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Thursday, March 29, 2012

On The Cover: The Bride Stripped Bare by Nikki Gemmell


 Here's a look at the storyline of the book 'The Bride Stripped Bare' by Nikki Gemmell.

 'A woman disappears. Her car lies abandoned on a remote bluff; no body is recovered. She was the good wife, the good mother - mannerly, quiet, self-contained.

 But she has left behind an incendiary diary chronicling a disturbing journey of sexual awakening.

 As the diary opens on her honeymoon in Morocco, she believes herself to be happy, or happy enough. Swiftly, this security masquerading as love fractures in an act of massive betrayal, only to propel her into a world of desire, fantasy and recklessness. What begins for her in the imagination ends in a tangle of sheets, in a drowning spiral of obsession and release.

 She dares to rupture convention, learning, for the first time, the intoxicating power of knowing what she wants and how to get it. The question is, how long can her soul sustain a perilous double life?'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sneaky Peeky Sunday: 'Tis by Frank McCourt

As part of the Sneaky-Peeky Sunday, here's the page from the book 'Tis' by Frank McCourt that I am reading right now. Enjoy...the book is quite interesting...

'Och, I only wanted to warn him of the bad company to be found in pubs.

 This is my father who left us when I was ten to spend every penny he earned in the pubs of Coventry with German bombs dropping all around him, his family next to starvation in Limerick and here he is putting on the air of one in the grip of sanctifying grace and all I can think of is there must be some truth to the story he was dropped on his head or the other story that he had a disease like meningitis.

 That might be an excuse for the drinking the dropping on the head or the meningitis. German bombs couldn't be an excuse because there were other Limerickmen sending money home from Coventry, bombs or no bombs. There were even men who fell in with Englishwomen and still sent money home though that money would slow down to nothing because Englishwomen are notorious for not wanting their Irishmen to support their families at home when they have three or four snotty-nosed English brats of their own running around demanding bangers and mash. Many an Irishman at the end of the war was so desperate trapped between his Irish and English families there was nothing for him to do but jump on a ship to Canada for Australia never to be heard from again.

 That wouldn't be my father. If he had seven children from my mother it was only because she was there in the bed doing her wifely duty. Englishwomen are never that easy. They'd never suffer an Irishman who would leap on them in the bravery of a few pints and that means there are no little McCourt bastards running the streets of Coventry.

  I don't know what to say to him with his little smile and his Och aye because I don't know if I'm talking to a man in his right man or the man dropped on his head or the one with meningitis. How can I talk to him when he gets up, sticks his hands deep into his trouser pockets and......'  
   
- Debolina Raja Gupta

Friday, March 23, 2012

On The Cover: Lucky Break by Esther Freud


 'It is their first day at Drama Arts. The circle of huddled, nervous students are told in no uncertain terms that here, unlike at any other Drama school, they will be taught 'To Act,' 'To Be,' 'To Exist' in their own world on stage. But outside is the real world - a pitiless, alluring place in which each of them, in their most fervent dreams, hopes to flourish and excel.

 The insecure and dumpy Nell wonders if she will ever be cast as anything but the maid. She'll never compete, she knows, with the multitude of confident, long-legged beauties thronging the profession, most noticeably Charlie, whose effortless ascendance is nothing less than she expects.

 Then there's the ambitious and serious Dan, who has his sights fixed on Hamlet, as well as on fiery, rebellious Jemma. Over the following decade, these young actors will grapple with haphazard tours, illogical auditions, unobtainable agents, deluxe caravans and rocky relationships.'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Recent Reading List

Of late, these are the very interesting titles I have finished reading, am reading, and am looking forward to read. Let me know if you too have read these and what is your feedback.

 Recently finished reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by StiegLarsson

Recently finished reading First Light by Sunil Gangopadhyay

Presently reading 'Tis byFrank McCourt

Looking forward to read soon 'Murder In The 11th House' by Mitchell Scott Lewis

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, March 19, 2012

First Page Mondays: Murder In The 11th House by Mitchell Scott Lewis

As part of the First Page Mondays here at The Book Worm, here's the first page from the book 'Murder In The 11th House' by Mitchell Scott Lewis.

* This is a complimentary read and review copy sent by the author and BookPleasures. Not a purchased copy

'David Lowell was up before five. He left his townhouse on East Ninety-Third Street and walked out into the darkness. Only Wall Streeters for the subway and diner workers serving the first coffee were up this early. Although it was an unseasonably mild November, the early morning chill forced him to pull the collar of his leather jacket up around his neck. He left his ponytail tucked in.

 It was late autumn, and most of the trees had long since lost their flamboyant costumes. A few luminous oaks and maples had stubbornly refused to relinquish their bright skirts and stood out strikingly against a canvas of aging brick and cold steel. He touched the hair around his ears, his own foliage, faded grey from so many turns on the merry-go-round. How drab is humankind, he thought, so unadorned in its final days. Not gallantly lit up like autumn leaves, a brief colorful flair of brilliance against death's pale pallet, but washed out and ominous, like the sky before a coming storm. No thought of the inevitable spring, only of the seemingly endless winter.

 He needed to take a long walk. Lost in his thoughts, he strolled from the Upper East Side all the way to Soho, the dark city passing in a fog. He walked up and down the city's subtle hills as he made his way south. He crossed Spring Street and went down to Canal where he turned left and passed jewelry stores and knock-off purse kiosks. Most were still closed, their......'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sneaky Peeky Sunday: 'Tis by Frank McCourt

Yup, got a little late, I know. So, as part of the Sneaky-Peeky Sunday series here at The Book Worm, here's the page from the memoir ''Tis' by Frank McCourt that I am reading right now. Enjoy!

'You don't look it though it don't mater nohow long as yuo with the fawdah. Right, Fawdah?

 Right. I'll keep an eye on him. He doesn't know a soul in New York and I'm going to settle him in before I leave.

 The priest drinks his double martini and orders another with his steak. He tells me I should think of becoming a  priest. He could get me a job in Los Angeles and I'd live the life of Riley with widows dying and leaving me everything including their daughters, ha ha, this is one hell of a martini excuse the language. He eats most of his steak and tells the waiter bring two apple pies with ice cream and he'll have a double Hennessy to wash it down. He eats only the ice cream, drinks half of the Hennessy and falls asleep with his chin on his chest moving up and down.

 The waiter loses his smile. Goddam, he's gotta pay his check. Where's his goddam wallet? Back pocket, kid. Hand it to me.

 I can't rob a priest.

 You're not robbing. He's paying his goddam check and you're gonna need a taxi to take him home.

 Two waiters help him to a taxi and two bellhops at the Hotel New Yorker haul him through the lobby, up the elevator and dump him on the bed. The bellhop tells me, A buck tip would be nice, a buck each, kid.

 They leave and I wonder what I'm supposed to do with a drunken priest. I remove his shoes the way they do when someone passes out in the films but he sits up and runs to the bathroom where he's sick a long time and when he comes out he's pulling at his clothes, throwing them on the floor, collar, shirt, trousers, underwear. He collapses on the bed on his back and I can see he's in a state of excitement with his hand on himself. Come here to me, he says, and I back away. Ah, no, Fathe, and he rolls out of the bed, slobbering and stinking of drink and puke and tries to grab my hand to put on him but I back away even faster till......'

 - Debolina Raja Gupta

First Chapter: The Wedding by Danielle Steel

If you wish to read the first chapter of the book 'The Wedding' by Danielle Steel, click here 

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, March 12, 2012

First Page Mondays: Telling The Pictures by Frank Delaney

As part of the First Page Mondays here at The Book Worm, here's the first page from the book 'Telling The Pictures' by Frank Delaney.

'In Belfast, in 1942, lived Belle, a mill-girl with a gift. Every morning at work, she enthralled people with the story of the film she saw last night. In her apron and turban-tied headscarf she climbed on the table of the spinning room in Rufus Street, and dramatised, in her own sharp accent, the passions of Hollywood. With her wide eyes and her wit, and her hands weaving gestures like a magician casting spells, she pierced the overcast of their long, dirty workdays.

 They all knew Belle, and her circumstances, her morose household; the MacKnights had suffered an outrage in Belle's childhood. Only Belle had never been told what had happened - everybody knew that too. But how could she not have heard the whispers: they continued long after the funeral? Leonard, the other child of the family, knew the whole story, and he seemed as angry as Belle seemed good-natured: Superintendent Crawford, responsible for Leonard's division of the Special Reserve Constabulary, had often had to caution him, tone him down. Belle never seemed to enquire what had happened to make Leonard like that; or had made her mother so religious. Belle never asked those questions: anyone could have told her: the loving Aunt Sandra, or run-off-at-the-mouth Uncle Jed, a hundred neighbours.

 The Rufus Street women talked about Belle as if she were family, and their view of her had become kind of control. By discussing her, they maintained her innocence, these women devoid of compunctions. By saying how they.....'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sneaky Peeky Sunday: First Light by Sunil Gangopadhyay

As part of the Sneaky Peeky Sunday here at The Book Worm, here's the page I am currently on from the mega novel 'First Light' by Sunil Gangopadhyay.

'Jyotirindranath took Gyanadanandini's advice. Leaving Chandannagar, he returned to Calcutta. But he did not go back to Jorasanko. He took up residence in Number 10 Sadar Street in Chowringhee and moved in there with Kadambari.

 Chowringhee was the most fashionable area in Calcutta. The houses were large and beautiful with neatly laid out gardens and were occupied, almost exclusively, by the British, Parsees and Armenians. It was a quiet locality and very clean. The open drains on either side of the road had been covered over recently with stone footpaths. Now the wide sweep of asphalt under bright gas lamps could match the finest street in London. Jyotirindranath liked to live in style and so vast quantities of furniture were ordered for Kadambari's new establishment. Carved bedsteads, Persian carpets and Belgian mirrors were arranged tastefully in all the bedrooms. There were pottery stands for plants in the verandas and English knick knacks in glass cupboards in the drawing room. Fresh flowers were sent in every morning from Hogg Saheb's market. These Kadambari arranged with her own hands - her floral design changing with her changing moods.

 Jyotirindranath and Kadambari had taken it for granted that Robi would move in with them. But Robi was not sure of what he wanted to do. Gyanadanandini had invited him to stay with her several times. 'You've spent quite a while with Natun,' she had said in her strident tones. 'It is time you came to us. Have you forgotten the wonderful times we had in England?' Somewhat intimidated, Robi pondered deeply over the matter and took a decision. He would move into the house at Birji Talao for the present. But he would take Kadambari's permission first.

 Entering the house in Sadar Street that morning, he found his sister-in-law putting the last finishing touches to the room she had prepared for his use. It was a charming room, light and airy, with a large balcony opening out of it. And it had been furnished in Kadambari's impeccable taste. A mahogany bedstead with a.....'

 - Debolina Raja Gupta

Friday, March 9, 2012

Review: The Blogging Affair by Manu

Details about the book:
Title: The Blogging Affair
Author: Manu
No. of Pages: 339
Publishers: Frog Books

(Complimentary review copy sent by author)

When author Manu first sent me a request for doing a book review of his book 'The Blogging Affair' I was a little sceptical. The author seemed quite unsure about his own book, telling me over and over again in the many mail exchanges that I could refuse to read his book, or that if I read it, he really hoped I would like it. I was wondering what it was that was bugging this author so much, especially as I have interacted with many other Indian authors who are, to be honest, terrible, and should not be allowed to come up with another book ever, but still feel like they are among the elite 'intellectual' set already. There was none of that 'me' syndrome in this author though.

When I read the extract of the book I actually wanted to read it. And yet again, I was wondering why this author was so low on self-confidence. I stopped myself from reading anything about the book or the author on the net, and wanted to see for myself what this was all about. So I waited for the book.

The book did not disappoint at all. In fact, I can tell you this that, of all the self-published Indian author crap that I have been forced to read till date, this author is ACTUALLY GOOD! I wasn't hoping this at all and my expectations with the book were real low. But boy, was there good writing and some brains behind what was written in the book! The book manages to catch your attention from the very first page and the best part is, your attention stays almost on all the pages.

I won't divulge much of the plot here as the book is a mystery that will have you flip the pages in a rush to reach the end and find out what's going on. To give you a little idea about the storyline, 'a young woman's body is found murdered in a suburban flat. The evidence reveals an affair with a married man. One detective comes across an anonymous blog and it sheds truth upon the case. The ramblings capture the ebb and flow of a criminal's mind - and a murder of lust and betrayal; a sex-crazed husband wants the best of both worlds; the love of his wife and the challenge and raw passion of his mistress.' 

As you may have guessed by now, the book explores the world of lust, the world of hidden affairs and passions, those that must be kept away from others, but cannot be hidden from the self for long. And it's soon enough that the protagonist realises that the line that separates these two worlds is actually getting blurry. What the reader gets is a look at various blog entries that move from the present to the past. These are personal ramblings of the blogger, giving us a peek into his mind and what is going on around him and with the two loves who are inhabiting his world together. Through these entries we gain an insight into the two very different people who fulfill the blogger's different need for love at different times, but who are soon threatening to come too close for comfort, in a way that will surely bring the blogger's world crashing down.

I really enjoyed the detailing and the 'different' writing style of Manu. Not many have attempted this kind of a story in India. And especially one that deals with sex, self-gratification, lust and raw uninhibited sex. These are all real emotions that we, as real human beings, irrespective of being Indian or otherwise, do feel. But I am a little sad for this book as I am not sure how maturely our Indian reader will go through the pages, without trying to turn all moral and matronly. While reading this book, please bear in mind that these things do happen in real life and it is high time that we start accepting this in our literature as well.

The interaction amongst the cops was something that wasn't particularly interesting to me and I did skip a few pages here and there while the cops were busy dealing with each other.

To be honest, there are a lot of negative reviews online about this book, but the main reason I will give credit to this author is for attempting to write on a subject like this. The typo errors are a concern of the publishers and I am not surprised that this is yet again a book by Frog Books/Leadstart Publishing, who seem to be hell-bent on looting a large amount from self-publishing authors and not put any effort into editing a book. But still, this is one of the more 'correct' books I have read in terms of grammar and typo that has come out of the said publishing house. Have a look at their other books, you would feel saddened that Indian authors who want to self-publish have nowhere else to go rather than this shit hole called LeadStart Publishing/FrogBooks!

I did figure out the killer in a much earlier chapter, but the fun part was to see how the author was still going to keep the suspense going. I am not disappointed. Come on now, let's give the guy some credit. It's a first book and how many of us have actually liked Chetan Bhagat or Arundhati Roy's writing???!!! And look how those two names have become synonymous with Indian writing! Sad! Manu does deserve better than the negativity there is online about his work, but each one to his/her opinion.

I will give this book three hearts: GOOD


- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, March 5, 2012

First Page Mondays: First Light by Sunil Gangopadhyay

Wow...just finished reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson. Picked up an entirely different book to read today and its 'First Light' by Sunil Gangopahyay. So as part of the First Page Mondays here at The Book Worm, here's a look at the first page from this brick of a book. Enjoy!

'It was a lovely day. The clouds had parted and the sun's beams fell, soft and silvery, on the mountain peaks that loomed against a sly of flawless blue. Trees, grass and creepers, glistening with last night's rain, tossed joyful heads in the balmy air. It was the day of the festival, and Nature was rejoicing with Man.

 From early dawn throngs of tribals could be seen waling out of the forest, down the green slopes, their strong bodies naked in the morning sun. They were dressed, men and women alike, in colourful loincloths but the women had flowers in their hair and garlands of koonch berries, gunja buds and bone chips hung from their necks. Plumes waved gaily from the heads of a few chosen men. It was as though a river, rainbow hued, was gushing down in full spate. But in reality, they were streams - separate and distinct. Riyangs from Amarpur and Bilonia walked in quiet files behind their Rai whose small, compact body atop a mountain pony, was shaded by an immense umbrella held high above his head. The Rai's eyes were soft and drowsy with last night's liquor, yet a sharp even cruel glint came into them every time he looked around. He was a ruthless chief and would not tolerate the slightest indiscipline within the clan. His second in command, the Raikachak, a fine figure of a man, walked briskly behind him. Though far from young, his chest seemed carved out of black marble and the hand that held a long spear was strong and muscular. Whenever he stopped in his tracks two youths sprang forward and, kneeling on the ground at his feet, massaged his calves and ankles. A drummer and a flautist brought up the rear. Some of the men and women sang with the music - a merry ditty that made the others sway in mirth and laughter rang through the throng like tinkling bells.

 From Kailasahar, Sabroom and Udaipur came the Chakmas. They were Buddhists - quiet and sedate. But confusion broke out in their ranks every time they passed a flowering bush or vine. Their women ran eagerly to it and, picking the blooms with quick......'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sneaky Peeky Sunday: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

As part of the Sneaky Peeky Sunday here at The Book Worm, here is the page I am currently on in this amazing book by Steig Larrson, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo..

'Blomkvist had been poring over Salander's computer printouts for three days - boxes full of papers. The problem was that the subjects kept changing all the time. An option deal in London. A currency deal in Paris through an agent. A company with a post-office box in Gibraltar. A sudden doubling of funds in an account at the Chase Manhattan Bank in New York.

 And then all those puzzling question marks: a trading company with 200,000 kronor in an untouched account registered five years earlier in Santiago, Chile - one of nearly thirty such companies in twelve different countries - and not a hint of what type of activity was involved. A dormant company? Waiting for what? A front for some other kind of activity? The computer gave no clue as to what was going on in Wennerstrom's mind or what may have been perfectly obvious to him and so was never formulated in an electronic document.

 Salander was persuaded that most of these questions would never be answered. They could see the message, but without a key they would never be able to interpret the meaning. Wennerstrom's empire was like an onion from which one layer after another could be removed; a labyrinth of enterprises owned by one another. Companies, accounts, funds, securities. They reckoned that nobody - perhaps not even Wennerstrom himself - could have a complete overview. Wennerstrom's empire had a life of its own.

 But there was a pattern, or at least a hint of a pattern. A labyrinth of enterprises owned by each other. Wennerstrom's empire was variously valued at between....'

- Debolina Raja Gupta