{Books for Review in June} Read a Good Book Lately?

If you are interested in reviewing any of these books, the deadline for requests is nearing so hurry!  If you own a blog over 3 months old, have 60 or more posts and a full set of archives, you’re our blogger!  Email Dorothy Thompson at thewriterslife@gmail.com.  Please put the name of the book in the subject line and let us know the name of your blog and the link.  Thanks!


A List of Offences

A List of Offences

by Dilruba Z .Ara

In a lush Bengali village, a much-longed-for daughter is born with hair the color of sunlight on the river. The shock of the child’s silvery hair makes the midwife wet herself in the birthing room – an omen for village gossip. A life of misfortune is predicted for the baby girl Daria, who grows up not wholly unaffected by the rumors that circulate around her village every time she does anything unusual. The women in her family and in her village expect her to follow the cultural behavior in which women are taught from infancy to keep silent about things that may belittle their value in the marriage market.

Meanwhile, Mizan, an orphan boy, is stranded by the river after a flood. Daria’s parents shelter him, but off stage a servant of the family mistreats him. Because he can read and write, Mizan’s only recourse is to make a secret list of the mistreatments, which he titles “A List of Offences.”

However, Daria’s father, who also fears that village gossip will follow Daria to her future in-laws’ family, plans to save her from her inauspicious destiny by marrying her off with Mizan. But Daria falls in love with handsome lawyer Ali Baba and marries him. Leaving her village for the city and her husband’s home, she finds that his mother is obsessively bitter that he has married a country bumpkin. Daria forces herself to put up with her new family, for as a married woman she no longer belongs to her parental family. Both pride and fear of angering her own mother keep her silent for a long time, until she herself begins to make her own personal “List of Offences” and becomes a mother herself.

“I think what inspired A LIST OF OFFENCES is that I have seen how girls are raised and treated,” explains author Dilruba Z. Ara. “In Third World countries you can see a pattern where girls always have to fight for their rights – even within the family. They are told to keep quiet: you do not talk about things that might signal you out as an unsuitable girl in your social orbit; even if you’ve been raped you hide that. In the book, Daria’s story is only a micro version of the macro thing that has been happening within families… home has been the center of repression for girls for ages.

Ara adds that there is a double irony in these situations: “Politically, they’ve been suppressed by the men, and strangely enough, also by elderly women. These elderly women were themselves abused as younger women; yet, when they get older and are empowered with motherhood and as caretakers of families they align themselves with men who normally represent power and embrace the age-old-pattern where bullying the younger women is acknowledged!  It’s a sensitive issue from the female perspective, but to change the role of younger women one has to understand the mechanism of this inherited pattern and fight it. Daria’s story shows that even a village girl can change her life by changing her mind-set.”

A LIST OF OFFENCES, Ara’s first novel, was originally published in 2006 in Dhaka, Bangladesh by University Press Limited, a leading publishing house. Translation rights were sold to Spain in Greece and were in print in 2008. The Spanish translation was a bestseller in parts of South America, and the Greek version made a huge impact in Greece, where Ara was hosted in several media and at the Book Fair in 2008. Although the English-language version has been available only in Dhaka, it has been reviewed in several countries and studied at various universities. Ara is also the author of many short stories, published to great acclaim in many international anthologies and used as course material in universities around the world.

Ara attributes her passion for women’s rights to her late father, Shahed Ali, a renowned Bengali author who wrote about women’s issues. “He taught me to be alert to familial things. Even though this book is about Indian/Bengali culture, it’s about how you can subdue someone in your family if you have the power– it’s family bullying. My Swedish friends recognize it even in their families. In Spain, the book has initiated an online forum about family bullying. One Indian reader told me that my book gave her the courage to get out of a dysfunctional marriage after forty years of suffering.”


The Birr Elixir The Birr Elixir

By Jo Sparkes

Marra had never heard of Birr Elixir.

But when Drail of the Hand of Victory saw the words in an old book, she found herself agreeing to make it. Even lacking the right ingredient.

And after drinking it, the Hand of Victory defeated a Skullan team, something no one had ever done before. Now Drail walked the path his grandsire had walked, and Marra was offered a place as Brista, his potions mistress. She doubted her ability, but took the chance to escape her slave-like existence.

When she found a way to wake the mysterious sleeper, Marra wondered if she deserved the title after all.

But with Tryst’s waking, ill luck and bad things suddenly dogged their tracks. Drail, being a man of action, saw only the good in people. Marra lacked his faith, but was frozen by her own timidity. When the time came to confront these enemies, would Tryst stand with them or against them?

Would it make any difference?


Harkness cover Harkness

By Michael Bigham

In this thrilling debut novel by Michael Bigham, Sheriff Matt Harkness faces a perilous challenge. He isn’t your typical Western sheriff. Cowboy boots make his arches ache, he’s phobic of horses, he drives an old battered pickup and his faithful companion is a wiener dog named Addison. Set on the Oregon High Desert in 1952, life in the small town of Barnesville has been easy-going for Matthew until a star-crossed teen-age couple disappears. Harkness is the keeper of secrets in his little town and to solve the crime, he must decide which secrets to expose. One secret involves Judge Barnes, the county’s most powerful man. But Harkness has a secret of his own: he’s in love with the Judge’s wife. How much is Harkness willing to risk to catch a murderer?