Friday, April 24, 2009

Review: Sarah's Key

Book: Sarah’s Key

Author: Tatiana De Rosnay

Challenge: Orbis Terrarum Challenge

My Review: Yet another powerful book set during WWII. Very moving and a must read!

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

I knew I’d like Sarah’s Key. I knew it from the very first time I saw a review of it in one of the book blogs. And then practically everyone read “Sarah’s Key” and I kept reading all the reviews and loving the book even more. I don’t why I waited for so long to pick the book up.

Is it possible to love a book that describes atrocities committed in the past? Is it possible to love a book in spite of the descriptions of the pain and the torture that people had to go through? What is it about these books? They make me cry and they leave me feeling useless and helpless and almost guilty for having a perfectly normal life. And yet, I love them. I hunt them down with a vengeance. I consciously stayed away from the World War II Challenge because I knew I’d read more than enough books for it and it somehow doesn’t feel right to “enjoy” those books. I hope I am not rambling and I hope you get what I am trying to say here. I know a lot of you love reading books set during World War II and the holocaust. How do you feel when you read those books? Do they tear you apart? I know they do that to me!

Anyway, Sarah’s Key starts off as two separate stories and in the middle of the book, the two stories merge. The first story is set in France during World War II. It is set against the backdrop of the round up at The Velodrome d’hiver on July 16, 1942 – a massive round up of Jewish families in France by the French Police themselves. Before they were sent to the camps at Auschwitz, the families were kept in the Vel d’Hiv under very deplorable conditions. Sarah is a young girl, whose family is also part of the round up. Before leaving her house, Sarah locks her brother in a secret cupboard and leaves the house assuring him that she’ll come back soon to let him out.

Sixty years later, Julia Jarmond is assigned to do a story on the Vel d’Hiv round up and she comes across the story of Sarah Starzynski. At this point, the two individual stories – one narrated by Sarah and the other by Julia merge into one. And it was at this point, that the book started getting a little slow for me. The horrors associated with Vel d’Hiv are replaced by Julia’s personal fights against her dominating husband and her quest for Sarah. Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t mean to say that I didn’t enjoy the book. I enjoyed it very much but I can’t help thinking that in the end, the book was more about Julia than about Sarah and that wasn’t what I was expecting.

I know many of you have already read this book. What did you think of it? Share your views with me! If you haven’t read Sarah’s Key, I would definitely encourage you to read it. It is a fast moving contemporary fiction with a touch of history. Perfect for even those who do not like books that deal wholly with World War II.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Review: The Lucky One

Book: The Lucky One
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Genre: Chick Lit
My Rating: 3.5 Stars


When U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a photograph of a smiling young woman half-buried in the dirt during his third tour of duty in Iraq, his first instinct is to toss it aside. Instead, he brings it back to the base for someone to claim, but when no one does, he finds himself always carrying the photo in his pocket. Soon Thibault experiences a sudden streak of luck—winning poker games and even surviving deadly combat that kills two of his closest buddies. Only his best friend, Victor, seems to have an explanation for his good fortune: the photograph—his lucky charm.
Back home in Colorado, Thibault can’t seem to get the photo—and the woman in it—out of his mind. Believing that she somehow holds the key to his destiny, he sets out on a journey across the country to find her, never expecting the strong but vulnerable woman he encounters in Hampton, North Carolina—Elizabeth, a divorced mother with a young son—to be the girl he’s been waiting his whole life to meet.
Caught off guard by the attraction he feels, Thibault keeps the story of the photo, and his luck, a secret. As he and Elizabeth embark upon a passionate and all-consuming love affair, the secret he is keeping will soon threaten to tear them apart—destroying not only their love, but also their lives.
Filled with tender romance and terrific suspense, THE LUCKY ONE is Nicholas Sparks at his best—an unforgettable story about the surprising paths our lives often take and the power of fate to guide us to true and everlasting love.
My Review:

How does one review any of Nicholas Sparks books? He’s found the perfect formula for a light entertaining read that would appeal to most women. The lucky one is no different. I enjoy Nicholas Sparks. I enjoy the way the romance builds up through the book and the predictable fight towards the end and of course the mushy ending! I classify Nicholas Sparks books as Chick Lits. They make me feel all warm and fuzzy hearted! I don’t know if he appreciates being put in that category and I know some reviewers hate classifying him under “Chick Lits” but it works for me!

If you’ve read Nicholas Sparks before and liked it, I am sure you’ll like this one as well!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Review: Slumdog Millionaire

Book: Slumdog Millionaire (Originally published as Q&A)

Author: Vikas Swarup

My review: Fast paced and interesting with a detailed look at the life of the poor in Mumbai. Has all the ingredients for a successful bollywood (or even Oscar winning Hollywood) movie – action, romance, comedy.

My rating: 4.5 Stars


When I saw the movie “Slumdog Millionaire”, I had no idea it was based on a book. And when I did find out that it was based on Vikas Swarup’s Q and A, I had to read the book. I have always been a staunch “book-before-movie” kinda person and when I picked up the book it irked me that I had seen the movie before I actually read the book. But I realized that I liked this much better than the other way around.

When I usually watch a movie after reading the book, I am almost always upset with the movie. Obviously a lot of the stuff has been left out and the story edited to suit the movie better. I enjoyed watching “Slumdog Millionaire” and then I read the book and liked that as well! So I guess in future, if I have to enjoy the movie, I should watch it before I pick the book up!

Well, I guess most of you are familiar with either the book or the movie or both. In case there’s anyone who is still not familiar, here’s a brief description for you. The book is about Ram Mohammed Thomas, a poor orphan boy who goes on to win “Who Will Win a Billion”, a game show closely resembling “Who wants to be a Millionaire” or its Indian counterpart “Kaun Banega Crorepati”. There is obvious doubt that he has cheated since he is illiterate but on further questioning, he describes the incidents in his life that gave him the answers to the questions asked in the show.

In spite of having already watched the movie and knowing the story I enjoyed the book. I guess this could partly be due to the reason that the book was very different from the movie in many parts. The differences were not just in minor details like the names of the protagonists, etc but also in the storyline and well as the questions in the TV show. Ram Mohammed Thomas was a likeable as Jamal and though I did miss the prolonged romance of Jamal and Latika, I could see traces of Latika in Nita (though she hardly had any role in the book!)

It is definitely an interesting read and I would definitely recommend that you read it even if you’ve watched the movie. I am sure you’ll enjoy it equally or maybe even more!

Have you read the book? What are your thoughts on it? Read the book and watched the movie? How do you compare the two?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Review: Secret Keeper

Book: Secret Keeper

Author: Mitali Perkins

Genre: YA Novel

My Review: A sweet and simple book full of powerful messages of strength, sacrifice, love and affection.

My Rating: 4 Stars

The Secret Keeper is one example of a YA novel that can most definitely be read by and enjoyed by readers of all ages. I fell in love with the cover of the book as soon as I saw it and I wanted to read it even before I knew what it was about. Reading the summary of the book only made me want to read it more!

The Secret keeper is based in India in the 1970s. There is an economic crisis in the country and jobs are scarce. Asha lives with her parents and her older sister Reet in Delhi. Asha’s dad is forced to move to New York to find an engineering job to better support his family. In the meantime, Asha, Reet and their mother move to Calcutta to live with Asha’s father’s family. The name of book comes from Asha’s secret companion – her very own diary where she writes about everything she wants to. The diary, with its own lock and key, is her very own “secret keeper”.

In this book, Mitali Perkins beautifully describes the cultures and traditions followed in India in the 70s. Through Asha’s experiences she brings to light the restrictions that girls in India had to face during those years. Through Reet’s experiences, she describes the complex arranged marriage system followed in India.

I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of life in Calcutta in the 1970s. Asha and Reet shared a very loving relationship and it was endearing to see the things they did for each other.

I definitely did not expect the book to end the way it did. I was a little upset as soon as the book ended and then the more I thought about the book, I realized that the twist at the end only made the book more enjoyable and more memorable.

I definitely recommend this book to teens as well as to adults. Thanks to Mitali Perkins for sending me a reviw copy of this book.

Have you read “The Secret Keeper”? What did you think of it? Did you like the way it ended?

Haven’t read the book? Read it soon and come back here to discuss it with me!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Review: The Diary

Book: The Diary

Author: Eileen Goudge

My review: Short, well written and easy to read. Interesting plot.

My rating: 3 Stars

Elizabeth Harvey’s future seems to be pretty stable. She has been dating Bob for over four years and she is pretty sure that he loves her as much as she loves him. Everything seems perfect and in place. Until one day at the country fair, she comes across an old classmate of hers and Bob’s – AJ. AJ and Elizabeth were pretty good friends until his parents passed away in an accident when they were 9. The incident transforms AJ and he slowly withdraws from society and Elizabeth in the process. When she meets him in the country fair, she realizes that she is hopelessly attracted to AJ and he confesses that he was always crazy about her. Elizabeth is suddenly in a dilemma – Bob is rich, stable, and well loved and respected in the society. She knows that he loves her and will keep her very happy. But she always knows that she has never felt as strongly about him as she feels about AJ. AJ, on the other hand, doesn’t have a stable job nor does he have a good reputation in town. He’s just “the keeler boy who burnt his uncle’s car”. Whom should she marry?

About 50 years later, Emily and Sarah are packing up their dying mother’s house and in the attic, they come across an old diary. The diary documents the incidents that happened in the year their parents got married and to their surprise, they realize that their parent’s love story was not the simple perfect one that they’ve always believed it to be. Their mother, Elizabeth Harvey, was in love with two very different men and one of them was their dad!

Through reading Elizabeth’s diary, Emily and Sarah learn more than just the story behind their parent’s happy marriage. They learn more about their parents and about themselves in the process.

“The Diary” was a short, sweet, enjoyable read. It was well written and had an element of suspense that kept you guessing till the end. I picked it up because I loved the cover. It was simple and the colors appealed to me as soon as I saw it. I am glad that the cover wasn’t the only nice thing about the book. The story was pretty interesting as well. I enjoyed reading the book. What added appeal to the book was the fact that the book was loosely based on Eileen’s parents’ love story. Thanks to Kim Miller of Nancy Bernald Public Relations, Inc for sending me a review copy of this book.

It won’t classify as one of the best books I have ever comes across… but I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a light read!

Have you read “The Diary”? What did you think of it? Were you as surprised by the ending as I was or was it just too obvious for you?