Monday, December 27

More Santa Chronicles and wrap up

Hope everyone's having a great time celebrating with friends and family.This year's sped so fast that sometimes i find it all a little surreal.2010 hasn't been great for me in terms of achieving some goals i set for myself and even though i told myself that i wouldn't have any expectations,I have been impatient and demanding . I am thankful in a way that a New Year's going to pop in a few more days. Thanks to a surprises by some nice people,this year has been bearable.

Sometimes,I think fate conspires to let you have a book that you had secretly been coveting for a long time,but never managed to buy. Veens had put down the third book in the Girl with the dragon tattoo series on her wishlist. I ordered the book from Flipkart to gift it to her and after 15 days of mail-diahorrea, the book had still not made it to my house. Now ,Flipkart is normally very efficient,but this one time,I couldn't get the book on time.So,i bought her something else and tell Veens about the debacle. Guess what happens next?.A parcel arrives bearing PArt 1 and Part 2 of the series.So,now i have the trilogy!!.Isn't that incedibly sweet of her? Thanks ,Veens!!

Other goodies that came in last week : A parcel from my Secret Santa from the Book Bloggers Swap arrived bearing an ARC of Fireworks over Tococca.Thanks, Gautami. I also received a book Truly,Madly ,Deeply from Faraaz Kazi to review-Review coming soon..

I have been following some craft blogs for a long time now and making handmade cards with some basic raw materials that i have lying around my place . I've been moaning generally about needing some craft stuff and happened to mention it to the hubby.Obviously,I forgot about it and thought he would do the same too. A few days later, hubby comes home dressed as a Santa with the goodies I wanted ..A live Santa Claus in my house ,ho ho-ing with gusto.:-) In all the years I have known him, this has to be the sweetest surprise he's given me. Thanks,G.

2010 has been a great year for my reading habit- I've managed to finish 71 books this year( God alone knows how i managed !). I hope I keep the habit alive and kicking in 2011 too. YA and classics will be conquered next year.This is the last post for the year-Wishing you all a fabulous New year filled with surprises,joy and fun. Catch you next year,folks.

Wednesday, December 22

War on the Margins by Libby Cone

When Libby Cone mailed me about reviewing her book War on the Margins and told me that it was a prequel of sorts to the Guernsey Literary and Potato peel society, I wanted to get my hands on the book.Her mail also told me that I would like the book if I had liked the Guernsey book. I expected a saccharine sweet account of the war and was pleasantly surprised with the way Libby has tackled the subject.

France has fallen to the Nazis.Britain is under siege.As BBC bulletins grow bleak,residents of Jersey expect invasion and begin to abandon their homes.When the Germans take over,they bring Nazi racial doctrine with them and the handful of Jews left on the island are forced to relinquish their livelihoods. Marlene Zimmer, a shy clerk at the aliens office, tries to conceal her Jewish ancestry but is forced to flee, and transforms herself into a resistance member under the protection of female artists and lovers, Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore.

The book spans five years (1940-45) and chronicles the lives of a bunch of residents of Jersey during the Nazi upsurgence. The narrative is interspersed with original letters, ordinances and notices that were circulated during the period. Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore were surrealist artists and propagandists who lived in Jersey during this time period and put up a resistance against the Nazis in their own subversive way by writing anonymous letters. The book talks of the wonderful relationship between the two artists and their efforts at undermining the Germans. Libby has drawn on the experiences of several Britons and her research that she did for her MA in Jewish studies to write this book.

Narrated from several viewpoints, the book is a gritty tale of the difficulties that normal civilians and Jews faced during the war.I don’t think I will ever take a piece of soap or a bar of chocolate for granted ever again ,now that I’ve read of how these were a luxury during the days of the war and that average civilian meals consisted of scraps of potato bread and pieces of wrinkled swedes. The narrative did seem a little choppy at times with the narrative switching between viewpoints of Marlene;the surrealist Artists; Peter,a prisoner and Mrs Erica Richardson, another inhabitant of the island.However,I must confess that I liked the book immensely.

I found the parts where Peter and his comrades are tortured by the Nazis and description of the sub-human conditions under which they lived heart-wrenching. It just made me wonder about the amount of hatred Hitler had stored up inside him to inflict such horror on fellow humans.I am not sure if any character stood out enough for me to like him/her more than the other,but all of them served their purpose of furthering the story. The book is cleverly written and is full of examples of bravery shown by normal people.When,at the end of the book the war ended and people could walk out in broad daylight and buy a loaf of bread ,I almost cheered.As you read about the BBC radios spewing music to kindle hope in people or about the planes roaring overhead,you’ll be transported back in time to a world that not only brimmed with hatred(thanks to the Nazis) ,but also with hope and bravery.The letters that the surrealists wrote to each other while in prison appear here for the first time.Love the cover!

Thanks to Libby for sending me this book to review.Looking forward to your next book now.

Overall, I liked the book, despite the choppiness. Libby Cone’s book is an intimate account of the war that lovers of historical fiction will enjoy.I am not very sure if people who liked Potato peel book will like this as War on the Margins is most definitely more real with real people.3.5/5 from me for the book.

A bit about the author and the book : Libby cone eared her MA in Jewish studies in 2006 and lives in Philadelphia. This book was initially self-published and found a publisher (Duckworth) after being championed by UK bloggers (YAY!!). The book has been nominated for People’s book Prize for 2010 .The US paperback as well as a kindle version has been released recently. You can find more information on the book here

The book is available on Amazon.Click here to access the Amazon page. They also have a Kindle version. The imported edition is available on Flipkart.

Thursday, December 16

Masala mix again

I thought the blog needs a breather from the book reviews I've been posting.I still have another review to finish,but that will come sometime next week.This post is going to be another Masala mix..
My post on the oldest book on my bookshelf got picked by Blogjunta as editor's pick of the week.Thanks a tonne,Blog Junta.This is my first award in the two years i have been blogging. Yaaayyy!!.You can read it here

These days i find myself in a painfully combative mood with some breed of people.Don't you just get flummoxed when people who you haven't been in touch for ages act all sweet and send you their wedding invites on email. They'll even sign off as love and kisses and hugs,when you don't really know them that well. You'll do a double take on the mail that's landed in your mailbox and feel an effusive cheer when you read how they so want you to be there at the wedding .They'll even offer to make arrangements for your stay and travel. Well,you are strangely pleased that the person thought enough of you to send an invite and send them a mail stating your inability to attend ,but congratulate them nevertheless.

As a last ditch attempt at sounding civilized, you ask about the person they are about to get married to .A week passes,couple of months pass by(make that 5-6 months) and the person who sent you the invite goes incognito. Not even a "Thanx, its okay that you can't make it.We'll be fine without your blessings".You know that the person is alive because you get random updates from that person's FB profile .You also know that your mail reached them safe and sound.What you don't understand is why should somebody go out of the way to offer arrangements for your travel,when they don't even have the decency to acknowledge your wishes. The bane of a "Send to all in address book" feature,i say !.

I have signed up for three reading challenges for 2011. The South Asian Challenge at S Krishna's books; Mystery and Suspense challenge at Book Chick City and East and South East Asian challenge at Violet's blog. You can find all the links in the sidebar.Which one's have you signed up for?. I also have taken up a personal challenge- to read at least one book every month from the BBC 100's list.This month,I am going to be reading Wuthering Heights. Other books on my bookshelf are War on the Margins by Libby Cone , Joanne Harris's The Lollipop shoes(sequel to Chocolat) and More than love letters by Rosie Thornton.I read too much of women's fiction- need to branch out and read more diverse stuff. I am especially keen on reading more of classics. What's your favorite genre? Do you like reading other genres as well?

Have a lovely week ahead (what's left of it,that is):-)

Tuesday, December 14

Bala Takes The Plunge by Melvin Durai

If there was a genre called guy-lit, Melvin Durai’s debut novel Bala Takes the Plunge would easily qualify as one. A few pages into the book and I was guffawing at Melvin’s play of words and funny observations. Rajinikant-lovers will be thrilled to encounter some of his famous dialogues in this clever and extremely witty book.

Balasubramaniam Balasubramaniam aka Bala is a big fan of Rajinikant.His ambition is to become a director and make a movie starring the Superstar. Alas, practical aspects push him to pursue an engineering degree at Thiru Harichandran University of Technology (THIT) in Chennai and get “exported” to the US.THIT!! ha ha ha!.In the US, he becomes Bill Balasubramaniam and the director of a company that produces exercise machines. Well settled in a cushy job in a company that excels in deceiving people with infomercials on their exercise machines, Bala realizes that he needs to move on to the next step in life and … gets a dog, which he names America .I know what you are thinking.Cheeky, right?. Hilarious and crazy is what I thought.

Bala wants to get married as he approaches his big 3-0 and takes the help of “How to find the perfect mate in 30 days or less with no help from your parents in India.” He fancies a white girl who works at a store nearby and is secretly thrilled when she makes polite,but random comments. But before he can take things to the next level, disaster strikes and Bala is left stranded on the highway of love.The rest of the story is about how Bala joins activity groups, matrimonial sites and seeks parental intervention to find his“perfect mate”. Funny stuff ,really!

Melvin takes digs at things as diverse as exercise machine commercials,the staggering amounts of waste that America (not the dog;-))generates,role of American dogs,attitude of Chinese suppliers,people who buy Salman Rushdie books just to appear erudite,functional purpose of butts,matrimonial ads ,the SMS lingo and many more random things. Infact, for the first 60 odd pages,there was barely any dialogue and movement in the story ,with the pages filled with wry,witty observations.The book mentions that part of Melvin’s humour columns have been incorporated into the book. Maybe, a huge chunk of the material drawn from the columns went into the first 70 pages. However, after the 70 pages, the narrative gets fast-paced and breezy.

The book’s strength is its unpretentious-ness and Melvin has done a good job at fleshing out Bala’s character-Bala is as believable as it can get.Melvin’s wit shines through the pages and he peppers the book generously with mini-jokes and one-liners. Some of the situations are thoroughly funny like the one in which Bala stands in the queue outside the Chennai American Embassy to get his H1 stamping done and contemplates the prospect of buying a two rupee Bonda. He imagines the Bonda traveling from hand to hand down the queue finally to him, coated in sweat and other “suspect” fluids. I almost fell out of the chair laughing.

Sample some more goodies from the book..

“Your appa and I walk 6 kilometers a day.He walks five kilometers in the morning and I walk one kilometer in the evening.”

American flags arrive at Walmart from a manufacturer in China bearing 53 stars .When demanded an explanation,the Chinese manufacturer says “We give you a good deal-53 stars for the price of 50.” LOL,seriously !.

Overall, a funny book that loved reading.I’ll rate it 3.5/5 and will recommend it to anyone who loves a good no-holds barred laugh. The book is really slim and can be finished in a few hours.I loved the illustration on the cover.So witty,like the rest of the book !

A big thanks to Melvin for sending me the book to review.Looking forward to his next novel.

About the author : Melvin Durai lives with his three Children and Wife in Winnipeg ,Canada and has written hundreds of humour columns in newspapers and magazines.For more information and to read his columns ,head over to his website

Sunday, December 5

Santa Comes into town..Yay!!

I’ve been a good girl this year it seems and Santa’s made an advance visit down my chimney. And I am sooper happy with Santa’s gifts this year. I have always had a fascination for Santa Claus and wanted to have a Christmas tree at home when I was growing up. At school, we used to play this game called Christ ma –Christ child and wrote anonymous letters to each other all through December, sneaking in letters when our assigned Christ child wasn’t looking on. Finally,the month -long letter writing culminated in exchange of gifts. My first gift was a yummy smelling Mr Clean Watermelon rubber that I refused to use for many,many years.Something about giving and receiving gifts brings out the child in me. Maybe,we should have Christmas all year around :-)

This year I signed up for Book Blogger’s holiday swap and Santa’s spirit lives on. A few days back, a parcel arrived for me from Gurgaon and I’ve been jumping around and grinning like a deranged monkey. Or should I say a Cheshire cat? Without further ado, let me show you the goodies that Santa Misha sent me.

Lovely,eh?.I have wanted to read The book Thief forever. And I love the lovely jewelery and the cheery,cute card she sent me.

I caught you straining to get a better look at the jewelry.Here's a close-up :-)

Pretty stuff,no?.Misha,You are a sweetheart!.

Misha blogs here and her blog is an absolute delight for bookworms. here are tons of author interviews,blog book tours,challenges and reviews. A true-blue book-addict, this girl. No wonder her blog is appropriately named "My Love affair with Books".

Do hop over to her space and check out her posts.

A few more Santas sent me some more goodies last week.Reviews of the two books coming up soon.Did i hear a few groans? ;-)

Have fun guys and spread the cheer around.Happy holidays!.