Category Archives: William Morrow

Read 221 of 2021. The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

The Reading List by Sara Nisha AdamsTitle: The Reading List
Author: Sara Nisha Adams
Publisher: William Morrow
ISBN: 9780063115040
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher
Rating: 2/5

I like books about books and how reading heals and how it helps cope with life. I was eagerly looking forward to “The Reading List” but it disappointed me quite early on, and yet I went on with it, hoping there will be some redemption. I was wrong.

The characters are predictable and the writing quite uninteresting.   I mean I like the idea and maybe it could’ve gone somewhere, but that wasn’t explored. Both Mukesh and Aleisha are not relatable. Books are the common factor between them and there’s a reading list (but of course) but that’s that. The reading list however is interesting and can be talked about a lot more than the book of which it is a part.

Like I said, the writing doesn’t lead you to imagine, it doesn’t make you empathise with the characters, nor does it excite you. I can see why it might work for other readers, but it just didn’t do anything for me.  

America for Beginners by Leah Franqui

America for Beginners

Title: America for Beginners
Author: Leah Franqui
Publisher: William Morrow, HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0062668752
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

Now, I have read a lot of books about immigrants and their lifestyles and what happens when you move countries or come to America, as they say. But this is not a story of an immigrant. In fact, it is just a story of a mother who has to come to terms with her son’s sexual preference and lifestyle, after his death. This struck a chord. It hit home and stayed there for a while. I was constantly thinking of my mother and what was she going through when I came out to her and could relate her thoughts and emotions to that of Pival’s. But “America for Beginners” is not just Pival’s story. It is the story of Pival, Satya and Rebecca – each trying to find something or the other – some big meaning in their lives and happen to do it together.

“America for Beginners” is not sentimental. It is for sure an emotional piece of work. It is also compassionate and funny where it needs to be and that is also something I found extremely liberating about the writing. It doesn’t get bogged down by the intensity of the story. Franqui finds humour where she can. A Bengali widow Pival comes to the US of A, to know more about her son Rahi, after a year of his coming out, and in the wake of his death. She has never travelled alone and all she wants is to fit the missing pieces of her son’s life – the son she never knew, also through his partner Jake (you will get to read more about him. Not saying a word for now). Here but obviously she meets Satya, a guide who has never left the five boroughs – an immigrant who doesn’t have a clue where life is headed. Then there is Rebecca – an aspiring young actress with demons of her own to tackle. These three are headed for a road-trip (that again makes it all the more fun) they will remember forever.

This has all the makings of a movie. In fact, I think it is also written to be made into a film. Having said that, I for one did not get bored or did not face a reading slump at all when reading this book. There are also some stereotypes the book is ridden with, and yet I did not have a problem with that as well. There are perspectives, lives, emotions and how we deal with each other as human beings which is most important – than just being a mother, friend, or son.



The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn Title: The Woman in the Window
Author: A.J. Finn
Publisher: William Morrow, HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0062678416
Genre: Literary Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 448
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

I am not a fan of thrillers. I do not read them so often, however, I wanted to read “The Woman in the Window”. Although it would be shelved under thrillers or mystery, it is definitely more than that, according to me. It is extremely literary and not in the hard-kind-of-way-to-read literary. It is a very easy read but it keeps you engaged. Pages may not fly as they do when you read a thriller but let me also tell you that you have to immerse yourself in about one hundred and twenty pages or so till you get to the juicy parts and it is worth every turn of the page.

“The Woman in the Window” also has an unreliable narrator and I am for one not big on this form of writing, however, this might it seemed to work for me. Dr. Anna Fox is a psychologist (child psychologist) who peers through her camera at the neighbours in 212, stuck in her agoraphobic world in her very expensive apartment, estranged from her husband, Ed and young daughter Olivia. She also plays chess online and is a part of an online forum to help other agoraphobics. She goes by the ID thedoctorisin.

At the same time, Anna isn’t one of the most reliable people you know of (that’s why the unreliable narration). She drinks red wine and in copious quantities. She also overdoses her medication. Her psychiatrist Dr. Fielding, comes to check in one her once a week and all her time if not spent snooping in others’ lives, is spent watching old crime noir films. Till one fine day, Anna notices something happening in 212 and life is never the same.

A.J. Finn creates a sense of claustrophobia most of the time (guess it is intended) for his readers and that lends extremely well while reading the book. I often found myself looking over my shoulder to see if someone was around and most often just to breathe, as I thought I was out of breath. Having said that, the writing is light but not without being intelligent and witty (in some places).

The entire book almost feels like a Hitchcock film – you can almost visualize it and to add to that there are these references (and sometimes scenes as well) of the movies Anna loves to watch and watches when the action is going on. I loved the references! What I also liked about the writing is that A.J. Finn doesn’t spoon-feed you with the sub-plots or characters. It flows as the story ambles along. The pace I did have a problem with initially, but that sorted itself early on.

“The Woman in the Window” is a thriller that will make you fall in love with the way characters are sketched, plots are intertwined and unravel and the overall plot structure. A.J. Finn has created a book that is clever as it shows itself to you, page after page. A read not to be missed out this year.


Book Review: Hide me among the Graves by Tim Powers

Title: Hide me among the Graves
Author: Tim Powers
Publisher: William Morrow, Harper Collins
ISBN: 978-0061231544
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Pages: 528
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

This is the first Tim Powers novel I have read and can confidently say that may be I will read another one. I liked this one. I did not love it but I sure did like it a lot. The blend of fantasy fiction and historical fiction intrigued and that’s what prompted me to read this book. I am glad I did. It was a different sort of experience for me.

Hide me among the Graves is a very distant sequel to his book, The Stress of her Regard (you don’t have to read this one first). The book is about pre-Raphaelite painter Gabriel Dante Rossetti and poetess Christina Rossetti as they fight the Nephilic vampires banished by the Romantic poets Byron and Shelley. Interesting, isn’t it? There is more to it than this. Someone re-woke the Nephilim and Christina invited one of the vampires to her house, in the form of her uncle John Polidori, and now everyone is in danger – of not dying but of turning to a vampire. The Rossetti family is accompanied by an ex-prostitute, Adelaide, her lover and a missing daughter.

This is the plot and thus begins the Victorian journey of Goth and Darkness. Hide me among the Graves is a very fast read. One doesn’t have to think so much while reading it and once a while you need a book like this, amongst the literary reads. The characters are unlikely and you will not know what hit you as you read along. Imagine Christina Rossetti fighting a vampire – I love this kind of flights of fancy in books, the unexpected always lurking to take you by surprise.

Tim Powers’ writing is sharp and meant for readers who are into vampires but not of the pop kind. The book has famed poets and artists peeping from the pages and the reader can sense Powers’ love for the Classical. The secondary characters are also well-rounded and not ignored in the book, which is another plus for me when I read a book.

The setting of the book is brilliant – Victorian London – dark and cold, perfect for a book of this nature. Hide me among the Graves is a delightful read – it has the “secret fantasy” element that unravels itself as you go along and at the same time it mingles with the classical without getting too pedantic (though sometimes predictable). I enjoyed the book.

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Book Review: Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire

Title: Out of Oz: The Final Volume in the Wicked Years
Author: Gregory Maguire
Publisher: William Morrow, Harper Collins
ISBN: 978-0-06-054894-0
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 568
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

When Gregory Maguire started writing the Oz series, I am sure he must have known how big this would be and it turned out to be just that – one big success, rippling through with excitement and sardonic humour and tragedy in almost every volume. The last volume in the series, “Out of Oz” is as addictive as the rest. Gregory Maguire writes in a lyrical manner and that is what I love the most about his writing, besides his ability to infuse evil in Oz and the ability to scare you as well. The plot in this one is well-paced and very exciting. The war between Oz and Munchkinland is at its height and that is the core of the book.

In this book, we get to know Rain who is Liir’s daughter (this is not a spoiler). She is odd and wistful and I loved her character and how it shaped throughout the book. The other usual characters are present in the book – Glinda, Liir, Cowardly Lion and of course Dorothy, who is not making a cameo this time. Dorothy’s character has been extended and it is beyond belief what shape it takes towards the end and throughout. Some brilliant thinking from Mr. Maguire here.

Over the past three books, there has been a lot of build up to the characters and the setting and that’s why one can see and relate to this book and its track. With “Out of Oz” he brings all the characters (though briefly) to tie the story to its end. Dorothy is back after having killed Elphaba (Wicked) and as I mentioned her role is not limited in this book. The questions of home and loyalty are also well-tackled in this one.

The book is enjoyable even before the adventure begins and that’s the power of Gregory Maguire’s writing. It will but obviously make no sense to you till you read the other Wicked books. Not everyone gets a happy ending and not all are supposed to also. Loose ends are tied as expected (thank god for that) and also ones that the reader can infer on his/her own. For me I loved the conclusion. Gregory Maguire’s writing charmed me with this one even more so and I would recommend that you also read his stand alone works on his own take on fairy tales. A brilliant conclusion to a fantastic series.

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