Wednesday Book Reviews

What a great way to start the new year! {cough, sniffle, snore} I was sick all last week - the I-can't-get-out-of-bed-my-head-wants-to-fall-off kind of sickness. Of course, part of why I couldn't (or wouldn't) get out of bed was due to the glories known as medicine-head, but we won't go there. Anyway, when I wasn't busy sleeping, I was enjoying all of the guilt-free downtime which allowed me to get three books read - that almost made it worth feeling like I'd been hit by a truck. Almost

Truth be told, I'm still a bit under-the-weather as I write this (from the comfort of my bed), but the difference is that I'm breathing without assistance from the makers of DayQuil and Sudafed, I'm even dressed and was busy cleaning the bedroom - until my nose turned into a faucet and my energy level decided I didn't pay my bill. Must be time to settle back on the bed and write up a little review of my illness literature - and I do use the word "literature" in the lightest sense. So without further wordiness, I give you: Books to Read While Feeling Fuzzy In Your Head (i.e. easy reading).

Book #1: The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall. I first heard about this book in early Deceember while reading a book review in World magazine . What caught my attention was:
1) It was a mystery - I'm a sucker for those
2) It involved culture - I love culture
3) The writer of the review said, "Although slightly edgier than Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, it is in the same vein." - that was enough for me.
The Case of the Missing Servant: From the Files of Vish Puri, Most Private Investigator (A Vish Puri Mystery)

I wasn't sure what to expect - and thankfully kept my expectations low - but in the end I enjoyed this little book and I even added the sequel to my Booking It 2011 list. One of the highlights for me was the setting - India. Back in the fall I read Interpreter of Maladies for an online book club. If you read the review, you'll recall that I didn't have a lot of good to say about the book.  Not all books are created equal, however, and it's quite possible that those who liked Interpreter of Maladies, would not like The Case of the Missing Servant, which I found to be funny and full of insights into India and it's people. Also, if you like the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith, then you will probably like the Vish Puri series of books by Tarquin Hall. If, however, you have tried to read the No. 1 Ladies' and found yourself wondering what all the fuss is about (and I've heard from several of you who felt that way about the books), then you probably won't like this series of books. Consider yourself warned. 

A Carrion Death: Introducing Detective Kubu

Book #2: The Carrion Death by Michael Stanley (actually written by two men - Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip). While searching on Amazon for the Vish Puri books, this book was suggested because, if I liked Mma Ramotswe and Vish Puri, I might like Detective Kubu of the Botswana CID. Having lived in Botswana and had first-hand experience dealing with the police after an accident, I thought this might be interesting. I can honestly say that I enjoyed 90% of this book and I wish I could recommend it 100% and I wish it would stay on my bookshelf...but it won't. I'm not a prude, but I am picky about the books that I keep because I want anyone to be able to come in at any time and chose a book to borrow - without me giving disclaimers or turning red because they picked "that" book. Mid-way through the book there was one chapter that is nothing more than an explicit sex scene - laughable in many ways, but more explicit than I want on my shelf. So Peter and I agreed that it would have to go - which is unfortunate because I enjoyed the story (didn't expect to), I liked the character of Kubu (fairly true-to-life), and the plot was full of twists that I didn't see coming. Take out the one chapter and it would have stayed on my bookshelf.  

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People

Book #3: The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama was another recommendation after I purchased the first Vish Puri novel. Also set in India, it's an interesting mix of cultures and religions as it chronicles (with humor) the life of a Muslim marriage broker (Mr. Ali - retired), his unmarried Hindu assistant (Aruna) and the marriages that they create by matching caste-to-caste and religion-to-religion. Muslim, Hindu or Christian, they'll find you a mate. Again, the highlight of this book for me was the strong cultural points of the story. The importance of a child's decisions in a parent's life, the frowned-upon "love marriages", the totally bleak outlook of a woman with no dowry, and traditions that must not be broken are all part of this interesting debut novel by Farahad Zama. It was a very easy read (even in my bleary state, I read it in a day) and if you're interested in culture - specifically Indian culture - I think you might enjoy The Marriage Bureau for Rich People. But buy used - it's not worth paying the new price (my copy is used).

I'll link up at the next Life as MOM Booking It post on February 11th - make sure you head over there to read other book reviews and possibly find a new favorite book for 2011.

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