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Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Kate is very comfortably off, settled with her home and family. A respectable hard working husband who is a good provider, a decent father and a likable husband. Two youngsters - both in private schools doing exceptionally well in rugby and academics respectively with friends of their own, no bad habits, no hanging out with gangs etc.

Turn your life upside down. You go away on a short break in connection with your studies and you return to find your husband's face splashed on every paper in the country and beyond. You are stopped at Immigration and Customs in Canada for questioning. You have papparazzi hanging outside your bedroom windows waiting for a glimpse of you and the children or waiting to interview anyone who knew you even remotely to get some kind of idea of what is happening to Felix Kendall the mastermind behind the money laundering business that has been going on for a decade.

I thought the story was a good one, very plausible and very happening. It somehow took off till midway and then when it should have got better and better, it somehow fell flat. Where it could have got exciting and held you in thrall with what was going to happen next - Kate falling on bad times, moving to a council flat, Felix missing and then turning up, the papparazzi in full force again, the reason behind his absconding and the general fall out on the family as a result of the upheaval somehow was rather dull.

An excellent story but midway I lost interest in the reading as it lacked punch.  I did finish it though.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


This was a new author for me. Ash Rashid is a detective who prays daily as a Muslim should but also one who consumes alcohol. A family man with a loving wife and a loveable daughter he is also a law student as he intends getting out of the police and into the law side of things.

Drawn into a homicide/murder when his own niece is murdered Rashid is unwittingly drawn into an even bigger net of so called vampires, business mafia and big money where a murder or murders of even teenagers is a very small problem for big sharks like what we are dealing with.

Ash's search for the truth behind his niece's killing leads him to so much danger to not just him but also his family. Even his own police department betrays him again and again and he cannot imagine the corruption that is found in the local police who not just turn a blind eye to what is happening but deliberately leak information so that more and more people are put in mortal danger. The brutality of police action is very clearly displayed and if they could act like this for one of their own, I dread to think how they would act against others.

A bit of the story also deals with the difficulties that people of the Muslim faith have in mainstream America. That in itself is a touchy topic and being a Muslim cop must be the most difficult balancing trick there is. Antagonism is high against Muslims everywhere - this we cannot deny and Culver handles the subject very delicately.

This is Culver's first novel and the story and writing was good. I found it very matter of fact, the style of writing that is and it took some getting used to. But I did finish the book.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Hosted at Mailbox Monday blog in October. I had a very nice haul this week.

The first was a delightful win from Judith - thank you Judith.

Dawn French - how I love her TV programme - I am sure to enjoy the book as well.

Three women - three different lives and relationships.  These Foolish Things by Imogen Parker.

Part fairy tale, part mystery a story set in 1960s Britain. An author I have read before.

Grace's life is crumbling around her along with the dilapidated house gifted to her by her godmother. How is she going to climb out of this mess and get on with her life. A Katie Fforde book

The blurb says What would you do if your husband disappears and you then discover he is a criminal? Intriguing book by Claire Morrall

Rashid is a investigator for the police. He is just waiting to give up his job until the body of his 17 year old niece turns up. What does a officer do when it becomes so personal? A Chris Culver read. New author for me.

The other Monday meme is It's Monday What Are You Reading? hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.
I got a fair amount of reading done this last week but only two reviews up. Work got in the way of blogging.
The books I am reading right now are Human Croquet and still trying to get to grips with Anil's Ghost from last week.
We are having rainy weather to the extent that we now have floods in three districts in the country. This is always the case in our country. First unbearable drought, no drinking water even and then rains to the point of floods and misery, loss of crops, so many people homeless. It has been drizzling steadily in Colombo from last night and it still hasn't stopped. I have no problem with the rains at all but I do feel sorry for paddy farmers as fields have been just plowed and sown and excess water is not good for rice cultivation.


Sunday, October 28, 2012


Emmett Conn is 92 years old and living in the United States. He is originally a Turkish immigrant who plays down his roots. He has also buried his past history deep in the recesses of his mind - and now at this stage of his life certain events have a constant replay bringing him anguish and guilt over his part in the genocide and how he behaved as a youngster when he was a gendarme in the Turkish army.

Emmett begins to have these dreams, and specially the part played by Araxie an Armenian girl with whom he fell in love with and the period when he was taking his group of refugees to Syria. The violence, the deaths, the murders is this what actually happened and what he has forced himself to forget or is this a dream of his and just that a dream? Emmett is beginning to lose his grip both physically and mentally (he is now suffering with a brain tumour) and he is wanting to make contact with Araxie and beg her forgiveness for his part in her sufferring. How Emmett successfully makes contact with Araxie's grand daughter is also part of this story - what was interesting is that he successfully managed to evade the nurses at a psychiatric facility where he was admitted to get away to New York to track down Araxie.

I had no knowledge of the Armenian genocide nor of the forced deportation of Armenians to Syria, their fate at the hands of both Turks and Syrians. Neither was I aware that this is one part of history that Turks do not mention as it is for them something unpleasant that happened over a hundred years ago and is now best forgotton. I doubt that the children and grandchildren of those who survived look on the Armenian genocide in quite that way. I was very glad of the footnote that I found at the end of the book by the author giving details of the genocide and a small, potted history of the Armenians. It certainly added to my understanding of the story.

The author deals with the past and the present in this story. We have flashbacks to the actual period of the genocide and then to the present context in America and the life Emmett leads now. The comparison and contrast goes on throughout the book. The past is so linked with the present - though it is only in Emmett's own world which he has obviously not shared even with his children. The two parts of his life are in two compartments and linking them together is what has brought about the upheaval in his mind.

This was a very provoking read for me. Discrimination of the kind faced by the Armenians is very much alive today - having finished a civil war in my own country we are more than ever aware of this.  Even a few voices in dissent against such discrimination will always help.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


This mystery by Elizabeth George is slightly different from her others. The focus here is not on the famous Lynley and his partners Nkata and Havers but rather on a character in the story - not the victim of the murder itself but another equally important one. Gideon is a music prodigy who has been playing the violin since the age of seven and now finds himself unable to even hold the instrument. Why this has happened now and when it will change no one knows.

On the other hand we have our murder victim. Eugenia is a hit and run victim it seems but it is only the appearance of a hit and run incident. We then find out that she was run over three times by the same driver and her body thrown to the side of the road.  We subsequently have several murders running in the same vein inexplicably not linked with each other. The person who was the first on the scene of Eugenia's accident was also someone whose address was in Eugenia's purse. Was so much coincidence possible or is there some hidden hand in all this.

The other feature that was different is that the very professional Inspector Lynley jeopardises his honour and professional integrity in the face of a find in the murder investigation which is linked to someone known to him personally and he deliberately suppresses the information also involving his partner Havers in the subterfuge. Very unlike and different to the usual.

This book is slightly slower than her usual books and the book is huge at 800 pages, but it is nevertheless a page turner and you do want to know what is happening to the investigation. I also
liked the writing of a journal throughout the book and its throwback to incidents in the past.

A good read for mystery murder fans.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Set in 1792 the entire story covers a period of American history which I know absolutely nothing about. Elizabeth sets out from England to reunite with her father - a judge - in a very remote part of New York and establish a home and a settled life for herself. At 29, she sees herself as a spinster and one who is very content with her state of life. A school teacher by profession, she hopes to establish a school for the children of Paradise, New York - even a small one - because she knows this is where her satisfaction will lie.

Life never turns out the way you think it should be! Elizabeth falls in love with Nathaniel a white man but one who thinks, feels and lives like a native American Indian having been brought up with them his entire life.  His feelings and loyalties are to his clan and he will do anything and everything to protect them from the vagaries of war, the animosity and fear of the white man (the feelings of animosity and fear are absolutely mutual here).

Telling more would be spoilers but detailed descriptions of American native life, its customs and the way nature is so much part of their lives makes this a very good book. Apart from native Americans, the way of life of the white settlers is far from easy and how they adapted to this rugged, harsh land is amazing. The determination to make new lives and to survive and prosper must be part of the indomitable spirit of this age. They took a raw land nurtured it, settled it and turned it into a very livable environment for all. 

I also liked the very small cross reference to Jamie, Ian and Claire from the Gabaldon series. They were just mentioned in passing but it was nice to see them again!

I enjoyed this book.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I like the Commissionaire of Police here - Brunetti is everything you would expect not of a police inspector but he is very much like Inspector Lynley of P D James and he has got an added plus of loving his food and someone who is knowledgeable about food as well. The descriptions of some of the meals is mouthwatering.
The story centres around an elderly lady - a person who is very unpopular, someone who is a nasty piece of work. She is found brutally murdered in her apartment and the Romanian maid has absconded. The maid is the obvious suspect and the case is closed satisfactorily and speedily.
Two weeks later we have a neighbour returning from a trip to London who is adamant that the maid is not responsible. She also comes up with alibi as well as supporting evidence believed only by Brunetti and no one else. Why does this neighbour help this maid whom she does not know at all and why go to all this trouble.
With the help of the highly efficient and discreet Signorina Elettra and her hacking into web sites and computers of everything and everyone we unravel the mystery so far removed from what we imagine.
Venice mouthwateringly described adds to the books attraction for me!

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Mailbox Monday is a meme sponsored by Marcia at Mailbox Monday.

The books that came into my home are

Another Elizabeth George

Sarah Donati - Into the Wilderness. Set in the 14th century in an America which is still being
settled this is going to be a new topic for me. A bit of romance as well here.

Emma Donaghue - Slammerkin. All I know of this author is her previous book Room. Alternatively horrified, fascinated and repelled by the book I nevertheless read it to the end.

The other meme I really enjoy participating in is the one hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading?.

After a very long time I am having three books on the go.

This is one I am struggling to finish. A period of history which I would like to know more about.

This history of China is very good reading but I can only do about 25 pages at a time. Its detailed, intricate and in a very small font (my most famous peeve!).

Michael Ondaatie originally from Sri Lanka and an illustrious author. This was a book I had been looking out for.

Weather here bright, burning sunlight during the day and pouring with rain, all grey and gloomy (which I love).  The relief from the sun is immense.

A happy week to all.


Friday, October 19, 2012


I was drawn to this book not because it was a Booker finalist but to the cover. Somehow the simplicity of it drew me.

Julian Barnes has written detective stories before under a pseudonym. He then went on to the "proper
novels" and then combined them both - Arthur Conan Doyle at his best delivering justice after a proper detection and this book is the result.

Two more English men could not be found - we have Arthur gregarious, witty, clever, outgoing and athletic and we have George quiet, stolid, unassuming and with a Parsi surname which took me by surprise. Totally by surprise as I thought we were all dealing with two Englishmen. George with a Parsi surname was more English than the English themselves and did not even consider himself Indian in anyway.  Born into a quiet family in Staffordshire in a Vicarage we have George thrust into the limelight, accused and jailed for mutilating farm animals in the most horrendous fashion. Reading the story and knowing the background of George it was unbelievable that a jury or a judge could believe that the quiet man George could be guilty of such a heinous crime. George had somehow upset the Chief Constable of the region who could not be shaken in his belief of George's guilt and though George throughout his narrative insisted that race was not part of the issue at stake here, I think he was a bit too naive to think that cautious, conservative Englishmen could accept a Vicar who was Asian and that George was a ready scapegoat at the time - unsuitable though he was. How a family who lived peacefully amongst the village without any animosity towards any neighbour or parishioner could not drum any kind of support amongst the villagers was for me very unusual. The Edalji family were quiet enough not to anger anyone, they did not flaunt riches or fashion, but they could not find anyone who would speak up for them.

For George it was a lucky day when Arthur decided to take on his case and to see that justice was done. Despite overwhelming odds and a justice system that was heavily weighted in favour of one section of society Arthur was literally the knight in shining armour for poor George. Two men of tw different temperaments and character beautifully mesh together in this novel .  The feel of Edwardian England is very pronounced as well and I liked the descriptive quality of the read.

Throughout the book I felt I was reading something written a very long time ago as it had such an old fashioned feel.  It was a nice feeling though and I am glad I got to this book.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I just loved William Marshall - alias Guzzleguts! starting from the lowest echelon of squire, sleeping in corners, jeered by many, he grows up to be a real knight in shining armour - honourable, loyal to the last, once his loyalty is pledged there is no going back, he meets up with Isabelle - falls in love - head over heels literally and then lives a very interesting life. Expanding his riches and properties, expanding his family.

The story in this second novel deals how William deals with the every increasing animosity of his King - the one to whom he has pledged his allegiance. John wants to see William broken, first through the obvious means of losing out his property and thereby depriving him of his hard earned and won livelihood, and insidiously and very wickedly through the corruption of William's two boys whom he has taken as hostage for the good behavior of William.  King John tries very hard to subvert Will and Richard and though he seems to have initially succeeded with Will he never does so with Richard and even with Will his efforts are finally in vain.

The story of Isabelle and William Marshall in their more mature years - how both of them lived, apart for great periods of time, each remaining steadfast to the other, each offering the other unencumbered moral support and encouragement at all times is the crux of this story. The saga of the Marshall family, the manner in which all the children grow and support each other and their parents form a beautiful story.  Despite Isabelle's not understanding of William's unswerving loyalty to the King in the face of untold hardships she is not a woman who will still honour him as her husband above all else.

Like the previous book detailed domestic details of running such huge estates, castles and managing servants and small armies was fascinating reading. I thoroughly enjoyed this second book by this author.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


A friend  dies unexpectedly and you are left with a strange bequest. 26 years of journals handed over to you since you are deemed to be the one who would understand them best. I can well believe how a husband would feel in these circumstances.
Throughout the reading of this novel, what comes mostly to one's mind is how very little we know those around us, even those of us who we are intimate with and with whom we exchange a daily part of our lives. We all seem to have secret compartments of our lives firmly shut against all outsiders and it is only by a strange quirk of something like Elizabeth's death that a Pandora's box is opened and not always with results that can be admired or appreciated.
The period of the story covers seven weeks of summer vacation where Kate and her family have their usual vacation but where the presence of the journals is like an ominous presence since Kate's immersion in the stories is immediate and overwhelming. Kate's husband understanding of the emotional impact as it is, is nevertheless nonplussed how to handle Kate as she delves deeper and deeper into the novels. Though Elizabeth is now dead the story also indicates to Kate how tough issues of motherhood, career and life can be balanced and handled. Is it better to bring out into the open problems one faces in life or is it better to just keep quiet and let it be. What is the best way to handle so many issues is delicately handled by this author. Difficult subjects of terminal illness, death, grief, how families cope with death are all handled very well in this book.
This was a win from The Blue Bookcase.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Mailbox Monday  hosted on the Mailbox Monday blog. The books that came to me are

Elizabeth George is always a huge surprise for me. I never know where I am going and the size of the book is always huge!!! not always but very often anyway. 800 pages this one but I love it.

I've read Donna Leon before (Acqua Alta) and found the Venetian background and description fascinating. Brunetti helps as well (shades of Lynley from above!) Suave, sophisticated and loves his food - you need anything more????

Julian Barnes's Arthur and George - shortlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize. (I will get to them all eventually I know. In my part of the world it just takes time!)

Four days away from home and office and back late on Monday evening. So many things to catch up with. The good news is that the rains have started, hopefully not to end in floods but its raining!!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


It is the 14th century BC and the search is on for a wife for Pharoah - the young ambitious Pharoah who wants to just "get rid" of the elder his father in fact and rule on his own. His brother has also died in suspicious circumstances.  He wants the shortcut method not the wait and see one and he finds his soulmate in the equally ambitious family of Nefertiti and Nefertiti herself who supports and encourages her husband in his quest to be an immortal human being - almost a god on earth.
The story centred around not just Nefertiti but her equally clever sister Mutny - the healer, the more rational one in the family but one nevertheless who will support her sister and the family against all odds and against all others.
An impetuous girl Nefertiti has also got a bad temper and Mutny is sent along to be the saner counsel and the eyes and ears for the family who know that Nefertiti tenure as a favourite wife is only as long as she can control the young Pharoah Amunhotep - a law unto himself.  Wanting to be an all supreme being he discards the old gods, creates temples to the new one and his visage and that of his wife (who he also declares as Pharoah) on all temple walls. His increasingly erratic behaviour seems to indicate trouble ahead not just for his own family but for the entire country whom he bankrupts as a result of the constant building he undertakes.  At the installation of himself and his wife as Pharoah a plague descends on the city and decimates the population. The people themselves revolt against a King who has said he is God but one who cannot protect his own. The destruction of the temples and the poverty stricken state of the population bring down the downfall of both the Pharoah and his wife in extremely tragic conditions.
The serene life of Mutny who achieves this after a heart breaking incident caused by her own family is the joyful part of the story. Her happiness as a wife and a mother are complete and a complete contrast to her sister who seemed to have everything and ended up with nothing.
As usual Michelle Moran has spun a tale of fantasy and fact into a beautiful whole.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012



How and why I never got to this author before is a mystery. I wish I had. The story of William Marshall who served a king loyally and then swore allegiance to his sons one after another, none of whom deserved such a loyal servant is a masterful story telling which will keep you enthralled and wanting more.

William Marshall joins the king's household as a very lowly squire.  He is not very popular with his colleagues but he does the job that he has been entrusted to him wonderfully. It is his skill with the horses and jousts that make him come to the forefront amongst all the other knights. His victories at the tournaments brings him fame and some returns and this helps him to make his fortune as well as establish his reputation as one of the most skilled horsemen of his time.  The history of the period of Henry II was bloody and what followed was even worse and it does make for fascinating reading. The politics of today seems to be so mild in comparison to what went on in those days - all with the idea of maintaining control, keeping the estates intact and hang mankind in general. The poor had a lot to contend with - and no recourse to any authority because the King was the final word and if you had an autocratic one you were more or less doomed.

The other story telling which was different from other historical fiction books is the personal life of William Marshall which forms an integral part of the story. Married to Isabelle who was 20 years his junior, William wanted Isabelle from the first moment he saw her but had to bide his time to even approach her for her hand in marriage. Isabelle went into the marriage not knowing whether it was going to be another marriage of convenience and one of aggrandisement and a way of protecting her own dower lands. She did not expect to fall in love and to have compassion and tenderness and much sensuality in her marriage. For Isabelle this was a bonus of an unexpected kind. In the face of so much infidelity and flouting of conventions, Isabelle and William had a beautiful marriage which was envied by many. This part of the story was so good because you constantly had other royal marriages as part of the background and believe me they were ugly and strained. full of every vice known to man.

This story is heavy on the description - from the food, weaponry, the domestic details of running a castle and in Isabelle's case several homes, the furnishing of not just comfort for your own family and William and she did have a large one, but also seeing to the needs of all the domestic servants as well as soldiers who formed part of your estate was an enormous amount of work and this is very interesting to read.  Even description of battlefields was minute and brought the scenes very much to life however gory it all was.

This was a read of the Middle Ages in both England and France. My knowledge of this era was skimpy at best so I did enjoy learning about the period. I am looking ever so forward to finishing the sequel to this book The Scarlet Lion.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Three books in one - Light, funny and just right!

This was a bonus read. Three delightful authors and books in one go. Jill Mansell was new to me. I thought this was a bit unrealistic. Single mother two delightful kids, wonderful relationship with her ex-husband. So much so, I really thought at the beginning that she still had feelings for him thataway!
and that she would be getting back to him. Anyway she fell in love with her boss (how mundane could that be) and ends nicely with all ends neatly tied.

In our second book - Second Honeymoon by Joanna Trollope Edie our housewife is an empty nest syndrome mother but one who still yearns for the joys of having her children under her roof and she just cannot get used to the fact that her youngest preferred to flat share with his girlfriend and most importantly her mother preferring their cramped house to his own home.  Edie's husband looks on the empty nest as a way of getting Edie to himself again after a long time but his hopes are thwarted because one by one the children return, all with grown up problems of their own and the resulting story is one which is a good lesson to all mothers - empty nest or otherwise!!!!

Again a new author for me Alexandra Potter brings Heather to life in this one.  Heather just wants something to go right in her life. Little things and wishes it could come true. After getting a bit of white heather from a gypsy strange things do come right for our Heather.  I liked Gabriel and Jess and the humour was so good.

This triology was good for me. After a lot of heavy stuff - murder and mayhem, historical fiction with its fair share of bloodshed this was just right.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and hosted on the Mailbox Monday blog for now.
After two weeks I received three books from a friend. The first

A rags to riches story - romance and all!

A continuance of the first story - we have William Marshall, mature together with his wife facing all adversaries head on!

This one has to be splendid - from Confucius to Mao to the development of the capitalist system in China this has to be an enthralling read.
This is the next meme I always follow!

This week I was away from home for three days and only returned Monday afternoon. I did get a fair amount of reading done though reviews were all put aside as lack of internet connections where I go.

Apart from that we had the excitement of the finals of the T20 cricket match - Sri Lanka vs the West Indies. I feel that there are lots of Sri Lankans (me included) whose loyalties get a teeny bit divided as the West Indian boys are so very popular here particularly the one shown below.

We lost the finals totally due to our own shortfalls so all congratulations to the West Indian boys!

The books I read were Nefertiti by Michelle Moran (loved it) the triology by Jill Mansell, Joanna Trollope and Alexandra Potter (loved that as well) The Greatest Knight (loved that one too!!!).

I still did not get on to my Indian sagas!  Maybe I needed something light - the Mughals are anything but light so maybe it should go on my list this week.

Starting work in office late on Monday so playing catch up.


Thursday, October 4, 2012


A mix of a travel memoir of an Australian couple who very courageously undertake to be tour operators for a group of people in a village in France introducing them to a very French way of life complete with chateau visits, lots of wine tastings, plenty of french cookery classes and a lot of ambiance. Their meeting with Amanda who was already a fixture in this village helped them to set out to achieve beautifully what they intended to do and reading about the initial set up, the pitfalls
they faced, the unexpected problems that come about as a result of living with strangers and the ability to live and let live are a part of this beautiful story

The part that I did not like was the emphasis over and over again on their host's Amanda's sexual exploits, her various escapades with different young men and the almost blatant boastfulness of it all. This was for me jarring as it could have been mentioned once or twice if necessary but not at all necessary to bring it to the fore over and over again.

The story set in Provence in an 18th century cottage amidst almost unchanged village life was idyllic and I liked both the setting and the manner in which two novice tour operators handle eight guests and handle them very well. The tours and itineraries planned to cover all interests was great reading for someone like me for whom travelling to Provence is just a dream. 

A very good travel memoir of Provence.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


A bit off my usual track of reads but one that was a simple mystery and an easy read as well.

Our detective/inquisitive news reporter is in a bit of a slump. She is not getting the juice news reporting neither is she being allowed to follow her own leads on what she thinks is good news. An advertisement for a bridal dress "never worn" makes her scent out a story. What happened? did the bride die, or did the bridegroom disappear and this is how the story evolves from there.

We have a very rich, socialite family and the bride, a bridegroom from nowhere and an unlikely story of how and why people fall in love!

Our reporter Spartz is good at her job though she does tend to go head first into situations and then think it through afterwards but it all works out in the end!

I am trying to keep up with my reviews - I do keep reading at a good pace but somehow the reviews are getting later and later to put down. I cannot claim too much of work, I just think its too much of this.

We are in the midst of a T20 worldwide cricket tournament right here in Sri Lanka and every day from 3.30 pm till around 10.30 pm it is only cricket that has hypnotized the nation including yours truly, specially when we have a star class bowler like Lasith Malinga playing!!!!