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Monday, January 30, 2012

First Page Mondays: Destiny by Sally Beauman

As part of the First Page Mondays series here at The Book Worm, I am sharing with you the first page of the book 'Destiny' by British author Sally Beauman. The book holds a special love in my heart. I picked it up while on a trip to Germany. As I was browsing through the bookstores, having finished reading the books that I had brought with me from home, I was desperately in need of something new to read. That is when I came across this huge beauty of a book. As if the cover picture wasn't enchanting enough, the blurb on the cover jacket was enough to make me to dive into the story immediately. Till date it remains one of my most cherished books ever. I will share the cover story with you some other day for sure. And I will also be sharing about the other amazing works by this same author.

As of now, here's a look at the beginning to an amazing read:

' Paris

The authorisation was for two million dollars. It was the last letter of the day.

He read through the paragraphs carefully, checking each line and taking his time. Across the desk from him, his senior secretary waited patiently, nothing in her manner betraying the fact that she was newly engaged, very much in love and very anxious to go home. He glanced up at her and smiled. Outside the plate glass windows the sun still shone, and from the street below, insulated and muffled by the glass, came the hum of the Paris traffic. It was six o' clock.

Paris in the summer; the Seine on a warm evening. He had known once, he thought, how the end of the day felt, when the evening was full of promise. Now now. He bent his head to the papers once more, picked up his platinum pen, and signed. Edouard de Chavigny.

He slid the white paper across the black desk, and then, taking pity on her, said: 'You may go now.'

Her head lifted at once; she looked startled. Then the colour rushed into her cheeks, and her eyes lit.

'It's only six o' clock.'

'I know that. I suggest you go now. Before one of the telephones rings.' His voice became dry. 'Before I change my mind.'

'Thank you.'

She needed no more prompting. As she gathered the papers, Edouard rose. He moved across the room and stood with his back to her, looking out of the windows. The commercial sector of Paris.'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sneaky Peeky Sunday: Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton

As part of the Sneaky Peeky Sunday here at The Book Worm, here's a page from the book Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton. I have just finished reading it, but since I am just about to start on the new book, I'll share a page of this book with you guys.

'...angel. Not with a frilly dress and silver wings like the one at the top of the Christmas tree, but a muscular Old Testament one, a Raphael or Michael - a bold, strong angel as the good in her takes a shape and finds a voice.

Because I cannot leave this world thinking there is nothing redemptive in a teenage girl. I do not want to have hatred inside me when I die.

We arrived home. Mum went to bed, exhausted, and I was the only one awake. It was almost the witching hour, the house silent, everyone asleep. The last time I'd been up on my own like this was when Adam was a young baby.

I went to Jenny's bedroom. I'd left her with Ivo in the garden, promising I'd see her again in the morning. No goodbyes yet.

"What's it like to have a teenage daughter?" a mum at school asked me once, whose eldest child is the same age as Adam.

"There are always boys in the house. Huge great boys with huge trainers in the hallway," I said, because I always trip over them. 'You're always out of food in the fridge because the same boys are always hungry. The girls eat nothing and then you worry about anorexia, and even if your daughter seems fine and eats fine you worry about bulimia.'

'Does she borrow your clothes?'

I laughed. As if. 'It's the contrast that's hard,' I said. 'Her skin glows. Mine is wrinkling. Even my legs look wrinkled next to hers.'

The school mum pulled a face, thinking it wouldn't happen to her, not realising that it probably already had, but without a teenage daughter for comparison she wouldn't know.'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Recently Read, Reading And Want To Read

The year 2012 started with lots more titles and stories. Last year I had taken the Goodreads Reading Challenge of finishing off 40 books (I started it mid-year) and ended up finishing 42 books from about mid of the year. So this year, just to be on the safer side, I have started off at 45 books and have already finished 07..not bad! Will 'up' the challenge as soon as I can see myself spending some more time to read...

There were a couple of interesting books I have recently finished reading, some interesting ones that I am reading now and a few that I am looking forward to read soon. So here's a look:

Recently Read:

The Blogging Affair by Manu (this was a review copy sent by the author)

Shop Girl by Steve Martin
(Can you believe it I BOUGHT this on Amazon and was so looking forward to read it as I know Steve's got the perfect comic timing, but this was SUCH a disappointment!!)

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton
(Clearly one of the best books I have ever read till date. And to think I came across it on YouTube!!! Now I am dying to read her first novel Sister. Let me know if any of you have read it.)

Reading Now:

When A Lawyer Falls In Love by Amrita Suresh (this is again a review copy sent by the author and I am just starting it today.)

Will Read It Soon:

I Walked The Line: My Life With Johny by Vivian Cash
(Of course I am sure most of you have already seen the movie Walk The Line based on country singer Johny Cash. Looking forward to read this book that talks about his wife's perspective, with a lot of 'real' material thrown in.)

Happy reading friends !!!

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review: Softly and Tenderly by Sara Evans with Rachel Hauck

Whoa! I know this is pretty fast. I mean, my previous review was posted only yesterday! But I have been quite late in sharing my reviews, for whatever reasons, so I guess it's time now to get back on track and finish the backlog of the books that I did finish reading but never really got to sit down and review.

For review today, I have a book called 'Softly and Tenderly' by Sara Evans with Rachel Hauck. Sara Evans is also an American country singer. This book was sent to me through BookSneeze and the publishers for review.

* This is a complimentary review copy and NOT a purchased copy.

Details about the book:

Author: Sara Evans and Rachel Hauck
Title: Softly & Tenderly
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

When I requested for this particular book for review, I was not aware of the fact that this is part of a series, in fact this is the second book in the Songbird series. But that is no cause for concern, as you can very well read this book as an individual novella without any need to refer to any part of a series.

The main protagonist is Jade, a young woman who has been married for quite some time now to her dashing husband Max. Jade is a successful business woman, with two boutiques in the small town where she lives, and a wonderful reputation of being the perfect woman, except that she has still not conceived.

Jade longs to start a family with her husband, though she is unable to bear him a child, and this is one nagging thought that makes her long for a child of her own even more.

Jade's world is suddenly turned upside down as she discovers a secret between her in-laws, a secret to which she unwillingly and unknowingly becomes a witness. Already burdened with the thought of her ailing mother who is spending her fight with cancer, this revelation seems like it is enough drama for now. But is it? Jade has more to witness, as she is confronted with a past from her husband, a husband who she loves with all her heart and who loves her back with as much passion, but whose past is now catching up nonetheless with Jade's present, and threatening to ruin all that she believed in.

Jade decides to run away from all the confusion and heart-break and decides to take her mother back to where she grew up. Thus Jade embarks on a road trip with her mother Beryl and her mother-in-law June.

I will not go into any more details as it would give up a lot on the story.

The book is a very fast read, especially as it is in large fonts and can be finished off in one sitting. The characters are nice and can be related to easily, the story is interesting, and I found it a little too easy a read for me.

However, as I am a non-believer, I found the concepts of 'Faith' and 'His Power' a little too much for my taste. I would rather have this as a regular book than a 'Believe In God' book. But I definitely do not mean that you will not like the book. The story is interestingly built and I actually liked it a bit, just the fact that the references to 'Him' were a little unnecessary for me, that's all. Hope I am not offending anyone here with my (non)belief.

I will give this book two hearts: An OK read.

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, January 23, 2012

Review: The Pineville Heist by Lee Chambers

Title: The Pineville Heist
Author: Lee Chambers
Publisher: MISFP Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9864943-1-4 (paperback)
Pages: 194
ISBN: 978-0-9864943-2-1 (eBook)
Category: Young Adult (YA)
Genre: Thriller / Mystery

* This is a complimentary ARC (Advanced Reader Copy)sent by the author and NOT a paid copy. All views expressed here are my own, and not initiated by the author or publishers.

Here's a look at the blurb:

Aaron whipped through the long grass as fast as his legs would carry him. His eyes were filled with angst and adrenaline. He was still in shock. Not every day you see a dead man. Not every day you see that much money either - he glanced down at the backpack in his arms. Must - keep - running.

When author Lee Chambers got in touch with me asking if I would like to read and review his YA book 'The Pineville Heist', I was not really sure if I would be interested or not. The genre was thriller/mystery though, one that I am quite interested in, so I asked him to send me a copy and told him I would read it. And once I finished reading the same, I am glad I asked for the copy. And now, its even more important you grab a copy and read the book, as the same is going to come out as a movie soon. To get your free e-copy, click here

Seventeen-year-old Aaron Stevens never knew his life would turn into a nightmare, one complete with the (un)usual smattering of missing bodies, robbery, cops with secrets, twists and turns, a pretty teacher who may or may not be accomplice to the crime, robbery, a backpack filled with stolen cash, and lots of twists and turns that are sure to take Aaron on one of the most thrilling and unimaginable ride of his life.

Aaron is the son of the town magnate Derek, and despite the wealth and luxuries, he isn't a child who can be termed as being 'happy' in a loving family; if anything, his relationship with his father is at best volatile. Despite being the son of one of the most powerful men in town, Aaron is a sensible young kid, who, when faced with a challenging situation that is huge for his seventeen years, decides to do the right thing, even though it means getting involved in a dangerous scenario. Five million dollars are stolen from the Pineville Bank and Aaron is all set to recover the money and return it to its rightful owners - the town and his father. Aaron will first need to retrieve the money, but there are armed robbers on the lookout for those who will block their getaway, and this will be the one day of his life that Aaron will never forget.

Aaron stumbles across a backpack from PINEVILLE SAVINGS AND LOAN which is full of stolen money and overhears the Sheriff and an Officer discussing about how someone got away with 4-5 million dollars. Aaron decides to help retrieve and return the money with the help of his friends Mike and Steve, but very soon, they are all on the run, with a gunman who is out there to hunt and kill them. The school becomes the scene of killings and Aaron manages to escape the school, only to get engaged in a battle between him and one of the robbers. The usually quiet and soft-spoken Aaron is now faced with the situation of kill or get killed.

What happens next and in-between is something the reader will have to find out on their own. I will not come out with more of the story as this is a thriller and talking more about the same will give away important parts that may break the suspense.

What I liked and didn't like:

What I liked about the book is that it is extremely fast-paced and you can finish it off in one sitting. Though the genre is in the thriller category, I did not find it too thrilling for me, but that's maybe I can't qualify as a YA myself. The story nevertheless is full of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge, especially the one that comes towards the end of the story and will surely make you say 'I-did-not-see-that-coming.' I am not a fan of too much blood, so there were a few parts where I felt a bit uncomfortable, but that does not mean I did not enjoy the read. Interspersed with fun bits that will make you identify with the characters and situations in some parts, this book is one that will surely take you on a visual treat and make you want to watch the movie that is slated to go on floors this 2012.

Actor Booboo Stewart from The Twilight Saga and Breaking Dawn has been officially signed on for the movie that is going on floors this 2012.

Click here to watch a trailer of the upcoming movie.

And to know more about the author Lee Chambers, click here

I will give this book three hearts: Liked it.

- Debolina Raja Gupta

First Page Mondays: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

As part of the First Page Mondays at The Book Worm, here's the first page of the book 'Between Shades of Gray' by Ruta Sepetys.


Thinking back, the signs were there - family photos burned in the fireplace, Mother sewing her best silver and jewelry into the lining of her coat late at night, and Papa not returning from work. My younger brother, Jonas, was asking questions. I asked questions, too, but perhaps I refused to acknowledge the signs. Only later did I realize that Mother and Father intended we escape. We did not escape.

We were taken.

June 14, 1941. I had changed into my nightgown and settled in at my desk to write my cousin Joana a letter. I opened a new ivory writing tablet and a case of pens and pencils, a gift from my aunt for my fifteenth birthday.

The evening breeze floated through the open window over my desk, waltzing the curtain from side to side. I could.....'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sneaky Peeky Sunday: Defending A King: His Life & Legacy

As part of the Sneaky-Peeky Sunday series here at The Book Worm, here's the space where I am right now in the book 'Defending A King: His Life & Legacy' by Dr. Karen Moriarty. But since I am so so fascinated by this book, I am breaking the norm here and sharing more than just a page.

* This is a review copy sent by the author herself and is NOT a purchased copy.

'His two wives, friends, family members and round-the-clock security people observed Michael as the most thoughtful and patient of fathers. He looked his children in the eyes when he spoke to them or told them, "I love you" or "I love you more." He sat on the floor with them in play; he frolicked around, playing tag and running for sheer joy with them when he could; he teased, joked, and laughed with them. He taught them to ride bicycles. He taught them to be polite and to consider the feelings of other people.

When one of the children would ask him a question, no matter how mundane it was, he would research the answer so that it was the best that he could give. He taught Prince, Paris and Blanket to see life and living things with wonder and awe; to appreciate what they had; to empathize with others.

Michael and his children prayed together before meals. He read them bedtime stories. He taught them to search for deeper meaning in life's events and in nature's bounty. He visited hospitals with his children, instilling in them feelings of empathy for the pain and suffering of others and encouraging them to want to lend a helping hand.

For Michael Jackson, his carefully fashioned approach to fatherhood was probably a type of 'undoing' for him. If he could be the best father possible, this accomplishment would somehow atone for the deficits in the parenting that he received. He could give to his children that which he lacked.

He so much wanted them to have a childhood. Michael got choked up when he spoke about them having fun. He wanted to keep them away from prying eyes, from potentially harsh judgment by strangers and ill-intentioned.

"Honestly, I never saw those children begging, throwing a fit, or crying - not ever," says David Nordahl, who observed and interacted with Michael and his kid on numerous occasions, across weeks at a time. "They were the most polite and nicest children you could ever meet."

Michael was both father and mother to his children. He put them to bed at night; he sat with them when they were ill; he took them wherever he went. He was rarely gone for an overnight without them. He was nurturing and gentle; he spoke softly and rarely raised his voice; but "no" meant "no" when he had to say it, Michael would never lay a hand on his children for the purpose of discipline. He used time-outs or the loss of privileges when necessary, but, because the kids were well-behaved, even these measures were seldom used.

Insisting that they study hard, make their own beds, and clean up after themselves, Michael did not want his children to take for granted the life of privilege that he was able to provide them. He preferred to hide that reality from them, and they were required to earn rewards for good behaviour rather than receiving everything just for the asking. He even tried to hide from his children the fact that they had a famous-celebrity father, "but that didn't last long," Paris explained in later years.'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Defending A King: His Life & Legacy by Dr. Karen Moriarty

A few days back I got an email from one of the book sites where I am a reviewer, asking me if I would like to read and review a book on the most talented musician, performer and entertainer of our times, and probably of all time - the King himself, Michael Jackson.

Would I say no to that?

Of course I wanted to read about MJ, the face I have watched so many times on the screen, and that look of vulnerability and helplessness that I still can't and probably never will, forget for the rest of my life. I have read so much online about MJ and his various 'antics', but I wanted to know a more intimate side of the man who became the guinea-pig of all who wanted their fifteen minutes and more of fame. I wanted to know the MJ away from the picture that was painted by papparazzi and media, I wanted to know about MJ the man and MJ the father, and so I wrote the the author that I would of course love to read and review the book.

The book arrived a couple of days ago, sent to my very graciously by the author herself, and I am already reading it in between all the work, squeezing out time as and when I get, apart from my reading time. And I must say I am loving every moment of what I am reading, though the irony is that the more I read, the more I can understand how troubled and harassed MJ really was, throughout his life.

The book in question is Defending A King - His Life & Legacy by Dr. Karen Moriarty.

Right now I won't be sharing much on the book, but there are a few lines that keep repeating in the book that I do want to jot down here.

'To live is to be musical, starting with the blood dancing in your veins. Everything living has a rythm.' - Michael Jackson

'I am glad to be tired. Crawling..into bed, I remember something that I always wonder at. They say that some of the stars that we see overhead aren't really there. Their light takes millions of years to reach us, and all we are doing is looking into the past, to a bygone moment when those stars could shine.
"So what does a star do after it quits shining?" I ask myself. "Maybe it dies." "Oh no," a voice in my head says. "A star can never die. It just turns into a smile and melts back into the cosmic music, the dance of life." I like that thought, the last one I have before my eyes close. With a smile, I melt back into the music itself.' - Michael Jackson

"When I had left home days earlier, I perceived Michael Jackson as a human Bambi - fragile, vulnerable, deserted, in need of protection, alone - in a perilous environment. By the time I returned, I perceived Michael as Bambi's little brother." - Author

Bizarre behaviour is normal in bizarre circumstances.

"They're so quick to call you strange and weird, but it's almost as if you're forced to be different - because it's not normal life." - Michael Jackson

In the end, the line that I use as a sign off in all my other blogs, inspired by Michael Jackson: Heal the world we live in, Save it for our children... Love you MJ.

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

First Page Mondays: Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson

Yes, I know today isn't Monday, as it should have been since Im doing the First Page Mondays post, but of late I have been caught in a lot of work, so I really do apologise for the delay. Hope to get back on track soon :-)

So now, as part of the First Page Mondays here at The Book Worm, here's the first page from the autobiography 'Losing My Virginity' by Richard Branson. One of the best ever autobiography and one of the most interesting books I have ever read till date. So if you haven't read this one yet, go grab a copy right now!!!

"Oh. Screw it. Let's do it."

Tuesday, 7 January 1997, Morocco

I woke before Joan and sat up in bed. From across Marrakech I heard the wavering cry of the muezzins calling people to prayer over the loudspeakers. I still hadn't written to Holly and Sam, so I tore a page out of my notebook and wrote them a letter in case I didn't return.

Dear Holly and Sam,
Life can seem rather unreal at times. Alive and well and loving one day. No longer there the next.
As you both know I always had an urge to live life to its full. That meant I was lucky enough to live the life of many people during my 46 years. I loved every minute of it and I especially loved every second of my time with both of you and Mum.
I know that many people think us foolish for embarking on this latest adventure. I was convinced they were wrong. I felt that everything we had learned from our Atlantic and Pacific adventures would mean that we'd have a safe flight. I thought that the risks were acceptable. Obviously I've been proved wrong.
However, I regret nothing my life except not being with Joan to finally help you grow up. By the age of 12 and 15 your characters have already developed. We're both so proud of you. Joan and I couldn't have had two more delightful kids. You are both kind, considerate, full of life (even witty!_. What more could we both want.
Be strong. I know it won't be easy. But we've had a wonderful life together and you'll never forget all the good times we've had.
Live life to its full yourselves. Enjoy every minute of it. Love and look after Mum as if she's both of us.
I love you,

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sneaky Peeky Sunday: Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Since the book 'Sarah's Key' by Tatiana De Rosnay is a plot that involves the intertwining of two separate storylines, I will share with you two pages of the novel:

The first part from a page from the book:

"I can't stop you having this baby. But I need you to know that I just can't come to terms with it. Having this child is going to destroy me."

I wanted to express pity - he seemed lost, defenceless - but instead, an unexpected feeling of resentment too over me.

"Destroy you?" I repeated.

Bertrand got up, poured himself another drink. I glanced away as he swallowed it.

"Ever heard of midlife crisis, amour? You Americans are so fond of that expression. You've been wrapped up in your job, your friends, your daughter, you haven't even noticed what I've been going through. To tell the truth, you don't care. Do you?"

I stared at him, startled.

He lay back on the sofa, slowly, carefully, gazing up at the ceiling. Slow, precautious gestures I'd never seen him use. The skin of his face seemed crumpled. All of a sudden, I was looking at an aging husband. Gone was the young Bertrand. Bertrand had always been triumphantly young, vibrant, energetic. The kind of person who never sits still, always on the go, buoyant, fast, eager. The man I was staring at was like a ghost of his former self. When had this happened? How could I not have seen it? Bertrand and his tremendous laugh. His jokes. His audacity. Is that your husband? people would whisper, awed, galvanized. Bertrand at dinner parties, monopolizing conversations, but nobody cared, he was so riveting. Bertrand's way of looking at you, the powerful flicker of his blue eyes and that crooked, devilish smile.

Tonight there was nothing tight, nothing taut about him. He seemed to have let go. He sat there, flaccid, limp. His eyes were mournful, his lips drooped.

"You've never noticed, have you, what I've been going through. Have you?"

His voice was flat, toneless. I sat down next to him, stroked his hand. How could I ever admit I had not noticed? How could I ever explain how guilty I felt?

"Why didn't you tell me, Bertrand?"

The corners of his mouth turned down......'

The second part from a page from the book:

'She wondered where her father was. Somewhere in the same camp, in one of the sheds, surely, but she only saw him once or twice. She had no notions of the days slipping by. The only thing that haunted her was her brother. She woke at night, trembling, thinking of him in the cupboard. She took out the key and stared at it with pain and horror. Maybe he was dead by now. Maybe he had died of thirst, of hunger. She tried to count the days since that black Thursday the men had come to get them. A week? Ten days? She didn't know. She felt low, confused. It had been a whirlwind of terror, starvation and death. More children had died at the camp. Their little bodies had been taken away amid tears and cries.

One morning, she noticed a number of women talking with animation. They looked worried, upset. She asked her mother what was going on, but her mother said she didn't know. Not to be deterred, the girl asked a woman who had a little boy her brother's age, and who had slept next to them for the past few days. The woman's face was reddish, as if she had a fever. She said there were rumours, rumours going around the camp. The parents were going to be sent East, to work. They were to prepare for the arrival of the children, who were to come later, in a couple of days. The girl listened, shocked. She repeated the conversation to her mother. Her mother's eyes seemed to click open. She shook her head vehemently. She said no, that couldn't possibly happen. They couldn't possibly do that. They couldn't separate the children from their parents.'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Books Wish List This 2012

Wow, the last year has been simply superb. Met so many friends from all over the world who are born book lovers, met so many interesting people who have so much to share about books. Met so many wonderful authors who gave me the chance to read and review their books. And heard about many wonderful books that I hadn't heard about earlier, but was glad I cam across those titles.

For this year again, I have a list of books that I am looking forward to read. Sharing a little detail about each book here, would love it if you could let me know about any such books that you think are going to be an amazing read, maybe you have read already, would love to hear your recommendations.

Island Beneath The Sea by Isabel Allende
: The story opens on the island of Saint-Domingue(now Haiti)in the late 18th century. Zarite(known as Tete) is the daughter of an African mother she never knew and one of the white sailors who brought her into bondage. As a young girl Tete is purchased by Violette, a mixed race courtesan, on behalf of Toulouse Valmorain, a Frenchman who has inherited his father's sugar plantation. Valmorain has big dreams of financial success and is somewhat ambivalent towards slavery. He views it as a means to an end, as he does most things. Upon Valmorain's marriage, Tete becomes his wife's personal slave. Valmorain's wife is fragile, beautiful, and slowly succumbs to madness. As Valmorain's wife goes mad, Valmorain forces Tete, now a teenager, into sexual servitude, which produces several illegitimate children. Spanning four decades, the narrative leaps between the social upheavals from the distant French Revolution to the Haitian slave rebellion in all its brutality and chaos, to a New Orleans fomenting with cultural change.

Some Monday For Sure by Nadine Gordimer
: The story is narrated by a young man who lives with his sister and her husband. The husband's job is to sit on the end of the truck carrying dynamite to the mines, waving a flag to warn following drivers to keep their distance. The husband falls in with a plot to hijack the dynamite for the purposes of civil disobedience. Instead of talking about this heist on a country road, Gordimer turns her gaze upon the wife instead; a woman disempowered not only through being black and poor, but also by the men in her family.

Marley and Me by John Grogan: Told in first-person narrative, the book portrays Grogan and his family's life during the thirteen years that they lived with their dog Marley, and the relationships and lessons from this period. Marley, a yellow Labrador Retriever, is described as a high-strung, boisterous, and somewhat uncontrolled dog. He is strong, powerful, endlessly hungry, eager to be active, and often destructive of their property (but completely without malice). The strong contrast between the problems and tensions caused by his neuroses and behavior, and the undying devotion, love and trust shown towards the human family as they themselves have children and grow up to accept him for what he is, and their grief when he finally dies from a stomach torsion condition in old age, form the backdrop for the biographical material of the story.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey:
The story, narrated by the gigantic but docile half-Native American inmate "Chief" Bromden, focuses on the antics of the rebellious Randle Patrick McMurphy, who faked insanity to serve out his prison sentence, for statutory rape, in the hospital. The head administrative nurse, Mildred Ratched, rules the ward with a mailed fist and with little medical oversight. Set in an Oregon asylum, the narrative serves as a study of the institutional process, society, and the human mind, as well as a critique of Behaviorism, society as a socializing agent, and a celebration of humanistic principles.

The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins:
Set during World War II, the book makes use of the false document technique, and opens with Higgins describing his discovery of the grave of thirteen German paratroopers in an English graveyard. What follows was inspired by the real life rescue of Hitler's ally Benito Mussolini by Otto Skorzeny, a similar idea is considered by Hitler, with the strong support of Himmler. Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr (German military intelligence), is ordered to make a feasibility study of the seemingly impossible task of capturing British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and bringing him to the Reich.

American Jihad by Steven Emerson:
Are al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden our only threats when it comes to the war on terror? Not according to author Steve Emerson. He says the United States has become home to hundreds and probably thousands of terrorists, and it has become a central node in their international network. Steven Emerson, hailed as "USA's leading expert on Islamist terrorism," has been working full-time since 1993 to track the spread of terrorist networks to US shores, even at great personal risk.

Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother by Amy Chua:
In her book, Chua describes her efforts to give her children what she describes as a traditional, strict “Chinese” upbringing. She has stated that the book was not a "how-to" manual but a self-mocking memoir. She defines “Chinese mother” loosely to include parents of other ethnicities who practice traditional, strict child-rearing, while also acknowledging that “Western parents come in all varieties,” and not all ethnically Chinese parents practice strict child-rearing.

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje:
The historical backdrop for this novel is the Second World War in Northern Africa and Italy. he story deals with the gradually revealed histories of a critically burned English accented Hungarian man, his Canadian nurse, a Canadian-Italian thief, and an Indian sapper in the British Army as they live out the end of World War II in an Italian villa.

The Inheritance Of Loss by Kiran Desai:
The novel follows the journey of Biju, an illegal immigrant in the US who is trying to make a new life; and Sai, an Anglicised Indian girl living with her grandfather in India. The novel shows the internal conflict in India between Muslim groups, and Buddhist groups, whilst showing a conflict between past and present. There is the rejection and yet awe of the English way of life, the opportunities for money in the US, and the squalor of living in India.

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman:
The book is set against the backdrop of explosive juvenile bravado and working-class desperation. The story opens with the tenants of an apartment complex reacting to the death of one of their residents, a popular, athletic teen boy who was killed for no apparent reason. Harrison (Harri) Opoku, an 11-year-old newly arrived from Ghana, with age-appropriate brio, quickly resolves to solve the murder.At the book’s outset, Harri is still very much an innocent boy who thrills in subway rides and letting raindrops fall on his face. But during his investigation, he navigates through that slippery passage between child and adult: finding his way through cliques and peer pressure, exchanging first kisses and learning to take a stand, even if the consequences may be deadly.

Heat And Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala:
The events of the story take place in India, during the periods of the British Raj in the 1920s and the present day of the novel (the 1970s). A young English woman searches for the truth about her great aunt Olivia (1920s).
The narrator discovers that Olivia was a woman smothered by the social restrictions placed upon her by British society. She fell in love with a Nawab and became pregnant with his child. Her decision to abort the baby resulted in a scandal. In discovering the truth about these events, the narrator also comes to fall in love with an Indian man, understand herself better and develops an interest in India.

The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst:
In 1983 London, the privileged, gay, and apparently sexually irresistible 25 year old protagonist Will saves the life of an elderly aristocrat having a heart-attack in a public lavatory. This chance meeting sets in process a chain of events that will ultimately require the highly intelligent but essentially carefree Will to substantially re-evaluate his sense of the past and of his family's history.

The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst:
Set in Britain in the early to mid-1980s, the story surrounds the the young gay protagonist, Nick Guest, who has come down from Oxford with a first in English and is to begin graduate studies at the University of Central London. he book explores the tension between Nick's intimate relationship with the Feddens, in whose parties and holidays he participates, and the realities of his sexuality and gay life, which the Feddens accept only to the extent of never mentioning it. It explores themes of hypocrisy, homosexuality, madness and wealth, with the emerging AIDS crisis forming a backdrop to the book's conclusion.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett:
The story is about African American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960s. It is told primarily from the first-person perspectives of three women: Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter. Aibileen is an African-American maid who cleans houses and cares for the young children of various white families. Minny is Aibileen's confrontational friend who frequently tells her employers what she thinks of them, resulting in having being fired from nineteen jobs. Skeeter is the daughter of a prominent white family whose cotton farm employs many African-Americans in the fields, as well as in the household.

All That I Am by Anna Funder:
All That I Am is inspired by fact – drawn from interviews, memoirs and autobiographies detailing the lives of a group of (mostly) Jewish Germans who resisted Hitler in the 1930s. The group's central figures were Blatt, her cousin Dora Fabian and the playwright Ernst Toller.

The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson The Millenium Trilogy consists of three novels - The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornest's Nest. Larsson witnessed the gang-rape of a young girl when he was 15. He never forgave himself for failing to help the girl, whose name was Lisbeth – like the young main character of his books, herself a rape victim, which inspired the theme of sexual violence against women in his books. With the exception of Hedestad, the novel takes place in real Swedish towns. The Millennium magazine featured in the books has characteristics similar to that of Larsson's magazine, Expo, which also had financial difficulties.

The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor:
The book is a satirical novel, a fictional work that takes the story of the Mahabharata, the epic of Hindu mythology, and recasts and resets it in the context of the Indian Independence Movement and the first three decades post-independence. Figures from Indian history are transformed into characters from mythology, and the mythical story of India is retold as a history of Indian independence and subsequent history, up through the 1980s. The work includes numerous puns and allusions to famous works about India, such as those by Rudyard Kipling, Paul Scott, and E. M. Forster.

Lucknow Boy: A Memoir by Vinod Mehta: Vinod Mehta is the editor-in-chief of Outlook India. Born in Pakistan, his family fled to India when he was three. He has authored several books including the biographies of Sanjay Gandhi and Meena Kumari. He took over as editor-in-chief of Debonair in 1974. Since then, he has founded and edited numerous publications. He is the founder-editor of India's first Sunday paper, The Sunday Observer, the founder editor of the now defunct Bombay daily, The Independent, and the founder-editor of The Pioneer (Delhi edition). He was also editor of The Indian Post.

Ravan And Eddie by Kiran Nagarkar:
This one is touted as one of the original Mumbai books, set in a chawl and revolving around the lives of two boys - Ravan and Eddie, and their trials and tribulations through their growing up stage. The sequel to the same is just round the corner - The Extras - in which the boys are grown up.

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, January 9, 2012

First Page Mondays: Diary Of A Bad Year by J.M. Coetzee

As part of the First Page Mondays here at The Book Worm, here's the first page from the book 'Diary of A Bad Year' by J.M. Coetzee. This is one of those books that each time I pick it up, I can't help admiring the nuances. Love to read it in bits and parts over and over again. Hope you like it too.

'Every account of the origins of the state starts from the premise that "we" - not we the readers but some generic we so wide as to exclude no one - participate in its coming into being. But the fact is that the only "we" we know - ourselves and the people close to us - are born into the state; and our forebears too were born into the state as far back as we can trace. The state is always there before we are.

(How far back can we trace? In African thought, the consensus is that after the seventh generation we can no longer distinguish between history and myth.)

If, despite the evidence of our senses, we accept the premise that we or our forebears created the state, then we must also accept its entailment: that we or our forebears could have created the state in some other form, if we had chosen; perhaps, too, that we could change it if we collectively so decided. But the fact is that, even collectively, those who are "under" the state, who "belong to" the state, will find it very hard indeed to change its form: they - we - are certainly powerless to abolish it.

It is hardly in our power to change the form of the state and impossible to abolish it because, vis-avis the state, we are, precisely, powerless. In the myth of the founding of the state as set down by Thomas Hobbes, our descent into powerlessness was voluntary: in order to escape the violence of internecine warfare without end (reprisal upon reprisal, vengeance upon vengeance, the vendetta), we individually and severally yielded up to the state the right to use physical force (right is might, might is right), thereby entering the realm (the protection) of the law. Those who chose and choose to stay outside the compact become outlaw.
My first glimpse of her was in the laundry room. It was mid-morning on a quiet spring day and I was sitting, watching the washing go around, when this quite startling young woman walked in. Startling because the last thing I was expecting was such an apparition; also because the tomato-red shift she wore was so startling in its brevity.'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sneaky-Peeky Sundays: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I simply had to share this little piece with you guys from the book 'Steve Jobs' by Walter Isaacson:

'.....romantic than serious, of just staying in France, maybe settling down, perhaps indefinitely. Redse was eager, but Jobs didn't want to. He was burned but still ambitious. "I am a reflection of what I do" he told her. She recalled their Paris moment in a poignant email she sent to him twenty-five years later, after they had gone their separate ways but retained their spiritual connection:

We were on a bridge in Paris in the summer of 1985. It was overcast. We leaned against the smooth stone rail and stared at the green water rolling on below. Your world had cleaved and then it paused, waiting to rearrange itself around whatever you chose next. I wanted to run away from what had come before. I tried to convince you to begin a new life with me in Paris, to shed our former selves and let something else course through us. I wanted us to crawl through that black chasm of your broken world and emerge, anonymous and new, in simple lives where I could cook you simple dinner and we could be together every day, like children playing a sweet game with no purpose save the game itself. I like to think you considered it before you laughed and said "What could I do? I've made myself unemployable." I like to think that in that moment's hesitation before our bold futures reclaimed us, we lived that simple life together all the way into our peaceful old ages, with a brood of grandchildren around us on a farm in the south of France, quietly going about our days, warm and complete like loaves of fresh bread, our small world filled with the aroma of patience and familiarity.

The relationship lurched up and down for five years. Redse hated living in his sparsely furnished Woodside house. Jobs had hired a hip young couple, who had once worked at Chez Panisse, as housekeepers and vegetarian cooks, and they made her feel like an interloper. She would occasionally move out to an apartment of her own in Palo Alto, especially after one of her torrential arguments with Jobs. "Neglect is a form of abuse," she once scrawled on the hallway to their bedroom. She was entranced by him, but she was also baffled by how uncaring he could be. She would later recall how incredibly painful it was to be in love with someone so self-centered. Caring deeply about.......'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

How rude of me...completely forgot to wish you guys...

Wish you all a very Happy New Year 2012...I am glad to have met so many like-minded people in the past year, to have made so many friends and to have interacted with so many wonderful book lovers from all parts of the world.

I am also thankful that I got the chance to read and review so many lovely books, that the authors, publishers, book agents, book sites and bookstores were wonderful enough to send.

I had a great last year and I can only hope to see you guys around more.

I wish you all a great time ahead, that you have many reasons to celebrate, and many special moments and memories to fill up the coming year with happiness, love and good health.

And of course, I hope you guys end up reading lots and lots of great books and take out some time to drop me a comment or mail to let me know about those books too :-)

Have a fab year ahead and happy reading !!!!

- Debolina Raja Gupta

First Page Mondays: Kartography by Kamila Shamsie

As part of the First Page Mondays at The Book Worm, here's the first page from the book Kartography by Kamila Shamsie.

'Of course the garden is located where all our beginning, Karim's and mine, are located: Karachi. That spider-plant city where, if you know what to look for and some higher power is feeling indulgent, you might find a fossilized footprint of Alexander. The Great. He led his army through Karachi, long, long before the spider-plant effect took hold, when Karachi was a harbour named Krokola. Perhaps Alexander's was the first army that stirred up the sand along the eastern coast of the Arabian Sea.

That's an interesting thought.

Though, really, its never been proved that Karachi is Krokola, and even if it is Alexander probably never stepped foot on its shores; so any ancient Macedonian footprints with heelstamps of authority in Karachi's rocks must belong to Alexander's admiral, Nearchus, who wasn't even Macedonian. He was a Cretan and that sounds rude.

I don't know if Karim and I were actually looking for ancient footprints in the rockery of Karim's garden that October evening, the day all boxes were unpacked and the move from Karim's old house finally completed, but I do know that we were more than happy with our discovery of a fossilized cuttlefish.

'You sure it's a cuttlefish?' I said, turning the diamond-shaped fossil over in my hands. We were sitting cross-legged, side by side, on the grass that bordered the triangle of soil on which the rockery had been set out. Mud on his knees and chlorophyll on mine, though as we sat close, swaying back with laughter and forward with curiosity, the colours were mingling, dun shot through with emerald.'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sneaky Peeky Sunday: The Blogging Affair by Manu

Yes yes, forgive me, I am late as the last few times again! But this time I have the excuse of the New Year fever to help me in my lapse ;-)

I am currently reading a very interesting book called 'The Blogging Affair' by an author who likes to call himself Manu, adding to the feeling of suspense that he has already created in his story. I have received this signed copy from Manu and must say I am quite liking what I am reading. So here's a look at the page I am on now.

'Subject: Shocks and Aftershocks!!

Posted: 208 days ago

It started pretty much like any other day. We woke up. First K and then me, as usual. K had a flight to catch so the breakfast was a rushed affair (I have to be careful using that word). I was relaxed till K was around. The moment K left, I sprang into action. That was because O was coming to my place!

O was going to arrive around the same time K was going to check in. I got busy decorating myself, just like anyone expecting their girlfriend. I was in the shower when my cell began to ring. I was half blinded with soap in my eyes, bumping into stuff as I probed my way around, hoping all the while that it was O calling to tell that her flight had landed.

Was I mistaken? The call was from K. K's flight had been delayed due to bad weather. And K was on the way back home.

Thus was delivered unto me my first shock of the day.

I could not let O come with K in the house. I stumbled back into the shower, got rid of the soap, and rushed to call O. I must have tried her number a hundred times from then till K rang our doorbell. It kept saying it was out of reach. I figured that the only way I could stop O from coming was to stop her right at the airport. So I told....'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Recently Read, Reading And Want To Read

I've been flipping in and out of books for some time now. There are a few books I recently read, some I am re-reading, some I am reading as a reviewer, and some I am really dying to read but just not getting the time. There are also a list of classics that I am dying to read all over again...Let's see how many of these I manage to read this year..I did finish my GoodReads Challenge this year of reading 40 books though. In fact read 42 books.

So here's the books that I recently read:

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

The Camerons by Robert Crighton

Reading Now:
Currently I am reading a book called The Blogging Affair by an author who prefers to call himself Manu. Its a book that the author has sent me for review and I am absolutely enjoying the suspense story.

Looking Forward To Read:

Well, there's a huge list waiting for me to pick up, that I'm dying to read. But I guess right now I will reach out for a book called Sarah's Key (after I finish the current one that I am reading).

I also have a list of books that I want to read this year. These are names of books I have picked up from friends, from other books and magazines, or heard word-of-mouth praise. Will share the list with you guys soon. In the meanwhile, if there are any great books that you are really looking forward to read this year, do let me know, so that I can read them too ....

Happy reading friends...

- Debolina Raja Gupta