28 Feb

Chasing the Sun by Natalia Sylvester

Chasing The Sun by Natalia Sylvester

Andres suspects his wife has left him—again. Then he learns that the unthinkable has happened: she’s been kidnapped. Set in Lima, Peru, in a time of civil and political unrest, this evocative page-turner is a perfect marriage of domestic drama and suspense. Too much time and too many secrets have come between Andres and Marabela, but now that she’s gone, he’d do anything to get her back.

Or will he?

As Marabela slips farther away, Andres must decide whether they still have something worth fighting for, and exactly what he’ll give up to bring her home. And unfortunately, the decision isn’t entirely up to him, or to the private mediator who moves into the family home to negotiate with the terrorists who are holding Marabela. Andres struggles to maintain the illusion of control while simultaneously scrambling to collect his wife’s ransom, tending to the needs of his two young children, and reconnecting with an old friend who may hold the key to his past and his wife’s future.

This is a quick read with an interesting premise of a deteriorating marriage being tested to its core when the wife disappears. Andres suspects that his wife Marabela has left him and later he realizes that she got kidnapped by the mafia for ransom which was very common in Peru in late 90s.

I was hooked to the story when I read about Andres struggle in coming terms with his wife’s absence, managing to get hold of the ransom, managing the kids and managing the overall running of the house in his wife’s absence. The book has a great deal of suspense in the first half due to the uncertainty which Andres faces about the safe return of his wife. There was something captivating about the book that made you want to know what happened, though I would not say that I enjoyed it very much.

Chasing the Sun had all the ingredients for a great story set against an uncommon theme and place but not so well-developed characters and a highly unconvincing ending makes Natalia Sylvester’s work an average read.


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25 Feb

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Elizabeth-is-Missing-Emma-Healey

How do you solve a crime when you can’t remember the clues?

Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn’t remember to drink it. She goes to the shops and forgets why she went. Back home she finds the place horribly unrecognizable – just like she sometimes thinks her daughter Helen is a total stranger.

But there’s one thing Maud is sure of: her friend Elizabeth is missing. The note in her pocket tells her so. And no matter who tells her to stop going on about it, to leave it alone, to shut up, Maud will get to the bottom of it.

Because somewhere in Maud’s damaged mind lies the answer to an unsolved seventy-year-old mystery. One everyone has forgotten about.

Everyone, except Maud . . .

I read this book during the first few weeks after my son was born, which meant that I was in no mood to write a review. My son is 7 months old and I thought it is time I write about this book before I forget what it was about.

Elizabeth is Missing will come in the genre of literary fiction with good amount of mystery thrown in. Though the theme of an elderly lady suffering from dementia is depressing, there is an element of mystery in the story which keeps it interesting, and of course the characters of Maud and Helen.

Dementia is pulling Maud down, but that doesn’t mean that she has lost her spirit. She is as stubborn and single minded about what she wants to do. This gives an interesting side to Maud’s character and that keeps the whole story fun to read in-spite of the depressing theme charm, which cannot be possible present when your central character is fast succumbing to dementia and old age.

Helen – Maud’s daughter who has the prime responsibility of take care of Maud is another well developed character by Emma Healey. Helen has all rights to be frustrated, feeling lost in-spite of all the love she has for her mother. Isn’t that what happens in real life to caretakers of Alzheimer and Dementia patients? There are no end to the number of times Maud had unintentionally put her in difficult situations.

I loved the mystery part of this story. When  Maud is concerned about her friend Elizabeth, she is actually looking for her sister Sukey who went missing when Maud was very young.  Her memories take her back in time when Sukey was there and then to the days after Sukey went missing. Slowly, very slowly indeed Maud understands what had happened and the mystery unravels by itself.

I loved this book for Maud, the perspective of an aging person dependent on others is tough to write and Emma Healey has done a wonderful job. Please do read this book if you get a  chance and do let me know if you liked it as much as I did.

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18 Feb

Wordless Wednesday #3

Wall Painting Idea. In Bangalore

I saw this wall painting many times during the last few weeks, but it never felt anything extra-ordinary until one evening. The sun rays in the late evening were highlighting the colors so beautifully.

Now the question – who did this? I don’t know. Few of the residents in the umpteen apartments in the neighborhood decided to spruce up this wall by some paintings. This is just one of such efforts.

15 Feb

Recent Books on My Shelf #17

Recent Books on my Shelf by The Bookish Reviews

It has been some time since I wrote about the recent books on my shelf that I have read or is to planning to read.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky was first published in 1879 and I am planning to read this for The Classic Club. This is a chunkster with 1045 pages and I don’t expect that I can read this one so fast. I did read a few pages and the language surprised me a bit. I was expecting something with Shakespeare kind of language, but I encounter a better writing. The translator has done a great job and I am enjoying reading this one.

Family Life by Akhil Sharma had its days of glory in the blogosphere and I was actually able to get a copy from the library recently. This book surrounding two brothers (again) is supposed to be a great read. This book also happen to be a nominee for Folio Prize 2015.

Solar by Ian McEwan is another book that I started reading recently. This book did get sidelined when I saw few other books, but I will get to this book. I have only read few pages and cannot say much about what the book is about. ( I don’t read book blurbs )

There are quite a lot of books that I have not talked about in this post. I will talk about them in my upcoming posts.

13 Feb

January 2015 Reads

Things has got busier in office which means that I am not able to find much time to read or blog these days. My not-working time will be occupied by the two kids especially the smaller kiddo. My son will complete 7 months today and he is a handful to manage even though he has just started crawling :)

Amidst the busy schedule and two rounds of sickness ( cold and cough) that ruled our house in January, I did manage to read 3 books. The first two were from the Kwench corporate library and the third one is an ARC from Netgalley.

The Complete Maus- A Survivor's Tale about surviving Holocaust by Art Spiegelman

The Complete Maus by Art Spielberg is a graphic novel about the Holocaust and talks about the persecution of Jews during the WWII. It is not correct to call it a graphic novel because it is actually a memoir in which Art graphically narrates the lives of his parents during the Holocaust. The thing about this book is that the graphic nature of the book doesn’t take away the horror of the Holocaust. TH and myself have unanimously decided that we need to have a copy of this book in our home library.

The-Railway-Children-E-Nesbit-Goodreads-cover

The Railway Children by E S Nesbit was my first read for The Classic Club. I got intrigued by the title of the book and borrowed it when I saw it in my corporate library. It was a nice read, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected.

Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen

Pioneer Girl by Bich Mink Nguyen was another book I read in January. I have mixed feelings about this book. This book gave the impression of being a memoir, and it took me some time to realize it is fiction. This was a very interesting and quick read and I loved the part about Asian immigrants and their struggle to strive in America, but there were few aspects of the story which was a little difficult to digest.

I think I will be only able to read 3-4 books during most months and I will have to make some progress in the Classic Club reads. I have a lot of other books to talk about here, but that will have to wait for another time.

12 Feb

Wordless Wednesday #2

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman- Book about Holocaust during WWII

Here I present you the book cover of The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman. This is the graphic representation of the life experiences of Art’s parents (both German Jews) during the WWII and the Holocaust.

Highly Highly recommended. We have decided to buy a copy of this book for our home library.

31 Jan

Amish Tripathi’s Ram Chandra Series

Scion-of-Ikshvaku-Ram-Chandra-Series

Last few weeks, Amish Tripathi got many people around here excited by announcing a contest to guess the theme of his next book series. There were twitter/facebook contests for guessing the theme with #WhatsNextAmish hashtag.

I was not paying much attention to it though I had read the first two books of the Shiva Trilogy and liked them. I skipped the third because of its sheer size and people who read it commented it that it could have been 200 pages shorter.

Things changed when Westland Publishers sent a mail asking if I want to get involved in the Mystery Box Challenge associated with Amish’s new book. And I said an yes. I received the parcel last week at my office, but I had taken few days leave due to fever and the contest was over by the time I opened the parcel.

Nishita had already posted a unboxing video and I was pretty clueless looking at it.

The box is a solid wooden box with some decorations and with few golden and silver strokes. I loved the lock of the box.

Amish Tripathi's Ram Chandra Series - Scion of Ikshvaku

When I opened the box, it contained a vial of mud-like substance ( I think it is fine mud), a scroll with secret clue to guess about the new book series and the promotional letter from Westland Publishers.

Amish Tripathi's Ram Chandra Series - Scion of Ikshvaku Promotion
Below you can find the picture of the scroll containing the secret clue about the book. Since the book and the series title has been already announced, I am not going into much details. It looks like different people got different clues.

Amish Tripathi's Ram Chandra Series - Scion of Ikshvaku- promotion clue

So did someone guess the series correctly? Did someone win any of the contests? I think the first book will take few months to be released – around October 2015 and it looks like it is going to be a 4-5 book series. I think Amish has the potential to gain more popularity if he plays his game carefully. I thought that Shiva Trilogy could have been better with a better editor. I hope he takes his books a little more seriously this time.

Read my review of the first book of Shiva Trilogy below. Guess I missed writing the review for the second one :)

The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi : Book Review

26 Jan

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

We are not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas book cover.

Raised in the 1940s in the mostly Irish neighborhood of Jackson Heights, Queens, by an alcoholic mother and a union-wage father, Eileen yearns for more from an early age. Driven by this longing, she places her stock and love in a handsome young scientist and with him begins a family. Once her childhood neighborhood begins to slip below her standards, she pushes against her husband’s reluctance to find a home elsewhere. When it becomes clear that his reticence is part of a deeper, more incomprehensible psychological shift, the bricks of the life she thought she was building begin to crumble, and she and her son are left to grapple with a husband and a father who is, beyond their control, fading away.

In this heartbreaking debut, Thomas masterfully paints the sprawling portrait of a family that heroically weathers an extraordinary storm. It is wise to the ways in which people happen, over time and with each other.

Reading certain books are so easy. You get to live in an imaginative world with all those characters, and when the book ends you move on to a different book and get immersed in another world. Then there are those books which leave you disturbed and thoughtful occupying a space in your mind long after you finished reading that last page. We are not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas is one of such kind.

When I started reading this one, I did enjoy Eileen’s early life and its details, but after a few pages of reading I honestly had to push myself to read through the pages. I had even thoughts about abandoning the book, but I kept on. After all, this book came with a lot of recommendations and I just had to know what all the hype was about it.

Then came the second half and everything changed. When Learys’ life seems to be doing OK with enough of their own complexities, darkness enters their lives – slowly at first and then with full force threatening to take over their lives completely.  That is all I will say about the second half of the story.

The story picked up momentum and then you realize what kind of ride Matthew Thomas is taking you for, you are awed and scared. You are scared for Eileen and Connell, because you what know what is going to happen, but then they don’t know what their future is going to be. Imagine you as a reader knowing something and you just want to cry out to Eileen and make her see what is happening.

You see Eileen’s ambitions from early on and then you see some of them being lost on the way. The way she pushes herself, Ed and her son towards a path which she thought was the path to happiness. But Ed has his own ambitions and aspirations which might not be aligned with Eileen’s many a times. What happens then? Does they take the middle ground? Or does someone give up on their ambitions for the sake of love?

I think everyone calls this an epic story because of the way you live the life with Eileen, Ed and Connell. You are not a passive observer, you are an active but invisible character in the story itself, seeing everything and feeling everything that the family is going through.

You just have to read this book and experience it.  I hope I was able to convince you all to pick up this amazing book for the characters and the writing.

Warning: It is a heavy subject.

Rating: 4.5/5
Source: eARC from HarperCollins
First Release: August 19th 2014

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