Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Bookish Thoughts: Wet Silence by Sweta Srivastava Vikram

Widowhood is trapping me unwillingly. ~ First line of the poem "My Husband is Leaving"

Wet Silence: Poems About Hindu Widows by Sweta Srivastava Vikram
Modern History Press, 2015
Poetry; 72 pgs

Sweta Srivastava Vikram captures well the many different voices of Hindu widows in India in this collection of forty-nine poems. The poems in Wet Silence speak of grief of all kinds, including that of love lost and of lost oportunities. The poetry I like the best is the kind that speaks to me on an emotional level, and Sweta Vikram's poetry did just that.  There was not a poem in this collection that did not work for me, that did not draw out my emotions in some way.

How do I tell anyone what you gave me?Even when you had less hair and few breaths,
you kissed my questions,
we came crashing like a wave.We contained each other.~ Excerpt from "Never Abandoned" from Wet Silence by Sweta Srivastava Vikram

When I first saw mention of Sweta Srivastava Vikram's Wet Silence, I knew I wanted to read it. This collection appealed to me most because it is about women facing hardships, in addition to being  another opportunity to step outside my own experiences and culture to learn about another. Wet Silence gives readers a glimpse at the cultural restrictions placed on many Hindu women after the death of their husbands. They are not allowed to remarry and must live as if in mourning the rest of their lives. From what they wear to the food they eat to how they behave, they are required to adhere to strict religious and cultural norms. Just as the first sentence quoted at the beginning of this review, widowhood is its own sort of trap for these women.

We kept our dirty laundryon separate shelves in the same closet.~Excerpt from "Eulogy" from Wet Silence by Sweta Srivastava Vikram

A few of the poems are written from the perspective of the mistress and others from a wife whose husband was unfaithful. There are poems about abused wives as well as those who were well loved. There is one about an ungrateful son.  Sweta Vikram covers a wide range of experiences in her poems, writing about gender expectations and inequality; and about the freedom that comes with the death of spouse as well as that feeling of being trapped when one's spouse is gone.

Other men notice your prints on my breath;you were everything to me.But I remained a ghost storyin your life-a fish bone that no one wantsin the throat long after the fish is dead.~Excerpt from "Your Wife" from Wet Silence by Sweta Srivastava Vikram

The book is divided into three sections, the first being “I can hear a white cotton sari weaving at the shop,” which were the poems that spoke to me most clearly--perhaps because I imagine these are how I might feel to some extent if I lost my husband. There is such sorrow and loneliness within the poems. The second section, “I didn’t promise to sleep in your shadow,” is made up of poems that speak of a mixture of feelings, each one very different: that of loss and love, of feeling burdened; of anger and frustration, especially by those who had been abused or were married to men who were unfaithful. The voice of the women in the third section, “Silence became my lover, that’s why,” who feel less constrained by cultural and religious expectations

You never pulled yourself together for me.But like the autumn breeze,I'll indignantly rise, and sing songs of freedom.~excerpt from "I'll Rise" from Wet Silence by Sweta Srivastava Vikram

I have read each of the poems at least twice, some even more than that.  Each of the poems are emotional and have a power all their own. They spoke to me as a human being as well as as a woman. So much comes through in so few words regarding the cultural complexities each of these women faced. I loved that about this book.

Here is a brief video of the author during a poetry reading of Wet Silence:

To learn more about Sweta Srivastava Vikram and her books, please visit the author's website.

I hope you will check out what others had to say about Wet Silence on the Poetic Book Tours route:

Aug. 21: Suko’s Notebook 
Aug. 23: Emma Eden Ramos

Sept. 5: Bookie Obsessed 

Sept. 16: 5 Minutes for Books 

Sept. 18: Create with Joy 

Many thanks to the Poetic Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. Review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review.

 © 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: The Adventures of Flat Stanley


Flat Stanley is visiting us from Candor, New York.

© 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Where Is Your Bookmark? (08/25/2015)

I am feeling a bit frazzled as I write this. The week has gotten off to a busy start after a relatively busy weekend. Work has picked up considerably with the start of the school year, I have evaluations due, and, now that swim classes have come to an end, I am working later into the evenings again. My health has been giving me some trouble of late as well, which I have mostly been trying to ignore.

Many thanks to all of you who kept Parker in your thoughts and sent well wishes our way. We still are not sure what is wrong with him exactly. As I write this (Monday night), my husband and Parker are in the emergency room, and I am waiting for an update. It's more of a precautionary measure than a true emergency--at least we hope. I will update my blog when I know more. [Update: this really isn't much of an update. Parker has a tumor. He'll be seeing his regular doctor later this week to see about getting it removed.]

I finished reading Death in Brittany by Jean-Luc Bannalec this past weekend, the first in a mystery series featuring a French detective. My review is written, and I hope to have it up soon. I also spent time over the weekend reading Wet Silence by Sweta Srivastava Vikram, a book of poetry about Hindu Widows' experiences, which I will be reviewing this coming Thursday.

I am determined to finish listening to Paula Hawkins' Girl on the Train this week, which I have had in the background for months now. I made some progress on it the last couple of days.

Just yesterday, I dived into The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts by K.C. Tansley, a young adult paranormal/time travel mystery about a girl who can communicate with ghosts. Both Kat and her research partners visit a haunted island where they are pulled into the past to solve a 129 old murder and the reason behind a deadly family curse. I am not too far in at this point--maybe a quarter of the way through--and am not quite sure what I think yet.

Take a peek at the opening paragraph of The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts:

Two weeks leading up to finals were the perfect time to do research at Gilman Library--if you needed to be surrounded by people. Bustle and noise didn't distract me anymore. I was much more likely to be disturbed by quiet. Or, at least, what the quiet conjured up. Old buildings like Gilman were the worst.

Here is a random teaser from The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts from 5% on my Kindle

Cold air blew against my neck. The ghost was so close to me. I didn't turn around.

and a bit of humor at 16% on my Kindle:

"She is rather pale. She might catch fire in the sun," Evan said.
"Vampires don't catch fire anymore. They sparkle," Morgan said.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?  

I admit the opening paragraph did not grab me right away. but it does set up the scene to come. Kat is trying desperately to keep the ghosts at bay.  Being among a lot of people often does the trick.

What are you reading at the moment?  Is it anything you would recommend?

© 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

From the Archives: Mysteries 2006

I began keeping a reading journal several years before I began blogging. I find it interesting to sift through my thoughts of books that I read back then. My reviews were often brief and contained little substance, but I thought it'd be fun to document them here on my blog as well as share them with you. The first half of 2006 seemed to be my time for series reading. I read quite a few mysteries at that time. Here are some of my reviews from 2006: 

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot, #4) by Agatha Christie
Crime Fiction; 241 pgs 

It has been over a decade since I last read something written by the queen of mystery. Agatha Christie is an even better storyteller than I remember. Set in King’s Abbot, the novel is narrated by the small community’s doctor, Dr. Sheppard, who takes on the role of assistant to the famous now-retired detective, Hercule Poirot. They set out to discover who killed and was possibly blackmailing the wealthy Roger Ackroyd. I found Ms. Christie’s novel to be delightful to read. I enjoyed getting to know here characters and spending time in the presence of M. Poirot. 

Deadly Housewives by Christine Matthews ed.
William Morrow, 2006
Crime Fiction; Mystery; 286 pgs 

Fourteen popular mystery writers join together in this anthology of short stories about housewives and murder. The stories touch upon everything from marriage, jealousy, motherhood, and friends. Compared to the hit TV show, Desperate Housewives, the stories that make up Deadly Housewives certainly share in drama, although be prepared for something much different. While I found all of the stories entertaining, four stood out and were my favorites, written by Carole Nelson Douglas, Marcia Muller, Suzann Ledbetter, and Eileen Dryer. Some made me laugh and some held suspense. I especially enjoyed reading the “Little Black Book” blurbs that were tacked on at the end of the book. It’s always fun to see a little slice in the lives of the authors. 

Laguna Heat by T. Jefferson Parker
St. Martin's,1985
Crime Fiction; 322 pgs 

I had seen T. Jefferson Parker’s name and his books advertised now and again over the last couple of years and never really considered giving one a try. No reason in particular. I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Parker speak at the 2006 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and decided it was time to give him a chance. On the ride home from the festival that evening, I started thumbing through the book my husband was kind enough to purchase for me while there and was hooked on the very first sentence. I somehow managed to set it aside until I could at least finish the book I had already been in the middle of, but as soon as I go the chance, I picked up and started reading Laguna Heat. Homicide Detective Tom Shephard returns home to Laguna Beach, hoping for a fresh start. He left the LAPD after a fatal shooting to save a fellow officer and his failed. His first case with the Laguna Beach Police Department turns out to be a serial murder, bodies found scorched to death and a link to the past that may involve his own family and friends. T. Jefferson Parker’s novel was an entertaining read. The author’s descriptions were colorful and brought the setting and characters to life. I couldn’t help but pick out the differences as I read of life back in the mid-80’s to today. Defense attorneys would have a field day in the courtroom if crime scenes were handled that way today. I liked the feel of the book in my mind as I read it, the words, and the way the story came together. It had an old-fashioned feel to it. Tom Shephard was a sympathetic character and I especially loved his dog Cal. Laguna Heat is a good hard-boiled mystery, definitely worth taking the time read. I look forward to reading more books by Mr. Parker. 

Bad Twin by Gary Troup
 Kingswell, 2006
Crime Fiction; 258 pgs 

Private detective Paul Artisan is hired by a wealthy businessman to locate his missing twin brother. The two brothers couldn’t be more different: one being the more responsible one while the other being carefree. Artisan has his work cut out for him as he begins the investigation. While the money is great, it’s not what drives Artisan forward in what sometimes appears to be an impossible quest. He wants to learn the truth and protect a man who might be in grave danger. For all the hype Bad Twin is receiving because of its appearance on my favorite TV show, Lost, and the big question mark as to the identity behind the author Gary Troup (a character from the TV show Lost who went missing when the flight he was on from Australia to Los Angeles crashed somewhere in the Pacific), this is a wonderful little mystery that stands all by itself. Lost fans may be thrilled to recognize a name here or there, but other than that, the book is very much its own entity. The novel was extremely well written, fast paced and interesting to read at every turn. There was humor, insight, and intrigue throughout. I loved the character of Artisan’s best friend Manny Weissman with all of his references to literature, which were peppered throughout the book. I did find the book predictable in some ways and pretty much had the ending figured out with one exception; however, that didn’t dull my enjoyment of the novel at all. **After seeing the season finale of the TV show, Lost, some of the characters take on new meaning in the Mr. Troup’s novel. The Hanso Corporation and the Widmore family are linked yet again. It raises more questions for fans of the TV show, but did we really expect anything else? 

Gone (Alex Delaware, #20) by Jonathan Kellerman
Ballantine Books, 2006
Crime Fiction; 365 pgs 

Police consultant and child psychologist Alex Delaware is back in another installment of Jonathan Kellerman’s series. He joins his friend, homicide detective Milo Sturgis, in the murder investigation of a young woman who Alex had been hired to evaluate after it was discovered the carjacking and kidnapping/torture of she and a friend was an elaborate hoax. As Milo and Alex begin to unravel the life of the young woman, they find something much darker and more sinister than they ever imagined. Mr. Kellerman effectively used dialogue, especially the conversations between the two main characters, to dissect the lives of the people they were investigating as well as their motives. Although I guessed right off the whodunit part, I still enjoyed seeing how it all came together in the end. I’ve never been a huge fan of Robin, one of Alex’s love interests, but by the end of the book, I actually liked her as a character. Alex continues to be a superman of a character, however, Mr. Kellerman doesn’t forget to remind readers that all that Alex sees and goes through takes its toll on him. 

Twelve Sharp (Stephanie Plum, #12) by Janet Evanovich
St. Martin's Press, 2006
Crime Fiction; 310 pgs 

It’s impossible not to laugh out loud when reading a Stephanie Plum novel, at least I haven’t been able to resist yet. The description of Grandma Mazur and Lulu in their costumes at the Plum’s residence had tears welling in eyes because I was laughing so hard. Although Janet Evanovich is not the best author around and her bounty hunter books are out there in the believability range, she certainly tells a good yarn. I still find myself feeling bad for Ranger and Morelli, the two men in Stephanie’s life. I’m not sure I would be as tolerant and patient as they’ve been with her—and with each other. Twelve Sharp offers readers a glimpse into Ranger’s life and character when his daughter is kidnapped and his supposed wife appears on the doorstep of the bonds office where Stephanie Plum works. In between trying to catch bounties, Stephanie is also on Ranger’s trail and that of his missing daughter. Action, hilarious bumbles mixed in with the usual high jinx, and romance fill the pages of the 12th novel in the Stephanie Plum Bounty series.

© 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Beyond the Books: My Favorite Game & Lost Without A Book

Every Thursday Karen of KissinBlueKaren hosts Beyond the Books, at which time participants are given a topic and asked to write about it on their own blogs. They then share their links at the main site and visit other participants blogs.

Today Karen's Beyond the Books topic is about my favorite game (board game, party game, or do you hate games?).

My family was big on playing board and card games when I was growing up. My brother and I often played Uno, Sorry!, Candyland, Clue, and Rummikub (my grandparents' favorite). I always wished I had the game Chutes and Ladders, but my parents would never get it for me. Instead I had to play it when visiting friends.

My husband and I played card and board games quite a bit early on in our relationship and marriage. They make for cheap date nights. Somewhere along the way we got out of the habit. It can probably be traced to Netflix, but I am not really sure. Some of my favorite games include Clue Master DetectiveSequenceHearts, and Cribbage. I still love Sorry!. Apple to Apple is a fun game too if I'm in a bigger group. I'm not good at drawing or acting out scenes or trivia--so I tend to avoid those types of party games.

My husband has let me test play one or two or his games over the years.  He's extremely creative and has made a few of his own over the years.

Admittedly, most games I play on my phone, Kindle or, more rarely, my computer. Solitaire, Minesweeper, Sudoku, and CrossMe are particular favorites on my electronic devices.

Mouse isn't yet interested in card games or games that are not more activity based. She has a Dora the Explorer Carnival game we sometimes play, but even then it's hard to keep her playing by the rules. More often than not, we do not bother.

Hungry Hungry Hippo is the most popular game in my house right now. Is it okay that sometimes I let my 4 year old win? Definitely not always though.

Do you have any favorite games? If so, what are they?

Book Blogger Hop

Every Friday Coffee Addicted Writer from Coffee Addicted Writer poses a question which participants respond on their own blogs within the week (Friday through Thursday). They then share their links at the main site and visit other participants blogs.

Are you ever without a book? (submitted by  Elizabeth)
I carry my cell phone just about everywhere, which means I always have access to a book one way or the other. I rarely read on my phone though. I much prefer to read from a paper book or my e-reader. As a result, I often have one of the two (more often than not it's my e-reader) handy as well, unless I know for sure I will not be able to fit in reading time. I think if I didn't have my cell phone though, I probably would take a book or my e-reader with me in those instances too.--you know, just in case.

What about you? Do you always carry a book with you?

 © 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.