Thursday, April 30, 2009

Worse? Book it!

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Which is worse?

Finding a book you love and then hating everything else you try by that author, or

Reading a completely disappointing book by an author that you love?

Worse is a very strong reaction.

The authors I love to read have not disappointed me. Ok, a few books are not upto the mark but no one can churn out good books one after the other. Anything I have read by, say Margaret Atwood is good and same goes for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. We do compare books of a same author and some are great, a few good and one or two so so. One has to take all those with a pinch of salt.

As I try new authors and read varied genres, it does not matter much to me. However, if a book is bad, there is no reason to shun all others books by that author. I would still give him/her another chance.


As I have lost my other blog, Let's hope, google retrieves it for me. If not, I will start another, right from scratch. I have already initiated the proceedings as you can see here. Wish me luck, either way!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mondays: Musings, Mailbox and what have yous


Do you read non-fiction regularly? Do you read it in a different way or place than you read fiction?

In non-fiction, I mainly read memoirs, biographies and travelogues fairly regularly. I also read science based books very often. History based books to interest as do books on religion. By that I don't mean religious texts. I steer clear of those. I can read non-fiction anywhere. That means, I don't need any particular place for it.


I received the following books:

1) The Horseman's Graves by Jacqueline Baker

2) Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales by Eleanor Bluestein

3) The Noticer by Andy Andrew

It's Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? is a weekly event hosted by J. Kaye of J. Kaye's Book Blog, "to list the books completed last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finish this week."

Book I finished:

The Horseman's Grave by Jacquiline Baker

Books I am currently reading:

1) The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

2) Now Silence by Tori Warner Shepard

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sunday Book Coveting

Last Sunday I was busy reading for the read-a-thon. (I am yet to post the reviews and have not read anything other than random poetry the whole of the week). This Sunday I am back at the Sunday Book Coveting post. The following books are coveted after reading about them in the New York Times online.

1) LAISH By Aharon Appelfeld:

Aharon Appelfeld’s latest novel, “Laish,” is a story of pilgrimage, then, and, as in all pilgrimages, what matters most is reaching the goal, sustaining faith through the travails of the journey. The stopping ­places, the pauses, the tests of faith, the perils to be overcome, count for very little, so long as they are survived; they are merely stages on the road to salvation.

2) WHAT GOES ON : Selected and New Poems, 1995-2009 By Stephen Dunn.
A typical Dunn poem opens up a basic human trouble — a body souring with age, a marriage souring with regret, a believer souring with doubt — meditates on it with equal parts seriousness and good humor, and finally offers not quite consolation but acceptance, a sense of having gained some measure of dignity simply by looking life in the eye.

3) SESTETS By Charles Wright.

Wright’s poems don’t bear down toward conclusions, they expand and evanesce as if in a valiant, impossible effort to comprehend and demonstrate Wittgenstein’s dictum that “the world is all that is the case.” Wright’s new collection of short poems is less a book unto itself than the next installment in a continuous poem he’s been writing for 40-odd years.


In “The Possession of Mr. Cave,” Matt Haig takes on the unspeakable terrors. In fact he stacks the deck with them: the narrator’s mother dead by suicide, his wife dead at the hands of a burglar and — in the chilling, riveting, heartbreaking scene that opens the novel — his son, Reuben, dead by a stupid attempt to curry favor with bullying peers. What’s left? And how to find a reason to continue living in the face of grief? These are the initial questions that face Terence Cave, a man who restores antiques but cannot preserve the well-being of those he loves most.

What’s left, it turns out, is Reuben’s 15-year-old twin sister, Bryony. So Terence, fearful and bereft, dedicates himself to his daughter’s well-being. Yet the question of what constitutes a 15-year-old’s well-being and what a father’s protection entails, or should entail, is at the heart of this complex novel.

5) HOW IT ENDED, New and Collected Stories By Jay McInerney

“How It Ended: New and Collected Stories” assembles much of the short fiction Jay McInerney has written over the course of a career now approaching three decades’ duration. The better part of “Model Behavior: A Novel and Stories” is included, along with the story that grew into his Salinger­ian first novel, “Bright Lights, Big City,” as well as “Smoke,” which introduced Russell and Corrine Calloway, the Manhattan couple-with-­everything whose marital vicissitudes animate McInerney’s two most ambitious novels, “Brightness Falls” and its sequel, “The Good Life.” Short stories “often turned out to be warm-up exercises,” McInerney confides in a preface. “There’s psychological as well as practical value in using one as a sketch for a novel; the idea of undertaking a narrative of three or four hundred pages, which might consume years of your life, is pretty daunting.”

Weekly Geeks: It's all about animals

Can anyone forget The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling? I loved all the characters in it, as a kid. I think I still do. Sometimes I call my youngest nephew, Mowgli!

Mowgli — the young jungle boy.
Father Wolf — One who raised Mowgli as his own cub
Raksha — One who raised Mowgli as her own cub
Grey brother — One of Mother and Father Wolf's cubs
Hathi — An Indian Elephant
Bagheera — A black panther
Baloo— A Sloth Bear
Shere Khan— The Royal Bengal Tiger
Kaa — Indian Python
Akela — An Indian Wolf
Tabaqui — A Golden Jackal
Chil — A kite
Mor — An Indian Peafowl
Mang — A Bat
Ikki — An Asiatic Brush-tailed Porcupine
The Bandar log — A tribe of monkeys
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi — An Indian Mongoose
Darzee — A tailorbird
Chuchundra — A Muskrat
Nag — A male King cobra
Nagaina — A female King cobra, Nag's mate
Karait -- A Common Krait
Kotick — The White Seal
Sea catch — A Northern fur seal and Kotick's father
Sea vitch — A Walrus
Sea cow — A manatee

Movies based on The Jungle Book:

Elephant Boy (1937)
Jungle Book (1942)
Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book (1994)
The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo (1997)
The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story (1998)

There have been many animation films too based on The Jungle Book.

Lastly, Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Boy too is loosely based on Mowgli of The Jungle Boy. The diffrence being, Mowgli was brought by Wolves and The Graveyard Boy is brought by the dead. There has to be that characteristic dark twist that is Gaiman's forte! Do check out on Neil Gaiman's website to learn more on it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sharing Poetry

I wish to share this with all of my blogger friends. This was posted to me from Poetry Daily's Poet's Pick April 15, 2009 and it has stayed in my mind. For those who love poetry, I wish that you explore more on it. We need to find more of worthy poetry. Everyday.

"In the desert"
from The Black Riders
by Stephen Crane (1871-1900)

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said: “Is it good, friend,”
“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;
“But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart.”

Do check out more of his poetry here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Symbolism in writing

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It does seem like modern fiction just “tells the story” without much symbolism. Is symbolism an older literary device, like excessive description, that is not used much any more? Do you think there was as much symbolism as English teachers seemed to think? What are some examples of symbolism from your reading?

To a certain extent, it is true that modern fiction is without much symbolism. Most of the times, a story is told rather than anything implied.
The reader has the freedom to interpret the meaning of a piece of literature. Discussing a poem, story, novel or essays with other readers also shows us that certain something which we otherwise might have ignored.

In early literature, symbolism was implied via allegory, which kind of hits us on our face. Allegory is not symbolism in a true sense. It limits us and our perceptions. Symbolism in the strict sense, has to be implied. Allegory is alluded to. Signs, motifs, imagery are all part of it. At the conscious level. In a piece of literature, characters, story and plot have to be cohesive for it to make sense, and symbolism in not really apparent for the average reader. If understood in a proper way, symbolism takes the story to a higher level.

Most of Fitzgerald's works are very symbolic. Take for instance, The Great Gatsby or Tender is the Night. Shakespeare can't be read without the allusion to symbolism. One just has to read Othello or Hamlet. Both are replete with symbolism.
Poe has made use of crows as motifs in many of his works in various ways. Kafka excelled it it. Read Metamorphosis and you will know all about it. I also think that Marquez's work is very symbolic. you can notice that picking any of his books, novellas or his short stories.

Most poetry, be it ancient, medieval, victorian or modern-has symbolism in it. Keats, Coleridge or Dante are but a few examples. Dante's Inferno symbolically alludes to the underworld. Without it, it would read like plain prose and no poetry lover is going to read that. I myself write poetry and make use of symbolism. All the time. Metaphorically speaking.

And one more thing I must mention here. The present day reader is in too much of a hurry. He/She prefers it all in black and white. Reading through symbolism is time consuming. Therefore, modern writers know that and don't make use of motifs, symbols or signs. Not in the strict sense. So why not give what the reader wants, demands. However, comics, fantasy authors, make use of symbolism and very beautifully too. We only need to keep our minds open a bit.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy at Bermudaonion, where we post about the unfamiliar words we have encountered in our reading the past week.

My words come from Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Schienmann

1) Splenetic: "
chased all the way by Mrs Hardman's splenetic insults and the sorry screams of her abandoned baby"



  1. Of or relating to the spleen.
  2. Affected or marked by ill humor or irritability.

A person regarded as irritable.

2) Muerta: 'Where is Eleni?'
'Muerta,' says the doctor.




Now a word from a poem,
, The Pond by Jim Powell. I read this online today.

3) periphrastic:

"in the pond dreaming
at the secret center
past the last screen
of ferns and creepers, bramble

and periphrastic
evasions this place
a steady witness for
the rehearsal of a ghostly
life in signs"


  1. Having the nature of or characterized by periphrasis.
  2. Grammar. Constructed by using an auxiliary word rather than an inflected form; for example, of father is the periphrastic possessive case of father but father's is the inflected possessive case, and did say is the periphrastic past tense of say but said is the inflected past tense

Sunday, April 19, 2009

TSS/Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon:Wrap Up!


Finally it is over! Due to unavoidable reasons, I started the read-a-thon after 4 hours and lost 5 odd hours to sleep. Now I am kind of comfortable with how much reading I did in the time left. I finished 4 1/2 books. All from different genres and very good reads.

Random Acts of Heroic love Danny Schienmann, pages 428
Breathing Out The Ghost by Kirk Curnutt, pages 329
The Pleasure Trap by Elizabeth Thornton, pages 385
Going to see the elephants by Rodes Fishburne, pages 293
The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton, 158/308
Sinai Tapestry by Edward Whittemore, Pages 23

Total pages read: 1616

I abandoned Sinai Tapestry by Edward Whittemore, after 23 pages. As it is a heavy read, I simply couldn't concentrate on this book in the last hours and left it, selecting another.

Now to answer the questions

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

The last hour. I just wished to finish the book I was reading. Infact I stopped reading 30 minutes before the end!

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Graphic novels, romance novels, light breezy reads,

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

I think it is perfect the way it is.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

All that cheerleading, what else!

5. How many books did you read?

4 and a half. 1616 pages in all

6. What were the names of the books you read?

Random Acts of Heroic love Danny Schienmann, pages 428

Breathing Out The Ghost by Kirk Curnutt, pages 329

The Pleasure Trap by Elizabeth Thornton, pages 385

Going to see the elephants by Rodes Fishburne, pages 293

The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton, 158/308

Sinai Tapestry by Edward Whittemore, Pages 23

7. Which book did you enjoy most?

Random Acts of Heroic love Danny Schienmann, pages 428

8. Which did you enjoy least?

The Pleasure Trap by Elizabeth Thornton, pages 385

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

If possible, they ought to serve us all coffee and tea! Kidding!

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

Yes, of course! As a reader!

Now I don't want to look at another book for atleast a couple of days..:D

Friday, April 17, 2009

Author Interview: RLB Hartmann, author of I wrote with Cullen Baker

RLB Hartmann sent me a pdf of his book I wrote With Cullen Baker and agreed for an author Interview. Do check on his website and his book by clicking on his name the book title.

Product Description of I Rode With Cullen Baker from Amazon:

During the War Between the States, a young Southern girl becomes romantically entangled with a notorious outlaw hiding out in the Sulphur River Country of East Texas. When 16-year-old Jessica loses her home and family, she's vulnerable to the charms of the reckless young man who rescues her. Believing that he will settle down after the war, Jess plans their future together. Cully's secret destroys those dreams, so she journeys to San Francisco to accept an inheritance arranged by her father. Here, Ed offers respectability through marriage, but an unexpected letter rekindles Jess's hope that she and Cully will share a life as thrilling as those days spent in outwitting their enemies.

Here goes the interview:

1) When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing when I was in grade school because my neighbor, who was 2 years ahead of me, showed me a story she had written. I wanted to do that.

2) When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I considered myself a writer long before I actually was one. It took me awhile to realize that writing doesn’t necessarily make one a writer. The turning point for me was when I wrote a scene that made me cry (one that was supposed to!).

3) What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book (s) were inspired by reading girls’ mysteries and teen romances, and later by Daphne du Maurier’s "three novels of Cornwall" that came in a one-volume book club edition. None of those efforts of mine deserve to see the light of day.

4) What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part of writing my first REAL book was learning how to handle point of view. And letting go of the first version of the first page.

5) What do you see as the influences on your writing?

Aside from my early reading choices, I think that my writing has been influenced greatly by the discovery of source materials.

For my historical novel, I Rode with Cullen Baker (available at, finding a book by Ed Bartholomew gave me not only the name of my previously unnamed character, it unlocked a story that had been stalled for years.

For the Mexican historical saga Tierra del Oro , it was marrying a bookseller whose occupation opened the world of out-of-print books, postcards, ephemera, and other booksellers’ stock that guided my research.

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

I don’t have one favorite, but the key ones are/were: Margaret Mitchell, Daphne du Maurier, Elswyth Thane (second wife of Dr. William Beebe, naturalist and inventor of the Bathysphere), Elizabeth Borton de Treviño, Louis L’Amour, and J.R.R. Tolkien.

What these writers have in common, beyond a passion for their characters and a sure hand with details, is that all of them wrote intricate stories set in the past. Believable and engaging characters, a completely developed other world, and entertwined plot threads give writers like them an authenticity while making their work accessible to readers like me.

7) Can you share a little of your current work and how you envision it in the future?

My current work is Tierra del Oro, which is the historical saga featured on my website at

The entire story is now finished, and I’m seeking an agent whose expertise can see this project into print. I am very much aware of the time and commitment needed to publish these books, and I’m more than willing to let the first volume speak for itself and begin building a readership.

I ‘ve also written these stories as feature film scripts, but have started reworking the scripts into episodic tv format. The first 14 are available for consideration by any interested producer who has funding.

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

A book I finished recently is The Shadow of the Wind (in translation) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Having read Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey, I’m now reading Epitaph for a Desert Anarchist by James Bishop, Jr. I’m about to leap into Assault and Pepper by Tamar Myers, whose series books are always a delight.

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

If you mean hot off the shelf, I’m afraid I can’t think of any. I’m working on 20 boxes of "things to read soon" that have been piling up for the last few years.

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

I hope you enjoy Jessica’s story of falling in love with a dashing outlaw. Cullen Baker was a real person whose notorious escapades at the close of the War Between the States (Southern term for Civil War) are documented in a few elusive sources. There is a Cullen Baker Festival each Fall in the county where he lived and was murdered. Maybe this year I’ll have a chance to attend.


Thanks RLB, for answering my interview question. I look forward to read the pdf of your book and also to your guest post.

Booking through Vocabulary

I’ve always wondered what other people do when they come across a word/phrase that they’ve never heard before. I mean, do they jot it down on paper so they can look it up later, or do they stop reading to look it up on the dictionary/google it or do they just continue reading and forget about the word?

While reading I seldom stop to look up a word or a phrase that is unfamiliar to me. I go on with my reading. I try to decipher the meaning from the context of the story. I don't wish to interrupt my reading nor my interest. I might look up later. Mostly I do not. The beauty of reading is, one does not have to look up words all the time. That too helps in making us learn about new words and phrases. As for as spellings go, I am very good at it. I have to be as I write poetry. English is not my first language. But my thought process is in English. I am also known for my usage of new words in my conversations.

However, if I am reading aloud to my nephew, I do ask him to look it up in the dictionary. This has made him use the dictionary more often.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Faith and Honour by Robin Maderich

Author's Bio from her website in her own words:

Although published in various genres of romance, both in print and electronic format, my first novel was historical, released by Warner Books (before the big merger with Time) in 1989. Faith and Honor has since been reprinted and the second in the trilogy released. Most recently I am enjoying an association with New Concepts Publishing and had a brief but satisfying association with Inara Press. I also have an illustrated children's e-book published and hope to publish more children's books in the near future.

The rural village in Pennsylvania where I reside with my husband and our multiple pets has provided much of my recent inspiration. The fact that my three sons are all grown has allowed me more time to pursue writing. As one might expect, my feelings regarding that circumstance are mixed. However, they do not live very far away and I see them often.

My interest in writing began at an early age when I wrote my first book in the second grade. Titled Windy Day, the book was thirty pages of unpracticed prose about a girl and her horse (what else?), complete with illustrations. From that point, I read the first time through a book for pleasure and subsequent readings were spent dissecting what had caught and kept my interest, the style in which the book was written, the flow or phrasing and the particulars of description. Enamored of the lyrical quality of the written word, I was hooked. My love of history, research, the intricacies of detail and stretching my imagination have aided me immensely through the ever-expanding process of learning my craft.

About the book:

Colonial Boston churns with rebellion, with every patriot addressing the cause of freedom through thought and deed. Persistent in her own dedication to the struggle for independence, Faith Ashley is no exception. Rescued from the harassment of British officers by Fletcher Irons, the young widow finds herself attracted to him and confused by emotions long held in abeyance. In their initial meeting, Fletcher appears to be merely another Boston citizen on his way home; however, his secrets are soon revealed. When war erupts in the first battles of the Revolution, Faith is torn between her loyalty to the cause and her love for this man who is far more than he seems. All of Faith's strength and courage is put to the test to remain true not only to herself and to her country, but to the man whose destiny rests with her own.

My thoughts:

Going back home to Boston, Faith Mary Ashley, a beautiful red-headed widow, is rescued by Fletcher Irons not knowing that he is an officer in the British Army. Somehow or the other they keep meeting. Being in opposite sides, they should be enemies but somehow are attracted to each other.

Faith is a strong, willful woman, and a patriot to boot, and Fletcher too is a loyal British Soldier, who remains so despite his feelings for Faith. Few other memorable characters are Ezra Briggs, who is a a lawyer and who has known Faith for many years, and Brian Upton, British Lieutenant and a good friend of Fletcher's. We must not forget Faith's father, John Colton, who lives in Longmeadow and Elizabeth, Faith's servant who loves her mistress.

Both Faith and Fletcher, are complex people and try to understand their feelings for each other yet remain loyal to their causes. Boston comes alive for us. Historic details are very vivid and good. As for as story line goes, it is good. But the numerous love making scenes somehow put me off. I felt those were needless and detracted me from the story line.

Let the windfall fall on my head

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What would you spend an unexpected windfall on? Say … $50? How about $500?

As it is poetry month (for Americans!), how about a poetic reply?

let the windfall fall on my head,
may be some of it will fall under my bed

how can money be ever enough
i wanna buy all sorts of stuff

things I supposedly don't need
however I wil let the money lead

go to a shoestore, or a musical one
or go to a theatre and have some fun

let the windfall fall on my head,
may be some of it will fall under my bed

should I go for that much needed holiday
keeping all my stupid worries at a bay

do I go and try to make myself pretty
or do I give it for some kind of charity

oh please, please don't give me that look
you know I will spend it all on books

let the windfall fall on my head,
may be some of it will fall under my bed

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

The story of Zenia ought to begin when Zenia began. It must have been someplace long ago and distant in space, thinks Tony; someplace bruised, and very tangled.

Title: The Robber Bride
Author: Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 0553569058
Publisher: Bantam Books/1993
Pages: 528

The Robber Bride is my third Margaret Atwood novel after The Handmaid's Tale and The Blind Assassin. I started reading this novel yesterday and despite the length, I finished it today.

The novel is set in Canada. Three friends Tony, Charis and Roz have something in common, a nightmare named Zenia. One who entered their lives thirty years back and destroyed their marital life taking away each of their men. Each has a festering wound which keeps hurting her again and again. Then one day they hear that she is dead and all three attend her funeral, and feel somehow freed from her snare. Until one day when all three meet for their monthly lunch in a restaurant and see Zenia returning from the she real, is she an apparition?

This novel deals with that issue which is any woman's worst nightmare..the other woman involved with the husband. Zenia is very beautiful, smart and hungry for attention. She is very manipulative, an expert on playing at being vulnerable and extracting sympathy. Somehow all three Tony, Charis and Roz too are thralled by her. They can't escape her, nor can they escape their past. Zenia destroys anyone she comes in contact with. She has the ability to play into the minds of all those who come into her periphery, be it West, Tony's Husband; Billy, Charis' husband, and Mitch, Roz's husband, who had killed himself.

Zenia, even in her absence, is very much present in their lives at every moment. They can't stop thinking of her. All three are different in personality, work and temperament yet bonded by a common factor known as Zenia. They are very supportive of each other. We get to know abot Zenia from each of the women's thoughts. Nowhere she is given a voice in the novel. This novel is about empowerment, differences of the sexes, coming into terms with ownself and acceptance.

While reading about each of Tony, Charis, and Roz's life, we too are thralled by Zenia. She captures us completely. We want to hate her yet something holds us back. Zenia has that kind of power over us too. The novel may deal with a heavy subject but it tackles it with wit and humour..the kind which hits hard. And we must not forget the wonderful prose which is Atwood's hallmark. Just when we think we have figured it all out, Atwood goes off in a tangent.

See also the review of it by:

Wendy of Caribousmom

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday Book Coveting

This poetry book is the only one book, I covet on this sunday. I checked and nothing else interested me in the New York Times.

SLAMMING OPEN THE DOOR by Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno

From Amazon:

Of all the losses we may be asked to bear, the murder of one’s child must be the most terrible. These poems evoke that keenly, seeking justice but transcending judgment as they grieve loss, celebrate love, and find healing.

From "True Confessions":

Don't pity me:
I was too lazy to walk
up the stairs
to tuck her in at night. When I brushed her hair
I pulled hard
on purpose. And always
the sharp,
plaintive edge
on the rim
of the spoon
of my giving...

Short Story: A Private Experience by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

"Chika climbs in through the store window first and then holds the shutter as the woman climbs in after her. The store looks as if it was deserted long before the riots started; the empty rows of wooden shelves are covered in yellow dust, as are the metal containers stacked in a corner. The store is small, smaller than Chika's walk-in closet back home."

Chika and her sister Nnedi had been in the market buying oranges and groundnuts when the riot started.

"It had all started at the motor park, when a man drove over a copy of the Holy Koran that had been dropped on the roadside, a man who happened to be Igbo and Christian. The men nearby, men who sat around all day playing draughts, men who happened to be Muslim, pulled him out of his pickup truck, cut his head off with one flash of a machete, and carried it to the market, asking others to join in; the infidel had desecrated the Holy Book."

Inside that store, Chika and the woman are an unlikely pair. The Woman belongs to the working class and Chika to the higher strata. The woman is Hausa Muslim and Chika is Igbo Christian. Initially Chika disparages that woman but slowly she changes as she finds that the woman is ready to share whatever little she has. Like her scarf, the threadbare one, probably the only one she owns, to tie a wound on Chika's leg. Chika too is grateful for that. In her grief of being separated from her sister, she shares the grief of the woman too, whose daughter too is lost in the riots.

Ethnic riots separate communities, yes. But they also bring people closer. Those ones who belong to different stratas.

"Later, Chika will read in the Guardian that "the reactionary Hausa-speaking Muslims in the North have a history of violence against non-Muslims", and in the middle of her grief, she will stop to remember that she examined the nipples and experienced the gentleness of a woman who is Hausa and Muslim."

In todays volatile world, where riots are very common, this could have happened anywhere. Adichie does not disappoint. Do read this story online here.

Musing through comments

Musing Mondays (BIG)

How do you respond to the comments on your blog? Do you try to email individually or comment on post yourself answering the comments above? What do you think is the best way to respond to comments and do you respond to all of them? Do you feel slighted if you don't receive a response back from the blog owner?

I seldom respond to comments on my blog unless it is controversial or someone asks me anything. Frankly I don't have the time. I used to reply to each and every comment in the beginning. Not any more. My way of replying is to visit the commenter's blog and comment on her posts. I think that is more important, visiting fellow bloggers and commenting on their blog, instead of replying to each and every comment on my blog. I don't mind if no one replies to my comments. I don't keep track of it either.

I think I would rather read. As it is blogging takes away to much of my time.

For interesting posts I do subscribe to comments and keep track. As for responding, few times I have. Not all.

Weekly Geeks: Cookery special

Weekly Geeks 2009 -14: What's cookin'?

What shall we cook today? It seems that for most of us,
a bit of our book obsession would carry over to the cookbook
genre, so this week for Weekly Geeks,
let's talk cookbooks!

I wil do this in an entirely different way. I don't have cookbooks to show in my bookshelves or otherwise. I can only recall a tattered one with the cover pages and index pages gone, God knows where.

I am a fairly good cook. I learnt it from my mom. India is a diverse country. So eating habits vary as does the cooking. Most recipes pass from one generation to the other by word of mouth. It's not that women don't make use of cookbooks but we rely more on the words of a good cook. At least I do.

If I have to cook certain items, I ask my friends or nowadays I simply surf the net. That way one gets to learn about different recipes for the same stuff. I pick from that which me suits me best. I don't go for the professional sites but personal ones. That way I have learnt a lot of household tips too.

As they say, web is our oyster!

These two websites are very popular with Indians:



Saturday, April 11, 2009

Non-Fiction Five Challenge: May 1-Sept 30, 2009

Trish of Trish's Reading Nook is hosting the Non-Fiction Five Challenge. It will run from May 1 to Sep 30, 2009.

The Rules

1. Read 5 non-fiction books during the months of May - September, 2009

2. Read at least one non-fiction book that is different from your other choices

Go sign in the Mr Linky thing on Trish's blog.

Here is my tentative list:

1) Travel Writing 1700-1830: An Anthology edited by Elizabeth A. Bohls and Ian Duncan

2) Grow Your Money by Jonathan D. Pond

3) The Wolf's Head by Peter Unwin

4) Return to the Middle Kingdom by Yuan-Tsung Chen

5) Unholy Business by Nina Burleigh

Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks

As you can see, all are from different topics/issues.

Friday, April 10, 2009

From A to X by John Berger

My On-the-ground-lion,
Did you receive my last parcel? In it I put Marlboros, Zabrano, Green mint, Coffee.

Title: From A to X

Author: John Berger
ISBN: 9781844672882
Publisher: Verso/2008
Pages: 196

Sandra of Fresh Ink Books was offering a few books on her blog for guest reviewing. I chose From A to X by John Berger and very glad that I did.

As told in the forward, John Berger came into possession of some letters. He does not wish to divulge the source. These letters have been sent from A'ida to Xavier. A'da lives in a forgotten town of Suse and her lover/husband is taken for an insurgent and is imprisoned. In those letters, we see A'ida writing about everyday things and in the routine way her life goes on. She describes people and events that are happening and also the love she feels for Xavier.

The most insignificant detail is written about. Underlying all this, is the survival of the people of Suse, who put up resistence when the need arises. There is no particular order about those letters, these are undated and somehow can be read in any order, without lessening the impact. We also find Xavier's thoughts in the form of notes at the back of her letters but never sent to A'ida.

There is no background given, no details of insurgency, or war but that in no way detracts. The stark structure only highlights the negative effect of war. A'ida letters read like poetry at a few places. Her thoughts are calm, collected and matter of fact. Her love for Xavier is not cloying at all. In no way, these letters are not love letters and yet they are. In the missives of daily doings, the passion pours forth.

At a first glance, the book might not appeal to most. Once one starts it, it completely takes one in. Do give it a chance, if you like serious reading. For A'ida, writing letters is painful, yet she has gneo on, not for Xaviar but for herself, her own sake. Reason enough to live, to survive, is it not?

Angel of Wrath by Bill Myers

"Molly? Where is my Molly?"

Title: Angel of Wrath
Author: Bill Myers
ISBN: 9780446698009
Publisher: Faith Words/2009
pages: 316

Charlie Madison, an ex-special Ops agent, Lisa, a ex FBI agent and Jazmin, Chalie's 13 year old deaf niece get somehow embroiled in finding out a serial killer, who is killing all those who he thinks are unforgiving 'Sinners'.

A few teens are indulging in Satanic practices in the deeep mountains. They want Jesus and Satan to come together. And uknowing release a terrifyingly unknown entity in to the world. That creature known as Mothman, attacks its victim via memories. When the serial killer and the creature come together, all hell is broken lose.

It becomes imperative for Charlie, Lisa and Jaz to get into the bottom of all this. Lisa's father too is one of the marked victim, as is Lisa herself. Her brother Thomas, is taken as one of the suspects.

It is the the eternal tale of Goodness versus Evil. And sometimes the line between the two gets smudged. It might have been pegged as Christian fiction but I think it works well as a fantasy novel. YA readers will like it, if they don't think much of the Christian elements. Being a good human being is more important than following any religion, and its dictates religiously. Thats what I infer from what I read.

It was released on 8th April, the day I started reading the ARC, which I won in a giveaway!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

BTT: Juggling books

btt button

Some people read one book at a time. Some people have a number of them on the go at any given time, perhaps a reading in bed book, a breakfast table book, a bathroom book, and so on, which leads me to…

1) Are you currently reading more than one book?

Yes, I am reading more than one book. I always do.

2) If so, how many books are you currently reading?

Six, as of now. Angel of Wrath by Bill Myers. Beloved by Toni Morrison. Walking Through Walls by Philip Smith. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Selected Poems by Robert Lowell. Also re-reading Catch 22.

3) Is this normal for you?

Yes, it is normal for me. I am always reading 3 to 4 books at a time. That way I pick up the one I want to read, according to my mood. I can keep track of all the stories. However, that is not true for movies I watch. I forget which is which!

4) Where do you keep your current reads?

Most of the times, near my PC. That is most accessible place for me. Sometimes, if I read in bed, I keep it there under my pillow, the one I am reading before sleeping. The one I finish, I take it back to its place on my shelf and pick another book in its place.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Six Seconds by Rick Mofina

Blue Rose Creek, California Maggie Conlin left her home believing a lie. She believed that her life was normal again.

Title: Six Seconds
Author: Rick Mofina

ISBN: 9780778326120
Publisher: Mira/2009 Pages: 469

This year I have been reading a lot of crime fiction. Six Seconds too belongs somewhat to that genre. It is more a novel on terrorists and terror attacks, Jihadists and all. The issue which is very contemporary. When I requested for an ARC of the book, Rick Mofina was kind enough to send me one.

When Maggie goes to pick her son from school for a soccer match, she finds out that Jake her husband had picked him and vanished without a trace. Maggie runs from pillar to post but with no avail.

A nurse Samara, has been raped and has lost her husband and Son in Iraq to merciless American soldiers. She vows revenge on them. To achieve that she gets involved with truck driver, who used to do Iraq rounds.

Daniel Graham who belongs to Royal Canadian Mountain Police is trying to forget his sadness over his wife's death by pulling the trigger on himself near Faust river, when he is somehow compelled to watch out for rescue operations. He does manage to get hold of a little girl who dies in his arms, after uttering a few words. He feels so guilty and has to find out what happened to the Canadian family who seem to have been drowned.

All three events seem disconnected, yet there is something which is common for all. Graham's search leads him to a school in Montana where the Pope is supposed to visit. Although Graham is told to give up his search, he has to go on. And thus he unravels a plot to kill the Pope, all in six seconds. However, no one knows how as no weapon, nothing is detected.

In the backdrop of todays terrorism, this novel feels as if it is real and feasible. And it keeps us hooked too. The leader of the terrorist group remains unseen and faceless. This makes it very scary too. Isn't it what is happening today? Mofina sure knows how to write a crime fiction, or should I call it terrorism fiction? I wouldn't call the prose great but who really thinks about that while reading a fast paced crime thriller.

A Walk to the Hills of the Dreamtime by James Vance Marshall

Title: A Walk to the Hills of the Dreamtime
Author: James Vance Marshall
ISBN: 0688010091
Publisher: William Morrow/1970
Pages: 160

Two children, Sarah, 14, and her brother Joey, 11 are lost in the deserts of outback Australia. They are looking out at ways of survival. A tribe of Aborigines arrive out of nowhere and just take those children into their protection. The children have been brought up in a missinary and have been taught to be good Christians. And the Aborigines follow the faith they have been following from time immemorial.

Nature shows its perils yet the children nor the Aborigines give up hope, following, invoking God in their own ways. The cultures might be divided but hope remains same.

Sarah discovers that cultural differences are not what they seem. Both have the same ends. Both teach love, hope, belief. How can a different faith be wrong? That gives her power to save the people. She also teaches love to everyone who has been in touch with her.

If only we understood this, our world would be better place to live. That no religion is above the others. And all religion teach love. This fable may seem simple but gives us a profound message.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Waiting for Willa by Dorothy Eden

Title: Waiting for Will
Author: Dorothy Eden
ISBN: 0449231879
Publisher: Fawcett/1970

When Grace receives the letter, it is postmarked Stockholm. Seems like a normal note from Grace’s cousin Willa about nothing in particular. But for the signature. It is signed Wilhelmina, the name Willa hates. This is their secret code for help if ever Willa got into trouble. Grace Asherton, an attractive young novelist, is a sane person not one to give in to hysterics. But when she arrives in Stockholm and discovers her cousin has vanished, she is a bit alarmed especially by the strange behaviour of Willa’s so called friends.

It seems that Willa was pregnant and had run off to marry someone named Gustav. This Gustav is very difficult to trace. Everyone tells her that Willa was an impulsive person who would do just that. Grace does not believe anyone. She starts questioning. Again she receives another note signed Wilhelmina, which makes her more resolute to find the truth. More she gets into it, more it gets murkier. Everyone around her wishes for her to forget it and let go. But Grace is in no mood to give up the search for her cousin. On her neighbour, Polson's behest, Grace masquerades as Willa and watches the drama unfold....

This story has a gothic touch. At night one can feel the loneliness that Willa and now Grace face at her home. Grace does get into the bottom of all this but with some tragedy but she also finds love where she had not expected. The story holds interest right from the beginning. One can feel the atmosphere right away that something is not right. Each of the character feels strange and are involved in protecting each other. And no one is ready to reveal anything about Gustav. The mystery does hold till the end and the writing is good too.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Short Story: Year of the Dog by Casey Kait

Meili met us at the door of the restaurant. She kissed my head as my father and I entered, and when he wasn’t looking, she slipped me a thin, red envelope.

Year of the Dog by Casey Kait is the 14th short story in Fifty-Two Stories.

The story has been told in the voice of a thirteen year-old girl. She and her father, Peter, are dining with Meili and her sons, Sammy and little Pete. Her mother is not there with them as she has a migraine. Meili's husband too is working late. The story starts with the girl thinking how much she likes Meili, who considers her like her own daughter. Meili is always giving her presents. This time she slips in twenty dollars in that thin, red envelope.

Sammy, 13, is morose throughtout the meal but little Pete, 9, is eager to talk about Tennis with her father. The girl is not too happy the way her father is monopilising the younger boy. They finish the meal and come out into the streets which are crowded. It is the Year of the Dog and one can hear cymbals playing and see the head of the Dragon moving with it in tune.

Sammy walks ahead, the girl is with little Pete, Meili and her father are behind. They buy titbits in the noisy, crowded streets and the girl in none too pleased to see her Father and Meili holding hands. At one point, Meili throws a tantrum and her father holds her again after she calms down.
Sammy too has seen all this and says he hates his mother. The girl spend the twenty dollars given by Meili, to buy a toy drum for little Pete. She doesn't wish to have anything from Meili again. When Peter and Meili join the children, the girl refuses to shake hands with Meili and walks to their car with her father and starts crying..

This story started with good vibes between Meili and the girl. She says she is fond of Meili but at the end, she hates Meili. She shows her displeasure by refusing to shake hands. She does not make a scene or anything but does it with quiet dignity. Her father understands her turmoil and lets her cry. The reader too likes Meili in the beginning but somehow that diminishes towards the end. The girl has not expected Meili and Peter to have feelings for each other. She hates the very thought of Meili taking her mother's place. And so does the reader.

It is a story which is all too common. And that makes it very readable.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Posting the senryu first, as a short review for Weekly Geeks:

in the red tent

womanhood is celebrated-
which genesis ignored


We have been lost to each other for so long. My name means nothing to you. My memory is dust.

Title: The Red Tent

Author: Anita Diamant
ISBN: 0312195516
Publisher: Picador/1997
Pages: 321

The Red Tent is a story told in the voice of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and Leah. Jacob had twelve sons but only one daughter. Dinah was loved by all her four mothers: Leah, Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah. She had different equations with all of them. All the four told her about themselves and their experiences, right from her childhood. She was not left out of anything.

The Red Tent represents the tent belonging exculsively to women, who go there once a month for about three days to menstruate, where they deliver their children, where they tell stories and sing. The differences between the women is left outside and inside the tent they experience spirituality, which is not separate from the physical world. For them, everything is holy, dreams show the future. The bodily rhythms of the women is attuned to the rhythm of the Earth and they feel so much near to spiritual insights. Prophecy, interpretation of dreams, clairvoyance are not something to laugh about but to experience. Inside that red tent, women are very powerful.

Men are not aware of what happens in there, going about in their crude ways. They don't understand the spiritual aspect of it.

Told from Dinah's point of view, she fell in love with a Shechemite. And her brothers did not like it. They said she was raped and had to be avenged. Hungering for power, her brothers Simeon and Levi attacked the
Shechemites while they were recovering from circumcision which the Jacobites had ordered for all the Shechemites as part of the bride price. This treachery forced Dinah to curse her brothers and she escaped to egypt with her mother-in-law. After giving birth to a son in this new place, she becomes a midwife, that skill she had learnt from one of her mothers, Rachel.

The Red Tent speaks of the power of Woman, even those who don't have a voice. With good prose, Diamant makes it feasible. It might be a work of fiction but if Dinah had been given a voice in the Bible, she would told it this way. The Red Tent celebrates woman.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Weekly Geeks: Tangled in Wistaria by J. Andrew Lockhart

Title: Tangled in Wisteria
Author: J. Andrew Lockhart
ISBN: 978-1-60247-852-7
Publisher: Tate Publishing & Enterprises/2007
Pages: 108

J. Andrew Lockhart is blogger poet. He lives in Van Buren, Arkansas, United States. He writes Haiku, senryu, Haiga, Haibun and Tanka. He was kind enough to send me his book Tangled in Wisteria, which contains haiku, senryu and tanka. I have been reading him for some time now, on his blog.

Andrew was an attorney when tragedy struck. In 1996 he had an intracerebral hemorragic stroke at the age of 30. He rose out of it all and became a music teacher. In his introduction, he writes that music and writing were sidelined and he went to law school.

He came back to writing. Reading his verses one can observe the beauty of nature, find greatness in mundane things and see love in a new light. Those short verses of his are loaded with so much meaning. You an see them in simplicity or the complexities....whatever way you choose to. Those contain nuggets about life and much more.

Here I quote a few of his verses:

"looking up
at the oak tree, planted
when i was young-----
there is no need
for a mirror"
"although you are
so far away from me
i feel your presence
in the cool summer night
as flowers rest"
"buying a pack
of firerackers
made in china"
"brick after brick
after brick after brick---
hidden thoughts"

This book has four parts----spring, summer, autumn and winter. I read it at one go. But I am going to come back again and again. The best part is my mom picked it up and did not put it own until she finished.

Each page contains a haiku or a senryu and a tanka. Those verses touch the soul and illuminate it. I am very glad I read it and also that I read him everyday on his blog. Please do check him out.

Friday, April 3, 2009

the nine planets by Edward Riche

Title: the nine planets

Author: Edward Riche
ISBN: 0670044563
Publisher: Viking Canada/2004
Pages: 302

Give a brief summary of the book:

Marty Devereaux is the vice-principal of The Read Pines, which is an exclusive private school but in a remote part of Newfoundland. Mart wishes for it it to be well known. The Principal of the school is involved in a ecological crusade which kind of alienates those interested in investing in the school to take education globally. Also Marty is involved with the music teacher Sophie. However, his foolishness drives a wedge between them. On top of that, Marty is asked to look over Cathy, his niece, who does not think much about him. She is a quiet teenager, who lives in a world of her own. But their paths are always crossing.


As a teacher, I liked the interaction of Marty with the teachers, students and parents. He is detached and keeps his cool. He is obssessed with global marketing of education for The Red Pines. He wants it to be well known. There is wit and humour at every step which sustains the reader when the novel gets a bit heavy. Marty is not vey close to his brother, Rex, sister-in-law meredith and niece Cathy but he is kind of always there when they need him.


The book drags in the middle. I found it repetitive at places. I had to skip a few pages.

Additional Thoughts:

Despite the wit and humour, it is not a light read. It covers relevant issues, reflective of our society. It is satire on the whole system, be it family, love, letters, or education. There are poignant moments too which brings us closer to the main characters. I recommend this book for all those teachers, educators and parents. Students too. Not for those who like books with happy endings.

The Farwalker's Quest by Joni Sensel

Zeke's tree would not speak to him.

"Are you sure you've got the right tree?" Ariel asked when he told her. "Maybe you've been hearing another one nearby that got tired of the confusion and gave up."

Title: The Farwalker's Quest
Author: Joni Sensel
ISBN: 9781599902722
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's books/2009
Pages: 387

Zeke and Ariel, twelve years old are out chasing polliwogs in the creek in their lunchtime. That's when Zeke discovers that his tree won't talk to him. Ariel, who was never one cowed down by anything goes back to the tree to force it to speak to Zeke. Thats when they discover a dart with 13 weird symbols. They recognise a few of the symbols for each of the trades it represents but the last one is unfathomable.

Namingfest is three days away, on Apirl first where one can know what trade one wants to apprentice for. Ariel is the daughter of a Healtouch, and wishes to be one as she recognises medicinal plants and has a healiing touch. Zeke is the son of a tree-singer and wishes to be one himself.

That particular dart is given to the Storian of the village for safe-keeping but two finders turn up to claim it. They also want to take away Ariel along with them, recognising her for what she is, but they are not keen to reveal it to her as yet. Ariel fails her namingfest and wishes to be away too. Luna, Ariel's mother is not keen to send her daughter with two strangers to a far away place.

Scarl and Elbert steal Ariel away and kill her mother. They keep her tied and trussed up, taking her to some unknown place. Soon after Zeke follows and rescues her. Both bolt from the captives, finding new adventures on their way. Somehow Ariel knows exactly where to go and Zeke finds that rocks speak to him. It turns out that Ariel is a Farwalker.

Scarl and Elbert catch up with them and Scarl turns out to a protector of the children. They undergo the path of the dart, wanting to find out the Vault that is somehow mentioned in it. When they do, it is a revelation for the children and Scarl too. The treasure is not of Gold but wisdom, the art of living, which was lost in the disease which swept the Earth blinding everyone. People found their eyes-sight but lost everything else.

Despite the violence, I liked the book. The fantasy element is more like in the dreams or as an ESP. This makes it more realistic. Some questions are left unanswered. Maybe, Sensel wants to write sequels. It sure makes a good read for 11-13 years olds. My ARC goes to my 12 year old nephew.

Also reviewed by

CB James