Sunday, February 28, 2010

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Title: Something Borrowed
Author: Emily Giffin
ISBN: 9780312321192
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin/2004
Pages: 322

Back Cover

Something Borrowed
tells the story of Rachel, a young attorney living and working in Manhattan. Rachel has always been the consummate good girl---until her thirtieth birthday, when her best friend, Darcy, throws her a party. That night, after too many drinks, Rachel ends up in bed with Darcy's fiancé.

Although she wakes up determined to put the one-night fling behind her, Rachel is horrified to discover that she has genuine feelings for the one guy she should run from. As the September wedding date nears, Rachel knows she has to make a choice. In doing so, she discovers that the lines between right and wrong can be blurry, endings aren't always neat, and sometimes you have to risk all to win true happiness.

My Views

I seldom read chick lit. One of my two best friends gave this book to me and said it was good. I am no advocate of one night flings or cheating. I had mixed feelings when I started this book.

Rachel and Dexter had known ech other much before Darcy and Dexter were engaged. It was Rachel who introduced both. Rachel and Darcy have known each for twenty years. Rachel rightly feels guilty but also knows that Dex is the guy for her. Looking back, she can see through how manipulative Darcy has always been. Yet she loves Darcy. Dexter doesn't feel guilty but he doesn't wish to hurt Darcy either. But a time comes when choices have to be made. The totally unexpected ending resolves the issue for all concerned.

I won't say I loved the book. But once I began it, I had to read it till the end. Rachel is a whiner, Darcy is manipulative and Dex seems to be spineless. I liked two other friends of Rachel, Hillary and Ethan, who have always known Darcy for what she is.

TSS: February Wrap-up

I had done a mid-February post and explained why I wasn't reading much. Now I can say I have read 7 books and total of 13 books in 2010. Not a big number but under the circumstances, I am happy with it. Sometimes life has much to offer other than reading. I am very comfortable where I am placed right now.

Here are the books, I read in February:

13) Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
12) Sworn to Silence by Linda
11) Leaving Yesterday by Kathryn Cushman
10) Buried Alive by Roy Hallums
9) Plain Pursuit by Beth Wiseman
8) Saving Rachel by John Locke
7) Try Darkness by James Scott Bell

Click on the titles to read my reviews. I would be posting the review of Something Borrowed in a short while. Also plan to start a book too after that. Not bad, eh?!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Weekly Geeks : Commenting

Everyone loves getting comments on their blog posts and I am no exception. I don't have a comment policy. I rarely reply to comments on the threads unless those are controversial. I like to comment too. There are some blogs where I comment on a daily basis. I try to comment on the memes posted by bloggers too and those who visit me. Sometimes I can keep pace, sometimes I can't.

I don't like comment moderation and to top it, there is this word verification. I have never moderated my comments by I have resorted to word verification at times. When I get trolls, that is.

I don't have a comment widget but I do get notified on my email when someone comments on any of my posts.

I do visit new blogger often if those interest me. I add those to my google reader and visit them as and when I can.

Very few people know that in blogger blog comment page, there is this option of choosing name/URL. When you click it, you can put your name in the name field and add the URL of your blog or blog post on the URL one. Clicking on your name takes it directly to your blog/blog post. Also very useful for all those bloggers, who don't use blogspot blogs. Blogspot bloggers too get direct linkiing. TRY USING IT! You will get more traffic. I know I do.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Find: The Second Blush by Molly Peacock

The Second Blush by Molly Peacock

From Booklist

Poems that rhyme, what joy. Homey poems about an unexpected late marriage to the calm man a shy boy from the past became, what bliss. Sweet poems of bed, cats, and kitchen time that abruptly crack open to reveal the chasm of fear and loss: powerful stuff. Peacock is in peak form in these seductive poems that swing and twirl so prettily, then suddenly, deviously, shockingly carom from contentment to despair and back again, just like life. And how spangled and vivid each domestic scene is, how electric with feelings and shadowed by death, like paintings by Bonnard or Vuillard. Because cancer made the marriage seem “a doomed possibility,” because the poet is confronting the haunting absence of a beloved cat, a smashed cup, a scar, dreams of epic cold and a dead sister. But then there is also a “jeweled” drop of water.

Our Minor Art

We make love better unobserved — not that
we'd ever throw the new cats off the bed.
We let them sit there, turning their backs,
but listening anyway. We don't move in bed
quite with the freedom we might without them,
but the fact that they stay is like being
visited by minor gods. And we love the minor.
It inspires us because we like being
close to its genius — something we might come
to understand beyond our human bounds
but near to our kind — not like the major,
a capitalized God, for instance, or
upper-case Art. Those are beyond us,
yet our transformation here in bed is art,
something best made unobserved, even by the cats,
who leap off as we forget them and ourselves.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

BTT: Why I read

btt button

“To read, when one does so of one’s own free will, is to make a volitional statement, to cast a vote; it is to posit an elsewhere and set off toward it. And like any traveling, reading is at once a movement and a comment of sorts about the place one has left. To open a book voluntarily is at some level to remark the insufficiency either of one’s life or one’s orientation toward it.”

To what extent does this describe you?

I don't think I truly understand this. I read because I have always been reading since I was a five year old. The words gives me pleasure, take me into a journey, to new places. My imagination too grows leaps and bounds, in all directions. For me the big question is, how can one NOT read?

With books, I am never lonely. I don't miss anyone when I am reading. It is learning process for me. And it also helps me to come in turns with me. Reading has also made me a better poet. I learn new words as well. My memory power sharpens. Entertainment and escape are just two other aspects.

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A-Z Wednesday: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

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

What led you to pick up this book?

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

Plot summary:

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

What did you like most about the book?

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

What did you think of the writing style?

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

What did you think of the main character?

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

How do you think he feels?

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

What strengths does Ada has that help her cope?

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

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

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

Any other particularly interesting characters?

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

What do you think of the ending?

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

Do you recommend this book?

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


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: When She Flew by Jennie Shortridge

"You''re Michael?" she said. From his voice she'd expected a mild bookkeeper type, a pale, nerdy church guy. The behemoth before her was bald and tattoed and pierced, and well...intimidating. How had he been not seen?

~Page 190, When She Flew by Jennie Shortridge

Monday, February 22, 2010

Crime Fiction Alphabet: Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo

Title: Sworn to Silence
Author: Linda Castillo
ISBN: 9781615231072
Publisher: Minotaur Books/2009
Pages: 336

Book Blurb:

When a serial killer strikes bucolic Painters Mill, Ohio, the killer's signature—Roman numerals ritualistically carved into each victim's abdomen—matches the MO of four unsolved murders from 16 years earlier. Police chief Kate Burkholder, who's reluctant to dredge up the past, must keep secret that she knows why the old murders stopped. Not satisfied with the case's progress, local politicos set up a multijurisdictional task force to assist, including a law-enforcement agent battling his own demons. The added scrutiny and the rising body count threaten to push the chief over the edge.

My views:

Kate Burkholder has a tough job in her hand, catching the serial killer. Knowing what is in her past, she is afraid, who might be the killer. Only she and her family know about what happened 16 years back. When John Tamasetti is sent to help her out, she is resentful of him. John too has a past and knows that this case is either make or break for him. Because of her Amish past, not many people in Painter Mill want Kate to handle the case. That includes Nathan Detrick, who takes over from her. Only when she is out of the force, she can get to the bottom of it, and nail the killer. And then that killer comes after her...

The way the murders are commited is pretty gruesome and the graphic descriptions might not go well with some readers. Few of the cops in the novel too are unable to take in such horror. But it only adds to the psycho killer and we have this compulsion to know who is it. This novel is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

A fast paced novel, with a good finish. We can't even begin to guess the killer until Kate starts profiling. Even when she is thrown out, she has to find out who is killing all those females and put a stop to it. When a pattern emerges, she knows who did it. Kate has her demons but she does not let it get in her way of work. John has been over the edge and knows solving this case would bring him back into being what he has always been, a good cop.

This is first in the series of the Kate Burkholder novels and I will be look out for the next. Thanks to the author for the ARC!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mondays: Mailbox/Musings/Whereabouts

Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia.

I received the following books this past:

1) Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure by Allan R. Shickman

The hero, Zan-Gah seeks his lost twin in a savage prehistoric world, encountering suffering, captivity, conflict, love, and triumph. In three years, Zan-Gah passes from an uncertain boyhood to a tried and proven manhood and a position of leadership among his people. Themes: survival, cultures, gender roles, psychological trauma, nature's wonders and terrors.

2) Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country by Allan R. Shickman

The prehistoric saga continues in Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country, the sequel to the award winning Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure. In this story, Zan s troubled twin brother, Dael, having suffered greatly during his earlier captivity, receives a ruinous new shock when his wife suddenly dies. Disturbed and traumatized, all of his manic energies explode into acts of hostility and bloodshed. His obsession is the destruction of the wasp men, his first captors, who dwell in the Beautiful Country. When he, Zan-Gah, and a band of adventurers trek to their bountiful home, they find that all of the wasp people have died in war or of disease. The Beautiful Country is empty for the taking, and Zan s people, the Ba-Coro, decide to migrate and resettle there. But the Noi, Dael s cruelest enemies and former tormentors, make the same migration from their desert home, and the possibility develops of contention and war over this rich and lovely new land.


Musing Mondays2 Do you keep all the books you ever buy? Just the ones you love? Just collectibles? What do you do with the ones you don’t want to keep?

I used to cling to whatever books I bought. Not any more. I keep only a few. And others I giveaway to my nephews, nieces anyone else who covets those books. It keeps me de-cluttered and easy in mind!

I finished:

Buried Alive by Roy Hallums

Leaving Yesterday by Kathryn Cushman

Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo

I am in midst of reading:

Too many books!

I plan to read:

Whatever I can!

I posted reviews of:
Buried Alive by Roy Hallums
Leaving Yesterday by Kathryn Cushman
Blood Harvest by Brant Randall
The Secret Keeper by Paul Harris
Plain Pursuit by Beth Wiseman
The Bafut Beagles by Gerald Durrell

TSS: Leaving Yesterday by Kathryn Cushman

My son was dead. I knew it the minute I saw the black-and-white car pull to the curb in front of my house.

Title: Leaving Yesterday
Author: Kathryn Cushman
ISBN: 9780764203824
Publisher: Bethany House/2009
Pages: 311

Alisha Stewart has lost her older son in a violent death and the other one Kurt took to drugs after his brother's murder. She hasn't heard from him for the past 18 months and fears the worst when a police officer turns up at her place. But the police is there to question Kurt about a murdered drug dealer. Then Kurt calls from a rehab and Alisha is grateful for being given a second chance. It turns out that he is the murder suspect and Alisha doesn't know how far she can go to protect him.

Leaving Yesterday deals with more than the prodigal son. Alisha and her husband Rick, are separated and now she is struggling being a single mother looking after their 10-year-old daughter, Caroline. She is also involved with church work, spreading the message of right and wrong. When she has to decide between her son and seeking the truth, she is in a dilemma. Here a mother's love weighs against the right path.

Kurt has turned around his life for the better and he deserves a second chance. He doesn't remember his drug-hazed days and is not sure if he killed the drug dealer or not. Everyone is desperate to find out the truth and Alisha leads the way, fully well knowing the consequences, if Kurt is found guilty.

The book tends to deviate at places, dwelling on the separation of Alisha and her husband, Rick. But I liked the bonding between the siblings, Kurt and Caroline. They adore each other. On seeing her brother, Caroline's happiness spills over the pages and the reader can feel the palpable affection between the two.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Find: Names by Marilyn Hacker

Most of my finds are poetry books. That's because I am always on look out for those. I found the following in Feminist Review. Going through the following verse, I truly covet it!

Names by Marilyn Hacker

Be mindful of names. They’ll etch themselves

like daily specials on the window glass

in a delible medium. They’ll pass

transformed, erased, a cloud the wind dissolves

above the ruckus of the under-twelves

on the slide, the toddlers on the grass,

the ragged skinny guy taking a piss

in the bushes, a matron tanning her calves

on a bench, skirt tucked around her knees.

A sparrow lands in the japonica;

as if it were a signal, all at once

massed pigeons rush up from adjacent trees,

wingbeats intrusive and symphonic—a

near-total silence is the clear response.

From the Publisher

In Names, Marilyn Hacker juxtaposes glimpses of contemporary lives with dialogues undertaken in signal poetic voices. Using her signature wit, passion, and mastery of received and invented forms, she convinces us to believe in a world made possible by language—prescient, playful, polyglot, and often breathtaking.

from “Ghazal: The Beloved”:

Lines that grapple doubt, written because of the beloved:

when grief subsides, what survives the loss of the beloved?

Your every declaration is suspect.

That was, at least, the departing gloss of the beloved.

Were you merely a servant of the state

or (now you give the coin a toss) of the beloved?

How pure you were, resistant in an orchard.

Peace with justice: the cause of the beloved.

Publishers Weekly

Hacker's virtuosic rhymes, syllabics and other traditional devices give discipline and elegance to her learned, yet direct, clear, personal, work: her daily life in Paris and New York, her affection for other writers, her lesbian identity and her left-wing politics find generous expression in this 12th book. Those who found her earlier work of the 1990s too casual could find real power here: reacting to violence in Iraq and in the Middle East, to America's sometimes baleful foreign policies, and contemplating the mortality of her friends, Hacker achieves a sometimes grim compression.

“I tease out metaphors to link desire
and stasis, coffee, shadows, lavender;
in my name, sons and sisters die Elsewhere.”

So she writes in an abbreviated crown of sonnets; a ghazal (one of 11, all composed according to strict older rules) rebukes the poet for “easy, dishonest verses./ Nothing protects your poetry from the love that kills.” Hacker has herself become an eminent translator (of Venus Khoury-Ghata and Claire Malroux, among many others); her attention to Francophone and Arabic writers, alongside and against her American Jewish heritage, helps give this collection its sometimes surprising force.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Booking Through Olympics

btt button

You may have noticed–the Winter Olympics are going on. Is that affecting your reading time? Have you read any Olympics-themed books? What do you think about the Olympics in general? Here’s your chance to discuss!

I have not been keeping track of the Winter Olympics. My reading does not depend on anything other than personal issues. I don't ever remember reading Olympic-themed books. Maybe I should do something about that. I would like recommendations from you!

I do watch the other Olympics and keep track of those events that interest me. Only book I remember reading about any Olympian medalist is about Nadia Comăneci, a gymnast.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Buried Alive by Roy Hallums

Title: Buried Alive
Author: Roy Hallums
ISBN: 9781595551702
Publisher: Thomas Nelson/2009
Pages: 241


Contractor Roy Hallums recounts the harrowing ten months he was held captive by Iraqi insurgents, the heroic rescue by American troops, and the faith that helped him survive it all.

In November 2004 Roy Hallums was working late at his office in Iraq at the Saudi Arabian Trading and Construction Company, supposedly well-protected by armed security guards, when four kidnappers broke in and hauled him away at gunpoint. The next ten months were the darkest of his life. Hallums spent most of his time in a concrete pit beneath a farmhouse, constantly bound and blindfolded. A small pipe in the ceiling provided the room's only oxygen - and its only link to the outside world. Hallums banked on one group in particular not forgetting his existence-the US military. And sure enough, on September 7, 2006, they successfully rescued him. This is the edge-of-your-seatstory of a trip through hell for Hallums, the daring rescue mission, and faith that brought him through the experience.


On November 1, 2004, Roy Hallums was kidnapped from Baghdad by 20 gunmen, along with few other people. Those other hostages were released soon after but Hallum was in captive for 311 days. It is his story, a true account about what he endured in his captivity. Reading it was difficult enough for me and he lived through it. Also what his family had to undergo. They left no stones unturned to get him released.

It is an emotional roller coaster to read this book, an account which leaves us deeply moved. It speaks of a Iraq that we know nothing about. In the darkest moments of despair, Hallum retained his sanity and kept his spirits up. It is man's journey into himself and also a way of finding oneself in the unimaginable madness. The terror, the torture and then the triumph, all these make it a edge on the seat read. A book that inspires and speaks about human endurance, no matter what. It also gives us a good insight about the Middle East. The rescuers too deseve kudos. I salute to the spirit of Hallums.

A-Z Wednesday: The Bafut Beagles by Gerald Durrell

• Book Title: The Bafut Beagles
• Author: Gerald Durrell
• ISBN: 0140012664
• Publisher: Penguin Books
• Year Published: 1971

This book chronicles Gerald Durrell's animal collecting expedition to the British Cameroon, in the late 1940's. It has interesting characters, human and animal. The portrait of the chief of Bafut is a stunning character study, and the country and the people are described with fondness. Durrell writes dancing monkeys, a midnight frog hunt, the night he taught the chief to dance the Conga, his group of hunters and their assorted pack of hunting dogs (the beagles), and the joys and inconvenience of keeping a large collection of wild animals.

This book was first published in 1954 but the actual collecting trip must have been in the late 40s. The Africa presented here is an anthropological journal. Durrell is respectful of the Africans and their culture, but this does not prevent him from sitting down and getting repeatedly sloshed with the local king. Durrell never refers to the people of Bafut as savages but the 'Bafut beagles' of the title refers to both the mongrel dogs that help him to collect animals and the Bafut hunters. He recounts that the hunters are superstitious, but he never stereotypes them. He communicates with the people of Bafut in pidgin English.

Durrell's fondness for Africa, its people and the animals pervades this narrative. He presents himself in a classic combination of self-deprecating humor, oddity, earthiness, but finally practicality and competence.

A native ruler known as the Fon, whom the D.O. said Durrell must be sure to get on his side if he hoped to succeed, ruled this grassland kingdom. The best way to do that was to prove he could carry his liquor!

As always, his love of "all creatures great and small" shows through even during such catastrophe as when he is bitten by what he thinks was a harmless blind snake, but he tells his cook, "'e get eye," a thing no member of the supposed species ever possessed. The best scenes are those in where the Fon appears roguish, irrepressible, and an indiscriminate lover of drink in every kind and combination, but he still proves to be the best collaborator, an animal collector could hope for--and a lover of the outdoors as well. Clad only in a loincloth and armed with a spear, he takes Durrell to see the evening manifestation of a colony of galagos, tiny arboreal creatures locally known as shillings.

All Durrell's books are great fun, but this is one of the best. This is one book I keep reading over and over again.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Plain Pursuit by Beth Wiseman

Title: Plain Pursuit
Author: Beth Wiseman
ISBN: 9781595547194
Publisher: Thomas Nelson/2009
Pages: 336

Carley Marek has a lot of personal issues to deal with. Her boss sends on her forced vacation and she finds herself visiting her friend Lillian, who lives in a farm in a Amish country. Lillian has found love there and has given up old ways and embraced Amish faith fully and is at peace with herself. Carley too wishes for the same kind of peace for herself. She also wants to write about the Amish way of living.

David, Lillian's step son is taken for sick and only man can save him. That man is Noah,who has been shunned from the community, including his own family. Samuel, David's father is not keen to accept Noah's help but Carley knows that there is no other way. Noah too has many demons but he can't simply let David dies and can go to any length to save the boy.

Carley is confused by all this and yet is there for everyone, standing in for anyone who needs her. Including Noah. She is drawn into the midst of their faith, its effect on people. Noah, Samuel and their families have to deal with their griefs, and are in a dillemma about how to care for their own even if he is shunned. Carley knows she has found love in Noah but she doesn't wish to tie him down.

I especially liked the character of Noah. He knows that his calling is healing people and he will do that, no matter how it affects him personally. He misses his family, mostly Samuel, with whom he had a good bonding. His family have written occasional letters to him. Only Samuel is the rigid one who has made no effort to contact his brother. Even when his son, David is sick, Samuel does not want anyting to do with Noah. However, he does get over his dilemma and we see both the brothers make an effort to bond again. Other family members do rally around.

It is book about faith, healing, forgiveness and unexpected blessings. The characters are very real and we can feel their pain as well as pleasure. I also learnt much about Amish people, their faith and beliefs. Thanks to Thomas Nelson for my copy.

Teaser Tuesdays: The Secret Keeper by Paul Harris

He pulled his pistol out of his belt and put it on the table, and he ran to the bathroom and threw up into the toilet. He emptied his guts until it stung the back of his throat, and as his mind again became aware of the world outside, he could hear Ali laughing.

~Page 252, The Secret Keeper by Paul Harris

Monday, February 15, 2010

Crime Fiction Alphabet: Blood Harvest by Brant Randall

"Some say that I am quarrelsome. Others hold that I'm a gossip. Fact is, I'm just interested in the truth, me being sworn to uphold the law. I take the workings of justice serious."

Title: Blood Harvest

Author: Brant Randall
ISBN: 9780979996016
Publisher: Capital Crime Press/2008
Pages: 286/HC

Blood Harvest is a work of fiction although it is based on real facts. In Randalls own words in the introduction:

"This novel grew from an incident related to me by my grandmother when she was in her nineties. She said that after her wedding day she never returned to her hometown. At one point I asked if her parents disliked my grandfather, who I remembered as personable and charming. "It was those dumb clucks." She used this expression only when quite angry. "My brother-in-law didn't think it was right for a white girl to marry a non-white European."

Initially confused, Randall was astounded to discover that his grandmother was referring to the Ku Klux Klan, which was anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic movement with racial intonations like deep hatred for blacks.

This novel is set in 1929, in a small rural New England community. When MacKay brothers catch their 13 year old precocious cousin, Jackie Sue, with teenager Angus DeCosta behind the bushes, they first beat and strip the boy and then throw him off a bridge into a river. DeCosta's father Nick, arrives in time to rescue his battered son. Like the Mackeys, Nick DeCosta too is a wine grower. He earns a fortune and in a way cuts into the profit of the Mackays. And also the Mackeys youngest daughter had eloped with him 15 years back. All are arrested and a trial follows. Meanwhile, Nick is lynched and burnt alive.

The question is why was he really killed. As a way of revenge or there is some other reason? Who did it? Another body too is found in the forest, its face being totally battered. We get the narration from the voices of the characters, that also includes that of a dog and a crow. Told in dialects, and characters straight out of real life, it draws the reader in. And the hatred is palpable. Despite the grim background, the murder and dark mystery, it has its moment of lightness and wit. The court scenes are hilarious especially with Jackie.

As Randall said, prejudices exists. Everywhere. Including India. Not only for caste, colour, creed, religion but also for power, money and hell lot more. Therefore, Blood Harvest makes a lot of sense. I especially liked the quotations from poetry and prose before the start of each chapter. Those words summarised what was intended in each chapter. Brutallly frank, this novel stays in mind. The title is wholly appropriate too as is the cover. I am checking out other works by Brant Randall and I am also going to look out more about the "Clucks'.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Monday: Mailbox/Musings/Whereabouts

Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia.

I received the following books this past:

The Secret Keeper by Paul Harris from the author

When Danny Kellerman, a British journalist in the midst of a flourishing career and a faltering marriage, receives an unexpected note pleading for help from Maria Tirado, a children's relief worker who was his lover during his brief assignment in Sierra Leone four years earlier, he does a Google search on her. To his horror, Danny learns that Maria was murdered before her note reached him in what authorities in Sierra Leone are sweeping under the carpet as a botched roadside robbery. Determined to learn the truth, Danny finagles his way back to West Africa, where he uncovers dangerous truths that suggest his government and his friends aren't the upstanding paragons he took them for.

Lethal People by John Locke

While pursuing a budding romance with the beautiful Kathleen Gray, Creed stumbles upon a plucky—but horribly burned—little girl named Addie Dawes. Creed's suspicion about the fire that killed Addie's family puts him on a collision course with crime boss Joe DeMeo, in what soon becomes an issue of kill or be killed.

DeMeo, a relentless killer who will stop at nothing to protect his empire—targets Creed and his loved ones for death. But Creed has plans of his own. Employing a bizarre cast of characters including a giant, a rival crime lord, an angry midget bent on world conquest—and a team of circus clowns— Creed goes on the attack, with hilarious results.

Lethal Experiment by John Locke

Donovan Creed, former CIA assassin, is a smart-aleck tough guy who can't resist a noble cause. Despite a ton of baggage and a penchant for call girls, he always finds a way to beat the bad guys. In this sequel to Lethal People, Creed is forced to choose between his thriving contract-killer business and his desire to live a normal life with the beautiful Kathleen Gray and her newly-adopted daughter, Addie. Before that can happen, he has to take care of some lethal business involving a former lover.

Saving Rachel by John Locke

What if the best morning of your life suddenly turned into your worst nightmare? Sam Case is about to find out. Saving Rachel is the story of what happens when killers force a man to choose between his wife and his mistress...and the one he rejects must die. But wait--all is not as it appears to be. In fact, nothing is what it appears to be!

Devil's Food Cake by Josi Kilpack

It's been years since author Thom Mortenson has been back to Garrison, Colorado. As part of the library fundraising committee, who invited him to speak, Sadie Hoffmiller wants everything to be perfect—right down to the homemade Devil’s Food Cake she made herself. Murder, however, was not on the menu.

When Thom's manager ends up dead on stage, Sadie does what any woman with a history of solving murders does--jumps right in to offer her guidance and expertise. The police, however, are not very appreciative. In fact, they’d rather she just go home. But can Sadie help it if she keeps stumbling over information? Can she help it if the people intricately woven into the deception keep crossing her path? The more she learns, the broader the spectrum becomes and when the police refuse to take her seriously, Sadie has no choice but to sidestep them altogether in the pursuit of justice.

With her son Shawn at her side, her reputation on the line, and a full cast of suspicious characters, Sadie Hoffmiller is once again cooking her way through a case that offers far more questions than answers.

Musing Mondays2 Do you keep reference books on your shelves at home? What’s your first port of call when you need information – the internet or a book?

I usually have a dictionary, infact I have many. As I write poetry, I do use those often. I also have old copy of a Wren & Martin Grammar book. I don't have much use of it but it is a much loved, much thumbed one. I also like those word power books, i.e., those which help us in increasing our vocabulary. I own a lot of those. At least I used to. Now I think, many of those are with my nephews and nieces. Other than that, I have physics books, and also a few cross stitch books, a book on benefits of tea. I frankly don't think I have any other reference books. I find the internet pretty useful!
I finished:

Plain Pursuit by Beth Wiseman

I am in midst of reading:

Too many books!

I plan to read:

Whatever I can!

I posted reviews of:

Plain Pursuit by Beth Wiseman
Saving Rachel by John Locke
Ariel by Sylvia Plath

TSS: Mid February and only two books read!

The Sunday

2010 started with a good note for me. Personally I am on the top of the world and next few months, I will undergo major changes in my life. I am really looking forward to that. I feel blessed and in a very happy state which I know will continue for a long time to come.

Why am I saying all this here? In my joyous state, I am not able to read much. I have to do so much right now that reading simply doesn't happen. I am not really worried but I would like to read more. In February, I have only managed to read two books. Not a good score for me. Irony is, I don't feel guilty and enjoying my life as it is now. I have started a lot of books but finishing those has taken a backseat.

However, I am writing a lot of poetry as I feel inspired and words flow out of me.

Another aspect of this is I have not been visiting my favourite blogs and commenting. I do read those on my google reader but interaction has stopped from my side for a while now. My regular commenters do visit me although I haven't. I know I will get back to reading, commenting but right now my priorities are in a different plane.

*Update: I finished another book today. That makes it three!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Weekly Geeks: Romancing the Tome

Feel free to explore any or all of these prompts:

  • What literary couple is your favorite?
  • How do you define romantic literature? Does it always involve sex? or the hint of sex?
  • What author/s do you think writes romantic scenes particularly well?
  • Do you have a favorite romantic scene in a book?
  • Do you find you read romantic literature at certain times of the year?
  • Tell us your favorite romantic quote.
  • Do you have some favorite romantic poetry?
Here I share two romantic poems that I like amongst others. Hope you like those too:

I Carry Your Heart with Me by E.E.Cummings

I carry your heart with me (I carry it in
my heart) I am never without it (anywhere
I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

I fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) I want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)


Love Letter by Sylvia Plath

Not easy to state the change you made.
If I'm alive now, then I was dead,
Though, like a stone, unbothered by it,
Staying put according to habit.
You didn't just tow me an inch, no
Nor leave me to set my small bald eye
Skyward again, without hope, of course,
Of apprehending blueness, or stars.

That wasn't it. I slept, say: a snake
Masked among black rocks as a black rock
In the white hiatus of winter
Like my neighbors, taking no pleasure
In the million perfectly-chisled
Cheeks alighting each moment to melt
My cheeks of basalt. They turned to tears,
Angels weeping over dull natures,
But didn't convince me. Those tears froze.
Each dead head had a visor of ice.

And I slept on like a bent finger.
The first thing I was was sheer air
And the locked drops rising in dew
Limpid as spirits. Many stones lay
Dense and expressionless round about.
I didn't know what to make of it.
I shone, mice-scaled, and unfolded
To pour myself out like a fluid
Among bird feet and the stems of plants.
I wasn't fooled. I knew you at once.

Tree and stone glittered, without shadows.
My finger-length grew lucent as glass.
I started to bud like a March twig:
An arm and a leg, and arm, a leg.
From stone to cloud, so I ascended.
Now I resemble a sort of god
Floating through the air in my soul-shift
Pure as a pane of ice. It's a gift.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Saving Rachel by John Locke

Title: Saving Rachel
Author: John Locke
ISBN: 97814401724
Publisher: iUniverse/2009
Pages: 147

Sam Case never imagined that his life would take such a turn in a space of few hours. He has just been with his mistress, and is kidnapped, witnesses two murders and then his wife disappears. He has to choose between his wife and mistress, which of them to save. Not a easy one for any one. A computer wizard, he has always led a good life. When crooks want him to give him the codes of the people he helped multiplied their money, he doesn't know what to do. Enter Donovan Creed, who is not what he seems to be.

What follows is a riot, and a ride where everyone is double crossing each other and only Sam seems to the good guy! He tries to keep his wits and when he discovers unknown facets of Rachel, his wife and Karen, his mistress, he doesn't know what to do. He doesn't wish for anyone to die and has to save his own skin too.

It didn't take long to finish this book, a definite page turner, and the ending is unexpected and very satisfying. This is the third in the Donovan Creed series and I got the other two too, thanks to the author, who sent me all three! I don't know what made me read the third in series first! Whatever the reason, I say go for it.

Friday Find: The Madwoman of Bethlehem by Rosine Nimeh-Mailloux

The Madwoman of Bethlehem by Rosine Nimeh-Mailloux

Product Description

In mid-20th century Bethlehem, a woman finds that the only way to take control of her life is to feign madness. It is 1957, and Amal is an inmate of the Bethlehem Oasis for Troubled Women, having feigned insanity for nine years in order to avoid being put to death for the murder of her abusive husband. When a violent attack by a fellow inmate confines her to bed, Amal must not only heal physically, but also come to grips with her traumatic memories. These take her back to the harsh childhood, restricted life, and violent marriage that culminated in her -madness- and incarceration. Amal's story offers compelling insights into cultural norms that exist throughout the world even today, norms that tolerate the violence, repression, and abuse of girls and women. Perhaps most disturbing is that the author brings us into a world where the guardians and foot soldiers of repression are women themselves, often mothers and grandmothers who've experienced no better, and whose only power comes from what they can wrest from their relationships with other women. Amal ultimately finds hope and redemption through her relationships at the asylum and hospital, finally discovering that the support and kindness of others gives her the strength to forgive the past and take control of her future.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Booking Through Encouragement

Booking Through ThursdayCheck Spelling

How can you encourage a non-reading child to read? What about a teen-ager? Would you require books to be read in the hopes that they would enjoy them once they got into them, or offer incentives, or just suggest interesting books? If you do offer incentives and suggestions and that doesn’t work, would you then require a certain amount of reading?

Being single, I don't have children of my own but that has not stopped me from encouraging any child to read. I have nieces and nephews and I have always bought them books. My brothers too like that fact as it has made the kids read all kinds of books. I used to read aloud stories for them. I gave away all my Enid Blytons, Nancy Drews, Hardy Boys, Tintin comics, Asterix comics and lot more. Even now they can pick and choose whatever they wish to from my shelves. For keeps, if they want. I do suggest books but let them decide what they want.

The only incentive they need is more books and I am happy to provide. I suppose reading is in our blood!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A-Z Wednesday: Ariel by Sylvia Plath

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

Plath is one of my favourite poets of all times. Her poetry borders on the dark. How does one review it, other than saying I liked it and will read it again and again.

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

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

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


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays: Poetic Musings of an Old, Fat Man by Harry E. Gilleland, Jr.

Currently reading poetry. Hence sharing this stanza from one of the poems in there. Hope you like it.

"We wait to give of our blood, our urine,

or to have our insides revealed.
We hope for good answers,
but for some it will be bad news.
For some, it will be routine.
For others, it will alter their life.
For the unfortunate, it will be death sentence.

~Page 100, The Assembled Waiters,

Poetic Musings of an Old, Fat Man by Harry E. Gilleland, Jr.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Monday: Mailbox/Musings/Whereabouts

Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia.

I received the following books this past:

Plain Pursuit by Beth Wiseman

When Carley Marek takes a hiatus from her job, she leaves Texas and visits her friend Lillian in Amish country, Pennsylvania. Carley isn’t there long when she meets Lillian’s charming—but shunned—brother-in-law, Dr. Noah Stoltzfus.

When Lillian's stepson is stricken with a life-threatening disease, Noah is forbidden to intervene, but he resolves to do whatever it takes to save the boy's life. Carley finds herself caught in the middle of her feelings for Noah and her loyalty to Lillian. And to further complicate matters, everyone around her is talking about God--a God she doesn’t know and who appears to be punishing her for her past mistakes.

When her hiatus is up, Carley must make a life-changing decision: stay and face the path that is set before her, or flee and leave the only love she’s ever known.

When She Flew by Jennie Shortridge

In this predictable but good-hearted novel, a father and his daughter—a damaged but loving Iraq War vet named Ray and a budding 12-year-old naturalist named Lindy—live happily off the grid in an Oregon forest until the day Lindy is spotted by a bird-watcher. Notified of a young girl wandering alone deep in the woods, the police assign dedicated officer Jessica Villareal to the case. Recently rejected by her own daughter and still smarting, Jessica sets out with the best of intentions for helping Lindy, but risks destroying the life Lindy and her father have built for themselves.

Try Darkness by James Scott Bell

L.A. trial lawyer Ty Buchanan’s fianceé was killed, and Ty himself was brought up on murder charges. Now he’s trying to put that disastrous period in his life behind him. He’s living in a trailer on the grounds of a monastery, easing back into professional life, when a case involving a woman and her young daughter, who are being tossed out of their apartment by an unscrupulous building owner, draws him back into the dangerous world he thought he’d left behind. The case seems a simple enough matter, but soon after Ty makes it clear he will pursue his client’s rights, the woman is found dead, and now Ty must protect the little girl while trying to find out who’s behind her mother’s murder.


Musing Mondays2 Do you frequently read more than one book at a time? Do you try to limit this to a certain number? Do you have different books for different purposes/topics?

I am always reading more than one book at any given point of time. Those are of different genres. And one of those has to be poetry. This gives me some leverage as what interests me at any time. I have been known to read 6 books at any given time. But now I stick to three books.
I finished:

Try Darkness by James Scott Bell

I am in midst of reading:

Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo

Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas

I plan to read:

When She Flew by Jennie Shortridge

I posted reviews of:

Life Support by Tess Gerritsen
The Murder Stone by Louise Penny
Sins of the Flesh by Caridad Piñeiro
Zoya's Story: An Afghan Woman's Struggle for Freedom by John Follain and Rita Cristofari
Try Darkness by James Scott Bell

TSS: Try Darkness by James Scott Bell

The nun hit me in the mouth and said, "Get out of my house."
Jaw throbbing, I said, "I can't believe you just did that."
"This is my house," she said. "You want more? Come on back in."

Try Darkness
James Scott Bell
ISBN: 9781599952437
Publisher: Center Street/2010

Pages: 291

If the characters in a novel are a lawyer, a six-year old girl, and a nun who can throw a good punch, then that book has to be a winner. Ty Buchanan is a former trial lawyer, now living in a trailer on the grounds of St. Monica. Now he mostly provides legal aid to those, who can't really afford it. He has a past, in which he was accused of murdering his fiancee. When a woman with a six-year old daughter, calls on him for legal aid and is murdered, he has no other option to take in the little girl and also try to find why was her mother killed.

With Sister Mary on his side, he gets into the middle of the dark side of Los Angeles, where taking a life is so very easy. He knows that he has to protect the girl at any cost.
Father Bob too has a past but is ever ready to help those who want it. All of them make a winning team and have to get to the bottom of it. The most powerful people want everything to be stay hidden and can go to any length to keep Ty's mouth shut.

With witty dialogues and endearing characters, I couldn't put it down until I finished it. I found Sister Mary a very interesting character, who is not afraid to speak her mind, plays a good game of basketball and is not above throwing punches. Ty has some kind of feelings for her but can't pursue it as she is a nun. The cherubic Kylie wins our heart. She is a spunky girl, who loves Ty and Sister Mary.

Try Darkness is second book in the series but stands alone. The suspense is maintained till the end. The characters are well developed and the surprise elements makes us want to check out more books by James Scott Bell. Thanks to the author for my copy.

Also reviewed by:

Between the Pages

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Weekly Geeks: Trivia about Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath was married to what British poet laureate?

Ted Hughes. Their marriage was unhappy.

What is the title of her only novel?

'The Bell Jar'. 'The Bell Jar' is semi-autobiographical.

What was her first collection of poetry called?

'The Colossus'.

And her second poetry collection?

'Ariel'. 'Ariel,' her most critically-acclaimed work, was published after her death.

How did Sylvia Plath die?

She killed herself. February 11, 1963.

Hospitalized at age 20 for an attempted suicide, Plath stayed at which hospital?

McLean. Plath was hospitalized for swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills and disappearing into a hole in a wall in her cellar only to be found by her mother 2 days later. Massachusetts General is the Hospital where Plath, in 1958 took up a part time job. St. George is actually the Church St. George's-The Martyr where Plath and Ted Hughes were married on June 16, 1956, and Saint Boltolph's is actually St. Botolph's Review where Plath first read the poetry of Ted Hughes.

In the fall of 1950 Plath began college, which college did she attend?

Smith. Plath attended Smith from 1950-1955, harvard summer school in the summer of 54 and graduated summa cum {laude;} she won a Fulbright Scholarship to Cambridge.

Plath and Hughes had two children, what were their names?

Frieda and Nicholas. Otto and Aurelia were Plath's parents. Ted and Sylvia, well, that's Plath and Hughes, and Warren is her brother

In 1953 Plath won a Guest Editorship at Mademoiselle magazine for a short story she wrote. What was the name of that story?

Sunday at the Minton's. 'Appeal for World Peace' was published in the Christian Science Monitor on March 16, 1950, 'Summer Will Not Come Again' was published in the August 1950 edition of Seventeen, and the poem 'Bitter Strawberries' was published in the August 11, 1950 Christian Science Monitor

Plath wrote a poem about an animal entitled 'Ariel', what type of animal was this poem about?

horse. 'Ariel' is a poem about a horse Plath rode at a riding school in Devonshire, England.

Plath published only one children's book, what was the name of this book?

The Bed Book. 'Tinker Jack and the Tidy Wives', Ella Mason and her Eleven Cats', and 'The Bull of Bendylaw' are poems by Plath.

'The Collected Poems of Sylvia Plath' won a prize in 1981 (18 years after her death). Which prize was this?


For many years after her suicide, a vast majority of people believed a specific person was responsible for driving Plath to it, who was this person?

Ted Hughes. Her ex-husband, the late Poet Laureate.

Plath wrote a peom titled 'Metaphor' - what is the metaphor this poem is alluding to?


What is the date of Plath's birth?

October 27, 1932.

Which of the two children born to Plath and Hughes is now a poet and painter?


True or False: Plath's death could have been avoided?

t. The way in which Plath structured the events evolving her suicide were extremely time sensitive and IF they had taken place the way she had planned them to she would have been found in time. Previously to that morning (February 11, 1963), Plath had spoken to her downstairs neighbor and found out his plans that day. Knowing when he was planning to leave his home, she left a note for him to call her doctor and placed her head into her gas oven. Her plan fell apart because the gas seeped downstairs and knocked the neighbor out as well.

'Letters Home' is a published collection of letters between Plath and another person. Who is this person?

Aurelia Plath. Aurelia Plath - her mother, was often portrayed as unsympathetic. Otto Emil Plath, her father, was an entomologist.

What is the date of Sylvia Plath's death?

February 11, 1963.

Two editions of Sylvia Plath's journals have been published - which one was highly edited by Ted Hughes (abridged or unabridged)?


At which college, in March 1957, was Plath offered a teaching position?

Smith. On March 12, 1957 Plath was offered a teaching position at Smith College. This position was for Freshman English.

Which well known poem of Plath's was written after her stay in St. Pancras hospital due to a miscarriage and an appendectomy (in 1960)?

Tulips. In 1960 Plath was hospitalized for a miscarriage and an appendectomy at St. Pancras Hospital. It was here that Plath was also pronounced dead.

One of Plath's published poems was accomplished through a writing assignment given to her by Hughes. Which poem was this?

The Moon and the Yew Tree.

In which poem does Plath use a panther to describe Hughes?


Which of Plath's collections of poetry was published 2 years after her death?


Which Indiana Library holds the Plath Estate?


In what area of Massachusetts was Plath's first home?

Jamaica Plain.