Jan 15, 2018

It's Monday: As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

As Bright as Heaven
As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner
Publication: February 6, 2018, Berkley Books
Genre: historical fiction

Only Killers and Thieves
(A) new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love....But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. (publisher)
We don't have an epidemic today in winter 2018 although enough people are affected by this flu season. Am eager to see how they dealt with the epidemic in 1918.

I am also reading Arundhati Roy's book, The God of Small Things in French, a few dollars less than the English version, on kindle. With the French translation, I feel as if I'm doing two good things at once - learning more French and reading a good book. More of an incentive to read a Man Booker Prize winner (1997) too!

Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth also arrived a bit ago.
Publication: February 6, 2018 by Harper Collins
Genre: historical fiction
Two adolescent brothers are exposed to the brutal realities of life and the seductive cruelty of power after a tragedy shatters their family in this riveting debut novel—a story of savagery and race, injustice and honor set in the untamed frontier of 1880s Australia. (publisher)

What are you reading this week?
Memes: It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date., and Mailbox Monday.

Jan 12, 2018

Book Review: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey, January 9, 2018, Soho Press
Genre: historical mystery

This is the first in a new mystery series featuring a female Parsi lawyer at Mystry Law, a law firm in Bombay, India during the 1920s.
Having liked Sujata Massey's unusual and suspenseful Rei Shimura Mysteries set in Japan, I was eager to read her new novel featuring a female lawyer/sleuth in Bombay in the 1920s when there were so few professional career women. Perveen Mistry works in her father's law firm and was entrusted with the legal papers regarding the inheritance of three widows of a Muslim mill owner. Since they are in purdah, screened from the view of the public, Perveen, as a woman, is the ideal lawyer to help the widows. Complications involving a male guardian of the women arise and threaten the women's future and livelihood. Perveen steps in to protect the women but events lead to tension and murder. 

I enjoyed the historical and cultural aspects of The Widows of Malabar Hill as well as the character of Perveen, a young woman trying to find her way in a patriarchal society.  Perveenis is modeled on India's first woman lawyer, Cornelia Sorabji, a Parsi who practised in the 1920s . The plot is well structured and the book seems to be the start of a very promising historical mystery series.  

Book beginning:
A Stranger's Gaze
Bombay February 1921

On the morning Perveen saw the stranger, they'd almost collided. 
Parveen had come upon him half-hidden in the Portico entrance to Mistry House. The unshaven, middle-aged man appeared as if he had slept for several days and nights in his broadcloth shirt and the grimy cotton dhoti that hung in a thousand creases from his waist to his ankles. His small, squinting eyes were tired, and he exuded a rank odor of sweat mixed with betel nut. 
A visitor to Mistry Law this early was rare....

Page 57:
It felt almost treacherous to be in the car with such a man, because Perveen had been to gatherings with Indians seeking self-rule. In Oxford and London, she and Alice had attended a few such lectures together. 

Thanks to Soho Press for an advance edition for review.
Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader

Jan 9, 2018

My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk: First Chapter

"At once a fiendishly devious mystery, a beguiling love story, and a brilliant symposium on the power of art, My Name Is Red (2002) is a transporting tale set amid the splendor and religious intrigue of sixteenth-century Istanbul, from one of the most prominent contemporary Turkish writers. 

The Sultan has commissioned a cadre of the most acclaimed artists in the land to create a great book celebrating the glories of his realm. Their task: to illuminate the work in the European style. But because figurative art can be deemed an affront to Islam, this commission is a dangerous proposition indeed. 

Part fantasy and part philosophical puzzle, My Name is Red is a kaleidoscopic journey to the intersection of art, religion, love, sex and power."(publisher)

First chapter:
I Am a Corpse

I am nothing but a corpse now, a body at the bottom of a well. Though I drew my last breath long ago and my heart has stopped beating, no one, apart from that vile murderer, knows what's happened to me.  As for that wretch, he felt for my pulse and listened for my breath to be sure I was dead, then he kicked me in the midriff, carried me to the edge of the well, raised me up and dropped me below....

for nearly four days I've been missing. My wife and children must be searching for me: my daughter, spent from crying, must be staring fretfully at the courtyard gate. Yes, I know they are all at the window, hoping for my return. 

I am listening to this as an audiobook, which has a pretty good narrator. 

MEME: Every Tuesday Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph or two, from a book you are reading or will be reading soon.

Jan 6, 2018

Sunday Salon: British Mysteries and Love in Mumbai

The Heart Is a Shifting Sea: Love and Marriage in Mumbai

New books on my shelf:

The False Inspector Dew by Peter Lovesey, October 1, 2001
Publisher: Soho Press
Genre: British mystery

The year is 1921. A passionate affair between voracious romance reader Alma Webster and her dentist, Walter Baranov, has led to his wife’s murder. The lovers take flight aboard the Mauretaniaand the dentist takes the name of Inspector Dew, the detective who arrested the notorious wife killer Dr. Crippen. But, in a disquieting twist, a murder occurs aboard ship and the captain invites “Inspector Dew” to investigate. (publisher)

The Heart is a Shifting Sea: Love and Marriage in Mumbai by Elizabeth Flock, 2018
Publication: Harper
Genre: travel, contemporary
In the vein of Behind the Beautiful Forevers, an intimate, deeply reported and revelatory examination of love, marriage, and the state of modern India—as witnessed through the lives of three very different couples in today’s Mumbai. (publisher)

I have finished two good books since the beginning of this year:
Blue Monday (Frieda Klein, #1)
Blue Monday (Frieda Klein #1) by Nicci French, 2011
Setting: London, England
Genre: mystery
Tuesday's Gone (Frieda Klein, #2)
Tuesday's Gone (Frieda Klein #2) by Nicci French, July 19, 2012, Penguin
Seting: London, England
Genre: mystery
The crimes and solutions of #1 are discussed and followed up in #2. I suggest reading the Frieda Klein mysteries in sequence.

Visit The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,  It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date., and Mailbox Monday.

Jan 5, 2018

Book Review: Blue Monday by Nicci French

Blue Monday (Frieda Klein, #1)

Blue Monday (Frieda Klein #1) by Nicci French, 2011
Setting: London, England
Genre: mystery
Source: library ebook

I discovered Nicci French through other bloggers and decided to begin with the first in this series. I was not disappointed and really enjoyed the character of Dr. Frieda Klein, an unusual psychiatrist who used her insight to help solve a mystery involving one of her patients. There are also twists and turns in the plot that kept me interested. I'm looking forward to #2 in the series!

Summary: Dr. Klein notices a similarity between her distraught patient's dreams and the disappearance of a five-year-old child. She unravels the mystery and reveals the link to another child's disappearance twenty years earlier. 

Book beginning:
In this city there were many ghosts. She had to take care. She avoided the cracks between the paving stones, skipping and jumping, her feet in their scuffed lace-up shoes landing in the blank spaces. She was nimble at this hopscotch by now. She had done it every day on her way to school and back ever since she could remember, first holding onto her mother's hand, dragging and jerking her as she leaped from one safe place to another; then on her own. Don't step on the cracks. Or what? ...

I am looking forward to the next in the series. 
Meme: visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.

Jan 1, 2018

Meme: My Life in Books 2017

Got this meme from a couple of bloggers years ago and have done it for several years.  My Life in Books, using titles of books from my reading for 2017.  Join in if you like.  

Which book (titles) read in 2017 describe your life so far?

Describe myself:
The Keeper of Lost Things

How do I feel:
Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know

Describe where I currently live:
Glass Houses

 If I could go anywhere, where I would go:
The Little French Bistro

My favorite form of transportation:
Walking with Peety

My best friend(s) is/are:
The Widows of Malabar Hill

My friends and I are:
Sarong Party Girls

What’s the weather like:
Into Thin Air

Favorite Time of Day:
The Twilight Wife

What is life to you:
Little Fires Everywhere

You fear:
Rich People Problems

What is the best advice you have to give:
Cooking for Picasso

Thought for the day:
The Rules Do Not Apply

How I would like to die:
Pushing Up Daisies

My soul’s present condition:
Are You Sleeping

I looked up past memes and see the last one I filled out was for 2015.  Join in and have fun with it.

Click on each book title to see the description on goodreads.

Book Review: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Buried Giant

My 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge has been met! I read 105 of 95 books pledged, the last being
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro.

My comments:
Surprising yet familiar, The Buried Giant recalls old Arthurian tales and fables, Tolkien, and Dante.   I am still considering possible meanings to all the elements of the story of a journey into the past and into the future.  There are themes of the elusiveness of memory, forgetfulness and remembering, romance, and history. And the theme of secrets buried or forgotten in the mists and slowly revealed.

The protagonist, Beatrice, and her husband Axl, set out on a journey into the unknown, barely remembering where their son lives and hoping they will find his village. They are joined on their trip by a Saxon warrior on a dragon-slaying quest, a young boy they help to protect, an elderly knight reminiscent of Don Quijote, and finally the boatman who will row them to an island, the end of their journey.

I loved this unusual book with so many literary and classical reminders. The elderly couple Beatrice and Axl and their devotion to each other is particularly poignant, in spite of human weaknesses, past mistakes, and a shadowy future.

My rating: 5/5.

Sunday Salon: Japanese Authors and a Mystery

  Klara and the Sun   by Kazuo Ishiguro.  Klara and the Sun was easy to read for a literary novel of such magnitude and celebrity, I found...