Archive for the ‘ book reviews ’ Category

Excess Baggage

Time for a book review!!!

Now I’m not sure about all of you, but one of my favourite moments while travelling is that 30 minutes or so after you pass security when you are free to browse the stores near your gate. More specifically, the store with the table of books out front calling my name! It’s a really a horrible habit of mine to be honest. Even when I already have a book or two in my carry-on luggage, I can’t seem to help myself! Anyways the point is, the following book  was my latest unnecessary purchase.

Now being ethnic myself, I am a huge fan of ethnic literary fiction. Shobhhan Bantwal’s novel, “The Full Moon Bride” is a very common piece that addresses the struggle of dual identity and finding a balance between cultures. The novel’s heroine, Soorya Giri, is a 30 year old, single, Indian-American woman that lives a cushy, and sheltered life with her parents in a wealthy suburban neighbour-hood of New Jersey.  Being the daughter of a respected plastic surgeon, Soorya’s life is filled with the best schools and opportunities that led to her job as a successful environmental lawyer at a top law firm in Manhattan. She had it all, except of course the primary requirement of any respectable South Asian woman past the age of 25; a husband. Soorya’s life suddenly becomes interesting when she becomes the pursuit of not just one, but two very different men. In her journey of romance, Soorya not only discovers love, but also the value of knowing who you are and understanding what that means.

I know this story sounds predictable, but it’s actually got some refreshing moments in here. Now I will admit that I did not love this book, but it was interesting enough to keep me reading. I guess my main issue was the author’s delivery of a cultural experience. I do understand that the author is writing for a North American audience, and is essentially trying to teach someone about a culture that is foreign to them. However, in doing so, Bantwal’s voice no longer sounds authentic. It becomes too textbook, to the point that anyone who simply knows a few facts about a culture could create Soorya’s character. As a reader, I like when an ethnic author doesn’t spell out everything for me in such an elementary manner, but rather the natural flow of their culture and their experience is illuminated in their writing and I am able to capture all the important details simply through their delivery, and not necessarily through their explanations.

Nevertheless, I did relate to Soorya’s character from a female prespective, and you can’t go wrong with a few cheesy feel good moments. All in all, it was a nice mellow read.

Reader’s Bliss!

I love the freedom of shamelessly reading several books a week! The freedom to read any genre or author I choose! Being able to enjoy the book, the story, the characters, from cover to cover without having to map out an analysis for another essay……ahhhh bliss!

Well with such bliss comes great rewards….another book review!!!! I was travelling recently, and with no classes, upcoming papers or reading requirements to complete, I strolled into the airport bookstore with my eyes wide open and my wallet in hand. I was ready to spend! Now I must admit, usually the bestsellers do make for good plane reading but sometimes, the titles just do not appeal to me at all. So during this delightful venture, I came across an interesting book. For some reason the name clicked in my mind and I remembered a conversation I had at a wedding just two days ago, when someone pulled out their e-reader to ask me about a book they were reading. Now if you bring your e-reader or any book to a wedding, then it must be a pretty good read. I decided to trust their opinion and picked up a copy for myself. Lets just say I got the book 3 days ago and I finished it yesterday.

“The Help” by Kathryn Stockett was the perfect start to my reading binge that will be spanning the next few weeks. I picked up the book simply 3 times and it kept me reading for hours. For those of you, who like me, enjoy books that take you to another time and place (and read with a southern accent in your head), would surely enjoy this one. I don’t want to give away too much, but its a touching story about a group of women in a  small town in 1960s Mississippi, struggling to understand and change the world they live in. I love a book that can take a tough issue like racism and write a story that says what needs to be said without passing judgement or demeaning either side. It’s a skill that many writers do not possess, but Kathryn Stockett has done an exceptional job with it. It may not be in the New Hot Fiction section of your local bookstore yet, but its worth looking for!

Wizards get the Nod

Well, I think I have made it very clearly on more than one occasion that vampires are a no-go in my book. But wizards on the other hand have me screaming for more!

I just entered the quarter century club last week (ugh) and received a gift I never imagined being so excited about. My super cool sister-friend got me the entire collection of Harry Potter! Yes, I know…where have I been right?!?! But any how it was a wonderful surprise. I had been wanting to take the plunge into the world of Hogwarts and Quidditch but just did not have the time and didn’t know where to begin. When I received a large parcel at my apartment and saw a box that read Harry Potter I was overjoyed. With just two weeks of grad classes left I had decided to treat myself during the holidays, but I only lasted a day and just could not wait to start!

I mentioned in previous posts that I took a Children’s literature class this semester and was learning what ‘sells’. And essentially Harry Potter is a middle-grade children’s book even though it has appealed to a much larger audience. After reading just the first book and and itching to start the next, all I can say is that J.K. Rowling delivered. As I read the book I was mentally checking off all the requirements she had satisfied that makes a book sell, and I did not find one thing unchecked…..and if anything she got double checkmarks!

So this post is for all of those who like me have circled the idea of Harry Potter and have yet to get off the fence. JUST DO IT!!! I do not regret it and am sooooooo happy I have six more books to go because I do not want this journey to end!

Thanks UB – I owe you!

Vampire vampire go away…

It just came to my attention that all this vampire madness has been riding on Twilight’s tail for the past two years! Is anyone as tired of this vampire epidemic as I am? Yes it was cool in its first revival, and then again through the tween Twilight obsession. But I think I’m ready to say “Ok I get it, next!”

Anyways, as I had promised, another book review. Several of you may have read this and received it as your graduation gift (as I did), but I was reminded of it this weekend so I figured I’d spread the word.

This weekend on a flight I was sitting next to someone typing away on his computer while I was looking over some of my peers manuscripts and he struck up a conversation with me as he had made the assumption I was a fellow academic. Turns out he was a Computer Science professor at a very popular university(no name given to maintain privacy but it was impressive!). As we started talking about programs and our different disciplines I remembered the name Randy Pausch, the author of “The Last Lecture”.  And I got very excited when I learned that he had known Dr. Pausch and actually been an attendee at this famous final lecture!

For those of you haven’t read this, and need a book to kind of give you a boost of confidence and dash of inspiration should definitely pick this up. “The Last Lecture” was written by a professor at Carnegie Mellon that was participating in a ‘last lecture series’ that was given annually. However, he had been recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and it was in a terminal stage, so ironically this really was his last lecture. Instead of focusing his lecture on his field of study, he gave a lecture on time-management. But it’s not what you would expect.  His perspective on his life and the future is inspirational and very touching. The book was written in a style that made it read like a lecture.  Its really wonderful to know that even those who have been given such a misfortune can still depart leaving such positivity and optimism.

A Must Read!!!

So over the past month I’ve been reading a lot more than usual, primarily due to a writing class where I have to read a few novels a week to discuss the writing, genre etc. Anyways, I am so grateful because this led me to probably one of the best books I have ever read! It’s not an amazing literary masterpiece, but the idea and the story itself is just sheer brilliance. Suzanna Collins is the author of “The Hunger Games”, a book that I can’t even begin to describe. I literally finished it in one sitting because I just could not put it down. It’s a story that definitely fits into the apocalypse theme that is popular these days and the characters, setting, plot and just the whole concept is….wow! Its definitely a good read for all ages, and if I had to compare it to something…..maybe Da Vinci Code meets Avatar? But even that just at the very least because this book stands on its own.

Suddenly my expectations of myself as a writer have catapulted to another level of excellence that hopefully one day I can achieve! I could go on forever praising the book, but I really think you should check it out for yourself and please let me know what you thought as well!

It really is a different time…

Well this has been a busy week of reading! I have gotten through three novels in just a matter of days! One of those was Jay Asher’s “Thirteen Reasons Why”. Definitely a much edgier book, but nonetheless intriguing in its subject matter and the dual narrative in which the book is written. The book is essentially a long suicide note….and that’s all I will say. The main reason I chose to write about this book here is just to share my reaction to reading this type of book. I mean suicide is such a difficult topic to even think about, let alone write a whole book about! But Asher has really taken something difficult and not necessarily written a masterpiece, but wrote a book that needed to be written. When things are hard to talk about, we can write them. Asher has taken a risk, and maybe even upset many readers but he got one very important message across: suicide happens, and no matter what anyone thinks, that person had a reason why. After reading this book, there was a sense of frustration, not only for me but also for some of my peers, that there should be maybe a more valid reason for suicide. But I think that’s the message Asher was trying to get across….what may not matter or make sense to some of us, may be the defining moment for that one person to whom it does matter.

Aside from the disturbing subject matter, I would definitely reccomend this book to some of my serious readers out there :)

Free time = reading time!

Hello my loyal readers!

I apologize for my absence for the last few days as it is that time of the year where American college students across the country are shouting….”WOOOHOOO SPRING BREAK!!!”. I am not exactly expressing my excitement in the same manner, but I am doing a little happy dance at the realization that for the next week I do not have class or 500+ pages of reading to get through. In fact in is finally time to settle down for some leisurely reading :)

Right now I am reading “The Joy Luck Club”. I watched the movie many years ago and was eager to see how amazing the book must be, because usually movies tend to completely kill the magic of most novels(in my experience at least). So considering the amazing-ness of this movie, I figured the book must be pretty darn good.

I just finished reading “The House on Mango Street” a few weeks ago. A very simple short read. I wouldn’t call it a timeless classic or anything, but it pulled a few heart strings. Its a story written from the perspective of a young Hispanic girl living in Chicago, and the experiences of the woman around her. The book consists of several super short chapters, that seem very abstract and random but once you pick up on the rhythm of the book, its actually a pretty cool strategy of writing. Give it a read!