Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett

Parsifal is dead. That is the end of the story.

Title: The Magician's Assistant
Author: Ann Patchett
ISBN: 8790156006217

Publisher: Harcourt Brace/1997

Pages: 357

Give a brief summary of the book:

After the death of Parsifal, a magician, his wife Sabine...who was also his assistant for twenty years..is astounded to learn that the family he always denied having is very much alive. Sabine is devastated by this and triels to unravel the secrets of his life. When Parsifal's family invite her to visit them in Nebraska, she leaves Los Angeles for the cold, bitter planes of Nebraska. And she is somehow sucked into that family, into the love they share


Patchett manages to build up a great story. She slowly reveals the secret of Parsifal's deception. Sabine might have married him but he has a steady relationship with someone else. His family takes some time to assimilate this. But they love Sabine for herself, not because she is Parsifal's widow. Sabine is the magician's assistant... a lesser known personality...but she knows about magic as much as any magician. No magician can do without any assistant.


I felt it got a bit repetitive in the middle. Although I wanted to know Sabine's feelings and emotions but somehow it was diluted by the slow pace. It did pick up in the end though.

Additional Thoughts:

Ann Patchett's prose is good. Her thoughts are lucid. Her characters are very much real. They are endearing too despite foibles and follies. Patchett has added fantasy elements in the dream sequences. I especially liked that. Sabine can interact with those characters in her dreams. Also the fact that Sabine is practical and a realist. On her quest to find the truth, Sabine too finds herself and experiences love in a way, which had been denied to her.

Also reviewed by

Margaret of BooksPlease

Monday, March 30, 2009

Musing about tracking reading

Do you keep track of what and/or how many books you read? How long have you been doing this? What's your favorite tracking method, and why?If you don't keep track, why not?

Since I started book blogging, I do keep track of my reading religiously. Writing reviews help. I started this blog three years back but started posted reviews regularly since June '07. Before that I used to note down the books I read in a journal. No reviews but just the titles.

Now writing reviews keeps me vigilant of what I read. Book blogging is a good way of keeping track of what I read. I also write down the titles I read in a journal. No excel sheets till date!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Short story: The Parade of You by Barth Anderson

Click to read The Parade of You by Barth Anderson. I found it at the Archived fiction of at The Journal of Mythic Arts.

Take a cold, translucent candle from the child in the bulb-eyed fish mask, and pray for your beloved to die. Light the candle from a torch at the woodland path's gate. Say, “Burn.”

This is a dark story with fantasy elements. Mostly deals with Death as one of the characters.

For Death is the doomed hero, a mask of action. He steps forward, and with two mighty hammer blows knocks the corpse backwards. The creature's hands have been cut off so that the actor playing Death may easily defeat it. Protect us, your people, King Death. Bash it just like that. Yes. Rain your hammer down upon the corpse's brow. Crack its yellow mask and reveal the dead man's face so we can see that this was our neighbor, our countryman, before he did not die. Spatter the nearby oak trunk with gore, a starburst of blood upon the ground around you.

The narrator is talking too us telling us what to do. As the title suggests, the parade consists of us, facing many fantasy elements and finally death. Mythical elements exist with concrete images. Scary part exists with rationality. At the end of it, darkness of death gives way to light of death.

Not a figure. Not a mask. Death is seven egret-prowed boats, whose necks double back upon themselves as if in flight.

Those who like unusual stories should give it a chance.

My Father's Paradise by Ariel Sabar

Title: My Father's Paradise**
Author: Ariel Sabar
ISBN: 9781565124905
Publisher: Algonquin Books/2008
Pages: 325

I had requested for this book from the publicist of the author and he was kind enough to send it to me. When I started to read this book, I couldn't put it down and did it at one go.

It is a memoir but works very well as a novel. It follows three cultures, three countries and four decaded before it concludes. A fascinating account.

Ariel Sabar's father Yona Sabar is a renowned professor at UCLA and is a well known linguist. Ariel thinks his father is weird and wishes to know nothing about him. The turning comes when Ariel gets married and has a son of his own. Then he has a sudden desire to know all about his father, his traditions and the cultural ethos. He and his father undertake a journey backwards, which started some forty years back.

Yona belongs to Zakho in Iraq, where Kurdish Jews lived for more than three thousand years. They lived peacefully alongside Christians and Muslims and spoke Aramaic, which was also spoken by Jesus. With no written script, it had survived by word of mouth. Yona could still speak it and was much sought after because of it.

Most Kurdish Jews had to leave Iraq in the 1950s for the newly created Israel, as many of them were attacked and killed in the post World War II. Yona was one of them, who rich past was wiped out in that exodus. He had belonged to the family of dyers who were rich and well respected. His grand-father used to pray all night in the tiny mud-hut synagoue and was well known for it.

Yona struggles to survive in Israel, studying in night school, working in the day time. He finally decides to live for US to better himself. Uprooted twice from familiar grounds, he retreats into himself, witholding his culture within himself. When father and son venture out, Ariel learns a lot about his father's Kurdish background and is awed by it.

This book takes us into an unknown world of mystic men, rich cultural ethos, the trials of immigration, assmilating it with the present. Love and traditions are at conflict, yet to be a part of such a rich heritage finally makes Ariel understand his father. It is his legacy for his sons too. Ariel Sabar's writing is very beautiful, engrossing and his awe for the Kurdish Jews comes through.

I recommend this for all those who wish to know about ancient cultures, and their struggles for survival in the present world. It also tells us so much about places, we don't know anything about.

Mainline to the heart and other poems by Clive Matson

Title: mainline to the heart and other poems
Author: Clive Matson
ISBN: 9781587901393
Publisher: Regent Press/2009
Pages: 85

I had read this poetry book a while back but got around reviewing it now. I had not heard of Clive Matson before this.

Clive Matson wrote this book of poetry in 1966, that period in which sex, drugs and religion were burning issues. His poetry too pertains to that with an exploding intensity. With raw honesty, those touch our inner core.

On the surface, his poetry might depict celebrating sex and drugs but those also show that true joy has nothing to do with the baser instincts. The poems dwells on the wounded, bruised state of mind. Hitting hard at times. The poetry may border on pornography but are handled with such sensitivity which is very rare to find.

....She's is not good enough for me, oh no!
Besides her breasts are too small.
I give woman a disease.
A woman in love with me:
.............................Man's conceit

~~~Page 19, Talk about love

.......................................Even the peyote/LSD
taste of ecstasy and peace with the world
soured to nausea by a growling stomach
and my aching groin

~~~Page 25, The Jungle

................Opium today.
..................................My Brain is loaded.
.....................Put down
the spike, wipe a red dribble
oozing out the hole in my arm.
The whole arm lit bright by the sun.

~~~Page 27, Psalm

I tried to turning on love when its blush had faded

Pressed her hard for salvation and she burst
in my hand exploding bile that
brought me down to Earth.

~~~Page 73, Love Soured

The poems stay within the mind for a long time after reading those. The emotions ooze from each page. A book worth reading but not for those who like everything nicely tied up.

Sunday Book Coveting

Thanks to Guardian, I covet the following books this Sunday. Posted the snippets from the same source.

What I talk about when I talk about running by Haruki Murakami

When Haruki Murakami starts to talk about running, he could end up talking about almost anything: girls' ponytails, Rolling Stones albums, the clouds in Hawaii; all the novelist's quirks are here in compact form. But mostly this memoir is simply about running itself - Murakami completes at least one marathon every year - and about writing. "Most of what I know about writing fiction," he says, "I learned by running every day." True to form, the book's physique and pace are a long-distance runner's, light and whippety, seldom slowing to anything less than a breezy, pop-existentialist jog: "On cold days, I think about how cold it is. And about heat on the hot days ... but really, I don't think much of anything worth mentioning."

Human Love by Andrei Makine

In a prison hut on the Angola-Zaire border lies a man, almost a corpse. It's the beginning of Angola's long civil war and this is Elias Almeida, Angolan orphan and Soviet agent. Human Love is his story: a tale of hopes and betrayals in a region of Africa torn apart by competing cold war ideologies. It's also a love story, in which the human - and humane - love of the title struggles to overcome the crushing revolutionary zeal of impersonal powers. Makine's writing plays on striking images and uncomfortable contrasts. Africa here is a vast elephant, carved up by hunters; fat African conference delegates represent starving people. Lauded in France, Makine ought to be far better known in this country: Human Love offers a dark, delicate introduction to his work.

The Stepmother's Diary by Fay Weldon

Weldon's 28th novel is a humorous dissection of female relations and the perils of adopting a new family in a second marriage. Sappho is married to Gavin, who enjoys a suspiciously over-intimate relationship with his daughter Isobel. To make this female competition all the more stifling, above the marital bed hangs a portrait of Gavin's late wife Isolde. Watching over this Freudian labyrinth is Sappho's mother Emily, a "widowed, sexually active psychoanalyst" to whom Sappho has entrusted her diary to keep it from Isobel. These days, Weldon suggests, it's not the wicked stepmothers you have to watch out for, it's the evil stepdaughters, who "change from little darlings into Winehouse monsters almost overnight".

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Weekly Geeks: Linking reviews

Quoting Verbatim from this week's Weekly Geeks post:

When Dewey started Weekly Geeks, one of the first projects she encouraged us to do was link our book reviews to each other. Sadly, I've fallen of the wagon on this one. For people like me who need a refresher and for all the new Weekly Geeks this is a topic that could use repeating.

Let's look at Dewey's original post : Dewey's post.

Here's what we'll do:

1. Write a post encouraging readers to look through your archives (if you have your reviews in a particular place on your blog, point them there), and find the books that they have also written reviews. Tell them to leave a link to their review on your review post. For example, I've written a review for Gods Behaving Badly and Jane Doe leaves a link to her review of Gods Behaving Badly in the comments section of my review.

2. Edit your reviews to include those links in the body of the review post.
3. Visit other Weekly Geeks and go through their reviews. Leave links for them.
4. Leave a note somewhere on your blog to let people know this is your new policy.
5. Write a post later this week letting us know how your project is going!

Now I say my piece here:

1. I do try to link to reviews as much as I can

2. My review links can be found at the top left corner on this blog. Clicking on those will take you to specific reviews.
For easy reference, I post those links here:

3. My email id too is on the left sidebar of this blog. Feel free to write to me about linking.

And I have had the following on my blog since Dewey's post:

Review link exchange

In case you have reviewed any book I have reviewed in here, please do leave a link on that post or my last post. You can email me the link too at gautami dot tripathy at gmail dot com, if you wish. I will link it to my review, as soon as possible!

4. As Dewey wished, it is all about building the book blogging community. So let's do it NOW! We must not let her spirit fade away.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami

Title: Sputnik Sweetheart
Author: Haruki Murakami

ISBN: 0375726055
Publisher: Vintage/2001
Pages: 210

Sputnik Sweetheart is my second book by Murakami. As I had liked Kafka on the Shore, I bought this book. This has been written before that and is entirely different.

The narrator, known as "K" is in love with Sumire, who aspires to be a writer. She is his best friend and she also likes him a lot but she doesn't have any romantic feelings for him. She falls in love with Miu, an older and very sophisticated businesswomen. When Miu offers Sumire a job, she grabs it although K has some misgivings. Sumire disappears in a remote island in Greece and Miu calls K. He leaves everything to go search for Sumire. There he has strange visions reading her writings and is haunted by her thoughts. But his longings for her remain unfulfilled.

With beautiful prose, it is a meditation into the human mind, its deepest desires and longings. Love maybe unrequited but it is very much there and very much real. It gives K pain yet he considers love so beautiful. Same is the case with Sumire. She loves Miu but Miu does not return her feelings. Miu has her own demons to kill. Sputnik Sweetheart is for those who wantto dwell deep into the human psyche. Sumire is there yet not there.In other words, it is a stream of consciousness novel.

Very apt title as all three characters try to connect with each other but cannot. Isn't it true for all of us? We are essentially all alone.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Booking Through Best Bad Books

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“What’s the best ‘worst’ book you’ve ever read — the one you like despite some negative reviews or features?”

One author, not book comes instantly in my mind. I find that Gabriel Garcia Marquez is not liked by most readers. However, I like his books. Especially his short story collections. I agree that he has to grow on to the reader. One must not expect his books to be fast paced or easy reads. Going slowly over each word and imagining it, is the best way to read him.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy too has not been liked by many a book lover. They considered the language to sparse and stark. And that is precisely what worked for me. Rather well.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Climb Through Altered Landscapes by Ian Parks

Title: A Climb Through Altered Landscapes
Author: Ian Parks
ISBN: 09552855739
Publisher: Blackwater Press/1998
Pages: 50

I got this book from Ms Alex of Daemonwolf Books. As I write poetry, I am always happy to receive poetry books.

Ian Parks poetry touches many realms. The concrete as well the abstract. In the same poem you can find both. On a first read, most of his poems can be taken as love poems but not so. Those also make us glimpse nature, the seasonal changes. His love poems are in no way mushy but for me those are steeped in spirituality. I also see endless possibilities.

Quoting from his poems:

.......I'd left the wardrobe open:
in a queue behind the door
the stiffened shapes of our former lives
were waiting for the thaw......

~~~A Dream of Snow, page 11

Leaving wasn't easy
nor is this: the climb through altered landscapes,
different trees to find
each other as we really are.

~~~The Ridge, page 19

Afloat on a sea
of my own dreams, I was content
to let the pages fall while Sonny Boy was blowing
sweet and low. I woke
to a sunburst splintering
the trees: a rush of light.

~~~Hammock, page 17

Along with sense of loss, there is hope, beauty in that, regret and yet no regret. At places I found acceptance of that loss, after love was gone. Yet when it was there, nothing compared with that emotion.

For poetry lovers, readers as well as writers, Ian Parks' poetry is worth checking out. I am very glad I requested this particular book from all that she was offering to give away.

If interested, do check this interview with Ian Parks.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Musing about bookstores

How many bookstores do you frequent? Do you have a favourite? If so, which one and what makes it so?

Believe me or not, there arn't that many bookstores in Delhi. And nothing near my place. But there is one in the heart of Delhi, Bookland, which I frequent regularly. I have been buying from that small stall for the last 30 odd years. One can't browse books there but just giving a list to the owner does the trick. He finds all that he can. It is a small place, yet there are books and books and books. As I mentioned here several times, I also visit the Sunday pavement book bazaar very frequently. It is a book lover's paradise. I can spend hours over there!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Seven facts about Geraldine Brooks


softdrink of Fizzy Thoughts is holding a mini challenge based around lists as part of the Dewey's Book Reading Challenge.

Here I list a few facts about Geraldine Brooks, which I found via the net.

1) Geraldine Brooks, born in 1955, is an Australian-American journalist and author.

2) She received the Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for March.

3) Brooks married fellow Pulitzer recipient, Tony Horwitz, in Tourette-sur-loup, France, in 1984.

4) She also converted to Judaism, which is the religion of Tony Horwitz.

5) She and Tony Horwitz have two sons, Nathaniel and Biju, and divide their time between homes in Martha's Vineyard, United States and Sydney, Australia.

6) She has written three novels. Year of Wonders, published in 2001, is an international bestseller. Her second novel, March, was published in late February 2005. Her third novel, People of the Book, published in January 2008, is a fictionalised account of the history of the Sarajevo Haggadah.

7) She is also the author of the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women (1995) and Foreign Correspondence: A Pen Pal's Journey from Down Under (1998).

Dream Country by Luanne Rice

Title: Dream Country
Author: Luanne Rice
ISBN: 055358264X
Publisher: Bantam Books/2001
Pages: 504

One of my friends insisted I read this novel, which she said was not only a romance. I was not to keen to read 500 odd pages of a romance novel. However, the premise interested me and I breezed through it.

Daisy Tucker's teenage daughter Sage, runs away from their home in Connecticut. Daisy is frantic with worry as she had already lost her son, twin to Sage, at the age of three. That incident had broken her spirit, and had culminated in her leaving her husband James Tucker, in Wyoming. Daisy has made a life for herself and Sage by designing personal pieces of Jeweller.

Sage is sixteen now but she still misses her twin. She feels incomplete without him. She leaves her mother to go to her Father in Wyoming, where she thinks she can find some peace. She takes train rides, hitchhikes and meets David, who somehow just turns up from nowhere to help her reach her destination. Sage feels a strange affinity with him. Meanwhile, Daisy is forced to go to Wyoming to wait for Sage daughter to arrive safely.

In the aftermath of the tragedy of losing Jake, Daisy and James had never grieved together. Suddenly they are forced to face each other again, and the old wounds come to the surface. Both are affected by it and wait for Sage to come home. When she finally arrives, they get much more than than they hoped for, wished for...

Dream Country is a homecoming for all the characters involved, in one way or the other. I liked Sage's thoughts about her twin, the way she feels half a soul without him. Her relationship with David, who despite being a stranger seems like someone she has known all her life. Dream Country is an easy read. All those romance readers can safely read it.

Love with a Stranger by Janelle Taylor

Title: Love with a Stranger
Author: Janelle Taylor
ISBN: 0821754165
Publisher: Zebra Books/1996
Pages: 416

Book Cover Description:

Torn apart by her second husband's betrayal, thirty-five-year-old Cassandra Gratham, a financially strapped widow, seeks refuge on Georgia's St. Simon's Island, where she encounters a man whose tenderness and passion prompt her to risk her heart one moretime.

My views:

Frankly I wouldn't call Cassandra cash strapped. She got lot more than she really deserved. And with Jason, it was more of sex than passion. This book has nothing much to rave about. I say, leave it well alone. Or read if you like pages and pages of sex scenes. That's how I felt about it. I skipped most of the middle, well all of it!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Booking Through Worst Books

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How about, “What’s the worst ‘best’ book you’ve ever read — the one everyone says is so great, but you can’t figure out why?”

Not an easy one to answer. I simply leave books after few pages if I can't go on. When I was a teenager, one book I plodded despite not liking it was Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I just did not get it, at that time. The stream of consciousness somehow left me cold. Now I do read such books and love those too. Maybe I should give Mrs Dalloway another chance.

Three years back, I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I found it too simplistic. I would rate it as the worst book I have read till date.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Murder Stone by Louise Penny

Title: The Murder Stone
Author: Louise Penny
ISBN: 9780755341016
Publisher: Headline/2008
Pages: 312
Rating: 3.5/5

This novel is set in an exclusive hotel, The Manoir Bellechasse, which is situated deep in the Canadian wilderness. It is peak of summer and the place is a escape from the mundane world. Homicide Chief Inspector Gamache along with his wife, is there for their annual visit. Stinking rich, snobbish Finney family is there too, for a family reunion. All the members of the family are weird and quirky in their own ways. They have gathered here in this particular place to pay a tribute to their father, Charles. It seems they don't like him at all but are here only for their mother's sake.

Tensions are running high, old jealousy come into surface and escalates into a murder being committed. The big question is who is the murderer and what is the motive. Most important is, how could it have been committed? All of the family is a suspect. And then there are a few hotel employees who are not above suspicion either.

Chief Inspector Gamache has lot of questions with no answers and he too has his own demons to slay. In the course of the book, many interesting things are revealed about the family members. The book managed to hold interest. Louise Penny has a good style of writing. I liked to learn about the place it is set in.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Musing about books to strangers

musing_mondaysWe were all warned as children to ‘never talk to strangers’, but how do you feel about book-talk with random people? When you see people reading, do you ask what it is? Do you talk to people in the bookstore or the library? Why or why not? What do you do if people talk to you?

I can talk about books to just about anyone who shows the slightest interest. It does not matter where or when. I have even recommended books in bookstores and in the library. I too don't mind if someone suggest authors or books. It is a different matter that I might not take to it. As I read very different kind of books, I don't take in kindly to the popular reads. However, books make great conversations, at least for me. In many a cases, books have helped break the ice. Any book lover will identify with that feeling.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

When We Meet Again by Victoria Alexander

Title: When We Meet Again
Author: Victoria Alexander
ISBN: 0060593199
Publisher: Avon Books/2005
Pages: 371

In a masked ball, Pamela seduces Alexie, Prince of Avalonia. After a night of passion, she disappears from his life. A few years later, their path cross again. Pamela recognises him instantly but Alexie, although knowing she seems so familiar, is unable to place her. As both land of living in the same house, the only solution is to go for an false engagement. None is ready for it but there isn't any other choice. By this time the prince has lost his kingdom. In her heart, Pamela wishes for permancy with him, but Alexie has not much to offer.

Like any other romance, the lovers are star-crossed many a times. This book is set in the 1880s and has a few interesting characters. It moves forward in a good pace with wit and humor. Pamela is fiesty and Alexie is dashing. Nothing unusual fpr a romance novel.

Not bad for one time read and to pass it on.

Sunday Book Coveting

The Cradle by Patrick Somerville

Early one summer morning, Matthew Bishop kisses his still-sleeping wife Marissa, gets dressed and eases his truck through Milwaukee, bound for the highway. His wife, pregnant with their first child, has asked him to find the antique cradle taken years before by her mother Caroline when she abandoned Marissa, never to contact her daughter again. Soon to be a mother herself, Marissa now dreams of nothing else but bringing her baby home to the cradle she herself slept in. His wife does not know-does not want to know-where her mother lives, but Matt has an address for Caroline's sister near by and with any luck, he will be home in time for dinner.

Only as Matt tries to track down his wife's mother, he discovers that Caroline, upon leaving Marissa, has led a life increasingly plagued by impulse and irrationality, a mysterious life that grows more inexplicable with each new lead Matt gains, and door he enters. As hours turn into days and Caroline's trail takes Matt from Wisconsin to Minnesota, Illinois, and beyond in search of the cradle, Matt makes a discovery that will forever change Marissa's life, and faces a decision that will challenge everything he has ever known.

Book of Clouds by Chloe Aridjis

Tatiana, the narrator, is one of five children whose parents run a Jewish deli in Mexico City. For several years now, this woman in her 20s has been living in Berlin, having minimal contact with her family, getting by on low-paying jobs and seeing almost no one. Her Sundays are a wasteland of loneliness during which she takes long walks through the city; her weekdays, when she is not freezing in her unheated apartment, are spent transcribing the never-to-be-published notes of an elderly German-Jewish historian.

Both these books are coveted courtesy of the http://www.nytimes.com/pages/books/index.html

Friday, March 13, 2009

Disco of the departed by Colin Cotterill

Title: Disco of the Departed
Author: Colin Cotterill
ISBN: 9781569474648
Publisher: Soho Press/2006
Pages: 247

This is the third book in a series, that is featuring Dr. Siri, but it does hold on its own. Dr Siri, is 73 years old coroner of Laos. He has the gift of a Shaman, which helps him in moments of crisis. Here he is called upon to solve a murder in the mountains of Huaphan Province in Vietnam. He has to find out about a corpse who arm is protruding from the concrete walkway. Now this walkway is situated between the president's previous hideout and his new mansion.

Dr. Siri along with his assistant in the form of Dtui, has to find out what led to the murder of that unknown corpse. He unravels political plots, mysterious beings and he can also hear and watch disco of the spirits. Dr. Siri, infact does participate in one such dance. He has to decipher the meaning of all this and more.

Initially the book was slow. But it did pick up speed after halfway through. The idea might seem a bit far-fetched but being an Indian, this talk about spirits, supernatural powers made a lot of sense to me. I liked that simpleton Geung very much. He was what kept me going to the finish., not to forget wry humour in here. Also the politics and culture of the place added to my reading.

I wouldn't call it a fast paced mystery but it does have its moments.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Booking Through Movie Potentiality

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What book do you think should be made into a movie? And do you have any suggestions for the producers?

Or, What book do you think should NEVER be made into a movie?

The one book that ought to be made into a movie is Ulysses by James Joyce. May be that is only way I can get through it. The producers can go any way they want to!

To answer the alternate question, I don't like movie version of books. So my answer is, let them be..

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rachel's Tears by Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott

Title: Rachel's Tears
Author: Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott
ISBN: 9781400313471
Publisher: Thomas Nelson/2008
Pages: 179

I received this book via Thomas Nelson.

Rachel Scott, a teenager was killed at a shootout on April 20, 1999, at Clumbine High School, where twelve others died aong with her. Since from very young she had believed in God and Jesus. That day before the shootout, she was eating lunch with another friend, when she was asked if she believed in God and when she affirmed, she was killed instantly.

Dealing with such a tragedy is not easy for anyone. Expecially for the family of that person, who had deep faith in God and Christianity. This book is about her faith, the jottings she made in her Diary and her way to reach out for others. Maybe this also helped her parents to deal with the tragedy and live with hope. This book is for all those who believe in the power of healing by hope, faith and belief.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Curse of the Holy Pail by Sue Ann Jaffarian

By the age of forty-seven, I had technically broken nine of the then commandments. Although, I'm still fuzzy about the whole graven image thing.

Title: The Curse of the Holy Pail
Author: Sue Ann Jaffarian
ISBN: 9780738708645
Publisher: Midnight Ink/2007
Pages: 343

The book is set in New Power Beach, California. Odelia Grey, a paralegal and a plus size woman, gets involved in a murder when one the clients of her firm, is murdered. Sterling Price is a millionaire who collects lunch boxes. He is murdered and a lunch box goes missing. Now who would want a lunch box? But the said lunch box, known as the Holy Pail is worth a fortune.

There really are people who can go to any extreme to get hold of the holy pail. It has a curse that whoever owned it has died. Odelia takes it upon herself to solve the murder. She makes it a point to talk to everyone who has come into the periphery of Price.

With queer set of people thrown in, it is a fun filled mystery. It does keep us laughing but I found it repetitive at places. I wouldn't call it a nail biting one as I could guess the murderer somewhere in the middle. Maybe going around in circles about the purpose, cause and people did that to me. Humour is there but mystery fizzles out.

Odelia grey is a lovable character and one of the hudlums here too is likeable. Then there is a romantic angel between Odelia Grey and Greg, 10 years her junior. I found their relationship very sweet. It does have its redeemable points.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Musing about New Authors

“A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.” Franz Kafka

What is your policy when it comes to new authors? Do you feel comfortable purchasing a book or do you prefer to borrow new authors from the library? How often do you 'try out' a new author?

I am very open to new authors. I like to explore new books and new genres. I do buy new authors very often. The blog world too is a big help in such matters. We already know a few authors from there when we go book buying. Even without that knowledge, I read through the back cover and buy.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Book Coveting

“Books are a narcotic” Franz Kafka

The Vagrants by Yiyun Li

During the Cultural Revolution countless unspeakable acts went down in the otherwise unremarkable industrial town of Muddy River. Lovers betrayed lovers, children denounced their parents, and neighbors became sworn enemies. A few years later, the townspeople have convened at the public stadium to witness the execution of Gu Shan. A Red Guard leader in her youth, she has received the death penalty for her counterrevolutionary writings and unrepentant attitude. In Yiyun Li's startling debut novel, The Vagrants, we are introduced to Gu's parents, neighbors, and a handful of Muddy River's social outcasts whose lives have been irrevocably affected by her life and death. Yiyun Li's unblinking and unpredictable fictional narrative demonstrates how corruption and cruelty, fear, and moral ambiguity at the level of the individual reflect the dehumanization of an entire society.

Pictures at an Exhibition By Sara Houghteling

Set in a Paris darkened by World War II, Sara Houghteling's sweeping and sensuous debut novel tells the story of a son's quest to recover his family's lost masterpieces, looted by the Nazis during the occupation.

Dream House by Valerie Laken

It is a riveting debut novel that tells the story of a domestic drama that will forever change the lives of two families. One terrible night. One outraged act. What price will people pay to hold their homes and dreams together?

Beautiful Children by Charles Bock

A wide-ranging portrait of an almost mythically depraved Las Vegas, this sweeping debut takes in everything from the bland misery of suburban Nevada to the exploitative Vegas sex industry. At the nexus of this Dickensian universe is Newell Ewing, a hyperactive 12-year-old boy with a comic-book obsession. One Saturday night, Newell disappears after going out with his socially awkward, considerably older friend. Orbiting around that central mystery are a web of sufferers: Newell's distraught parents, clinging onto a fraught but tender marriage; a growth-stunted comic book illustrator; a stripper who sacrifices bodily integrity for success; and a gang of street kids. Into their varying Vegas tableaux, Bock stuffs an overwhelming amount of evocative detail and brutally revealing dialogue.

Passing Strange by Martha A Sandweiss

Clarence King is a hero of nineteenth century western history; a brilliant scientist and witty conversationalist, best-selling author and architect of the great surveys that mapped the West after the Civil War. Secretary of State John Hay named King “the best and brightest of his generation.” But King hid a secret from his Gilded Age cohorts and prominent family in Newport: for thirteen years he lived a double life—as the celebrated white explorer, geologist and writer Clarence King and as a black Pullman porter and steel worker named James Todd. The fair blue-eyed son of a wealthy China trader passed across the color line, revealing his secret to his black common- law wife, Ada Copeland, only on his deathbed.

All these books are coveted courtesy of the http://www.nytimes.com/pages/books/index.html

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Paper Rose by Diana Palmer

Title: Paper Rose
Author: Diana Palmer
ISBN: 9780373770212
Publisher: Mass Market Paperback/1999
Pages: 379

Diana Palmer is one romance writer I really like. Her novels do follow some sort of story with twists and turns. As I am in the midst of evaluating answersheets, I thought this light read made a good change.

Tate Winthrope saves Cecily Peterson from her abusive stepfather after her mother passes away. He helps her to get out of town, to college and on the road to her dreams. All this is more than enough for Cecily to fall in love with her. Although he does not show it, Tate too has feelings for Cecily but feels that he must marry within his tribe to keep pure Native American bloodlines alive. Then a scandal erupts which changes Tate's life and Cecily knows that she will go to any extreme to help him.

With many twists and turns, this book does manage to hold interest. I expecially liked the character of Colby, a undercover agent and friend of both Tate and Cecily. Leta, Tate's mother and Senator Holden are other characters who too are very endearing.

At point I felt, Cecily should marry Colby, who is good for her! I learnt quite a bit about the Native American culture. However, the book did feel a bit longer towards the end. It could have done with a bit of editing!