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Showing posts from 2011

[Review] 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff & It Started in Naples by Saul Cooper

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Title: 84, Charing Cross Road Author: Helene Hanff Page: 230 pages Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Subject: Authors - American - Correspondence, Booksellers and Bookselling First Published: 1970


In 1949 Helene Hanff, ‘a poor writer with an antiquarian taste in books’, wrote to Marks & Co. Booksellers of 84 Charing Cross Rd, in search of the rare editions she was unable to find in New York. Her books were dispatched with polite but brisk efficiency. But, seeking further treasures, Helene soon found herself in regular correspondence with bookseller Frank Doel, laying siege to his English reserve with her warmth and wit. And, as letters, books and quips crossed the ocean, a friendship flourished that would endure for twenty years.
- Synopsis from book cover
Oh, how much I adore this delightful and charming little book! And not to mention witty and heart-warming too! Reading the exchange of letters was pure enjoyment and even though I have not even heard most of the works mentioned in the …

[Review] The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

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Title:The Elegance of the Hedgehog, originally in French: L’élégance du hérisson
Author: Muriel Barbery, translated by: Allison Anderson Page: 320 pages Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Subject: Apartment - Concierges, Paris (France) First Published: 2008 (in English)


Renée is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building on the Left Bank. To the residents she is honest, reliable and uncultivated—an ideal concierge. But Renée has a secret. Beneath this conventional façade she is passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her self-important employers.
Down in her lodge, Renée is resigned to living a lie; meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Palome Josse is determined to avoid a predictably bourgeois future, and plans to commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday.
But the death of one of their privileged neighbours will bring dramatic change to number 7, Rue de Grenelle, altering the course of both their lives forever.
- Synopsis from book c…

[Teaser Tuesdays] The Time Machine

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Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: * Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two "teaser" sentences from that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! You don't want to ruin the book for others!
* Share the title and author so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!
This week’s teaser comes from The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Synopsis from Goodreads:

When the Time Traveler courageously stepped out of his machine for the first time, he found himself in the year 802,700--and everything had changed. H.G. Wells's famous novel of one man's astonishing journey beyond the conventional limits of the imagination is regarded as one of the great masterpieces in the literature of science fiction. “The question had come into my mind abruptly: were these creatures fools? You may hardly understand how it took me. You see I had…

Mailbox Monday [8]

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Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia @ A Girl and Her Books, and hosted by The Bluestocking Guide for the month of June.
Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.
I’m so excited to receive my first package from The Book Depository recently. Loving those free bookmarks too. Three weeks worth the wait!
Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum:  "Anna Brandt is eighteen years old in 1939. In her hometown of Weimar, Germany, where relationships between Germans and Jews are outlawed, Anna and the man she loves are committing the crime of race defilement." "When Anna is forced to flee the home of her father, a Nazi sympathizer, she takes refuge in a bakery owned by a Resistance member. Soon Anna is making pastries for the officers of nearby Buchenwald while also making "special deliveries," risking death to bring bread to the camp's inmates." "Then she is noticed by one of Buchenwald's highest-ranking officers. A…

[Review] The Painted Veil by W.Somerset Maugham

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Title: The Painted Veil Author: W.Somerset Maugham Page: 213 pages Genre: Classics
Subject: China First Published: 1925


Kitty Fane is the beautiful but shallow wife of Walter, a bacteriologist stationed in Hong Kong. Unsatisfied by her marriage, she starts an affair with charming, attractive and exciting Charles Townsend. But when Walter discovers her deception, he exacts a strange and terrible vengeance: Kitty must accompany him to his new posting in remote mainland China, where a cholera epidemic rages…

First published to a storm of protest, The Painted Veil is a classic story of a woman’s spiritual awakening.

- Synopsis from book cover
This is my first Maugham experience, a rather enjoyable one. Can a story be written in a style so direct and simple but holds a message so powerful that it captures its reader’s emotions at the same time? This book is one of those.

I sometimes shy away from classics because I feel that the language is a bit hard to read: I usually got…

Theme Thursday [8]-Male Person

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Theme Thursdays is a fun weekly event that will be open from one Thursday to the next. Anyone can participate in it. The rules are simple:
A theme will be posted each week (on Thursdays) Select a conversation/snippet/sentence from the current book you are reading Mention the author and the title of the book along with your post It is important that the theme is conveyed in the sentence (you don’t necessarily need to have the word)
Ex: If the theme is KISS; your sentence can have “They kissed so gently” or “Their lips touched each other” or “The smooch was so passionate” This will give us a wonderful opportunity to explore and understand different writing styles and descriptive approaches adopted by authors.

Theme Thursdays is hosted by Kavyen @ Reading Between Pages.

Loving this book!


…now listen, Frankie, it’s going to be a long cold winter and I babysit in the evenings AND I NEED READING MATTER, NOW DON’T START SITTING AROUND, GO FIND ME SOME BOOKS.


- Page 53, 84, Charing Cross …

[Review] The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

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Title:The Distant Hours Author: Kate Morton Page: 670 pages Genre: Contemporary/Historical Fiction
Subject: Mothers and Daughters, Family Secrets, World War II (1939 - 1945), Kent (England) First Published: 2010



Edie Burchill and her mother have never been close, but when a long-lost letter arrives one Sunday afternoon with the return address of Milderhurst Castle, Kent, printed on its envelope Edie begins to suspect that her mother’s emotional distance masks an old secret.
Evacuated from London as a thirteen-year-old girl, Edie’s mother was chose by the mysterious Juniper Blythe and taken to live at Milderhurst Castle with the Blythe family.
Fifty years later Edie, too, is drawn to the castle and the eccentric Sisters Blythe. Old ladies now, the three still live together, the twins nursing Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiancé in 1941 plunged her into madness.
Inside the decaying castle Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of M…

[Review] The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell

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Title: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox Author: Maggie O’Farrell Page: 277 pages Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Subject: Family Secrets, Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction First Published: 2006


Edinburgh in the 1930s. The Lennox family is having trouble with its youngest daughter. Esme is outspoken, unconventional and repeatedly embarrasses them in polite society. Something will have to be done.
Years later, a young woman named Iris Lockhart receives a letter informing her that she has a great-aunt in a psychiatric unit who is about to be released.
Iris has never heard of Esme Lennox and the one person who should know more, her grandmother Kitty, seems unable to answer Iris’s questions. What could Esme have done to warrant a lifetime in an institution? And how is it possible for a person to be so completely erased from a family’s history?
- Synopsis from book cover
This book was recommended to me by a fellow book blogger in response to my post about The Secret Scripture by Sebastian …

[Teaser Tuesdays] The Scent of Rain and Lightning

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Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: * Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two "teaser" sentences from that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! You don't want to ruin the book for others!
* Share the title and author so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!
This month has been good so far. Been reading good books lately and I’m feeling good about my current read as well: The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard.
Synopsis from Book Depository:
Twenty-six years ago, when she was only three years old, Jody Linder's father was murdered as she slept in her cot. Her mother vanished, presumed dead. Local trouble-maker Billy Crosby confessed to the murder and was locked up, leaving his wife and son to face the consequences in the small Kansas town of Rose. But his son Collin, now a lawyer, h…

Mailbox Monday [7]

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Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia @ A Girl and Her Books, and hosted by Bluestocking for the month of June.
Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.
It’s Agatha Christie madness this week!          
(Image will bring you to Goodreads)   


[Review] The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

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Title: The Bronze Horseman Author: Paullina Simons Page: 637 pages Genre: Historical Fiction
Subject: World War II (1939 - 1945), Leningrad (Russia), St. Petersburg (Russia) - Siege (1941 - 1944), Love Stories, Sisters First Published: 2000


LENINGRAD 1941. Two sister, Tatiana and Dasha, share the same bed living in one room with their brother and parents. It is a hard, impoverished life, yet the Metanovs know many who are not as fortunate as they. The family routine is shattered on 22 June 1941 when Hitler invades Russia. For the Metanovs, for Leningrad and for Tatiana, life will never be the same again. On that fateful day, Tatiana meets a brash young officer named Alexander. The family suffers as Hitler’s army advances on Leningrad, and the Russian winter closes in. With bombs falling and the city under siege, Tatiana and Alexander are drawn to each other in an impossible love. It is a love that could tear Tatiana’s family apart, a love that carries a secret that could mean death f…

Theme Thursday [7]-Colors

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Theme Thursdays is a fun weekly event that will be open from one Thursday to the next. Anyone can participate in it. The rules are simple:
A theme will be posted each week (on Thursdays) Select a conversation/snippet/sentence from the current book you are reading Mention the author and the title of the book along with your post It is important that the theme is conveyed in the sentence (you don’t necessarily need to have the word)
Ex: If the theme is KISS; your sentence can have “They kissed so gently” or “Their lips touched each other” or “The smooch was so passionate” This will give us a wonderful opportunity to explore and understand different writing styles and descriptive approaches adopted by authors.
Theme Thursdays is hosted by Kavyen @ Reading Between Pages.
A tough one this week because I’ve just started reading this one. I had to randomly open a page and scan the paragraphs for any color mentioned. Found one at last!

My mother is forty-five, a few pounds overweight, but …

[Teaser Tuesdays] The Painted Veil

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Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: * Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two "teaser" sentences from that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! You don't want to ruin the book for others!
* Share the title and author so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!
The Painted Veil is a classic by W.Somerset Maugham. The story is about a beautiful young woman named Kitty Fane, who unsatisfied with her marriage starts an affair with charming Charles Townsend. When her husband Walter finds out, he sets out a vengeance—Kitty must follow him to his new posting as a bacteriologist in remote mainland China to fight the cholera epidemic.

‘Why don’t you go to him and throw yourself on his mercy? If he’s as much in love with you as you say he’s bound to forgive you.’ ‘How little you know him!’
- Page 65

[Review] Clouded Vision by Linwood Barclay

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Title: Clouded Vision Author: Linwood Barclay Page: 96 pages Genre: Short Stories, Mystery/Thriller
Subject: Murder First Published: 2011



Ellie wakes covered in blood. She’s trapped in a car on a frozen lake. CRACK. The ice is breaking. One more crack and the car will plunge into the water below, taking Ellie with it …
Meet Keisha Ceylon—she’s a nasty piece of work. She tricks families with visions she says will lead them to missing loved ones. However, one of those dodgy visions gets too close to the truth. Someone doesn’t like it—and they’re ready to kill to keep a terrible secret safe.
- Synopsis from book cover
Good old thriller with an interesting main character. I was sold by the very first sentence. When reading a thriller as a short story you know that it’s going to be fast-paced and straight forward—and after reading series of books with hundreds of pages, sometimes that’s just what you need =)
What I did not expect was that I find this book quite enjoyable. The storyline is o…

[Review] The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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Title: The Prince of Mist, originally in Spanish: El Principe de la Niebla Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Translated to English by: Lucia Graves Page: 202 pages Genre: Young Adults, Paranormal
Subject: Brothers and Sisters, Magic First Published: 2010 (Spanish edition: 1993)


1943. As war sweeps across Europe, Max Carver's father moves his family away from the city, to an old wooden house on the coast. But as soon as they arrive, strange things begin to happen: Max discovers a garden filled with eerie statues; his sisters are plagued by unsettling dreams and voices; a box of old films opens a window to the past. Most unsettling of all are rumours about the previous owners and the mysterious disappearance of their son. As Max delves into the past, he encounters the terrifying story of the Prince of Mist, a sinister shadow who emerges from the night to settle old scores, then disappears with the first mists of dawn.
- Synopsis from LibraryThing
Carlos Ruiz Zafón has been one of my favorit…

“By hook or by crook, I will read”

The new "Read Forever™" campaign from Barnes & Noble.

[Review] The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell

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Title: The Hand That First Held Mine Author: Maggie O’Farrell Page: 374 pages Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Subject: Psychological Fiction, Family Secrets, Motherhood, London (England) First Published: 2010


Fresh out of university and in disgrace, Lexie Sinclair is waiting for life to begin. When the sophisticated Innes Kent turns up on her doorstep in rural Devon, she realises she can’t wait no longer, and leaves for London. There, Lexie carves out a new life for herself at the heart of bohemian 1950s Soho, with Innes by her side.
In the present, Ted and Elina no longer recognise their lives after the arrival of their first child. Elina, an artist, wonders if she will ever paint again, while Ted is disturbed by memories of his own childhood—memories that don’t tally with his parents’ version of events.
As Ted search for answers gathers momentum, so a portrait is revealed of two women separated by fifty  years, but linked by their passionate refusal to settle for ordinary lives.
- Syno…

[Teaser Tuesdays] The Bronze Horseman

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Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: * Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two "teaser" sentences from that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! You don't want to ruin the book for others!
* Share the title and author so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!
I am currently reading The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. It’s quite a long story—600+ pages—and I’m only about halfway through. But I am enjoying it very much I wish I don’t have to go to work so I can read all day long!
It is a magnificent epic of love and war during Russia’s struggle against Hitler’s invasion. This week’s teaser is a bit longer than usual but I just have to put it here—the writing was so beautiful!

War was the ultimate chaos, a pounding, soul-destroying snarl, ending in blown-apart men lying unburied on the cold earth. T…

Mailbox Monday [6]

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Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia @ A Girl and Her Books, and hosted by Mari Reads for the month of May.
I have read Jonathan Safran Foer, Jed Rubenfeld, Kate Morton, Maggie O’Farrell and Carlos Ruiz Zafón before so I’m particularly excited to get these books:


Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld The Distant Hours by Kate Morton The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
And these books I discovered while blog hopping:



The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
The Heart of the Night by Judith Lennox
The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

[Review] At Home with the Templetons by Monica McInerney

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Title: At Home with the Templetons: A Novel Author: Monica McInerney Page: 593 pages Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Subject: Victoria (Australia), Country Life, Friendship, Domestic Fiction First Published: 2010


When the Templeton family from England takes up residence in a stately home in country Australia, they  set the locals talking—and with good reason. From the outside, the seven Templetons seem so unusual … peculiar even. No one is more intrigued by the family than their neighbours, single mother Nina Donovan and her son Tom. Before long, the two families become entwined in unexpected way, to the delight of Gracie, the youngest of the Templeton daughters.
In the years that follow, the relationships between the Templetons and the two Donovans twist and turn in unpredictable and life-changing directions, until a tragedy tears them all apart. What will it take to bring them together again?
- Synopsis from book cover
At Home with the Templetons I would say is a great read, easily readab…

[Review] The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna and Solar by Ian McEwan

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Title: The Memory of Love Author: Aminatta Forna Page: 464 pages Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Subject: Psychologists, Surgeons, Sierra Leone - History - Civil War (1991- 2002)  First Published: 2010



Freetown, Sierra Leone: a devastating civil war has left an entire populace with terrible secrets to keep. In the capital's hospital Kai, a gifted young surgeon is plagued by demons that are beginning to threaten his livelihood. Elsewhere in the hospital lies Elias Cole, a university professor who recalls the love that obsessed him.
Title: Solar Author: Ian McEwan Page: 304 pages Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Subject: Middle-aged Men, Physicists, Marital Conflict, Global Warming - Prevention First Published: 2010


Michael Beard is a Nobel prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions and half-heartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global war…

Theme Thursday [6]-Female Person

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Theme Thursdays is a fun weekly event that will be open from one Thursday to the next. Anyone can participate in it. The rules are simple:
A theme will be posted each week (on Thursdays) Select a conversation/snippet/sentence from the current book you are reading Mention the author and the title of the book along with your post It is important that the theme is conveyed in the sentence (you don’t necessarily need to have the word)
Ex: If the theme is KISS; your sentence can have “They kissed so gently” or “Their lips touched each other” or “The smooch was so passionate” This will give us a wonderful opportunity to explore and understand different writing styles and descriptive approaches adopted by authors.

Theme Thursdays is hosted by Kavyen @ Reading Between Pages.


As for the children. No gratitude from them either, ever. That brat Charlotte was the worst of them, the arrogant little cow. What she needed was a good kick up the …. As for Audrey – had there ever been a more self-…

[Review] The Little Book by Selden Edwards

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Title: The Little Book: A Novel Author: Selden Edwards Page: 486 pages Genre: Historical Fiction
Subject: Time Travel, Vienna (Austria), Austria - History - 1867 - 1918 First Published: 2008


An irresistible triumph of the imagination more than thirty years in the making, The Little Book is a breathtaking love story that spans generations, ranging from fin de siècle Vienna through the pivotal moments of the twentieth century. - Synopsis from Goodreads
The Little Book is a story about Frank “Wheeler” Standish Burden III who in present time San Francisco of the year 1988 suddenly finds himself mysteriously transported to 1897 Vienna. Wheeler comes from a long-standing accomplished (and Harvard-educated) lineage dating back from his grandfather, Frank Burden who was an athlete competing in the first modern Olympic. His father Frank Burden Jr. whom Wheeler never really knew was also an athlete and a war-hero who perished during the WWII. Even Wheeler himself, staying true to his namesake, i…

Mailbox Monday [5]

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Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia @ A Girl and Her Books, and hosted by Mari Reads for the month of May.

Books that found their way to my bookshelves this week:

When the Templeton family takes up residence in an imposing and long-empty manor in the countryside of Victoria, Australia, the locals begin to buzz with gossip. The seven Templetons moved from England and seem unusual, peculiar even—especially when they begin to lead tours through the stately home while dressed in period costume. No one is more intrigued by the family than their neighbors, single mother Nina Donovan and her son, Tom. Though they try to keep their distance from the often shocking Templeton dramas, Nina and Tom find their lives unexpectedly entwined with this enigmatic family, much to the delight of Gracie, the youngest Templeton daughter. Then one day, a tragedy tears them all apart. In the grand estate, the stage is set for years of betrayal and heartbreak, love and affection, to be revealed—and, perhaps,…