Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Women on Wednesday - Jhumpa Lahiri


This weekly event is hosted by Susan at West of Mars' Rocks 'n Reads.

She says: " Every Wednesday, write about a book you loved that’s written by a woman. Celebrate a woman author whose books you love. Talk about a book you’re dying to read. "

The first of Jhumpa Lahiri's books that I read was The Namesake. I enjoyed it very much and loved Lahiri's simple yet beautiful way with words. I did not know then that this wasn't her best work by any means. 

Only very recently did I read Lahiri's Pulitzer Prize winning collection of short stories Interpreter of Maladies. I'm not a fan of short stories, usually. I find them too abrupt sometimes or worse, unmoving and aloof. But Lahiri's short stories are wonderful: rich in emotion, beautiful in prose yet easy to read.

I've been reading a lot of Indian/Indian-born writers of late and I can say with certainty that though there is no dearth of talent, Lahiri is one of the best writers we have. Though the main theme of her writing is always about the lives of Indian Americans or Indians abroad, her stories never give the air of being repetitive. 

Her attention to detail, her crafting of characters and best of all, her ability to evoke the emotions of the reader are some qualities that make Lahiri an unforgettable writer. 

Her stories affect you long after you're done reading them. This instance will be appreciated by those who have read Interpreter of Maladies: every time I chop vegetables, the image of Mrs. Sen neatly dicing and slicing vegetables while longing for home, stays evergreen in my mind.

I shall be reading her latest collection of short stories Unaccustomed Earth very soon and I'm sure I'll enjoy it, judging from the great things I've heard about this book!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Awards Updates

Christy at Readin' and Dreamin' gave me the very pretty Ohh La La! award some time back. Thanks so much for the award Christy!



As part of my  obligations in receiving this award, I need to answer these questions:


Where is your favorite place to read a book?
In bed or snuggling in my couch with cushions.

Do you snack while reading?

Not really. Except for the lone Coke or Coffee.

Are you a book borrower or book collector? 
Book Borrower. I read far too many books and I can't afford to collect/buy them all.

What is the best book you've read recently?
Fiction: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri and The Housekeeper and The Professor by Yoko Ogawa - fabulous books! Must-reads definitely.
Non-fiction: Diplomatic Divide: Crossborder Talks by Dr. Humayun Khan and G.Parthasarathy. An excellent book  on a very important subject.

Here are some blogs I want to pass this award to, blogs I think are Ohh La La!
JoAnn at Lakeside Musing

Nishita also gave me a wonderful award, the Happy 101 Award, which asks that you make a list of ten things that make you happy. Here is my list:

1. A good book. I know that's stating the obvious, but it's a lovely feeling to read a thoroughly enjoyable, moving book!

2.  A weekend off with my friends and family. Just spending time with people I love and giggling over the silliest of things.

3.  A long walk on a windy night, gazing at the stars. It just relaxes me beyond words. Plus, I've always had a fascination for stars and constellations.

4.  Studying history and visiting historic monuments/ruins. There's just such a lot of romance, charm in history. It's a beautiful thing to know about our past and learn from it :)

5. Ice cream. Remember the time I had chocolate icecream that had a hint of mocha, garnished with gorgeous nuts, while watching Lost in Austen? It was an unforgettably good experience!

6.  Indian food. Granted, I have it everyday. It's still special and extremely delicious.

7.  Music. I'm a total sucker for melodies and patriotic songs. The latter almost always brings me to tears - A.R.Rahman's magnificent Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera or Bharat Humko, for instance. I especially love Indian Hindustani, classical, sufi music and of course Bollywood songs!

8.  Receiving comments on my blog and seeing new followers! Thank you all :)

9.  Rain. The sight of raindrops, the smell of the earth wet after a drizzle, the breeze that follows a spell of rain...it can make anyone poetic!

10. Learning an obscure general knowledge fact. LOL. It makes my day to find trivia that will stump everyone :D

Here are are a few of the several blogs that make me happy: some are blogs that I've started following very recently, while others are blogs I've loved for a long time now! I'm passing this award to:

Claire at Paperback Reader
Velvet at vvb32reads
Christa at Mental Foodie
Jeannie at Pine Cottage Books


P.S. Everyone's been very generous with giving me some great awards. Thanks again so much! I'll post about some other awards I received and pass them on to others soon :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Before I Forget - Melissa Hill

Rating: 6/10

Review:
I went into this book looking for a light, fun read and while it was fun in places and had a light feel mostly, I ended up with the feeling that this book had the scope to be much better than just an average read.

The plot is interesting - Abby Ryan meets with a freak accident that means she could lose all her memories. Though shocked, Abby is determined to live it up and draws a list of things she's always wanted to do. She's getting ready to have fun and enjoy her life to the fullest possible.

Abby, as a character, is supremely annoying at first. She is permanently worried about the pathetic boyfriend who broke up with her after quite a long relationship. As the book goes on, you learn how much she depended on him. Almost spinelessly, her opinions and tastes, regardless of what they were before she met him, mirrored his. But she does redeems herself in several places.

Abby's family members, on the other hand, are wonderful characters. Though they seem too good to be true at times, they come off as funny, caring, loving and wonderfully supportive in view of Abby's memory loss. The romance in the book is oh-so-cute and predictable, but enjoyable.  

Abby's determination to have a good life in the face of great tragedy, without seeming too unrealistic, is beautifully captured by Melissa Hill. She writes in a very simple style and drafts in some excellent, unexpected twists in the end.

I expected the whole 'drawing up the list of things she's always wanted to do and enjoying life' to be much more interesting than it was in the book, though. And that's basically the problem I have with the book. It offered so much promise, but does not really fulfill its potential. 

Probably because I went in with high expectations after reading some good reviews about the book and the basic plot line itself, I was definitely underwhelmed. But I certainly would recommend you give it a try if you are in need of an easy, good book!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Housekeeper and The Professor - Yoko Ogawa

Rating: 9/10

Review:
The Housekeeper and The Professor is one of the most touching stories I've read in quite some time now. Simple yet at the same time complex, this tale of a Housekeeper and her son and their relationship with a genius Maths Professor who has only 80 minutes of short-term memory, is beautifully written. 

The storyline is highly original and involves you and makes you care for the characters just 10 pages into the book. I'm someone who cannot do Maths to save my life and I was quite skeptical about how I'd like this book. But I loved it, because after reading this book, nothing about Mathematics or numbers will ever be the same for you! 

For all you Math lovers, this book will become your new epic. The beauty of how the Professor sees life through his numbers is wondrous! There is a lot of formula explanation, number facts and they are all interesting. If only every child was taught Math the way the Professor teaches the housekeeper's son! 

This book is a short yet effective read with amazing characters and I highly recommend it. The emotions, the affection and the love between three unlikely people, makes the book a pleasure to read. 

The Professor, his housekeeper and her son whom he affectionately names 'Root', will stay with me forever. And so will the Mathematics of life. Yoko Ogawa is a gifted creator and I'm looking forward to reading more of her books!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Last Kashmiri Rose - Barbara Cleverly

Rating: 7/10

Review:
I love books set in the British Raj. It's one of my most favourite historic time periods and though I've not read fiction about the Raj, I've throughly enjoyed all the non-fiction and memoirs from that era. This murder mystery featuring Inspector Joe Sandilands, often referred to as 'Holmes' in the book, seemed an excellent concoction of two things I like reading about : British India and Sherlock Holmes. 

Set during the final days of the British empire in India, The Last Kashmiri Rose, sees Inspector Joe Sandilands of Scotland Yard solve a series of mysterious 'deaths' that seem to have a sad, sinister connection. Inspector Sandilands has to find out how, why and who killed these innocent victims. 

Credit to Barbara Cleverly where it is due. Her images of India during the Raj are vivid, very accurate and definitely satisfying. There are several references to the Great Revolt of 1857, the controversial cartridges greased with cow and pig fat, the 'divide and rule' theory, and even a lone reference to 'Congress wallahs'. The mystery is also well-written with some good twists thrown in here and there. But I guessed the identity of the killer several pages before the book revealed it, which definitely dampened the climax. 

I love a good romance. But when there's a suspenseful mystery on one hand, I'd rather see that being solved, than see the romance between the detective and the dashing female protagonist. The Last Kashmiri Rose is one such case. Nancy Drummond's flashback, her relationship with Sandilands are nice to read about, but they slow the pace of the story, which is very vital in a murder mystery.

In all, the book is worth a read, if you like murder mysteries or books set in an 'exotic' Indian setting. But personally, I still enjoy the non-fiction books from this era so much more :)

This book satisfies one criteria in the 'What's In A Name?' Challenge, that of 'A book with a plant in the title'.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails