Saturday, December 27, 2008
A while ago, softdrink posted a review for this book. As always, she brought in a whole new innovative approach to the review and I loved the sound of the book right away. I even mentioned that in her comments. Being the sweetheart that she is, she sent me her copy of the book!:) Thank you so much softdrink! I totally appreciate your kind gesture!
And of course, no review can even match hers. So head over to her blog immediately and check out her awesome review before coming back here to see my thoughts.
The book was just what I expected it to be – different, interesting and thought provoking. It is not a friendly cheerful book – not when the title “Thirteen Reasons Why” refers to the reasons why a school girl eventually commits suicide. A couple of weeks after Hannah Baker commits suicide Clay Jensen returns from school to find a package addressed to him by his front door. It is a shoe box with 7 cassette tapes. The box is sent by Hannah to the first person on her list – Justin Foley – Cassette 1 – Side A. And then is passed on in order to the 13 people who figure on the list. The Baker’s Dozen. Clay realizes that he’s received the box because he is on the list and he cannot figure out why!
With a map of the city and Hannah’s voice as his tour guide, Clay sets out for what would turn out to be one of the most memorable nights of his life – not necessarily in the good sense. And just like Clay, who just cannot get himself to put the tape down, you won’t be able to put the book down. I can assure you that much!
Jay Asher is a fantastic writer and it is tough to believe that this is his debut novel. Though it is a YA novel, I think it has something for people of all ages and I am sure it will also appeal to people of all ages. I got this book on Saturday and I was stuck to it throughout the weekend. I couldn’t put it down until I had turned the last page.
One thing I must mention here is that though the book revolves around one word – suicide, it is not a gloomy, morose book. Jay even manages to make you laugh sometimes.
And another thing that I have to definitely mention is the fact that the book is incredibly perceptive. Jay describes the sequence of events that eventually lead Hannah to do what she did. Some of the events are pretty minor – a rumor, a snicker, a joke, a pat. And some are a little more serious – back-biting, deceiving, taking advantage of, etc… but as you can nothing out of the ordinary - Nothing that doesn’t happen to every one of us. And yet, some of us let it affect it, some don’t. Some of the affected choose not to do anything about it, while there are some, like Hannah, who take extreme steps.
I think that this book is extremely important in that, it makes us realize that it is totally necessary to pay attention to small details and help kids when we can. Personally, this book affected me more than I would have liked it to. Those who know me personally know what I am talking about. It is hard not to think about how the world would be so much better if any single person who decides to take his/her life, leaves behind a note (or even a series of tapes) telling you why they eventually decided to do such a thing. Suicide is a very painful thing to go through – for everyone involved. It is an end without a closure – with so many unanswered questions and unsaid words. Nobody should have to go through it and this book gives us hope. It brings the message that if you are attentive, you can help more than you think you can!
Read this book! (I cannot give a stronger recommendation!)
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Another just cheated on her husband with her professor and is swallowed by guilt. Yet another is a lesbian and cannot figure out the right away to inform her strict senator dad. And the fourth cannot figure out if she should have actually given up a career to stay at home and wait, was her husband cheating on her??
Monday, December 15, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
I loved the concept of this book enough to put down everything else I was reading and pick this up as soon as it came in the mail on Friday last week. Thank you Nanci Mora (from Hologram Publishing) for sending me a review copy of this book!
In this book, Kate's mom dies leaving behind a house full of books. Books that she has "rescued" over the years from various places. And better still, all kinds of books. User manuals, log books, novels, etc. Kate needs to sell the house and has no idea about what to do with all the books around the house. While poking around the attic one day, she comes across a log book with a hidden painting. After meeting with experts, she finds out that the painting was a never-publicized work of a renowned artist Marc Chagall. Even before she realizes it, she becomes a millionaire after selling the painting at an art auction.
With the newly obtained money, she decides to take a vacation in Europe. By chance she comes up on a photograph that will eventually lead her to the rightful owner of the painting and the story behind the lady in the painting.. Fascinating premise, right??
The book was well written and a light and easy read. It was fairly captivating and I didn't really put it down once I started reading it. Luckily, it didn't take me too long to get done with it or else I would have done nothing else the whole weekend!
There are a couple of things that I could complain about though. First, the cover art. I am a sucker for interesting looking covers. This cover of this book, though interesting, wasn't really what I would have expected for the book. The art in the cover is supposed to be "The Lady with the Flowers" or the painting that Kate discovers in the book. Sadly, the cover lacks all the magic that the painting is supposed to have. Considering that the painting is the central theme of this book, I would have preferred to see a better representation in the cover. For example, the painting's background is the parlor in Hannah's house. Secondly, Hannah eyes are supposed to be open! All through the book you read about the captivating blue eyes and the cover doesn't do any justice to the description. In fact, I think that the cover was a distraction.
Anyways, the second thing that I wasn't particularly thrilled about was the fact that Hannah's story reminded me a great deal of the movie - Titanic. Take a look at this:
Rich girl meets poor boy while traveling. Poor boy is an artist. Rich girl is already engaged to boring rich boy. Later, poor boy takes rich girl from stuffy rich people's party to a high energy poor people's folk dance party. Rich girl even manages to show off some of her trained dancing in the party. Finally, poor artist boy paints rich girl in the nude. You tell me.. don't you see the similarities??
In spite of these 2 shortcomings, I would still like to recommend the book. The book gives us a peep into the lives of eastern European Jewish life before the advent of Hitler. From Hannah's story we can see how the rich and influential Jews hardly expected what eventually happened to them. In spite of dealing with a subject like the holocaust, Dave Clarke manages to keep the mood of the book light and makes it an enjoyable read.
Here's another interesting tidbit that I got to know. Dave Clarke is the child of two holocaust survivors.. and the proceeds from the sale of every book will be donated to the Survivor Mitzvah Project to support aging Holocaust survivors in need around the world. Now, that gives you an incentive to buy this book, right?
I definitely enjoyed the read. It was well written and easy to read.. and definitely entertaining.
Let me know your thoughts!
Monday, December 8, 2008
Thanks to Tracee Gleichner @ Pump up your book promotion for sending me this book.
I have to start by mentioning this - The best part of the whole experience was the letter I received along with the book. Unlike the usual letter from the publisher, this book included a nice letter from Maria's dad thanking me for agreeing to review his lil' girl's book! Isn't that adorable??
First, Here's a little description of the book:
As promised, the book turned out to be light, comical and entertaining.
I liked the simple yet interesting cover of the book. There was something appealing about the simple design.
I liked the goofy protagonist.Waverly is so adorable. I enjoyed her clumsy acts, her nonsensical observations, her insecurities, etc. She chokes on milky way bars before cute guys, she gets way too drunk, she falls at baseball games (with food and drinks in her hand, of course!), she breaks her ankle before new year's parties.. she's hilarious!
I loved the quirky "Honey" notes idea. It was innovative and I think that gave the book a whole new dimension.
"Perfect on Paper" is a perfect light read. When all that you want is to settle down with a light book, be sure to have Perfect on Paper within reaching distance.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I saw this book on my friend's bookshelf and immediately had to pick it up. Some books just do that to me. I don't know if it was the cover or the description of the book that made me do it. Whatever it was, I am glad I picked this book up.
Julia Alvarez fictionalizes the lives of four sisters in the Dominican Republic under the dictator Trujillo.They were involved in the resistance against him. I was horrified to hear that US, after leaving the Dominican Republic in the 1920s, gave Trujillo the right to rule knowing that he was a repeated rapist! The Mirabal Sisters slowly come to know of the atrocities committed by him as they are growing up and eventually end up in the secret movement against him. In the end, three of the four sisters - Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa were beaten to death after their car was ambushed by Trujillo's men. Dede alone survived. Known as "the butterflies", the sisters became beloved national heroines.
Julia Alvarez attempts to re-create the lives of the four sisters through this book. She read about the sisters and even managed to meet with Dede. But she decided to give the sisters a life of her own and made this book a fiction. I loved the way the book was written. Each chapter is narrated by a different sister. Dede's has a present and a past version. Maria Teresa's section are just pages from her diary. Through these bits and pieces, we get to know the four sisters. Each one of them so unique- and yet, somehow, all so similar.
From their accounts, it becomes obvious who would enter the movement first - Minerva; the girl with the courage to slap Trujillo when he makes a move on her at a party. When you can go that far, joining the resistance movement against him cannot be much farther, can it? Slowly, Patria, Maria Teresa and Minerva are neck deep in the resistance movement. The religious Patria seems to be the least likely to involve herself in this but she finds her own way of joining in the movement. Dede however doesnt involve herself too much because of her husband Jaime and his political views. By the time she decides to get involved with her sisters, it is a little too late.
The book is definitely not perfect. Alvarez has faced many criticisms for attempting to humanize the idols. She has even been accused of being an "outsider" with no knowledge of the actual happenings. In addition, when I tried to google this book, i read some more about Trujillo's atrocities against Afro-Dominicans. alvarez doesn't mention anything about that in the book.
Despite all that, I loved the book. I am glad she made that effort to bring to light the story of 'the butterflies'. The world definitely deserves to know more about them!
This was a perfect time for me to read this book. November 25 is observed as "The International Day Against Violence Towards Women". It was on this day in 1960 that the Mirabal sisters were killed.
I highly recommend this book.. It was a very interesting read!
Friday, November 14, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
I must say that this is a pretty interesting tale and I definitely enjoyed reading it. Here’s the part that I found hard to accept – this is not a fiction. This is a memoir! Yes! Beth Russell, who accompanied her friend Alex to
At the risk of offending the author and anyone who happens to accept this memoir for what it is, I HAVE to say that I had too many issues with the story line. I can understand Alex’s nervousness when she is handed the baby in
Somehow, I felt that Beth made no attempt to assuage her fears about adopting the baby and rather promptly announced that if Alex didn’t need the baby, she would take it! And then she proceeds to bond with the baby. When Alex has doubts about giving it away, Beth allows her to bond with the baby but makes no effort to hide the fact that she is upset that Alex might change her mind! To top that, the whole dream sequence feels like something straight out of a Bollywood movie. For the uninitiated, “Bollywood” refers to the thriving film industry of
Well, here’s the deal. Beth is a good writer. I liked her style of writing and enjoyed the book. If it were a fiction novel, I would have even praised it and recommended it to everyone who is actually reading this post. But unfortunately, the only issue that I have with this book is a big one. It is a memoir and I cannot understand how it can be one!
One thing I must mention though is the fact that I absolutely loved the cover of this book - the white motifs on those tiny blue shoes in the palms of an adult - fascinating picture and very very appealing. Someone please tell me that it is not actually a memoir and I will feel so much better!
If you have read this book and completely disagree with me, I would love to hear your views. Agree with me? Please tell me that I am not the only one to feel this way!Haven’t read this book? What do you think? Would you want to give this a shot? What are your reactions to this review?
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Richard Wagamese is a native Indian living in
The book is divided into 4 parts to demarcate the four stages in his life. Each part consists of many chapters is an incident – a snippet – written in short story format. These stories were originally published in the newspaper columns he wrote as “One Native Life”. And somehow, the chapters flow together, the parts flow together and we have the well written story of one man’s life.
Here is the description of his book in his own words (from his blog):
I loved the Wagamese’s style of writing and I loved the content of his book even more! As Wagamese looks back on his life, what is amazing is not how much he has learnt/ done. What is amazing is the way he has learnt it and his teachers. Wagamese shows us the importance of simple living and the importance of bonding with nature. There is so much to learn from everything around us – even animals (“animal-people”, as the Ojibway referred to them). We drift from day to day without really observing things and people around us. Wagamese’s book showed me the importance of relishing every living moment. There’s a message from every “seemingly-mundane” incident - so much to observe and so much to learn.
I know for a fact that I am not doing justice to this review. I totally enjoyed the book and I wish you would pick it up sometime and enjoy it as much as I did as well. I had never heard of Wagamese until I found this book in my mail box and now I suddenly want to read every book of his ( I think, he’s written 4 novels and a memoir in addition to “One Native Life”).
To know more about Wagamese, you can visit his website – www.richardwagamese.com
I found a link to my favorite chapter in the whole book – one about making bannock. Something about this chapter totally appealed to me. I think it was the sense of belonging that he got when he baked bannock for the first time after getting the recipe from his mom. The sense that he was actually someone in this world – someone who belonged to a community, had something more than just a body and a name. Here is a link to this article. I am sure that’ll give a taste of the book:
Do read the book and tell me that you loved it too!:)
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
The book says that it is about growing Iranian in
With an influx of immigrants into
She gets an opportunity to go to
The book is all about coming to terms with her identity.
In concept, it is a great book. I was really interested in finding out everything about her life in the
But after having said that, I really think that if you are interested in the concept of this book you should read it. There is a lot to learn about life in contemporary
If you have already read this book, I would love to hear your comments.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The Hiding Place is a memoir of Corrie ten Boom. For the first 50 years of her life, Corrie had a very normal life. She was a spinster and lived with her aged father and another spinster sister (Betsie) in a fascinatingly rundown house in Haarlem in Holland called the Beje. I absolutely loved the quirky house. I could never do adequate justice to the description. Alongside is a recent picture of the Beje (Which is now a museum). It is hard to imagine that a house so small had so much happening inside it!
The picture alongside is a picture of Corrie's parents. Corrie's mom died when she was 63 but not before teaching Corrie and Betsie the importance of being generous and nice to people. Even when she was bedridden with no ability to talk, she remembered the birthdays of the destitute and made Corrie write little notes wishing them. Corrie's father has a watch repair business and was loved by everyone in Haarlem. He was a very simple man and loved his job. He sometimes even forgot to take money for the repairs he did and never thought of anyone as competition. It is tough to find such simplicity these days. Everyone seems to be driven by the need for money. It is sad how our society has become such a money-centric society!
Anyways, during World War II, when the Jews were trying to escape from the Nazis, Corrie helped them hide. She even had a secret room built in the Beje and hid Jews there with an elaborate warning system. The picture alongside is an image of Corrie's room along with the secretroom (Seen beyond the wall). The Beje is now a museum.
Unfortunately, they were discovered and Corrie and Betsie were sent to the Concentration Camp.
Nothing but pure unadulterated faith kept them going. They survived hardships and worked hard but never lost faith. They smuggled in a little bible with them and read it everyday to other women in the camp. Little messages from the Bible were taken and practiced. It really was fascinating to see the power of faith. Faith gave them a reason to survive and go on living even under the darkest circumstances.Even though Corrie was in charge of the Beje operations, Betsie suddenly seemed to be the stronger one when they were in the camp. Through all hardships, she somehow managed to keep her faith intact and her optimism and her faith were infectious. She harbored no bitter thoughts towards anyone and even felt sorry for her prosecutors. To be like Betsie is so tough. Unfortunately, Betsie did not survive the camp. She died a few months before Corrie was released.
But Corrie went on to honor Betsie's dream. She spent the rest of her life helping those affected by the Holocaust and by talking about what she and Betsie had learnt in Camp. She travelled widely and spread her message throughout the world! She died when she was 91 years old.
I think this book is a must read for everyone. It is very inspiring. I know there are loads of people who think that once they are 50, their life is done. Corrie's life actually started when she was 50! This was an absolutely fascinating book. I want to watch the movie that was based on this book as well.. I wonder if they actually shot it at the beje.. anybody knows anything about that? Have you seen the movie? What did you think of it?
If you haven't read this one as yet, go and grab a copy and read it right now!!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Other Reviews of this book -
3M - I particularly liked the way she concisely, yet perfectly described the story of the sisters : "One of them can’t sleep and the other one won’t wake up"..