Friday, April 24, 2009

Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer

I don't believe I took such a long break from blogging. But the good thing is I didn't take a break from reading.

Since I make a list of books I read, I just counted number of books I have read since my last post here (Dec 2007): 128! Wow, that's not bad :-)

The latest books I read were the Twilight series. I know, its a Young Adult's book! but the story is so...grappling that I finished all four books in 2 weeks.

Few Things I liked about the first book:
My Rating: 9/10

Edward, Edward, Edward!The way Stephanie describes him from Bella's perspective: his beautiful features,his talents and chivalrous attitude, oh, you just can't help falling in love with him!

The first book opens the world where vampires, werewolves and humans live together. Nothing is what you believe it is, things can change any moment and then, Bella falls in love with Edward, the vampire. And story rolls forward.

Bella feels clumsy in front of these swift vampires and you can relate to her, she feels ordinary in comparison to these beautiful creatures and you sigh, 'yeah, that's true..'. Slowly and steadily, Stephanie takes you in this fantastical world where everything is chimerical: vampires and human in love, impossible! And off course, there are villain vampires who try to come in their way. But like every good story, it all ends well!phew...!

Twilight is simply and yet beautifully written. The descriptions of Forks leave you feeling like you can almost smell the damp air and hear the rain falling on the roof.

On to second book: New moon

My Rating: 7/10
Edward is gone because he doesn't want to trouble Bella with his 'vampireness'. How silly! So this book is about Bella, Jacob and how she survives without Edward and brings him back in her life! Since there is no handsome Edward to swoon you, this is not one of my favorite books. But well, I was intrigued enough to move on to next book, to be close to Edward again :-)

On to the last one: Breaking Dawn

My Rating: 9.5/10

Breaking Dawn is the fourth and final novel in Stephanie Meyer’s hugely popular Twilight saga and I found this book, the best in the series. Its all about Jacob, Edward and Bella and ahem..., their kid!
and of course by now, you would know that Bella would turn into a vampire someday. And I was so into it; it was like my own journey from being a human being to becoming a vampire! It was intriguing reading about her new states and the special powers she had and finally, when she became as beautiful as other vampires, I felt proud of her! weird, isn't it?
Stephanie has done a good job by dedicating chapters from Jacob's and Bella's point of view. That way, I can relate to both of them.

The only thing I didn't like about the book is the book cover, why chess pieces??? and yeah, the book is weighty too with 750 pages but don't worry, it doesn't feel like a long read.

All in all, a great series to read if you like supernatural stuff and light reading. Oh, Stephanie is also writing a new book from Edward's perspective...hmmm..I think it would be great to read!

Here's the summary of the books from the book jacket:

Twilight: Stephanie Meyer's thrilling debut novel is a love story with a bite. In this suspenseful and sensual tale, 17-year-old Isabella moves to a small town in Washington State and gets more excitement than she bargained for when she falls for an enigmatic classmate -- who happens to be a vampire. Filled with fantastic mystery and romance, it's a heart-stopping novel that captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires.

Breaking Dawn: To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both a fantasy and a nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, she has endured a tumultuous year of temptation, loss and strife to reach the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice, to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or pursue a fully human life, has become the thread from which the fate of two tribes hangs.

Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating and unfathomable consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella’s life – first discovered in Twilight, then scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse – seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed… forever?

Friday, December 14, 2007

For One More Day by Mitch Albom

My Rating: 7/10

When you lose your loved one, you yearn for one meet/encounter/one day with them. You wish for just one chance to go back and fix everything you did wrong in life. You wish you could tell her that you loved them one more time sincerely...You wish you could ask their forgiveness for times when you didn't stand for them. You wish you could spend one fulfilling day with them when you could do everything you loved to do together: pouring your hearts out to each other or just doing nothing and basking in the warmth of your love for each other...

This is what “For One more Day” by Mitch Albom is all about: wistful thinking...Its the story of a man who after losing his mother, lost his grip on life. Apart from losing his job and his wife, he gave in to alcohol addiction and repented for his distasteful behavior with his mother. Not being able to bear pain anymore, he decided to end his own life at his childhood home. But when he goes there, he finds his dead mother welcoming him back as if nothing has ever happened. He spent one whole day with his mother; doing normal everyday chores and pouring his heart out to her; He asked forgiveness for his nonchalant attitude, for all the lies he told her and for all the times he, without understanding, blamed her for his misfortune...

This rendezvous with her dead mother served as a closure for him and helped changed his life. Thereafter, he led a relatively normal life.

So,as you can see, the story is pretty simple but Albom's use of simple, conversational language makes it powerful and effective. For one more day would make you smile, it would make you nostalgic and teary-eyed. But the most important thing, it would make you believe in mother's love.

I came to know that Oprah has included this book in her 'book-club' and there's also a TV movie being made based on this book. So, its a must-read now!!!

Its a small-sized book with only 208 pages, so qualifies for a quick read. You can buy it here.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Death in Vienna by Frank Tallis

My Rating: 9.5/10

I have been away for a long time...caught in the rat-race of modern living; couldnt write about what I am reading...Shuffling between work and home life is taking away all my time but interestingly, I am managing to read! So, here is the latest psychological thriller by Frank Tallis...

It is an astute and beautifully written psychological thriller. I must say, after a long long time, I found something so refreshing to read; Tallis himself is a practising clinical psychologist and it definitely shows in the details. He has an outlandish style of writing; his descriptions of colorful suspects and witnesess, rich and dark Viennese society of the time and his psychoanalysis of mundane details adds scintillating charm to the plot. The unexpected presence of Sigmund Freud( yeah, the famous phychologist!) in the story brings higher level of anticipation...overall, a fascinating and must-read novel for all mystery/thriller aficionados!

Here's what it is about:

In Vienna at the turn of the twentieth century, Max Liebermann is at the forefront of psychoanalysis, practicing the controversial new science with all the skill of master detective. Every dream, inflection, or slip of tongue in his hysterical patients has meaning and reveals some hidden truth.

When a mysterious and a beautiful medium dies under extraordinary circumstances, Max’s good friend, Detective Oskar Rheinhardt, calls for his expert assistance. The medium’s body has been found in a room that can only be locked from inside. Her body has been shot, but there’s no gun and absolutely no trace of bullet. On a table lies a suicide note, claiming that there is ‘such a thing as forbidden knowledge’.

All signs points to a supernatural killer, but Liebermann the scientist is not so easily convinced. HE interviews the members of the medium’s séance’s circle- a nervous looking lock-smith, a flamboyant count, a stage magician and other. Then one of the suspects is brutally murdered, and the pieces fall into place in Max and Oskar’s hunt.

You can buy the book here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Woods by Harlan Coben

My Rating: 6/10

After a long gap of almost two months, I am back! Life had been busy with exams, work and nothingness...I have been reading but didnt get the time to talk about it...I read a couple of interesting new releases and I would surely write about it later.

The latest book I read is again a new mystery by Harlan Coben. This is the first book I read of thi author. I would say it is an average mystery book with the potpourri of mystery elements: Murder, sex, lost love..! The writing style is easy-going, and narrated by protagonist: Cope. Here's what it is about:

Twenty years ago, four teenagers at summer camp walked into the woods at night. Two were found murdered, and the others were never seen again. Four families had their lives changed forever. Now two decades later, they are about to change again.

For Paul Copeland, the county prosecutor of New Jersey, mourning the loss of his sister has only recently begun to subside. Cope, as he is known, is now dealing with raising his 6-year old daughter as a single father after his wife has died of cancer. Balancing family life and a rapidly ascending career as a prosecutor distract him from his past traumas, but only for so long. When a homicide victim was found with evidence linking him to cope, the well-buried secrets of the prosecutor’s family are threatened.

Is this homicide victim one of the campers who disappeared with his sister? Could his sister be alive? Cope has to confront so much he left behind that summer: his first love, Lucy, his mother; and the secrets his Russian parents have been hiding even from their own children.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Revisiting The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

My Rating: 10/10
It has been one of my favorite books I ever read. The poignant details of life in Afghanistan post 1970’s, the stark difference between lives of Pashtuns and Hazaras makes it a rich, heart-touching story. Here’s what it is about:

Twelve-year-olds Amir and Hassan are inseparable companions, raised in the same house, nurtured by the same wet nurse, ardent fans of the same stories and games. The only minor difference between them is that Hassan gets up several hours earlier in the morning, to clean the kitchen, light the fire, iron the school uniform and prepare a breakfast for his worthy master Amir, the son of a wealthy Pashtun merchant.

It's Afghanistan in the 1970s; the function of the Pashtuns is to be in charge, the function of the Hazaras (a shunned ethnic minority) is to clean the bathrooms of their betters. This is one reason that Amir is unwilling to think of Hassan as his best friend rather than his adoring servant, and another is that his own father, so powerfully remote from the awkward, poetic Amir, is so disgustingly fond of the capable, athletic Hassan. Faced with the prospect of defending Hassan from the neighborhood gang of teen psychos, Amir chooses a kite over a friend, a decision that will haunt him for the next quarter of a century--until that day when he returns from America to address the question of Hassan and Afghanistan once again. As a personal story of a lost friendship that defines three lives, as an insider's story of Afghanistan's bloody path through the late twentieth century, and as an immigrant's story of a desperate sacrifice for a second chance, The Kite Runner would make a marvelous choice for students of high school or college, or for adult book group members of any age around the globe.

Hosseini is the first native Afghan to publish a major novel in English, just as Amir is the first protagonist in American literature to confront a personal nemesis who also happens to be a member of a little group they call the Taliban.

Monday, August 27, 2007

14 Degrees Below Zero by Quinton Skinner

My Rating: 5/10

I had never heard of the author Quinton Skinner before (he has written just one other book: Amnesia Nights). So, when I picked up this book to read, it was a pleasant surprise to know that the story is set in Minnesota! I liked reading about treacherous winters in Minneapolis and how people cope with it. However, the book is not about winter and cold; it is about a man Lewis Ingraham, his eccentricities and his life after the death of his wife.

The story is well-written, with the author getting into the psyche of all his actors; it is like going and meeting the characters yourself and trying to know what’s going on in their life. The only thing I did not like and disapprove of was the unbelievability of the climax of the story. You would say, ‘common, it’s just a story, it depends on the whims and fancies of the writer!’ I agree somewhat, but the point is: it should sound and read like its possible! Right? Why don’t you read it yourself and find out? Here’s what it is about:

Lewis Ingraham is cold. He’s lost his wife, his executive career, his once sure grip on the world around him. All that he can hold on to is his beautiful daughter, Jay, a formerly brilliant student who now struggles as a single mother. But even Jay is starting to slip away from Lewis, favoring her self-important boyfriend, Stephen. This time Lewis is going to fight back.

But when Lewis takes out his fury on Stephen, he ignites a chain reaction of violence. Now, as winter bears down on Minneapolis, desire, guilt and rage swirl in the snow. And a heinous crime is about to lead three people down a steep and unforgiving slope- into a realm of cold, hard truth.

Few lines which I loved from the book:

“…It was true that Stephen had a tendency to view the events of his life in literary and analytic terms- every neck ache was a manifestation of unresolved conflict, every sin of omission was a veiled statement of intent, yes, yes, guilty as charged…”

“ …weather predictions in Minneapolis resembled the speculative fancies of hardcore paranoiacs…”

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Mistress’s Daughter by AM Holmes

My Rating: 6/10

Again, this is one of those books I read because it had good reviews. It is the first book I ever read of the author AM Holmes. I like her writing style, but I would say the novel took an uninteresting turn in middle and I lost interest.

The novel is about an adopted woman and how she copes with her birth-parents sudden appearance. AM Holmes was given up for adoption before she was born. Her biological mother was 22 year old single woman who was having an affair with a much older man with children and a family of his own. The novel is a riveting story of what happened when her birth parents came looking for her.

Well, I gave it a 5 rating mainly because in the second half of the novel, Holmes goes on to describe her quest to find more about her birth parents and it becomes a tedious process to go through all the details. I lost my interest then. I would have liked to read more about what was going on in her mind and life then and mere process of search. I would say it is more of a memoir than a novel.

Excerpt from the memoir:

I grew up furious. I feared that there was something about me, some defect of birth that made me repulsive, unlovable

Every nuance, every detail means something. I am like an amnesiac being awakened. Things I know about myself, things that exist without language, my hardware, my mental firing patterns — parts of me that are fundamentally, inexorably me are being echoed on the other end, confirmed as a DNA match. It is not an entirely comfortable sensation.

"Tell me about you — who are you?" she asks.

I tell her that I live in New York, I am a writer, I have a dog. No more or less.
She tells me that she loves New York, that her father used to come to New York and would always return with presents from FAO Schwarz. She tells me how much she loved her father, who died of a heart attack when she was seven because "he liked rich food."
This causes an immediate pain in my chest: the idea that I might die of a heart attack early in life, that I now know I need to be careful, that the things I enjoy most are dangerous

You can buy the book here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Pact by Jodi Picoult

My Rating: 8/10

I started reading Jodi Picoult’s books in 2006. The first book I read of her was My Sister’s Keeper and there was no looking back. I got hooked on to her way of spinning stories; her style of writing to make the characters real; it always seemed like it’s authentic. She describes the emotions in such a heart-touching way that more than once, unknowingly, I was shedding copious tears by the end of the book. The Pact was a nice read, though I would say: if you are pre-disposed to sadness and melancholy in life, do not read any of Jodi Picoult. Here’s what it is about.

It is a riveting, timely, heartbreaking and terrifying novel of families in anguish-and friendships ripped apart by inconceivable violence. Until the phone call came at 3:00 AM on a November morning, the Golds and their neighbors, The Hartes, had been inseparable. It was no surprise to anyone that their teenage children, Chris and Emily, began showing signs that their relationship was going beyond that of lifelong friends. But now 17 year old Emily has been shot to death by her beloved and devoted Chris as part of an apparent suicide pact- leaving two desperate families stranded in the dark and dense pre-dawn, desperate for answers about an unthinkable act and the children they never knew.

You can know more about Jodi Picoult and her latest books here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Bright Forever by Lee Martin

My Rating: 7/10

I came across this book on one of the book club’s sites. Since it had a good review, I picked it up for a read. Well…I liked it. What’s the genre of the book? I can’t say its mystery, but till the end, you would not know what really happened…It’s more of a life fiction, deeply affecting novel about how an event that happened in a small town of Indiana affected everyone’s lives there.

The author has a unique writing style- each chapter has the title of the person who is going to talk about his life. So, if the chapter is Gilley, that chapter had the Gilley talking about his day and life. It actually seems like he is actually talking to you. When the story starts, you would feel you know how it’s gonna be. But, the story unfolds slowly, taking a new turn with each chapter; making it intriguing and really an interesting read. By the end of the book, I felt that I know the characters in the book; I could empathize with their guilt, their grief and their sunken feeling. That’s the power of a good writer! Here’s what it about:

On a sleepy summer evening in a tiny Indiana town in the 1970s, nine-year-old Katie Mackey rushes out of her house and hops on her bike to return an overdue library book - never to return. Narrated with thirty years of retrospective by Henry Dees, the reclusive, lonely math tutor who had been giving Katie summer lessons, Martin's narrative plunges into the minds of each of its characters in order to reveal the darkness behind the pastoral facade.

If only" Katie's father hadn't wanted her to return her library books. If only her brother hadn't been angry at her and ratted her out over dinner. If only her bike chain had been fixed - if only.

Few lines I liked ans cannot forget:
The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.

Life had gone on. It always did. That’s what you learned as you got older. Time. It kept moving. You couldn’t stop it.

You can buy the book here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen

My Rating: 5/10

I don’t remember how I thought of reading this book, but somehow, I discovered it and booked it at my local library. The front cover of the book didn’t give the story; I thought may be, it is about ‘the ecstasy’ (the drug) and its experience. I could not imagine anything else! So, it was a surprise for me when it started with the description of nuns’ lives at the convent!

I found out that the book is about ‘Stigmata’; which are bodily marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus. I have heard a lot about it in documentaries and have also seen the movie; but it was the first time I was reading a book on the topic. You can click here to know more about Stigmata.

The book describes numerous scenes depicting Sisters’ lives in the convent; its quite detailed and I could imagine their lives there: sewing, cooking and off course praying! Ron Hansen has written the book in a different style using present tense and short sentences. For example, the book starts with few one-liners:

Half-moon and a wrack of gray clouds.

Wallowing beetles in green pond water.

Cattails sway and unsway.

There are parts in the book which are incomprehensible if you don’t know Bible or if you are not religiously inclined. Overall, a different but not outstanding book. Here’s what is it about:

In 1906, a beautiful seventeen-year old postulant enters the convent of the sisters of the crucifixion in upstate New York. When she begins to bleed from hands, feet and side, the entire community is thrown into turmoil. Is Mariette a cunning sham, or sexually hysterical, or does God stalk her like a pitiless lover? Mariette in Ecstasy is a stunning immersion into the society of a small convent at the turn of the century, where a mysterious and ultimately harrowing world lied beneath the lovely, placid surface of everyday life.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Good Guy by Dean Koontz

My Rating: 6/10

I have been an avid reader of all of Dean Koontz's books. In fact, he has been one of my favorite authors since so long...I like his writing style, his sense of mystery, the surrealism, the presence of supernatural stuff...What I like the most about his writing style is the perfect combination of mystery and supernatural. This concoction makes the books quite appealing and fascinating to read...

Few of my favorite Koontz's books has been: The Odd Thomas books( Forever Odd, Thomas), The Taking, False Memory, The Key to Midnight, to name a few.
But lately, the new releases(husband, Velocity) have been more of a common mystery fiction than anything else, so there were not as remarkable as others. The beginning of the plot is quite engaging but as the story unfolds and you reach the end, it turns into a mundane end...Nevertheless, if you like his style, you should read it. Here's what it is about:

Timothy Carrier, having a beer after his work at his friend’s tavern, enjoys drawing eccentric customers into amusing conversatrions. But the jittery man who sits next to him tonght has mistaken Tim for someone vert different- and passes to him a manilla envelope full of cash.

Ten thousand now. You get the rest when she is gone.

The stranger walks out, leaving a photo of a pretty women marked for death, and her address. But the things are about to get worse. In minutes another stranger sits next to him. This one is a cold-blooded killer who believes Tim is man who has hired him. Thinknig fast, Tim says, “ I have had a change of heart. You get ten thousand-for doing nothng. Call it a no-kill fee. He keeps the photo himself and gives the money to the killer. And when Tim secretly follows the man out of the tavern, he gets a further shock: the hired killer is a cop. Suddenly Tim carrier , an ordinary guy, is at the centre of a mystery of extraordinary proportion, the one man who can save an innocent life….inner resources that will transform his idea of who he is and what it takes to be a good guy.

You can buy the book here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

My rating: 10/10

After seeing this movie, I have been planning to read this book for a long time…but not willing to buy it. Finally, I got a copy from my local EP library…and believe me, despite the elaborate literary descriptions, I finished the novel in two days. However, I would say that this is the first movie which does real justice to the novel.

One thing I like about Asian writers is that they have a very refreshing way of expressing their thoughts. What I mean is: the language used by them is so vivid and rich that you can actually feel it…and so is the case with this book. The various poetic and writing devices used in the novel (e.g. similes, alliterations, Onomatopoeia and metaphor) make it an epitome of expressive and authentic novel. Well…Here’s what it is about:

MOAG is the story of a Geisha, Sayuri in Japan, how she became Sayuri from Chiyo, what struggles she went through during the course of becoming a geisha and afterwards. The author is successful in making the whole Geisha life real and live. Here are few lines which I loved in the book:

“…my father went on sitting…he began to look like just a curious collection of shapes and textures. His spine was a path of knobs. His head, with its discolored splotches, might have been a bruised fruit…”

“ I lived in what I called a ‘tipsy house’…as a child it seemed to me that the ocean had caught a terrible cold, because it was always wheezing…

“…my mother’s eyes were a translucent gray…I told my mother I thought someone had poked a hole in her eyes and all the ink had drained out…”
You can buy the book here

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

My Rating: 7/10

While reading numerous fictions, sometimes, you encounter a book which is written in unconventional way…This is one of those books. This book is different in every sense: firstly, I saw that there was no excerpt of the story on the jacket cover! It merely says:

“…The story is very difficult to describe….We think it is important that you start to read without knowing what it is about….”

So, I had no clue what is the story about. But as I read through the first few chapters, I could guess the theme. Nevertheless, it was very refreshing and different from other books. Well, I am not going to reveal the suspense to you (in case you wish to read it!). I would just tell you few interesting writing skills of the author.

The book is narrated by a 9-year old boy Bruno and his family. While reading, one can actually feel that it is indeed a nine-year old boy telling the story in his own simple language. There are moments in the novel when you would understand what’s going on but the innocent boy has no clue…so at those times, I felt like warning him about the precarious situation but in vain…

The titles of the chapters are also quite interesting: “the hopeless case”(which is Bruno’s sister), ‘ out of bounds at all times and no exceptions( which is Bruno’s dad’s office), ‘ how mother took credit for something that she hadn’t done’ ....

All in all, a worthwhile read…

Friday, August 3, 2007

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

My Rating: 9/10

Like his previous novel, Kite Runner, this novel is also equally riveting, haunting and breathtaking. I like his books because of the way he writes about emotions. The language is so expressive that it feels as if I am actually going through it. Here’s the storyline:

It’s the story of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war in Afghanistan. It is mainly the story of two women- Older Mariam and Young Laila and how their fate became entwined during war. Mariam was born as an illegitimate child who got married off to Rashid, an old eccentric wife-beating husband. The first part of the book tells her story very succinctly, describing her sufferings all her life. The second part of the book covers Laila’s story who was fortunately born beautiful, intelligent and also had a prosperous family. The third part of the book describes how the wars in Afghanistan and how it affected both their lives adversely, how it brought them together as Rashid’s two wives and how their unlikely friendship helped them get through the difficult times.

The book is full of sad, emotional scenes but it never feels unreal. It actually made me think about all those women who have suffered during Taliban rule in Afghanistan. The last part of the novel is heart-wrenching…and the ending of the story is …perfect. Here are few lines which I liked in the novel:

“That summer, Titanic fever gripped Kabul… "Everybody wants Jack, Laila said to Mariam. “ That’s what it is. Everybody wants Jack to rescue them from disaster. But there is no Jack. Jack is not coming back. Jack is dead….”

“…One could not count the moon that shimmers on her roof,
or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”

“ I am sorry,” Laila says, marveling at how every Afghan story is marked by death and loss and unimaginable grief.”
To buy the book, click here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra

My Rating: 8/10

Kabul, under the Taliban, a devastated city ruled by executioners and crows, where laughing in pu
blic brings down the wrath of the religious police. This is the world in which Yasmina Khadra- the pseudonym of a former officer in the Algerian Army- sets this cauterizing novel of fanaticism and tenderness.

With an implacable eye, Khadra follows two couples: Mohsen and Zunaira are dispirited survivors of Afghanistan’s educated middle class; Atiq is a brutish jailor bound by a debt of gratitude to his dying wife, Mussarat. One day the horrified Mohsen finds himself taking part in the stoning of a condemned prostitute, an action that will be impel all four characters towards new destinies.

I found this book a work of haunting power. It is written in a very simple yet powerful language. The details of stoning women to death are so dolorous and hard-to-believe…the emotions described through words are so expressive that you can feel them. The author uses present tense to talk about the events happening in Taliban. All in all, a wonderful book to read.

To buy the book, click here.

Excerpt from the book:

...Mohsen Ramat hesitates for a long time before he decides to join the crowd gathering in the square. The authorities have announced the public execution of a prostitute: She is to be stoned to death. A few hours earlier, workers came to the execution site to unload wheelbarrows filled with rocks and dig a small hole about two feet deep..."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cause of Death by Patricia Cornwell

My Rating: 6/10

It’s another one of mystery books by Patricia Cornwell with the protagonist: Dr. Kay Scarpetta. The best thing about the author is: she really researches the topic she is writing about and gives so much details about it that it becomes real for the readers. For example: in this book, she has written about scuba-diving. To just write about it, Patricia actually became a certified Scuba diver. Isn’t that cool? She actually tried out a scene where Dr. Kay dived into the frigid river of Virginia. And when she writes about guns, she researched them first! So, while I read it, it all felt real to me.

As is true of all her fiction, the scientific, medical, technical and investigative procedures and details are factual. Despite my love of details, I still have rated it 6 because the details are sometimes too overwhelming and it kind of, break the flow of the story.

Here’s what the story is about:

It is New Year’s Eve, the last day of Virginia’s bloodiest year since the civil war. Dr. Kay Scarpetta plunges into the murky depths of a ship graveyard to recover the very human remains of Ted Eddings, an investigative reporter. What kind of story was Edding’s chasing below the icy water surface of the Elizabeth River? And why did Scarpetta receive a phone call from someone reporting the death before the police were notified? She soon discovers that Edding’s murder is merely the first layer of something deeper- a labyrinthine conspiracy that will put all of her criminal and forensic knowledge to the test.

To buy the book, click here. To know more about the author, click here.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mary Mary by James Patterson

My Rating: 5/10

Another run-of-the-mill mystery novel I read. Why am I obsessed with Mystery books? May be because of my love for adventure, I don’t know. Anyway, here’s what it is about:

Somebody is murdering Hollywood’s A-list. Her calling card: “you have got mail”. On a family vacation, FBI agent Alex Cross is asked to investigate the shooting of a top actress…and an email sent to Los Angeles Times with Shocking details about the murder, signed Mary Smith. To hunt this murderess, Cross must navigate a world where the stars sip San Pellegrino at the ivy as hopefuls hover around Studio gates with 8X10 glossies. And when the case catapults into block-buster proportions, Cross and the LAPD scramble to find a pattern-before Mary sends one more chilling update.

I liked it just because its mystery, other than that, there is not much new about it. It’s a typical psycho-killer story. Another reason I read it because James Patterson is a one of the world’s most popular authors. And he really knows how to grab your interest- I read it in one-go. Also, I have read other books where the protagonist is the same Alex Cross and I like his portrait by the author.

In a nutshell, an ok type novel…
To buy the book, click here

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Grandmaster by Warren Murphy and Molly Cochran

My Rating: 7/10

I don’t know why I liked this book, may be because of my love for mystery or magic…I really don’t know.
Let me first give you an excerpt of the story, and then you can decide yourself!

Here is the outline from book jacket cover…

Grandmaster is a tale of spymasters and assassins, murder and intrigue, played against a background of far eastern mysticism from Moscow to Washington to India!

Two men, Justin Gilead and Alexander Zharkov, driven by powerful forces that they can neither understand nor deny- driven to fight each other in a battle for power that only one can win.

Gilead, a magnificent athlete, an American, a genius and s spy. Zharkov, a master strategist, head of the feared secret service agency Nichevo, a determined, ambitious man. They first meet as ten-year old chess prodigies- both lonely, both meaning to win. Both wearing the symbol of the gold coiled serpent. They know the uses of pleasure, the secrets of pain, the impact of evil turned upon itself. They understand the deadly forces that grip the world in swift violence, sudden death. But only one man may be the grandmaster.

What it does not mention in the jacket cover is that these two are the symbols of good and evil in this world. Justin is the ‘Patanjali’ or reincarnation of Brahma!!! He is also called ‘the wearer of the blue hat’ and has a coiled snake as holy symbol! Does it ring a bell? There‘s more to come…Some saints fetch him from America and take him to Rashimpur, where there is a ‘tree of Thousand Wisdoms’ and he receives his god-training there: He learns to walk on fire or water, to be inside water without breathing, yoga etc etc..

And on the other side, there is a ‘wearer of black hat’, Zharkov. Off course, he is evil. He also receives his training but from another goddess: Varja who is evil incarnate. By now I think you must have understood the concoction: the author has taken Hindu Mythology, the story of Gods (‘dev’) and ‘danav’ , added the creation of the earth by Brahma, the snake being symbol of Shiva and further mixed it with the modern world. And voila! You got a wonderful, magical story!!

It is really fun to read the story, because it is like reading our mythological stories mixed with modernity. Surprisingly, the book has won the ‘Edgar award’ and has sold more than fifty million copies around the world. So this proves that there are readers like me who like this strange concoction!!

You can buy the book here. Click here to know more about the author.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood

My Rating:8/10
It is one of the most beautiful novels I have read. In this powerful uplifting novel, a mother turns to knitting to help deal with the loss of her child and discovers, beyond simple recovery, a whole new realm of friendship and understanding.

Since the sudden loss of only child, Mary Baxter has been unable to read or write. unable to pursue the activities that used to be the primary source of comfort. At her mother’s suggestion, she takes up knitting in a way to fill the empty hours and lonely days. And she reluctantly joins a knitting circle- not knowing that this will change her life.

Alice, Scarlet, Lulu, Beth, Harriet and Ellen welcome Mary into their circle despite her hesitance to open her heart to them. Each woman teaches Mary a new knitting technique, and as they do, they reveal to her their own secret of loss, love and hope. Eventually, Mary is able to tell her own story of grief and in doing so, finds the spark of life again.

What I liked the most about the novel is that each chapter starts with a line on knitting and its progression as you learn. For example:

“Really, all you need to become a good knitter are wool, needles, hands and slightly below-average intelligence, such as yours and mine, is an advantage”

- Elizabeth Zimmerman, Knitter’s Almanac

The author Ann Hood has tried to explain an underlying connection between one’s progressions in knitting with grief-coping. As you become an expert in knitting, you also reduce your pain from grief. Another thing I liked is the author’s interesting style of writing: she starts each chapter with the name of the woman whose secret story would be revealed in that chapter. So, in a way, she arouses interest subtly to move ahead with the book…And when I read so much about knitting, the various techniques of knitting scarves, sweaters, colors of wool, the quality… I could picture my mom and her love of knitting…So next time when I go to India, I would surely ask her to teach me some! I am sure she is gonna faint with shock!! :-)

So, all in all, a very touching and beautiful novel!
You can buy the book here. Click here to know more about the author.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb

My Rating: 7/10
Currently reading this book : Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb. It is the story of a British born Muslim woman and her journey between unforgettable two worlds: London and Ethiopia….

It has been shortlisted for Giller Prize, Canada’s most prestigious literary award.I would write more about it as I finish…