Saturday, July 30, 2011

Library Loot







Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!


http://readingadventures.blogspot.com/2011/07/library-loot-july-27-to-august-2.html

Well here are the books I picked up from the various libraries I frequent:

Night in Bombay



Police at the Funeral
Murder of a Martinet


Mythologies

The Book Thief

5 Best Books: Unconventional Heroes



5 Best Books is an interesting weekly meme hosted by Cassandra at indiereaderhouston.com. Every week we have to list our five favourites on a particular topic. This week the topic is Unconventional Heroes.


Here are my five:


 Duryodhan in Urubhangam: In common parlance, Duryodhan is the villain of the Mahabharat. The evil  usurper who cheated his cousins out of their rightful inheritance. However, Bhasa's Sanskrit play, Urubhangam (The Shattered Thigh) presents a brave, noble warrior who had as much right over the throne of Hastinapur as his cousin, Yudhishter. As the dying Duryodhan meets his parents, wives, and son on the battlefield you realise that history is always 
written by the victors and the vanquished are always demonised.


 Bhootnath in Bhootnath: It is the age when kings have a divine right to rule. But one man challenges this right, the aiyar Bhootnath in a series of books written by Devki Nandan and Durga Prasad Khatri. Bhootnath aka Gadadhar Singh is an ambitious man, a man who can do anything in his lust for power, wealth, and adventure. He is not always brave, not always righteous, but he is determined and will stop at nothing to achieve his goals.


 Daphne Manners in The Jewel in the Crown: Britain is involved in a bloody war on the continent. In India, the clamour for freedom is almost deafening. During these tense times between the two races, a white girl falls in love with a black man. The lovers suffer at the hand of a racist society but remain steadfast. Paul Scott's heroine is vulnerable yet courageous. Somebody who doesn't mind getting her hands dirty while cleaning up the muck.


Prufrock in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: He is what heroes are not: timid, insecure, unsure... "I do not think they will sing to me," he says at one point, pinpointing the prosaic nature of his life. To me T.S. Eliot's greatest creation.


The Whisky Priest in The Power and the Glory: A priest who drinks and has even fathered an illegitimate child, he is not a shining example of institutional religion. But he is the compassionate man who feels sympathetic towards sinners, and is eventually captured by the state because he returns to hear the confession of a dying man. Thru him Greene questions the fundamental tenants of religion.


To see the lists of others, go here:


http://indiereaderhouston.com/blog/2011/07/5-best-books-unconventional-heroes/

Gotterdammerung: The Twilight of the Gods in Death in Kashmir

And the night was so quiet that Sarah could hear, like a whisper in an empty room, the far, faint mutter of thunder from behind the distant mountains of the Nanga Parbat range on the opposite side of the valley. But she had not taken more than two steps towards the hut when she heard another sound; one that was to remain with her and haunt her dreams for many a long night to come. The creak of a door hinge...


Sarah checked, staring. Frozen into immobility by the sight of the door that she had so recently closed. Someone must have eased it open while she talked with Janet in the snow, and was now closing it again - slowly and with extreme care - and presently she heard the faint click as the latch slowly returned softly to its place. But it was a long time before she dared move, and standing in the icy moonlight she recalled, with a cold prickling of the scalp that had nothing to do with the night air, Janet's carelessly confident words of a few moments ago, when she had spoken of the Blue Run: 'There won't be a murderer waiting down there for me at this time of night.'






The year is 1947. After two centuries of rule, the British Raj in India is coming to a close. Sarah Parrish is amongst the thirty-odd skiing enthusiasts who have assembled at Gulmarg in Kashmir to attend the last meeting of the Ski Club of India before the British depart forever. However, their pleasure is marred by the death of one of them. Mrs. Matthews accidentally skids to her death and her rigid corpse is picked up amongst the snow covered boulders. If the sight of her grotesquely jumbled up corpse was not enough, Sarah is told by another member of the group that Mrs. Matthew's death was no accident but murder. As the body count grows and the terror increases, Sarah realises that she might very well be the next victim. 


M.M. Kaye was to me the author of historical romances like The Far Pavilions. I had no idea that she had written a series of murder mysteries. In this novel, she combines elements of the cozy mystery and the spy thriller to come up with a taut murder mystery that will have your nerves jangling. Here's Sarah reflecting on an act of eavesdropping:


Someone had been standing there, watching and listening. And if it had merely been somebody roused from sleep, as she herself had been , surely they would have called out? In that bright moonlight it would have been impossible not to see Janet and herself, or fail to recognize them; and anyone who thought they heard voices and decided to investigate, would have hailed them. Besides...Sarah shivered again as she remembered that closing door: it had been eased shut so slowly, so very gently...


The book also has certain memorable characters. Here's the incorrigible Hugo Creed giving a piece of advice to Sarah:


'Don't interrupt Hugo!...If you weren't married to Fudge of course, I dare say I could go for you in a big way.'


'Kindly avoid the use of imported slang, my child,' begged Hugo. 'Besides, the expression you have just made use of never fails to put me in mind of a determined dowager at a free tea making a feline pounce upon the last austerity bun. And to return to the subject of your original remark, which I now take, in lieu of myself, to refer to Charles Mallory, if you are thinking of working up a romantic interest in him you can save yourself a lot of trouble by following Mr. Punch's celebrated advice to those about to get married: "Don't!"'


Kaye captures well the curtains coming down on a way of life. The ball rooms and clubs wear a deserted look. There is confusion and panic among the British as to what they will do back in England:


Perhaps, with the ending of the war, they and many like them had subconsciously expected the clock to turn back again. But the old days were over for good. India was to be given her freedom and 150 years of British rule would end. There was nothing left for the Johnnies and Helens except memories and debts...


At the same time however, Kaye makes no mention of the riots that were tearing apart the Indian subcontinent at this point of time. Perhaps the British just couldn't be bothered...


Despite certain shortcomings this is a thrilling read and I will like to read more of Kaye's Death series.


*


First Line: Afterwards Sarah could never be sure whether it was the moonlight or that soft, furtive sound that had awakened her.


Author: M.M. Kaye


Publishing Details: NY: St. Martin's Press, 1984.


Pages: 333


First Published: 1953


Original Title: Death Walked in Kashmir






*
Copies of Death in Kashmir are available on the Net. I borrowed mine from Dyal Singh Public Library, ITO. [823K18D]


*
The rest of the post contains spoilers so do not read any further unless you have read the book. However, I'd love to hear your views on the book/ review so do please leave a comment.


*


SPOILERS


Could you guess the identity of the Mastermind? I am afraid I could not though I did have doubts regarding the murderer's spouse:) It did seem to me , however, as though Kaye simply choice the unlikeliest of them all. Come on, there wasn't a whiff of the person's allegiance or worldview all thru the novel. Only in the end...quite out of the blue...


*


Submitted for the following Reading Challenges:


1Vintage Mystery
2 Mystery and Suspense
3 A- Z
4 Borrowed Book



Friday, July 22, 2011

On My Wishlist




On My Wishlist is a fun weekly meme hosted by Book Chick City where one lists the books one is dying to get one's hands on.

Here's mine:  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I have heard so much about this book that I really want to read it now.

To see what others are wishing for, go to this link:
http://www.bookchickcity.com/2011/07/on-my-wishlist-81.html



Thursday, July 21, 2011

5 Best Books: Love







5 Best Books is a weekly meme hosted by Cassandra at indiereaderhouston.com where one has to list 5 favourite books on a given topic. This week's topic is Love.


The Jewel in the Crown: English Daphne Manners 
falls in love with Indian Hari Kumar only for rascism to rear its ugly head in the form of DSP Ronald Merrick who falsely implicates Kumar in a criminal case. Paul Scott brilliantly exposes the inner workings of a colonial situation in this tale of triangular desire.


The End of the Affair: Maurice Bendrix, an aspiring writer, falls in love with Sarah Miles, the wife of the civil servant Henry Miles. Their affair comes to an abrupt end after a night of bombing during the Blitz. Graham Greene's poignant novel is about the pain and anguish of loving and losing.


 Twins: A disturbing tale of need and desire between identical twin brothers, Michael and David. As their love moves from fraternal to obsessional, the readers get a glimpse of the destructive power of love. Bari Wood and journalist Jack Geaseland present a fictional account of the incestuous doctors whose double suicide shook US in the seventies.


The Demon's Lexicon: Alan Ryves makes a vow to his soon-to-be-killed father that he will take care of his mother and kid brother Nick for ever. And he keeps his promise even though Nick might not be capable of loving him back. Sarah Rees Brennan's makes a stunning debut with this tale of sibling love that will leave you teary-eyed.


Wuthering Heights: How can any list on love be complete without this book by Emily Bronte? But for me it is not merely the legendary love affair between Heathcliff and Catherine that leaves an impression, Hindley's love for his wife is just as heart wrenching.


So, this is my pick. What's yours? Do share. 


To see the lists of others, go here:
http://indiereaderhouston.com/blog/2011/07/5-best-books-love/































Tuesday, July 19, 2011

CELEBRATING THE SIMPLE PLEASURES OF LIFE: PAPA’S WIFE







There are certain books that lie with you for years but somehow you either don’t get the chance to read them or keep putting them off on some pretext or the other – better finish the book borrowed from the library, keep it for a ‘rainy day’, read it when you are a particular mood, so on and so forth.





One such book that I finally got down to reading (believe it or not) after a decade of picking up and putting down is Papa’s Wife by Thyra Ferre Bjorn. And it wasn’t that the incentive wasn’t there: the publishing history showed how popular the book was. First published in 1955; by 1972, it had seen more than twenty five reprints. More importantly my sisters read it and loved it.




Finally, this week I got down to reading it. The first of a trilogy (the other two are Papa’s Daughter and Mama’s Way) and partly biographical, the novel chronicles the life of Maria, a Swedish girl who has three ambitions in life. One to be a Minister’s Wife, more specifically to be the wife of the handsome Pontus Franzon, the pastor of a church in the small Swedish town of Lapland, whose household she enters as a maid. The second is related to the first one – have a large brood of little Franzons; and third to migrate to USA from Sweden.


It’s the third ambition that she is able to realise first. She is offered a passage to America by a lady who is keen to join her husband in US and needs somebody to help her in traveling along with her children by sea. Maria tries to use this to her advantage and informs the pastor about how she’ll have to leave his service. She expects a proposal from him, for hasn’t she slaved all these years keeping the parsonage clean and the food hot. However, the pastor who is not only her elder by twenty two years but moreover has decided never to marry after facing rejection in love, simply wishes her the best in life. With her plan in tatters, she goes to America as and tries to become a cook. However, America is dull without the Pastor. So the lonely girl writes a letter to him. Months later she receives a reply and thus begins anew the determination to realise all her dreams. How she finally ensnares the reluctant bachelor, how God blesses her with eight children, how she copes with her life as a Minister’s wife first in Sweden and then later in the States makes for some enjoyable reading.





If you are in the mood to read fluff, you will enjoy the book. Nothing depressing happens, the kids are all beautifully angelic, adversities get turned into opportunities, and faith gets renewed every time something untoward happens. The book seems to exist in a kind of vacuum. Time and history it seems make no difference to the family snug in their parsonage. In fact, it’s even difficult to ascertain the time line in the book as the author doesn’t mention public events at all. With the accent on the personal, family values are highlighted. Things like cooking great food (the description of coffee bread and cookies, fried herrings tinged with Swedish sauces, meat balls and apple pies will make your mouth water), keeping the home clean and gleaming, planting plants and flowers, sewing and fishing are emphasized to show how even the most mundane thing can bring much joy. Here is Maria giving a piece of advice to her daughter who is about to get married:





“The way you manage your own home is important too. Very important. Little things again – like having the table set when John comes home. And making the meal the most important thing in your life at the moment. Nothing lifts a man’s spirit like the odor of fresh coffee and meat and muffins baking in the oven. And when you whisper ‘Darling, I cooked this especially for you!’ Well – that’s a big deposit in your happiness-for-life bank account.”





There are also certain interesting nuggets about Sweden. How during certain months in Northern Sweden, the sun keeps shining even at night or how washing is done only twice a year! (Is it true even now?)






The book is good but to me it’s not great. The plot is wafer-thin, the characters are drawn lovingly but they are not intriguing, and after some time the rosiness does begin to jar. However, certain passages are an absolute delight. Here’s how the book begins:




Papa was an old-fashioned preacher. He preached the word of God straight from the Bible, without regard for personalities or consequences….If Mrs. Nelson whispered to Mrs. Backlund about the price of her new hat, Papa would stop in dead silence. “When you ladies are through talking,” he would announce in an even voice, clipping short each word, “I will continue.”





You may be sure there was no more whispering that Sunday morning. But Mama was furious. “Do you have to say a thing like that right in the middle of Job’s patience? If only you had a bit of it yourself, then you might be able to teach others!”






Read it and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.


*
 
Papa's Wife can be bought online. My copy was bought from a raddiwallah.




20th July, 2011


Submitted for Cym Lowell's Book Review Wednesday.


For details of the review party and other entries, click here:
http://cymlowell.blogspot.com/2011/07/book-review-party-wednesday-live_19.html







Monday, July 18, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


Here's mine:


'He - it -turned its head, and it hadn't got a face.' Sarah shivered again.


M.M. Kaye's Death in Kashmir (Pg 28). 

Friday, July 15, 2011

On My Wishlist





On My Wishlist is a weekly meme hosted by Book Chick City where you list books that you are eager to read.


Well, on my wishlist today is a book I read about just hours ago. The Eleventh Little Nigger by Jacquemard Senecal.


The book, inspired by Agatha Christie's Ten Little Niggers, is a murder mystery where players of a dramatic company are found dead just as they are about to present a dramatic version of Christie's book. I got to know of this interesting book thru John's review.
For those interested, here's the link:
http://prettysinister.blogspot.com/2011/07/ffb-eleventh-little-indian-jacquemard.html


To see what others are wishing for, go here:
http://www.bookchickcity.com/2011/07/on-my-wishlist-80.html

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Book Blogger Hop





Book Blogger Hop hosted by Crazy-for-Books is a weekly feature that enables bloggers and readers to meet each other. Usually there is a question asked but this time round we have to promote a giveaway at the blogs of others. Pretty good.

So here are the current giveaways I know about:

1. Book Chick City is celebrating the anniversary of her blog by some great giveaways. Check them out at:http://www.bookchickcity.com/


2. Debbie's Book Bag usually has one giveaway or the other underway. Right now, she is giving away copies of The Squareroot of Murder as well as other books. Check out her blog for more details:
http://debsbookbag.blogspot.com/



3. I am a Reader not a Writer again has some great giveaways including one of the books she purchased during Christmas. Here's the link:
http://iamareadernotawriter.blogspot.com/2011/07/christmas-in-july.html
Check out her blog for other giveaways too.

4.To celebrate her upcoming 18th b'day, In Between Writing and reading has a giveaway underway. Wish her at:
http://inbetweenwritingandreading.blogspot.com/2011/07/my-18th-b-day-giveaway.html

5.Readerbuzz is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card, over here:
http://readerbuzz.blogspot.com/2011/07/readerbuzzs-july-giveaway-25-amazon.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Readerbuzz+%28readerbuzz%29

6. Elizabeth is giving away 3 copies of The Night Train:
http://silversolara.blogspot.com/2011/06/book-giveawaythe-night-train-by-clyde.html

7. A Backwards Story is giving away a copy of Lost voices:
(But hurry, it closes on the 12th)
http://abackwardsstory.blogspot.com/2011/07/giveaway-lost-voices-by-sarah-porter.html

8. Ryan@http://wordsmithonia.blogspot.com/ also has a giveaway of two books: The Hypnotist and The Honored Dead. His blog is fun too.

For more giveaways, see what others know of @ http://crazy-for-books.com/
So go bloghopping and enjoy..

Friday, July 8, 2011

On My Wishlist







On My Wishlist is a weekly meme by Book Chick City in which you list the books that you really really want to read.

On my wishlist today is a murder mystery No Rest for the Dead.



 I first heard about this book at Book'd Out's blog. Here is what she has written:


More than twenty New York Times bestselling authors team up to create a first-rate serial novel — a collaboration that combines the skills of America’s greatest storytellers to produce a gripping, spellbinding mystery. Alexander McCall Smith. Sandra Brown. Faye Kellerman. J.A. Jance. Jeffery Deaver. Kathy Reichs. Lisa Scottoline. Jeff Lindsay. These are only a handful of the names that make up the all-star lineup of authors behind No Rest for the Dead, a tale of vengeance, greed, and love that flows seamlessly, in the words of David Baldacci, “as it passes from one creator’s mind to the next.” When Christopher Thomas, a ruthless curator at San Francisco’s McFall Art Museum, is murdered and his decaying body is found in an iron maiden in a Berlin museum, his wife, Rosemary, is the primary suspect, and she is tried, convicted and executed. Ten years later, Jon Nunn, the detective who cracked the case, is convinced that the wrong person was put to death. In the years since the case was closed, he’s discovered a web of deceit and betrayal surrounding the Thomases that could implicate any number of people in the crime. With the help of the dead woman’s friend, he plans to gather everyone who was there the night Christopher died and finally uncover the truth, suspect by suspect. Solving this case may be Nunn’s last chance for redemption … but the shadowy forces behind Christopher’s death will stop at nothing to silence the past forever.

For the rest of the review, read here:
http://bookdout.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/review-no-rest-for-the-dead-by-david-balducci-et-al/


To see what others are wishing for, click here:

http://www.bookchickcity.com/2011/07/on-my-wishlist-79.html

Friday's Forgotten Books

Friday's Forgotten Books is a weekly meme hosted by Pattinase where one talks about books that have been forgotten in the course of time. 


Here is my first entry:






Desmond Bagley's The Tightrope Men (1973) is an espionage thriller about a man who wakes up one day to find that the face peering back at him from the mirror is not his...


For more on the book, go here:


http://inkquilletc.blogspot.com/2010/08/are-you-who-you-think-you-are-desmond.html

To see the entries of others go here:


http://pattinase.blogspot.com/2011/07/fridays-forgotten-books-july-8-2011.html

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book Giveaway

Elizabeth @ silversolara is giving away three copies of The Night Train by Clyde Edgerton. The contest runs till July 25th.




For more details visit her blog:
http://silversolara.blogspot.com/



Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Book Review Party





Thru Julie @Knitting and Sundries, I have come to know of an exciting new weekly feature: Book Review Party Wednesday, hosted by Cym Lowell. Participation is simple, one simply has to link up a review that one has written and if lucky, he/she can win a giveaway. For details and participation in this week's party, click here:
http://cymlowell.blogspot.com/





Saturday, July 2, 2011

Book Blogger Hop



Friday Book Blogger Hop is a weekly feature hosted by Jennifer@Crazy-for-Books. It's a place for readers and bloggers to connect by answering the questions put up, hopping thru the list of blogs, and thus sharing their love for books. 


This week's question is:

What keeps you reading beyond the first few pages of a book, and what makes you want to stop reading a book and put it back on the shelf?

Characters draw me into a book. If I fall in love with a character than I read the book till the end even if the plot is full of potholes. However, in a mystery, a writer's ability to create the requisite atmosphere in the first few pages pulls me in.


If a book has cardboard characters, if the plot drags and becomes repetitive (and there are no characters I am fond of), if the author's worldview is too black and white with no shades of grey, or if the book's tone is too preachy or sermonising than I put it back on the shelf.


For more on the book blog hop, go here:
http://crazy-for-books.com/





Friday, July 1, 2011

On My Wishlist





On My Wishlist is a fun meme hosted by Book Chick City. As the name makes clear, it's about those book(s) that you want to read desperately but somehow haven't been able to so far.


Today on my wishlist is:




The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne




Growing up in war-torn Germany, nine-year old Bruno, whose father is an SS officer, befriends a boy who wears striped pyjamas and lives on the other side of the fence.


I've always wondered what it was like growing up in Nazi Germany. How did friends, neighbours etc suddenly turn against one another? How did centuries old bonds come asunder? This book - of which I've heard nothing but praise - seems to have some of the answers.


To read what others are wishing for, go here:


http://www.bookchickcity.com/2011/07/on-my-wishlist-78.html