30 January 2010

Jan 2010 - Book 6 - Scarpetta factor

Scarpetta Factor , by P atricia Cornwell
A tumbled mass of a book - I do not for my life recall why I ever picked this book..I am not a suspense/mystery reader in general..except for few Dennis Lehane thrillers and Mary Higgins Clarks in my previous life I do not remember being attracted to that genre all that much ! 
This is my first Scarpetta read in the series and I dont think anything can induce me to go back..
In short, a forensic scientist lady and her dysfunctional milieu cast , all extremely comptent professionals but messed up in their personal lives..flawed human beings ..set around a perfunctionary case of a jogger murdered in park linked to a disturbed heiress somehow linked to a 2nd rate actor in Hollywood and his so-called aunt ..throw in lot of technical mumbo-jumbo..forensic terminologies and you get about 500 pages of spaghetti lines..not very appetising
Rating -       4/10   
"People do not change, they are merely revealed"   Anne Enright

26 January 2010

Jan 2010 - Book 5 - Nantucket nights

Nantucket Nights , by Elin Hilderbrand
Kayla is the protagonist of this story of 3 friends who meet when they were all very young and maintain the tenuous bond with a celebratory swim on labor day weekend with a brand of truth sharing only for the 3 of them. She is an insecure housewife with a successful and handsome husband whom she always suspects..
Val is the tough lawyer with a successful practice but un-successful marriage..
Antionett is the most mysterious one with a troubled past and equally troubling present , where she is having affair with Kayla's 18 year old son..who falls for her very hard..and she takes an extreme path of disappearing before this comes to light..
Entangled friendships, jealousy, relationships, perception, deceit , healing - overall fast read
Rating -      7/10
"People do not change, they are merely revealed"   Anne Enright

22 January 2010

Jan 2010 - Book 4 - What was lost

What was lost   , by   Catherine O'Flyn
    Kate - 10 year old orphan, precocious, lonely, wants to be a detective in the mall, shy, blends in background , one day she just disappeared.
    Adrian - 22 years old guy, Kate's friend, works in fathers shop, doesent knows what to do with life, last person seen with Kate before she disappeared.
20 years later:
    Lisa - Adrian's sister , works in record store in the mall, aimless life, affected by her brothers leaving after Kate disappeared.
    Kurt - Security guard in the mall, about the same age of Kate, sees Kate's ghost image on security camera, mightve seen her the day she disappeared
Mall culture, loneliness, make-believe world, crime, surveillance, intrigue, haunting though-I-have-no-idea-why..
Rating -     8/10
"People do not change, they are merely revealed"   Anne Enright

14 January 2010

Jan 2010 - Book 3 - The Gathering

The Gathering , by   Anne Enright     
    Bleak, grim , dysfunctional family saga , with doses of love, hate, loss, alcoholism, imagination, abuse, dissonance..
    Veronica - the protagonist narrator delves into past and imagination of past to understand why her near-twin brother Liam committed suicide , why he had a drifters life as opposed to her almost respectable life ..
did the suspected abuse when they were living with their grandmother which pushed him into the 'box' .. did it happen to her too ? Who is to blame ? Her constantly pregnant and vague mother or her randomly respectable father or her grandmother who does not believes in the past..and all this has affected the whole clan - about 9 siblings all with their share of eccentricity or traits , blamed if they are normal and doomed if they are not..
    The prose is vague and sparse and facts are revealed unexpectedly and in unexpected ways .. you could miss something if you didn't pay attention...and it is a bit difficult to pay attention..the flitting from present to past to imagination is relentless .. but still there is something gripping about the story which keeps you hooked..
Rating -    6 .5 /10
"People do not change, they are merely revealed"   Anne Enright

08 January 2010

Jan 2010 - Book 2 - Someone at a distance

Someone at a distance , by Dorothy Whipple         
     Last year , a dear friend of mine sent me 2 persephone books from UK and I started on both sporadically but kept them back for a more leisurly state of mind.
I picked 'Someone at a distance' again this weekend and could not put it back. As mentioned here and here , no one knows why but you cannot put the book down.. Its not a thriller or anything like that..rather a very ordinary story , extra-ordinarily written..
    Ellen is a post-war housewife of a puplisher husband and is very happy managing her house, children , husband and garden. Avery loves his family, his daughter the most and his job too. Ellen would rather be mucking in the garden , than making herself pretty for her husband and in her naive trustfulness she doesnt realises how her husband is being snared by the French au pair - Louise, her mother in law hired to keep her company. It doesnt even happens right away, Avery is first affronted, then irritated and then taken in by her , all the time thinking that he has control of the affair. When it comes to forth though , he runs away with her instead of facing his family and putting things to right , even when he wants to but his pride stops him from eating the humble pie for rest of his life.
Ellen meanwhile has to take care of her innocent and heart-broken daughter and she refuses alimony (very un-characteristic of a 20th century housewife who hasnt earned a penny of her own in her lifetime) . Her feelings are not elaborated more after this or maybe she is just so busy taking care of everything else..
    Louise's story also is an interesting look into a small-town girl with un-defined ambitions, who is thwarted in love by the rich kid from the village and how that translates into the disruption of Ellen and Avery's solid married life..
Rating -   7.5 /10
" Wear the old coat and buy the new book "   Austin Phelps 

06 January 2010

Jan 2010 - Book 1 - Ours, a Russian family album

Ours , a Russian family album , by Sergei Dovlatov    
      My first book in 2010 is this book of short stories by Russian emigre Sergei Dovlatov. I first heard one of the stories - 'Colonel says I Love you' on the New Yorker podcast and loved it..I am not a big short story reader and however much I may claim to dislike audio books I have come to know some great short story writers through these podcasts..I dont think the story wouldve touched  me as much as when I read it..but listening to it gave it lot of depth and nuance and I didnt feel its brevity .. which I think is my main problem with short stories - they are short.
Neway, so I checked out this work from library and found it a quick and interesting read. Here, Sergei takes different family members and forms a story around each and its told in a very engaging narrative and one by one his life is un-raveled to us , not sequentially but in a way we can connect all the dots.. I still found his above story the best and his grandfather's the next best..
Overall a good fun read ..
Rating -  6/10
" Wear the old coat and buy the new book "   Austin Phelps 

05 January 2010

Women Unbound Challenge

For the start of the new year , I want to post this list of books that I want to read for the Women Unbound Challenge ..
Im thinking of going all the way i.e the Suffragette level which means reading 8 feminist/women oriented books, 3 of which should be non-fiction :
My fiction projected list , which might change as needed:
  1. Maggie, a girl of the streets , by Stephen Crane
  2. The hundreth woman , by Kate Green
  3. The help, by Kathryn Sockett
  4. Trudy's promise, by Marcia Preston
  5. The darkest child, by Delores Phillips
  6. Push , by Sapphire
  7. Portrait in Sepia, by Isabel Allende
  1. When everything changed , by Gail Collins (womens history)
  2. Indira, Katherine Frank (bio)
  3. The story of a soul, by St Therese of Lisieux (auto-bio)
Will be updating the blog as I progress through it, the deadline is November 2010 - so 1 book a month should be a good target ..
Happy Reading!

01 January 2010

Dec 2009 - Book 7 - Salt and Saffron

Salt and Saffron , by  Kamila Shamsie 
     Another story based in pakistan, another young pakistani lady - though coming back instead of going to US..and she is very interested in her family story..and what a family..the 'Dard-e-dil' (which sounds very filmy) khandaan has its roots in royalty and all the intrigue , treachery, loyalty attached to it..She expounds on many relationships , some in detail - some fleetingly..sometimes too much..
But she is very much enamored with the theory of not-quite-twins and the curse they bring upon the family..or so it's believed..and one day she learns that she is also a not-quite-twin to Mariam Apa - one whose going has left a big hole in her heart and her life..with whom she had some sort of mystic connection and who by going away made her understand so much more about herself..examine her thoughts, prejudices, social stigma..but she wont let her be obscured from the family history..and maybe she will follow the same path..understanding that that is all that matters in the end..
Rating -  6 /10
" No  one who can read, ever look at a book, even unopened on shelf, like one who cannot "  Charles Dickens