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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sneaky-Peeky Sunday: This Burns My Heart by author Samuel Park

As part of the 'Sneaky-Peeky Sunday' initiative by The Book Worm, I am copying the page I am reading right now from the book 'This Burns My Heart' by author Samuel Park.

'....though in life the boy had been light, and not very tall. Chu-Sook would, in fact, have been surprised to see the effort it took to carry him; similar to the effort it took to find him, after a long search in the river. Were it not for the school uniform he wore, they would not have recognised him - with his face smashed out, bits of grenade still lodged in his skull.
They'd been marching from his mother's shack toward Daegu city hall, starting with a group of about a hundred people, led by Yul in front, and Soo-Jaa and Chu-Sook's mother next to him. Yul had been expected in Seoul hours earlier, but he'd stayed behind to lead this extemporaneous protest. Night fell somewhere along the way, and the chants grew less angry and more mournful, turning the walk into a funeral procession.
Word spread quickly of the discovery of the body, and the crowd seemed to grow with each block; first the students from the nearby high schools and universities, then everybody else, until almost all the denizens of the town seemed to have left their homes and joined the demonstration. Along the way, Soo-Jaa had to help Chu-Sook's mother remain steady a few times. Her spirit appeared to leave her body, becoming a mere bag of tissue and bones, unable to walk or remain upright. Soo-Jaa had to hold her with her arms around her back, until her strength returned. The other protestors glanced occasionally at them. Word had spread about Chu-Sook's mother, but no one knew who Soo-Jaa was, which made her glad; she did not want the presence of a woman of her social class to serve as a distraction.
Once in a while, Soo-Jaa would glance over at Yul and wonder how his lungs never got tired. He chanted with enormous conviction, and part of Soo-Jaa felt self-conscious, watching him. It reminded her of being in church, in the middle of a group prayer, and opening her eyes before the others did. It seemed terribly intimate, to see the parishioners like that, with their lips still moving. Here was Yul, too, unaware of Soo-Jaa's gaze lingering over him.
Soo-Jaa wondered if he sensed the same thing she did - that in spite of their momentary closeness, they would probably never see each other again after that night. There were boys being killed, and generals........'

(My copy of This Burns My Heart by author Samuel Park has been provided as a complimentary review copy by the publishers Simon & Schuster)

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

I had been hearing a lot about this one book that suddenly everyone was talking about. Whether I checked other book bloggers, browsed on the book sites, or generally read reviews about new and interesting books, everyone had some exciting and really good comments about this book. Everyone was recommending this book to friends and on sites.

The book I am talking about is ‘Room’ by author Emma Donoghue.

I was reading a few heavy-weight books just before I picked up this one, so my mind was on a lighter genre. But since I had just received ‘Room’ in my mail, one look at the cover and the blurb and it definitely became a read-right-now sort of a book.

Before I go on to the review, here is a short look at the opening lines, which got me hooked almost immediately:
‘Today I’m five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracadabra. Before that I was three, then two, then one, then zero. “Was I minus numbers?”
“Hmmm?” Ma does a big stretch.
“Up in Heaven. Was I minus one, minus two, minus three - ?”
“Nah, the numbers didn’t start till you zoomed down.”

It is quite difficult to review Room entirely without giving away the story. But I will attempt to give you a feel of this amazing book that I have still not been able to come out of. Room is the story of five-year-old Jack and his Ma. The book opens with Jack turning five. Jack and his Ma live in a single eleven-by-eleven ROOM. This is Jack’s world, the world he has known since the time of his birth, the one single ROOM where he has lived his entire existence, the place he thinks is the world. He knows this ROOM to be the only real place, that anything or anyone can exist beyond this room is out of his wildest imagination.
This ROOM, his world, is precious to him. There is Bed where Ma sleeps, there is Wardrobe inside which he sleeps, there is Rug, Lamp, TV, all of which are real identities for him, objects that take on individual personalities to which he is emotionally attached. Ma is the only ‘real’ human being he has ever come in contact with. The rest of the humans he sees are inside TV, and he knows it’s a make-believe world, all these pictures of trees, birds, sun, moon, girls, boys, people – he knows all these are simply made-up things, just like the stories he hears from Ma.
That Jack and Ma have been kept isolated in a Room forcibly is evident. Why and by whom is something that the reader will slowly discover, a discovery that will rip apart your feelings.
The first few lines of the story are evidence enough of Emma Donoghue’s immense understanding of children. That she chooses to use five-year-old Jack’s voice for the story is a commendable feat, one that takes us to the depths of innocence, which lets us delve into the curiosities of a little mind, as well as take hope in the immense positivity of a young mind that is yet untarnished by the world outside. Emma Donoghue has been successful in understanding the workings of the young minds. There is detailing in her observation of children. From little details like the names of cartoon characters, their peculiarities, their songs, actions and stories, to the more observant details of the kind of questions little ones have, more specifically, to the way they put forth these questions and observations – Emma Donoghue has succeeded in capturing it fully.
Room comes with a measure of suspense. The reader is always hooked on to the story – why is Jack scared, who is coming, why is Ma scared, why are they inside this room in the first place, how come no one knows, will they get any help, will Jack ever know there is a world outside that ‘really’ exists? These are questions that will assail you from the first few pages itself.
For Jack, the ROOM is his world, it’s the place he loves, it’s the place whose every nook and corner he is aware of, it’s his play-place, his rest-place, his home.
For Ma, the ROOM is a cell where she is captive, a windowless room that is claustrophobic with its walls and boundaries, with the horror that it brings forth.
Room is a book that will make you look at life all over again, with a fresh new perspective. It will teach you to think many times before you take anything for granted anymore, it will make you realize the importance of all that you have, it will make you value your freedom, your life.

Details about the book: Paperback
Title: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue
Year: 2010
Publishers: Picador
No. of Pages: 401

Get your copy of this book here:

Personal verdict: Must-Read

- Debolina Raja Gupta

On My Book-List Today: Emma Donoghue, Samuel Park, Andrew Davidson

Another fun week went by and here I am with my new set of books...the ones that I finished reading and the ones that I am, or am going to, read soon.

Just Finished:

A Walk To Remember by author Nicholas Sparks

Room by author Emma Donoghue

Currently Reading:

This Burns My Heart by author Samuel Park (this has been sent as a review copy by the publishers Simon & Schuster through BookPleasures)

Will Be Reading Soon:

Gargoyle by author Andrew Davidson (this has been sent as a review copy by author Andrew Davidson)

A very very interesting mix of genres, and I am super-excited...Andrew's book just arrived today, and this is one of those genres I have never read, so that adds up to the mystery factor even more, and Im really looking forward to it.

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Friday, July 29, 2011

Review: Dream's Sake by author Jyoti Arora

Dream’s Sake by author Jyoti Arora

Before I share the review, here’s a look at the first paragraph of the book:
‘’Terror does Diwali shopping in Delhi – killing 55, hurting 1555,’ the old newspaper clipping proclaimed as it trembled within her fingers.
Those weren’t just numbers, even if they had been correct. Those were people blown into bits. And people left behind to die in bits after them.
But Aashi had died quite enough. It was time to start living again.
She would have torn that paper and thrown it away. But her fingers didn’t obey. She wanted to erase its black words entirely from her memory. But she could not, not yet, anyway. For there was her father in that paper, one among the fifty five dead.
Aashi could not let go of the dead. But it was time now for her to start living again. She had already taken her first step back into life.’

As the story begins with a little background check on the protagonist Aashi, the opening lines hold promise. Aashi is a young woman with modern sensibilities, she lives in the Indian capital of Delhi, and she is a strong and ambitious woman, often shrewd and selfish. As the story progresses, we see that one thing our protagonist really believes in, is to use all and any means for your own success, ignoring the fact that it may hurt those near you, those you may love, and those who love you.

The story is about a young girl Aashi, who dreams of having her own clothes boutique someday, and to get there, she is ready to do anything, to ignore any advances of real love or feelings from her neighbor and friend Abhi, only because he is a handicap now, and this would not do good for her in the long run. She chooses to latch on to first one guy, since he is rich and will inherit a huge fortune from his father, and later, once she realizes this guy will clearly not give her the time of day, she moves on to another ‘friend’ in the group, a richer and more sophisticated guy named Raj. All in pursuit of her dreams of being rich and having an upscale life someday.

Aashi truly believes she has a right to fight for her dreams, that it is okay, and in fact, necessary, to survive in this tough, and often unfair, world. We can give her that much, many of us would really feel the same way, to be honest. So, our author had indeed done quite a real, if not goody-goody, portrayal of the main protagonist.

Now coming back to the other characters, namely Abhi, his sister Priyam, their friend Sid, and later another rival friend Raj – the characters have been portrayed well to begin with, but a few pages down, it all starts to become quite ‘made up.’

For starters, the two brothers and sisters have been ‘adopted’ by their friend Sid’s father, and have been given a home to live in on their own. That too when this friend has kind of disowned his father, due to suspicions of him being the reason for the suicide of his mother. Since he does not like his father and his super-huge house, he chooses to spend his time with his friends in their home, coming back from work every single day to have dinner together. The sister stays at home the whole day, looking after household chores and cooking for the ‘men’. Though the readers are informed that the brother and sisters have a deficit finance system, there was much this young girl could have achieved by going out and actually doing some work, at least that’s what young women do these days. But sadly, her character is only shown in the kitchen or the garden, giving shy and loving glances to Sid, for a love that is mutual.

The author is a self-proclaimed lover of English classics, and the same is evident in her work. But sadly, her interpretation of the same in an India-centric novel does not work at all. After the first few pages, the characters and the situations, all start to look too made-up. The language, which is in some parts, clearly an influence from the English classics, does not suit the tone of the book. For instance, here’s a look at two passages from the book:
1. “He was leaning against the basin with his long legs crossed in front of him and a cookie jar held securely in the crook of his arm. Half a specimen of its content was in his right hand and the other half was in the process of being chewed by his strong jaw.
The picture of a man eating direct from a cookie jar contrasted sharply with Aashi’s image of a dignified gentleman. But she wasn’t surprised. As far as Aashi knew, gentlemen had really become a very rare breed.”

2. “Minute after agonizing minute passed in cruel suspense as the three women waited. No word had they yet heard from either Raj or Sid. The unrelenting hands of clock slashed away their hopes as time crawled away on its course. Aashi would perhaps have ran away to carry out her own search. But her mother’s urgings and Priyam’s condition bound her feet.”

Author Jyoti Arora has a strong story to tell, but somehow, the final product seems to be disappointing, and a few pages down, the promise of the first few pages is lost.
The book is very poorly edited, with frequent grammatical mistakes, and this is clearly something that the publishers have looked over.
The book may not have exactly appealed to me, but I am sure there will be others who will find it interesting enough. Make your choice.
A good story from a debut author, and I really hope that the author takes this in the right spirit and takes it as constructive criticism. Also, it would do much good if the publishing house would care to re-print after carefully editing her work and give it the due it deserves…
Way to go Jyoti, and wish you luck…

About the book: (Paperback)
Title: Dream’s Sake
Author: Jyoti Arora
Publishers: V&S Publishers
No. of pages: 255

Personal verdict: Not my choice

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, July 25, 2011

Colin Jackson The Autobiography by Colin Jackson: First Page Mondays

Another Monday and today, I am going to share with you the first page from the book 'The Autobiography' by one of the greatest British athletes of all time - Colin Jackson. Here is the first page of the book:

'I was, my family say, born running. At least, I was walking at nine months, which is ridiculously early, running at 12 months, running strongly three months later. They remember me constantly running, climbing onto the highest and most dangerous places and jumping off. They spent their lives trying to keep me from serious injury. My sister Suzanne once put me in hospital trying to protect me: she was always shutting doors to keep me in, and this time I was too fast for her; I was halfway through the door, and she slammed it on to my fingers. As far back as I can remember, all I ever wanted to do was run fast. I loved it. Even at the end of my professional athletics career, as a grand old man of my track, when I hit it right, I still fell the pure elation. It is like flying, like nothing else on earth – like freedom.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sneaky-Peeky Sunday: Room by author Emma Donoghue

As part of the Sneaky-Peeky Sunday, an initiative of The Book Worm, here's a peek into the book I am currently reading. The book is titled 'Room' and is by author Emma Donoghue. Here's a peek into the page I am at right now.

'....some in the warddrobe, I have to keep asking Ma where she puts them.
She's reading one of her books with no pictures but I bring her the picture ones instead. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a terrible waster, he just eats holes through strawberries and salamis and everything and leaves the rest. I can put my actual finger through the holes, I thought somebody teared the book but Ma says it was made that way on purpose to be extra fun. I like Go, Dog, Go more, especially when they fight with tennis rackets.
Noreen knocks with somethings very exciting, the first are softy stretchy shoes like socks but made of leather, the second is a watch with just numbers so I can read it like Watch. I say, "The time is nine fifty-seven." It's too small for Ma, it's just mine, Noreen shows me how to tight the strap on my wrist.
"Presents every day, he'll be getting spoiled," says Ma, putting her mask up to blow her nose again.
"Dr. Clay said, whatever gives the lad a bit of a sense of control," says Noreen. When she smiles her eyes crinkle. "Probably a bit homesick, aren't you?"
"Homesick?" Ma's staring at her.
"Sorry, I didn't - "
"It wasn't a home, it was a soundproofed cell."
"That came out wrong, I beg your pardon," says Noreen.
She goes in a hurry. Ma doesn't say anything, she just writes in her notebook.'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On The Cover: Dream's Sake by Author Jyoti Arora

I am currently reading the debut novel by author Jyoti Arora, based in India. She sent me a copy for review and I have only recently started reading it. So here's the blurb from the cover of the book:

' He can be as good as he wants to be and I'll be as bad as I need to be! We'll see where it all ends up,' says Aashi.

She believes she has a right to fight for her dreams. She believes a little bit of selfishness is necessary to survive in this world. Abhi, however, has not learnt that lesson. And he can't accept the fulfillment of his hopes when they seem to rise from the ruins of Aashi's dreams.

His sister Priyam and friend Sid are made from much the same mould. And in the path of their love too lies a dream - the dream of a dead and betrayed mother.

Feelings rise, and are suppressed. Past grips the present and threatens the future. Memories refuse to wane their shadows from the heart. Hope and despair fight a battle. Guilt rises up and resent the forgiveness. Revenge weaves a web. Friendship is tested. And love demands a sacrifice. A tumultous battle wages on...

What lies at the end of this battle?'

Hmmm.....frankly, I would not have picked up this book at the bookstore at the first go, more so because the cover jacket does not describe the kind of books I generally go for, its my personal view. But since this has come as a copy for review and the author has asked me to read and review it, I have started recently and will let you know how I feel about the book.

- Debolina Raja Gupta

What I Read, What I Am Reading and What I Am Going To Read

Another new week and another new set of books. So here's a look at what I finished reading, what I am reading now, and what I am looking forward to reading next :)

Just Finished Reading: Such A Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry

Currently Reading: Dream's Sake by Jyoti Arora

Next On My Reading List: 'Tis by Frank McCourt

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, July 18, 2011

First Page Mondays: 'Tis by Frank McCourt

Here's the first page of the book 'Tis by Frank McCourt:

'That’s your dream out now.

That’s what my mother would say when we were children in Ireland and a dream we had came true. The one I had over and over was where I sailed into New York Harbour awed by the skyscrapers before me. I’d tell my brothers and they’d envy me for having spent a night in America till they began to claim they’d had that dream, too. They knew it was a sure way to get attention even though I’d argue with them, tell them I was the oldest, that it was my dream and they better stay out of it or there would be trouble. They told me I had no right to that dream for myself, that anyone could dream about America in the far reaches of the night and there was nothing I could do about it. I told them I could stop them. I’d keep them awake all night and they’d have no dreams at all. Michael was only six and here he was laughing at the picture of me going from one of them to the other trying to stop their dreams of the New York skyscrapers. Malachy said I could do nothing about his dreams because he was born in Brooklyn and could dream about America all night and well into the day if he liked. I appealed to my mother. I told her it wasn’t fair the way the whole family was invading my dream and she said, Arrah, for the love o’ God, drink your tea and go to school and stop tormenting us with your dreams.'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sneaky-Peeky Sunday: Such A Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry

As part of the Sneaky-Peeky Sunday, an initiative of The Book Worm, here's a peek into the book I am currently reading: Such A Long Journey by author Rohinton Mistry.

'...the extent of his frustrations, for the wall was dear to him.
Years ago, when Major Bilimoria had first moved to Khodabad Building, when the water supply was generous and the milk from Parsi Dairy was both creamy and affordable, there had been a surge of construciton activity everywhere in the city. The neighbourhood of Khodabad Building was not spared either, and tall structures began going up around it. The first to be blotted out was the setting sun - an office building was erected on the west side. Although it was only six stories, that was enough, for Khodabad Building was but three, being short and wide: ten flats in a row, stacked three high, with five entrances and stairways for each adjacent set of flats.
Shortly afterwards, construction started to the east as well. It was clear to all thirty tenants that an era had ended. Fortunately, the work dragged on for over ten years because of cement shortages, labour problems, lack of equipment and, once, the collapse of an entire wing due to adulterated cement, resulting in the deaths of seven workers. Youngsters from Khodabad Building went to the construction site to gaze in awe at the dark blotch on the ground and wondered if that was the spot where the seven had perished, where their lifeblood had oozed out. The delays provided respite for Khodabad Building, and in time there grew a gradual acceptance of the altered landscape.
With the increase in traffic and population, the black stone wall became more important than ever. It was the sole provider of privacy, especially for Jimmy and Gustad when they did their kustis at dawn. Over six feet high, the wall ran the length of the compound, sheltering them from non-Parsi eyes while they prayed with the glow spreading in the east.
But to hell with privacy, to hell with the wall, to hell with the stink, said Gustad. Tubes of Odomos were purchased, and the ointment rubbed on all exposed parts, though the mosquitoes continued to buzz and sting and madden. For some reason, the ointment worked efficaciously for him. Half the night he spent scratching and swatting and cursing.
To take his mind off it, Dilnavaz told him about a childhood neighbour who was immune to mosquitoes. 'It's a true story,' she said. 'When he was a little boy, this man ate lots of mosquitoes. Purposely or by mistake, it is not sure. You know how children put........'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Review - River of Smoke By Author Amitav Ghosh

The first word that may come to your mind when you see the book River of Smoke is ‘big.’ Literally. It’s a huge book, especially since it’s available only in hardcover right now, and it is 500+ pages thick, 553 to be precise.
If you have read the first in the Ibis trilogy, The Sea of Poppies, you are already aware of what the story is all about. But for those of you who missed out on the first one, here’s a quick recap of what happens before the ‘River of Smoke’ begins.
‘In September 1838, a storm blows up on the Indian Ocean and the Ibis, a ship carrying a consignment of convicts and indentured laboureres from Calcutta to Mauritius, is caught up in the whirlwind. When the seas settle, five men have disappeared – two lascars, two convicts and one of the passengers.’
The River of Smoke picks up from after this storm.
Written on the scale of an historical epic, The River of Smoke is essentially an interesting study in cultures, traditional practices, human character, history, geography and demographics, while of course being an entertainer of the first order, capable of keeping you engrossed in the many layers of story-telling that unfold with each page.
The book chronicles the different characters whom we already met in The Sea of Poppies. It follows their lives after the storm that led finally to the crash of the Ibis, the ship carrying labourers and convicts from Calcutta to Mauritius. While The Sea of Poppies was more about characters from India, especially Bengal and Bihar, the River of Smoke is mainly situated in China, around the crowded harbours and the markets that dealt in the opium trade. As we embark on this amazing sea-to-land journey, we are led into a world of boat-markets, flower-girls, women who run a restaurant on a basic boat, people who have come from different parts of the world and are now dealing in the opium trade, ceremonies and festivities celebrated in China, and in general, we are taken into a world whose sights and smells are sure to enchant any reader.
In these crowded harbours and markets of China, the traders defy the efforts of the emperor to stop the trade of opium, and ships from Europe and India continue exchanging their cargoes of opium for boxes of tea, silk, porcelain and silver. Whether it’s a wealthy merchant from India, or an amateur botanist out on a mission to find rare plants, a replica painter of half-blood who is looking to remove the stain of being born a ‘bastard’ and being abandoned by his ‘father’, or a wealthy landlord who is now on the run, all characters come together to create a world of charm, of magic and reality, set in an exotic land, in an exotic time. In pursuit of love, wealth, a legendary flower, and out there to reclaim what they have lost, these characters come together to create a story that will make you yearn for more.
Amitav Ghosh is a student of social anthropology, one of the branches of anthropology that studies contemporary human behavior in social groups. And this comes across very strongly in all of Ghosh’s works. His understanding of the history and culture of a place and its people is also of a professional level, and he leads us into the detailed historical and cultural events of a place that becomes a cultural melting-pot. Though the book is heavy and huge, its fairly easy to read through the pages, as the author manages to create a visual effect so strong you feel as if you are a live spectator in whatever is happening in the book, and this, according to me, is a very important part of being a writer, of being able to let your reader feel as much a part of the book as the characters inside it.
The River of Smoke is already out in the UK (June 2011), India (July 2011) and will be released in the US soon (October 2011). So make sure you grab your copy and set forth on this magical journey.

*Reading The Sea of Poppies, the first in the Ibis trilogy, will be of much help in understanding the River of Smoke, the second in the trilogy.

My rating: 4/5

Happy Reading!!!

- Debolina Raja Gupta

First Page Mondays: The Interpretation of Murder by author Jed Rubenfield

As part of the 'First Page' initiative, here is the first page from the book 'The Interpretation of Murder' by author Jed Rubenfield.

' In 1909, Sigmund Freud, accompanied by his then disciple Carl Jung, made his one and only visit to the United States, to deliver a series of lectures on psychoanalysis at Clark University, in Worcester, Massachusetts. The honorary doctoral degree that Clark awarded him was the first public recognition Freud had ever received for his work. Despite the great success of this visit, Freud always spoke, in later years, as if some trauma had befallen him in the United States. He called Americans ‘savages’ and blamed his sojourn there for physical ailments that afflicted him well before 1909. Freud’s biographers have long puzzled over this mystery, speculating whether some unknown event in America could have led to his otherwise inexplicable reaction.
There is no mystery to happiness.
Unhappy men are all alike. Some wound they suffered long ago, some wish denied, some blow to pride, some kindling spark of love put out by scorn – or worse, indifference – cleaves to them, or they to it, and so they live each day within a shroud of yesterdays. The happy man does not look back. He doesn’t look ahead. He lives in the present.
But there’s the rub. The present can never deliver one thing: meaning. The ways of happiness and meaning are not the same. To find happiness, a man need only live in the moment; he need only live for the moment. But if he wants meaning – the meaning of his dreams, his secrets, his life – a man must reinhabit his past, however dark, and live for the future, however uncertain. Thus nature dangles happiness and meaning before us all, insisting only that we choose between them.
For myself, I have always chosen meaning. Which, I suppose, is how I came to be waiting in the swelter and mob of Hoboken harbor on Sunday evening, August 29, 1909,for the arrival of the Norddeutsche Llyod steamship George Washington, bound from Bremen, carrying to our shores the one man in the world I wanted most to meet.'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

First Page Mondays - An Initiative by The Book Worm

I have often mentioned in various posts, that many times, the criteria for me picking up a book and bringing it home with me was that the first page was interesting enough.
Of course there are books that I am already aware of and that are on my desperate-to-read list. But more often than not, I end up in a book shop, browsing through rows and rows or piles and piles of books, books that I have never heard of, books that may have never been released in India, but I still managed to lay my hands on them as I found them in a re-sale shop, where some reader decided to abandon a 'foreign' work (and was I glad!). There have been countless instances when I have come across a book I had never heard of, but I read the first page in the shop, and either loved it right then, or was intrigued enough to continue reading - for which obviously I end up buying it.

Sometimes I have been disappointed too. A book that may have looked promising in the initial pages may not always turn out to be exactly a good read. But I always want to take that risk and end up with an odd 'not-good' book, rather than losing out on many awesome books.

So I decided to jot down the first page of a few books here on this blog. I will not be passing any comment on whether I liked the book or not. I am leaving it entirely up to you, on your judgement, whether you find it interesting enough and want to read it, or whether it sounds like one of those books that you would rather give a miss. So from now on, each Monday on The Book Worm will be a First Page Monday.

Take your call, and happy reading :)

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Miss Marlpe's Final Cases By Agatha Christie

Recently finished re-reading the book titled 'Miss Marple's Final Cases' by Agatha Christie. I am not a short story person at all. For me, the thicker the book the more the charm, and by book here, I mean 'story'. The longer the story the more interested I am. So maybe I am being biased here when I say that I personally did not like this book that much - of course Agatha Christie is a legend and there is nothing to say that she does not write well...she does. Just that this sort of storyline is not meant for me.

The book contains 08 stories:
1. Sanctuary (07 pages)
2. Strange Jest (27 pages)
3. Tape-Measure Murder (18 pages)
4. The Case of The Caretaker (20 pages)
5. The Case of The Perfect Maid (18 pages)
6. Miss Marple Tells A Story (20 pages)
7. The Dressmaker's Doll (14 pages)
8. In A Glass Darkly (26 pages)

I would have loved it if the characters were given a little more time and space to develop fully, but since these are all short stories, the main stress is on the suspense and the case. If you are fond of short stories and mysteries that will end in a jiffy, here's a book for you that can be finished within an hour.

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Such A Long Journey By Rohinton Mistry

I am reading the book titled Such A Long Journey by author Rohinton Mistry, and here's a look at the cover jacket of the book:

'Gustard Noble is a hard-working bank clerk and devoted family man, living in Bombay in the early 1970s. But his life gradually starts to unravel: his young daughter falls ill and his promising son defies his father's ambitions for him. One day he receives a letter from an old friend, asking him to help in what at first seems like a heroic mission. But he soon finds himself unwittingly drawn into a dangerous network of fraud and betrayal.'

Publisher: Faber Firsts
MRP: INR 280.00
No. of pages: 339

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Missing A Room Of One's Own

Was planning to read Virginia Woolf's A Room Of One's Own....but somehow, not able to get my mind to it. I started this evening, read a few pages...but....couldn't continue..

Sorry Virgina Woolf...I was really looking forward to it and I promise will try again. But as of now, gonna give it a miss.

So now with me is Rohinton Mistry's book titled Such A Long Journey.

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sneaky-Peeky Sunday

Just thought that it would be really fun to do something like a regular peek into the book I happen to be reading at the moment. So starting today, a Sunday, I am introducing the 'Sneaky Peeky Sunday', where I will jot down one page from what I am reading right now.

There may be broken sentences before and after, but I will not attempt to complete those, as I want to stick to just the one page. Lets see if it builds your interest and what you feel of the book based on that one page. Of course if its a long book I may end up sharing more than one page. But any suspense, or twists in the plot will not be revealed.

So from now on, I am going to reveal a page of what I am currently reading, do let me know if you find this interesting :)

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sneaky-Peeky Sunday: Sanctuary, Miss Marple's Final Cases by Agatha Christie

At the moment I am reading the story 'Sanctuary' in Miss Marple's Final Cases by Agatha Christie. So here's the page I am on right now:

'...two later a rather shabby old suitcase was passed across to her, and carrying this she made her way to the platform.
The journey home was uneventful. Bunch rose as the train approached Chipping Cleghorn and picked up the old suitcase. She had just left her carriage when a man, sprinting along the platform, suddenly seized the suitcase from her hand and rushed off with it.
"Stop!" Bunch yelled. "Stop him, stop him. He's taken my suitcase."
The ticket collector, who, at this rural station, was a man of somewhat slow processes, had just begun to say , "Now, look here, you can't do that - " when a smart blow in the chest pushed him aside, and the man with the suitcase rushed out from the station. He made his way towards a waiting car. Tossing the suitcase in, he was about to climb after it, but before he could move a hand fell on his shoulder, and the voice of Police Constable Abel said, "Now then, what's all this?"
Bunch arrived, panting, from the station. "He snatched my suitcase. I just got out of the train with it."
"Nonsense," said the man. "I dont know what this lady means. It's my suitcase. I just got out of the train with it."
He looked at Bunch with a bovine and impartial stare. Nobody would have guessed that Police Constable Abel and Mrs Harmon spent long half-hours in Police Constable Abel's off-time discussing the respective merits of manure and bone meal for rose bushes.
"You say, madam, that this is your suitcase?" said Police Constable Abel.
"Yes," said Bunch. "Definitely."
"And you sir?"
"I say this suitcase is mine."
The man was tall, dark and well dressed, with a .......

Well....that's it....that's as much as I am going to reveal to you here ;)

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Saturday, July 9, 2011

On My Book-List Today: Amitav Ghosh, Agatha Christie, Virgina Woolf

Wow, finished an epic of a book… River of Smoke, the book that I had been so desperately waiting for the last entire year, is now past me. Just finished reading it yesterday and my new book list is already here. I know this is not the start to a new week, or a fixed day when I announce what books I am going to read now, but my lists are more based on ‘when’ I finish a book. I have seen many book bloggers maintaining a time by which they will finish a book, that’s really appreciable if you can set yourself a certain time and finish a book by then, but somehow, setting a timeline for a book has never worked for me. I have never set myself any such ‘time’ to finish reading a book. I want to enjoy every book that I read, and not to finish it just to complete a challenge, or to put up more titles on my list. So each book gets the time and attention it deserves. Here are the recent books that have been, are, and about to be, in my immediate reading zone.

Just finished:
River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh

Reading Now:
Miss Marple’s Final Cases by Agatha Christie

Next on my read-list:
A Room Of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sunday, July 3, 2011

River Of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh

I am already half-way through this epic book, River Of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh. But before I finish the whole thing and do a review, here's a look at the first page of the book, as well as the cover jacket and what others have to say about it. And if, by the way, you have not yet got a copy, rush out now and buy one...you can read the reviews later :)

About the story:

'In September1838, a storm blows and the Ibis, a ship carrying a consignment of convicts and indentured labourers from Calcutta to Mauritius, is caught up in the whirlwind. When the seas settle, five men have disappeared - two lascars, two convicts and one of the passengers. Did the same storm upend the fortunes of those aboard the Anahita, an opium carrier heading towards Canton? And what fate befell those aboard the Redruth, a sturdy two-masted brig heading East out of Cornwall? Was it the storm that altered their course or were the destinies of these passengers at the mercy of even more powerful forces?

The author Amitav Ghosh

About the second in the Ibis trilogy:

On the grand scale of a historical epic, River of Smoke follows its storm-tossed characters to the crowded harbours of China. There, despite efforts of the Emperor to stop them, ships from Europe and India exchange their cargoes of opium for boxes of tea, silk, porcelian and silver. Among them are Bahram Modi, a wealthy Parsi opium merchant out of Bombay, his estranged half-Chines son Ah Fatt, the orphaned amateur botanist Paulette and a motley collection of others in pursuit of romance, riches and a legendary rare flower. All struggle to cope with their losses - and, for some, unimaginable freedoms - in the alleys and crowded waterways of nineteenth-century Canton.

From the first para:

"Deeti's shrine was hidden in a cliff, in a far corner of Mauritius, where the island's eastern and southern shorelines collide to form the wind-whipped dome of the Morne Brabant. The site was a geological anomaly - a cave within a spur of limestone, hollowed out by wind and water - and there was nothing like it anywhere else on the mountain. Later Deeti would insist that it wasn't chance but destiny that led her to it - for the very existence of the place was unimaginable until you had actually stepped inside it."

As transporting and mesmerising as an opiate-induced dream, River of Smoke, book two in Amitav Ghosh's Ibis trilogy, will be heralded as a masterpiece of twenty-first century literature.

- Debolina Raja Gupta

My Book Lover Friend From Across The Globe

Some time back I had written a post about a book I had read almost 11 years back, borrowed from a friend and read with too much interest. It was a book that was really close to my heart, but one that I had not been able to finish as the last chapters were missing, and till date I never found out about the book as even its cover and name/author pages were missing.

Every time I visited a book store I would keep scanning the cover jackets, hoping to read a description of the story I was looking for. I would ask about the book at bookstores, in the hope that someone may remember having read it or had heard about it and would finally lead me to it. I would even keep my eyes open at the re-sale bookstores, in the last hope that someone, maybe someone, would decide to part with that awesome book for some reason and I would finally get it.

None of this ever happened of course. And as I had no clue about the book except a fading storyline, I knew there was no way for me to find the book and finally, after years and years of trying, I had lost all hope.

Then, a couple of weeks back I got a mail from this wonderful lady named Kate Carpenter, who had read about this book description on this blog and referred me a name. She mentioned the book 'The Camerons' by author Robert Crichton, and when I checked the book online and read its reviews, I knew this was the one I had been yearning for for so long. Isn't it amazing how we book lovers connect from different parts from all over the world? Someone who I never knew about writes in to me, ending my search of the past 11-12 years for this book that had stayed so close to my heart. I am glad Kate chanced upon my book blog and liked it enough to read it, that's how she got to know about my search for this book...Thanks Kate :)

And for all you book lovers all across the globe, do check out her wonderful book titled 'Lilabean' which is available on Amazon. Lilabean: a Storybook About Simplicity for Grown-up Girls

And just so you all can have a read at this wonderful piece of a literary masterpiece, here's the link where you can check it out and order your very own copy...Enjoy

- Debolina Raja Gupta