Saturday, 30 June 2012

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell- A Visual Tour

I am posting this for the Classics Challenge hosted at November's Autumn. I recently read North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. In North and South, Gaskell contrasts between the rural Southern England and Industrial Northern England. Margret Hale along with her family moves to Milton-Northern, a fictional town representing Industrial Manchester as her father turns 'dissenter'.

The line below kind of expresses the sentiment of the book.

And yet, yo see, North and South has both met and made kind o' friends in this big smoky place. 

William Cowen's View of Bradford contrast the rural and industrial in the same picture. This picture is used as a cover for this book. But this togetherness is more symbolic then literal.  

Industrial strike and its problems are expressed below. 

'She knew how it was; they were like Boucher, with starving children at home—relying on ultimate success in their efforts to get higher wages, and enraged beyond measure at discovering that Irishmen were to be brought in to rob their little ones of bread.'

On Strike, 1891by
  1. Sir Hubert von Herkomer
atRoyal Academy of Arts

'Many in the crowd were mere boys'
Child workers in a Manchester cotton factory in 1820.
Image: Manchester Archives & Local Studies

Cotton factories in Union Street, Manchester, 1835. Some of these buildings still stand today.
Image: Science Museum / SSPL

Margret befriends Bessy Higgins, who is dying of a lung disease.  "I began to work in a carding-room soon after, and the fluff got into my lungs and poisoned me.'
Mill girls working with spinning frames in a Manchester cotton mill, 1851. Women made up a large proportion of the expanding factory labour force.
Image: Manchester Archives & Local Studies

It's not like there are problems only in the North. 

'God help 'em! North an' South have each getten their own troubles.'

In between the strikes and poverty, there is a beautiful love story paralleling the Pride and Prejudice that surpasses class and status differences. Gaskell paints a picture of smoky North. Gaskell lived in Knutsford, near Manchester, which is a beautiful place at least at present. Below are some images of Knutsford in connection with Gaskell.


It looks like Gaskell was a dissenter like Margret Hale's Father.

 Gaskell Tower in Knutsford 

Gaskell Tower in Knutsford Showing her book titles

Knutsford Images Copyright Srivalli

Friday, 22 June 2012

Friday Memes

This week I am posting from Zone Defence by Petros Markaris translated from Greek by David Connolly

Friday Book Beginnings is a weekly meme where we share the opening line of our current read. Book Beginnings is hosted by the Rose City Reader.

It began with a slight rumbling, like someone running on the floor above.

Friday 56 hosted @ Freda's Voice is a weekly Meme where we share an interesting snippet from page 56 of our current book.

His slender body shook like fruit jelly, his steel-rimmed glasses were about to fall off his nose, but he was unable to put a stop to his laughter.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Theme Thursday

Theme Thursday is a fun weekly Meme hosted at Reading Between the Pages.

This weeks theme is Flower

I am posting from Middlemarch by George Eliot

Lydgate was almost forgetting that he must carry on the conversation, in thinking how lovely this creature was, her garment seeming to be made out of the faintest blue sky, herself so immaculately blond, as if the petals of some gigantic flower had just opened and disclosed her; and yet with this infantine blondness showing so much ready, self-possessed grace.

Wicked Title Trouble Challenge

Melissa @ Melissa's Eclectic BookShelf is hosting a Wicked Title Trouble Challenge. Using at least 3 of the titles of the books below...make up the most interesting, creative, funny, romantic, mysterious, or simply ridiculous sentence! Here are the titles
Catching Fire
The Sandcastle Girls
Heat Wave
The Beach House
Born Wicked
Rising Sun
How to Ruin a Summer Vacation
That Summer

Here is my take

Born Wicked the Sandcastle Girls
Knew How to Ruin a Summer Vacation
they Created the Heat Wave
And The Beach House Catching Fire
That Summer Solstice
Burnt like Rising Sun

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Wicked Wildfire Readathon

I had lots of fun and done some solid reading participating in Pick Your Thon last week. Now I am participating in Wicked Wildfire Readathon. I am planning to read Middlemarch by George Eliot which is 1018 ipad ebook pages, roughly 200 pages per day. So it goes.

Update : I have switched to Kindle to read Middlemarch as at is only 881 pages. Same content but less pages so works psychologically.


North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell-total pages 571 started at 221 and finished- 350p
Zone Defence by Petros Markaris- total pages 333 started at page 78 finished -255p
Middlemarch currently at 34% 304/881

Total pages: 909

Challenges Participated
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Book Lover
Wicked Title Trouble
Mix n Match

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Pick Your Thon Wrap Up

I finished reading two books and started two other. But got around reviewing one book only. Wish I had reviewed more books. It was fun participating in the mini-challenges. I look forward to participating in other events and do better.

Books Read
Venetia by Georgette Heyer- 303/303
The Yellow Snake by Edgar Wallace- Ebook-250/250 ipad Pages
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell-220/571.
Zone Defence by Petros Markaris- 77/333

Total pages read- 850 pages

The Book of the Crime by Elizabeth Daly

Thanks to The Book Monsters for hosting this.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Friday Memes

This week I am posting from Venetia by Georgette Heyer

Friday Book Beginnings is a weekly meme where we share the opening line of our current read. Book Beginnings is hosted by the Rose City Reader.

"A fox got in amongst the hens last night, and ravished our best layer," remarked Miss Lanyon.

Friday 56 hosted @ Freda's Voice is a weekly Meme where we share an interesting snippet from page 56 of our current book.

"Perhaps you have friends already who laugh when you do," she said diffidently. "I haven't, and it's important, I think- more important than sympathy in affliction, which you might easily find in someone you positively disliked."

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Thursday Memes

Theme Thursday is a fun weekly Meme hosted at Reading Between the Pages.

This weeks theme is Day

I am posting from Edgar Wallace's The Yellow Snake

"Today is Monday," he said. "We will be married on Friday by special licence. Friday will be an unlucky day—for somebody."

I haven't participated in Booking Through Thursday for a while. Todays question is
Have you ever bought a book, started reading it and then realised you have already read it? If so, how far did you get? (Can you tell this happened to me for the first time ever this week!?!)
And–did you keep reading??

This happened to me many times. This is the reason I started a blog. I didn't keep track of books I read. When somebody recommends a book to me, something I would like, I buy it to realise that I have read it before. I realise after reading maybe forty, fifty pages. I can't leave a book unfinished. I will have to finish it. Unfinished books haunt me.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Pick Your Thon Mini Challenge 3 Make a Read Poem

Words I Write Crazy is hosting a mini challenge. To make a poem out of the books in PYT reading pile or from the words of a review. This is fun. Here is my pile of books

North and South
The Yellow Snake
The Silent House in Pimlico
Zone Defence
The Glass Rainbow
Killing Orders
Shark Music
XPD (Expedient Demise)

In Middlemarch, Venetia
of the Silent House in Pimlico
Saw the Yellow Snake
Jumped North and South
Used the Glass Rainbow
For Zone Defence
Played Shark Music
Gave Killing Orders

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Cruisin' thru the Cozies Reading Challenge 2012 -Complete!

I signed up for level 1 to read 6 books for the Cruisin' thru the Cozies Reading Challenge 2012.
So what is a cozy? My understanding is that it is a mystery book that plays down on blood and gore and sex as opposed to hard-boiled which gives a stark picture of reality. I read more than six, I will be reading more. Here are those that I have reviewed.

Amendment of life by Catherine Aird
The Burning Court by John Dickson Carr
The Book of the Crime by Elizabeth Daly
A Cold Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
Death Comes to Pemberley by P D James
DeKok and the Murder on Blood Mountain by A C Baantjer
An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson
Shroud of Darkness by E C R Lorac
U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton

The Book of the Crime by Elizabeth Daly

Who is your favourite author? And your favourite author's favourite author? Would you love to read a book by your favourite writer's favourite writer? I wanted to read Elizabeth Daly when I heard that she is Agatha Christie's favourite mystery writer. I couldn't find any of her books in my local library. But was thrilled to find one in Opelibrary and immediately borrowed it.

Walking the dog Aby, Rena Austen would rather not go home. She didn't have anybody to tell her tale. If she had this is what she would have to tell

"My husband was an Airman, he wil always be lame from a war wound, he walks with a brace. I met him on a bench in Central Park, while I still had the good job you got me; I fell in love with him, and we were married in a month. That was about a year ago. He had plenty of money, because his uncle left him an income for life, an old house here; he and his brother and sister came from Oregon to live here, after the war. I have everything, and I had nothing and nobody. I wasn't a child, I was nineteen years old- it was a love match.
And in three weeks- three weeks!- I decided that we had both made a fearful mistake. "

There is nothing concrete but she feels her married home is oppressive. Why are her husband's sister and brother staying put. Her husband is injured in war, so she can understand that he doesn't do anything else except enjoy his inheritance. What about her sister-in-law and Brother-in-law? Why don't they do anything? Do they have nothing better to do?

Dragging herself home after the walk, her husband catches her with an old book and he flies into a murderous rage and locks her up. She just took the book to wedge to keep the windows from rattling and she didn't read the title. What was in the book that made her husband fly into a rage? She doesn't stay back to investigate. She manages to flee from this oppressive home. But she has nowhere to go. Nobody to really help her. Where will she go and what will she do? Is it madness to run away from home? He was angry and hurt her. But was it something for which she had to run away? What is really wrong with the Austens? Would anybody believe her and provide her a refuge? Was she right to run away on her instinct?

A simple plot that kept me interested to the end. I didn't guess what was coming. If this isn't enough for you to give it a go, there is a murder and of course a Crime. After all it is the Book of the Crime. There are some nice twists and some fun.

Published in 1951, it features Henry Gamadge and is the sixteenth book in the series. Now I know why Agatha Christie loves Daly. I go hunting for her books. Oh yeah, trust your instincts.

My post for Letter D for the Crime Fiction Alphabet.

Pick Your Thon Mini-Challenge Day 2

I got a new bookshelf last week where I have arranged my To Be Read books. But these are not the books I would be reading immediately. I have borrowed a bunch from local library, that have a due date and I have to read them before that date. These books in bookshelf are mine and they are waiting for sometime.

Pick Your Thon Starting Line

I participated in Pick Your Thon at end of 2011 and beginning of 2012. It helped me finish up all the challenges I signed up last year and a good start for this year. So I am ready for another round of Pick Your Thon.

So to start off, create a post or comment below to answer the following questions.

1. Which thon are you choosing? Readathon, Reviewathon or both? And why?

Both but mainly Reviewathon. I am behind in my reviews. I would like to catch up with all the books that I have read earlier this year. I would like to read too.

2. Where are you from? You can be vague or specific, up to you.
I am from India, but live in the UK at the moment.

3. Say a little bit about yourself so we can get to know you if we don't already!
I love reading Crime Fiction. I like to tax my brains with puzzles and whodunit or whydunit is a best way to keep myself engaged.

4. What are you currently reading or about to pick up to read?

I am reading Venetia by Georgette Heyer, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, Zone Defence by Petros Markaris and Yellow Snake by Edgar Wallace.

5. What are your goals for this Pick Your Thon?
I would like to finish three books namely Venetia by Georgette Heyer, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell and Zone Defence by Petros Markaris. Two of these books are not in my comfort zone. So I am finding difficult to concentrate. I hope this Readathon would give me the push to finish it. I would like to review at least ten books but I will not be posting them all this week. Maybe three reviews per week let's see.

Friday, 8 June 2012

A Cold Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow

If Mersualt in the The Stranger by Albert Camus pulled the trigger because it was a hot day, we have missing people possibly murdered on a really really cold day in Alaska here. Mark Miller, a park ranger, is missing for more than six weeks in record low temperatures. Ken Dahl, the investigator, sent to find him is also missing. Kate Shugak, living alone in Alaskan Wilderness after resigning from Anchorage District Attorney's Investigative staff, is asked to investigate because of her knowledge of the region and because half the tribe is related to her. Miller with his plans for development of Alaskan Railroad has made enemies with everybody in Park. What happened to Miller and Dahl? Since half the tribe is related to Kate, are they responsible for this disappearance?

Stabenow gives us glimpses into an isolated community, using snowmobiles to get around, eating Moose meat and older generation not wanting the younger one to move on to green pastures, literally. As per the mystery you can guess it after a point of time. Nevertheless an interesting read.

A Cold for Murder by Dana Stabenow is the Winner of the 1993 Edgar for Best Paperback Original and is available for free download from Amazon and other ebooks stores. It is the first novel featuring Kate Shugak.

My post for Letter C for Crime Fiction Alphabet.

An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson

How would you like to see your favourite mystery writer in a book solving murders? An Expert in Murder features Josephine Tey, author of several mysteries including The Daughter of Time and a successful play Richard of Bordeaux. Josephine Tey is not exactly my favourite writer but I have read two of her mysteries recently and Alan Grant is quite fresh in mind and this idea piqued my curiosity.

Josephine on her way to London, abroad a train gets acquainted with Elspeth Simmons, a young girl who loves all things theatre and particularly loves Josephine's play. At London's King Cross they part ways and Elspeth is brutally murdered in the empty train. An elaborate scene is set up with dolls that are theatre memorabilia and a flower is left at the crime scene. Who murdered Elspeth and why? Was Tey the intended victim? And why would someone kill someone in a public place like a train?

We get to meet Inspector Archie Penrose, the person on whom Alan Grant is supposedly based on. The real sensitive and no frills or eccentricities detective.

"She had wanted a hard-working, well-meaning police inspector, a credible detective to stand out among the figures of fantasy and wish-fulfilment found in so many other crime novels ...."

We don't get insight into Josephine's mind. But there is another writer a struggling bitter person who is awaiting police interrogations who muses

"It was important for writers to make most of every experience and she often played this game with herself, standing outside life, observing. "

At some point I guessed the killer, there was a huge clue, a give away. There were many points I guessed but still there was enough mystery for me to keep reading. I knew who but I couldn't fathom the why?

One important character who plays an important role is War. War has changed life and to people who had survived the war, it had changed life in different ways. There is a running theme of Dysfunctional couples. Aubrey and Grace, Alice and Walter. How War had altered their relationship and though they contniued to live together as Grace Aubrey points out to Penrose

"It's a terrible thing to admit, but any of the pleasures that I did take from our life together would not have been lessened had he not be there to share them. "

I would have liked to know more about the workings of Tey's mind, she doesn't solve the mysteries but she is there at the end. I had some questions while reading The man in the Queue by Tey. Upson tries to answer them for Tey quite satisfactorily. Reference to Tey's books and her characters are interesting and I am definitely picking up Upson's books.

Friday Memes

This week I am posting from An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson

Friday Book Beginnings is a weekly meme where we share the opening line of our current read. Book Beginnings is hosted by the Rose City Reader.

Had she been superstitious, Josephine Tey might have realised the odds were against her when she found that her train, the early-morning express from the Highlands, was running an hour and a half late.

Friday 56 hosted @ Freda's Voice is a weekly Meme where we share an interesting snippet from page 56 of our current book.

Reading the book later, as she sat at prompt corner, she felt no remorse over such small acts of theft, knowing herself to be a worthy recipient of the ideas contained in those pages. Better they should fall into her hands than be wasted on people with full pockets but empty minds, or left, forgotten, to gather dust.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Theme Thursday

Theme Thursday is a fun weekly Meme hosted at Reading Between the Pages.

This weeks theme is Month

I am posting from Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South

But Margaret was at an age when any apprehension, not absolutely based on a knowledge of facts, is easily banished for a time by a bright sunny day, or some happy outward circumstance. And when the brilliant fourteen fine days of October came on, her cares were all blown away as lightly as thistledown, and she thought of nothing but the glories of the forest.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Armchair BEA Introductions

Armchair BEA has started and it's time for introductions.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

I am Srivalli. Everyone I know have always called me Valli. My blogger profile says I am blogging from October 2007 and my first post is in April 2007. I had a few blogs before that but I was not good at remembering all those fancy names, so finally decided on using my name as url.
I wanted to keep track of books I am reading. If I like an author, I try to read all the books by the author, at some point I am not sure if I have read a book or not. A short synopsis and my views will help me remember.

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?
I am reading Nicola Upson's An Expert in Murder. My favourite book so far in 2012 is Candide by Voltaire.

What is your favorite feature on your blog (i.e. author interviews, memes, something specific to your blog)?
I like participating in weekly Memes. Especially the Friday Book Beginnings and Friday 56.

Where do you see your blog in five years?
I don't really have a five year plan. I will be reading as much or probably more and writing about books I read.

If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?
With Ruth Rendell, but I would be too... I don't know what to either talk or eat. Why Ruth Rendell? Because I love her books.

What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?

I would like to visit Middle Earth especially Morodor. Why? I am completely fascinated by Middle-Earth and its inhabitants. I would like to see the volcano where the Ring was destroyed.

Friday, 1 June 2012

The Burning Court by John Dickson Carr

Edward Stevens, 'who was not much different from you or me', was going by train to his weekend home in the countryside. It was not an unusual day or evening. Working in an important position in a publisher's house, his editor had given him a manuscript of murder trials by Gaudan Cross, the mysterious writer who liked having his photo printed on the jacket.

Stevens couldn't help thinking about the death of his neighbour, Miles Despard of gastro-entritis. Miles did not have children of his own, so his brother's children would inherit the estate. They found a string with nine knots beneath the dead man's pillow. And Mrs Henderson had reported a strange event, a woman in a 'queer old-fashioned dress' was in Miles' room just before he died and went out of a door that didn't exist. Nothing really significant. Maybe something wrong with Mrs Henderson.

Abroad the train Stevens starts reading the manuscript by Cross and gets the shock of his life, to see the photo of his wife, underneath the photo her name and that she was guillotined in 1861. Probably, an ancestor of his wife?

He comes home and finds the photo missing. No longer this evening is ordinary. There are so many bizzare events. At one point of time, I was expecting zombies walking in the middle of the night to the heavy metal music. (influence of watching too many horror movies). There are people disappearing into mirrors, corpses missing from their coffins. There are two locked room mystery components in this book. One, who entered the room and disappeared into the mirror and possibly murdered Miles when all the doors are locked. Next, how did the Corpse disappear from the vault. How or where did the Corpse go from a closed coffin?

Who killed Miles, if he was killed? And more importantly how? How did somebody enter a locked room and walk out of a door that did not exist? Oh! I love the twist in the end. I didn't see it coming. One of the best mysteries I have read and Carr creates quite an atmosphere. Now I want to read all books written by Carr.

My post for Letter B for the Crime Fiction Alphabet.