Monthly Archives: November 2019

Lock Every Door #BookReview

Book: Lock Every Door 
Author: Riley Sager

I never gave thrillers much thought till a few manuscripts came to me for editing and I realised I completely enjoyed them. The only problem – if the book turns out to be good I find myself unable to put it down and that completely upsets my routine. Now if I find a highly recommended thriller I make sure I have a day or two at my disposal when I begin reading. That’s worked out fine for me.

And that’s how I began reading Lock Every Door on a relaxed Friday.

The Story

Life hasn’t being good to Jules Larson. First, her sister disappears then she loses her parents in an accident. Even as she’s trying to make peace with all of that she’s let go from her job. She comes home to find her boyfriend cheating on her and her life falls apart completely. She’s been rooming in with her friend Chloe when she spots an ad for an apartment-sitter in the poshest apartment complex of Manhattan – The Bartholomew. The building houses the richest and the most famous people who value their privacy above all else. The money is very very good but there are few rules to be followed – no night-outs, no visitors, no talking to the other residents. They seem simple enough, if a little weird, and a bankrupt, desperate, Jules accepts them eagerly. She looks upon it as the ‘reset button’ for her life.

Soon, however, she realises all is not right at the Bartholomew. It’s an indefinable feeling she can’t quite reason out. Is it prompted by the gargoyle at her window on the facade of the building? Is it the strange wallpaper design in her apartment? Is it the unexplained noises at night? Or is it just her imagination fuelled by Chloe’s warnings and media stories that insist that the building is cursed?

Then a fellow apartment-sitter, Ingrid, disappears and Jules cannot but begin to investigate.

What I loved

The most interesting part of the book is that barely anything scary actually happened for much of the early part of the book. And yet I was on edge waiting for something to happen, trying to read between the lines, urging Jules on to look around, to be careful, maybe even to get out. Part of me wanted her to find out if Bartholomew really was cursed or haunted, and if yes, why. The other part wanted Jules to stay away from everything, get her money and leave. I could see why she’d want to hang around despite the warning signals.

Bartholomew reminded me a little bit of Rebecca’s Manderley. It has a character of its own as much as its inmates. I loved the way Sager describes it. The gothic structure, its air of opulence, the luxurious apartments, the secrecy, the snobbish flat owners – it all comes together in an intriguing mix.

I liked Jules. I felt her closeness to her sister and her heartbreak at her disappearance. Which is why I could understand her desperation to find Ingrid.

Lock Every Door isn’t a pacey read yet the tension keeps one hooked.

Last thought: If you’re looking for an edge-of-the-seat atmospheric thriller, this ones for you.

What’s your God like? #BookBytes 20

Welcome dear friends to another edition of BookBytes.

Recently, the son received an abridged version of Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster as a return gift at one of his friend’s birthdays. One glance at the book and he rejected it outright. Children can be surprisingly, annoyingly choosy about their reads. Besides, no self-respecting 13-year-old Rick Riordan fan would be interested in a book about a teenage orphan girl. I, on the other hand, was eager to read it. This one’s a classic I’d missed out on. I loved the illustrated version and found it quite perfect for my daughter, so it turned out to be a win-win situation.

Have you noticed how some books for children and young adults have immense wisdom within their pages? I’ve picked one such passage from Daddy Long Legs, though it’s from the original unabridged version. Take a read:

I find that it isn’t safe to discuss religion with the Semples. Their God (whom they have inherited intact from their remote puritan ancestors) is a narrow, irrational, unjust, mean revengeful, bigoted Person. Thank heaven I don’t inherit God from anybody! I am free to make mine up as I wish Him. He’s kind and sympathetic and imaginative and forgiving and understanding – and he has a sense of humour.

Jean Webster, Daddy Long Legs

I know you’ll agree with Jerusha Abbot – the young heroine of Daddy Long Legs. She’s an orphan and so has no parents to hand her down a preconceived idea of God. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if each of us was free to make up our own God like Jerusha? I quite like the one she conjured up. A God who wouldn’t need sacrifices and fasting and complicated rituals to be happy, who wouldn’t punish us each time we forgot to light a diya or mispronounced a mantra. Oh and a God with a sense of humour sounds just perfect.

Perhaps we’d then turn from god-fearing people to god-loving ones.

What’s the one quality you’d like in your God?

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If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
  • Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.
  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition is scheduled for December 3rd. Do join in.

Eating Wasps #microreview

Book: Eating Wasps
Author: Anita Nair

You know what’s the best feeling in the world? To pick up a book you’ve not heard of, to pick it up without any expectations, any background, any social media hoohaa. And then to find in it a story that by turns hits you hard, touches you, empowers you. That’s what Eating Wasps did for me.

I was driven to read it simply by its stunningly gorgeous cover. Then the opening line reeled me in:

“On the day I killed myself, it was clear and bright.” 

How can you ignore that?

If you’ve read Anita Nair’s Ladies Coupe you’ll know how adept she is at bringing together women centric stories. That’s what she does with Eating Wasps too.

The book opens with an award winning author Sreelakshmi committing suicide. And yet her life doesn’t end. She lives on as a ghost, a piece of a bone. As she flits from the hands of one woman to another she sees, she feels and she tells their story, bringing them together in a delightful read.

The book has multiple characters – girls, teens, women – each the protagonist of her own story, with her own challenges – sometimes internal, sometimes familial, sometimes societal.

My heart broke for Megha while Najma, who had the saddest story of all, made my heart soar. Maya was only too real, a flawed woman, an imperfect mom even as she debates what’s best for her son. Urvashi, Liliana, Brinda – each one has a story to tell.

The book isn’t perfect. The stories don’t come together as seamlessly as I’d have liked them to. Also, it could have done without a character or two while I’d have liked to know more about some of the others. Some of the stories are explored only too briefly, leaving me dissatisfied. And yet it’s a book worth reading because each story is special.

Last thought: Worth a read.

Perspective #BookBytes 19

Hello hello everyone. It’s been a crazy two weeks. Festival times are sheer madness what with the children being home for a break. Plus I am in the middle of editing a novel which took up every free moment of my time. All of that translated into a forced blogging break. However I wouldn’t miss an edition of #BookBytes since I do so enjoy doing it.

Here I am then, with a quote I loved from a book I loved too – My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I’d heard a lot about the author and I was eager to read her. The first book I picked up by sheer chance turned out to be Between the Lines, one she co-wrote with her daughter. I just wasn’t impressed – it was too much of a tween thing.

And then I chanced upon My Sister’s Keeper and that’s when I realised why people rave about Jodi Picoult. If you haven’t read it, I’d say give it a shot.

Here’s a quote I loved:

“Life sometimes gets so bogged down in the details, you forget you are living it. There is always another appointment to be met, another bill to pay, another symptom presenting, another uneventful day to be notched onto the wooden wall. We have synchronized our watches, studied our calendars, existed in minutes, and completely forgotten to step back and see what we’ve accomplished.” 

– Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

I loved the quote because it is so much a reflection of how most of us lead our lives these days. Of course the context in the book was more serious but the thought is universal. It certainly applies to me. Sometimes I get too wrapped up in the nitty-gritties of life, too bogged down by the daily struggles to revel in the happiness of what I’ve already achieved.
It’s good to step back and look at things sometimes, to count one’s achievements, to bask in one’s success however small – whether it is always being able to meet deadlines at work or keep a blog up and running, or even running a home smoothly – God knows that needs such consistent effort.

So Stop.
For one small moment.
Think of something you accomplished .
And feel good about it.

Do share with me what it was that made you feel good recently, something that you forgot to congratulate yourself for.

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If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
  • Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.
  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition is scheduled for November 19th. Do join in.