Fellow Book Worms :)

My Bookish Friends :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Old Stack Back Now

There's something fun about visiting my parents' place each time. Apart from the obvious reason of being pampered crazy and living again my days of pre-marriage and a mumma-papa's girl, there is another something that I look forward to - rummaging through the book cupboard and sorting through my old books.

When I got married I left for a different city, and over the years, I have ended up building a huge collection of personal books that I love, so it was a little difficult to bring in all the books from my parents' place at once. And my husband, who is definitely not a book-worm, was petrified that soon our home would get smothered by books, with no space left without a book-corner. Of course that's the plan really, without telling him I am slowly doing exactly that ;)

So each time I visit my parents, I dive into the old book cupboard and begin sorting through my old books. Depending on what catches my fancy then (I will be honest, I love ALL my books equally and its really difficult to choose a favourite for that particular time), I bring them out, dust them carefully, and then quietly smuggle them in my suitcase, hiding them under piles of clothes, that will let me take them out discreetly and display on the bookshelves back home - I always hope that my husband will never notice, and he always does notice the significant rise in the number of books on the bookshelves. So much so that he dreads it each time I visit my parents, imagining the number of books I will bring back yet again!!! and warning me about not getting back any more books now...

This time I am getting back these titles from my parents' cupboards, check them out for yourselves:

Miss Marple's Final Cases by Agatha Christie

The Citadel by A.J. Cronin

Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

War Brides by Helen Bryan

The Wedding by Danielle Steel

Silas Marner by George Elliot

The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith

But does a book-worm ever cease being a book-worm? My poor hubby, I hope he realises it for his own benefit ;)

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Author Interview: Marie Therese Browne, Author of Olga: A Daughter's Tale

Author Marie Therese Browne

The real Olga at age 88!

Olga at age 15

I recently got the chance to chat up with the wonderful author Marie Therese Browne, who is the author of this lovely book Olga: A Daughter's Tale. She sent me her book all the way from the UK, and I must admit, it was really unputdownable. After reading the book myself, I would definitely like to recommend it to all of you book lovers, especially since this book will touch a familiar chord with readers from all across the globe.

Here is some of the chat we had about the book and about the author:

Debolina: How did the thought of writing a book come to your mind?
Author: I discovered so many different things as I was researching the book. I learnt about Jamaica, it's history, the period, the folklore and my family - in particular my mother and I thought it was such an epic story from Jamaica to London, it just screamed at me - write it down, and now it's screaming at me - make a movie:)

Debolina: Why did you want to write a book on a family saga that is YOUR family saga?
Author: Because it's true and truth is stranger than fiction.

Debolina: What kind of response did you receive? Was it expected?
Author: I self published my book on Lulu.com because I only wanted my family and friends to have copies, and because they loved the book so much they encouraged me to try and find a wider audience which is what I'm doing now. So far all the reviews I've got for Olga have been very good. That tells me that people like a good inspirational human interest story.

Debolina: A lot of diary entries have been used in your book to give it a real feel - are these entries for real or are these part of your writing style? Author: You're the first person that's asked me if the diary entries are part of my writing style and yes, they are. I first got the idea to write the book about 1996 but until around 2006 I couldn't find my voice! I looked at writing it from my mother's point of view, my own and a third person narrative, but none of it worked for me so I left it alone for 10 years!. In 2006 by chance I started to read Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' which is written with diary entries and letters. Bingo!! I’d found my voice.

Debolina: How did you research for this book?
Author: Once I had made contact with my mother’s family I went to Jamaica to visit them. Six of her sisters were still alive although very elderly. I got quite a lot of information from them. My local library in Brighton, UK, was good for the history and culture of Jamaica and the National Archive in Kew just outside London was a brilliant resource. There they have over 1,000 years of historical records. I went there to search ships' passengers' lists. I was particularly interested in the ships that sailed back and forth between the West Indies and London at the end of 19th and beginning of 20th century. And the other great research resource for me was the Jamaican Gleaner, Jamaica’s national newspaper which has a great archive section.

Debolina: What was the reaction of the real Olga when you told her about the book?
Author: Mum died before I had completed the book - in fact I hadn’t really started to write it. I did all the research for it while she was alive. She knew I was going to write the book and at first wasn’t too happy about it but when I told her I wanted future generations of our family to know about her and her siblings, I had her blessing.

Debolina: Many old photographs and sketches are part of this book, How did you come about all this material? Was it difficult to persuade your family to share these memories?
Author: On the cover of the book are three pictures. One is an old photograph of London Bridge; one is of my mother, Olga, when she was about 15, and the main coloured one on the front is from a very old Jamaican tourist book. Some pictures were given to me others but not all.

Debolina: You mentioned you have mainly written this book to pass on your family story to your coming generations. Has anyone in the next gen in your family read this book yet? What has been the reaction?
Author: Most of my family have read the book and loved it, including my two sons. There are some distant cousins in Canada whom I don’t believe have read it.

Debolina: We all want to know how is the real Olga now, where does she live and what does she do?
Author: My mother, the real Olga, never left the UK once she arrived in 1939 and died there in October 2006.

Debolina: Have you written/planning to write anything else?
Author: I think there is a sequel to ’Olga – A Daughter’s Tale’ and I’m considering that. If you’ve finished reading the book, let me know what you think? (Debolina: I definitely think there should be a sequel) :D

Debolina: How do you think this book will connect with the international audience?
Author: I think it will connect very well. It’s a great human interest story about families and their dysfunctionality, it's mothers and their love for their children – it’s a story all families can relate to wherever they are.

Debolina: Who are your favourite authors and what are the different genres of work you prefer to read?
Author: I have three favourite authors. Charles Dickens, Isabel Allende and Oscar Wilde. I like inspirational stories but generally I read most genres, except paranormal. I don’t get that! My favourite book is Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.

Debolina's recommendation: A must-read.

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Review: All And Nothing By Raksha Bharadia

When BlogAdda came up with this new concept in India of doing book review by bloggers, I signed up with much excitement. And the first book that I have received for review is Raksha Bharadia’s fiction novel ‘All And Nothing.’

Take a look at the opening paragraph:
‘Tina stood on the balcony of Pragya’s apartment waiting for the phone to ring. The old-fashioned black instrument was at an arm’s distance from where she stood, just inside the small, sparingly furnished living room. The sky outside was dark…seagulls, crows, pigeons flying above were just fleeting shadows. The notorious never-sleeping city seemed, at this early hour, uncannily asleep. Silence ruled in this otherwise so-noisy metropolis. But Tina’s heart was somersaulting.’

I mostly base my decision for purchasing a book based on the first page, the idea being that if the first page, or the first 2-3 pages at the most, can hold my attention, I will like the book, and most often than not this has worked to my advantage. The first paragraph of Raksha Bharadia’s book caught my attention and I did not put it down then. I liked the way the author described her surroundings and gave the reader a visual image of her words – I feel that is really necessary in a good book, that you can see the story play in front of your eyes even as you are reading. And Raksha’s book did just that.

The story revolves around the main protagonist Tina, who is young and married to her lover and successful carrer guy Aditya. Tina, who is a talented artist herself, gives up her ambitions after her marriage and devotes herself completely to her husband, who forms her whole world. But Aditya has a past that constantly shows up in their present, and no matter how much loving and doting she is, the cracks appear in their marriage, and there comes a time when Tina comes dangerously close to the point of no-return.

While Tina remains the main protagonist, the story also gives us glimpses into the marriage and love-life of four other close friends of Tina’s – Kriya, who is a successful, yet tormented fashion designer, Poorvi, a discontented socialist, Manas, a struggling copywriter who can’t let go of his lover who has now left him, and Upasna, a well-educated yet willing victim of domestic violence.

The novel unfolds to let us in in the complex relationships that all these people are encountering in their lives. As Tina is on the brink and about to lose it all, she makes one last effort and gets all her friends together at a quaint cottage in Mahabaleshwar, where, even in her absence, each of these individuals will fight their personal demons and their past, to try and attempt a fresh start.

The author’s style is contemporary, something the reader of today will identify with easily. The chapters are short and descriptive, and the author uses the technique of flitting between the past and the present.

Book Details: Paperback
Publisher: Rupa & Co.
No. of pages: 223

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Review: Olga, A Daughter's Tale by Marie-Therese Browne

When author Marie Therese Browne sent me a mail asking if I would be interested to review her book 'Olga: A Daughter's Tale' in India, the word she used to describe the genre of her book was 'family-saga'. And that is exactly what got my bookworm spirit really excited.

Marie self-published the book in 2007 for close family and friends, but it was not until the year 2010 that she thought of starting to market the book.

The book is based on real events, chronicling the life of Olga, a young coloured girl, who went to London in 1939 for only a few months, but who could never return back to her family back in Kingston due to world events, tragedy and victimisation.

The beauty of Olga: A Daughter's Tale, is that it draws from real events and news. The author has done a thorough research and the same is evident in her use of real newspaper cuttings, dating as back as the year 1900, she has used real ads that were used in those days, giving us a 'real' glimpse into the situation of coloured and 'black' people at a time when slavery had just been abolished or was being abolished. The dates, the years, are all well researched and genuine.

The story of Olga begins way before Olga will be introduced to the reader, the intention being to give us a complete understanding of the history and background of the events that are to take place as Olga will be introduced later. The characters are well-drawn and etched in our minds for a long time. As you turn the pages, the events keep unfolding in front of your eyes, almost as if you have been transported to a different time and world altogether and are viewing everything in person. The book also shares old B&W photographs that help us understand the times and circumstances better.

What I really loved about the book was that though it has been written by a person from the other side of the globe, and the characters, as well as the story, is based in a part of the world that I have never been in, it was really easy for me to identify with the characters and settings. For all you readers here in India, this book is really a wonderful read, especially as it also gives a very detailed glimpse into the life, cultures and traditions of a race and people that we may not have experienced in person, but will love once we get to know them.

The writing style is flowing and easy to read through quickly. One very interesting thing I noticed in the book is the voice of the book. Marie has used diary entries to tell us of all the events that happened..check out about her style of writing in the interview I am going to do with her....

The book is filled with character and memories. The pages are made beautiful with sketches, diary entries, old newspaper advertisements and cut-outs.

You can easily order the book here:
1. Paperback copy at www.lulu.com/mariecampbell $13.49
2. Paperback copy at Amazon Books $9.95
3. Kindle eBook http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004J4W024 $0.99
4. ebook available to download in all formats at this link $0.99
No. of pages: 267

My verdict: Must-Read

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, June 20, 2011

More Book Reviews Courtesy BlogAdda

Its suddenly a busy time this side, as I am getting new books to review, from authors, book sites, as well as on my own.

A few days ago I got a few books for myself.

Then an author from overseas just sent me her book for reviewing in India.

And now, courtesy the Indian blogging site BlogAdda and their new and interesting initiative, I got in my mailbox today a book titled 'All And Nothing' by Raksha Bhadaria.

I am super excited and this is going to be a super-fun week, with lots on my reading list and yes, more numbers filling in on my Book-Reading Challenges List :D

So here I go, off to my bookish world, and when I am somewhat done, will come back and tell you what I read and how I liked it...till then...happy reading !!!!

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sunday, June 19, 2011

An Unputdownable Book In My Mail

A few days back I got this amazing gift in my mailbox - the book Olga, A Daughter's Tale, sent to me by the author Marie Therese Browne. The book has already been published a few years back and is available on Amazon, Kindle and other channels, but for book lovers like me here in India, this was a godsend, as I had not got any access to reviews for this book before, and was pleasantly surprised when I first received a mail from Marie asking if I would read and talk about her book here, especially for the Indian audience.

When she described the book to me, it sounded perfect and just the kind of books I love - stories that are drawn from families, that have traveled over different generations and that present a picture of the culture and life of a set of people. When Marie described her book to me, I knew immediately that this was one book I really wanted in my collection.

So a few days later the book arrived in my mail, and I will admit, it has simply been un-putdownable !!! With B&W photographs to real hand-made sketches from people who have been a part of the family a few generations ago, the book has its own character that is sure to mesmerise anyone who reads it.

I am just about to finish it and have also got the chance to have a chat with the author Marie herself, a detail of which I will share here soon to give readers an idea to her vision and why she wrote the book. As I am going to finish reading the book soon, I will review it here and you can decide for yourself whether you want to read it or not, though I will highly recommend the book to you all.

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Got Yesterday

Finally I managed to pick these up yesterday at the book store. Its been raining cats and dogs here, and of course I never read any reason to dig into a book, but the rainy season is one of my most favourites, with the wind rushing in through the open windows, the sea outside crashing and moving in waves, while I snuggle inside my cosy comforter and prop myself up on the comfy pillows, with my darling in my arms - my books ;)

And I am even more happy to say that just as I proudly call myself a born bookworm, my daughter too is definitely as much a bookworm as me, if not more. So we headed to the bookstore yesterday, hand in hand, both sporting that smile on our faces as we entered our book paradise. This is what I got:

A Room Of One's Own by Virgina Woolf

I have been dying and dying to read this one, especially as I have only read one masterpiece of Virginia Woolf - Mrs. Dalloway. I had always meant to read more by her, but somehow, never got to it. And yesterday when I walked in to the bookstore, there it was, standing out proudly among the other titles, looking straight at me.

The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk

I read The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk and loved the way he described his city and culture and the different customs and daily lives of locals. I am always interested to know more about different cultures and about the way people in other parts live their life. So it was an extremely interesting read for me, and I am definitely looking forward to reading this one now.

Such A Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry

For those of you who have ever visited Mumbai (Bombay, India), you will know you have visited a city that has many stories to tell - each single day. And if you have not yet been to this beautiful city, reading a copy of Rohinton Mistry's Maximum City - Mumbai, will make sure you know of all those 'real' stories that are happening in the city of Mumbai, starting from the infamous bar-dancers, to the drug mafia, to Bollywood, life in a chawl and much much more. As much as I was mesmerised by this book, I knew I would love to read more by the same author. So here I am, sitting proudly with another title from Rohinton Mistry.

- Debolina Raja Gupta