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Friday, September 30, 2011

What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt: A Collection of Praise For This Masterpiece Novel

What I Loved
Siri Hustvedt

Siri Hustvedt is one of those master story-teller whose works can only be described as enchanting. While the story has the grip and the capacity to transform you into a different world altogether, the characters will start creeping into your heart and in your life, haunting you for days to come, getting real with each word you devour, and pulling you with a fervour in their own lives.

The first work of Siri Hustvedt I happened to read was 'What I Loved', the second I read was 'A Plea For Eros' and next I want to read is 'The Blindfold.'

I am going to share here a collection of praise for the novel 'What I Loved' by Siri Hustvedt. Have a read and I am sure you will soon find yourself getting a copy and getting addicted:

'A genuinely disturbing urban thriller - there's violence, duplicity, murder and erotica - but it's also satisfyingly weighed down with the heft of marital and parental relationships, and, maybe most importantly, with a profound and intelligent dialogue about love. Most impressively of all perhaps, Hustvedt takes us deeply and convincingly into the psyches of all these people.....The intricacies of the relationships she depicts, the fragile sexual landscapes - whether comic and wobbly or romantically sweeping - snag at your heart... I can't remember the last time I finished a novel and truly believed I'd absorbed the taste and span of an artist's career as well as the pains and joys of 30 years of his sexual and emotional life, but this one convinced me I had.' - Julie Myerson, Guardian

'The leisurely opening, in which we come to know the characters so well, is a brilliant foil for the acceleration of the narrative drive in which the novel shifts gear from compelling right through to riveting.... Hustvedt's skill in the convincing narrative voice of an elderly man - never did the gender seem the least bit of a problem - is extraordinary... It is full of rich and potent themes - memory, truth, hysteria, eating disorders and transformations - but it's ultimately about interpretation... A novel that demands attention of its reader, and amply rewards it.' Lesley Glaister, Waterstone's Books Quarterly

'Siri Hustvedt's most ambitious, most rewarding novel. It mesmerizes, arouses, disturbs. Hustvedt is that rare artist, a writer of high intelligence, profound sensuality and a less easily definable capacity for which the only word I can find is wisdom.' Salman Rushdie

'Defiantly complex and frequently dazzling...With what seems like obvious enjoyment, (Hustvedt) creates an oeuvre for Bill. His range of work deepens and changes direction over time, leaving us with a real sense of the magpie tendencies of the creative mind, and exists against a convincing and often amusing rendering of the New York art scene in the 1970s and 1980s....Hustvedt's special skill is that we never escape the feeling that her intellectual hoops are being jumped through by real people. In that, she has pulled off a trick far more difficult than many contemporary novels admit: she has created a conceptually exciting work that demands we think, but which still allows us room to feel.' Alex Clark, Sunday Times

'A novel of such complexity and power that when you get to the end of it you feel the process of deciphering has only just begun.' Noonie Minogue, Times Literary Supplement

'(Siri Hustvedt) analyses the creative impulse, and discusses love and friendship, loss and endurance, giving weight to all these ingredients without using a badly chosen or superfluous word. This is a particularly rare feat in a narrative full of detailed descriptions of imaginary works of art....Reading this novel I grew intimate with its characters, joined in their conversations and wept for their misforrtunes' Jessica Mann, Sunday Telegraph

'Compassionate and gripping...the strengths of (the novel) lie in the characterisation and control of the plot, beautifully sustained...There is an almost Dickensian supporting cast, and Hustvedt is just as good at realising the eccentric and sometimes endearing minor characters as she is with the great themes of love, loss and grief that dominate her novel.....an ambitious, many-layered work, with big themes and big scope. We believe in her themes, though, because we believe in her characters and we believe in them because they are so securely set in the world they inhabit.' Honor Clerk, Spectator

'Brilliantly illustrates the gradually unfolding dramas that lie on the periphery of the creative act: families fragmented by wavering allegiances, mental illness and the fickle, bitchy nature of the art world....Imagine reading Josephine Hart's Damage with the benefit of actually caring for the characters. That's the trick that Hustvedt pulls off with considerable panache.' Christian House, Independent on Sunday

'Ferociously clever.....themes wind back and forth, crisscrossing, tangling the reader up in images and symbols, suggesting patterns and then shifting them. Hustvedt's intelligence is sharp and there are some wonderful observations.' Geraldine Bedell, Observer

'Every so often, a book comes along and bam!, you're floating at the 'rightness' of it. What I Loved is just such a novel.....The relationships are lovingly constructed out of gleaming prose. But there is real darkness, too, as madness and murder permeate their oyster-tight world and damage is irrevocably done. I've read it twice and I'm even thinking about a third perusal. That's how damn fine it is.' Elle

'A gripping intellectual read' Hugo Barnacle, New Statesman

'A highly unusual, vivid psychodrama, by turns moving and insightful....the cerabral and philosophical are explored fearlessly but never get in the way of a good story.' Sam Phipps, Glasgow Herald

'It's impossible to read this superbly assured work about friendship, betrayal and love, without weeping, because she manages so successfully to make you care about her characters and their disturbingly sad story.' Jackie McGlone, Scotsman

'Excellent.....Hustvedt is a serious, ambitious writer whose novels are intelligent, involving and engrossingly textured, like the highest class of thrillers.' Michael Thompson-Noel, Financial Times

'Extraordinary.....apart from her completely riveting plot and memorable characterisation, her novel is fascinating for her insights into the mechanics of the art world and the way artists disport themselves as well as their philosophies. The cool, clean lines of her prose are a disciplined delight. Her great skill though lies in the unravelling of her characters who react to stress and sadness in different and credible ways' Madeleine Keane, Sunday Independent

'This is unashamedly a novel of ides. That it never becomes dry is a tribute to Hustvedt's willingness to tackle the big themes - love, loss, how we peceive and interpret ourselves and others - in ways which are often moving and always absorving....(it) casts a beguiling spell....A striking achievement.' Kieron Corless, Time Out

'Hustvedt ranks among the finest American writers today...a great, ambitious work, both a novel of ideas and a novel of characters, in which not a single line seems extraneous. Consummately intellectual, and exploring themes as disparate as mental illness, eating disorders, erotica, drugs, murder and modern art, it is also intensely - at times achingly - moving.' Jennifer O'Connell, Sunday Business Post

'A dark, sexually charged and complex novel...Rich in detail and visual imagery, this is a book to slowly savour and unravel.' Eve

'What I Loved has a scope and an intelligence that mark her out as the finished article. Paul Auster, much to his chagrin no doubt, might soon become the guy who's married to Siri Hustvedt.' Arena

'Superb...What I Loved is a rare thing, a page turner written at full intellectual stretch, serious but witty, large-minded and morally engaged.' Janet Burroway, New York Times Book Review

'This richly rewarding novel has everything - a compelling and suspenseful plot peopled by feeling, thinking characters....(the) reader becomes deeply engaged.' Barbara Fisher, Boston Globe

'Convincing and consistently perceptive and intriguing...a highly accomplished and deeply absorbing novel.' Janet Chimonyo, Age, Australia

'An intelligent, very human book....a touching insight into the complexities of parenthood and the anguish of kids growing up. Ambitious and memorable.' Catherine Keenan, Sun-Herald, Austraila

'A satisfying lyrical whole that leaves you exhilarated by the sensual, elegant, unfussy prose...What I Loved is difficult to leave - the characters and ideas stay with you long after you have finished reading.' Marie Claire, Australia

'Energetic and rich....dense and breathtaking....(Hustvedt) succeeds in reconciling intellect and sensuality. A rare and beautiful novel.' l'Express

'Hustvedt succeeds by her own special magic, in making her fictional characters as lifelike as close relations...finishing the story is like waking from a dream in the course of which you have lived a hundred lives, changed sex, age and appearance. The miracle of the novel, in short, is that it offers an escape from real life while never ceasing to examine it.' le Fiagaro

Get your copy here on Amazon:



- Debolina Raja Gupta

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: Hey Kids Want Some Chocolate by author Melitta Strandberg


I have always taken special interest to read books that deal with stories of war victims who have lived to tell the tale. And when BookPleasures gave me the chance to review the book Hey Kids Want Some Chocolate: My Family's Journey to Freedom by author Melitta Strandberg and co-authored by George E. Pfautsch , I was more than excited to have a chance to go through this autobiographical tale of a girl and her family who survived the effects of war, that too World War II.

Please note this is a complimentary review copy sent by the author and not a purchased copy.


Hey Kids Want Some Chocolate describes the true story of the Mohr family, whose happy world was turned upside down with the events of World War II, which soon made them flee their home and begin a search for freedom that took them from Romania to Weimar, Germany.

Most of us are aware of the horrors of the Holocaust, but Melitta’s parents escaped the fate of the Jews by sheer luck, as her father was of German descent, while her mother was Hungarian. But that did not mean the family had it easy. As the effects of the ongoing war started to percolate nearer home, the family had to make a hasty decision of escaping towards freedom. Melitta’s mother was pregnant at the time with Melitta, and the trip was especially difficult, with two young children already in the family. Food and amenities were hard to find and there was the constant threat of bombing. There were times when the family had no food and the mother had to search the garbage bins in order to get some food for her children and the family. But one thing they all held on to was hope – hope that one day things would be better and they would all live happily and without fear.

Hospitals those days were also being used as experiment centres using newborns and young children as guinea pig, as part of Hitler’s obsession to create the ‘perfect’ race. Melitta was born in one such hospital in 1944 and taken away from her mother. Though the hospital tried to give her mother a different baby, she knew it was not her little girl. For the next six months, Melitta was separated from her parents, while the anxious and scared parents kept on their search for the newborn. The authorities even told them that the baby was dead, but they never gave up hope.

One cold winter night, Melitta’s mother heard a noise outside and saw a man running away. As she opened the door to see what was going on, she found a box outside, inside which lay her little baby. The family was finally together, but the situation around them was only getting worse. Time was crucial and they had to run in order to catch the last train out of East Germany before the Soviet Union sealed the border and left them to face the wrath of war and lose their freedom. The family did manage to board the train, thus beginning their journey towards Ausburg, West Germany, towards freedom.

The next pages describe the author’s accounts heard from her family of life after the escape, and she tells us about her parents and siblings and life in general afterwards.

The book is very short, 66 pages and I finished it in one short sitting. Though the author describes the book as a memoir, it is more a jotting down of events. As a reader, I would have loved to have more detailing of events, as well as some more build-up to the various characters. The story definitely needs a lot of editing and re-working. If you are not much into books, especially books that are a detailing of events, you may soon lose interest. The author has shared details about events she has heard from her parents and what little her siblings remember. She herself was very young at that time, and it is clear from the book that she has no first-hand experience of whatever she has written here. Though I did get an account of what happened to families during these times, I was left asking for much more.

Details about the book:
Title: Hey Kids Want Some Chocolate?
Author: Melitta Strandberg
ISBN: 978-1-4567-1793-3
Publisher: Author House
No. of Pages: 66

Order your copy on Amazon now:


Debolina Raja Gupta is an international book reviewer for BookPleasures.com


- Debolina Raja Gupta

On The Cover: Dork by author Sidin Vadukut


Okay, this is one of the funkiest cover jackets I've ever come across and I'm sure you're gonna feel the same way too. This is not a purchased copy but has been sent as a review copy by Crossword in association with the Vodafone Crossword Book Awards 2010. This is a complimentary reading copy. The book is 'Dork' and the author is Sidin Vadukut.

On the cover:
'In April 2006, Robin 'Einstein' Varghese, a stupendously naive but academically gifted young man (he was ranked 41st in his class), graduates from one of India's best business schools with a Day-Zero job at the Mumbai office of Dufresne Partners, a mediocre mid-market management consulting firm largely run by complete morons. Varghese finds that he fits into the culture remarkably well.


Or does he?

Through a stunning series of blunders, mishaps and inadvertent errors, Robin begins to make his superiors rue the day they were driven by desperation into hiring him. To make matters worse, Robin realises that his mad, passionate, steamy one-sided relationship with B-school batchmate Gouri Kalbag might be over before it even started. With things going spectacularly wrong, will he manage to achieve his short-term goal of being promoted to Associate in under a year, and beat the record set by Boris Nguyen at Dufresne's Vietnam office? Will love conquer all? Will Gouri walk with him through Dadar Department Stores with her hand in the rear pocket of his jeans?

Dork: The Incredible Adventures of Robin 'Einstein' Varghese
is the hilarious story of Robin Varghese, super-dork and unlikely corporate herom for all those who've ever sat depressed in cubicles....and wanted to kill themselves with office stationery. Especially that letter opener thing.'


Join Robin as he navigates his first insane year at Dufresne Partners in this first volume of the Dork trilogy.

Praise for the book:

'A stunning new voice in Indian literature! In Dork, Vadukut has written the book I've always wanted to write - William Dalrymple's biggest fan's youngest sister'

'I love this book. I love its voice. I love the author. He's like a delicate creme brulee - Padma Laxmi's ex-husband's hairdresser'

'I read this book and instantly knew that Robin Varghese is the role of a lifetime. Inshallah I will be a part of the movie when it's made - Shah Rukh Khan's dentist's accountant'

A novel about office culture, romance, ball bearings and two YouTube videos that will change your life. (Not significantly.)

It will make you laugh like you've never laughed before! (Conditions apply.)

You can directly get the book from Crossword by clicking here

Or, if you're not in India and would love to have a copy, grab one here:


- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, September 26, 2011

First Page Mondays: Saraswati Park by Anjali Joseph



As part of the First Page Mondays initiative by The Book Worm, here's the first page from the book 'Saraswati Park' by author Anjali Joseph.

'He held out the book and pointed to the margin. 'Do you have more like this?'

The bookseller looked distracted. It was nearly five: a tide of commuters would soon spill past the stalls, towards Churchgate and the trains that would take them home. The heat lingered but already the light was changing: it was finer, more golden. From the sea, at the end of the road, there spread a pale brightness, as though the street and the bookstalls were a mirage that would disappear with the sunset.

The thin young bookseller glanced at the open page, where handwritten notes in blue ink danced next to the sober type.'You;d ave to check,' he said. 'I can't say.'

'What's your name?' the customer persisted. He was a tall, broad-shouldered fellow in his fifties, grey-haired, with steel spectacles on which the last light glinted; there was something pleasant about him.

The bookseller raised an eyebrow. 'Uday,' he said. He turned to stare past the customer's shoulder. At the Flora Fountain.........'

This book was sent as a complimentary review copy by Crossword as part of their Vodafone Crossword Book Award 2010. This is not a purchased copy. If you want to know more about the book and get your discounted copy, click here

For those of you who wish to order through Amazon, visit here:



- Debolina Raja Gupta

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sneaky-Peeky Sundays: Known Turf by author Annie Zaidi



As part of the Sneaky-Peeky Sunday here on The Book Worm, here's the page Im reading from this interesting non-fiction book called Known Turf by Annie Zaidi. This is a complimentary review copy sent by Crossword as part of their Vodafone Crossword Book Award 2010. This is NOT a purchased copy.

'...the then inspector-general of Police. He was, at the moment, huddled with all the top cops of the area in an emergency meeting that would decide their strategy for catching the Gadariya gang. After the meeting, they swore a solemn oath: they would get the Gadariyas. Dead or alive, within the month.

As it turned out, it took several months of chases and 'encounters' before the gang was stamped out, one by one. But at the time, it was whispered that Rambabu was a marked man. Everywhere one went, whispers would be reckoning: does Rambabu have one month, or two? That he would die was a foregone conclusion; the question was: when?

Rambabu led the Gadariya gang along with his brother Dayaram. The rest of the gang comprised their cousins or caste-brothers, barring a couple of members who came from local tribes in the forests. The gang was legend and not just because they pulled off a few daring kidnappings or executed their enemies in dramatic fashion. They also played Robin Hood in the right places and, whatever else they did, they didn't hurt women. In fact, that was one of the first things I heard about the gang; they don't touch women. If they happened to meet one, they'd call her 'sister' and give her a token present of money.

This won the gang some fierce loyalists. There is not a woman in the Chambal who can find it in her heart to condemn Rambabu-Dayaram without an accompanying pang of pity, or perhaps an emotion that goes beyond pity (barring, of course those whose sons or husbands were killed). One of the local social activists, whom I later got to know well enough for her to confide in me, used to say, dreamy-eyed, that she wanted to meet Rambabu, for she was convinced that he couldn't possibly be a bad man.

'Suffering led him to where he is. (Sigh!) Those brothers were humiliated....some great tragedy must have driven them out of......



- Debolina Raja Gupta

Friday, September 23, 2011

On The Cover: Known Turf by author Annie Zaidi


Ok, so since I picked up this interesting book to read, I might as well share the cover jacket details with you here. The book is Known Turf and the author is Annie Zaidi. This again is a complimentary review copy sent to me by Crossword for the promotion of their Vodafone Crossword Book Award 2010 and is NOT a purchased copy.

Front cover:

'I cannot boast of having a secular interest in lawlessness per se, but as far as dacoits are concerned, it is true that I was fascinated, probably on account of having watched too many Hindi movies: horses, high drama and all that. Also, in a corner of my mind lay buried a story my grandmother used to tell me about my great-grandfather and a dacoit called Sultana daaku.....'

Here's whats there on the cover jacket:

'Known Turf: Bantering with bandits and other true tales

Annie Zaidi combines reportage with a personal narrative that goes into places we may know of, but very rarely visit. However, it is the stories of humble folk - tortured by hunger, discriminated against for reasons of caste or gender - that linger.

Whether it is analyzing banditry or developing a personal philosophy through tea, Known Turf is a book that will engage you, surprise you and shock you. But it must be read.

'Annie Zaidi tells these stories from different parts of India with compassion, detail and importantly, with a gentle humour. The reports and conversations are very well spaced. Often, the very funny conversations, which so well capture the flavour of non-metro India, set you up for a tale of sudden brutality. The stories on dalits in the Punjab easily rank amongst the best done on the subject. This author sketches the personality of her subjects with warmth and sympathy and humour, but minus the cliches that often make such stories a heavy read. The stories span a massive range, from little bus and road journeys with engaging portraits, to child hunger, debt, bondage, untouchability, religious tension and conflict and crimes against women. Above all, it is the quality of the story-telling that grips you. A beautifully written book.' - P. Sainath

'Annie Zaidi combines a reporter's on-the-spot perception and a writer's reflection and language to etch interesting, nuanced portraits of that half-mythical being in the throes of constant change: contemporary India.' - Tabish Khair

You can get your discounted copy directly through Crossword by clicking here:

And if you wish to order on Amazon, visit here:



- Debolina Raja Gupta

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Recently Read, Just Finished Reading And What I Am Reading Now


The past few days I have had the chance to read some really interesting and 'different' kinds of books. Well, for starters, I will admit I was not very aware of these books or what they were about. It was thanks to Crossword that I received these books as part of their read and review copies for the Vodafone Crossword Book Award 2010 and I got a chance to get these amazing books as complimentary copies through Crossword. Must say the experience has been truly worth it. This is not a purchased copy.

Recently Read:



I recently finished reading this truly inspiring book by author Rashmi Bansal called 'Connect The Dots'. The book is about these 20 individuals
who have not done an MBA, yet had the passion and the fire within, as well as the innovation and the guts to think out of the box and start something from scratch, taking it to a level where the entire nation, if not outside also, is aware of. This is a complimentary copy by Crossword and not a purchased copy.
Its definitely a MUST-READ.

Visit Crossword to get your discounted copy, click here:

You can order your own copy of the book here on Amazon:



Just Finished:


I just finished reading this awesome book called 'Dork: The Incredible Adventures of Robin Einstein Verghese' by author Sidin Vadukut (in fact finished reading it just 05 mins back). I am surprised I had never heard of this book before or never chanced upon it. Its clearly ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I've ever come across. I devoured it like anything, with laughter coming out every now and then, that too the loud types, not the silent smiles here please. Its one of those books that you read and feel you've lived some of this yourself, and how is it that you never thought of writing about it yourself. Truly a masterpiece, one that will have you in splits at the bare routine of everyday and mundane life...
This is a complimentary copy by Crossword and not a purchased copy.
A MUST-MUST Read.

Visit Crossword for your discounted copy, click here:

Or visit Amazon to order your copy now:




Reading Now:


Just (and I mean 05 mins back) picked up this book to read called 'Known Turf' by author Annie Zaidi. The book is in the genre of non-fiction/reportage and combines reportage with a personal narrative that goes into places we may know of, but very rarely visit. Looks to be a pretty interesting read, will let you know more once Im done.
This is a complimentary copy by Crossword and not a purchased copy.


Get your discounted copy through Crossword now, click here:

Or get your copy from Amazon now:



- Debolina Raja Gupta

Review: A Bullet For Two by author Robert Strzalko


Robert Strzalko’s first novel ‘A Bullet For Two’ was sent to me as a complimentary review copy through BookPleasures.com

Details about the book:
Title: A Bullet For Two
Author: Robert Strzalko
ISBN: 978-1439276372
Publisher: self-published (no publisher mentioned on the book)
No. Of Pages: 137

Review:
‘A Bullet For Two’ is an unusual book that mixes the trauma and guilt suffered by a war hero as he tries to justify the actions he witnessed on the battlefield, while making an effort to get back to a normal life post-war. The book begins with a chilling start as Jeb, a Civil War Hero, looks to make a fresh start in the West, but instead of the perfect beginning, he happens to encounter ‘something terrible taking place.’ That ‘something terrible’ he soon finds out is the screaming of a young half-bred girl as she is being raped by three burly middle-aged and old men. As he approaches the scene and confronts the men, he is met with threats, but a shot at his gun and the threats soon turn to pleading. The three men happen to be the town’s mayor, sheriff and a local business tycoon. As he rescues the 14-year-old scared girl, his plans of returning back to a normal life are dashed, asa he soon finds himself a ‘wanted’ man, on the list of all bounty hunters. The return back home from the war front turns into a run for life from those possessed with revenge. Jeb and Sara are soon turned into outlawas, and thus begins their journey that sees them hiding and running from the law, from the bounty hunters, as well as from those who have a personal feeling of revenge against them.

The best part about the book is its construction and length. Being a mere 137 pages long, this thriller is easy to finish off in a single sitting, thus letting you keep the suspense and build-up all tuned in and in flow. The characters have been given good thought and detailing. Jeb is confused and scarred after the incidents he witnessed and took part in at the war front. He struggles with the loss of loved ones and the trauma of witnessing mindless death, and ends up viewing society as an unjust place where people use the excuse of ‘justice’ to kill each other. Sara is a 14-year-old half-bred girl, who, having lost both her parents at a very young age, has been treated as a sex slave for most of her young life. As the two are bound in close proximity and have only each other for companionship, her love for Jeb grows into much more than that of a rescuer, while Jeb is very clear about how he sees her. His only interest is to protect her and get her safely back to her family.

While reading the book, the reader can get a ‘real’ view of the trials and tribulations faced by those who suffered the injustice of war, by being a part of it and being scarred for life. Many young men were sent to the front without consent, and returned disillusioned and confused. The war came to an end but their lives changed forever. And this is exactly what the author captures in A Bullet For Two.

The book is fast-paced, easy-to-read and a pleasure for those who like to read but don’t want to spend too much time reading. Its heavy-weight in its subject, but light and flowing in its execution.

Only drawback in the book is that it needs another look at editing, but that’s the work of the publishing house, and I hope they re-check the copies that will be coming out now.

All in all a good read.

Order your copy through Amazon here:


* Debolina Raja Gupta is a reviewer for BookPleasures.com

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On The Cover: The Day Of The Butterfly by author Norah Lofts


This is another wonderful book called 'The Day Of The Butterfly' by author Norah Lofts. This book too is one of the vintage collection books and is quite hard to come by. But if you do, don't miss out on this one...

On the cover jacket:
'When Daisy Holt is fired from her first job as a nursemaid, her fortune goes from bad to worse and she seems destined for a life in a London brothel. But fortune had not reckoned with a kindly madam with a shrewd eye for a good investment who spares Daisy from her imminent fate. Taught to become a dancer and not a prostitute, her talent enchants the wealthy patrons who find her pluckiness and rustic charm refreshing. Daisy's star is clearly in the ascendant.

But in this tale of early-nineteenth-century London, fate has only begun to have its capricious and cruel way with Daisy's future. And, when her radiance attracts the eye of an artist obsessed with painting a portrait, Daisy experiences her first romance and the first of her sorrows as well.

A wonderful novel of a woman beautiful spirit and faith in the future will delight Norah Lofts' legions of fans.'

This book was the winner of the Georgette Heyer Award.'

You can get your copy of the book here:



- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, September 19, 2011

First Page Mondays: Breakfast In Bed by author Sandra Brown


As part of the First Page Mondays, here is the first page of the book 'Breakfast In Bed' by author Sandra Brown.

'The moment she saw him,she knew it had been a mistake to grant Alicia's favour.

There he stood on the porch of Fairchild House with his suitcase in one hand, his portable typewriter in the other, his narrow-framed tortoise shell eyeglasses on top of his head, looking a trifle sheepish for obviously having gotten her out of bed.

And there she was, Sloan Fairchild, owner and proprietor of the bed and breakfast establishment, standing just inside the arched front door, clutching her robe to her throat with white-knuckled fingers and shifting from one bare foot to the other.

With her first look into Carter Madison's face, her......'

You can directly get your copy through Amazon here:



- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sneaky-Peeky Sundays: Dork: The Incredible Adventures of Robert 'Einstein' Varghese by author Sidin Vadukut


As part of the Sneaky-Peeky Sunday series on The Book Worm, here is the page from the book 'Dork: The Incredible Adventures of Robert 'Einstein' Varghese' by author Sidin Vadukut that I am currently reading. Please note this is a complimentary read and review book sent by Crossword as part of their Vodafone Crossword Book Award 2010. This is not a purchased copy.

'....suggested that Dufresne Partners was my 'safety application' and I had no intention of joining a 'second-grade consulting firm of questionable pedigree.'

Diary, I was deeply mistaken. Little did I know that Dufresne Partners, despite the lower revenues, lower profile and near global bankruptcy in 2001, stood shoulders and head above the others when you considered the job in a holistic fashion. Especially with that exciting and sensible 'performance and global marketplace dependent variable bonus payout scheme' that was introduced earlier this year.

My impression of firms was corrupted by the likes of Rahul Gupta. By the way, that pig made it into Goldman Sachs. His work-life balance is so screwed. Does he even know how many more hours bankers have to put in compared to consultants? In a way I feel sorry for him, my arch-nemesis. I look forward to hearing from him soon with a request to refer him for a vacancy at Dufresne. I will first promise to help him. Assure him that I hold no grudge.

And then I will ignore him and dash his hopes. Awesome.

Now, onward I go with my tale of triumphant employment.

My first interview for the day was with JP Morgan.

I had sat up all night watching CNBC in the common room, trying to keep myself up to date with the bleeding edge of news and information from the global financial markets. Unfortunately I fell asleep on the wooden bench in front of the TV and woke up only at nine after Shashank from the placement office rolled me off the bench on to the floor and kicked me in the underbelly.

Apparently JPM had started interviews at 8 a.m. as scheduled and if I didn't get my first interview started in ten minutes they would skip me entirely for the second round. I tried to calm Shashank down by telling him that this was part pf my optional interview preparation programme whereby I reduce my metabolism to impossible lows just before peak performance. He walked away shaking his head in disbelief at my nerves of solid steel.

I had approximately eight minutes to be interview ready. Which meant I had to prioritize: Brush teeth? bathe? shave? loo?'

Check out more about the book and get your copy directly through Crossword by clicking here

And if you want to order your copy through Amazon, click here:



- Debolina Raja Gupta

Friday, September 16, 2011

On The Cover: The Camerons by author Robert Crichton

Finally I get to tell you about that book that I had earlier mentioned in one of my posts. This is the book that I had borrowed from a friend about 10-12 years back. It was one of the most amazing books I had ever read, but as the book was a very old one, it had the covers missing and even the first few pages were gone. But that did not stop me from getting hooked on to this amazing family saga. And as I was drawing towards a much-awaited climax, I realised that even the last few chapters were gone !!! That was a tragedy, as I had got so engrossed in the book that the characters and their life was all I could think of then. So there I was, with one of the best books I had ever read, not knowing the name of the book or the author, and not knowing the beginning or the end. And till date the book and its characters remained etched in my heart.

Till I talked about it here in one of my posts and a reader from the other side of

the world happened to read about it. She mailed me about a similar book she had read and asked me to check it out. And as I typed the name of the book with bated breath......there it was...the story that had remained in my heart till now and the story I had been longing to read all over again. I went to order it online via Amazon and was surprised to see that its now a vintage collection book, the prints have been stopped and it remains one of the most read and loved books ever!!!! I still managed to grab hold of a reallylllll old edition..1974...the book came out in 1972, and here I am now, with my proud copy of The Camerons by author Robert Crichton.

So here's what is on the cover of this much loved book of mine. Have a look and if you are lucky enough, try and find a copy somewhere, believe me, its one of the best books you will ever read....

On the cover:
'The Camerons is the story of the indomitable Maggie Drum, who washes the grime of coal-mining Pitmungo town from her beautiful face and sets out to find a man worthy of fathering her family. It is the story of the big, poor-but-proud Highlander who marries her, gives her seven children, and challenges her with an unyielding spirit of his own.'

Praise for the book:

'A GEM among a thousand rhinestones - The New York Times'

'A Big Steaming Plum Pudding bursting with delicious smells...readable, enjoyable, heart-warming...up-beat - The Boston Globe'

'The Camerons is a good, sturdy family saga....A Long, Solid, Satisfying Read - The Cleveland Plain Dealer'

You can still try and get your copy of this vintage collection book here:



- Debolina Raja Gupta

On The Cover: The House With The Five Courtyards by author Govind Mishra


Here's a look at the cover jacket of the book 'The House With The Five Courtyards' by author Govind Mishra. This is a translation from the original Hindi novel 'Paanch Aangno Waala Ghar'. This copy of the book is not purchased. It has been provided as a complimentary review copy by Crossword as part of their promotion for the Vodafone Crossword Book Awards 2010.


Here's what you have on the cover jacket of the book:

'He was leaving behind the house which he no longer cared for but still felt in his blood. He'll surely return but will the house then be as it is now? Will the people whose presence makes the house with five courtyards a veritable mohalla still be there?'


For a sprawling edifice with five courtyards, it was a flourishing house. The brothers who resided in the various quarters lived harmoniously under the supervision of a mother, Badi Amma, who was considered the head of the house after the death of her husband. Every guest, be it a distant relative or a fond friend, found refuge in the house; Sankranti and Eid were celebrated with equal aplomb; musical soirees were held every other evening; children flitted about neither caring where they ate or slept in the house, nor differentiating between their uncles, aunts and their parents. However, when the eldest brother, a successful lawyer, gives up his practice to take part in the Independence struggle, his otherwise affluent household falls apart around him. Badi Amma, who had held her sons and their families together, also loses control as the family struggles to make ends meet. When her grandsons from her eldest son leave the house to make a life for themselves in the cities, the collapse of her perfect world is complete.

A saga spun over three generations, The House With The Five Courtyards traces the breakdown of a joint family in Benaras. Govind Mishra's award-winning novel is a sharp illustration of a society veering away from the traditions and ideals of the past towards a more materialistic present.

You can order your own discounted copy through Flipkart here

Or order your copy on Amazon:



- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sneaky-Peeky Sundays: Connect The Dots by author Rashmi Bansal




Hey guys, I know last Sunday I shared a page out of the book Connect The Dots by author Rashmi Bansal. I've just been busy with a few things and didn't read as much as I generally do. I'm just about to finish the book, so here's still another page from the book, the page I am now, as part of the Sneaky-Peeky Sundays here on The Book Worm.

'They said, "Well, you'll have to pay."

I said, "I'm not going to pay - what can we do?"

They said, "OK, why don't you work for us. You speak good English, you know wildlife, so you can take our visitors out for a safari, give them a tour..."

The deal was: no salary, only food and accommodation.

I said, "Great - that's perfect for me."

And that was how Kalyan simply packed his bags and moved into 'Jungle Lodges and Resorts' in BR Hills, a wildlife sanctuary near Mysore. A move which was to change his life, forever.

Since he was not taking any salary, Kalyan did not have any major responsibilities as an employedd of the company.

"Morning I would go in the jeep safari, evening I would go in the jeep safari. In the daytime I would kust take my vehicle and drive around in the forest. It was just the best time of my life."

24 hours in the jungle meant, you got to see and actually be with wildlife. And the people who know them best.

"I would take tribal guys and just follow a tiger for 2-3 days. Follow leopard kills, follow elephants. Learn about birds, play with monkeys. I spent so much time that they recognise me, treat me.....accept me as part of their troupe now."

Wow.

And there were some super-closem super-dangerous encounters with animals.

"The first time I saw a tiger, I just couldn't pick up my camera; I was shivering so much. And this happened another 3-4 times!"

Another time, Kalyan was setting a 'camera trap' i.e. a camera which is tied to a tree. This camera detects heat and hence photos of any animal passing by automatically.

"So there I was tying the camera to the tree and I didn't realise, just a little above me, at the fork of the branch, there was a leopard. I heard something and looked up and saw it smiling at me from a distance of two feet. It was the scariest moment of my life, I think. I almost peed in my pants that day!"

Kalyan ran for his life and lived to tell the tale! And there were the 'fear factor' moments but it only got him more addicted.

At the end of three months, Kalyan just could not go back. He was loving it so much that he ended up staying in the jungle for a whole year!......

You can order your copy of the book here:





- Debolina Raja Gupta

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review: The Gargoyle by author Andrew Davidson



* This is a review copy sent by the author and not a purchased copy. However, the opinion shared here is entirely my own and not been influenced in any way by the author.
 

When I got the chance to first get in touch with author Andrew Davidson, I was in doubt about the reviews his debut novel had generated. The book in question is ‘The Gargoyle’. A much talked-about book that garnered different reactions all over the globe. While some have heralded the novel as a masterpiece, some have gone to the extreme length of calling it the worst piece of writing for that particular year. For some reason, when I checked out the background on the book online, I was not sure whether I would want to read it. For starters, it was a fiction-fantasy rolled into one, a genre I have never read before. So when I interacted with Andrew Davidson, I found his points pretty interesting, and after a few mails here and there, he promised to send me a copy of his book to give me a chance to venture into this new territory.

I must say I was impressed when I first took the book in my hands a few weeks later. I have a major eye for cover, if the cover of a book is impressive, I will pick it up and try and give it some time. The Gargoyle’s charm begins right from the cover itself. It gives you a look at a female’s bare back, except for a huge tattoo of leaves that cover almost the entire back. In the middle of this tattoo is a red burning heart. The female is holding up her hair, and on her neck is a cross, much like a Gothic symbol. The stage is set, I knew I had to begin reading the book immediately.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Connect The Dots by author Rashmi Bansal

As part of its promotion for the Vodafone Crossword Book Awards 2010, Crossword sent me a pile of books to read and write about, and also to encourage readers participate and show their interest in their favourite titles, of which Crossword will hand out free copies (all you need to do is to be a member of this blog and share your comments on the relevant posts).

So right now the book I am reading is called Connect The Dots by author Rashmi Bansal. The book contains inspiring stories of 20 entrepreneurs without an MBA who dared to find their own path.

* This is a review copy and has not been purchased.

Here's a look at the cover jacket:
'Connect The Dots' is the story of 20 enterprising individuals without an MBA, who started their own ventures. They were driven by the desire to prove themselves. To lead interesting, passionate, meaningful lives. Their stories say one thing loud and clear. You don't need a fancy degree or a rich daddy to dream big and make it happen. It's all in your head, your heart, your hands.

Here's a look at the 20 individuals whose story is shared in this book:

1. Prem Ganapathy - Dosa Plaza: He came to Mumbai like millions of others, in search of a better future. Inspired by McDonald's, Prem Ganapathy has risen from humble dishwasher to owner of the fast food chain Dosa Plaza, with 26 outlets across India.

2. Kunwar Sachdev - Su Kam: Kunwar Sachdev is a statistics graduate but he can take on the best of engineers. An average student in school, he fell in love with Physics late in life and turned it into a profitable business. Today, he runs Su-Kam, a Rs. 500 crore company in the field of Power Electronics.

3. Ganesh Ram - Veta: As an NSS volunteer, Ganesh Ram discovered he had a knack for teaching. From a singe coaching centre in 1981, Vivekananda Study Circle has grown into VETA - India's largest trainer in the field of spoken English.

4. Sunita Ramnathkar - Fem Care Pharma: Four months after the birth of her second daughter, this fiesty housewife launched 'Fem' fairness bleach. Over the next 27 years, the home-grown skincare company held its own against large multinationals, only recently selling out to Dabur.

5. N Mahadevan - Oriental Cuisines: He gave up the 'prestigious' job of a professor in Madras University, to set up a Chinese restaurant. But his knowledge of cost accounting was equally handy in the kitchen. Today, N Mahadevan runs a food empire stretching across cuisines and continents.

6. Hanmant Gaikwad - BVG (Bharat Vikas Group): As an engineering student, Hanmant Gaikwad took tuitions - to support himself through college. Today, he runs the Rs. 300 crore Bharat Vikas Group (BVG), a facilities management firm which not only has the cream of corporate clients, ,but maintains Rashtrapati Bhavan.

7. Ranjiv Ramchandani - Tantra T-shirts: Ranjiv Ramchandani studied microbiology but hated it. He joined advertising, but hated the hierarchy. Ultimately, he became his own boss with Tantra - a company which prints wacky and uniquely Indian T-shirts. And, he's lovin' it!

8. Suresh Kamath - Laser Soft Infosystems: This MTech from IIT runs a software firm where programming jobs are open to all - not just engineers. Suresh Kamath believes that social responsibility and sound business can go hand in hand - and his company is living proof of it.

9. Raghu Khanna - Cashurdrive: Raghu Khanna is 24 years old and started a company right out of college. Cashurdrive is based on a simple idea which required no capital, no office, no fancy technology. His story shows that experience is over-rated - there is no better time to start, than now.

10. R Sriram - Crossword: Sriram did not have the burning ambition to start a business - he simply wanted to immerse himself in the world of books. Yet, this college dropout went on to build India's largest bookstore chain, and spread the 'reading' virus far and wide.

11. Saurabh Vyas and Gaurav Rathore - PoliticalEDGE: Hostel ki dosti and a common love for politics gave birth to this uncommon company. These two idealistic young men are putting their grey cells to use, providing research and consulting services exclusively for politicians.

12. Satyajit Singh - Shakti Sudha Industries: Satyajit Singh was comfortably placed in life, distributing consumer durables. Yet, one fine day he shut down that business, to take on the challenge of commercialising makhana. In doing so, he has found a mission in life and brought benefits to thousands of marginalised farmers.

13. Sunil Bhu - Flanders Dairy: He was a city boy who knew he wanted to work on a farm. Right after college, Sunil went to Belgium, where he learnt all about making cheese. That's what he's been doing at Flanders Dairy for the last two decades and enjoying every moment of it.

14. Chetan Maini - Reva Electric Car Company: Chetan Maini was crazy about electronics - as far back as he can remember. It's this passion that led him to pursue the dream of producing an electric car. Today, Reva is not only producing such vehicles but licensing its technology to the likes of General Motors.

15. Mahima Mehra - Haathi Chhap: She wanted to work in recycling, but not with an NGO. So, she ended up starting a business in handmade paper. Along the way she discovered many interesting things, including an unexpected use for elephant dung.

16. Samar Gupta - Trikaya Agriculture: Samar was a city boy with no burning ambition in life. But when life threw up a challenge, he decided to face it head on. Over the last decade Trikaya Agriculture has matured from a hobby into a flourishing business, ever expanding the frontiers of 'what can be grown' in India.

17. Abhijit Bansod - Studio ABD: As a young NID graduate, Abhijit Bansod wondered why desi designers were always inspired by the West. He went on to pioneer the uniquely Indian 'Heritage' and 'Raga' collections at Titan, and now runs his own product design company.

18. Paresh Mokashi - Harishchandrachi Factory: Paresh Mokashi wanted to be an actor, but found his niche as a playwright and director on the Marathi stage. A chance reading of Dadasaheb Phalke's biography led him on to a new adventure - a widely acclaimed feature film which was India's official entry at the Oscars in 2009.

19. Krishna Reddy - Prince Dance Group: In a small town in Orissa, Krishna Reddy assembled a group of daily wage labourers and formed 'Prince Dance Group'. This troupe won the hotly competed 'India's Got Talent' show, enthralling the audience with its unique brand of mythology-inspired choreography.

20. Kalyan Varma - Wildlife Photographer: At 22, Kalyan Varma had a 'dream job' with Yahoo. But one fine day he quit and pursued his passion - wildlife photography. Today, he is a living example of an 'idiot' who's living his dream and making a living, out of something he truly loves.

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, September 5, 2011

First Page Mondays: Treasuring Emma by author Kathleen Fuller

Hey people, as part of the First Page Mondays series by The Book Worm, here's a look at the first page of the book 'Treasuring Emma' by author Kathleen Fuller. This is a review copy and has not been purchased.


'"Emma I'm so sorry."
Emma Sheter lifted her gaze to meet Moriah Miller's eyes. Moriah had been a good friend to her over the past year, and Emma had never noticed until now how blue her eyes were. Blue like the summer sky, and at this moment, full of compassion.
Emma tried to swallow down the thorn of grief that blocked her throat. "I appreciate you and your familye coming by this afternoon."
"Your mammi was a very special fraa." Moriah laid a hand on Emma's shoulder. The warmth of the gentle touch seeped through the thin fabric of Emma's black dress.
The colour of mourning. Of death.
Despite Moriah's comfort, that's what Emma felt inside. Dead.
She glanced around the living room. As expected, most members of the church district were here to pay their respects and show their support. Dark dresses and while kapps for the.......

To get your copy of the book, click here



- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sneaky-Peeky Sundays: Connect The Dots by author Rashmi Bansal

I am so sorry again that I missed out on my Sunday Sneak-Peek of the book I am reading. What with all the social activities going on in India (Anna Hazare - I am also a social activist associated with various causes) and the recent festival season of Ganesh Puja, things have been really really busy over here.

So, without further delay, let me share with you the page I am on right now. Its a book called 'Connect The Dots' by author Rashmi Bansal that has been sent by the book chain Crossword as part of promoting the Vodafone Crossword Book Awards 2010.



'"My objective is to make him pass. So I will not say, "Your training hours are over. I will not teach you." I told my faculty also, we must ensure every student passes the exam."

Within two years Vivekananda Kalvi Nilayam became the biggest tutorial in Chennai, with a strength of nearly 800 students.

Then one day Ganesh's brother Rajagopalan remarked, "I find the students are very poor in spoken English. Why don't we start training for that also?"

Ganesh said, "Why not? You are good at English. If you are interested, you leave the other subjects and concentrate only on this."

As simple as that. Rajagopalan admitted one batch and by the time they completed the course, they were fluent in English. But how - was it really that easy?

"See, Rajagopalan made the class casual and humorous. He told short stories and jokes, so even the dull students took interest and understood the concepts."

Rajagopalan had his own style of getting across to students.

"His training was so practical that he would never call a noun a 'noun'. He would call it a 'naming' word. Verb would be an 'action word' and so on."

Rajagopalan's logic was that when we speak our mother tongue we are not always aware of the rules of grammar. We learn by observation only. So why can't English be taught in the same way?

It could - he discovered. And the numbers flocking to the class were testimony to that! Ganesh had to hire a big hall with a collar mike and start taking 100 students at a time.

"Then the 101st student would come up and say, "Sir can you arrange an extra chair? If not, I will stand in the corner and attend, no problem."

Ganesh realised he had a winner in his hands. English training could become THE main offering - and not just one of the many classes at the centre.

So what was the hitch? Well, Rajagopalan was free to take classes........

This is a non-fiction book. To know more and get your own copy, visit here


- Debolina Raja Gupta