21 October 2016

Review #541: Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“There are far too many silent sufferers. Not because they don't yearn to reach out, but because they've tried and found no one who cares.”

----Richelle E. Goodrich

A.S. King, an award winning and bestselling American author, pens a heart wrenching tale of abuse, magical realism, teenage existential crisis in her new YA novel, Still Life with Tornado where the central characters of 16 years of age is a victim of existential crisis who has lost the creativity and power to imagination to create new art, all the while internally suffering for the bruises that she got six years ago on a trip to Mexico and also the virulent life that is closing in on her her, thereby choking her to a mental paranoia. Running away seems the only answer, but will all her questions be answered?

Review #540: One Part Woman by Perumal Murugan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"There is no female without the male, and no male without the female. The world goes on only when they come together."

----Perumal Murugan

One Part Woman, the book which erupted fires of scandal through the right wings forces and other caste groups and that which finally put an end to the career of Perumal Murugan, a popular Indian Tamil writer, is one hell of a striking and extremely poignant book that is a must read and must be worshiped by all literary fans of India, not because of the story but of the finest writing style that is rarely found among the huge crowd of Indian writers.


All of Kali and Ponna’s efforts to conceive a child—from prayers to penance, potions to pilgrimages—have been in vain. Despite being in a loving and sexually satisfying relationship, they are relentlessly hounded by the taunts and insinuations of the people around them. Ultimately, all their hopes and apprehensions come to converge on the chariot festival in the temple of the half-female god Ardhanareeswara and the revelry surrounding it. Everything hinges on the one night when rules are relaxed and consensual union between any man and woman is sanctioned. This night could end the couple’s suffering and humiliation. But it will also put their marriage to the ultimate test. Acutely observed, One Part Woman lays bare with unsparing clarity a relationship caught between the dictates of social convention and the tug of personal anxieties, vividly conjuring an intimate and unsettling portrait of marriage, love and sex.

Kali and Ponna has been married for the past 12 years, although they have strong desire and passion for one another, which they have ushered to one another for so many years, yet they are still not blessed with the seed of their own. Through the years, they have prayed to so many gods and goddesses and sacrificed a lot in the name of a child, yet they remained childless and were subjected to constant humiliation especially for Ponna, it was difficult to go outside without hearing a bad thing about her fate of not being able to give birth to a child. But their despair and grief might finally come to an end on the last night of the chariot festival of the goddess, Ardhanareeswara, the half-female god, when any man and woman in their village can consensually join one another into sexual pleasures. Although that might put a big question mark on the sustenance on their marriage.

The author's work is incredible, as the story highlights the shortcomings of the Indian society's norms and customs, the narrow minded ideals and the vagaries of such a society put a tight grip on the minds and the souls of those who exist in such a place. Similarly, Ponna and Kali are two such humans who are also trapped into a world where there is either black or white and no gray shade, although Ponna depicts that kind of freedom, self-esteem and individuality to fight back through it, yet still their fate could not escape it.

The author, no doubt, draws a bold line while craving this story as the way he has reflected sex in the culture of India where virtue and shamelessness comes dangerously close to one another, but then again, we, readers are used to author's imaginary worlds and stories, but there are some people who fail to grasp the knowledge that there is a stark difference between fiction and non-fiction and have a habit of creating an uproar if they find it too realistic. I respect the author for creating an imaginary story based on a holy festival's customs, but then again, not everyone holds that power to think beyond reality. The town that the author has portrayed in the story is very much real, even the temple of that god too, but the customs surrounding the chariot festival is fictional, and that have left the Indian culture in a bad light by being fictional. So talk about freedom of expression, I think that too is a myth!

The author's writing style is extremely coherent rich with deep emotions and proper layers with depth that will make the readers easily comprehend with the plot as well as with the writing. Now the translated edition of the book has some flaws, especially in the narrative, where the author uses the local dialect along with its translation right beside it and sometimes, the translation is missing all together, so that might be bit tricky for foreign or other regional readers to contemplate with the dialogues. The story is narrated in so many layers and back stories that make it only enriching and thorough that will let the readers visually imagine the scenes right before their eyes.

The characters are crafted really well in this book, complete with their flaws and strong aspects that will only look believable in the eyes of the readers. The main characters, both Ponna and Kali are bold characters reflecting realism in their demeanor that will earn respect from the readers for their brave attitude and confronting the remarks and negative comments about their lives. Ponna is depicted with freedom, sensuality not only in her body, but also in her soul, that gives her a fetching outlook. While Kali is a loyal husband with a funny bone in his system, who will lighten up the gloomy mood of the story almost all the time, yet this man too blindly obeys all the social and religious customs to remove his curses from the gods. Ponna is strong while Kali exists within her shadow. Both are extremely striking characters and are bound to leave a lasting impression in the minds and the hearts of the readers.

In short, this is one of the most captivating and though provoking tales that I have read in recent times, and with a lustrous writing style and exquisite and almost lyrical prose, it makes the story into something evocative and extremely satisfying to read.

Verdict: Fine quality of Indian literature that we rarely come across these days.

Author Info:
Perumal Murugan is a well-known contemporary Tamil writer and poet. He was written six novels, four collections of short stories and four anthologies of poetry. Three of his novels have been translated into English to wide acclaim: Seasons of the Palm, which was shortlisted for the prestigious Kiriyama Award in 2005, Current Show, and most recently, One Part Woman. He has received awards from the Tamil Nadu government as well as from Katha Books.
Visit him here

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20 October 2016

Review #539: All the Sad Young Men by Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“He wanted to care, and he could not care. For he had gone away and he could never go back anymore. The gates were closed, the sun was down, and there was no beauty left but the gray beauty of steel that withstands all time. Even the grief he could have borne was left behind in the country of youth, of illusion, of the richness of life, where his winter dreams had flourished.”

----F. Scott Fitzgerald

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, an American writer, published his collection of short stories, All the Sad Young Men after the fame of his most popular novel, The Great Gatsby where the author has used the same themes of flapper and Jazz age, where the rich men and women had the time of their lives without giving a care about other people around them. This collection reflects that era in American when money mixed with sweat looked like glitter and emotions ran wild among the folks.

18 October 2016

Review #538: The Boy Is Back (Boy, #4) by Meg Cabot

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“The course of true love never did run smooth.”

----William Shakespeare

Meg Cabot, #1 New York Times bestselling author, is back with her popular Boy series and yet once again the author has successfully enlightened the spark between two old flames in Cabot's signature style flair, complete with laughter, humor, a bit of pain and lots of emotions, that only ensure that whoever picks up a copy of her book is sure to have a good time. The Boy is Back is centered around a celebrated golf player who returns back to his hometown following a scandal about his parents and there he once again come face to face with his first love, who he has been avoiding for the past 10 years.

Review #537: Dead is Dead (Jack Bertolino #3) by John Lansing

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.”

----Anaïs Nin

John Lansing, an American author, pens a gripping and page turning thriller, Dead is Dead which is the third book in the series, Jack Bertolino that is centered around a retired cop and his new job to protect a popular rising star from her cyber stalker, but things get bit out of hand when a little child is left murdered few blocks away from the studio where the actress is shooting for her film.

17 October 2016

Review #536: ...And a Happy New Year? (The Spinster Club, #3.5) by Holly Bourne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”

----Elbert Hubbard

Holly Bourne, an English bestselling author, pens yet another exciting, soul-touching and enlightening contemporary tale, ...And a Happy New Year? which is the final book from Bourne's bestselling young adult series, The Spinster Club. Lottie, Evie and Amber is back again after leaving for their respective colleges for Amber's house New Year's Party. This novella is a complete joy ride filled with laughter, good humor, tender love and also with few secrets and heartbreaks. And this book is the best way to say goodbye to our favorite teenage characters who rocked the whole series for the past two years with their journeys and adventures in a grown up world.

14 October 2016

Review #535: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

----Leo Tolstoy

Gillian Flynn, an American bestselling author, has penned a terrific and extremely disturbing psycho debut thriller, Sharp Objects that is centered around a virulent family set in a small Missourian town, where a young journalist returns back home to report about the killings of two little girls, but the ghosts from her past start to knock at her door while on the background her twisted and complex mother and her half sister makes it equally difficult to carry on with her job. And Flynn manages to make this book shine bright through the dullness and cracks of a woman's life and by victimizing women, in general.

13 October 2016

Author Q&A Session #85: With Jane Corry

Welcome my fellow bibliophiles,

It's time for yet another round of author interview and on this session, we have yet another fantastic crime fiction author, Jane Corry, whose new book, My Husband's Wife has created lots of positive noise in the literary world and among the fans of thrillers and mystery.

So without wasting a single second, let's, first, welcome this incredible author, and then chat with her about this bestselling book, the story line, her life as an author and many other things that are beyond books and all.

Keep reading peeps.

Read the review of My Husband's Wife