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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sneaky-Peeky Sunday: Britney, Inside The Dream by Steve Dennis



'.......savouring the anticipation of performing. But that's where the 'Dennis warning' provided the blinkers and Chuck's opinion was that the top grades achieved speak their own truth: 'The only times we had problems with getting the kids to concentrate was if they had been on stage in front of a live audience, or were due to perform live. That would present some difficulties, because, naturally, they were either gearing themselves up or coming down from the high. But most of the time, they adapted well, like little professionals.

 'We must have been doing something right because in the four years I was there, I never needed to pull out one 'mouseketeer.' I maybe had to issue the threat on six or eight occasions to two main culprits - and Britney wasn't one of them!'

 Naturally, she was far too attentive to be anything other than well behaved, just as her mama had raised her. 'I'll never forget Britney sat on a chair, looking around, perky and smiling. She was so small that her legs dangled off the front, and her toes couldn't touch the floor,' recalls Chuck Yerger.

He still holds dear Britney's report cards - an 8 X 11 in sheet of paper that was prepared to send to Park Lane Academy, which allowed teachers to track her progress from afar. What they saw was mainly straight As across the board.

 On face value, such grades seem impressive but Britney was only an average student in terms of academic ability. Her A-grades were a relatively easy reach within a 6th and 7th Grade curriculum regarded as somewhat fundamental: basic maths and vocabulary lists, and memorising basic science, geographical and historical facts.

 'There was a lot of filling in worksheets and learning long lists and facts,' said Chuck. 'Britney's strength was learning all this like she was learning lines. She was great at memorisation, great at direction and great at reeling off lists of words, without really exploring what it all meant.'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, May 21, 2012

First Page Mondays: Last Night At Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger

As part of the First Page Mondays at The Book Worm, here is the first page from the book 'Last Night At Chateau Marmont' by Lauren Weisberger, author of The Devil Wears Prada.

'Piano Man

 When the subway finally screeched into the Franklin Street station, Brooke was nearly sick with anxiety. She checked her watch for the tenth time in as many minutes and tried to remind herself that it wasn't the end of the world; her best friend, Nola, would forgive her, had to forgive her, even if she was inexcusably late. She pushed her way through the rush-hour throngs of commuters toward the door, instinctively holding her breath in the midst of so many bodies, and allowed herself to be pulled toward the stairwell. On autopilot now, Brooke and her fellow riders each pulled their cell phones from their purses and jacket pockets, filed silently into a straight line and, zombielike, marched like choreographed soldiers up the right side of the cement stairs while staring blankly at the tiny screens on their palms.

 'Shit!' she heard an overweight woman up ahead call out, and in just a moment she knew why. The rain hit her forcefully and without warning the instant she emerged from the stairwell. What had been a chilly but decent enough March evening only twenty minutes earlier had deteriorated into a freezing, thundering...... 

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, May 14, 2012

First Page Mondays: Raging Heart by Sheila Weller

As part of the First Page Mondays here at The Book Worm, here's the first page from the book 'Raging Heart' by Sheila Weller, based on the the brutal tortures and subsequent murder of Nicole Brown at the hands of her football-legend husband, O.J. Simpson. 

 'Dreams

 At 12:10 AM ON TUESDAY, JUNE 14, - EXACTLY TWENTY-FOUR HOURS after the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were found in the courtyard of Nicole's condominium at 875 South Bundy Drive - O.J. Simpson walked upstairs into his master bedroom suite at 360 North Rockingham Avenue.

 He was not alone. He was accompanied by a man he had known for many years. This man, whom we will call Leo, was experienced in criminal procedure and had some knowledge of the techniques of determining guilt from innocence. What Leo learned by talking to Simpson in his bedroom that night - an exchange whose mere existence has never been revealed before, not even to the prosecution - would leave him deeply troubled.

 That bedroom conversation was part of a week in which O.J. Simpson said other things about - and to - his dead wife. These words and actions have never been reported anywhere. They might be construed as cries of the heart.

 Or they might be construed as something else, something considerably more significant.

 An hour earlier, O.J. Simpson was downstairs, sitting on a couch between two of his best friends. Swirling around him, through the .....'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sneaky-Peeky Sunday: The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson

I was dying to read this one after I finished reading the first in the Millennium trilogy by Steig Larsson - The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - and yes, watched the movie too, with Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander. Now here I am, reading the second in the trilogy - The Girl Who Played With Fire - and can't tell you how interesting it is....Been rushing since the first word! Enjoy...

'Mimmi was on her way to a date and a movie with a girlfriend Salander had never heard of. Since she was made up outrageously and dressed in something awful with what looked like a dog's collar round her neck, Salader assumed it was one of Mimmi's flames, and when Mimmi asked if she wanted to come along, she said no thanks. She had no desire to end up in a threesome with one of Mimmi's long-legged girlfriends who was no doubt unfathomably sexy but would make her feel like an idiot. Anyway, Salander had something to do in town, so they took the tunnelbana together to Hotorget, and there they parted.

 Salander walked to OnOff on Sveeavagen and made it with two minutes to spare before closing time. She bought a toner cartridge for her laser printer and asked them to take it out of the box so that it would fit in her rucksack.

 When she came out of the shop, she was thirsty and hungry. She walked to Stureplan, where she decided on Cafe Hedon, a place she had never been to before or even heard about. She instantly recognised Nils Bjurman from behind and turned right around in the doorway. She stood by the picture window facing the pavement and craned her neck so that she could observe her guardian from behind a serving counter.

 The sight of Bjurman aroused no dramatic feelings in Salander; not anger, nor hatred, nor fear. As far as she was concerned, the world would assuredly be a better place without him, but he was alive only because she had decided that he would be more useful to her that way. She looked across at the man opposite Bjurman, and her eyes widened when he stood up. Click.

 He was an exceptionally big man, at least two metres tall and well built. Exceptionally well built, as a matter of fact. He had a weak face and short blond hair, but overall he made a very powerful impression.

 Salander saw the man lean forward and say something.....'

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

First Page Mondays: Pigeon English by Stephen Kilman

Oops, sorry I know I missed Monday again! But here it is, the first page from the book Pigeon English by Stephen Kilman. Enjoy!

'You could see the blood. It was darker than you thought. It was all on the ground outside Chicken Joe's. It just felt crazy.

 Jordan: 'I'll give you a million quid if you touch it.'
 Me: 'You don't have a million.'
 Jordan: 'One quid then.'
 You wanted to touch it but you couldn't get close enough. There was a line in the way:

 POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS

 If you cross the line you'll turn to dust.

 We weren't allowed to talk to the policeman, he had to concentrate for if the killer came back. I could see the chains hanging from him his belt but I couldn't see his gun.

 The dead boy's mamma was guarding the blood. She wanted it to stay, you could tell. The rain wanted to come and wash the blood away but she wouldn't let it. She wasn't even crying, she was just stiff and fierce like it was her job to scare the rain back up into the sky. A pigeon was looking for his chop. He walked right in the blood. He was even sad as well, you could tell where his eyes were all pink and dead.

 - Debolina Raja Gupta

Recently Read, Reading Now And Going To Read Soon

Wow! Can't believe already finished reading 25 books in the last 4 months! Am taking the Goodreads Book Reading Challenge 2012 and I set my personal goal to 45 books, but think will be able to finish much more than that.

So there's been a lot of amazing books I have read of late, some that Im reading and some Im going to read soon. Have a look and let me know which ones you've read and what you think of it, and which ones you would love to read too.

Recently Read:

First Light by Sunil Gangopadhyay 

Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Murder In The 11th House by Mitchell Scott Lewis

Reading Now: 

Heat And Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Want To Read Soon:

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larrson

Marley And Me by John Grogan

Destiny by Sally Beauman (want to re-read it again)


- Debolina Raja Gupta

Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

 Book Cover

Movie Poster

Details about the book:
Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Publishers: Penguin
No. of Pages: 522

 The first thing that came to my mind the moment I began reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett was her vernacular. Kathryn Stockett is what you will term 'white', for lack of a better word. But it's amazing how she manages to fit into the day-to-day vernacular of a 'colored' woman. Her language is free-flowing, easy and natural, and no where in the book does it feel like she is making an effort or any of it is made up. Full points to her for that.

 The story is told from the point of view of three main female characters - Aibileen, the motherly, loving, intelligent colored maid, who works as a nanny and maid; Minnie, who is a sassy, sharp-tongued maid, but clearly one of the best cooks the white ladies have ever had; Miss Skeeter, a young white female who has recently returned from college, only to find that her beloved Constantine, the colored maid who raised her and took on the figure of a real mother for her, has suddenly disappeared, and who now has the passion to share her thoughts on what she feels is needed today to make this world a better place, and who clearly does not believe in racial discrimination and wants to do something to bring an end to it.

 The Help is set in the 70s, in Jackson, Mississippi, a time when apartheid was rampant, especially in the areas mentioned in the book, and the discrimination between colored and white people was openly practised.


The story:
 Aibileen is a mother-figure, a colored woman who has spent her life, from the time she was a pre-teen, in the house of 'white' people raising their babies - 17 to be precise. And for each of the babies she has raised, she has a special place in her heart. Some have turned out to be just the way she hoped, the babies she once held in her arms have turned out to be amazing as human beings, while a few have learnt the ways of their parents and grown up to discriminate the very race that brought them up with so much love and care. Aibileen has recently lost a grown-up son, and she confesses that something inside her has now changed. Her son, educated and intelligent, was writing a book on being a black in America in the 70s, but being colored meant he could not get a decent job, and he was forced to work as a cargo man, hauling heavy stuff. It was on one such night that he got crushed and his white employer put him in a truck and once outside the colored hospital, rolled off his body and drove off. Aibileen's son died, taking away something from his mamma's life forever. As Aibileen begins her new job looking after Mae Mobley, the white baby of Miss Elizabeth Leefolt, we are taken into the home of the whites, to see the discrimination that is seeped in society and its culture.

 The same maid who is deemed fit to raise a white infant and take care of her all needs is not seen fit to use a bathroom that white guests may use. A colored maid cannot sit at the same table to eat, she is not allowed to speak to a white person unless a white person talks to her, and even while handing out a coffee cup, a colored maid is expected to first place the cup on the table, so that the white person will not come into contact with the colored skin, even by accident.

 Minnie is Aibileen's best friend, despite their age gap. A tough, colored woman, raising her brood of kids, living with a husband who is drunk and beats her up regularly, the pressures of providing for her children falls mainly on her. This is not easy, especially for Minnie, as she is notorious for having a sharp-tongue and a sassy attitude, one that lands her in trouble often. She does not hide her contempt for the way the whites treat the coloreds, and she is not afraid to speak her mind, many times at the cost of her job even.

 Skeeter is a white who is now feeling alien in her own white world. She has recently returned to her family's plantation and mansion after completing college. While her friends busy themselves with clothes, shoes, bridge parties and gossip, all the while mistreating or ignoring the colored people around them, Skeeter finds it increasingly difficult to abide by these so-called 'white' rules of etiquette. She is appalled at the way the colored are being humiliated, and she finds many loopholes in a society that otherwise calls itself 'perfect' and 'classy.' Determined to become a journalist, Skeeter lands herself a job as a 'housekeeping advice columnist', and while she has no idea of anything related to housework, she resolves to find a house help who can help her with her own column. It is in this capacity that she gets to chat with Aibileen, her best friend Elizabeth's colored help.

 As the story unfolds,

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sneaky Peeky Sunday: Murder in The 11th House

Am reading this amazing book titled Murder In The 11th House by Mitchell Scott Lewis. Here is the page I am currently on right now:

*The book was sent as a complimentary review copy and is NOT a paid copy.

'through several small towns, all displaying signs welcoming the men and women in uniforms.

 The army camp was situated down a long road cut deep into the woods. Except for the fences lining the side of the road and an occasional no trespassing sign, there was nothing to denote this as anything more than a sleepy country byway, until they came to a gatehouse and a soldier in uniform. The limo was stopped at the gate, a phone call was made, and they were ushered into the camp. The colonel was waiting for them outside his headquarters.

 'Would you mind if we walked around the compound while we talked?' asked Colonel Marshal.

 'Not at all,' said Melinda.

 He was wearing a light brown topcoat casual uniform, and his walk was stiff and purposeful, like one would expect of a career military man. The site was much larger than it first appeared. They strolled slowly through the compound past the barracks.

 Lowell followed the two at a few paces. He stoked his ponytail once and looked about as they walked. He didn't love things military.

 Melinda turned on her portable recorder. 'Would you tell us a little bit about Johny Colbert?'

 'Private Colbert can be a pain in the ass,' said the colonel. 'She always has to do things her way, and it makes for some difficult moments.'

 'And how long has she been in the reserves?'

 'Three years.'

 'So she was almost thirty-seven when she signed on. Wasn't that a little too old to be joining up?'

 'I suppose so, but you should have seen the fight in her. She took out women and men twice her size. Could run the obstacle course in record time, and was smart as a whip.'

 'How was her discipline?'

 'Well, discipline was not her strongest suit.'

 'Was she a problem?'

 'She wasn't a problem; just had her own way of going about things.' 

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Friday, May 4, 2012

Volunteer Opportunities - Save the Children

Save the Children is the leading independent organization for children in need, with programs in over 120 countries, including the United States. The organisation aims to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives by improving their health, education and economic opportunities. In times of acute crisis, Save The Children mobilizes rapid assistance to help children recover from the effects of war, conflict and natural disasters. In 2010 they improved the lives of over 64 million children in need in the United States and around the world. Their goal is to reach more than 74 million children annually by the year 2012. In order to achieve this, they are actively looking for talented, motivated individuals to join us in making a difference in the lives of children worldwide.

CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO KNOW HOW YOU CAN BE A PART OF THIS MOVEMENT TO HELP CHILDREN ALL ACROSS THE GLOBE. PLEASE, THEY NEED YOU.

Volunteer Opportunities - Save the Children

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Book Vs. Movie Adaptation: What Do You Like Better?


Last night I finally saw the movie The Help, based on the novel The Help by Kathryn Stockett. The movie has already received critical acclaim, winning many prestigious awards and being nominated for many others. Though I was eagerly waiting to watch the movie, I wanted to finish the book first.

I've always been curious about watching a movie that's been adapted from a book. Many times I've seen the movie first, and then gone on to read the book. But almost always each time, I have enjoyed reading the book way more. So now, I almost always read the book first and then watch the movie. Though there are still times when it happens the other way round. I understand its logistically not possible to create a movie word-by-word as the book, and maybe that is why I mostly enjoy the book version of a movie more, since it allows for way more visual treats and characterisation. Also, I feel, a book lets you connect with the characters way better than a movie.

A few books that I definitely enjoyed more than the movie are:

Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoodi


The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

 The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Notebook

A few exceptions where I felt the movie was much better than the book:

The Japanese Wife by Kunal Basu (adapted into an awesome movie by Aparna Sen, I found the book pathetic and the movie one of the best ever!)

P.S. I Love You by (I loved the book, yes, but I think I loved the movie

A few exceptions where I found both the book and the movie to be equally amazing:


The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
 

- Debolina Raja Gupta