Tag Archives: Review

Maintaining A Reading Log Or A Book Journal

 

A reading log (or a book journal) is a great way of keeping a track of what you have read, or are and will be reading. And truth be told, not many of us make or maintain a reading log.

It is in fact good practice that helps you record your reactions to a book, and its characters. You can note your thoughts and gain further insight about the theme, the plot, the appeal and even its relevance. This will help you expand your overall enjoyment of reading and going back to a book you liked.

You will notice that towards the end of it all, you will turn in to a good reviewer of a book and a keen observer of things around.

 

 

Here are a few ideas/questions to get you started:

 

1.    After reading the first couple of chapters, pen down your thoughts. See if they change as you proceed and reach the mid-way. And how you feel towards the end of the book. Would you go back to the book again or tag it as a one-time read? Also note any emotions that the book managed to invoke in you: smile, laughter, anger, worry, concern, tears?
2.    Did you connect with the story line, or the characters, or the ideation at all? Could you draw a parallel with your life while reading it? Did the book remind you of any aspect of your life or an incident you (or someone you know) have undergone? Or did the book remind you of any other book you’ve read in the past? Was there any unique idea that made you think on different lines?
3.    If you connected with any of the characters, who? Why? How? What did you find most appealing? Or given a chance would you become any of the characters? Who? Why?
4.    If you’d have written the story, what would you do differently? Would you change its title, or any of its characters, or altered any bit of the story or location?
5.    Do you have any apprehensions about any part of the book or any of its characters?

6.    Does the book provoke you to ask questions of any sort? What kind of questions would they be? Are they questions about the author or the characters or the ideation?
7.    If you could ask the author questions based on the book, would you? Or would you be inclined to read about the author itself, to maybe give you an insight to his world (his upbringing, his works, his ideologies)?

8.    Were you confused at any point while reading the book? Was there any situation that you did not understand or comprehend or you felt was out of place? Did that affect your reading or thoughts about the book and the author at any point?
9.    Note down your favorite part of the book, and your favorite quote by a character. What was it about them that appealed to you?
10.    Was reading the book a learning experience? If yes, what did the book teach you?
11.    Would you cheer for the book, and recommend it to others?
12.    Did you like the author’s style of writing? Would you read more from his collection? Why or why not?

 

Recording all the above will in a way help you review the book better. It will broaden your thought process, your evaluation power and of course help you explore different genres of books and authors.

You may follow the same practice while reading poetry and plays and other works of literature.

This will also help you read autobiographies, journals, or diaries of renowned authors, about their reading experience. You may also be able to compare your thoughts with theirs.

To conclude, maintaining a book journal or a reading log is a good practice. If you include a list of books that you wish to read in a particular month or year, the log will help you remember and attain your target too.

Let’s not forget, it will give you a good practice of expressing yourself, which in turn may help hone your writing skills. So, go get started tiger! It’s time to pen your thoughts.

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Book Review of “Skin Trade” By Laurell K. Hamilton

Skin Trade

By Laurell K. Hamilton

 

Hamilton delivers paranormal romance thrillers exceedingly well.

The book kicks off on a fantastic note and lures you into reading it till the very end without any breaks. The story takes Anita to Vegas in the quest of the vampire serial killer, Vittorio. Edward makes a cameo along with Bernardo and Olaf. But sadly, not much of the sensuous Jean-Claude and Jason to munch on. And there is a new beau in Anita’s life by the end of the novel.

Anita is seen doing her Federal Marshal job and investigating a crime scene. There is no “over-the-top” stress on emotional bonds or relationships in this one. It is a fine balance between Anita’s professional front and her personal life.

Anita always wants to do the right thing. Her vampiric strength, unexplainable psychic powers, her strength and her strong shield that can control at least five different breeds of were, her power to feed off people’s anger/arousal, her fascination for weapons and fictional laws about vampire crimes are all enthralling. Hamilton delivers optimum substance in this one for sure, injecting fantasy to the otherwise mundane lives of the characters with ample of twists.

But there are some discrepancies – what happened to Paula Chu, the first suspect? Also, the new powers given to Anita by Belle Morte are not revealed.

All said and done, the central idea of the novel (absolute power corrupts completely) is delivered effortlessly by the author leading her readers to think about the consequences of gaining extreme powers and its aftermath on life.

 

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Book Review of “Shopaholic & Baby” By Sophie Kinsella

Shopaholic & Baby

By Sophie Kinsella

 

Oh don’t judge me for picking this one. Once in a while a chick lit serves as an escape from the grim realities of the world – like the scorching summer heat! I read this while sipping in some really cold ice tea and before I could realize, I was done with it in about 2 hours!!!

This is Sophie Kinsella’s fifth offering in the popular Shopaholic series. And here we see our beloved shopaholic Becky Bloomwood (now Becky Brandon) pregnant. Becky teams up with her friend Suze and ends up “baby shopping” for everything that she thinks the baby will use, while conveniently relegating the gory realities of impending childbirth to the back of her mind. Becky goes all out buying baby stuff from chic baby boutiques, orders online and from the glossy upscale catalogues, invests in “antiques of the future” for her baby’s portfolio. Becky feels that her obstetrician Dr. Braine needs to be replaced and thus begins her hunt for the “A-List” obstetrician, the choice of all the glam people, and she ends up picking the latest celebrity obstetrician from London, Venetia Carter. But there is a wee bit of twist. It turns out that Venetia and Luke used to be lovers and Venetia still as a soft spot for him.

What follows next are panic attacks, hormones going haywire, paranoia and nightmares because Becky feels she would have to raise the child alone as Luke and Venetia will end up living “happily ever after”. She wants a new house with a Shoe Room; she wants to be on the cover of Vogue magazine as one of London’s “Yummiest Mummies-to-be”; so will she get all that she desires? That I’d leave for you to read and find out. Though Becky has grown and matured in certain ways, she still is the same old shopaholic and will be one forever! Btw, we also see Becky reuniting with her long-lost sister Jess.

The book is an easy read with a lot of “laugh out loud” and entertaining moments. Her first pregnancy jitters, her decisions, her quirkiness, her mood swings – were all very well presented by the author. Becky is a charmingly air-headed, vivacious, upbeat, resourceful, good-hearted, optimistic, shopping maniac we have come to love, but sometimes she comes across as a shallow, fashion-obsessed, materialistic, irresponsible chic. But I guess it’s her naivety that makes the readers love her all the more. Luke is the rich, loving husband that almost every girl would desire. He tries his best to balance his professional and personal life with the wacky “needs and desires” of his wife. Kinsella (Madeleine Wickham) has a subtle charm in the way she effortlessly pens her story and characters. Not to forget, a good sense of comedy and hoards of romance in her heart.

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Book Review of “Innocent In Death” By J.D. Robb

Innocent In Death

By J.D. Robb

An emotional roller coaster ride this one, Innocent In Death, is highly engaging.

From the mystery of the teacher’s death (without any clues to lead to the killer) to the interpersonal relationship of Eve and Roarke, the story moves at a good enough pace to keep its readers hooked on to it till the very end.

The main plot is that of a murder of a school teacher Craig Foster, who is found dead in his classroom from apparent Ricin poisoning, but there is no clue as to who the killer could be and what the motive would be. Eve Dallas, Lt. of the NYPSD, and her partner, Det. Delia Peabody are put on the case. Foster’s wife, the school staff and the students come under scrutiny.

Amidst the crisis, Eve bumps into the beautiful but cruel Magdelena Percell (Maggie), Roarke’s ex-flame and jealousy grips the better of her. She cannot stand Roarke talking as passionately about his ex as he does about her. His reassurance does not work well either.

On the professional front, another teacher is found dead in school and a very unlikely suspect catches Eve’s eye. Secrets and scandals are unearthed. Full of twists and turns, the plot is a highly captivating. A must read.

All the characters play a good part. The turmoil that rises to threaten Eve and Roarke’s married life is very relatable. From the complexities that arise to the emotions they feel, J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) does a fantastic job in creating this spicy mix. Her creative streak betters with every book.

We see Eve and Roarke grow and mature in their relationship.

They talk it out, bare their souls, reassure one another, see the other’s viewpoint, beat up a few droids, manhandle each other, and have wild monkey sex.

The story also focuses on things people end up doing to safeguard their reputation, and defend their loved ones and face their deepest fears!

 

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Book Review of “T- Is For Trespass” by Sue Grafton

“T” Is For Trespass

By Sue Grafton

T is for Trespass is an entertaining mystery with a gripping tale of treachery. Though the setting dates back to the 80’s, the instances are relevant to today’s time.

The trespasser here is Solana Rojas, a con artist who has a thirty five year old developmentally disabled, obese, and emotionally disturbed son named Tomasso. She uses dishonest and illegal means to make quick bucks. Also, Solana is not her real name. It is a fake identity that she has assumed over the years posing as a home help nurse, caring for elderly people. She is smart to ascertain her victim’s net worth before robbing them in the most unsuspicious way.

She is now assigned to take care of Kinsey’s elderly friend – Gus Vronsky after he has a bad fall and is hospitalized.

Gus is a cranky old man always complaining, yelling and making a nuisance of himself for his neighbors. After his hospitalization his great-niece Melanie flies in form NY and hires Solana (the imposter) as his caretaker, after a brief and satisfactory background check. Solana soon gets on with her con-job and appraises Vronsky’s paintings and searches his house for jewelry and other assets while keeping him mostly sedated. She begins to set the stage for Gus’s death.

Through lies, deception, deliberately confusing times of day and drugging his food, he soon appears to have dementia and memory loss to friends who visit.

Kinsey gets a bit suspicious of Gus’s personality change and starts her own investigation, only to become an object of Solana’s abuse.

It is soon discovered that Solana Rojas is one of the darkest and most dangerous sociopaths Kinsey Millhone has ever encountered. As the plot unfolds the readers enjoy a battle of wits between herself and a formidable adversary to rescue Gus from a life threatening situation.

Grafton juggles many story lines with ease and keeps them pretty much interesting and entertaining.
The tale is gripping but depressing at the same time. It deals with current common newsworthy topics – elder abuse and theft. She highlights the miseries and dangers that stalk our older citizens. Too often, children and other relatives live far away and are preoccupied with their own concerns to care for them. And thus fall easy prey to opportunists looking to con them.

The pace of the novel is smooth and fast. It also provides a fresh perspective (the villain’s POV). The characterization is commendable.

Though the climax was a bit abrupt the story overall was highly interesting and unique.

 

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Book Review of “Smoke Screen” By Sandra Brown

Smoke Screen

By Sandra Brown

Here’s a refreshing new read from Sandra Brown.

Britt Shelley, a new reporter for a TV station in Charleston awakens next to the corpse of Detective Jay Burgess with no remembrance of the night before.

All she remembers is meeting Jay on his request and downing a drink over which he confesses that he has cancer and not much time to live.

When accused of murdering Jay she thinks that she must’ve been administered a date rape drug, but when the tests come up negative on that one, she realizes that a big conspiracy is engulfing her. And truly so, she is soon kidnapped by Raley Gannon, who holds a grudge for her for ruining his life five years ago.

Five years ago, Britt had reported an incident where Raley Gannon, an arson specialist with the Fire Dept was found in bed with a dead woman at Jay’s apartment. Raley was stripped off his job, his dignity and his life. And when he hears about Britt’s incident the past comes flashing before his eyes because his experience was absolutely similar. He had no remembrance as to how he wound up in bed with the dead lady. Britt’s reporting had resulted in his destruction.

Raley kidnaps her to interrogate about Jay and shares his side of the story. He is sure that they were set up. They join hands to unveil the criminal behind it all and restore their reputations.

The investigation is a difficult one with not just the cops but also assassins on their tail. Here begins a chilling roller coaster ride.

Sandra Brown has a unique ability of setting in the right mood and the tone of describing the city and the plot. Her high quality writing completely absorbs the reader’s attention and lingers a while even after the story ends.

An extremely fast paced mystery, with great surprises and suspense, sprinkled with mediocre bits of romance and apt characterization, this one is a definite keeper!

 

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Book Review of “Plum Lovin'” By Janet Evanovich

Plum Lovin’

By Janet Evanovich

It amazes me how every time Janet come up with a new plot with her regular characters, without sacrificing on the entertainment value of the book.

Plum Lovin’ is a short, quick and enjoyable read. Plus we meet Diesel once again (after VISIONS OF SUGAR PLUMS).

Diesel (as we remember) has the ability to walk through walls. And this time he approaches Stephanie and tells her that he has the FTA she’s looking for, but strikes a deal before he can give it to her.

Annie Hart, an Unmentionable, is a matchmaker. She’s wanted for some armed robbery and assault case, and cannot be brought in until her client list is completely matched up. This task, she assigns to Stephanie. So Stephanie is playing “matchmaker” before Valentine’s Day in order to capture her FTA and recoup Vinnie’s money. Diesel tells Stephanie that he has Annie under wraps to protect her from someone who is out to get her for messing up his marriage.
Stephanie has to match five weird clients to complete the job, including Stephanie’s sister’s boyfriend who wants to be married but freaks out at the thought of a wedding.

Diesel on the other hand is trying to nab a person who has the power of giving people rashes and hives.

A series of humorous blunders involving guns, handcuffs, junk cars, and the general chaos follow as Stephanie tries her “match-making” skills.

Surprisingly, no cars being destroyed in this one and no Grandma Mazur wacky-ness! But no compromise on the element of humor. Lula (and her wise crack and alternative perspective) and Ranger’s bodyguard Tank with their comical mis-match and a dicey chase through Trenton’s streets, involving Stephanie’s family and friends keep the readers giggling throughout.

Missed having Joe and Ranger around in this one. Sometimes I wonder how lucky Stephanie is to have Trenton, New Jersey cop Joe Morelli, dangerous Ranger and the hunk of a guy- Diesel in her life!

Though there wasn’t much suspense or intrigue, the book had ample of crazy antics and good laughs.

 

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