book?

It was doing the rounds of book blogging world. The storyline pulled me in. I asked Eva for a copy and she was kind enough to send me one.

What did you like most about the book?

I like the strong character of Deborah. In those times when women had no say, she was widely respected for her wisdom. I also learnt a lot about Israel's history. Many a things might have changed but some remain the same way. Our culture is embedded in us. I felt so is the Israel culture. I found many a similarities between Hindu and Canaanite weddings.

What did you like least?

I think the sex scenes could have been toned down a bit. At a few points I felt Barak was only ruled by his desires of the flesh. So that kind of detracts from the storyline.

What did you think of the writing style?

Etzioni-Halevy's writing is simple. It does help the reader to be engrossed in the novel.

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

Those who like history and wish to know more about religion will like it. It clearly depicts geography and makes a socio-political statement for that period of time.

What did you think of the main character? What is the central character’s biggest problem?

Deborah is a wonderful woman, strong-willed and very objective in her views. She can forsee the future, abhors war yet knows that it is needed too. Her biggest problem is that at one point of time she listens to her heart than her mind. This affects her relationship with her husband.

What did you think of the ending?

I liked it. With the help of Deborah, Asherah and Nogah, peace finally prevails. War is given up for good.

Do you recommend this book? If you use a rating system, what’s your rating?

Yes, I do recommend it for all those who like historical fiction and I rate it 3.5/5. In other words, I liked it.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Weekly Geeks #27: Remembering Dewey

I don't know how I got to know Dewey. But after I landed up on her blog, I never looked back. Her blog simply drew us all in. Her reading was vast and varied. I looked up at what she had to say about a particular book. As I said before on my blog, I was in awe of her. She had so much enthusiasm that it kind of attracted us to her. She kept the book blogging spirit alive by doing 24 hour read-a-thon, which I loved. Out of three, I participated in two. This time I also won 5 bookmooch points, which I forgot to redeem. She wrote me to remind me of that.

I liked to do the Weekly Geeks. It kept the book blogging community alive. She made sure we visited each other. Her giveaways were generous. I for one, won three books from her.

I had some inkling of her illness but did not know the seriousness of it. Yes, I will miss her. I am missing her. Hope she is looking at all of us from up there. Dewey, we will keep the community feeling alive. We have to. You started it, we got to make it grow.

Love you Dewey, wherever you are. It hardly matters that I never met you.

Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handel

Title: Any Given Doomsday
Author: Lori Handel
ISBN: 9780312949198
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperback/2008
Pages: 343

I had seen this book make the rounds of book blogging world and requested a copy from the author. She was kind enough to send me one. This book is pegged as urban fantasy. I usually do not go in for paranormal fiction. This time I thought to read one or two books on that.

Elizabeth Phoenix is a psychic who helps the police to fight against injustice. She is good at it too, although she does not know how she got the psychic skills. Her foster mother is found murdered and she becomes unconscious while she is there. She has this strange memory of seeing weird creatures. Her former lover, Jimmy Sanducci is presumed to be involved in the murder.

Jimmy knows the truth and makes it known the evil has been there from the beginning of time and she is the chosen one to lead and destroy it. Elizabeth has no inkling what to do other than her instincts to follow.

So far so good. As a start this sounds good. But it fizzles out in the middle. Too many creatures, to many things happening, which somehow do not connect. And there is excess of sex. I felt those were not needed. Not with Jimmy or with Sawyer. The sex is kind of demeaning, to control her. That completely put me off. I think I should better stay away from paranormal fiction, if it is one. For those who like that genre, it might interest them a lot. I kept waiting for the climax and I was disappointed.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Interview with Kathleen Kent, author of The Heretic's Daughter

Recently I read and reviewed The HERetic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent. I liked her work immensely. When I asked to do an interview with her, she was kind enough to agree despite a busy schedule. So here I go, without much ado!


1. How much time did it take to write The Heretic's Daughter? Did you have stumbling blocks in the way? If so, what?

It took me about five years to do the research and writing of the novel. I studied every bit of historical source material on the Salem witch trials I could find as well as family genealogical records. I visited historical societies throughout New England and read quite a few letters and sermons from 17th century Massachussetts to get the rhythm and cadence of the language right. English today in the U.S. is quite a bit different than the way the colonists spoke in the 1690's, so my most difficult task was getting the narratives to sound authentic, without making it too cumbersome for the modern reader. I went through four major drafts of the original manuscript before I started sending it out to agents and publishers.

2. Do you have any favourite spot that you like to write in (i.e. sitting on the bed, in a comfortable chair or out in the open, etc.)?

I actually wrote "The Heretic's Daughter" at a little desk in my kitchen. My husband traveled for business most of the week, and my son was in school, so the house was quiet. Now my husband works from home, so I have moved my desk up to my bedroom where I can close the door, turn off the phone and write. I usually try to work from 9:00 in the morning until 1:00 in the afternoon.

3. What was the process you went through to find a publisher for you book? Was it dificult?

I had no contacts in publishing and didn't have a clue how to publish my work---so I went to the book store and bought a book, "How to find an agent." I made a list of agents in the U.S. whose clients wrote historical fiction and sent out cover letters saying, in effect, "Please read my book because. . . ." I got a lot of very nice (and some not so nice) rejection letters before getting interest from my present agent. She had done her master's thesis in college about the Salem witch trials and loved my novel. It was she who approached the publishers and, though her help, I was able to get a deal. It took about a year from the time I started looking for an agent to the time I was signed to a publisher.

4. Are you writing full-time? If yes, do you think it is a good decision?

I am writing full time, working on my second novel which is a prequel to "The Heretic's Daughter." It too is historical fiction and will explore the life of Thomas Carrier who, legend says, was one of the executioner's of King Charles I of England. I have always wanted to be a full time novelist but, because of family obligations, I worked full time in various commerical enterprises. It wasn't until I moved with my family from New York City to Texas, and after years of saving up for this purpose, that I was able to write full time. It is a dream come true to be published and I'm filled every day with gratitude that I have the opportunity to have a second book published.

5. What were you doing before you decided to be writer? Did that help in your writing career in any way?

I worked for ten years as an Operations Manager in commodity trading in New York, and then for another ten years as a defense conversion contractor, traveling to Russia for the U.S. Department of Defense--in essence turning swords into ploughshares. So my work was completely unrelated to publishing, but I always secretly wanted to be a wrtier.

6. Can you please describe you writing style and the various influences you have had or having?

My biggest influences, I believe, were from reading Charles Dickens, Edgar A. Poe, and Nathaniel Hawthorne as a child. I had no formal training in writing other than English classes in college, so I had to develop my own writing style over the five years I researched the novel. Many of the stories in the book were told to me by my mother and grandmother about the Carrier family and the Salem witch trials, but the actual narration was either influenced by the actual court transcripts or from the contemporary language of theologians writing about the events surrounding the witch hysteria of 1692.

7. When is your next book coming out and about what?

I am now writing the prequel to "The Heretic's Daughter" which will hopefully be finished by the spring. It will also be published by Little Brown and will explore the life of my 9 times great-grandfather, Thomas Carrier, who lived to 109 years of age, was over 7 feet tall, and was, by family accounts, a soldier for Cromwell during the English civil wars.

8. Do you have any favourite authors?

Can you tell us why you like them? I love historical fiction. Some of my favorite contemporary authors are Iain Pears and Charles Palliser because of the way they capture time and place in the details of their writing. I also love Annie Dillard for her gorgeous writing style; "Pilgrim at Tinker's Creek" takes my breath away. I also love Cormac McCarthy---his "border trilogy" is, to me, one of the most brilliant depictions of the fortitude, courage, and violence, of the American experience of the new west.

9. What are you reading now?

I just finished "The Witch's Trinity" by Erika Mailman which is about the witch hysteria in a small village in Germany in the 16th century. The similarities to the witch trials in New England are very sobering. The usual suspects were women who were brought to trial and executed because they were mentally unstable, midwives and "healers", or very outspoken and challenging to the society in which they lived.

10. Do you have any book recommendations for my readers?

I recently finished "The Good Thief" by Hannah Tinti, which is about an orphan adopted by thieves who take the child on a strange and dangerous journey towards the discovery of his parentage and family history. It is very "Dickensian"---dark and, at times, scary. Great fun.


Thanks Kathleen! It was fun doing the interview.

Check out

Kathleen's site

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Artificial Imagination by Kalpanik S.

Title: Artificial Imagination
Author: Kalpanik S.
ISBN: 9780981476216
Publisher: Center of Artificia Imagination/2008
Pages: 163

I received this book from I had read this book long time back but got to write a review only now. Frankly speaking, this book is not easy to review. That is not to say, I didn't enjoy reading it. On the contrary.

Kalpanik S. is an artificial imagination software program who lives with his wife and two daughters in the United States. Despite being a software programme, he has been solely created to be different, to feel and be like a real human. This book takes the reader through adventures of Kalpanik.
Artificial Imagination is a humorous and well-written book. It has some great photographs. I enjoyed the book although it is written very differently from what I usually read. I would recommend it for all science lovers! However, it is not a book meant to be read by all.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The HERetic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

Title: The Heretic's Daughter
Author: Kathleen Kent
ISBN: 9780316024488
Publisher: Little Brown/2008
Pages: 331
Rating: 5/5

I read this a while back. It had such an impact in my mind that I couldn't write a review right away. Kathleen Kent has written that part of history, which makes us uneasy. Which we want to wish away or simply not remember. But it happened and we ought to remember it so as not to repeat anything like this. Or prevent it if we can.

Writing about witch trials is not easy. Kathleen has handled it with sensitivity. The book starts with Sarah writing a letter to her grand daughter telling her of a family secret, where she accounts the witch trials in a New England town, Salem. Sarah's mother Martha Carrier, asks her to tell a lie in order to save her family. And Sarah does so.

Here we see mass hysteria, where a few girls could accuse another female of witchcraft and condemn her for life. Any one wanting to settle a score could do that. And this resulted in the deaths of hundreds of men, women and children. Superstition and fear ruled and many took advantage of it to jail their enemies.

This book speaks of a woman's courage in the face of adversity. It speaks of a family, which sticks together no matter what even after facing indignity, torture, and death.

This book touched me because there have been cases of woman taken for witches and killed in a few parts of India even now. This has more to do with property rights than anything else. Declare a woman as a witch, get her killed and acquire her property. Mostly females who speak their minds are condemned thus.

BTW, Kathleen Kent is a direct descendent of Martha Carrier.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

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.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Interview with Darrell King, author of Mo'Dirty Still Stuntin'

Two days back I posted a book review of Mo'Dirty Still Stuntin' by Darrell King. This book is pegged as a street-lit. Do check it out by clicking on the title. Today I take to opportunity to present an interview with the author.

Interview With Darrell King

Q 1.) When and why did you begin writing?

A) I've been writing ever since i've been able to read. I'd say I seriously
started writing at about eight years old. I've always had a very active
imagination, which seem to take flight whenever i put pen to paper . Writing
gave mean outlet for my imagination to soar.

Q 2.) When did you first consider yourself a writer?

A) I'd say as early as six when I first began penning my very own comic
books. I'd draw crude looking panels,with illustrations of my favorite
superheroes and fill in the dialogue in word balloons above their
heads. Though this early creative past time gave me hours of fun it often
landed me into hot water with my great grandparents who did'nt take kindly
to having their living room walls resemble the funny pages of the Sunday

Q 3.) What inspired you to write your first book?

A) My first published work a street lit novel entitled "Mackdaddy:Legacy of
a gangsta"(*Publisheamerica, 2004), was inspired by 1988's motion picture
"Colors" starring Robert Duvall, and Sean Penn as well as N.W.A.'s hit
single "Boyz In The Hood". The Gang culture of South Central,Los Angeles
was virtually unknown to east coast of the United States back then. That
one movie as well as The controversial lyrics of Compton's infamous
gangsta rap troupe (N.W.A.) came on the scene and introduced the entire
country to the cold harsh reality of life in the hood, and inspired me to
pen my first tale of ghetto drama.
Q 4.) What was the hardest part of writing your book?

A) I'd have to say dealing with the editing and proofreading part which is
altogether necessary, but man is it ever tedious and irritating, I hate
that part, it's the worst.

Q 5.) What do you see as the influences on your writing, outside, inside, whatever?

A) I'll always give mad props to hip hop in general and gangsta rap in
particular, as the major influences on my literary work. Movies such
"Scarface","Goodfellas", and "New Jack City" also influenced my writing
style with their darkly sinister themes.

Q 6.) Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

A) I have many favorites but if I had to choose from those among my very
own genre of writing it would have to be a toss up between past and
present,the late, great,Donald Goines and K'Wan Foye, simply known to fans
of street lit affectionately as 'K'Wan. Donald Goines is the pioneer of the
genre who captivated his readers with stories so gritty, hardcore and
realistically compelling that in it catapulted him to the status as the #1
bestselling Black author of any genre in the world! (a title he still holds
posthumously today) and prompted Hollywood to begin producing the wildly
popular Blaxploitation films of the early 1970's. I loved reading his works
and I still from time to time pick up one of his old novels from off of my
shelf. K'Wan on the other hand brings the heat with each and every novel he
pens.Everything from his debut work "Gangsta", to his current street
sensation "Gutter" is fiyah! His characters are unforgettable, the story
lines flawlessly raw and unforgiving. He is arguably one of the very best
in the industry right now.

Q 7.) Can you share a little of your current work with us and how do you envisage it in future?

A) "Mo'Dirty" is pretty much a second helping of my novel "Dirty
South" (Triple Crown Publications,2005).It chronicles the rise of Whiskey
Battle,a ruthless young enforcer for Peola, Georgia's Bad Boyz II
syndicate .He is also the illigimate son of Marion "Snookey" Lake,drug lord
of New Orleans who wreaked havoc throughout the pages of Dirty
South. Whiskey has a drama filled life which becomes all the more
complicated after he's asked to take out the chief of police by his
underworld superiors. I've received rave reviews of both street lit works
and I will continue with several of the best loved charaters of each novel
in future titles.

Q 8.) What book(s) are you reading now?

A) Well I just finished "Dreams from my father" from President elect Barack
Obama,which was an excellant read! Very insightful and reflective. And now
I'm reading "Eclipse" by Stephenie Meyer.

Q 9.) Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

A) Yes.There is a local street lit novelist and indie film maker, James
Tanner from right here in Washington, DC whose debut "Diary of a thug" was
quite interesting. Filled with violent men and lustful, conniving women it
has all the elements a street lit novel needs to keep one's interest. A fun
read for any urban lit fan. And then there's Stephenie Meyer. I came across
her novel "Twilight" one day while fishing around for an umbrella in my
daughter's closet. I thumbed through it and it got my attention right
away, ever since i'm a horror buff and partial to werewolves and
vampires.After the first two chapters I was hooked! I've read all four
vampire novels of Meyer's Twilight series. "Breaking Dawn" was so good that
I finished it in one weekend! Hell, I might even visit the town of Forks, WA
my damn self.

Q 10.) Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers?

A) I'd like to say that i'm so very blessed to have the fans that I have
who have supported me from day one with Mackdaddy:Legacy of a gangsta up
until now. You guys are the absolute best and without you, I would not have
had the privilege to be where I am today. So it is both a joy and an honor
to write the type of gritty, treetwise stories that you love so much and
with you support and the higher self's guidance I shall continue to give
the people what they want! Love, Peace and Hair grease! YOUU KNOWWW!

Darrell King


Thanks Darrell, for the answers!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mo'Dirty Still Stuntin' by Darrell King

Title: Mo'Dirty Still Stuntin'
Author: Darrell King
ISBN: 9781601620682
Publisher: Urban Books/2008
Pages: 220

I received this copy from Tracee Gleichner of Pump up Your Book Promotion to read and review. I seldom read this genre. This book deals with drugs, gang wars, killings and of course, sex. Not much to elaborate about it.

Narcotics dealers want to finish off the law enforcers so as to run their business smoothly. Whiskey Battle is a Hustler who wants to get rid of the police chief, who is creating havoc for them. It all falls apart when a girl gets killed.

This book is not as fast paced as it ought to be but it has all the right ingredients to hold interest for the street smart generation. Almost everyone is playing dirty here. However, it did nothing for me. Maybe because, I did no like the street language. Good for one time read and pass it on...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Short Story: The Tattoo Woman by Mark Richardson

I read Tattoo Woman by Mark Richardson online on the author's behest.

“You have five tattoos?”

“Yes, I know, crazy. I thought I was immortal. I have to wear these long sleeves at work,” she said, lifting both arms.

She had none when he had known her 10 years back. Now she seemed to have many. Was Stacy the same woman he had known? Andreas was not very sure. When he went to her apartment and saw her fiancee's photo, he felt rage and smashed it with his hand. She had left him 10 years ago and he still did not why. She had written letters to him without posting any of those. Now he looked at those yellowed letters and ha confuse feelings.

In this short story, we see conflict in both their minds. Regret mixed with lost love. Can they rekindle it?

Richardson's writing holds interest. It might not be a perfect story but it is not trash. One can look forward to read more short fiction from him.

The Witness by Sandra Brown

Title: The Witness
Author: Sandra Brown
ISBN: 9780446191548
Publisher: Warner Books/2006
Pages: 438

I have read a few Sandra Brown books. Mostly romances. I do find her writing much better than many romance writers.

The Witness is different from her usual novels. It is about a laywer and her infant son. Kendell Deaton is the best public defender in Prosper, South Carolina. However, with no fault of hers, she gets enbroiled in ugly dealings in the town. She knows she has to get away from it to save herself and her son. She can go to any limits to do that. Even if it means to skip the law. She is trying to escape and her car has a nasty accident. She saves herself and her baby from the wreck along with the driver of the car, who loses his memory in the accident. She claims he is John, her husband and one night escapes from the hospital along with him and her baby. John is sceptical of her claim but he can't do a thing about it as he has lost his memory.

She is a consummate liar. She tells it with ease and at the drop of a hat. John does not believe her and also he is very scared of the infant. Still he is not ready to let her go out of her sight. He senses that she is in some sort of trouble. He is also aware that she is capable of looking ater herself.

This novel has all the ingredients for holding our interest-- guns, federal officers, mystery, secrets, and evil men chasing. The pace is good and that means I finished at one go after I started it. Not a heavy read but good for a change. I liked it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

Title: Ariel
Author: Sylvia Plath
ISBN: 9780060931728
Publisher: HarperPerennial Modern Classics
Pages: 105
Genre: Poetry
Rating: 5/5

I won Ariel, a book of poems by Sylvia Plath from Serena of Savvy Verse and Wit in a book giveaway. No other win has given me as pleasure as this one. Plath is one of my favourite poets of all times. Her poetry borders on the dark. How does one review it, other than saying I liked it and will read it again and again.

Plath has taken poetry to new heights. These impassioned pieces touch our soul to the core. They speak of turbulent emotions with a brilliancy bordering on the raw side of life. Starknes of her poems enhances the austerity beautifully. The imaginary word comes alive out of her poetry.

Her poetry is so deeply personal yet I connected with it. Her female essence marvellously comes out of the depth of her imagination. All aspects of a woman..charming, witty, acerbic, playful, girlish, sour, fanciful and muh more can be found here. She does get a bit repetitive but which great poet doesn't.

Each and every poem in this collection is work of greatness. To be read, savoured and read again. A must read for poetry lovers and all those who ought to read poery.

A Dog Among Diplomats by J F Englert

Title: A Dog Among Diplomats
Author: J F Englert
ISBN: 9780440243649
Publisher: Dell Book
Pages: 305

This is second book by J F Englert concerning the dog, Randolph. He and his master, Harry are now sought to solve a murder in Manhattan. Randolph does not like it one bit becos he senses that Imogen, Harry's fiancee who had disappeared a year back, is somehow involved in all this. She is implicated for the murder.

Randloph tries to solve it in his own way. He surfs the net, reads books, and also acts as a therapy dog for a mentally depressed diplomat. He misses Harry but can't do a thing about it. However, he utilizes his time by exploring for clues in the diplomatic circles. Randolph has a tough task. Of protecting Harry, clearing his mistress' name and catch the murderers. He does it all with great aplomb.

I liked it as much as I had like A Dog About Town. The very thought of a dog solving mysteries appeals to me. These books make good light reads.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Booth's Sister by Jane Singer

What led you to pick up this book?

Deb Smith of Bell Bridge books contacted me and then sent me an ARC of the book to read and review.

Plot summary:

This is about Asia Booth Clark, who is the sister of John Wilkes Booth, who killed Abraham Lincoln. She was 30 years old and pregnant when Union soldiers and Federal detectives stormed her home in Maryland in search of Johnny. Although he was not found at her place but she had to bear the brunt and carry the legacy of shame for a long time.

The Booth family was one of the acclaimed acting families of America. Johnny's deed placed them all under suspicion. He was captured and killed but that in no way took away the shame.

In Asia Booth Clark's words:

"My brother killed Abraham Lincoln. That is my weight, my shame. While he remained at large, I was held captive in my home. I should have told the soldiers who came with guns drawn and bayonets at the ready this true thing: I might have stopped him, for I harbored him and kept his secrets. I was a pie safe locked tight and guilty as he."

What did you like most about the book?

I liked the relationship bettween Asia and her brother Johnny. They grew up together. Asia adores her brother but does not understand his radical views and his deeds. That is the anguish of a loving sister who is torn between her brother and her country.

What did you think of the writing style?

Jane Singer based it from the personal memoirs of Asia Booth. She has skillfully woven facts with a bit of fiction to make it interesting. The historic aspect of it comes across. Jane's writing is good. She has researched it well. Lincoln's assassination is a big part of history of America. This book manages to catch that anguish of the nation.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Title: Persepolis
Author: Marjane Satrapi
ISBN: 9780375714832
Publisher: Pantheon/2004
Pages: 341/Trade Paperback
Genre: Memoir

I had heard so much about it in the blog world so I was elated when I won a copy of The Complete Persepolis from a giveaway by Thinking About...

How does one describe a graphic novel which is autobiographical? Marjane Satrapi gives us a true account about how is life in the period when Iran is going through Islamic revolution. Her parents are liberal Marxists. But the outer world is completely different. She is expected to dress and behave in a certain manner which is appropriate for Islamic way of life. She is confused about a life which is not open even to her. It is told by her from the age of 6.

She does it with wit and humour. She makes it all come alive for us. Although written with wit, we can sense the turmoil within her mind. She comes of age but for that she has to undergo certain hardships. Her parents make sacrifices so that she can get a better life. In a life filled with war, destructions and repressions, she comes into her own. Despite hardships, she does not lose that thread of sanity and comes out of it.

Living in Iran was not easy even for Iranians. That is what she tells us here. Her parents send her to Austria for her get a better education. For a while she is serious about that but she statrs taking drugs and one day is found unconscious on the streets. After that she gets back to Iran to be with her parents again. Marjane is not afraid to speak her mind. She is very outspoken and fearless.

This a powerful memoir although told with humour. Graphics are sharp and without clutter. The black and white enhances the impact. A must read or everyone. To learn about a world we know nothing about.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Title: Cold Mountain
Author: Charles Frazier
ISBN: 0375700757
Publisher: Vintage/1998
Pages: 449/Trade Paperback
Rating: 5/5

What led you to pick up this book?

One of my blogger friends sent it to me to read for the Southern Challenge. I had not read it then. It took me a while to pick this book but once I started, I did not stop until I finished it.

Plot summary:

Inman is an injured soldier who is disillusioned with the war after fighting in Petersburgh. One day he simply walks out of the hospital he is in, to go to the woman he loves who lives in Blue Ridge Mountains. Meanwhile Ada is trying to survive in the farm left to her by her impractical father. She does not know how to cope up. And help comes in the form of Ruby who refuses to be a servant. Both Ada and Inman's story goes parallel and the highlight is when they finally meet. Inmam meets various kinds of people on his way, prostitutes, slaves, marauders, witches, hunters and many who are so very kind. Despite its starkness and brutality, the novel can be acclaimed as a great piece of work.

What did you like most about the book?

I loved the practical Ruby very much who does not let Ada wallow in self pity. She makes sure that Ada can survive in any circumstances.

What did you think of the writing style?

Frazier's prose is mesmeric. It is almost like poetry at places. I was completely into it. It enthralled me.

What did you think of the main character?

Inmam is not a man of many words. He know what he is doing. Like any soldier, he keeps up his spirit at every point. He does not give in to despair. He knows he has to go to Ada and he does so..

How do you think he feels?

He feels strongly about Ada. He hates the war. He is compassionate too, for the weakest of the weaks. He is ever helpul.

What strengths does Ada has that help her cope?

Initially, Ada has no clue how to cope in the derelict farm after her father dies leaving her alone. But she does not leave the Blue Mountain. That way, she is a fighter although Ruby helps her to make her strong.

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

Ada and Ruby make a great pair. They have a no nonsense air about them and are very good friends for eah other.

Any other particularly interesting characters?

Ruby's father, Stobred, who is a real bastard but still redeems himself somewhat.

What do you think of the ending?

The ending brought about mixed feelings. However, under the cirumstances, it was the best ending. Real life does not have fairy tale endings.

Do you recommend this book?

Yes, I recommend this book for all those who like serious reading. It is not a feel good book. It is stark, brutal, hitting you on the guts kind of book. The sombre feelings lasts long after one finishes it. The writing is very good and that is one good reason to read it. It also has a timeless feel to it. A classic in the making. It somewhat made me remind of The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

The Kings of Innocence by Michael Burns

Title : The Kings of Innocence
Author: Michael Burns
ISBN: 0979706815
Publisher: Tucket Publishing/2007
Pages: 218

What led you to pick up this book?

I won it in a giveaway from Sandra of Fresh Ink Books

Plot summary:

Roy McCrath has come back to his hometown for two weeks to look after his brother Bobby as his parents are off on a Vacation to Ireland. Here he rediscovers his bonding with his childhood friends. Each one of them has some issues to deal with. Roy finds that he is not alone trying to cope up with life. Jay and Mark are doing the same. Jay gets involved in local mafia becos of a gambling debt. Mark, a police officer is in a dilemma how to save the situation. Mark and Roy try to reason with Jay but with no avail.

What did you like most about the book?

The friends stick to each other and are fiercely loyal.

What did you like least?

Jay's girlfriend, Lauren, who is two-timing him.

What did you think of the writing style?

It could have been a little better. At few places, I felt it lacked conviction. Still, it is a coming of age novel and depicts the dilemma faced by many youngsters of the present times. Most of which is about job, money and relationships. One has to get a hold on those. One ought not lose touch with reality. It is a one time read, good while it lasts. Don't forget to pass it on to a youngster in a similar situation. My copy goes for my 22 year old niece.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sir Cook, The Knight? by Erik Mortensen

Title: Sir Cook, The Knight?
Author: Erik Mortensen
Illustrations: Laura Harrison
ISBN: 9780978202651
Publisher: Crackjaw Publishing
Pages: 97

I had asked for this book of fables from
mini book expo to read and review. I received it last week and found it perfect to read during the 24 Hour Read-a-thon.

This book is based in the medieval age and is about Higgins , who is a cook. One day he finds himself umemplyed and sets off to find work for himself with his newly bought mule. Only the mule is too smal to carry all his things. After a while Higgins devises a plan to carry his cookware. He ties his baking trays on his persona, puts the cooking pot on his head and carries knife like a sword at his waist. For that he is mistaken to be a knight. He being a honest person denies it but no one is ready to listen to him. Meanwhile, he meets Randall, a conman, who devises a plan to con the King of Dryuban. Higgins resist but circumstances become such that he has to agree! So both land up in that city and despite their best efforts to con, they end up doing all the bravery stuff they were NOT supposed to do!

Higgins might only be a cook but he is one intelligent person. He does not like conning at all. Randall has no such qualms. However, they make a great pair. Here they get to kill a dragon, save another kingdom and in the process find themselves rich. All their plans to con turn disastrous! Finally Higgins is recognised for his cooking and is very happy for it.

This book is a satire in a way. People will believe what they want to. No conning is necessary for that. With wit and humour, this book made a good read. I laughed all the way to it. I would call this book a riot! And as the author says, meant for reading aloud! And my copy goes to my 11 year old nephew. Yes, this book can be read by both children and adults. There are illustrations, which are really very good.