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Saturday, June 30, 2012

MAILBOX MONDAY/IT'S MONDAY WHAT ARE YOU READING?


Mailbox Monday for July being hosted by Mrs Q. Book Addict.

My mailbox for this week has been delightful!

My usual church sale has also got a library. I have not been taking books as I was never sure whether I could return them in the two week period. This last week I thought I'd give them a go and so glad I did.



Two Rosamunde Pilcher books. Both small books which I should be able to finish easily on one of my journeys!



The Borgias like the Tudors are always interesting. Compared to Alexander and Cesare, Lucrezia seems like a walk in the park. Used by her father and brother to further their own ends, Lucrezia adores them both and the ties that bind the three of them are unbreakable.


I saw this author mentioned on Cornflower Books for a review of another book.  Glad I got to this one.

On top of this I bought two books!


Set in colonial Malaya this is my kind of book!



One of three books by Catherine McKenzie which have been on my list - the other two books are Arranged and Forgotton.



It's Monday What Are You Reading? a meme  hosted by Book Journey.

Have read quite a few books this week. I finished Sleeping Tiger, Light on Lucrezia and An Equal Stillness. Now reading Agatha Christie's Black Coffee and hopefully afterwards In the Company of the Courtesan.

 My coming week is going to be very eventful. Having a cousin coming over whom we haven't seen for thirty years! she is bringing three of her children - all of them born in the UK and coming out to Sri Lanka for the first time.  I've had this experience before and its always nice to see children's reactions to Sri Lanka!!! It can be quite a culture shock for children born outside Sri Lanka. Parents seem to slide back into their old ways but for children it is not easy.

Everyone have a good week!




Thursday, June 28, 2012

THE LIVES OF THE KINGS & QUEENS OF ENGLAND EDITED BY ANTONIA FRASER













This book might bore someone who is not interested in history. Unlike a story set in a particular period which would interest more people, this book is strictly for lovers of history - and here it would be English history.

Starting from 1066 and the Normans to the present House of Windsor it gives you a synopsis of all the Kings and Queens of England with lots of fascinating snippets which would never find their way in a formal biography! Which king was infamous for what is nice because it also shows that they were very human after all. The vast majority of them would have believed they were semi gods but they were just very normal people.

The chapter on each King or Queen is just a couple of pages only but it was very good reading for me. History can get confusing and sometimes it is good to get it clearly sorted out who came first!
The book is also descriptive of the era of the time - whether there was a war or revolt going on and tidbits about the family history of each King or Queen was also included.

A very nice book for lovers of history.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

AMANDA BROOKFIELD'S RELATIVE LOVE

Amanda Brookfield was delightful for me to read. Right now I am in the middle of some reading which is taking me a bit of time to wade through. This was just the thing to do the trick and get me in reading mode.
A mix of Joanna Trollope, Rosamunde Pilcher and a touch of Rosy Thornton I found this family saga absolutely riveting.

The Harrison family with John and Pamela leading the brigade. We have elder son Peter and following them Charlie, Elizabeth and Cassie. Every sibling totally different - from the serious, very responsible Peter who wants/needs to think matters through carefully, weighing all options before speaking to the carefree Charlie and then we have Elizabeth who has been the odd man out, never quite fitting in with the family and always feeling that she has somehow failed the Harrison test and Cassie nursing a hopeless love for a married doctor and keeping it secret from all.

The traditions of Easter and Christmas at the Harrison family country house were accepted by all - not just the children, but strangely by the in laws, and grandchildren even though teenagers may have preferred to be somewhere else. There was no shaking those traditions. The generous hospitality of Pamela and John making their children's stay back home as comfortable and luxurious as possible was something to be admired.  For Pamela particularly it was a feeling of continuity and stability that things would always be the same.

The spanner in the works inevitably has to happen and happen it did. It disrupted not just the immediate family where it happened but the ripples spread to the entire Harrison clan. How it enveloped all and how it very insidiously spread affecting everyone's personality - from the littlest to the biggest is the second half of the story.How the Harrisons overcame the obstacles and stayed strong and together is the final focus of the book.

It was not just the family saga and the philosophical aspect of families that entranced me. It was the descriptiveness that was involved not just in the country but throughout the story.

Loved this read and hoping that I will find more by the same author.

Monday, June 25, 2012

REVIEW OF DAUGHTERS OF CAIN BY COLIN DEXTER



My first read of Colin Dexter and the famous Inspector Morse and his side kick Lewis. I have seen the films but the book brought them so much closer to me.

A don at a college in Oxford is found murdered. Morse is brought in when the first inspector dealing with the case backs out due to personal reasons. Morse is very sure of who the murderer is but how to place him at the scene of the crime is the problem. On top of it all, the chief suspect has a mild heart attack and is hospitalized and put out of reach from the cops who want to question him.

We then have the very mild, subservient wife of the chief suspect. Whereas our suspect Ted Brooks is brash, overconfident, rude and crude we have Mrs Brooks bending over backwards to be whatever her husband wants her to be. Physically and mentally abused by her husband she finds a loyal friend in Julia Stevens for whom she cleans house. Into this unlikely mix is also a prostitute who finally coincidentally turns out to be the daughter of the murderer.

How Morse solves the crime through a series of deductions and logic form the best part of the story. The other good part is the character of Morse - tight fisted, not willing to part with a penny, conveniently forgetting his wallet, his rudeness to Lewis, his condescending attitude to everyone around him, his rude remarks on the quality of music they listen to or his quirky habit of quoting Latin to those who have never studied the language all mark Morse as Morse.  Lewis is the gentleman here - never getting ruffled as he sees that Morse is sicker than what he wants people to know and also desperately lonely which is something that Morse is desperate to hide.

Liked this book and going on to the next one which is a bonanza as two stories in one!

I do hope I will be able to post more reviews than I did over the last two weeks. Work got in the way.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday What Are You Reading?


Mailbox Monday hosted for June by Burton Book Reviews. This week my mailbox is overflowing courtesy of a church sale! Both memes coming in a bit early as Monday is going to be hectic. A doctor appointment early in the morning followed by going to Galle (two hour journey away from Colombo).


My first Colin Dexter read! and now to my second!

Two books in one - bargain!



Amanda Brookfield (a bit similar to Rosamunde Pilcher whom I enjoyed very much).


A Sarah Dunant book - In the Company of the Courtesan. Love the cover as well. Set in Renaissance Italy in the year 1527 - background of convents (nostalgic for me!). Whats not to like?


Agatha Christie - I never seem to finish reading her books. This one a Hercule Poirot mystery - Black Coffee.




Another meme -  It's Monday - What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Journey.




I am still trying to finish The Rule of four -  its slow going.  I like the ancient text lost background also set in Oxford background but for some reason its very very slow going.

Have finished one Colin Dexter and am halfway through the Amanda Brookfield book of this week. I get so wrapped up in this weeks new books that I tend to shunt aside earlier books received. Does this happen to other bloggers or do you systematically read in the way you received the books?





Tuesday, June 19, 2012

THE HOUSE OF STAIRS by BARBARA VINE


I did not know that Barbara Vine was also Ruth Rendell whom I have read though this was a first from the Barbara Vine reads.

From the very onset you know that a murder has been committed, we also know the murderer. What we do not know who was murdered and in what circumstances. It is very slowly unravelled. You know that all the other characters in the book, page by page, know about the murder, and all the details everyone knows except you the reader.

I began to build up the circumstances under which the murder took place but I could'nt figure out the
who till very very late in the story and this was the interesting bit. The story was descriptive - of places, people and surroundings so that you felt very much as if you were part of the scene throughout.  The book has been described as a psychological thriller. I would add suspense as well. You almost never know what is going to happen till the end.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday What Are You Reading?



Mailbox Monday on tour and being hosted by Burton Book Review. This week no new books but I am trying to catch up on reading.




It's Monday What Are You Reading? hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. This week I have a good pile of books which I need to finish.

The first one is very very good. I thought it would be a dry tome of facts and figures but it gives one so much of information. Totally unexpected. Almost done with it.


The next on my list is this one. Unheard of till I picked it up!

Next would be this one with so many recommendations to it!



This post got late as I was buying tangerine plants and banana plants. It took such a long time over what should have been a straight forward transaction.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

THE SUMERTON WOMEN BY D L BOGDAN







Something is going wrong with the computer today and I am only hoping this is going to post properly!  I have also not been able to do reviews as much as I would like to due to too much work.

The Sumerton Women by D L Bogdan was a win for me.  People who are not very fond of historical fiction would often say I think - isnt there enough books written about the Tudors, set in the Tudor period and particularly about the nefarious Henry VIII and his antics. The thing is that there are so many aspects of the Tudors - and in capable hands of authors like Bogdan who enact a little bit of history again you are once again reading something new about the Tudors!

We find Cecily desperate to hide in her closet or rather in her mother's closet because she knows that her parents have died and this is the closest she is going to come to her mother ever again. Taken away to live with her guardians Cecily is a pleasant lovable child. Growing up to be a young lady with a future nicely planned for her (to marry Bree the son of the house) and live happily ever after. Life throws a few spanners in the works and Cecily is left alone once more. Bree dies, Grace the lady of the house disappears, Mirabella the daughter of the house enters a convent and Cecily cannot live alone with Hal the man of the house. Instead of marrying Bree, Cecily ends up marrying Hal and the marriage is a happy one.

The story continues from there with the background of the Tudor era as a very focal part of the story. The turbulence of the period specially in the context of religion is very much part of the story and the emergence of the new faith as against the old and the effect it had on the era is part of Cecily and Hal's story as well.

It was a easy book to read. Another Tudor era book which I enjoyed.


A few pictures from my Jaffna trip. These are Hindu temples in the North of Jaffna. After 30 years of civil war it is nice to be able to go visit.















Wednesday, June 13, 2012

MAGGIE O'FARRELL - AFTER YOU'D GONE



I thought the cover did not do justice to this story but surprisingly so many thought the cover was very nice.  The story starts at the end - Alice sees something that throws her off so very much that she either deliberately steps in front of a moving car or is so taken aback that she does not really know what she is doing. It could be either and we never know.

It is a sort of moment when the compere says "take it away" or something like that because then we begin the actual story of going back in time - a period of over 20 years to find out how/why/what and when things happened which brings you to the event of the day.

We have Ann and Ben Alice's parents and then we have siblings - from the very onset it is remarked and mentioned that Alice is different - not just physically but in temperament poles apart and you get an inkling that this may be the pivot on which this story spins. 

I cannot go on as it will be a spoiler for anyone who wants to read it but the story is one of family, love - lots of it -, heartbreak, grief loads of it and how one does survive. It turned me upside down as well because the grief is so near the surface and one you could always empathize with. The love I could easily manage! it was the sadness that upset me.

A beautifully written book. Ms O'Farrel has written five books - I've now read two of them. I am definitely looking out for the rest.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday What Are You Reading?


Mailbox Monday was delightful this week! Hosted this week by Burton Book Review. Starting off with a book win from Unabridged Chick - The Sumerton Women. Thank you Audra.

The other books were purchased by me from my second hand book shop and are real finds!
A Josephine Cox (read about these books so much on Cornflower Books)

Described as irresistible storytelling - can anyone resist.


A first novel by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason. Absolutely unheard of till today.

This came highly recommended on several blogs including Cornflower Books. I started to read it when I was last in Melbourne and found it not easy to read. I am going back to this as I think there must be something in it I have missed. Everyone around has found it very good reading.




It's Monday What Are You Reading hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.


Almost finished this book and finding it very good. Cover does not do this book justice though.




Saturday, June 9, 2012

ROSAMUNDE PILCHER COLLECTION VOL 2 (THREE STORIES)


This was a chunkster but it was three separate stories which made it a bargain. I do hope I can find more of her books.

Just doing a brief review on all three books.

In Wild Mountain Thyme we find Victoria - simple and ready to be taken for a ride (again) by the smooth talking, glib man she fell in love with years ago. Standing on her doorstep as if he had seen her only yesterday with a two year old infant in his arms, he knows Victoria's weaknesses so well, her innate politeness and goodness that she will not turn anyone away let alone a man holding a crying child in his arms, this story takes on from there.

You want to literally shake Victoria and tell her she has other options but this is the story........


The Empty House finds us with a young widow returning to her dream filled Cornwall with two young children hoping that she can find love again. She is also hoping to break away from the overbearing mother in law and worse still Nanny of her husband's family. One keeps cheering her on hoping that she will forget about the convenience of having everything done for her and try to stand on her own two feet.


The third story deals with Jane going back to Scotland to find passion and love but her love of Sinclair is tinted with a bit of hesitation. Coming from the United States she has a lot to contend with - returning to Elvie in her beloved Scotland and dealing with a lot of forgotton memories.

Reading Rosamunde Pilcher's books you are generally swept with a lot of feeling. I find myself rooting for one or the other characters, angry with them over their general complacency or laid back attitude. I want to point out options that will take them out of their complicated lives very easily and at the end I do realize that this is a story of human beings, who will never act the way they should act and that none of us do what is good for us!!!!

I have just started reading her books and now find myself looking out for these very warm, family stories.

Friday, June 8, 2012

TWO SHORT REVIEWS - AGATHA CHRISTIE



This was for me a sad book of Agatha Christie. Hercule Poirot called on to solve a murder/s(?) of a couple who died many, many years ago.  Is it possible to find clues so many years after a case is closed. Apparently nothing is impossible for the flamboyant Poirot who does it in inimitable style.

Why the murders were committed was the sad part. A rather unusual Christie.






This is Miss. Marple's last case. Gwenda feels a sense of deja vu when she is house hunting coming across a particular house. The feeling is emphasised time and time again to the point that she herself believes that she is hallucinating. Miss Marple solves a crime (again after almost 15 years) where the murderer thought he got away scot free.

Agatha Christie is so good (like Jane Austen) for me personally at times when I am tired, in a reading slump and just want to read something light which will not tax me too much. Agatha Christie really fits the bill this time around.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

ATONEMENT by IAN MCEWAN

Set in 1935 the story encompasses the lives of three people Briony a thirteen year old, her elder sister Cecilia and Robbie Turner the charwoman's son who is also brilliant and who is on the threshold of entering university to study medicine.

We have Briony intense, artistic, looking at everything with a future eye as to how it can be turned to her advantage in the form of a story, then we have Cecilia intense, not sure of herself or her feelings or what she wants to do with her life and then we have Robbie who knows the battle to win Cecilia will be hard in the face of family opposition.

Briony witnesses a sexual encounter between Cecilia and Robbie - and in her thirteen year old mind associates it as an assault. Coupled with the letter she had secretly read sent by Robbie to Cecilia it dawns on her that she should protect her sister against the "monster". Witnessing an assault n her cousin Lola the same evening, she associates the assailant with Robbie, accuses him of molestation and the entire course of all their lives changes. Fast forward to Briony turning eighteen, becoming a probationer nurse for the duration of the War and wanting to make amends/realising that her accusation is false, she seeks forgiveness from both Cecilia and Robbie but knows the path ahead of her is very hard. Fast forward to Briony turning seventy seven and an established published author. Her book is part of the continuous atonement she seeks as she will be publishing the correct story covering the entire saga.

The book will appeal to those with an imagination.  What trouble a thirteen year old can cause - deliberately or by accident (you can take it either way) and how one incident can change the course of your life. It was also interesting to see how Briony changed as she matured - not everyone will seek public atonement however sorry they are for what they have done. A very descriptive book of war both in England and France, and specially hospital scenes were very detailed as two of the three main characters were nurses. May be a bit harsh for some readers but this is reality as it was.

A very good book.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

THE PURSUIT OF LOVE by NANCY MITFORD


From the beginning you are drawn into this story.  The story of the Radletts seem to follow the pursuits of the Mitford family, one of the most notorious of the aristocratic families of the 20th century. From using children as bloodhounds when foxes were not available for the hunt, to the strange Lord Alconleigh (hated foreigners, refused to go anywhere for a meal, had no qualms about being extremely rude to anyone including his children, refused to educate his daughters as he felt it un-necessary) to the gentle wife Sadie and their varied seven children.

Each child different, unique and in some cases peculiar Mitford's clever use of language follows the family's marriages and love affairs and the ups and downs of this enormously interesting family. Narrated by Fanny who is brought up as one of the family as her father has deserted her mother (known to all as the Bolter). Fanny's story is almost by the way as it is just so "ordinary" having married and had three children and in love with her husband as against the high jinks of the rest of the family.

Downright funny and very readable the antics of the family follow the Mitford family themselves. Anyone who is interested in the family saga type of book coupled with historical fiction would enjoy this book set amidst WWI as a background at one stage of the book.

It certaily has whetted my appetite for more Mitford and I would dearly like to get my hands on The Mitford Sisters biography. I was not very interested in Love in a Cold Climate but this book has got me going again on anything Mitford.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday What Are You Reading?


Mailbox Monday is on tour. This months host is Alternative Read.

I had no new books coming in this week and though it was a very hectic week with a four day
trip for a wedding at the end I was able to pack in a good amount of reading.

Finished three books over the whole trip which is good. Now for the reviews.



This meme hosted by Book Journey.

Just finishing

Enjoying it thoroughly. Love the setting and the characters are so good! eccentric, down to earth, so very British some of them - you have them all. This is a wonderful read.


Friday, June 1, 2012

ANNE RIVERS SIDDONS DOWNTOWN


I was taken in with the name Smokey O'Donnell. A small town girl from Cork County, Savannah arrives in the big city taking on a big assignment. Such an achievement. Stories like this are heartening as they also show that things do happen to "nice" people. Good things.

The story follows Smokey from her strictly puritan Catholic background to the more bohemian city spirit and how it changes her. Her entire lifestyle changes also - from civil rights to actually recognising the racial issues of the country, from seeing the vast differences between two social groups in society, the rise in the Black Panther movement and the attendant problems it brought about are all highlighted in this story.

The subjects handled are sensitives one for the time specially and the people of the period handled them almost as if it did not exist. The author herself took the same line as it were and I felt that they were almost glossed over but not gone into with any depth.  Abortion, the civil rights movement, the need and emergence of the blacks in American society are all extremely serious issues and the period in which the story is set is the time where the issues were most prominent.  I felt it could have been handled more directly.

My first read of this author. Very descriptive of the happenings in the life of Smokey it made for an extremely interesting read.

I am leaving for a much looked forward to wedding in Jaffna on Monday. The bridegroom is someone very close to me and it is with much joy that we are going for this wedding. No blog posts till Tuesday morning.