Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Review: Anatomy of a Scandal

Anatomy of a Scandal
Anatomy of a Scandal
Sarah Vaughan

This book opens with a legal case. A junior minister in the British Government, James Whitehouse, has been charged with rape. But the case isn't going to be easy or straightforward for Kate Woodcroft the prosecuting QC. Not only has the victim had an affair with the minister prior to her accusation of rape but Kate Woodcroft has her own secrets, regarding her past as an Oxford student. And then there is the wife of the accused, Sophie who wants to believe her husband's version of events, otherwise the life she knows will be shattered.

As the author moves between the past and present, examining each character and his or her motives and beliefs, it becomes clear that the perception of truth varies greatly between each actor. Interesting and compelling, I found that as I got further and further into the story I had a hard time putting it down.

Thanks to Shelf-Awareness and Atria Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Review: The Windfall

The Windfall

The Windfall
Diksha Basu

Thanks to his business acumen, Mr. Anil Jha is finally moving his family to a newer and perhaps more importantly, wealthier neighborhood in Delhi, India. But, moving means acquiring new friends, new experiences and coping with new expectations. And Mr. Jha is spending a lot of time anticipating these changes, just as his new neighbors are anticipating his arrival. Mrs. Jha on the other hand, is not sure the move is really right for her but, she is willing to accommodate her husbands desire to move up the social ladder.

Will the Jha family fit into their new neighborhood and will life be better in this new area than it was in the middle class neighborhood they have occupied for the last thirty years? What about their son Rupak who is, at the time of the move, in the US trying to get an MBA. Is his place in the US or India and what will really decide his future, his own desires or those of his parents? Read along and find out in this hilarious, Indian comedy of manners.

What is success and what does family really mean? Those are the big questions at the heart of this book. The author does a great job examining contemporary India. I loved the attention to detail she shows throughout the story. The characters are lovable and entertaining. In fact, I laughed most of the way through this book. I couldn't help but think what a great film could be made from this story. Diksha Basu is definitely an author I would want to read again.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Review: Sweet Bean Paste

Sweet Bean Paste

Sweet Bean Paste
Durian Sukegawa

Sentaro sells pancakes with sweet bean paste from a small Japanese shop. It isn't something he enjoys, but he has a debt to pay and therefore, he endures. When an elderly lady named Tokue comes to work at the shop, all is good and sales increased due to her wonderful homemade bean paste recipe. Sentaro begins to enjoy his work for the first time. But, Tokue has a dark secret which will affect not just their friendship but the business of selling pancakes as well.

This sweet addictive tale is set in contemporary Japan and it's all about second chances and learning how to listen to the world around us. Only by listening can we recognize that all humans have value and we all do our part to validate the universe around us. While this book appears deceptively simple it's actually deeply profound and a very good read. I always enjoy discovering international writers like Sukegawa that were previously unknown to me. I can't wait to read more international fiction provided by Oneworld.

Thanks to Library Thing and Oneworld Publications for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Review: The Dark Lake

The Dark Lake (Gemma Woodstock, #1)
The Dark Lake
Sarah Bailey

When a high school teacher, Rosalind Ryan's body is found floating in a lake near her school, it falls to Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock to find the killer. The only thing is, Woodstock has a dark secret that involved Rosalind that may get in the way of her investigation. Moreover, Gemma is carrying on an affair with her married partner Detective Felix McKinnon, which threatens to spill over into her everyday life and the investigation. It's unclear whether the duo will be able to find the killer of the enigmatic, beautiful teacher. But despite her complicated life Gemma intends to keep searching.

I found this book to be an interesting mystery but not quite as “thrilling' as I had imagined it would be. While the story is set in Australia, I didn't feel the author did much to transport me there. It seemed like a story that could have been anywhere, which was a little disappointing to me. Also, about halfway through the story, I got a little tired of detective Woodstock's love life and the affair with her colleague. It seemed to drag along, and she appeared to moan about her problems too much, which left me, if not disliking her, then certainly not feeling great affection for her.

Luckily, there was an unforeseen twist in the story a little more than mid-way through that brought me back around and changed the focus back to the investigation. I think that made this book more enjoyable. While this is not a bad book, it also isn't the most interesting or thrilling one I've read lately.

Thanks to Shelf-Awareness and Grand Central Publishing for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Review: Footsteps

The New York Times: Footsteps: From Ferrante's Naples to Hammett's San Francisco, Literary Pilgrimages Around the World

The New York Times

Footsteps provides a fascinating look at the lives of a number of celebrated authors. I can't think of better way to a “behind the scenes” look at what made so many literary figures tick. Whether it was a place or an experience these essays will provide book lovers with hours of entertainment. In fact, I think this would make a great gift idea for the book lovers in your life.

And while we may not be able to travel the path of our favorite authors in a literal sense we definitely get a feel of their surrounding and inspirations in this unique book. My personal favorite was the piece “In search of Flannery O'Connor” by Lawrence Downes in which I was a little sad to learn of the shabby condition of her childhood home. I felt Downes captured the essence of her life and gave me a new perspective with which to view her work. There were many other interesting pieces as well and I thoroughly enjoyed those on Hemingway and Fitzgerald to name a few. The best part about this book though, is the fact that you can pick it up anytime and find some interesting snippet about a variety of authors. This was an enchanting read.

 Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read and review this book.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Review: The Tea Planter's Wife

The Tea Planter's Wife

The Tea Planter's Wife
Dinah Jefferies

After marrying Laurence a widower and tea planter, Gwen moves with him to Ceylon to start their new life together. But, things aren't going as smoothly as she had hoped. Verity, Gwen's sister-in-law, is constantly trying to undermine her position and role in the household. Christina, a wealthy American woman, has designs on Laurence, making Gwen jealous and uncomfortable. Tensions increase when Gwen befriends a local Sinhalese painter Savi Ravasinghe and with political tensions in the country on tender hooks and laborers ready to instigate trouble, running a tea plantation may not be as easy as she imagines.

Gwen is hoping the birth of a child will bring both peace and tranquility to the household but the birth causes more pain and suffering and Gwen's life becomes beset with secrecy and fear. On top of her own, secrets Laurence's' first marriage which ended in the death of his wife Caroline is still shrouded in mystery. One that Gwen hasn't been able to untangle. But when she does many things will fall into place and she might find that she is really at home in exotic Ceylon.

This is a beautifully written novel, full of lush and vivid details of 1920's Ceylon. Not only is the story captivating but, the hints of mystery and secrets kept me turning page after page. This book was not only full of memorable characters and loads of details; it was an emotional and spellbinding read that simply swept me off to another place and time. One that I'm not likely to forget anytime soon.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in return for an honest review.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Review: 800 Words

800 Words: Season 1

800 Words

George Turner's world is turned upside down when his wife suddenly dies. He can no longer cope with life in Sydney Australia, where he is a well known newspaper columnist. He decides to move with his two teenage children to Weld, New Zealand. Weld has always held a special place in his heart, growing up he spent many summer holidays in the town and he thinks the beauty of the area and the tranquility of the isolation may be just what he and his children need. But his children are not thrilled with the prospect of leaving everything behind to move to the back of beyond.

How will it all turn out in Weld? If you're looking for an interesting drama about how life doesn't always go as planned, then 800 Words is definitely one you will want to watch. Each episode is full of drama, conflict, interesting characters and beautiful scenery. Both season one and season two have turned into my favorite choices for summer television. I so hope they are working on a season three.