Skip to main content

Featured Post

When you are LOST in a book | Weekly Snapshot

I have just spent a bulk of my past 24 waking hours racing through the book Big Little Lies. Gosh, it feels amazing to be so consumed by a book that all you want to do is read it at every small or big opportunity. It was hard putting the book down or not thinking about Madeline, Jane, Celeste, or their terribly convoluted lives when I was supposed to be doing something else.

Last Week We drove back from Nashville on Monday morning after two full fun days at the Gaylord resort and one morning at the Hermitage, President Jackson's house. The house itself was glorious (and huge!) - we all enjoyed a good amount of history that day. The resort was a feast for the eyes - all those trees and gardens inside the massive building!

On our drive back home, we had couple of hours to kill so we took the kids to the Dinosaur World in Kentucky. That turned out to be a good decision as the kids had a blast and the adults also had fun learning something new.

Currently This weekend is so far turning…

Half Year Edition: Unfinished Books (2010)

Halfway through a year is a good time to look back at all the books that were on my nightstand this year, wondering which books will still be hot favorites by the end of the year, which ones were disappointments, and which ones were of the impossible-to-get-into kinds. It is also a wonderful time to take oneself off challenges that don't interest you anymore, or more typically, add more, as I just did yesterday.

This post is more dedicated to the unfinished books so far. I wasn't planning on doing this post now, since I've only had two books so far that I couldn't complete. But I realized that my recollections of those books are fast slipping out of my head, so here's an attempt to salvage them and write a decent explanation of why those two books didn't quite work for me.

The Chopin Manuscript by Jeffery Deaver.
Former war crimes investigator Harold Middleton possesses a previously unknown score by Frederic Chopin. But he is unaware that, locked within its handwritten notes, lies a secret that now threatens the lives of thousands of Americans. As he races from Poland to America to uncover the mystery of the manuscript, Middleton will be accused of murder, pursued by federal agents, and targeted by assassins. But the greatest threat will come from a shadowy figure out of his past: the man known only as Faust.

The Chopin Manuscript is actually co-authored by 15 thriller writers - Jeffery Deaver, Erica Spindler, Joseph Finder, Lisa Scottoline and Lee Child being some of them. According to the book description, Jeffery Deaver conceived the characters and set the plot in motion; the other authors each wrote a chapter in turn, with Deaver eventually writing the final chapter. So clearly, The Chopin Manuscript has a lot going for it. This book is only available in audio or in Kindle format.

I listened to three-four chapters before giving it up. I'm not exactly sure what made me stop, but after the first few chapters, I found that I was hardly "on my toes" or anxious to know what happens. At least, that's what I would expect considering that this is a thriller. I found at least one-two new characters introduced in each of the first few chapters, and moreover, those chapters focused only on them. This would have worked fine, if most of them were introduced within two chapters, so that by the time I return back to a character introduced in the first chapter, I have a clear idea of who's who. Instead I forgot. It didn't help either that I listened only half an hour one day, then didn't get back to it until after a couple of days. (I rarely get to listen to audio books except at the gym. I don't have much commuting to do either each day.)

On the other hand, I have read plenty of good reviews of this book, and the plot is by no means what disappointed me. I will probably pick this one up another time - when I can listen to audio books extensively. But for now, it's going into the unfinished folder.

Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten.
Lawyer Danielle Parkman's son Max, a whip-smart teen with high-functioning autism, has always been a handful. But lately he's shutting down, using drugs and lashing out - violently. Desperate, Danielle brings Max to a top-flight psychiatric facility for a full assessment. But rather than reassurance, Danielle receives an agonizing diagnosis describing a deeply damaged, dangerous boy - one she's never met. Then Danielle finds Max unconscious and bloodied at the feet of a patient who has been brutally stabbed to death. A fiercely protective mother instinct rears its head - and Danielle is arrested as an accessory to the heinous crime. With the justice system bearing down on them both, Danielle steels herself to discover the truth - no matter how horrifying.

I requested this for review from NetGalley and was reading it on my nook. I did get till page 175 before giving up. There is so much that didn't work for me in this book, but mainly it is the writing. At times, it is jerky and slightly immature, with certain phrases not making sense to me.

Then there is the character, Danielle, herself. I hope I don't come across as insensitive when I say that I found this mother of an autistic son too unbelievable. I felt that the author was trying too hard to convince me of Danielle's nonacceptance of Max's condition. Apparently a lot of roguish practices happen at the top-rated psychiatric facility, without anyone battling an eyelid. (I am basing this on the 175 pages I did read - the plot might have veered in any direction since that page.) When I decided to give up, I also realized that I wasn't curious about how it will end. I usually like thrillers or suspenseful novels, but only if I can easily flit into the novel's settings without struggling with my beliefs or conscience or my interpretations of the story so far.

I'm sure this is just a problem I had with the book, since I have seen quite a few positive reviews of this book. But with 200 pages still left for me to read, I decided to part ways.


Ash said…
It looks like you gave both of these books a fair chance. I think you had sound reasoning for giving them up. I've only "given up" one book this year and that was The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. I skimmed to the end, but my heart just wasn't in it.
bermudaonion said…
You're doing great if you've only run across 2 stinkers in 6 months! Saving Max is in my TBR pile - I hope I like it more than you did.

Popular posts from this blog

Hell-Heaven by Jhumpa Lahiri (Short Fiction Review)

I first read Jhumpa Lahiri years ago, when her Interpreter of Maladies was making a huge buzz. At the time, I didn't catch any of the buzz, but for some reason, when I saw the book on the shelf at the store I was browsing in, I felt it just might be a decent read. Funnily, I read the entire short story collection without complaining about it, but for some reason, I cannot read any collection anymore without agonizing over its disjoint nature.

I did enjoy Interpreter of Maladies, but I did get bothered by the thread of loneliness and infidelity and distrust that laced through the stories. For that reason, I have been reluctant to read Unaccustomed Earth. However, when I came across Hell-Heaven at the NewYorker - a free short story from her book, I decided to go ahead and read it. I can't resist the pull of stories set in India or featuring Indian characters, and it is that same aspect that hooked me throughout this story.

In Hell-Heaven, the narrator contemplates the relations…

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Maybe that’s what religion is, hurling yourself off a cliff and trusting that something bigger will take care of you and carry you to the right place.
Bernadette Fox has a reputation. While her husband and her daughter Bee love her, there's barely anyone else who share the sentiment. Her neighbor Audrey loves to gossip mean things about her with her close friend, Soo-Lin. The other parents of kids at Bee's school look down on Bernadette because she doesn't involve herself in school affairs. Bernadette herself goes out of her way to avoid company.

And then one day, Bee comes home with an excellent report card and asks for her reward - a family trip to Antarctica. The very plan throws Bernadette into a panic but she has no other option. She hires a virtual assistant, based out of India to take care of all her demands, including getting prescriptions at her local pharmacy, doing her online shopping and taking care of some of the logistics of her trip. (It is ridiculous! Bern…

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (Short Fiction review)

With the Hunger Games hype that engulfed us last week, it was hard to avoid all the discussion of similar works that existed. Of the many titles that I came across, two stood out particularly - a short story called The Lottery and a Japanese novel (and movie) called Battle Royale (which I'm reading right now and just cannot put down). The novel will be fodder for another post, so for now, I just want to rave about the awesomeness that was The Lottery.

In contemporary America, villagers across the country are gathering on the 27th of June (and some a day earlier) for an annual event called the Lottery. Children, women, men, all come to the main square of their village or town, where the lottery master keeps a black box full of paper chips. One of these chips is marked has a special mark on it to identify the winner (the person who draws that chip). Not everyone draws however, but only the head of the family. Husbands are viewed as the head of their families/households, and if the …