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Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Member Of The Familky by Nick Vasile

On the cover jackt:

'Based on his own experiences in law enforcement - three decades of high-level mob investigations - Nick Vasile gives us a novel that reverberates with authenticity.

Paul Dante is hired by the Washington DC Mafia to track down their grandfather's missing son-in-law. He quickly learns that the young man is not a trusted 'member of the family' but an FBI informant. A violent psycopath who kills and tortures for pleasure, Orsini will, if let unchecked, destroy everything in his path - friends, family, the Bureau itself.
Dante finds a world turned upside-down, where morality is measured in magnum bullets, where a blood-crazed federal informant is more dangerous than the Mafia bosses he has been paid to put away.

Praise for the book:

'A terrific read. Captures the thinking of high-level mobsters perfectly' - Vincent Patrick, author of The Pope of Greenwich Village

'J.Edgar Hoover and the Brothers Kennedy made an unholy pact with a certain Mafia family. Nick's premise and his book ring true. One hell of a read' - Ed Gorman, award-winning author of Night Kills.

'Powerful...Vasile is a George V Higgins for the 90's' - Loren D. Estleman, award-winning author of Kill Zone.

'Was Hoover in bed with the mob? Vasile may well convince you...A powerhous!' - Jack Anderson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist.

Debolina's Verdict: On my reading list

- Debolina Raja Gupta

The Older The Better

As we stepped into March, the first thing I did was to rush to my favourite book-place and get a set of new books. I had been craving to buy more books for a long time now. Its kind of an obsession with me, sorting through hundreds of titles, running my hand over the cover and through the pages, checking out the cover image, and of course, that one thing that all us booklovers all over the world always do (and make others think we are kind of nuts), smelling the pages......aaaahhhh....I love that for sure.

I was on a kind of book-shopping ban by my hubby...and he had requested me to not buy any more books till March...you see, I have 200+ books in my collection and of course I am always bringing home more to stay with me. And not that I have a dearth of new books to read. So as soon as the calendar turned from Feb to March I was at my favourite joint.

There's this wonderful old place near where I live. It has a huge collection of books and is a very unassuming kind of place. What I really like about it is that it is NOT in a mall for a change....I find that really uninteresting...having a bookstore inside a glitzy mall, filled with too much show and pomp....I feel that somehow, amidst all that noise and branding and big names, the books tend to lose their own charm and that is not fair at all...atleast not to my taste.

So this book place that I love has all kinds of books. And the best part is that they have a huuuuuuuuuuge, and I mean huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge collection of old books, books that have been used once, twice, thrice, even more times, have been passed on from one reader to another, and are now waiting for their new friend...And unlike many people, but again, like many book lovers I know, I always like to bring home a book that is old, that has been used many times, that has travelled through many hands and families and places, before it finally settles in with me. And in my search for these books, I have many times come across such amazing books that I would generally not find in a 'regular' 'fresh-off-the-press' bookstore.

Whenever I visit this place I make sure I have ample time on hand. Coz one thing that I really don't like to do is browse through books in a rush. I need my own sweet time to spend with my books.

So, coming back to the interesting books that I keep picking up from this joint of mine, in college I had done a paper on the evil practice of witch-craft in the old American times and the real story behind it. It was something of an eye-opener. Now, I found a very interesting book at this place, the cover was torn with age, and the pages all yellow, but the book was a masterpiece in the understanding of the 'witch' story of ancient America. I brought it home for a mere INR 10/- !!!!! An original USA print.

Another book I have has a letter scrawled on it...Just a 'L'..but by the handwriting I know its not from someone in India. Of course, the book too is not an Indian book, its from France, and has even been printed in France...so I assume that beautiful cursive 'L' is from the hands of a pretty French girl...

One book I found had some interesting scribbling inside. It was mostly notes that had been scribbled in the margins. Again it was quite interesting, as I could visualise an earlier reader leafing through the pages at night by a bedside lamp, the shade illuminating the page, while the reader pored over with a pencil in hand, scribbling notes as he/she read. Yes, the notes were in pencil, another interesting point....

I once found a book that had a name scrawled in fountain pen and a beautiful hand. It was the names of two children, as the book was a children's book that I wanted to read (even though I am officially an adult). Underneath were the words...with love, your granny....beautiful memories from another place again...

I love bringing home books that have a story, a past...it always lends more character to a book. Of course I like fresh new prints too, but nothing like those yellowed books from age-old places, especially the ones that have come from places afar and unknown...and the best thing I love to do here...to smell those pages and get a whiff of that unknown in my life....

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Harare North by Brian Chikwava

On the cover jacket:

'When he lands in London, our unnamed hero carries nothing but a cardboard suitcase full of memories and a longing to be reunited with his childhood friend, Shingi.

He ends up in Shingi's Brixton squat where the inhabitants function at various levels of desperation. Shingi struggles to find meaningful work and to meet the demands of his family back home, ; Tsitsi makes a living renting out her baby to women defrauding Social Services.

As our narrator struggles to make his way in 'Harare North', negotiating life outside the legal economy and battling with the weight of what he has left behind in strife-torn Zimbabwe, every expectation and preconception is turned on its head. This is the story of a stranger in a strange land - one of the thousands of illegal immigrants seeking a better life in England - with a past he is determined to hide.'

Praise for the book:

'It's the darkest of comedies, fuelled by an electric, wholly convincing voice' - Observer.

'A writer to watch. Brian Chikwava's language is lively and witty and it turns the London you know upside down' - Maggie Gee

'An hilarious and wrenching examination of immigrant life...from a prodigiously talented and uncompromising writer' Ali Smith

'Chikwava has created an utterly compelling anti-hero...mesmerising; Guardian

'A debut novel at once lyrical and gritty, offering an unsentimental view of the immigrant experience in London's Brixton'...Scotman

Debolina's verdict: 5/5

- Debolina Raja Gupta

A Plea For Eros by Siri Hustvedt

On the cover jacket:

'Sometimes during my first week in New York City, I was standing in the tiny student-room I had rented, and I turned to look at myself in the small mirror over the sink. I knew the person I was looking at was myself, and yet there was an alien quality to my reflection, an otherness that brought with it feelings of exuberance and celebration. All at once, I was looking at a stranger.

In this illuminating and absorbing collection of essays, Siri Hustvedt explores many of the themes that preoccupy her novels: identity and memory, sexuality and mortality, psychology, love and the power of imagination. But here she offers her personal experience - as daughter, sister, mother and wife, student, reader and writer - to illustrate fundamental aspects of our lives as individuals and social beings in the modern world. She draws, too, on the work of Henry James, F Scott Fitzgerald and Charles Dickens, probing their insights into human nature.

Wise, honest and luminously intelligent, this is a book that invites us to look afresh at ourselves and the universe we inhabit.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

On The Cover: It Takes A Village by Hillary Rodham Clinton

On the cover jacket:

'Ten years ago, one of America's most important public figures, Senator Hillary Rodham CLinton, chronicled her quest both deeply personal and, in the truest sense, public to help make our society into the kind of village that enables children to become able, caring and resilient adults.

The book elucidates how the choices we make about how we raise our children, and how we support families, will determine how all nations will face the challenges of this century.

Praise for the book:

San Franciso Review of Books:
'Wonderful and inspiring.....important and timely.'

Washington Post Book World:
A marvellously conceived book.

New York Times Book Review:

Dallas Morning News:
Filled with truths that are worth a read, and a reread....A textbook for caring."

Debolina's Verdict: 5/5

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

On the cover jacket:

'Why do some people achieve so much more than others? Can they lie so far outside the ordinary? What is the secret of their success?

In this provocative and inspiring book, Malcolm Gladwell examines everyone from business giants to scientific geniuses, sports stars to musicians, and reveals what they have in common. He looks behind the spectacular results, the myths and the legends to show what really explains exceptionally successful people.

Gladwell argues that, when we try to understand success, we normally start with the wrong question. "We ask 'what is this person like?' when we should really be asking 'where are they from?' The real secret of success turns out to be surprisingly simple, and it hinges on a few crucial twists in people's life stories - on the culture they grow up in and the way they spend their time.

What does Bill Gates have in common with the Beatles? How does your IQ relate to your salary? What can a linguist tell us about about airline safety? How does the way your child speaks to an adult affect their success in life? What do rice paddies have to do with maths results? And how can you predict a maths star without even making them take a test?

Malcolm Gladwell has the answers.

This book really will change the way you think about your life. And it will challenge you to make the most of your own potential.'

William Dalrymple

William Dalrymple was born in Scotland and brought up on the shores of Firth of Forth. He is the author of five books of history and travel, including the highly acclaimed bestseller City of Djinns, which won the 1994 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award. His book, White Mughals, garnered a range of prizes, including the prestigious Wolfson Prize for History 2003 and the Scottish Book of the Year Prize. It was also shortlisted for the PEN History Award, the Kiriyama Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. A stage version by Christopher Hampton has been commissioned by the National Theatre and the Tamasha Theatre Company.

A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Asiatic Society, Dalrymple was awarded the 2002 Mungo Park Medal by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society for his 'outstanding contribution to travel literature' and the Sykes Medal of the Royal Society of Asian Affairs in 2005 for his contribution to the understanding of contemporary Islam. He wrote and presented three television series, Stones of the Raj, Sufi Soul and Indian Journeys, the last of which won the Grierson Award for Best Documentary series at BAFTA in 2002. In December 2005, his article on the madrassas of Pakistan was awarded the prize for Print Article of the Year at the 2005 FPA Media Awards.

He is married to the artist Olivia Fraser and they have three children. They divide their time between London, Scotland and Delhi.

By William Dalrymple:


In Xanadu
White Mughals
City of Djinns
The Last Mughal
From the Holy Mountain
The Age of Kali
Nine Lives

Books and DVDs introduced by William Dalrymple:

Sufi Soul, the Mystic Music of Islam (DVD)
Edge of Faith (Book)
Begums, Thugs and White Mughals (Book)
The Monumental India Book (Book)
Visions of Mughal India (Book)
Raghu Rai's Delhi (Book)

The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple

On the cover jacket:

'Winner of the Duff Cooper Prize For History 2007.

Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the last Mughal Emperor, was a mystic, a talented poet and a skilled calligrapher, who, though deprived of real political power by the East India Company, succeeded in creating a court of great brilliance and presided over one of the great cultural renaissances of Indian history. In 1857 it was Zafar's blessing to a rebellion among the Company's own troops that transformed an army mutiny into the largest uprising the British Empire ever had to face.

The Last Mughal
is a portrait of the dazzling Delhi Zafar personified, and the story of the last days of the great Mughal capital and its final destruction in the catastrophe of 1857. Shaped from groundbreaking material, William Dalrymple's powerful retelling of this fateful course of events is an extraordinary revisionist work with clear contemporary echoes. It is the first account to present the Indian perspective on the siege, and has at its heart the stories of the forgotten individuals tragically caught up in one of the bloodiest upheavals in history.

Praise for the book:

Amartya Sen:

"William Dalrymple's captivating book is not only great reading, it contributes very substantially to our understanding of the remarkable history of the Mughal Empire in its dying days, and also to the history of Delhi, of India, of Hindu-Muslim collaboration, and of Indo-British relations in a critically important phase of imperialism and rebellion. It is rare indeed that a work of such consummate scholarship and insight could also be accessible and such fun to read."

Khushwant Singh, Outlook:

"The Last Mughal shows the way history should be written....It rouses deep emotions. It will bring tears to the eyes of every Dilliwala."

Nayanjot Lahiri:

"A compelling, vivid account of the 1857 resistance...The Last Mughal captures the tragedy of a mutilated Mughal capital and its butchered populace."

Debolina's Verdict: 5/5 A Must-Read for any book lover.

Rock Star by Jackie Collins

On the cover jacket:

'Music is their business
Pleasure is their game...

Rock Star blows the lid off the hard-driving lifestyles of today's music superstars.

Kris Phoenix - the legendary and wildly sexy guitar hero.

Bobby Mondella - black soul superstar with a past.

Rafealla - an exotically beautifully girl who comes between them with a vengeance.

Rock Star takes you on a dangerous trip through the jungle of broken dreams and blackmail, hit records and hit men......a jungle of sex, drugs and rock n' roll.

Rock Star is a love story that burns...Feel the heat...'

Praise for the book:

"Essential reading across the world's beaches" - Hello

"Jackie Collins pulls out all the stops with a strong vein of suspense...You'll have a marvellous time" - The Washington Post

'Rock Star is good soap opera. Collins' concern for her characters is strong, as is her usual stramroller narrative drive.' - Vogue

'A genuine page-turner' - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

Debolina's Verdict: 5/5

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Jackie Collins

Author Jacqueline Jill Collins, or more popularly, Jackie Collins, brings the wild and sexy world of super-stardom alive. Her phenomenally successful novels have made her as famous as the movers and shakers, power brokers and superstars she writes about with an insider's knowledge. With over 400 million copies of her book sold in more than 40 countries, Jackie Collins is one of the world's top-selling writers. Most of her books have been converted into movies or TV-series.

In a series of sensational bestsellers, she has blown the lid off Hollywood life and loves.

"It's all true", she says. "I write about real people in disguise. If anything, my characters are toned down - the real thing is much more bizarre."

There have been many imitators, but only Jackie Collins can tell you what really goes on in the fastest lane of all. From Beverley Hills bedrooms to a raunchy prowl along the streets of Hollywood. From glittering rock parties and concerts to stretch limos and the mansions of the power-brokers - Jackie Collins chronicles the real truth.

A fun read when you are not in the mood for something serious or thought-provoking, but simply want to relax and enjoy some juicy fiction, only, in this case, the author claims that what she writes is actually the complete truth - even more interesting ;)

Collins now lives her life, in her own words, "like a cool bachelor. I have a man for all seasons." She resides in Beverly Hills in a mansion she designed herself.

Books by Jackie Collins:
The World Is Full Of Married Men
The Stud
Sinners (first published as Sunday Simmons and Charlie Brick)
The Love Killers (first published as Lovehead)
The World Is Full Of Divorced Women
Lovers & Gamblers
The Bitch
Rock Star
American Star
Lovers & Players
Married Lovers
Hollywood Series:

Hollywood Wives
Hollywood Husbands
Hollywood Kids
Hollywood Wives: The New Generation
Hollywood Divorces
The Santangelo Novels:

Lady Boss
Vendetta: Lucky's Revenge
Dangerous Kiss
Drop Dead Beautiful
Poor Little Bitch Girl
Goddess Of Vengeance (due in 2011)
Madison Castelli Series:

L.A. Connections (serialised novel)
Lethal Seduction
Deadly Embrace