Friday, February 29, 2008

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan

Title: The Bonesetter's Daughter
Author: Amy Tan

ISBN: 0-8041-1498-6
Publisher:Ballantine Books/2001
Pages: 403

The Bonesetter's Daughter is my first book by Amy Tan. I read it for Celebrate the Author challenge 2008 February read. This is about three generations. A daughter, her mother and grandmother. It has three parts, one about Ruth, the daughter, second one is about her mother LuLing and Precious Aunt, Ruth's grandmother who although dead has an impact on all their lives. We see Ruth, loving yet hating her mother. LuLing who loves Ruth and is also living in the past for her own mother, called as precious aunt. The same precious aunt, who had brought her up by becoming her nursemaid.

When LuLing suffers from Alzheimer, we see Ruth reading from pages written by her mother chronicling her life. In those pages are also some written by precious aunt.

This book covers a complex and ambiguous relationships between mothers and daughters. About secrets that can't be told but written to be passed on to daughters. This book is filled with symbols, metaphors and history which is so very complicated. Ruth's exasperation and finally acceptance of her mother's behaviour is so poignant to read.

LuLing's mother was a well read woman in that period of time when girls were forbidden to read. Her knowledge and power is well brought out. Her misfortune fills us with sadness. Slowly the story develops. Initially the book is boring but it pulls us into it in no time. And reading it, we do come back to the beginning for reference. Very fine details, haunting and so forlorn, this novel stands for so much.

I will definitely go for more Amy Tan novels. The symbolism and metaphors are worth reading, even though it gets a bit slow at places.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Babyproofing your Marriage by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O'Neill, and Julia Stone

Title: Babyproofing Your Marriage
Authors: Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O'Neill, and Julia Stone

ISBN: 978-0-06-117354-7
Publisher: Collins-An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublisher/2007
Pages: 273/Hardcover

I received this book from Collins, which is a part of Harper Collins publisher for reading and reviewing.

This is a book which ought be read by all those who are going to become parents and by singles too who are having relationships with someone who has a child. This book might somewhat prepare them what to expect. One can't really follow it like a clockwork as each situation is different, but one can get a lead somewhere.

Three woman got together and wrote this book from their point of view. They take issues like stay at home mothers, working mothers. Life after a child is not same any more. Sex life gets haywire and sleep becomes non-existent. A mother feels tired and depressed all the time but a husband expects the same kind of life even after becoming a father.

Every one from relatives to friends start giving unwanted advice. Each grand parent feels that the child looks like them. How having more kids affects the family including the older child? How to balance these and more? How to set priorities and acton those? How do we deal with situations? How do we get back to the life prior to children? All these issues have been well covered.

Sharing work, mutual respect and placing value on work should all be taken into account. Husband and wife need not be adversaries. They are on the same side nurturing their family. If all understood that, family can function as an unit. Helping out, taking time out, planning to spend time with family..all these have to be considered too.

This book covers so much more.
I truly liked reading this although I am single and do not have children. It takes up each aspect in a witty manner, and not in a patronising tone. That makes this book very readable.

Booking through Female characters

Who is your favorite female lead character? And why? (And yes, of course, you can name more than one ).

Amongst the classic ones, I like Jane Eyre, the protagonist of the novel by the same name written by Charlotte Bronte. She is orphaned, plain-featured and reserved but very talented, empathetic, hard-working, honest, blunt, and passionate girl. Skilled at studying, drawing, and teaching, she works as a governess at Thornfield Manor and falls in love with her employer, Edward Rochester. However, her strong sense of conscience does not permit her to become his mistress, and she does not return to him until his mad wife is dead and she herself has come into an inheritance. By that time, he has lost his sight and one arm. That does not deter her from marrying him.

Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell stands out because she is strong and saves her family but is incredibly selfish and petty at the same time. She challenges nineteenth-century society's gender roles by running a store and two lumber mills at one point. She survives the war, several marriages, the birth of children, and even a miscarriage. Scarlett presents a fresher, deeper female characterization in a difficult period of history. But for Melanie, she would have been just a hard female. They are perfect foil for each other. Scarlett can never accept defeat.

Offred from The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood too has a lasting impact. Despite her situation, we see a rebellion streak in her. She has that instinct to survive and not to give in.

From what I have read of Picoult, her female characters are very interesting and strong too. For the moment, I can't recall any one else.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mercy by Jodi Picoult

Title: Mercy
Author: Jodi Picoult
ISBN: 978-0-340-83550-0
Publisher: Hodder/1996
Pages: 449

How far can you go if you love someone? Can you kill her/him? Jodi Picoult has covered that aspect in Mercy. What I liked about this book is that this is not mushy or sentimental.

Jamie MacDonald kills his wife, Maggie and knows that he has no life apart from her. His love for her is beyond anything. He has done what she had asked from him. When he comes to Wheelock with Maggie's body and confesses to the Police chief, Cam MacDonald, who is really his cousin, Cam has no other choice than arrest him. Family blood ties do not matter at all.

Cam's wife Allie, loves him deeply but she sides with Jamie. She knows if Cam were suffering and asked her to kill him, she would do it. According to Jamie, in a marriage there is always one who loves more. She starts wondering about it.

The very same day Jamie comes to Wheelock, Mia arrives and starts working for Allie who owns a florist's shop. Cam feels an instant attraction for her and from there starts a life of deceit and lie. He cannot wait for Allie to leave town so as to get together with Mia. She represents all that Allie is not. Allie is comfort, order, predictable who can anticipate all his needs. Mia is what he wants to be, a free spirit who can go any where she wishes to.

Jamie's trial moves in parallel with Cam and Allie's life. Allie comes to know of Cam's betrayal and leaves home. She comes back but she cannot trust him any more. She stops doing all the little things she did for him to make his life smooth. Now he wishes for the same things which had irritated him. The balance tilts. Because of Mia, he finds that he cannot think of living apart from Allie. Why is love so difficult? Why do we realise its worth after we lose it?

Has Jamie done the right thing? Was Maggie better off dead? What do the Jury decide for him? Does Allie forgive Cam? Picoult answers all these and asks few more. Do we have the right for mercy killing? Who decides that?

Mercy is a story about love. That love which can take a life if need be. Loving somebody to death. Jodi Picoult sure knows how to hold her readers.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Title: American Gods
Author: Neil Gaiman
ISBN: 0-380-97365-0
Publisher: William Marrow-An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Pages: 461/Hardcover
Rating: 4/5

I had won this book from Dewey in October 2007. For some reason or other, I could only get around it now. Usually I finish a book within three days maximum. This took me a while, around three weeks.

American Gods is not an easy book to review. To read too, one needs to concentrate a lot. You miss something, you have to go back. I did that numerous times. Yet it holds interest.

Shadow is in the jail for the past three years and waits for his release so that he can get back to his wife Laura and a new job with one of his closest friends. When he is unexpectedly released one day before his due date, he is taken by surprise by the turn of events. He is a free man yet in one stroke of luck he loses everything he had held dear. He meets a strange man named Wednesday, who offers to give him work. He accepts it. There is start of an adventure which takes us in a picaresque journey across America where we meet strange people who are either God or really evil. In every page there is that touch of the unexpectedness which keeps us totally riveted.

The story flows via magic, fantasy and hallucinations and in dream like sequences. It takes us to forgotten Gods of olden times and emerging new ones, juxtaposing the two somewhere in between. Although mystical, each page makes us believe in it. There are contradictions too which somehow make this tale of imagination somehow inevitable. Here dream and nightmare merge at some points.

We meet such intersting characters like Easter, Mr Nancy, Czernobog, so-called Gods and people or non-people who think that they are in the side of the good. Taken as a whole, it can be read as a classic tale of good versus the evil. Shadow manages to emerge out of the shadow of lies, deceit and falsehood.

As an Indian, I particularly liked references to Indian Gods like Kali and Elephant-headed God, Ganesha. Our Hindu Gods are like humans and can interact with us at all levels. That's way of the American Gods too in this novel.

I have read Neverwhere by Gaiman before this. Whatever said and done, I think I prefer Neverwhere more than American Gods.

Booking through Format

All other things (like price and storage space) being equal, given a choice in a perfect world, would you rather have paperbacks in your library? Or hardcovers? And why?

Given the preference, I would go for paperbacks. Those are easy to carry and lighter in weight. When I read a hardcover, my arms ache by the sheer weight of it. I know Hardcovers preserve well. However, paperbacks give us a certain flexibility.
I can read paperbacks any place, that is, even in bed.

Frankly, now my library is mix of both. I have old leather bound hardcovers which are priceless. I have inherited these books from my maternal grandfather. Even though yellowing, those smell great too. I buy hardcovers of those books, which I want to keep forever.

I go for paperback editions simply because they cost less, as of now. As we book lovers know, we have to go for the practical aspects too.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Booking through honeymoon

Have you ever fallen out of love with a favorite author? Was the last book you read by the author so bad, you broke up with them and haven’t read their work since? Could they ever lure you back?

I can name many authors. I used to read a lot of Ludlums. But I have not done it for a long time now. His latter books seems boring and repetitive. Same is the case with Alistair Maclean. Grisham too I cannot read now. In classics, I cannot read Jane Austen now. I fall asleep although I have committed to read at least two Austens for a challenge!

Instead of authors, I would say I can't read certain genres like run of the mills mysteries bore me. Romances without stories too cannot hold my interest. I cannot read too much of sex scenes with vampires, werewolves, monsters. That puts me off completely.

I think it depends a lot on mood and timing, too. What we loved in our younger days might bore us to death now. And vice versa. In a way , one can sup

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Non-fiction meme

As I have not being reading, I have no reviews to post here. I have received two books from Collins, a branch from HarperCollins. Those are non-fiction and that too something entirely different genre. Nothing about people, places or animals..

You can understand by reading the titles what I really mean:

1). Grow your Money/101 easy tips to plan, save and invest by Jonathan D. Pond
2). Babyproofing your Marriage by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O'Neill and Julia Stone

I will get around those books and write my opinions. I have already written reviews for two books, I received from Collins.

Downsizing Your Home With Style by Lauri Ward
The Ultimate Tea Diet by Mark “dr. tea” Ukra with Sharyn Kolberg

I found those books very interesting, informative and useful. What I loved about it is my family and friends wanted to grab those books. They seldom even look at my very precious novels. Someday, I would consider doing it professionally. For now, I am only increassing my knowledge!

Wait a moment, writing this, I thought I would have a bit of fun, my dear blogger friends! Why don't we interact? Let me put it this way:

a). What issues/topic interests you most--non-fiction, i.e, cooking, knitting, stitching, thereare infinite topics that has nothing to do with novels?
b). Would you like to review books concerning those?
c). Would you like to be paid or do it as interest or hobby? Tell reasons for what ever you choose.
d). Would you recommend those to your friends and how?
e). If you have already done something like this, link it to your post.
f). Please don't forget to link back here or whoever tags you.

Now to tag , let me see--more the merrier, 10. Get this meme moving! Let us see how each of us fares!

To start with, I tag:
Alice Teh
C J Hill
Ravenous Reader

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Booking through relaxation

Okay, even I can’t read ALL the time, so I’m guessing that you folks might voluntarily shut the covers from time to time as well… What else do you do with your leisure to pass the time? Walk the dog? Knit? Run marathons? Construct grandfather clocks? Collect eggshells?

Of course, I give myself a break from books once in a while. I am yet to finish a book till now, since February started. Somehow I do not feel upto it.

That gives me time to listen to music..I am exploring new music. I have bought myself a Yamaha keyboard player and learning to play it. I am nowhere near perfection as yet!

I have been looking up into art. I am visiting museums, monuments and trying to learn the history sans books.

I am giving more time to jogging too. I somehow need to streamline my exercise routine. I have taken a step towards that direction and plan to stick with it.

I like to repair electrical gadgets. Anything that needs to wired, screwed ends up in my junk yard.

Sometimes I simply lie on the couch and watch movies on TV, uninterrupted for hours. Doing nothing. Simply relaxing.

Many of you know that I write poetry. I experiment with new forms. When I am not reading, I am mostly into writing in a big way. You can read my poetry on my blog rooted.

Most important of all, I catch up with my sleep. Nothing can beat that!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

10 signs that I have written a book

Kristin Gorski of "Write now is good" has tagged me for this.

10 signs that I have written a book:

1). It is set in, of all places, Australia. Frankly I don't know, why. I have never been there. However, I would like to write a book set in Australia.

2). It is about a man lost in the forests trying to find his way out. He can talk to animals and commune with trees. He is not your macho man.

3). No fairy tale like endings. Our man will cry when he is hurt.

4). There is lot of internal dialogues. Symbolism is must.

5). It would be a third person account. I cannot write in first person.

6). Poetry from many great poets would be quoted along with my own poetry. After all, I am basically a poet.

7). Our man eventually will find a village hidden under the earth. He will be the saviour of those who dwell in the dark recesses of earth.

8). Death is inevitable. Practical. Natural.

9). My characters would have interesting names. Like Omigi Sinkuba, Sistipu Dombilo or something like that.

10). It won't have explicit sex scenes. Those are implied, not shown. So when you read it, it would all be in your mind.

11). (I couldn't resist this) It would be grabbed as soon as it is published!

Now I tag Booklogged, Booksplease, Dewey, Eva, Geranium Cat, Jaimie, Melody, Nymeth, nyssaneala, pussreboots, Rhinoa and you...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
ISBN: 9781595141712
Publisher: Razor Bill/2007
Pages: 288

I won Thirteen Reasons why from Dewey in a book giveaway. Frankly, I was not sure what to expect, although I had read Dewey's review. After I picked it up, I simply could not put it down. This is Jay Asher's first novel and he has truly done a good job of it.

Clay Jensen receives a package with no return address. When he opens it, he finds seven cassette tapes. Those have been recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate who had committed suicide two weeks ago. He had secretly been in love with her but never had the courage to tell her about it.

In those cassettes, she has stated thirteen reasons for ending her own life and he is one of the reasons. Hannah had even left him a map marking places with dots for him to visit. In a way, she has chronicled her life before she gave it up. He walks out of his home, filches his friend, Tony's walkman and with her voice in his ear; he walks all over the town trying to understand why she took her own life. Every recipient has to pass it on to the next person who is somehow one of the thirteen reasons.

Once started, it is impossible to put it down. Hanna's voice along with Clay's thoughts keeps prodding us on. Why did a teenager kill herself? Why can't her friends see the signs? Why and how did she develop a reputation? Who is responsible for spreading rumours and assuming the worst about a girl who is new to the town and needs friends? For two long years, she tried to fit in. Somehow, she could not cope and killed herself. However, before doing that she recorded her voice, to be sent it all those who were somehow responsible for her extreme step.

After reading this, I kept thinking about it. As teachers, parents and friends we should be able to see the signs. Sometimes, we choose to ignore it. We have hard time accepting someone who is different. Gossip, rumour, malice can damage someone beyond redemption. That is a strong message. Clay's life changes after listening to the tapes. He is shocked to learn about his school mates which include a peeping tom. All the characters have been well developed. We can see Clay and Tony. Others we get to know from the cassettes in Hannah's voice.

Jay Asher has gone into the mind of a teenager and written this very well crafted book. Gripping and haunting. It is pegged as a book for young adults. Because of the issue taken in here, every parent and teacher should read this book.

Dewey wants this book to be widely circulated. I am giving this to my school library so that it gets read by many. All the teachers and students.