Monday, September 28, 2009

Awards a.k.a It's great to be part of the Book-Bloggers World!

Velvet of vvb32 reads has been so very kind as usual and left me two awards - The Super Comments Award and the Lemonade Award. Thanks a lot Velvet, because it is so very encouraging to know that in this huge world of blogs, mine, though not as brilliant as so many others', is being appreciated!

So, I'm spreading the love now. Most of you might have got these awards already, but I'm still passing it on, for they are well- deserved.

Comments make my day. Seriously. And here's thanking some people who have made me feel great and have inspired me to keep going with the blog :

1. Meg at Yesterday's Tuna
2. Heather at Gofita's Pages
3. Velvet at vvb32reads
4. Colette at A Buckeye Girl Reads
5. Celia at Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia

The other very cute award:

The Lemonade Award is a feel good award that shows great attitude or gratitude.

Here are the rules for accepting this award:

- Put the Lemonade Award logo on your blog or post.
- Nominate
at least 10 blogs that show great attitude or gratitude.
- Link your nominees within your post.
- Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
- Share the love and link to the person from whom you received the award.

I'm afraid I can think of only 6 blogs, from my limited experience here with the blogger community.

1. Meg at Yesterday's Tuna
2. Heather at Gofita's Pages
3. Velvet at vvb32 reads
4.Colette at A Buckeye Girl Reads
5. Celia at Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia
6. JoAnn at Lakeside Musing.

Thank you all for being totally awesome :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Miss Marple's Final Cases - Agatha Christie

Rating : 5/10


I went into the book looking forward to a set of whodunnits, vintage Christie style, but was left disappointed. The book is an undeniably below-par collection of Miss Marple cases. It's not really asking for too much, since people always expect a lot from Agatha Christie's books, after having read masterpieces like And Then There Were None, Why Didn't They Ask Evans, Murder on the Orient Express etc. And though many people believe and I agree too, that Hercule Poirot is a far more fascinating detective, I have a soft corner for Miss Marple, which was the reason I picked this book. The book is average at best and pathetic at worst.

It's very unfair how Hercule Poirot gets a spell-binding, fascinating send-off with his final case Curtain, while Miss Marple gets this raw deal.

The stories in the book were:
Sanctuary: Not bad. Simple but neat plot. A typical, calm Marple mystery.

Strange Jest : Again, a very simple plot. There are no layers, nothing to ponder about, no clues out for the reader to make guesses ( which is by far my most favourite thing about mysteries ). In short, the story is like fast food. It's a fast read, but is there anything rich and wonderful about it? No.

Tape-Measure Murder: I cannot believe that they made the fatal mistake about this tale. The title is such a give-away in an otherwise tight tale! Cardinal Rule of Mysteries: Let not the title say more than it should.

The Case of the Caretaker: Irritatingly predictable story.

Miss Marple Tells a Story: Very typical Christie, but I enjoyed it. It kept me on my toes till the last paragraph.

Greenshaw's Folly: Again, a typical Christie story which has become my problem. I've read so much of Christie that my mind immediately wanders to all possibilities and in the end when the twist is revealed, I'm not surprised at all.

2 additional and pointless supernatural stories, The Dressmaker's Doll, In a Glass Darkly, were included in my book. They start off sufficiently scarily with a spooky narrative, but are damp squids in the end.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Prison and Chocolate Cake by Nayantara Sahgal

Rating: 10/10


The delightfully-titled book Prison and Chocolate Cake is proof that truth is sometimes more fascinating and gripping than fiction. India and her struggle for independence are seen like never before, from the point of view of a young woman, Nehru’s niece Nayantara Sahgal.

Being part of the ‘first family’ of Indian politics is no easy task and this book is an intimate, innocent, almost na├»ve portrayal of the men and women who Nayantara called Mummie, Mamu and India calls its first women cabinet minister, its first Prime Minister. But it is because of this naivety that this book is refreshing, a far-flung cry from the usual non-fiction books littered with metaphors and complicated words.

Written in 1952-53 recalling the revolutionary 1940s, the book moves from scenario to incident seamlessly and never at one point is there confusion or complication. Being a young Indian in British India came with a whole load of quirks and in Sahgal’s book, you find intimate little stories about these. The fact that it was intended only for a small audience perhaps explains the very personal feel of the book, making it an immediate treasure.

Sahgal talks with ease about her travels and education in the U.S, her association with ‘Bapu’( Gandhiji), her angst about the fact that people abroad couldn’t even point out where India was in a map and the pride and the responsibility that came with being ‘Nehru’s niece’. Her relationship with sisters Rita and Chandralekha and the playful teasing and wit that comes with it is a beautiful part of the book.

The book is as much about the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty as it is about India and quite understandably so. One gets a ringside view of the family jokes ( Nehru( India's first Prime Minister) calling a Mrs. Hopewell Mrs. Hopeless is priceless), the unwritten rules ( Never cry in front of a policemen when any member of the family is arrested for the cause of independence), the good-natured banter ( Cousin ‘Indi’( Another PM) was called a ‘celery stalk’. Hard to imagine the iron-fisted woman of the emergency being equated to celery), emotional moments ( Sahgal meets her cousin Indi’s 3 year-old son Rajiv ( Yes, he would also go on to be PM) and wonders how time has passed by ) and little details of what it meant to be part of this dynasty.

Sahgal considers three people as her parents- father Ranjit Sitaram, mother Vijayalakshmi Pandit and uncle Jawaharlal Nehru and this book is a tribute to all three. Several invaluable, adoring anecdotes about these people find place in the book, leading way to the only possible criticism, that of the book being too obviously partial having been written by an insider. 

Sahgal and her sisters asks Nehru questions that anyone who has read his Discovery of India would want to – ‘Do you believe in God?’ ‘Don’t you get sick and tired of traveling so much?’ Nehru’s answers, his flair for life, his witticisms are quite certainly the greatest treasures unearthed from the book.

The book ends on the tragic note of Gandhiji’s assassination and recalls the reaction of the public and several famous personalities. As Sahgal points out how struck by grief, Nehru bent down to Gandhiji’s body and forgot himself for about a minute, it is a single but powerful expression of the relationship between these two great men. Sarojini Naidu’s reaction to the assassination ‘What is all the sniveling about? Would you rather he had died of decrepit old age or indigestion? This was the only death great enough for him’ is delightfully typical, as Sahgal points out.

There are a dozen wondrous and uniquely Indian instances and emotions in the book- admiration, pride, love, angst, grief, bravery and conveyed in Sahgal’s simple yet effective style, the book stays with you long after you’re done reading it. A must-read for every Indian and a treasure for anyone who aspires to know more about India, in all her manifold forms.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays - September 22

Grab your current read and let it fall open to a random page. Post two (or more) sentences from that page, along with the title and author. Don’t give anything vital away!

Prison and Chocolate Cake by Nayantara Sahgal. Watch out for the review of this magnificent book- it'll be up by tomorrow =)

Now, the teaser, as promised:

Mummie explained that they had come to take Papu to prison, but that it was nothing to worry about, that he wanted to go. So we kissed him goodbye and watched him leave, talking cheerfully to the policemen. We ate our chocolate cake, and in our infant minds prison became in some mysterious way associated with chocolate cake.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sickness and Books

I've missed this blog so much, thanks to going down with a bad bout of flu, not to mention a particularly nasty cough and cold. It was a bad week and I'm hoping the coming weeks are much better. I haven't had the energy to do a lot of reading, but I did manage re-reading Harry Potter. Boy how much I love that series!

I'm in the mood for feel-good fiction. If anyone has any recommendations, do let me know :)

And thanks so much Velvet at vvb32reads for giving me the Heartfelt Award. I'm so glad you think this blog's worth such an amazing award :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Literary Life

Using only books you have read this year (2009), answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title.

I saw this list in a couple of blogs and couldn't resist trying it out myself. And it certainly isn't as easy as it seems, but fun, nevertheless. And it also makes me go " It's September! Is this all that I've managed to read this year??"

Describe yourself: The Argumentative Indian ( Amartya Sen )

How do you feel: If You Could See Me Now ( Cecelia Ahern )

Describe where you currently live: The Well of Lost Plots ( Jasper Fforde )

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Kashmir: Behind the Vale (M.J. Akbar )

Your favorite form of transportation: Paths of Glory ( Jeffrey Archer )

Your best friend is: Rosie Dunne ( Cecelia Ahern )

You and your friends are: Blood Brothers (Nora Roberts )

What's the weather like: Something Rotten ( Jasper Fforde )

You fear: The White Tiger ( Aravind Adiga )

What is the best advice you have to give: Eat, Pray, Love ( Elizabeth Gilbert )

Thought for the day: The Tenderness of Wolves (Stef Penney)

How I would like to die: First Among Sequels (Jasper Fforde)

My soul's present condition: The Gift (Cecelia Ahern)

P.S I've written this list excluding books I've re-read during this year.


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