Tag Tuesday – 1

Here we go…our first ever Tag Tuesday question comes from one of the first posts on this blog, a reader’s comment on that post, to be specific -

I think everyone has a unique formula of book selection. Though the answer to questions like “what do you read?”, ranges from “everything” to “only mystery”; everyone consciously or sub-consciously has a selection criteria. In the beginning one may start by reading literally everything but after a period of time everybody develops a taste. On the other hand, it has also been observed that the essence of one’s reading percolates into one’s personality. It will be very educative if you ladies can write about what drives you to select a book for reading and how do you think it affects your point of view, knowledge, attitude; how you evolved as as reader.

So let’s take a part of that comment as this week’s question -

How do you as a reader decide which book to read? – Author? Reviews / Recommendations? Instinct? Genre? – What is your selection criteria?

We would love to read your response, so please do leave a comment and get the dialogue started.

Tag Tuesday Series

Hello dear readers,

How are you?

After months of writing reviews and Front Cover Friday posts, the BWB team has decided to add to our bundle a series called Tag Tuesdays. We got the idea for the series from Booking Through Thursday site, and we want to do something similar – post a question on Tuesdays here on BWB and get a dialogue started. Your support / comment is one of the factors that motivates us, so please do join us on this new venture.

Watch this space for the first ever Tag Tuesday question tomorrow.

Thank you,
Team BWB.

P.S: As always, you are welcome to submit a question for this series (or FCF post, or a review) through a comment on a post, or email. Your suggestions / inputs are very much valued.

Every Last One

…by Anna Quindlen.In this novel, Mary Beth Latham, a mother of three, narrates the story of her life. Ruby, her first born, is a teenager getting ready to go to college next year; Alex and Max, her twins, are nothing like each other; Glen, her husband, is a physician – the story revolves around this family. Mary Beth describes her everyday life as she deals Max’s depression and Ruby’s break up with her boyfriend Kiernan. Her normal life turns upside down after a tragedy hits home and she’s forced to face unbearable loss. What happens and how she deals with it is told in the rest of the book.

The first half the book was rather slow for me – the author goes on to build the characters and set the background for the tragedy that is about to take place – while it is necessary for what is to follow, I found it rather dragging in parts. Once the awful event happens, it’s a page turner – the pain and the grief is written so very well that it’ll bring out tears at times. The heartache that the narrator goes through is so upsetting; it provokes sympathy. It’s depressing, yes…but there’s something so compelling about that sorrow that it engages the reader with every word.

The writing style is absolutely amazing. It was the one of the reasons I got through the first half of the book…if not for that beautiful flow in prose, I might have given up. I would highly recommend the author, if not the book.

Overall, the second half sure has the potential to make the reader empathize with the narrator’s character – so, I would recommend it if you won’t be too bothered with the slow pace of the first half.

My rating: 3*.

*for the rating scale, click here.

Front Cover Friday – 19

The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman

I found this cover very alluring. Doesn’t the cover convey something beautiful about the story? The colors here resonate, to me, hardship and prosperity at the same time – while the brownish background of the cover echoes suffering, the blue brings out something deep and rich – very expressive, I thought.

Here’s the summary from Sehlfari -

The Dress Lodger is engrossing historical fiction. As in the best of its genre, Sheri Holman’s atmospheric, miasmic tale set in cholera-stricken Sunderland, England, circa 1831 is based on fact. Its epigraph from Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary –“Grave: A place where the dead are laid to await the coming of the medical student”–casts the novel’s thematic lodestone, steering the reader into a deathly plot pursued through streets emanating the sounds, insufferable smells, humor, adversities, and disease of an early-19th-century industrial city. Fifteen-year-old Gustine–the dress lodger–is a potter’s assistant by day, prostitute by night. Her overbearing pimp and landlord has her permanently shadowed by an indefatigable, mysterious old woman “called Eyeball or Evil Eye or Gray Sister by boys who have read their Homer, but mostly called just plain Eye.” Otherwise how could he guard his investment in the startling blue dress in which Gustine rents herself? Her trade, he explains, “works on this basic principle: a cheap whore is given a fancy dress as a higher class of prostitute, the higher the station of the clientèlle; the higher the station, the higher the price.” Gustine’s garment beckons Henry Chiver, an ambitious young surgeon who has fled Edinburgh, having been implicated in the convictions of infamous pioneer anatomists Burke and Hare for murder and grave robbing. For this doctor, desperate to reestablish his tarnished reputation through medical discovery, the heart is the favorite organ, “the singular fascination of his life.” But to further his researches, and quell the increasing demands of his paying students–who are restless for induction into the arts of the scalpel–Henry requires dead bodies for dissection, to the horror of his naïve, philanthropic fiancée. But the Anatomy Act, which allows doctors to obtain corpses legally, has yet to pass through Parliament, and a suspicious public is terrifying itself with stories of murderous “burkers.” Street-smart Gustine, a pragmatist trapped in unrelenting poverty, is all heart for her nameless little son who wears–literally–his heart on the outside. His rare case of ectopia cordis is just the sort of anatomical anomaly whose study would make a name for the doctor. Amid the gathering momentum of the cholera epidemic, Henry and Gustine strike up a fatal pact: life for her son in exchange for a fresh supply of dead bodies for Henry’s dissection.

I have a special liking for historic fiction, so I had to pick this book up as soon as I laid my eyes on it. I will be reading this sometime next month; will update this space as to how the experience turns out.

Did you like the cover? The storyline? Do share.

Room

…by Emma Donoghue.Narrated by five year old Jack, this is the story of his life with his Ma. The story starts with Jack’s fifth birthday and gains momentum right away with Jack describing everything around him and the way he spends his days. Both of them live in captivity in a tiny soundproof room – while Ma has lived in the world outside before she was kidnapped several years ago and yearns to get back to it someday, Jack has lived all five years of his life in the room and knows nothing about the world that exists outside. Jack and Ma spend their days cooking, eating, exercising, watching TV, reading, and sleeping with the limited supplies  available to them. For Jack, the real world is his Ma, the room and whatever is in the room…everything else he sees on TV he thinks is not for real.

After his fifth birthday, Ma decides that he is old enough to know the truth and tells him about how she was tricked and kidnapped by this person they call “Old Nick” and how there exists so much outside the room that Jack doesn’t know of. It takes some time for Jack to digest the big truth he’s just learned from Ma – that some things he sees on TV exists for real, that there are people on the outside who are related to Jack, that the room is just a tiny part of the world. Ma also tells him that all her attempts to escape from the room over the years have gone vain and that they can give it another chance if Jack helps with the escape idea. With his doubts and fears, Jack agrees to go with Ma’s plan.

What is their plan? Does it work? Do they escape? Does Jack see the real world? What happens next? You’ve got to read the book to get your questions answered.

What a delightful feeling it is to read something from a five year old’s point of view! And how emotionally draining it was to know that two people were held captive for years for no fault of theirs and were denied all the joy that they deserved.

To see how the little guy gets excited about Sunday treats that they request from “Old Nick”, to imagine the plight he goes through when he learns the world is not just the room, to try to understand his feelings and to see how he adjusts when Ma is in one of those moods when she doesn’t want to talk or play or do anything, to appreciate his bravery when he accepts to play along with Ma’s plan to escape – is to embark on a beautiful journey that will leave the reader smiling and welling up at the same time.

I was left speechless when I read how Ma, even with only little available to nourish her child physically and intellectually, does everything in her power to keep him engaged, to educate him on necessary topics, to teach him good from bad, to safeguard him from the man that is keeping them in the room, making the best use of an unbearable situation – a mother’s selfless love pours through.

Overall, reading Room is a unique experience that shouldn’t be missed – a riveting, poignant tale.

My rating: 5*.

*for the rating scale, click here.

Front Cover Friday – 18

Juliet by Anne Fortier

Came across this book few weeks at the bookstore and fell in love with the cover. More than the flower on the cover, the top part with its subtle work depicting a beautiful city impressed me. And the colors on the cover and their combination is captivating. I like!

Here’s another cover I found online – this one is impressive too -

Pretty, eh?

Book description from Shelfari is as follows -

When Julie Jacobs inherits a key to a safety deposit box in Siena, she is told it will lead her to an old family treasure. Soon she is launched on a precarious journey into the history of her ancestor Giulietta, whose love for a young man named Romeo inspired Shakespeare’s unforgettable story. As Julie crosses paths with the families who turned medieval Siena upside down, she begins to realize that the notorious curse — ‘a plague on both your houses’ — is still at work.

The plot sounds fascinating, to say the least; I’ve added it to my wish list already.

How about you? Which cover did you like? Does the storyline interest you? Do share.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

…by Milan Kundera.Set in Prague, this is a story about Tomas, Tereza, Sabina and Franz – how their lives are intertwined in the sphere of marriage and extra marital affairs. Tomas, married with a kid, divorces his wife and moves on to live a life in which he decides to have only casual relationships with no commitments. Things change when he meets Teresa, with whom he falls in love. Even though they get married, Tomas doesn’t give up his world of casual relationships; Teresa puts up with his infidelity. Sabina, an artist, is Tomas’ long-term mistress and Franz, an intellectual, is a married man who also has an affair with Sabina. That’s the story on the whole; with layers of philosophical notions here and there that makes the reader’s think.

I seldom start reading a book expecting too much. For some reason, I did with this one – not that I read any amazing review, or that I’ve read the author before to admire his work, or that I read the synopsis of the story and was blown away – but I picked up the book with great expectations, and must admit wasn’t really satisfied. As far as a plot for the novel goes, the story didn’t have a lot of energy. Yes, it made me think; yes, it made me wonder; but the plot dissolved after the first half. The first few of sections were very well crafted (especially the part on “Words Misunderstood”, my personal favorite, which I would go back to read over and over) for they made me muse about life, love and all that from a philosophical point of view. But that was it for me. The rest of the book seemed to be too much of a drag with each character drowning in the depths of his/her emotional baggage. It seemed more like reading essays about philosophy, politics and such put together rather than reading a novel. Maybe I just haven’t reached that level to be able to interpret the depths of the characters here, but whatever it is, I didn’t really enjoy reading the whole book.

On a positive note, this is a great book if you are looking for something thought provoking. It is, for parts, skillfully written that it will make the reader stop and ponder. The prose style is amazing. That was one thing that kept me going after the first few parts…it flows well enough to keep the reader engaged. As far as the writing is concerned, I would definitely pick up another book of the author’s without second thoughts.

Overall, while it is intellectually stimulating, it failed in other aspects to impress me. I would recommend it if you are looking for philosophical musings, but do not expect a strong organized storyline.

My rating: 3*.

*for the rating scale, click here.