Friday, 30 September 2011

The Case of the Lamp that Went Out by Augusta Groner

The case of the lamp that went out by Augusta Groner and translated by Grace Isabel Colborn was published in an Omnibus in 1910. The story takes place in Vienna. A man is found murdered in a quite street in Hietzing. The murdered man's watch and purse are missing. The motive of the murder seems to be robbery. Joseph Muller, the famous detective who does not have an impressive frame like Sherlock Holmes but is frail is called to investigate. Joseph Muller is very humble and "the kindest-hearted person in the world". The introduction provides a character study of Joe Muller. So that the story goes straight to the point without divulging much into his character and traits. How Muller goes about solving the case and "the lamp that went out" is interesting. And before you know the murderer is found. The story does not end there. Muller is in a dilemma should he reveal the identity of the killer. He is worried about the consequence of the murderer's imprisonment on his family and honour. A very different kind of detective than my favourites Holmes and Poirot. Probably like Father Brown? Can't say. It has been a good while since I read Father Brown. Time to read some GK Chesterton again.
I downloaded this book from Gutenberg. There is not much information about when the book was published. After some research I found that it was compiled in an Omnibus in 1910 so it should have been published before that. There seems to be some confusion about the authorship too. While the Gutenberg mentions Augusta Groner as the author and Grace Isabel Colborn as the translator. Manybooks and goodreads mention Colborn as the co-author. According to goodreads the book is republished in 2003 but I am surprised I couldn't find the original publishing year anywhere on the Internet. Overall, an interesting very quick read.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

E-book reading challenge 2011

I am reading some ebooks these days so googled for a Ebook reading challenge. I found that ladybugreads is hosting 2011 Ebook challenge. I am signing up for the Fascinated – Read 6 e-books -level.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Live Wire by Harlan Coben

Live Wire is the latest Harlan Coben book featuring Sports rep Myron Bolitar, who has now diversified and represents musicians and others too. There are the usual entourage of characters sociopath/psychopath Win, exotic Esperanza, Big Cyndi and the Ache brothers.
Suzze T, ex-tennis star is eight months pregnant with the first child of her rock star husband Lex Ryder. A Facebook post questions the paternity of the child and Lex disappears. Suzze asks for Myron's help to find out who posted it and why and find Lex. In his search for Lex, he also finds his estranged sister-in-law, Kitty. Where is his brother?
Despite of repeated requests from various people not to interfere, Myron interferes. Does his interference solve problems or increase? Myron is a "funny guy" always with a quick retort. In Live Wire most of the characters come up with a witty retort "everyone's a wiseass" as Coben himself comments. The conversation between Win and Myron is funny as always but what was the need for two page jokes about Mee and Yu.
The first half looks like Coben is just stalling the story with repartees and pop philosophy. And by the time this occurs to you there is a remark on how Myron is stalling instead of facing the truth.
The latter half of the book delivers as a thriller with Harlan Coben's trademark twist and turns and surprises. This book serves as a introduction to Mickey Bolitar, new teen detective(?) to feature in Coben's latest book Shelter. After James Rollins with Jake Ransom and John Grisham with Theodre Boone, Coben has joined the bandwagon of thriller writers catering to young adults. Wonder when Michael Connelley will join the bandwagon, Bosch already has a teenage daughter, isn't it?
This book just reminds me why I love Coben's standalone better than Bolitar series. Bolitar books are fun but his standalones are better.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Book Beginnings on Friday

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages.
To participate all you have to do is:
Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments section. Include the title and author of what you're reading. Then, if you are so moved, write your impressions on that first line and if you did or did not like that sentence. Link up each week at Katy's place.

Here is mine from Senseless by Mary Burton.
"Duct tape muffled the woman's hoarse moans as a hooded figure stoked the glowing embers in the basement hearth"

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Banned books

I found this in Bevs myreadersblock who found it on Sherrie's Just Books, who found it at Heather's Books and Quilts.
List of the top 110 banned books (of all time). Bold the ones you’ve read. Italicize the ones you’ve read part of. Underline the ones you specifically want to read (at least some of). Read more. Convince others to read some.
#1 The Bible
#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
#4 The Koran
#5 Arabian Nights
#6 Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
#7 Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
#8 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
#9 The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
#11 The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
#12 Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
#13 Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
#14 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
#16 Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker
#18 Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
#19 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne
#21 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
#22 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
#23 Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
#24 Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce
#26 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell
#28 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
#29 Candide by Voltaire
#30 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
#31 Analects by Confucius
#32 Dubliners by James Joyce
#33 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
#34 Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
#35 Red and the Black by Stendhal
#36 Das Capital by Karl Marx
#37 Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
#38 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#39 Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
#41 Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
#42 Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
#43 Jungle by Upton Sinclair
#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
#46 Lord of the Flies by William Golding
#47 Diary by Samuel Pepys
#48 Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
#49 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
#51 Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
#52 Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmu
#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
#56 Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
#57 The Color Purple by Alice Walker
#59 Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
#60 The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
#61 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#63 East of Eden by John Steinbeck
#64 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
#66 Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
#69 The Talmud
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#71 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
#72 Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
#73 American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
#74 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
#75 Separate Peace by John Knowles
#76 The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
#77 The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
#80 Satyricon by Petronius
#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#82 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#83 Black Boy by Richard Wright
#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
#91 The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
#95 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
#96 Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
#100 Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
#101 Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
#102 Emile Jean by Jacques Rousseau
#103 Nana by Emile Zola
#104 The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
#105 Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
#106 Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#107 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
#108 The Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
#109 Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
#110 Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

WWW: Wednesdays

I am playing WWW: Wednesdays hosted by MizB @ Should Be Reading.

To play along just answer the following three questions....

*What are you currently reading?
*What did you just recently finish reading?
*What do you think you'll read next?

What are you currently reading?
I am about to finish Harlan Coben's Live Wire. Considering it is a thriller, it is more funny than thrilling. Last 100 pages to go, hope it becomes gripping. I love Myron Bolitar books, hope this doesn't disappoint me.

What did you just recently finish reading?
I finished reading Amethyst Box by Anna Katherine Green. I downloaded the ebook from Gutenberg. It is a very short whodunit. Not a racy, page-turner but with a story with some twists and turns. An interesting read.

What do you think you'll read next?
I want to read Mary Burton's Senseless, a thriller. I enjoyed reading Burton's I'm watching you. Hope this delivers too.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Teaser Tuesdays

I am playing Teaser Tuesdays, a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. The rules are

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
My teaser is from Live Wire by Harlan Coben p.121
"How did you mess up in the first place? By interfering. How do you intend to make up for it? By interfering."

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Amethyst Box by Anna Katherine Green

More a novella than a novel is published in 1905. The Amethyst box containing a tiny flask with a drop of deadly poison sufficient to kill a person goes missing on the eve of Sinclair's wedding. The suspects are the bride Gilbertine Murray and her cousin, Dorothy Camerden, in whom the narrator is interested. Somebody dies. Who killed and why? With just two suspects the suspicion moves from one to another and back again. There are a few twists too. Short and sweet.
The Ebook I downloaded also had two other stories -The house in the Mist and the Ruby and the Cladron. The Narrator is lost in mist in the night. Seeing lights from a distant house goes there to find all the doors open. So what does he see in the house, what happens is the story. It creates quite an atmosphere and there is a sense of foreboding.
The ruby and the cladron tells the story of a lost Ruby. Who stole the ruby and why? Interesting story.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Day 07 – Most underrated book

I would pick R K Narayan's Waiting for the Mahatma. His writing was so simple and his characters are so real. I love his Waiting for the Mahatma. It is the story of Sriram living in the fictional village of Malgudi who gets involved in freedom struggle because of his love for Bharthi, one of Mahatma's entourage.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Day 06 – A book that makes you sad

This had been pending for a while. Many of the classics with a tragic ending move me and make me sad. The Mill on the Floss, Jude the Obscure, Tess of D'urbervilles to name a few. But I am not going to write about it now. The Dairy of Anne Frank moved me very much. Anne Frank narrates her life in hiding for two years with her family in an apartment during holocaust. Imagine a teenager forced to live in hiding, who can't have lights in the night for the fear of people finding them out, who can't go for a walk to breathe fresh air, who can't have basic amenities of life like a bathroom. And finally a young life snuffed out before it can blossom. Not one but many millions killed. And this is not fiction.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Day 05 – A book that makes you happy

If Happy means contented then any good mystery book with all loose ends tied leaves me contented. Yes, all ends tied and everything explained. If happy means laughing, smiling on reading something then it is P G Wodehouse. I love his characters Jeeves, Wooster, Aunt Agatha, Lord Emsworth and of course the most gracious Empress. I love Wodehouse's turn of phrases that surely bring a smile on my face.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

WWW: Wednesdays

I am playing WWW: Wednesdays hosted by MizB @ Should Be Reading.

To play along just answer the following three questions....

*What are you currently reading?
*What did you just recently finish reading?
*What do you think you'll read next?

What are you currently reading?
The man in lower ten by Mary Roberts Rinehart published in 1906 and downloaded from Gutenberg. This is my first Rinehart book and I am enjoying it. The story narrated in first person is a murder mystery.

What did you just recently finish reading?
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie. This is Agatha Christie's first book and I have read it before. It was as good as reading for the first time.

What do you think you'll read next?
Live Wire by Harlan Coben. I love Myron Bolitar books. This book is in nice big print and hopefully a great relief to the eyes after reading two ebooks. Hoping to be back in present times of Facebook and Internet after residing in 1900s for a while.

Day 04 Favourite book of your favourite series

I love most of the books in the alphabet series by Sue Grafton, can't just point one and say it is my favourite. Instead I am going to name a book from another favourite series. It is the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. If I had not read this book, I probably would not have read the other books in Harry Potter Series.
I was not really interested in the boy who lived or he who must not be named. I saw the first two movies but was never tempted to read the books, until somebody decided to gift me the third book in the series as my birthday gift. I decided to try it out and was fascinated by the Harry Potter World. There would probably be a girl who knows all the answers in everyone's school. And the strict teacher with special favourites who seems to have some kind of hidden agenda and loses no opportunity to punish you. I can go on and on about the series. I loved this book because of the way time travel is handled. A quick and fascinating read.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Day 03-Your favourite series

My favourite series is Sue Grafton's Alphabet series. A for Alibi, B for burglar and so on. These series are in first person narrated by Kinsey Millhone, in her own words, she is 30-something, twice divorced, childless, Private Investigator living in a bachelorette apartment in the fictional town of Santa Theresa. The books are set it 1980s and last five books are yet to be published. I am dying to read U for Undertow published last year, I think. These books are interesting and fun to read.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than 3 times

I have read many books two times, sometimes picked up a book forgetting that I have read that before. There is one book I have read again and again during all the holidays in school, the Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Jim Hawkins, Long John Silver, Pew, Captain Flint, Ben Gunn were my constant companions and any day I am ready for an adventure to the Treasure Island.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The Man in Lower Ten by Mary Roberts Rinehart

I picked it up because it would fit into the three reading challenges I have joined this month. I wanted a mystery or suspense book, for mystery and suspense 2011 reading challenge with number in the title for what's in a name challenge, written by a women writer published before 1960s for the golden age girls level of Vintage mystery reading challenge. Luckily I found a free ebook in Gutenberg satisfying all these requirement.
This is my first Rinehart book and also Rinehart's first book published in 1906. My first impression on finishing the book was Confusion. So how many women got into the train? As the Narrator Lawerence Blakeley's friend Mcknight says "three women already." And who was who? I had to reread the first three chapters again after finishing the book to make sense of it. Rinehart could have used nicknames (like Harlan Coben does) or more descriptions for readers to keep track of these women until their real identity is revealed. This confusion is done on purpose, to keep us in dark until "the finer details" are revealed. So it means we cannot play along in this whodunit. The story is interesting.
Lawrence Blakeley, attorney, is carrying valuable papers on a train journey. There is a mix up of berths, a murder, theft, amateur detective, romance and a train wreck all on a single night. Blakeley is suspected for murder. He has to prove his innocence. He goes on an adventure to find who killed whom? Who stole what? And who is who?
The train journey, the trapdoor part, and the Laurels adventure are very gripping. The story is funny. With many witty statements. Here is one
"Love is like the measles," he orated. "The older you get it, the worse the attack"

When the amateur detective is wounded, as it is dark and raining, he is not sure whether the moisture on his body is blood or water. Blakeley quips "Blood is thicker than water!"

30-day book Meme

I came across this 30 day book Meme in Neer's a hot cup of pleasure. Decided to join.
Each question needs to be answered in a new post each day for the next 30 days. Here are the questions:
Day 01 - The best book you read last year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than 3 times
Day 03 – Your favourite series
Day 04 – Favourite book of your favourite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy
Day 06 – A book that makes you sad
Day 07 – Most underrated book
Day 08 – Most overrated book
Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 – Favourite classic book
Day 11 – A book you hated
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 – Your favourite writer
Day 14 – Favourite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 – Favourite male character
Day 16 – Favourite female character
Day 17 – Favourite quote(s) from your favourite book(s)
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Day 19 – Favourite book turned into a movie
Day 20 – Favourite romance book
Day 21 – Favourite book from your childhood
Day 22 – Favourite book you own
Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t
Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read
Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most
Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 – Favourite title(s)
Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 – Your favourite book of all time

Day 01 - The best book you read last year
A thousand splendid suns by Khaled Hosseini
I discovered many good authors last year. Linwood Barclay, Simon Kernick, James Siegel and Khaled Hosseini. I read Hosseini's the Kite Runner and a thousand splendid suns. I liked the latter more. It tells the story of two women Mariam and Laila from different times, different personality, and different outlook in life from Afghanistan, who come together for a cause.

Read Neer's responses at

Friday, 9 September 2011

Vintage mysteries

I am signing up for the vintage mystery reading challenge 2011 hosted by Bev at myreadersblock. I am signing up for the golden age girls level. I would like to try new authors from that time along with my all time favourite Agatha Christie.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Mysterious affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Revisiting Agatha Christie after almost a decade. I have read Mysterious affair at Styles before and for that matter have seen it on Tv too, so was not sure whether I would enjoy it as much as I had when I read it the first time. The whole point of a whodunit is the question who done it, isn't it? So if I remember who had done it even half way through I would not enjoy the book. But Agatha Christie did not disappoint me. I was all along rooting for somebody as the murderer and the end was really a surprise. There are a few red herrings, and some nice twists and turns.
This is the first Agatha Christie book published in 1920 and is narrated by Hastings. This book introduces Poirot and his methods. Poirot is not going to search for footprints in the scene of crime but use his little 'grey cells'. He is observant and sees things that Hastings would easily overlook. "If the fact will not fit the theory-let the theory go" he advises Hastings.
Now for the story. Hastings is invited to Styles by his friend John Cavendish. Mrs.Inglethrop, stepmother to the Cavendish Brothers John and Lawrence, holds the purse strings. She has married a young man much against the wishes of the family. Mrs.Inglethrop is murdered by Strychnine poisoning. The suspects include the Cavendish brothers, Mr.Inglethrop, Mary Cavendish, John's wife, Cynthia, Mrs.Inglethrop's ward, Evelyn Howard and Dr. Braustien. All the suspects have access to Strychnine and have motive. Now who did it and why?
Loved every bit of it. Agatha Christie is undoubtedly the Queen of Crime fiction.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Dead Simple by Peter James

Michael Harrison is quite a prankster. To get even with him, his best friends device a secret plan on his stag night. After a pub crawl, they place drunk Michael in a coffin and bury him with a bottle of whisky, a magazine, a flash light and a walkie-talkie. They decide to come back for him in a couple of hours. They all die in an accident. Only Michael's best man, Mark Warren, who was away knows where Michael is. But he decides to keep quite. Ashley Harper, Michael's fiancée, is not sure what happened to Michael and is completely broken.
Will Michael live? Will he be in time for his wedding? Roy Grace investigates Michael's disappearance. The repartee between Grace and Glenn Branson especially, the movie references is funny. Roy Grace believes in the paranormal and uses it in his investigation.
At one point, I was wondering how such a simple story line is developed into a gripping tale. After many twists and turns, I realised that it is not simple, but Dead Simple. Loved the book, I am ready for more Peter James. This is my first read for Mystery and Suspense Challenge 2011.