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.