Saturday, November 16, 2013

Books to be read Before I wind up this year

It is already November. But I am nowhere near my reading challenge. But I am happy to say that this has been a year I delved into reading with utmost sincerity and passion. I read many good books and I am reading many including classics.

But before I wind up my reading challenge this year, I would like to complete certain books. Of course, it would not help me reach close to the reading challenge. But at least I will have a satisfaction that I read some most beautiful works this year.

Any two Agatha Christie' works
Any two Mary Higgins Clark works
I am Malala  - Malala Yousafzai
Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri
The Cuckoos Calling – Robert Galbraith
Every light in the house burning – Andrea Levy

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Grandmother's Tale by R K Narayan

There was a time when grandiloquent writings gave me sleepless nights. How I wished I could use such words while writing. It was then I accidentally chanced upon R K Narayan's books which thankfully broke all my misconceptions. I knew at once that a story could be told beautifully with simple words too. My all time favourites are ' The Guide ' and ' The English Teacher'. But there are several more to explore.

Coming to Grandmother's tale, I did have a different picture before reading it. I was associating the title of the book with so many things such as pickles, Tairu saadam, the mischief of Swamy and many tales told by his grandmother. But it was not so. The book was about Bala and Vishwa, RK's great grandparents and their life from marriage until their death. Though I could read this book at a stretch, I could not relish it as I have done many of his other books.

RK's  grandparents tied the knot when they were little children. Unlike today, the husband and wife could not be together until the young wife Bala attains puberty. Once in a while, they were left alone only for a few minutes to talk to each other. Many of their such meetings went awry as they could not muster the courage to talk to themselves. But eventually, in one of such meeting, Bala somehow manages to talk to him. All she did was to point out to Vishwa, a dark patch under one of his ear. To this, he replies “ This is a lucky sign and my mother says I would be a king,” which became true.  He becomes rich but at the cost of Bala. 

 The story is all about how Bala manages to bring back his husband who left her and got married to another woman. As the story was completely told only from the point of Bala, there were many questions unanswered. Why did Vishwa become ready to desert his second wife though he loves her and come back to his first wife whom he hardly knows? What happened to Surma, his second wife when she was abandoned by Vishwa. Though he prospered after coming back to his village why didn't he make any effort to search Surma?

I grabbed this book as I was quite lured by the picture of the book where a small boy was seen sitting with his grandmother with inquisitive eyes on a swing.

- Shalet Jimmy

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Riot by Shashi Tharoor

I read this book around 10 years ago. Ever since Lakshman and Priscilla Hart remained with me. Ten years after, I thought of re-reading it again. Just because I felt I can understand the emotions portrayed in the book much better.

When the story starts, Priscilla Hart, a 24-year-old American24-year-oldad. Why did she die? Was she murdered or was she at the wrong place at the wrong time?
Though there is the element of ‘ Who dunnit?’, the story is not said through the shrewd eyes of a sleuth but with a heart full of emotions.

Priscilla came to India when she was a little girl. Her dad was a Coco Cola executive. Though she had to leave India after some time, she left her heart and soul in the country only to return after a couple of years. She volunteered a population control programme in Zalilgarh in Uttar Pradesh, a place completely marred by the riots. She gets acquainted with the District Magistrate Lakshman and slowly the acquaintance blossoms to love. An abandoned ‘Kotli’ in the district is the witness of all their romantic trysts.

But Lakshman is married and could not leave his wife ( though he knew that he was not in love with her) and his little daughter. But he knew that Priscilla is the love of his life – with whom his life again bloomed. On top of that, he is in charge of a city marred by riots.

Putting an end to Lakshman’s dilemma, Priscillia was about to leave India when the fate struck its hardest blow. In the riots that broke out in Zalilgarh, there were eight people killed and her name was one among them. She is found dead in the same Kotli where she used to love Lakshman. The story slowly unravels the mystery of her death.

Tharoor has written a beautiful love -story in the backdrop of a riot-torn city.

- Shalet Jimmy

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Blogger Interview - Anisha Vasudevan

 I started stalking Anisha's blog ' Absolutely Not Sure ' for the positive energy it always exuded. The letters in black written on a white back ground always have a soothing effect on my nerves. Besides she shares many of my interests obviously books, movies etc. etc. Since she writes not only about books and movies but also anything and everything under the sun. Hence a few of my questions asked to her are in this regard. If you want to stalk and  read those beautiful and positive posts, here is the link

Could you tell a few words about yourself?

A reader afflicted by abibliophobia. An avid list maker. I try to find happiness in the ‘small things’.

Your blog exudes positive energy. How did you get into blogging?

That means a lot to me! I don’t remember how I initially got into blogging. It took me two emo, philosophically dramatic blogs to realise; life is not all about the negativity. True, we all fight our battles every day and I don’t believe in dwelling in bad times. So, I decided to start my current blog which would be my happy place. A place which would try to focus on the small, good stuff in life. If a second person felt the same way, I think it’s a happy day for me!

What you would like to “rant and rave” about through your blog apart from books, music and movies?

That pretty much sums up my life! I wanted my blog to have a light feel to it, so the lighter, happier topics take centre stage.

Your book reviews are wonderful. Any criterion while selecting a book for reading and also for book reviewing.

Thankyou! They say, never judge a book by its cover, but the cover HAS to grab me. If it doesn’t, the blurb should. If neither does, it’s pretty obvious; it’s going to be a pass.  If I really liked a book by a certain author, I try to get my hands on his/her other works. I used to make sure I review every book I read. Soon I couldn’t keep up, since I read way faster than I write a review. So now I review books which blew my mind and also the ones which are sent by authors/publishers.

Nowadays social networking sites helps in bonding. When you blog, do you feel a kind of personal attachment with your readers. I have often felt it and I have always written to those people with a strong intuition that they would concede to my request. Do you really feel the same?

Initially, I wrote for myself. The only readers were my husband and my best friend. Later on readers came in one by one and they did connect with my writing on some level. So yes, I do have a vague idea what would appeal to the readers.
I remember when you gave me the 'Liebster blog' for my blog named ' Passion Drops'. Which kind of blogs appeals to you the most?
I am a huge blog person. I use Food blogs for recipes to cook almost on a daily basis. I like book blogs, that way I come across more books to add in my to-read list. I enjoy reading blogs which has this sarcastic yet candid approach to life vibe.

Share some of your beautiful moments in your life?

Back when I was in India, spending Saturday afternoons with mom & aunt over a cup of chai and gossip! I miss those days.

  • My first library card.
  • My first job.
  • Spending Friday nights burying my face in a double cheeseburger along with the husband.
  • My snow fall experience.

Are you a full time book reviewer or a blogger?

Well, I am neither. I wish I could blog/ book review full time. Creative juices don’t flow that easy!

Do you think reading classics is a must to be a writer?
 To be a writer, I think it would be an added advantage to read the works of people who know what they are doing. So yes. Personally, I haven’t read a whole lot of classics, even though I promise myself to read more sometime in future!

How many days usually you take - a) to read a book? b) to review a book?

To be completely honest with you, I don’t know. I feel it depends upon the book. If the book is interesting many a times I look up to see that I had covered a vast section of the book. Give or take, a week then. Sometimes I get my hands on a book which is difficult to get into..if it doesn’t get my attention by the first few chapters, either it goes back in my library or I end up reading frustrated and that might take months for me to finish!

To review: 
Once I am done with a book, I let the story line sink in my system for a night or maybe a couple of nights. To pen it down I would maybe need 3-4 hours!

Are you in the habit of keeping notes while reviewing a book?

I wish! I tried it once. I had received a book from an author for review and it was my first time reviewing a book specifically requested by an author. So I wanted to be thorough. I feel that it literally drains the fun out of reading.

Your favourite genres and authors and why do you like them?

Psychological thrillers and Horror. Gimme dark any day! I’m twisted that way! I am always fascinated by the dark side of humanity. What tipped someone into doing something bad. Books by Gillian Flynn, Robin Cook, Stephen King, Stieg Larsson
Women centred books: Books by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
Books by Paulo Celho. The way he combines spirituality with the most mundane things is commendable!
Young Adult has managed to surprise me. I am still new to it. Dystopian era with a female strong lead has a certain charm to it.

Apart from reading and writing, what are your other interests?

My interests change from time to time. Sometimes I obsess over knitting. Other times its TV series marathon with the husband. Eating so much that I can barely move is a pretty interesting ‘interest’ to have.

Do you buy books you need to read or just collect books to read in future?

I am a self-proclaimed abibliophobic. I have the urge to collect books as though tomorrow I might just run out of them. The fact that I have books stacked up is a huge reassurance! It doesn’t necessarily have to be a brand new copy. As a matter of a fact I love collecting second hand books. Every time I tell myself no more books until I finish the ones I already have, I find some other interesting book and then I end up buying it and the cycle continues! Plus I came across this website called The person who runs the website lets the readers know the free ebooks available in Amazon, daily! So, more books for me.

Do you encourage ebooks as a reader and writer?

I was an anti ebook till last year, until I met my Kindle. I hated it in the beginning, but I guess carrying your library in a compact device is pretty appealing! So I’m pro ebook now! I think its hassle free. Having said that, the feel of a book, the divine fragrance of the pages be it new or age old cannot be achieved through an e book, can they?

Your 10 favourite books and 10 favourite movies?

11 Minutes, God of Small Things, Kane and Abel, Gone Girl, Dark Places,The Dragon Tattoo Series, The Alchemist, Lord of the Flies, The White Tiger, Brida
All I can of right now is Forest Gump and No country for Old men.

 PS :How many books you have in your library?
 60 physical copies and 485 kindle copies.

Monday, October 28, 2013

To Kill a mocking bird by Harper Lee

Sometimes after reading a book, the contentment you receive will be tremendous. After finishing reading, you feel like closing your eyes and savour all those beautiful emotions the book has invoked . It is a beautiful experience. Yesterday, Harper Lee's ' To kill a mocking bird ' did that to me. One of the finest book I have ever read. I loved ' Atticus' the character which was immortalised by Gregory Peck in the movie. I never felt Atticus, Jem, Scout, Calpurnia and even ' Boo Radley were characters. I was there in Maycomb county. Did not want to spoil that mood by reviewing the book.

I am not going to review the book. My creative talents are not that big to review such a grand work.
But don't miss this beautiful work.

My rating 10/10

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Lost Years of Sherlock Holmes by Ted Riccardi

When you step into the shoes of a master writer, meticulous care has to be taken. There should be neither a spill over nor a deficiency. The author has certainly adhered to these cardinal principles. Right from the chapter ‘preface by Dr Watson’, Ted Riccardi has not shown any inclination towards himself but always to the celebrated author who has produced the greatest sleuths of all time- Sherlock Holmes ‘. Neither once did he let the reader to think that they are not interacting with the Sherlock Holmes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but Ted Riccardi’s.

‘ The Lost years of Sherlock Holmes’ speaks about that particular period when the world assumed Sherlock Holmes to be dead. He was dead to his known world but all alive in the orient world. It deals at length about his adventures and exploration mainly in India, Nepal and Tibet. When some of his cases included many coincidences on his way, others were to protect the interests of his empire whose pride lay in the vast expanses of India. Only his brother Microoft knew that Holmes was not dead. Dr. Watson was mourning his death. Though Holmes’ brother knew Holmes’ whereabouts, for strong reasons, they kept Watson in the dark. May be to fill this vacuum, Ted introduces a new friend for Sherlock – Gorashar, who is an Indian. In many cases, we could see Gorashar rushing to help the sleuth. The mysterious orient lay bare beautifully through this book.

Riccardi has definitely used a simple language but has never allowed in any part of the book to fizzle out the style of Doyle. It will grip and engage you, the way Arthur Doyle has been doing his readers for so many years. The incidents were not narrated in a chronological order. But that is excused as Dr Watson has put it in his preface that if the readers look for historical consistency, he/she will be disappointed.

At the same time, there are minor flaws which can be conveniently shoved off. Though the initial chapters will grip you immensely, the tempo diminishes a little when we reach the middle of the book. But that could not be attributed to the author’s callousness but to the interests of the readers. Doubtlessly, it is good and engaging read. If you are an ardent fan of Sherlock Holmes and mourned his death, Ted Riccardi’s  ‘ The Lost years of Sherlock Holmes ‘ will give you an opportunity to revel in his resurrection.

My rating for the book 4/5

NB :  I receive this book from Jaico for review

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tales from a Vending Machine by Anees Salim

When an Indian author writes in English, it is a strenuous task to do something that can overstep the boundaries. Tales From a Vending Machine by Kochi-based author Anees Salim has clearly surpassed these boundaries without any effort.

Go to any part of India, it would not be difficult to spot a Hasina Mansoor, the protagonist. The backdrops, the airport lounge, even the names with which she addresses her parents, siblings and colleagues will not give you a slightest clue that the story is set in Kerala.

It begins with a lot of promise, with all the necessary elements, including humour, but the author fails to keep up the tempo till the end.

Hasina enters a new world when she lands a job as a vending machine attendant at the airport departure lounge. With scant resources at her disposal, the resilient Hasina dreams of making it big. She is thankful for the job, dreams of being in a plane, even becoming a pilot or air hostess some day.

Thanks to her, many characters come alive, whether it be the coupon man who advises her on anything and everything under the sun, the cookie lady whom she abhors, the Pakistani cricketer, and the air hostess, Natasha Singh, from whom she learns that she could also aspire to be one.

Unlike her eventful work in the airport, her life with her family - Abba, mother, Shamla, and younger brother, Ali - is mundane, until she falls in love with her cousin Eza. The story talks about how she evolves through the many incidents which happens in her family and workplace and enables Hasina to make the major decisions of her life.

The climax is aptly titled as the Emergency Exit and is a surprising one. But if the author had given a bit of depth in the preceding chapters, the ending would have given readers an experience to cherish. Though Hasina has matured from an innocent to a practical girl, Eza stands between the extremes.

At the outset, Eza shows maturity, but, all of a sudden, he becomes the villain. There is little to convince the reader that he is one. There are attempts to present good humour which Anees conveniently attains in the beginning, but goes overboard when he continues for the sake of doing it. For instance Hasina’s mispronunciations of words such as ‘Anne French’ for ‘Anne Frank’ or ‘Juice’ for ‘Jews’. When she is asked her blood group, Hasina says, “‘B plus. I was not sure if it was A plus or B plus or AB plus”.

It seems strange that the same Hasina, who could not pronounce her blood group correctly, talks about the Hollywood actor Richard Gere. The long and short of it is that it is a good story and a smooth read, provided that some of the flaws are glossed over.

My rating 3/5

Sunday, September 15, 2013

K Harikumar, author of ' When strangers Meet'

I have couple of friends who write well too. K Harikumar is one among them. Surprisingly, unlike others, he started his blog after writing his debut book ' When strangers meet'I will review his book soon in this blog.You can know more about from his blog  Apart from writing the book, Harikumar has also come up with trailers for his book with live characters. Perhaps, such an attempt is first of its kind in the country. He himself acted as one of the characters of his book for the trailer. He was kind enough to answer some of my questions.

What kind of a person is Harikumar?
Simple, at times arrogant, loner on most occasions, always weaving a tale or two in my mind.

Your debut book has just hit the markets. How was your experience while writing them and also about books and its characters?
To be honest, I was bed ridden during the writing process. However, I had created my own world and was living in it, as the One who created it and as each everything created. The World of my story...

How did writing occur to you?
By pure fascination. My mother used to read me stories from Balarama & Muthashi ( children story books in Malayalam, the language of Kerala, a state in India ) back in the 90s when I was a 6 year old Dillivala (from Delhi, the capital of India )(since I could not read Malayalam). Later on, when I started reading (which was quite late as I did not have a solid base in any language due to my dad's transferable job) I was even more fascinated, especially by the stories of Sherlock Holmes & novels of Roald Dahl.

What were your struggles in becoming a writer and also the person you are today?
My greatest struggle was to overcome the writer's block which was the direct result of my laziness. One should have a beginning and an ending, rest can be weaved in between. After years of sitting down and trying to write something, I finally had a short story which had a beginning and an ending, which I first prepared as a short film. The struggle evolves phase by phase, first it was writing, then finding a publisher and then it was marketing the book (which I am still doing). The experience was amazing, since I was the one who did everything right from writing to drawing to filming the trailer to distributing the books in local markets (esp in Kerala) to online marketing to PR to giving talk sessions in schools in the North etc etc etc.

Which is your favourite genre that you would like to write a book on?
Period Thriller

Tell us about your new blog?
It's more like a journal where I put up all my thoughts, and yea, my new craze 'doodles'. Since, many people do not have accounts on facebook, so having a personal blog makes it easier for everyone to join in.

Are you a voracious reader. Do you have a special liking for any particular genre to read?
I am an occasional reader and my favorite genre being Thriller. I simply love reading Dan Brown, Conan Doyle & Roald Dahl. I also love to read Paulo Coelho and Khalid Hosseini.

What are your tips for writing?
I can give one simple suggestion. When I write, I try to put on a situational soundtrack to go with the mood of the chapter/story.

Share some of your beautiful moments associated with writing?
The time I was finishing the climax and the soundtrack from The Da Vinci Code was raising it's tempo in my jukebox. I could actually feel myself in the shoes of Robert Langdon inside the Westminster Abbey (Tom Hanks from the movie) and all I had to do was swap places and people. 

Have your ever thought of any other job other than writing? What are your other passions?
I have made three documentaries, filmmaking completes my passion of storytelling. I have worked as an Assistant Director and Screenwriter in over 25 ad films and directed 8 short films. Just to keep things neatly wound, I am assisting my dad in his farm too and that's his passion- Farming.

Do you write a book with both the readers of east and west in your mind?
While writing I try to place myself as a ordinary reader, nothing above or below that mark. When I like it and can connect with the particular emotions, then every reader (the majority) would like it because I am myself an ordinary reader. 

Your 10 favourite books and 10 favourite movies?
In the decreasing order: 
The Da Vinci Code, Alchemist, Deception Point, Fifth Mountain, Witches, The Study in Scarlet, The Kite Runner, The Lost Symbol, Pet Sematory, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. And well of course, a new addition WHEN STRANGERS MEET ;)

GURU, Delhi 6 , Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya , Transformers Trilogy, The Dark Knight series, The Da Vinci Code, Rab ne Banadi Jodi, Raavanan, Jab tak Hai Jaan, Dasavatharam.

How would you like to see you after five years?
Lets take one thing at a time, the present moment.

PS How many books you have in your library?
I guess over 100, have only read a dozen or more.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Amritorupa Kanjilal - an interview with a book reviwer

It's been a long time since I interviewed some one. Hence I started surfing the blogs for  bloggers and blogger writers. And it was by sheer coincidence I chanced upon Amritorupa Kanjilal's blog ' Rivers I have Known'  and I was quite awed by the selection of her books. It encompassed various genres. Her reviews are great. I have decided to  read five particular books after reading her reviews.  For a change I am interviewing a book reviewer for the first time. This is my fifth interview. My other three interviewees were published authors. I love book reviewers for I started my blog to be a wonderful book reviewer who could lure others to read what I liked. That's why Amrita topped the list.

About Amrita ( Short form for Amritorupa Kanjilal )

Amritorupa Kanjilal was a corporate shark before she decided she would be much happier being a goldfish, blowing bubbles in her little bowl. She lives in Kolkata, India, and reads too much for her own good. When she isn't reviewing the hell out of books, she works on ideas for her novel, and makes tiny sculptures from construction putty......

( Taken from her blog )

To read her wonderful reviews

Could you tell a few words about yourself?
I’m a supremely laid back person who loves to read.

When did you realise that you want to be a gold fish and not a shark?
2011, when I had the epiphany that I’ll never be able to care too much about material success, and will be miserable if I spend my life seeking it. I quit my job the next day. I took up another job 6 months later, but took the conscious decision never to try to become a shark again.

Your book reviews are wonderful. What are the criterions select a book for reading and also for book reviewing.

Thank you! I read a lot of reviews and generally try to read anything that sounds interesting. I also go by the recommendations of those friends whose tastes in reading are somewhat similar to mine. I also try to read other books by authors whose other works I’ve enjoyed. Sometime, very rarely though, I pick up a book that has an interesting name or cover. 
I want to review all the books I read, but since I read much faster than I blog, I end up reviewing just those I really liked or really hated.

Are you a full time book reviewer or a blogger?
Nope, I have a day job. I wish were, though. Maybe someday.

How many days usually you take - a) to read a book ?
Depends on the size of the book. I manage to read approximately 40 pages on weekdays and 200 pages on weekends. I spent 2 weeks reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which is the longest I’ve spent on a book in recent years.

b)to review a book?
2-3 hours. It would be less, but I have to think up puns and witticisms become somehow those have become expected of me.

Are you in the habit of keeping notes while reviewing a book?
Haha, I wish. I have tried doing that several times, but it never works because I generally forget everything else while reading. Also because I read in public vehicles a lot. Also because once I tried and my dog stole my pen when I wasn’t looking and chewed it till it became transparent.

Your favourite genres and authors and why do you like them?
Humour, horror, fantasy, and graphic novels (not sure if that is a genre). Not sure why I love humour and horror so much. Possibly because they appeal to my fundamental instincts – I love the absurd and the grotesque. Fantasy I love because I always wish I were living a cooler, more awesome life, and fantasy literature helps me achieve that illusion temporarily.
Too many favorite authors to name, here are some though- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Hilary Mantel, Joseph Heller,  John Kennedy Toole.Toni Morrison, Stephen King, Sue Townsend, Neil Gaiman, Milan Kundera, John Steinbeck, Helen Fielding, Ogden Nash, Wendy Cope, Bill Watterson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Douglas Adams, Ian McEwan, JRR Tolkien, J K Rowling (Going to stop now before every single author I love guilts me into mentioning them)

Which genre you prefer to read?
Fiction primarily. In fiction I love reading all sorts of books

Apart from reading and writing, what are your other interests?
Playing with my dog. Cooking weird things with my husband. Eating out. Being lazy.

What are your tips for writing?
None. Can’t think of a single one.
Oh, here’s one. Every once in a while pretend you are the reader. That saves your writing from becoming self indulgent.

Do you buy books you need to read or just collect books to read in future?
Unfortunately I am a raging bookshopaholic, so I always buy faster than I can read. Any given time I have at least 10 books on my shelf waiting to be read. I promise myself I wont buy any more books till I finish every single one I already own, but then I have a bad week and accidentally buy 8 more.

Do you encourage ebooks as a reader and writer?
I read ebooks often, but I cannot bring myself to love them. If I really like a book I read in e-format, I usually buy the paper version soon enough. I encourage other people to read ebooks because it is good for the environment and also because I hope popularity of ebooks will help make paper books cheaper for people like me. But I also worry that paper books will go the way of vinyl records and cassettes and just become extinct. What will become of book collectors like me then?

Your 10 favourite books and 10 favourite movies?
Catch 22
Love in the time of cholera
Wolf Hall, Bring up the bodies
A confederacy of dunces
Good Omens
Midnight’s children
Bridget Jones’s Diary
Calvin & Hobbes
The Master and Margharita
One Hundred Years of Solitude

Not a huge movie buff. I like dark stuff like those by Tarantino or Kubrick.

How did you start blogging?
Don’t remember. It was something a lot of my friends were doing back in 2008, probably one of them inspired me.

You have talked in your profile about working out ideas for novel when you are not reviewing. Is there a novel in the pipe line.
Haha, nope. Lots of ideas in the pipeline though.

 How many books you have in your library
578. ten of these I have not read yet.

Friday, August 30, 2013

You belong to me - Mary Higgins Clark

Book: You belong to me
Author: Mary Higgins Clark
Publication Date: 1998

I do not have any regret that I have joined Mary Higgins Clark reading contest.

'Unputdownable until you finish it'.

You belong to me was a usual MHC book. But the writing was not winding but straight and stellar that you could put it down only after finishing it.

The story is about a killer who stalks beautiful and lone women and murders them.  The killings remained subdued until Dr Susan Chandler, an assistant district attorney turned psychologist churns it out through her popular radio show ' Ask Susan'. 

She invites Dr Donald Richards, another psychiatrist to her talk show to discuss his book ' Vanishing women' and the safety issues encountered by lonesome women. In the process, she discusses Regina Clausen who had vanished mysteriously about three years ago. Thus ensues many other killings.

When you thoroughly scrutinize the book, it offers nothing new. One of the criticisms I came across about this book was that MHC was interested in successful women who undertake rich cruises, falls for rich men.  Absolutely true regarding this book. But what matters finally is whether you have enjoyed the process of reading. If you think that you have wasted your three and half hours, then it is a sheer waste of time. 

But for me, it was the other way round. It was an easy read and enjoyed it.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Post Mortem by Patricia Cornwell

You will like Patricia Cornwell, if you have keen eyes of every meticulous forensic details. Ms Cornwell introduces Dr Kay Scarpetta  in her first published novel ' Post Mortem'. Every night in Richmond has become nightmarish as women were brutally murdered and strangled to death. When the story opens Dr Scarpetta was woken up from her sleep by Sergeant Marino that a fourth case of strangling was reported. The murderer was leaving clues. But they could not trace him. Though she scrutinises the cases with the unerring eyes, bottlenecks are sown on his way as there was an attempt to sabotage the investigation from within. It becomes all the more precarious when her life was in danger.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Mystery writer Barbara Mertz dies at 85

NEW YORK – Barbara Mertz, a best-selling mystery writer who wrote dozens of novels under two pen names, has died. She was 85.

Mertz died Thursday morning at her home, in Frederick, Maryland, her daughter Elizabeth told her publisher HarperCollins.

Mertz wrote more than 35 mysteries under the name Elizabeth Peters, including her most popular series about a daring Victorian archaeologist named Amelia Peabody. She also wrote 29 suspense novels under the pen name Barbara Michaels, and under her own name, she wrote nonfiction books about ancient Egypt.

Born Barbara Louise Gross, Mertz grew up in small-town Illinois during the Depression and went to the University of Chicago on scholarship, where she wrote on her website, “I was supposed to be preparing myself to teach — a nice, sensible career for a woman.”

But her true love was archaeology, and she soon found herself drawn to the department of Egyptology. She received a Ph.D. at the age of 23.

For more, please read

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mystery Writers

They are my newly found mystery writers 

Patricia Cornwell

Ruth Rendell

Tami Hoag

Tess Gerritsen

Friday, August 2, 2013

Last Voyage of the Valentina, Santa Montefiore

Review from Good reads

Exotically beautiful but desperately unhappy, Alba lives on a houseboat on the Thames, where she enjoys a life of leisure and entertains an endless and unfulfilling succession of lovers. But then she discovers a portrait of her dead mother, Valentina -- a woman she'd hardly known, whose story has been kept from her by her still grieving father. Determined to learn the truth about Valentina, Alba returns to the olive groves of the Amalfi coast of Italy. There she uncovers a mysterious tale of decadence, deception, murder, and betrayal involving partisans and Nazis, peasants and counts. Alba's journey leads her not only to the truth of her mother's hidden past but to the possibility of happiness in her own future.

" I like lemons and arum lilies, the smell of the dawn and the mystery of the night. I like to dance. I wanted to be a dancer as a little girl. I`m frightened of being alone. I`m frightened of being no one. Of not mattering. The moon fascinates me; I could sit all night just staring up at it and wondeng. She makes me feel safe. I hate this war, but I love it for having brought you to me. I`m afraid of loving too much. Of being hurt. Of living my life in pain and suffering for loving someone I am unable to have. I`m frightened too of death, of nothingness. Of dying, and finding that there isn't a God. Of my soul wandering in a terrible limbo that is neither life nor death. My favorite color is purple. My favorite stone a diamond. I would like to wear a necklace of the finest diamonds just to sparkle for the night, to know what it feels to be a lady. My favorite part of the world is the sea. My favorite man is you."

Santa Montefiore, Last Voyage of the Valentina

Friday, July 19, 2013

Seeking your suggestions

Though I have been reading books without a break, I am not able to update my blog with its reviews. I have currently found out some good mystery writers. I would be obliged, if you would help me with the names of mystery writers. Except Agatha Christie and Perry Mason. I would really like to be acquainted with some good mystery writers.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Sky is falling - Sydney Sheldon

After a considerable gap, I have read a Sydney Sheldon's book, The sky is falling. It was Sydney Sheldon with whom I got acquainted with when I first ushered into the realm of mysteries and thrillers. Years have gone and I have read so may thrillers and mysteries. But Sydney's craft always allured me. After these long years, I still feel the same. When I was reading ' The sky is falling', I felt like I could even have a wink of sleep before knowing what would be ' Dana Evans', next step. It was as if Dana was leading the way. The reading becomes enjoyable when you start moving along with the characters. There exist no barriers.  The long wall that separates the reader and the reading no longer exists. You go along with that character wherever he or she goes. That's what it happened with Sydney.  I have been to London, Rome, Russia........When I started reading him ( 10 years back), there were many who constantly asked me ' still in Sydney Sheldon's books. It's high time you moved on. After such long years, I am shouting out ' I am still with him and he is one of the best'.

'Dana Evans', the young and vibrant television anchor was back from Sarajevo after her war reporting. The twist in the tale comes as Gary Winthrop, the last in the Winthrop was family was murdered by some art  stealers. It was just a few days before Dana interviewed Gary Winthrop in her television show. But in peculiar circumstances, Dana founds out that it was not only Gary but Winthrops were obliterated from the earth. The book will slowly unravels how she was playing with danger, unknowingly.


Friday, May 10, 2013

The confessor back with cold feet - Meenakshy Reddy Madhavan

The picture of a seven year old girl, hiding a small notebook when she goes to her class room, just to jot down whatever comes to her mind was like stating the obvious. No other vocation would interest her but writing. Besides, by bequeathing a strong legacy of writing, Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan could not be anything else but a woman of letters.

But surprisingly whenever she wrote she did not hesitate to take a detour from her parents’ style. Unlike her father, the veteran writer, N S Madhavan who loved to fathom the depths of literary fiction and mother Sheela Reddy who always delved into non-literary fiction, Meenakshy loved to ferret out the possibilities of commercial fiction. Ask her why, she says “I realised that no writer talks about a woman like me, a metro and urbane woman whose heart is global but has not lost the link with the tradition. I wanted to explore the pull between these two extremes,” she says. And because of that, there are no clashes as the family has three different genres of writing, she adds with a mischievous smile.

With her third book Cold Feet hitting the markets, Meenakshi was all excited and was in Kochi as part of its promotional tour conducted by Penguin books. The book is all about the lives of five women who live in the metropolis - Mumbai and an account of their daily lives. But primarily it takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of emotions. “I have also talked about a character who is a lesbian,” she says.

The author appeared extremely happy when I told her that I came to know about the promotional event of her book from her blog Compulsive Confessions.

“I should update it more often,” she says with a grin.

Incidentally, her father N S Madhavan who carved a niche in the perceptions of the Malayali readers with his renowned work Lanthan Batheriyile Luthiniyakal, translated as Litanies of the Dutch Battery, was born and brought up in Kochi. Meenakshi says that she is all excited to be here for her father always said it has one of the prettiest bookstores. “It’s right on the sea front with a huge glass window and you can watch the ships sailing through,” she says. I have been to Kochi several times and I love Fort Kochi the most, she adds.

With more than twenty lakh visitors for her blog, she says that she never expected such a huge response and is happy that she could maintain it for the past ten years. “I started the blog with a pseudonym eM as I was a bit bothered about how people would react to the kind of stuff I was going to write. But in no time, the readers identified and I had to come out of the cocoon. But I am so happy that I could maintain it for such a long period,” she says.

About her parents' reaction to her blog, she says, “They were ‘super supportive’. They like my writing.  Hey, I am their daughter, they will definitely not discourage me!” she says.

Asked why is she often referred as the Bridget Jones of India, she says “Honestly, I have no idea. Since you are the one who put this question, I have to seriously think about it.”

Most of her stories were centered in the two metropolitan cities - Mumbai and Delhi. As the author lives shuttling between these two cities, she says that most of her writing contains the pulse of them. “Both cities have different feelings. When you land in the Delhi airport, the waves of tension starts hitting you, unlike Mumbai. When Mumbai is crowded, Delhi gives you privacy. But you just can’t take auto in the middle of the night relaxingly in Delhi as you do in Mumbai. You know the kind of stories we are getting now-a-days from Delhi,” she says. She also cautions to stay safe when I said that I usually leave office very late.

Apart from writing Meenakshi is the editor of Brown Paper Bag.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dragonmede by Rona Randall

" Dawn sliced through the curtains as the ghostly edges of a hoar frost," says Rona Randall in her Gothic mystery ' Dragonmede'. Eustacia Rochdale, the female lead in the story also experiences similar fate. Though she married the man she loved and wanted, it sliced her life as the ghostly edges of hoar frost. When she married Julian Kershaw , little did she know that her yearning for a marital bliss would be a bane of her life. 

The story was set in the London of 1800's, when every doors opened for the nobility. It was this privilege which brought Julian Kershaw to Luella's ( Eustacia's mother's )gambling house. A born nonconformist, Luella never wanted her daughter to have a bohemian life which she was indulged in. She gave anything and everything to her daughter which was required for a girl to be a lady. Luella's efforts also did not go in vain as  Eustacia grew up with everything needed to be a lady though born to a bohemian mother.

Luella was overtly delighted when Julian, the heir of Dragonmede reached her threshold. Gambling on his passion for cards and his attraction for Eustacia, Luella realised that the time had come for Eustacia to tie the knot. Unaware of her mother's manipulations, Eustacia married Julian and reached Dragonmede, her husband's home which offered her nothing but a house full of mysteries.

Though I am a die hard of Gothic fiction, the story initially failed to lure my interest. As any other mystery fictions, I was expecting a twist at the very outset which was completely absent in the story. The only cue, the writer leaves is that there is some mystery but not easy for the reader to identify it. No murder, stealing, kidnapping, murder attempts, deaths but an all pervading sense of mystery. But when the story progressed, I could feel my pulse raising and closed the book only when I finished reading it. The reader could definitely identify the culprit but only at the very end, with just two or three pages to complete.

 I felt a sense of satisfaction after reading 'Dragonmede'. The moment I finished it, I saw four stars shining. Yes, I am giving it 4/5.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Night Walker ( Nightmare hall series) by Diana Hoh

Quinn Hadley is a sleep walker. She has done it twice when she came to the Salem university. Nobody except her  roomie knows about it. But things takes a bad turn when  someone wreaks havoc in the university, sometimes by exploding a stinking bomb and  by attacking the couples at other times. The attacking episodes seemed no end. Quinn Hadley was apprehensive by the sudden turn of events, but her apprehensions turns into nightmares when every evidences points that the culprit is nobody but her. Looking at the evidences piled up in front of her, Quinn also doubts that whether her sleep walking is the real cause of all those recurring unfortunate incidents in the university. But a fleeting  thought that somebody is taking advantage of her ' sleep walking ' and making her a pawn did not leave her sleep without investigating into the root cause of everything.

 It is an easy read and I enjoyed it as I used to enjoy Nancy Drew series. There was suspense and mystery element and at times  you would feel that you are quite close to the vandal, but you miss him/ her. Though Diane Hoh do drop some clues here and there did not give away the culprit until the right time.

Long and short, a good and a smooth read....I enjoyed it.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Ditching my interests

I was ditching my interests for several months. I love mysteries, thrillers and also feel good kind of books. I could deeply immerse myself in them once I start reading. If I was too much fascinated by any books while reading it, the feeling, emotions, ambiance and lots of other things linger in my heart though years have gone by. I might forget the name of the book and sometimes author's too but the backdrops, the face you gave to any particular character would not fade away. The locale maybe miles apart, but I could feel its pulses. ( I am living in India ) Since I mostly read books of American and British authors, it is the locales in these two countries I feel close to than any parts of my country.

Since I wanted to put me in a list of intelligent people who read intelligent kind of stuff, I started going for books which is the exactly the opposite of my taste. Consequences – That fun part and a sense of  satisfaction you get after or while reading books were missing. Hence I bought some books and took one from the public library hoping that I would be back soon on my adventure.

These were some of it that I got hold of :

Under the Durret by Marian Keynes

The Keys to the secret by Ruth Rendell

Nightmare Hall, The Night Walker by Diane Hoh

Dragonmede by Rona Randall

Narnia by C S Lewis ( unabridged version – 7 books)

Hope it would revive those my interests which I conveniently shoved off to the back burner.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

give me suggestions

It has been a long time since I did an interview of an author. I would love to interview a male blogger. But who? Since I was not quite good stalker of male blogs, I am clueless. If you have any suggestions please leave a note on my blog. I would be grateful.