Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Wonderful Book #Teaser Tuesday 4

My current read is a truly wonderful book, quite aptly named Wonder by RJ Palacio. Here’s a line, or rather two lines, for this week’s Teaser Tuesday, which is hosted by Should Be Reading. Do make time to drop by at the end of week for the review. This one is an exceptional read.

11387515

“There are always going to be jerks in the world, Auggie,” she said, looking at me. “But I really believe, and Daddy really believes, that there are more good people on this earth than bad people, and the good people watch out for each other and take care of each other.” 

 

download

If you fancy joining in, here’s how…
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
• Share the title and author so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

Chai and Muffins #Teaser Tuesday 3

My current read, Love Muffin and Chai Latte by Anya Wyldeis proving to be a laugh riot and it is with this book that I’m joining in for  Teaser Tuesday hosted by Should Be Reading. I have plenty to say about it but will keep it for the review. Coming up soon.

 51zitazoasl-_sx331_bo1204203200_

“I am going to be Mrs Cuckoo Singh in two months. Is that something to be excited about? Would you like to be called Mrs Cuckoo all your life? His mother has started calling me Cookie already. Cookie Singh.”
She shuddered.

 

download

If you fancy joining in, here’s how…
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
• Share the title and author so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

Are you a one-book-at-a-time person?

 

My kindle currently has two books open on it and another one stands half read on my bedside table. And that is quite strange. Strange, because I am a one-book-at-a-time person. If I like a book I immerse myself in it, I like being lost in it, I think about it even when I’m not reading it. If I don’t like it much I want to finish with it fast so I can go on to another one.

(Of course the sensible thing to do is to just leave that bad book and move on but that’s not quite me. An unfinished book preys on my mind. It nags me demanding closure, asking for its ‘The End’. But more on that later.)

books-552607_960_720

The point I’m trying to make is that I like to read one book at a time. It might have something to do with the fact that I mostly read fiction. Perhaps non-fiction readers can read more than one – absorbing and internalising and maybe even practising them – bit by bit while they read another one on the side.

I have a friend who simultaneously reads one book on fiction and another non-fiction. The latter keeps him company during the day – while he’s at breakfast or while travelling to and from work – and the former is his bed-time leisure read.

That works for him. It is perhaps the sign of a sane, balanced person.

However, that’s exactly what I am not, when I get a good book – sane and balanced. A good book erodes my sense of balance. A great book, does away with it completely. To me fiction most definitely needs to be read at one go – in one sitting if life permits. How else do you enter a world or a life, make it your own and love and laugh with the people in the book?

How can you jump from the company of three men in a boat on River Thames in London to Karan Johar’s Bollywood – those being my two current reads.

Nope – I have to put one of them on hold. I am most certainly a one-book-at-a-time person and happy being so.

Do you like to have more than one book on your bedside table?

Five things you need to be, to make use of a Books-by-Weight Sale

booksbyweight

Have you ever gone to a Book by Weight sale? I went to my very first one recently. Honestly, I used to find the idea appalling – I mean how insulting for books to be sold by weight, like old newspapers. But then the insatiable book lover kicked in and ‘What the heck!’ though I, as long as I was getting to pick up a load of books without going bankrupt that’s all that mattered.

So off I went and was completely blown away. I’d taken my son along and between us we packed away a carton full of them. It was like a book deluge – an entire room lined with tables from end to end sagging under the weight of gorgeous gorgeous books. There were books on the window sills and more books in cartons under the tables and all around the billing counter. Any self-respecting book lover would go crazy and I did too.

And yet there were friends who came away disappointed because they didn’t find books of their choice or because the books weren’t in a newly minted condition.

So here I am…

listing out preconditions for enjoying a books by weight (BBW) sale.

You should be a lover of books and a voracious reader

Well obviously! If you aren’t a voracious enough reader Amazon and Crossword will satisfy you. It’s only when you’re looking for much much more that you should head out to a BBW.

You should be a bit broke

Yeah BBW is about getting a LOT of books CHEAP. If either of those two things aren’t a criteria for you, you don’t need to go there.

You should be an adventurous reader

If you go to a BBW looking for specific authors or specific books, chances are you’ll be disappointed. You might get lucky of course and find exactly what you’re looking for OR you just might see ‘your’ books in someone else’s shopping bag or not there at all. The thing is you have to have an eclectic taste and be open to new, unknown authors to make full use of a BBW.

You should be a canny blurb reader

You should be able to gauge a book by its cover/blurb or maybe a quick cursory glance through the pages. There are just so many books and so many people jostling for them that that’s all you’ll have to make your pick.

You shouldn’t be finicky about the condition of books

This one’s pretty important. This is NOT a book exhibition. There will be some books in good condition and there’ll be some pre-used ones and others with yellowing pages and some others that may be dusty or musty. If you go by what’s in the pages rather than what’s on them, a BBW is for you. I have even picked out books from the kabadiwala so I was right at home.

So there – that’s it. If you’re all of those things head out to the sale. Don’t forget to carry some big sturdy bags with you unless of course you want to totter home with your precious pile spilling all around you.

The Girl With Seven Names – A review

The Girl With Seven Names – A North Korean Defector’s Story
by Hyeonseo Lee

25362017

North Korea as a country has intrigued me for some time. I heard about books like Camp 15 but was apprehensive to take them up because I find them too disturbing. I couldn’t sleep for days after I read The Boy in Striped Pajamas.

The Girl With Seven Names is the story of a young girl Hyeonseo told in the first person and it proved just right. It is a simple read, fast paced and easy and gives a first hand description of life in North Korea without getting too grim.

The story

Interestingly, it isn’t a passion for freedom or poverty that pushes Hyeonseo to run away from her country. She comes from a relatively privileged family that has managed to stay on the right side of the regime for the longest time. She lives in a border town  on the banks of River Yalu with China just across it. In winters when the river froze over, all one had to do was avoid the border security guards of both countries and walk across it and one could be in a different country.

Hyeonseo love for adventure prompts her to take that walk. With a month to go for her 18th birthday she decides to secretly visit her uncle in China. Unfortunately her disappearance is discovered and she cannot come back. Leaving the country in North Korea is counted as defection and if caught, brings severe repercussions not just for the defector but also for his/her entire family.

The book then on traces her struggle to establish a legal identity and make a home for herself first in China and then in South Korea, living and travelling without an ID or a passport. Hyeonseo starts out as a rather naive, impulsive, headstrong girl. The book traces her growth into a smart and courageous woman as she struggles to find her feet and keep her family together.

What I loved about the book

North Korea sounds straight out of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is hard to imagine that this is not fiction nor from an era long gone. The book is set in the eighties and the nineties.

The leaders wield absolute power. The complete insulation of people from the outside world, the constant threat from the government, the constant worry of being informed upon by neighbours and teachers, the entire education system pandering to the government including changing the history of the country – All of this is hard to believe.

And yet how would anyone who isn’t exposed to any other way, even know that this wasn’t the only way? And so people accept it, get used to it and even miss it when they’re out of the country. Her mom and brother are reluctant to leave even when they have the option to do so.

Hyeonseo also talks of the challenges of settling down in a capitalist country which is  something I had never thought of. The book turned out to be a very enlightening read. It talks about the dangers of an all-powerful state.

Last thought: I’d say go for it.

The Reader

Beat About The Book - fictionThe reader

Craft class was in progress. Forty girls sat on either side of a long table bent diligently over their embroidery frames. At the head of the table sat Ms Mathew, The Dragon. That’s what the students called her, for she breathed fire at the littlest opportunity.

Did I say 40? Well, I meant 39, for the 40th girl was not quite there. Sara sat right at the end of the table, with her head bent like the others, except she had no embroidery frame. On her lap rested an Enid Blyton and she was far far away in a land where a gorgeous tale was beginning to unfold.

DEAR BESSIE, FANNY, JO AND DICK,
We know that you don’t want any more adventures just yet, but you might like to know that there is a most exciting land at the top of the Faraway Tree just now.  It is the Land of Do-As-You-Please, even nicer than the Land of Take-What-You-Want. We are going there tonight.  If you want to come, come just before midnight and you can go with us.  We will wait for you till then.
Love from SILKY AND MOON-FACE

Midnight! This sounded dangerous… and exciting.

Oh go go go! urged Sara as she read on, her eyes shining brighter than those of the kids in the story. ‘The Land of Do-As-You-Please!! Wow! I’d eat honey pops and read all day‘, thought she turning over the page.

Of course the children decided to go – down the garden, through the lane, into the Enchanted Wood. Their torches shone in the moonless night. The forest was silent. Ominously so. Wisha wisha wisha whispered the mysterious trees.

An owl squealed and something ran across their feet.

The kids jumped and so did Sara, upsetting her neighbour, who pricked her finger, dropped her needlework and squealed louder that any owl ever could.

Tiny drops of blood were beginning to blot her young neighbour’s lemon yellow runner and before Sara could apologise she bawled, “OUCH Miss.. Sara pushed me and I hurt my hand, it’s bleeeeeding.”

O get on with it drama queen!‘ thought Sara, the apology dying on her lips, ‘It’s just a tiny prick for goodness sake!

She did try to look contrite but The Dragon was already bearing down upon them. Sara glanced at the book in her hand. Too late she realised she had no embroidery frame. Her heart sank right into her shoes. She would be caught red-handed.

**************

I need to put in a few apologies: One to Enid Blyton for taking liberties with her writing. And two to Bernhard Schlink, for borrowing the title of his book although there is nothing similar between the two tales except perhaps, a love for the written word.

It’s Day 4 of the #BarAThon Challenge from 1st to 7th August 2016.
The prompt for today is ‘Caught Red Handed’.

I am with Team #CrimsonRush

BAR-A-THON

Quirky writing habits of famous authors

 

writingquirks.jpg

Have you ever wondered how great authors write? You’d think they would have a routine of some kind, a favourite corner or desk, an old comfy sofa or maybe a particular dress they’d like to wear. What you don’t know probably, is how quirky they can get.

All upside down

Did you know, for instance, that Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code thought the best cure for his writer’s block was hanging upside down? He said it helped him relax. So that’s probably how he found out the Holy Grail wasn’t a chalice at all but a woman. Quite brilliant, actually. But no thank you I’m not trying this one.

Writing au naturel

Then there was Victor Hugo who wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame. When he had a deadline to meet he’d ask his valet to confiscate his clothes so he couldn’t go out anywhere. When it got too cold he simply wrapped himself in a blanket. Going by the length of The Hunchback he would have remained in the buff for a long long time. Definitely not trying this one either.

Sleeping/standing authors

Mark Twain, George Orwell and Woody Allen wrote while lounging on beds and sofas. You would accuse them of being lazy had they not given us such masterpieces. On the other hand there were writers like Hemingway, Dickens and Lewis Carroll who wrote standing at their desks. Hemingway’s work desk was the top of chest-high book shelf. If you’re a Hemingway fan you must read this interview.

(On a completely different note and I know I’m digressing but I must give you this Hemingway tip: Each day he would stop writing at a point in his narrative when he knew what happened next. That way when he took up writing the next day he knew exactly how he had to begin and wouldn’t have to wait to get into the groove, so to say).

And some others..

Among the more recent Indian authors RK Narayan and Vikram Seth offer the greatest contrast:

RK Narayan says, “..between breakfast and lunch I manage five hundred words and while the rice on the stove is cooking, a couple of hundred, and after lunch once again till six.” He makes it sound like such a mundane task.

And there’s Vikram Seth who says writing should flow on its own and cannot/should not be forced. Perhaps that’s why he has such few works, but each of them outstanding.

Among the newer lot  Amish Tripathi likes to listen to music, which is not so strange but he also likes to eat a lot of cream biscuits while writing. I’d only think of the calories I was piling up, leave Ram and Sita to their own devices, and head to the gym.

And lastly I stumbled upon this Durjoy Datta tweet:
My writing process is one part writing, 10 parts YouTube, 10 parts cute dog pictures.

Make what you will of it.

So do you have a writing preference? Or can you write anytime, anywhere?

Day 2 of the #BarAThon Challenge from 1st to 7th August 2016.
The prompt for today is ‘What you didn’t know’.

I am with Team #CrimsonRush

BAR-A-THON