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Monday, February 27, 2012

First Page Mondays: Born Digital by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser

As part of the First Page Mondays here at The Book Worm, here is the first page from the book Born Digital by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser. Enjoy!

'YOU SEE THEM EVERYWHERE. THE TEENAGE GIRL WITH THE IPOD, SITTING across from you on the subway, frenetically typing messages into her cell phone. The whiz kid summer intern in your office who knows what to do when your e-mail client crashes. The eight-year-old who can beat you at any video game on the market - and types faster than you do, too. Even your niece's newwborn baby in London, whom you've never met, but with whom you've bonded nonetheless, owing to the new batch of baby photos that arrive each week.

All of them are "Digital Natives." They were all born after 1980, when social digital technologies, such as Usenet and bulletin board systems, came online. They all have access to networked digital technologies. And they all have the skills to use those technologies. (Except for the baby - but she'll learn soon enough.)

Chances are, you've been impressed with some of the skills these Digital Natives possess. Maybe your young assistant has shown you a hilarious political satire online that you never would have found on your own, or made presentation materials for you that make your own PowerPoint slides seem medieval by comparison. Maybe your son has Photoshopped a cloud.....'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sneaky Peeky Sunday: The Coal Miner's Daughter by Loretta Lynn

I am currently reading the autobiography of country musician Loretta Lynn and as part of the Sneaky-Peeky Sunday here at The Book Worm, here is a page from her autobiography titled 'Coal Miner's Daughter' by Loretta Lynn with George Vecsey. Enjoy!!!

' Hey, You Ain't Supposed to
  Wear Clothes Under You

 You can feel my body tremble
 As I wonder what this moment holds in store,
 And as you put your arms around me, you can tell,
 I've never been this far before......
  'I've Never Been This Far Before,'
     by Conway Twitty

 I was glad to see Doo, but I was afraid my Daddy was going to say something. I knew they didn't want me to see Doolittle, but you know how kids are - they're going to do what they want anyhow.

 I still wouldn't go in that jeep with him, not at first, so we courted at my house. It was cold - we met on December 10 - and we had to stay indoors. We would sit in the front room and talk, with all my sisters and brothers saying things about when he was gonna kiss me and stuff like that. And my Mommy walking in saying "Would you like a soda?" or talking about the weather. Just to keep an eye on us, you know.

 We didn't have much to talk about. I was just a bashful kid, never been anywhere. He told me a little about the army, and he talked a lot about Washington State, and said he wanted to move back there some day. I didn't have nothing to tell him about what I'd done. Kind of a one-sided affair, wasn't it? But that was how we spent December 11. The next day he talked me into riding in his jeep. But I didn't go with him just because he had a.....'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Thursday, February 23, 2012

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

About the book:
Title: Defending A King ` His Life & Legacy
Author: Dr. Karen Moriarty
No. of Pages: 485

When I was first asked by the author and a certain book site if I would like to do a complimentary read and review or a book on Michael Jackson, my reaction was: 'Will anyone even refuse?" I mean, it's a book on MJ..Who on Earth can say No to that? And I am so glad I went on to read this gem of a book...Trust me, this is ONE of those books that you HAVE to read.
* This is a complimentary review copy and NOT a purchased one.

Even if you have till date managed to remain a non-fan of MJ the artist, the reading and subsequent understanding of MJ the man ll make you an instant fan.

I've always been a huge fan of MJ - I love the fact that he was a self-made man, a little boy who worked hard from the age of five in the glare of flashlights and the media, always the performer, trying hard and working harder to give his family a better life, who made it his passion to see to it that the message of love and peace was shared across the globe in the best way that he could - through his music and his compassion.

So when I began reading, it was an emotional roller coaster ride for me. I must, in the very beginning, give full credit to the author, Dr. Karen Moriarty, for her detailed research and for being able to provide more than enough proof against all those allegations that MJ has faced throughout his life.

The MJ we saw was the MJ that the media portrayed to us. The MJ who lives in the pages of this book is the real MJ - a father whose only world was his three children, an unconditional giver of love and support, a man with a golden heart who always kept his home, his property, his finances open for all those needy children and their parents who would benefit from some help or other - the soul of a small, innocent boy trapped in the body of an adult man.

Rumour after rumour, author goes on to describe how Michael's insecurities and acts of kindness have been turned into a media circus day after day:
The biggest fear that Michael had was not being able to protect his children. And it was because of this that he went to unfathomable lengths to keep them shielded from the media, from the world. He kept them in veils, he always kept a large amount of cash in his bedroom, in case he ever needed to pay a ransom and the bank happened to be closed. The media made a spectacle of this 'veiling' and labeled him a 'whacko.'
Not many were aware that Michael suffered from a skin condition that caused his skin to pigment, and that he was medically required to stay away from sunlight. Hence the umbrella, which fueled a lot of criticism in the media.
When Michael donated a chamber to a children's ward in a hospital he wanted to check for himself how it worked, and the next day the media splashed pictures of him, claiming Michael used a special oxygen chamber for himself to maintain his looks.
From the age of 5, Michael had always been surrounded by bodyguards and had people work on his accounts. He never got a chance to handle things on his own. This led to a dependency on others. But those around him were not as honest as they led Michael to believe, and as the author also sadly realised, people stole from him left, right and center - not only outsiders, family members too!
The staff at his ranch Neverland was instructed to permanently give free access to sick children and their parents to his own home there, his kitchen, his property and any  place they wished for. They stayed for weeks, months, all on MJ's money. And later, when they recovered and were asked to leave, they filed lawsuits, claiming compensation.

The worst mistake Michael did was to never speak out. Being intensely private, he believed if he would only give people what they asked for, the problems would be over. But this only brought on more trouble. Michael faced upto 50 lawsuits a per week throughout his life! And he paid them all! Without ever being proven guilty!

Michael was so affected by the sad plight of children that he was repeatedly scared of reading the papers or switching on the TV, so that he did not stumble across a picture of a hurt child. Everywhere he toured in any part of the world, he made it a point to visit one place where needy children would benefit and make donations for them. Even on his last day, after Dr. Conrad Murray gave him the doses that was to bring an end to this great man, Michael, in his dazed state, was speaking of his final dream, of making the Michael Jackson Children's Hospital, which would be the biggest and the best in the world.

The bodyguards who were with Michael 24*7 remember him as being the kindest and most soft-spoken person they have ever met. They remember him with a love that is rare. They share details that will bring tears to anyone who reads of those times that Michael yearned for love, understanding and appreciation from the world.

It's a shame what we did to him. Each rumour, each fact, each gesture can only make you cry and want to reach out to this purest of pure souls envelop him in a hug. If only we had been a little human towards him. What a shame on us all!  

Of course you know how many hearts for this one:

- Debolina Raja Gupta 

Monday, February 20, 2012

First Page Mondays: Lily, my lovely by Lena Kennedy

As part of the First Page Mondays at The Book Worm, here's the first page from the book Lovely, my lovely by Lena Kennedy.

'Lily is a familiar character to those who know our London well. If you were to ask Lily what part of the town she lived in, her pretty face would break into a wide smile revealing even white teeth, and her dark blue eyes would light up with humour. 'Cannin' tawn,' she would say with the deep intonation of the East End in her voice. Canning Town was a dreary dockland area, part of the East End which bordered the river Thames. There, long lanes of small tumbledown houses contained the population that drew a living from the thriving industry of the docks on the Thames.

Huge ships arrived from every country in the world, carrying their cargo into the London docks - the Victoria and Albert dock, East India dock, West India dock, the Surrey dock and various others that spread along the riverside for miles, making London seem the centre of the shipping world.

The eldest of six children, Lily in her youth would play down by the riverside with her brothers and sisters. They loved to watch the tramp steamers nosing their way into the docks, or the big liners filling up with passengers, emigrants leaving their homeland for better conditions in the colonies.

These great ships, along with the high cranes that dotted the skyline and the low hoots of the siren, made up Lily's world. It was the only one she knew.

She grew up in one of those tumbledown houses in the same street that her grandparents lived. And when she was eighteen and married to George Brown, she moved into her own little home a few doors down. They would all meet at the local on Saturday nights, having all been shopping in the same market....'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park

Title: This Burns My Heart
Samuel Park
Publishers: Simon & Schuster

*This copy was sent for review purpose by the publishers and through Book Pleasures. This is NOT a review copy. This is a complimentary reading copy.

When I was approached by BookPleasures to review Samuel Park's This Burns My Heart, I was immediately drawn to the plot. I have always loved stories that deal with emotion, family, and real situations, and especially those that talk about culture and traditions of a particular place and its people. A few weeks later, the publishers Simon & Schuster, in association with BookPleasures, sent me a hardcover copy of the novel.

Samuel Park’s beautiful novel opens in the year 1960 in a place called Daegu, South Korea. The protagonist, Soo-Ja, is a young girl, no more than a student, and even at this young age, we get a glimpse of her strong character and fierce streak of independence. Living in post-war Korea, her dreams are more open in scope, and there is nothing that can make her settle for something that is lesser than the best. Aiming to make this world a better place, Soo-Ja wants to be a diplomat, to travel the world, see new places and meet new people, while using her skills and charms to influence the heavy-weight decision-makers.

But her ambitions are bigger than what her traditional family may be able to handle. With a father who is rich and respected in the social circles, Soo-Ja, being the daughter of the house, is supposed to tread in paths that will continue to behold that respect. If she must absolutely work before getting married, she can at best be allowed to be a teacher or a secretary, but a diplomat? That’s a strict no.

With her zeal to do something meaningful, Soo-Ja gets drawn into the youth demonstrations. With the new acquaintance of a young man named Min, who quickly turns into a lover, Soo-Ja takes part in the demonstrations, where she comes in contact with Yul, the charismatic youth leader. Soo-Ja feels an instant pull, an attraction she cannot explain. She knows she loves Min, wants to marry him, but there is something about Yul she finds hard to ignore, getting drawn to him despite all the warnings in her head. When finally Yul proposes marriage, Soo-Ja turns him down in favour of Min, the man she loves. But will this decision change her life forever? Was there something Soo-Ja could have had with Yul that she can never hope to achieve by marrying Min? Is this the point that will push her to her doom?

The beauty of This Burns My Heart is not just in its narration and description, the charm, lies in the protagonist, Soo-Ja. This is no perfect heroine we have here, many will find her flawed - she loved another man while she was planning her marriage with someone else - she is fiercely independent, sometimes to the point of being brazen, she likes to take control, and she only wants the best for herself. Some may find her dominating. Then again, Soo-Ja is kind, compassionate and fair. With the strength of will that not many heroines have been credited with, Soo-Ja faces the world on her own when all else falls apart. Not one to bow down in the face of adversities, Soo-Ja has the courage and dedication in her to hold up a failing sail, to row the boat till land arrives.

While the author builds a powerful heroine, who is at once flawed and charming, he gives equal attention to his two other protagonists – Min and Yul.

I especially loved the novel because of its glimpse into a world that is different from mine, of customs and daily practices that are somewhat similar, yet find a different context in a new setting. Samuel Park brings to life the real-life Korea in a way I have yet to come across. With celebrations, rituals, traditions, even local language, being blended beautifully into passages and sentences, readers will get a glimpse of the post-war Korea in the years gone by, while not really having to struggle with too much smattering of the local flavor. A story that begins in the 60s in Korea will take us through time to the modern-day Korea, to the changes that its people have gone through, and what it has done to their social and personal lives.

While family and emotions are a strong theme in the novel, the author makes sure nothing goes over-the-top. With constant twists and turns throughout the story, the novel soon turns into an un-putdown-able read, and you constantly want to know what happens next.

Debolina Raja Gupta is an international book reviewer with BookPleasures.

A story that will linger with you for some time. Strongly recommended.

I will give this novel FIVE hearts: AWESOME

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, February 13, 2012

First Page Mondays: Coal Miner's Daughter by Loretta Lynn

As part of the First Page Mondays at The Book Worm, here is the first page from the book 'The Coal Miner's Daughter' by Loretta Lynn. Enjoy !!

'Well, I was borned a coal miner's daughter,
In a cabin on a hill in Butcher Holler,
We were poor but we had love.....
- Coal Miner's Daughter,'
by Loretta Lynn

Most people know that much about me, because those are the first words of my biggest song. I open my show with it because I know people are gonna request it until I sing it. I wrote it myself, nine verses, and it broke my heart when I had to cut three verses out because it was too long. I could have written a thousand more verses, I've got so many memories of Butcher Holler.

To me, that place is the most important part of my life. My fans and writers are always making a big deal about me acting natural, right from the country. That's because I come from Butcher Holler, Kentucky, and I ain't never forgot it.

I'm always making Butcher Holler sound like the most backward part of the United States - and I think maybe it is. I've traveled all over this country, down South and out West, and I ain't never seen anything like it. And I ain't making fun of it, because I'm the most backward person you ever saw. I never knew where babies came from until it happened to me.'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review: The Hooker's Daughter by Dale Stanten

Details about the book:
The Hooker’s Daughter
Author: Dale Stanten
Publishers: Infinity Publishing
No. of pages: 227

The books 'The Hooker's Daughter' by Dale Stanten was sent to me for review through BookPleasures and by the author. *This is a complimentary review copy and not a purchased copy.

The Hooker's Daughter is a memoir by Dale Stanten, describing her life during and after the 1950s in Jewish Boston, where she lives with her parents and elder sister. Dale’s mother is a fashionable lady who loves the many pleasures and luxuries of life, but unfortunately for her, her husband is barely able to provide enough to meet the demands of daily life. An intimate discussion with another disappointed housewife opens an avenue of earning her own money and rescuing her family from the verge of imminent poverty. She soon becomes a pro at her trade and earns a reputation. The memoir speaks from the eyes of a little girl who realises at the age of six that her mother is a hooker, and who, along with her elder sister who is six-and-half- years older to her, continue loving mamma and protecting her secrets.

Little Dale is barely six when she understands fully what her mother is doing. She opens the door to men who come seeking pleasures from her mother and learns to quietly stay inside her own room, even as her mother is busy ‘doing it.’ When Dale was too young to go to kinder-garden, her mother would ask her elder daughter to take her to school and smuggle her in the kinder-garden class so that she could carry on with her ‘business’. She was found out many times and her mother summoned, but she still continued making her daughters do the same. When Dale was finally old enough to go to school, she would often resort to tricks and try and be late for school, in an attempt to make her mother cancel her plans with the many men who Dale was sure would drop in the moment she went off to school. As Dale was growing up, she remembers having seen her mother ‘do it’ with her clients in their very own living room. Sometimes, a client would drop in even before Dale left for school, and her mother would ask her to go to her room. Dale remembers incidents when she deliberately opened the bathroom door, shocked at finding her mother and her client half-naked, hoping they would stop on seeing her, but her mother simply kicked the door shut and carried on. As Dale grows from a child to a teenager, she can see the changes in herself and can relate her behaviour to that with her mother. She becomes disrespectful towards her father, a routine behaviour that she has seen her mother use towards her husband, and though she is ashamed of herself at times, she can’t help it. She can see herself becoming different from other teenagers her age, and even though she wants to have the simple easy life of others, she finds herself caught between her mother’s lifestyle and her need to do everything to please her mother.

The book is a study in human relations and emotions. What little Dale experiences with her mother is a push-pull situation, the more her mother pushes her away, the more she longs for her and wants to do everything to please her and win her affections. Dale describes, how, for many years, this was a regular feeling she had, of trying to do everything that will make her mother love her as much as she loves her.
She becomes confused about her father’s attitude, who she knows is aware of what her mother is doing, but chooses to ignore it.
Dale constantly feels the pain of not having her mother to herself like other children do, but she has some solace in her elder sister who she is very attached to. When she reveals at the age of 16 that she is gay, this becomes a cause of contempt in the house and Dale is unable to understand the reactions of her parents, who choose to ignore the prostitution, but tell their daughter that being ‘gay’ is unacceptable.

It is easy to see the pain Dale suffered as a child, the humiliation and confusion she went through, even as everyone near her was aware of her mother being a hooker. But it is commendable the way she chose to share her experiences with readers. Her strength is visible in the fact that she went on to become a qualified nurse, and is today the CEO of her management company. She organised corporate events and conventions for international clients and conducted numerous educational seminars and assisted in developing a tourism college degree program. Today she is happy with her family and her lovely grandchildren.

Her story is about how to conquer challenges beyond those that have been made socially acceptable by society.

A Must Read.

I will give this book FOUR hearts: Loved It

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, February 6, 2012

First Page Mondays: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

As part of the First Page Mondays series here at The Book Worm, here's the first page from the book 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' by the Nobel Prize Winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Read on:

'Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father tool him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point. Every year during the month of March a family of ragged gypsies would set up their tents near the village, and with a great uproar of pipes and kettledrums they would display new inventions. First they brought the magnet. A heavy gypsy with an untamed beard and sparrow hands, who introduced himself as Melquiades, put on a bold public demonstration of what he himself called the eighth wonder of the the learned alchemists of Macedonia. He went from house to house dragging two metal ingots and everybody was amazed to see pots, pans, tongs and braziers tumble down from their places and beams creak from the desperation of nails and screws trying to emerge, and even objects that had been lost for a long time appeared from where they had been searched for most and went dragging along in turbulent confusion behind Melquiades' magical irons. "Things have a......'

- Debolina Raja Gupta