Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Poppet by Mo Hayder

I never judge a book by its cover. I don't even notice it. All that matters to me is the author's name and synopsis. But this is definitely a book to be judged by its cover. Scary cover? Scary story!

The beginning is very disturbing. Even considering that it is a delusion of a mentally ill person. And 'The Maude', is one of our nightmares. The tightness in chest, the difficulty to breathe, not able to get up, struggling with semi-consiousness. Do I even continue!

Already delusional mental patients report the presence of 'The Maude', a dwarf ghost, who prompts them to self-harm. Series of disturbing happenings leading to at least two deaths, disturbs the usually unperturbed AJ, coordinator at this Mental Asylum. AJ is the short for Average Joe, he is one of our main leads. The other lead is of course the series protagonist DI Jack Caffery. Will AJ with the help of Jack Caffery overcome the nightmare? AJ poking at these events takes us on a nightmarish journey into the life of a mentally disturbed teenager who killed his parents brutally.

The first few chapters were very disturbing. I do my reading mostly before sleep, I had fitful sleep the couple of nights I read it. I was even considering abandoning the book, which I rarely do. But there was something that made me read it. I love scary or horror movies, but reading horror stuff is never my thing, because my imagination is more scary than someone else's as in watching a movie. That said the story moves into the thriller mode from the horror stuff.

The parallel plot involves the investigation into a missing person case which looks like a continuation from previous novel. I haven't read any other books in the series, I wonder if that is the reason that I couldn't be interested in the parallel plot. About the main plot, there were too many clues and quite early on I zeroed on the perp, which was a bit of a let down for a mystery. But there were other surprises and Mo Hayder manipulates our feelings for the characters quite adeptly. A Chilling thriller!

P.S. It is told in present tense if you care about such things. 

The Blue Room by Georges Simenon

There are some incidents in our life that we mull over again and again. When it did happen we don't realize that it is an important incident, nobody earmarks events and tells us they are important or something that we are going to think about and dissect. What did she mean? What did I say? Why did I say it? Did I mean what I said? It was just another moment in the series of many such moments in our life. Then it becomes 'the moment', the moment that shapes our lives and something we couldn't help ponder, could it be done differently?

"It needed thinking about. It was not a thing that he had ever asked himself. Were there really people whose lives were devoted to self-examination, to gazing at themselves in a mirror, as it were?"

When Tony met Andrée at the Blue Room in the Hotel, it was just another clandestine encounter with her, after all he met her 12 times in the last 11 months. But this one incident he ponders not only by himself but is made to think by others too- the Judge and psychiatrist.

She asked him if he would leave his wife for her. He said, "Of course". He didn't really mean it. If he was serious he wouldn't say of course, would he? Not only that moment but the other moments that follow it, the other decisions that follow it are dissected. Why did you take the holiday with your wife? Can we give justifications to all our actions? He is made to analyse his feelings and motives and think of things that he hadn't thought before.

"How to put into words the difference between living through an experience, and stripping it bare layer by layer afterwards? Feelings and motives were imputed to him that he did not recognize. "

The story starts at 'the moment' and we know that defining moment led to something that involved a judge and psychiatrist. So what happened? Until the end we do not know what really happened and why Tony keeps going back. Tony is made to reveal intimate details about his life when we realize that when somebody is imputed of a crime they have no privilege to privacy. 

It is also interesting that how we bury our heads in sand and believe nobody knows our secrets. However, everybody knows our secrets. A short intense thriller with a narrative style that hooks immediately with an insight into perspectives and meaning of words and actions.

This great crime classic is translated from French by Eileen Ellenbogen in 1964.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Treachery in Bordeaux by J.P.Alaux and N.Balen

Treachery in Bordeaux
A classic whodunit in French wine country

(no murder, no sex, no violence - cozy, epicurean)
Genre: whodunit/mystery
BISAC cat.: Mystery/Detective

In modern-day Bordeaux, there are few wine estates still within the city limits. The prestigious grand cru Moniales Haut-Brion is one of them. When some barrels end up contaminated, world-renowned winemaker-turned-gentleman-detective Benjamin Cooker starts asking questions. Is it negligence or sabotage? Who would want to bring down this esteemed vintner? Cooker and his assistant Virgile Lanssien search the city and the vineyards for answers, giving readers and inside view of this famous wine region. Treachery in Bordeaux is the first of the 20-book Winemaker Detective series that delves into the underworld of a global luxury industry, where money, deceit, death, crime, inheritance, jealousy constitute all the ingredients needed to distill a fine detective series!

Treachery in Bordeaux has been adapted for television in France.

Authors: Jean-Pierre Alaux, Noël Balen
Translator: Anne Trager
Publisher: Le French Book, Inc.
First published in French (Fayard, 2004)
Marketing launch Date: October 9, 2012
Specs: direct to digital translation, ebook exclusive, 30,000 words
Genre: whodunit/mystery
BISAC cat.: Mystery/Detective
ISBN: 978-0-9853206-2-1 (Kindle)/
List Price: $7.99
Retail orders:,, ibooks, other ebook platforms
Buying links:
For your Amazon Kindle.
For your Kobo.

Praise for Treachery in Bordeaux
“I love good mysteries. I love good wine. So imagine my joy at finding a great mystery about wine, and winemaking, and the whole culture of that fascinating world. And then I find it's the first of a series. I can see myself enjoying many a bottle of wine while enjoying the adventures of Benjamin Cooker in this terrific new series.”  — William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Back Bay and The Lincoln Letter

Treachery in Bordeaux is a fine vintage forged by the pens of two very different varietals. It is best consumed slightly chilled, and never alone. You will be intrigued by its mystery, and surprised by its finish, and it will stay with you for a very long time.” — Prize-winning, international bestselling author Peter May

About the Authors
The authors of Treachery in Bordeaux are Epicures. Jean-Pierre Alaux is a magazine, radio and television journalist when he is not writing novels in southwestern France. He is a genuine wine and food lover and the grandson of a winemaker. For him, there is no greater common denominator than wine. His coauthor Noël Balen lives in Paris, where he shares his time between writing, making records, and lecturing on music. He plays bass, is a music critic and has authored a number of books about musicians in addition to his novel and short-story writing.
Facebook: LeFrenchBook
Twitter: @LeFrenchBook

My Review

Treachery in Bordeaux is a gentle paced mystery where the authors take us on a tour into the vineyards in Bordeaux, and give us a glimpse into the history of the area. It starts with the protagonist, Benjamin Cooker, an authority on winemaking, contemplating on his creative work. Benjamin Cooker spends sleepless nights, deleting pages, ordering and reordering pages, organising them worrying about even the smallest details and most of all worrying about being late for the publishers. Sounds familiar? The travails of creative work!

While an authority on winemaking and a critic, he is a "man tormented by the meaning of his words, the accuracy of his judgements and an impartiality that he brandished like a religious credo?", a person who is assailed by self-doubt when it comes to his own work.

Benjamin receives an emergency call from his winemaker friend who finds barrels of wine from his vineyard contaminated. Benjamin's work is mainly to save the contaminated wine and also to see that the contamination does not spread. Even though Benjamin is not a detective, he decides to find out who contaminated the wine with some help from his former detective friend. Is the contamination accidental or done on purpose? If it is done on purpose who did it and why?

Benjamin also is an art collector and he finds an interesting overmantel featuring a Bordeaux vineyard during harvest. He also finds that this overmantel is part of a greater picture. Will Benjamin trace the original?

We get interesting details like why even though a vineyard may not be in a region, why the wine could be attributed to the region. There are other interesting observations like

"You know well enough that it is never simple to make anything simple."

It is not a traditional whodunit in the sense you don't have a set of characters where the suspicion moves from one to another and finally the perpetrator is revealed. Benjamin does not start looking for the perpetrator for two-thirds of the book. It is a straightforward mystery, where we can't guess the perpetrator because she/he is not known to us, and Benjamin solves the case just by a coincidence, but the 'why' though hinted comes as a surprise. It is a short cozy mystery with interesting insight into vineyards and human beings. 


Sunday, July 14
Review at
 Valli’s Book Den
Saturday, July 27
Review + Giveaway at
 Melina’s Book blog
Sunday, July 28
Guest-post + Giveaway at
 Mary’s Cup of Tea
Tuesday, July 30
Review + Giveaway at
 Words And Peace

Monday, 8 July 2013

Never Saw it Coming by Linwood Barclay

Keisha Ceylon, makes a living by offering to help people when they most need it, by getting in touch with their dear departed or by touching a possession of a missing person to indicate a place they may be found at present. It is a gift, it is a service, but Dear Keisha does not open her mouth until she is paid. Keisha is not new to us, if we have read 'No Time for Goodbye' by Linwood Barclay, she offers to help the protagonist by using her gift to find her missing family, yes, for money. But Keisha is considered a Con-artist, but is she? Most times what Keisha does is listen to her clients. People need somebody to talk too and somebody to reassure them, Keisha does that, well, for money. She not only listens and reassures, but also connects with the dead, brings words of wisdom from beyond and gives hope to the hopeless.

Keisha scans news for potential clients and contacts the family of missing persons and offers to help them find them. Things go wrong for Keisha, when she is completely right. When her random guess hits spot-on, and the client feels that Keisha knows more than she need know. Keisha offered to see into the future of her clients, but never saw it coming, whatever was coming for her.

It is interesting how Linwood Barclay steers our feelings for the characters from one extreme to the other. I didn't expect myself to be rooting for whom I was rooting in the end. This is a short novel with twists and turns that could be read in a single sitting. I understand from the author's website that he had reworked his earlier novella into a novel. I did not read the earlier novella, The Clouded Vision, so I can't really say how much more he had added to the story. I may have been disappointed with this book, if I had read the earlier one, as I don't want to read the same book with a different name. But then I haven't read the earlier one, and in this book I never saw it coming. I enjoyed this little thriller with lots of surprises.


My review of Trust your Eyes by Linwood Barclay that I read earlier this year.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Summer Lovin' Readathon: Day 7

Participation Post

I read two books and finished another I had already started. A total of 862 pages. I may read another 100 or so pages tonight. Let's see. I also participated in Greased Lightnin twitter rounds and answered a few trivia questions. I participated in some of the challenges and participation posts. 

Here are the books I read

Live by Night by Dennis Lehane (500 pages)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (last 60 pages)
Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer 302 pages
The Blue Room (40)
Total pages: 902

And I Completed the Book Bingo! 
Book Bingo

Read a Book: Read Live by Night by Dennis Lehane
Do a Challenge Post: Done 
Sends us a Tweet: Done
Post a book Rainbow: Done
Tell us What you are reading: Done
Do a Participation Post: Done
Try your hand at Grease Lighning'Twitter Rounds:Done
Names of Authors Featured: (Done)
KA Tucker
Jennifer S. Doktorski
Sarah Fine
S.T. Bende
Ardash Vartparonian 
Jessica Gunhammer
Karla Nellenbach

Follow us on Twitter: following 
Read Anythin: Read Blog posts! 
Eat Something Sweet: chocolates
Picture of something you love: 
Smile: Done :)
Tell us your fave authour: Done
Take a picture of book reading: Done
Visited all the blogs and following all you guys at twitter
Read Another Book: Read Why Shoot a Butler ?
Do something outside: Done

Post your favourite snack/drink

Saturday, 6 July 2013

The Golden Egg by Donna Leon

The Golden Egg by Donna Leon is the 22nd book in the Commissario Brunetti series based in Venice. It's Autumn in Venice, Poala, Brunetti's wife, informs him that the boy working in the laundry place is dead, she wants him to find out more about the boy. The boy is not a boy but a man who is deaf and mute probably with some mental problem. Poala feels bad that she doesn't even know his name though she has seen him for a long time. Brunetti starts looking for information initially to soften the guilty conscience of his wife. There are things about this issue that hold his attention. There are no papers like Birth Certificate or anything to identify the man. The mother claims that they were lost during transit. Is it possible to live in this modern world without any identification papers? As one of the characters in the book points out that there are forms to be filled from prenatal stage. How come this person has no identification? There should be birth certificate, medical records, school certificates, driving license, Passport, disability records, as this person is disabled, especially to get a disability allowance. How can one escape notice of the system completely? More and more Brunetti looks more and more he feels that there is something that many people know, but are not open about it. What is it? 

Brunetti's subordinates glean information by feigning a connection with the person. Brunetti couldn't help feeling that his department is nurturing vipers. When you work with people there is a need to have a connection with them, some kind of empathy to get the information essential to solve a case. I couldn't help wondering why this empathy should be fake, couldn't  it be natural? Leon brings in adeptly that it takes two to tango. 

The story game the Brunetti family plays in the beginning is clever and fun. Leon makes an interesting observation about how the dialects separate the people instead of the language bringing them together. I also like the other observations Donna Leon makes. Like the receptionists in the hospital, who wouldn't let you in, without checking your identification, even if it is urgent. Even if he probably knows who you are. Well, as Brunetti remembers his wife's words, this is the only way that person feels powerful, just go along with him. Donna Leon cleverly brings in the theme of her novel throughout without giving away the final shock. Yes, what came in the end came as a shock to me, something we read and see in News and wonder, how did this happen, why didn't anybody do anything about it, kind of shocking news. 

Ultimatum by Simon Kernick

I liked Simon Kernick's The Business of Dying where a cop turns a killer for hire. His argument being that his victims are anyway scum to be removed. When he realises that he was tricked into killing somebody who was probably not the scum, and there are things that even he would call immoral, he tries to set right and bring to justice, even if it his own, the perpetrators. I liked the moral aspect of the story. I read one more book featuring the rogue cop but I don't remember anything about it. 

Ultimatum starts with a bang. A literal bang! A bomb is detonated near Victoria Station in London, a muslim man was forced to do the delivery, making it look like the work of some Islamic fundamentalists. We do know from the beginning, that something else is happening. The police receive an Ultimatum, there would be more terror strikes that day. They learn that at eight p.m. a bomb would be detonated in a prime location in London. This would make the ruling government inefficient creating a vaccum in the political space which a new political party will fill. Where is the bomb going to be detonated? Will the police find the location and stop the criminals? A prisoner claims that if he moved to a safe house with security, he can reveal who is behind this carnage and maybe even stop them before the final target. 

 This book is continuation of an early novel called Siege which I hadn't read. There are a few mentions of the Siege, it looks like some of the characters are same. But then it works quite well as a standalone. Tina Boyd is an interesting character, has a little temptation when she sees a wad of currency in the home of a possible weapons supplier where she goes to look for evidence. She feels that if she pockets some money nobody is going to notice. But then resists the temptation because once you cross the line, you really don't know where to stop. It is these details that make the characters interesting to me. It is a fast paced thriller with twists and turns. The Business of Dying is still my favourite among the three Simon Kernick's books I have read.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Paris in July

I am signing up for the Paris in July challenge. I am looking to read three French books translated into English and post some pictures probably from my visit to Paris long time back. 

The Blue Room by Georges Simenon
Maigret in Court by Georges Simenon
Treachery in Bordeaux by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen

Summer Lovin’ Read-a-Thon: Day Five

Today’s Participation discussion is…
Book Shimmies!

Share your progress – How many books have you read so far? Have you gotten off track? What are your plans for the rest of the read-a-thon?
Well, I finished Live by Night by Dennis Lehane which is a five hundred pages tour-de-force. A great crime novel! I read the last 60 pages of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, which is a classic autobiography of growing up as an African-American girl, disturbing yet lyrical and inspiring book. After reading it, I decided to take a break, so I didn't read anything yesterday, though I visited some blogs participating in the Readathon and read their challenge post and had some fun with book spine poetry and teaser-tidbits. I may finish a book today and maybe another tomorrow. So two more books hopefully. That is another 450 pages totalling 1000 pages!

Here are the scrambled titles!

May Titles:
1) The 5th Wave
2) The enchantress
3) Winger
4) Just One Kiss
5) Any Duchess Will Do
6) It had to be You]
7) Lost and Found
8) The Boleyn King
9) Once upon a Prince

June Titles:
1) The Moon And more
2) Storm and Siege
3) Star Cursed
4) Sweet Salt Air
5) The Newcomer
6) Forever Too Far
7) The taming Of Ryder cavanaugh
8) Two of a kind
9) One Sweet Ride
10) What the Duke Desires
11) Faking It

July Titles:
1) If The shoe Fits
2) The Edge Of never
3) First Sight a novel
4) True Love
5) Three Little words
6) The Night is alive
7) Perfect Fling
8) Chose the Wrong Guy Gave Him the wrong finger
9) Home to Whiskey Creek

August Titles
1) Fall Of five
2) Crown Of Midnight
3) The shade of the Moon
4) Rose Harbor In bloom
5) The Hero
6) Big Sky Wedding
7) Castaway cove a Shelter bay Novel
8) This girl a Novel
9) Temptation

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Mountains Have a Secret by Arthur W. Upfield

Two young women go missing in the wilderness of the Grampian Mountains in Australia. When a detective who goes looking for them is found shot dead, Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte, known to his friends as Bony, goes undercover. The women were last seen leaving a hotel in the wilderness. Bony visits the hotel to look for clues. The girls disappeared in October, it's now March. Will Bony find any clue? Is the disappearance of the girls related to the death of the detective? What clue did the detective find that led to his death? What is happening in the neighbouring farm? What is the need for the huge fence and gate? What are the secrets that these mountains are hiding?

Bony is quick witted and comes up with new identities when there is a chance for his old one to be exposed. The description of the landscape and how Bony makes his camp in the wilderness is vivid. Most of the time Bony is on his own, he has no back up, he has no way to connect to the police in case he needs help. But Bony manages to solve the mystery even though he fails to have his name written in history books.

Possible Spoiler Ahead :

The ending sequences are thrilling but wish the ending is spelled out more openly. You know how I love my explanations! Upfield creates quite a lot of tension and creates anticipation and when you think it is time and whatever is the secret the mountain holds will be revealed, it is not revealed. You just have to make a guess. I was a bit lost, more so because I didn't pick up on the repeated mention of Second World War. I was thinking about a treasure or a secret satanic ritual or something of the sort. I had to read the last few pages a second time to understand what it could be and only after reading Bev's review @ My Readers Block I did really understand what it was.

Whatever it was, Arthur Upfield builds it up nicely. I look forward to reading more books by Arthur Upfield. The book reminded me of a book by Josephine Tey and another by Ruth Rendell. If you have read it, you know it. It is interesting how these three authors work on a similar premise very differently.

I borrowed the book from Openlibrary.


My post for Crime Fiction Alphabet letter M and other challenges.

Summer Lovin’ Read-a-Thon: Day Four

Participation Post

Share a quote from your current read or
Share a book that really pulled on your heart strings

Here is a quote from 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou', which I finished reading last night. 

Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with the shades of deeper meaning. 

Book Spine Poetry 

Here is mine! 

The Song is You
Twilight Prophecy 
Kismet God's Spy
Die a Little
Nights of Awe
Lie in the dark
The Crowded Grave

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Summer Lovin’ Read-a-thon Day 2!

You’re the One That I Want

The hosts of the Readathon want us to share our must-have summer reads, recommendations or summer reading lists.

Here is my Summer Reading list
Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell
Villain by Shuichi Yoshida
Nights of Awe by Harri Nykanen
The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
Cop Hater by Ed McBain
Die a little by Megan Abbott

Cover Re-Do Challenge
Nancy @ Tumbling books is challenging the readathon participants to re-do the cover of a book. Basically, you just create a new cover for a book.

Original cover

This is a perfect cover for this book. It is a noir set in 1920s and the cover captures the spirit of this gangster book. Well, Nancy Challenged us to re-do a cover, so here it is!

My Cover

Cover photo and Design copyright Srivalli

Monday, 1 July 2013

Summer Lovin’ Readathon

The Summer Lovin’ Readathon is a week-long readathon event hosted by seven independent bloggers! (Oh, Chrys!, Tumbling Books, Effortlessly Reading, Love Life Read, Shelf Addiction, Read Sleep Repeat, and Reviewing Wonderland)
Spend the week reading at your own pace, when and how you want too. There will be daily challenges for awesome prizes and opportunities to get points toward the Grand Prize Packs.
As if that weren’t enough – the week will end with a 24-hr marathon readathon! Twitter parties, mini-challenges, games, prizes given EVERY HOUR, and more chances to get points toward the Grand Prize Packs.
Sign-ups will be open through July 6th. I’m in, are you?!

Day 1 
Class Orientation and Reading Goals

Tell us a little bit about yourself – Where are you from? What’s your favorite genre? What got you reading? – Be creative and show your individual personality!

We’d also like to know – What are your goals for this read-a-thon?

I am from India, I live in the UK now. I love reading crime fiction. Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, Jo Nesbo, Maj Sjowall and Per Whaloo are some of my favourite writers. 


It is summer and I am a slow reader. So I am not very ambitious and looking to read 3 books. One of which I have started, Live by Night by Dennis Lehane, is 500 pages. But then it is Dennis Lehane so I look to finish it soon. So next I am looking to read The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler and The Blue Room by Georges Simenon both crime fiction classics. 

Here is the list of books! 

1. Live by Night by Dennis Lehane

2. Why Shoot the Butler? by Georgette Heyer

3. The Blue Room by Georges Simenon

4. Faceless Killers by Henning Menkell

5. Treachery in Bordeaux 

6. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

Teaser Tidbits Challenge
  • Grab the book you're currently reading (or recently read) 
  • Open to a random page 
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page  NO spoilers allowed! Choose passages void of spoilers. The goal is to entice, yet not ruin the book for others! 
  • Share the title & author, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers! 

Here is my teaser from Live by Night by Dennis Lehane

'Do you think they'll run out of men to fight you soon?'