Thursday, December 31, 2015

Challenge Complete: Hard Core Re-Reading

Wrap-Up: Back to the Classics 2015



Out of the 12 Categories mentioned in the Back to the Classics Challenge hosted @ Books and Chocolate, I have been able to complete 10. Here are the books read:

1.  A 19th Century Classic -- any book published between 1800 and 1899.

2.  A 20th Century Classic -- The Old Dark House by J.B. Priestley

3.  A Classic by a Woman Author: Inside India by Halide Edib

4.  A Classic in Translation.. Mother by  Maxim Gorky

5.  A Very Long Classic Novel --  Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

6.  A Classic Novella -- The Two Sisters by H.E. Bates

7.  A Classic with a Person's Name in the Title.  Ayesha: The Return of She by H. Rider Haggard

8.  A Humorous or Satirical Classic. Patrick Butler for the Defence by J.D. Carr 

9.  A Forgotten Classic.  The Strange Boarders of Palace Crescent by E.P. Oppenheim

10.  A Nonfiction Classic. That Summer in Paris by Morley Callaghan

11.  A Classic Children's Book.  A book for your inner child!  Pick a children's classic that you never got around to reading.



12.  A Classic Play.  The Cradle Song by G. Martinez Sierra

Wrap-Up and Sign-Up: Full House Challenge

For the second year running, I have successfully completed the Full House Challenge hosted @ The Book Date.


Here are the books read:

D1

1. Library Book: The Motor Rally Mystery by John Rhode
2. Novella: Shootout at the Rocks by Ibn-e-Safi
3. Author outside your own country: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (France)
4. Won or Borrowed: The Old Dark House by J.B. Priestley (Won in a Sherlock Holmes Quiz)
5. 2nd book in a series: Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino (2nd in the Inspector Galileo series)

D2


1. A Top Book of 2015: The Things They Carried by Tim O' Brien
2. Setting that you want to visit: Paris in That Summer in Paris by Morley Callaghan
3. Book by Author you really like: The Crooked Hinge by J.D. Carr
4. Book set in the Northern Hemisphere: Mother by Maxim Gorky
5. Been on your TBR Forever: Deshdrohi by Yashpal (Since 1998)


D3

1. Heard about the Book Online: The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
2. Award Winning: Sansmritiyan by Shiv Verma (Winner of the Soviet Land Lenin Award)
3. Free Choice: The House of Blue Mangoes by David Davidar (Set in India)
4. Debut Novel by Author: The Two Sisters by H.E. Bates
5. Published in 2014: The Setting Sun by Brian Moore


D4

1. Set in the Southern Hemisphere: The Vintage Book of Latin American Stories
2. First in a Series: Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter (First in the Inspector Morse series)
3. Published 2000-2013: The Lessons by Naomi Alderman (2010)
4. Published Pre 2000: The Face in the Night by Edgar Wallace (1924)
5. Book I Rarely Read: Along Came a Spider by James Patterson (Kidnapping of Children)

D5

1. Published in 2015: Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins
2. A Keeper: Amar Shaheed Chandrashekhar Azad by Vaishayampayan
3. Outstanding Hero or Heroine: Radheya by Ranjit Desai
4. Author New to You: Fearless Jones by Walter Mosley
5. You Love the Cover:In at the Kill by Elizabeth Ferrars

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There's another edition of The Full House Reading Challenge in 2016 and I am so signing up for it. Here are the details and sign-up.





Challenge Complete: Birthday Month



Happy to state that I have successfully completed the Birthday Month Reading Challenge hosted @ You, Me and a Cup of Tea. Here are the authors read for the challenge:


January: Issac Asimov (Authorised Murder)
February: Andrew Garve (Counterstroke)
March: Philip Mason (Call the Next Witness)
April: Rajshekhar Vyas (Inqilab)
May: G.Martinez Sierra, & Ruskin Bond (The Cradle Song & A Face in the Dark)
June: H. Rider Haggard (Ayesha: The Return of She)
July: Caroline Graham (The Killings at Badger's Drift)
August: H.P. Lovecraft (The Thing on the Doorstep & Other Weird Stories)
September: David Davidhar (The House of Blue Mangoes)
October: Tim O'Brien (The Things They Carried)
November: Timothy Knatchbull (From a Clear Blue Sky)
Decenber: William Irish /Cornell Woolrich (Phantom Lady)

2016: Reading Assignment Challenge

One of the challenges that I enjoyed greatly - though unfortunately could not finish -was the 2015 Reading Assignment Challenge. I am however determined to have another go at it and so am joining the 2016 Reading Assignment Challenge. Hosted by Michelle and Berls this involves making a list of books that you are determined to read in the upcoming year. Books can be from your shelves or can be borrowed from the library. There are various levels to choose from. I am choosing level no.1 which means that I commit myself to reading one book from the list of 12 books each month.



Here are the books that I'll be reading in 2016:

1. Bhagat Singh and His Legend (Ed) by J.S. Grewal  (May)

2. Bhai and Bhabi of Bhagat Singh: A Biography of Bhagwati Charan Vohra and Durga Bhabi by Malwinderjit Singh Waraich   (April)

3. The Boat by L.P. Hartley

4. Jaya: An Illustrated Re-Telling of the Mahabharata by Devdutt Patnaik  (February)

5. Krantiveer Bhagat Singh: Abhyudhaya and Bhavishya Ed. Chaman Lal

6. Making History: An Introduction to the History and Practice of a Discipline

7. Outlaws by Javier Cercas  (January)

8.  Satyanveshi Byomkesh by Shartendu Bandopadhyaya

9. Terror and the PostColonial Ed. Elleke Boehmer

10. The Trial of Bhagat Singh : Complete Tribunal Proceedings (With Sukhdev's Remarks) Ed. Malwinderjit Singh Waraich

11. Transnational History by Pierre-yves Sannier  (June)

12. Understanding Bhagat Singh by Chaman Lal  (March)

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Interested? Make a list and join over here.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Books on the Mahabharat

The Mahabharat is not only the longest epic of this world, it is also the fifth Veda, and my all-time favourite book. This year I read three book based on it. All of them deserve a detailed review and I might do that next year but as of now, I am only summarising them in a couple of lines:

AFTER KURUKSHETRA by MAHASWETA DEVI



Three short stories that look at the aftermath of the great war.

RADHEYA by RANJIT DESAI




Radheya or Karn as he is more popularly known is the tragic hero of the Mahabharat. This book did not charm me at first but thinking about it, I realised what a critical look at Mahabharat it is. Must read for all fond of Karn.



URUBHANGAM: THE SHATTERED THIGH AND OTHER PLAYS by BHASA





Sanskrit used to give me nightmares when I studied it in school and I was very glad when I didn't have to study it any further. But re-reading these plays by playwright Bhasa made me regret and rue the fact that I couldn't read them in the Sanskrit original. The title play describing the anguish of Kuru prince Duryodhan as he is unfairly defeated in that fatal mace fight is a marvel. 

Other Books

Brief description of some other books read this year:



CHRONICLE OF A DEATH FORETOLD by GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ



Read this once again this year and fell in love once again with the book described by a reviewer as a 'metaphysical murder mystery'.


THE FREEDOM MOVEMENT IN INDIAN FICTION IN ENGLISH by PRAMILA GARG

A descriptive but not too-analytical look at how the Indian English authors have described the freedom struggle in their novels.


HISTORY: WHAT AND WHY? by BEVERLEY SOUTHGATE





Again a re-read. Interesting look at how the idea of history and historical narration has evolved from the Classical to the Post-Modern time.

KRANTIKARI BHAI PARMANAND by DHARAMVEER

Bhai Parmanand was the teacher of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and others at the National College in Lahore. An adequate but not especially impressive biography.


LES MISERABLES by VICTOR HUGO




Mammoth book running to more than a thousand page with pages upon pages that take you away from the story (Imagine at a crucial moment: a 50 page description of Paris sewers!!!!). But what a story! What a cast of characters, esp my favourite Chief-Inspector Javert. What a creation!


MOTHER by MAXIM GORKY




Often described as the first 'Revolutionary' novel, this book about a woman who grows strong and determined as she interacts with her son and his other revolutionary friends in Czarist Russia, was as mesmerizing a read as when I read it for the first time around a decade back.


REVOLUTION AND COUNTER-REVOLUTION by PETER CALVERT



A look at what constitutes a revolution. Had problems with the author's description of what should be seen as a revolution.


THAT SUMMER IN PARIS by MORLEY CALLAGHAN



There is something about Paris and something about Scott Fitzgerald and something about The Lost Generation that is so compelling, so when I saw this book with its sub-title 'Memories of Tangled Friendships with Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Some Others', I had to pick it up. It doesn't disappoint and it reiterates my view that Hemingway was a great writer but as a man he always wanted to win. And my poor Scott Fitzgerald was self-destructive. Such talent and such waste....


THE VINTAGE BOOK OF LATIN AMERICAN STORIES




Barring a Marquez or two, I have little idea about Latin American literature, so when I saw this book, I immediately borrowed it. Must say, Latin American literature is hard to understand. A few of the stories made a profound impression but a majority of them were beyond me.


A WREATH FOR THE ENEMY by PAMELA FRANKAU




The book is described as a-coming-of-age novel on the web. What did I understand after reading the novel? To be disciplined curtails one freedom. Freedom means you can have your food anytime you like and sleep whenever you want to, set-timings are binding. If you do not try to steal your brothers girlfriend; or allow your wheel-chair bound brother free run of the estate; or help your estranged wife get out of troubles than you are a 'Giver' and sooner or later people will leave you, bored of your decency. God! I must be living in a different world altogether.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

5 OTHER MYSTERIES

Very brief description of a few other mysteries read this year:

ALONG CAME A SPIDER by JAMES PATTERSON: My first James Patterson which deals with something that actually gives me nightmares: the kidnapping of children. Alex Cross is an interesting protagonist though the mystery is just about okay as I had guessed the identity of the spider early on.



FEARLESS JONES by WALTER MOSLEY: Set in 1950s LA, the story is narrated by bookshop owner Paris Minton whose store is burnt to ashes one fine day. Determined to bring the culprits to justice, he enlists the help of his friend Jones. The novel began well but than got lost in Jews and Nazi atrocities. But the incident describing how a boy was denied to use the library because of the colour of his skin was extremely powerful.





THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by PAULA HAWKINS: Oh God! The buzz about this book. It seemed as though here was a classic mystery. And then to read it and find three hysterical women who seemed to speak in the same manner and a mystery that was paper-thin. Last time (I hope) I am taken in by those glowing reviews, bestsellers list, and screaming headlines.






IN AT THE KILL by ELIZABETH FERRARS: A young woman rents a cottage during the holidays but when she goes to meet the landlord, she finds him dead. Is there a reason why she rented the cottage and what about the man who was her co-passenger in the train? Interesting mystery by the Scottish writer.





LAST BUS TO WOODSTOCK by COLIN DEXTER: Finally after years of collecting his novels, I read the first Inspector Morse mystery. The mystery was okay (but not that made me want to pick up his second one immediately) but the line that stuck in my mind was the description of TV ariels being uprooted because of a wind storm. That brought to my mind the TV scenario in India during the eighties when often someone would be perched on the roof righting the TV antenna. Children growing up in the age of Dish and Cable will not understand what it was to have an antenna on the top.







Monday, December 28, 2015

Challenge Complete: Horror Reading

There was a time when I read a lot of books in the Horror genre but not anymore, so it was really a challenge to take up the Horror Reading challenge hosted by the extremely energetic Tracy @
Cornerfolds.



My level was Running Scared which means that I had to read 1-5 books. Well, I have found a perfect mean of 3. Here are the books read:

The Face in the Dark & Other Hauntings by Ruskin Bond
The Ghost of Flight 401 by John  G. Fuller
The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft




Women's Fiction: Wrap-Up and Sign-up



Happy to state that I have finished the Women's Fiction Reading Challenge 2015 hosted @ Book Date. I had selected the level Motivated which means I had to read 1-5 book and I am glad to have read 5 books.

Here are the books read:


1. The Two Sisters by H.E. Bates
2.  Murder at the Black Crook by Cecile Hulse Matschat
3. After the Funeral by Agatha Christie
4. Port of Seven Strangers by Kathleen Moore
5. Ayesha: Return of She by H. Rider Haggard




The challenge is being hosted in 2016 and I am signing up for it once again at  the same level .i.e. Motivated (1-5 books). If you want to do it, you can sign up for it here.

Eleven Vintage Mysteries


Here are very brief notes on the vintage mysteries read this year but not reviewed:

AFTER THE FUNERAL by AGATHA CHRISTIE






It was a discussion on underrated Christies that led me to a re-read of this. Found it wonderful to read how skillfully Christie manipulates the reader. Must read for all Christie fans.

CROOKED HINGE and PATRICK BUTLER FOR THE DEFENCE by J.D. CARR

























Since the time I read THE BURNING COURT, I have been searching desperately for a Carr that can completely knock me off my feet the way COURT did. GREEN CAPSULE, THIRD BULLET and now these two....nothing, nothing...not even close.... The search continues... Any suggestions?


DEATH IN FLAMES by GORDON ASHE 




Patrick Dawlish is at the Carlion Club with his friends Neil Cousins and Andy Cunningham when a bunch of Arum lillies are delivered to him with this message: "I could not help thinking of you, Capt. Dawlish, when I saw these. So fortunate that they are not yet made into a wreath, don't you think?'

A surprisingly good mystery that made me change my earlier opinion of writer John Creasey. Now if only the Germans had not been shown as this diabolical...


THE HOUSE OF FEAR and SHOOTOUT AT THE ROCKS by IBN-E-SAFI




It shames me that before these books were translated into English from Urdu, I had not even heard of Safi who is one of the Subcontinent's most prominent writers of mystery. Even Agatha Christie, it seems, had heard of him. These two are from his Imran series. Fun to read though the humour can be a little OTT at times.


THE MYSTERY OF THE GREEN BOTTLE  by SAX ROHMER


Before reading this book, I knew of Sexton Blake the way I know of Charlie Chan, Dr. Fu Munchu, Bulldog Drummond....characters heard of but never read. It is only when I read this book that I realised that Blake was the 'Other Baker Street Detective' living on the same street as the more famous Sherlock. This is a thrilling mystery set in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).


THE OLD DARK HOUSE by J.B. PRIESTLEY




Mesmerizing mystery or a comment on human life? Human hand or supernatural agency? This book - about a handful of people trapped inside an old, dark house even as an apocryphal storm rages outside - was amongst the best reads of this year. Gifted as a prize by John @ Pretty Sinister Books. His riveting review can be read over here. Thank you so much Mr. Norris.


PHANTOM LADY by WILLIAM IRISH




A mystery that could have been interesting but for a character constantly referred to as "The Girl", "Your Girl", "My Girl". Totally, totally put my teeth on edge.



PORT OF SEVEN STRANGERS by KATHLEEN MOORE KNIGHT




A group of disparate strangers find themselves stranded in a hotel in Mexico. The mystery begins well with a murder and then traces its way back to Occupied France. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring finds a mention. But the end leaves too many loopholes. Oh yes! There is romance too.



THE 'Z' MURDERS by J. JEFFERSON FARJEON




Once upon a time, Ted Diggs had had a dog. It had died an unnatural death on the road, and he had always wanted another. In his opinion, a dog was better company than a woman. Just say, "Shut Up,"and it did. 146

Unforgettable lines from an author discovered this year. Absolutely love them:)

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