Bookshelf’d part IV and meet Renita D’silva at work

I have always been fascinated by the places where writers toil and sweat a novel out. Initially when I started out reviewing books, I had no clue how difficult writing a novel was. I just assumed that when a writer sat at her desk and started writing , words  flowed seamlessly onto the page. Little did I realise then that every word that is there on a book has a reason for being there and the writer often polishes, and re-polishes her draft till it shines 🙂  

Author at Work Part I 

Let’s go find out where Renita D’Silva author of Monsoon Memories and The Forgotten Daughters writes her masterpieces (new segment on the blog called  Author at Work). And of course, we are going to ogle her book shelves  and listen to her bookish musings 🙂 I must say she has a bunch of books that I have caught my fancy.. ***Sighs!*** 🙂 Over to you, Renita..  

Buy Monsoon Memories here 

Renita at her work-place 🙂
This is a picture of me at my ‘office’ which is just a corner of the sofa with my trusted Dell. I am lucky in that I can write anywhere and in any amount of noise, so the kids will be playing, my husband will be watching television and I will be writing, lost in a fictional world with my characters dictating their story and me their conduit. 

Some interesting titles here!

The old bookshelf we had in our room broke from the sheer weight of the books I had accumulated and refused to get rid of despite my poor husband’s pleadings, just before your request. The new bookshelf was arriving this weekend. It’s come and fixed and I have arranged my books- well, what few I managed to keep after hubby convinced me to give most away and move the rest which I couldn’t bear to part with to the loft- on the new bookshelf and now I can sleep properly again. ( The bookshelf is at the foot of my bed and I go to bed and wake up looking at my beloved books. When I did not have a bookcase, I missed this sorely.) I do borrow quite a few from the library as I read voraciously and cannot afford to buy all of them to feed my habit. One day perhaps. 

I once visited a house where an entire wall was given over to books. This is my dream: To live in a house with a room where every wall is a bookshelf. 



The picture titled ‘Writers and Artists’ has the Writers and Artists Handbook that I bought when I completed the first draft of Monsoon Memories. From it, I obtained information on how to write a query letter, how to send off a manuscript and also the list of agents and publishers to which I sent off my manuscript. Nestling between the Writers and Artists Handbook and Patrick Gale’s ‘Notes on an Exhibition’ are the anthologies and magazines where my short stories are published. 





 Nestling between ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘Everyman’s Dictionary of Quotations and Proverbs’ are my books, Monsoon Memories and The Forgotten Daughter.

Pickwick Papers.. yay! 


Kate Atkinson and Alice Munro along with some interesting books

My collection of the Mslexia magazines for women writers that I subscribed to snuggle next to ‘How to Breathe Underwater’. It was through Mslexia that I found my wonderful publisher Bookouture- they had put an ad in the magazine asking for submissions.

Peekaboo.. The Forgotten Daughter 🙂 
You had fun looking at Renita’s shelves ? Mail me at writetobedazzled@gmail.com if you want me to feature your book shelves too. You don’t fancy books but collect something else? No hassles , write in and I’ll feature you.  
Connect with Renita 

Bookshelf’d Part 1 : A tour into Anuja’s book-space

The happiest thing for a book addict is to see a well-populated book shelf , bulging under the weight of crisp and shiny new books. Anuja’s book shelves made me salivate ,the minute I took one look at the photos she shared with me.  This is Part one of a series where I’ll take you into personal  libraries of fellow book lovers. Anuja is a medical student with a serious book addiction( her shelves are a testimonial to that) .She is a warm , sweet girl who blogs at http://thegalwiththefairydust.wordpress.com  and doesn’t like pretentious literature( which is so rare in people who read as much as she does) . She once prepared a database of all the books with even the ISBNand says that her shelves look so neat because of her OCD ;0

She also takes some amazing photographs , so do drop by her page and spread some love. Would you like to show your shelves off ? Drop me a mail at writetobedazzled@gmail.com and we can talk books, pet book peeves and such other bookish stuff 🙂  

Without much ado let me show you Anuja’s shelves..

Anuja is interested in Astrology and Astronomy.  
Sophie Kinsellas sitting smug along with Nora Roberts and Cecilia Aherns. Anuja says she started getting drawn to Ireland after she started reading the Irish Witch series by Nora R.  
Pot boilers rubbing shoulders with Mr Puzo’s and Ms Rand’s gems : now this is true socialism 🙂
Ah, bliss…  

Love how she’s arranged the books by authors..
Shameless plug-  my two babies sitting on top of the shelf 🙂 
Some authors I haven’t read – but everything looks so appetizing! 
    Yay! Wodehouse..
Eclectic reader!
Want me to feature your shelves next? Write in. Till then keep smiling 🙂 

The lollipop shoes by Joanne Harris



Book :
The Lollipop Shoes (Published as The girl with no shadow in the US)
Author: Joanne Harris

ISBN: 978-0-385-60948-7
Publisher : Transworld
Pages: 459

My rating : 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads
Since she was a little girl, the wind has dictated every move Vianne Rocher has made, buffeting her from place to place, from the small French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes to the crowded streets of Paris. Cloaked in a new identity, that of widow Yanne Charbonneau, she opens a chocolaterie on a small Montmartre street, determined to still the wind at last and keep her daughters, Anouk and the baby, Rosette, safe. Her new home above the chocolate shop offers calm and quiet: no red sachets hang by the door; no sparks of magic fill the air; no Indian skirts with bells hang in her closet. Conformity brings with it anonymity and peace. There is even Thierry, the stolid businessman who wants to take care of Yanne and the children. On the cusp of adolescence, an increasingly rebellious and restless Anouk does not understand. But soon the weather turns . . . and into their lives blows the charming and enigmatic Zozie de l’Alba. And everything begins to change.

My Thoughts

I started this book with a lot of expectations and i am happy to report that I enjoyed it thoroughly. Joanne Harris’s Lollipop shoes is like dark,creamy chocolate with a hint of spice-totally heady and difficult to resist. Narrated from three POVs(Yanne, Anouk and Zozie), the narrative flows seamlessly. I loved how Joanne let a huge chunk of the narrative be told from Zozie’s perspective- I don’t really think i have read too many novels that have been narrated from the Villain’s point of view.Also,even the minor characters seemed etched out and the writing exceptionally vivid.Despite being a sequel to Chocolat, this one reads like a stand-alone book.I don’t think not reading the first book before tackling his one matters much.

The spells,totems,fables and stories about faeries and witches that Zozie and Yanne mention make the book more exotic and fascinating.It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of magic realism-Joanne’s book is a fine specimen of that genre.The writing is measured,yet intimate and warm,just like the characters in the book. There is something dangerously appealing about a slinky,chameleon-like villain and I loved Zozie’s character the most(even more than Anouk and Yanne.). The bullying and name-calling that goes on in schools also forms a huge part of the story -atleast when the narration is done from the perspective of the eleven year-old Anouk.

Joanne’s writing is breathtaking and flows beautifully.This has to be one of the best books I have read in a long, long time and I don’t think I can rave enough about it. People who are fascinated with the art of chocolate-making will love the details that Joanne shares with us and the book is about good food as much as it is about anything else.

Sample some of her writing ..

“That red-orange flare as the fire spread ,leaping and tumbling and sommersaulting like an evil acrobat from a rail of scarves to a trapeze of dreamcatchers and finally to a stack of books.”

“The problem is me.I just dont match.I’m the wrong shape,somehow the wrong colour.I like teh wrong books.I watch the wrong films in secret.I’m different whether they like it or not and I sont see why i should pretend otherwise.”

Overall,an awesome book I’ll recommend to lovers of good fiction.A full 5 on 5 from me.I am going to hunt down and read every single book written by this incredibly talented lady.






Review: We can Pull it off by Suresh Taneja


Rampant corruption in India is most often a topic a lot of us rant and rave about. But, we stop at ranting and don’t really do anything about it. Suresh Taneja’s debut book ,”We can pull it off”published by Leadstart Publishing was apparently written to sensitize people towards dubious means of earning money and the systemic corruption that plagues our society.It was envisioned as an aid towards reducing the problem.

The book starts in the year 2030 when a bunch of friends take a 6 hour flight from Delhi to Washington DC. Manisha, Akshay and Yuvika are on that flight along with their families to visit another member of their gang,Vikram,who is currently the Indian ambassador to the US. The friends call themselves G4-Gang of four.India is now the most powerful country in the world and is in a position to grant a relief package to a nation that was once a superpower.The parents of G4 were childhood friends and the families made sure that they met once every year as a tradition. During the 2030 meet,the children pester their parents to tell them all about how India became so powerful and formidable and the G4 oblige.

A string of incidents that highlight the rampant corruption in the society affect G4 and their parents personally on their yearly holiday in the year 2009. This makes the G4(all teenagers then) take notice of the detrimental effects on the society at large and makes them start a revolution of sorts against the rot in the society. They start off with organizing camps in schools,colleges and the Income tax department.What starts off as a small vacation activity gains huge momentum when they are aided by a news anchor,Varsha Dutt. Soon, several school and college children pledge their support .The revolution demands that the children question the illegal ways of money-making their parents adopt and encourage children to shun the ill-begotten money. The rest of the story is about how the G4 succeed in making India one of the most developed countries of the world.

Suresh talks about incidents like the Satyam fiasco and the one that took place in July 2008 in the parliament house,when MPs flashed wads of notes and accused other parties of bribery.Obviously,the passion that Suresh feels for the subject- the need for a morally-correct society free from corruption comes across clearly from the pages of the book. The ideas put forth in the book are relevant and would no doubt make an impact on young, impressionable minds, but the execution could have been better. There is a little humour,in the form of a prank-playing Yuvika and the antics of the gang and that provides the necessary relief from time to time.The tone is sometimes preachy,but then it might be written with an intention to inspire young children. The book is fast paced and is written in simple words.It could have benefited with some more editing to cull out grammatical and spelling mistakes.

Overall an okay book written with passion and the hope for a corruption-free India, which is a noble thought.I would rate it 3/5 for making the reader not just think about socially relevant issues that are normally swept under the carpet,but also for giving some solutions and ideas to the way forward. 2/5 for execution.Overall rating – 2.5/5.

A bit about the author: Suresh Taneja is a chartered accountant by profession and is employed as a CFO in a large listed company. This is his first book.

The book is available online and also in book stores.

This is an author requested review.

Quickees..

Have you read the book,Twitterature?-it describes plots of books for the Twitter-generation. Meh!,if you ask me.But i am technology challenged-so i really don’t get warm and gushy about twitter. Now for some quick reviews of books i have read in the last few months.

1. Keep the Change by Nirupama Subramanian

Chicklit.Chitlit.Chicklit- Screamed the cover of the book.I loved it!. Story of B.Damayanti who is sick of her life at Amman Kovil street in Chennai and her employment with SSV and sons. She decides to chuck her job in chennai and get herself a new lifestyle in Mumbai.Makeovers,f new riends and love follows.Plot was cliche,but sometimes,its the execution that matters and Nirupama’s book is a breezy ride thats been executed very well. The book is set in a bank and the plot something i could relate to having worked at a bank myself.Purists might pan the book saying it was brainless,but i think i was refreshing breath of fresh air.

2. If it is sweet by Mridula Koshy

GOSH.Thats the only word i can think of after reading a ghastly set of stories that won a spate of awards.Of course the GOSH was accompanied by wrinkling of the nose and was not uttered extolling the virtues of the book. Seriously,if you want to read some spaced out reading,you need to pick up this book.Right from a monkey that is a companion to an old lady to the story of a jeans,the book was a total let down for me. I must give Ms Koshy this much credit- Her words are luscious and the descriptions very visually potent.Other than that, a complete tangential,weird collection of stories.

3. Chai chai by Bishwanath Gosh

The writer visits some imporant train station junctions that are never final destinations for most people (like Jhansi or Jolarpet)and attempts to find out what these places look like beyond the stations. a very interesting idea,if you ask me!But the execution is shoddy and the writing very ordinary.The author made the destinations sound as if there was nothing worthwhile or remarkable to share about them..In the end it seemed like he wanted to do nothing more than get sloshed and stay inside hotel rooms.Even the random exploring he does gets boring after a few chapters.DRIVEL.DRIVEL.DRIVEL.Hubby said that the book put him in a nice holiday mood,but other than that it didnt work for him too. The languorous pace almost killed my brain-cells.

4. The Blaft anthology of Tamil pulp fiction- Pritham K chakravarthy

Mad scientists,avenging robots and cleavage touting detectives-what’s not to love ?. Translated works of some of the best known Tamil pulp fiction authors. Like any anthology,there were a few odd-balls that were bland and unduly preachy,but on the whole the stories were good fun to dig into.Some of the stories i loved were by Indra Soundarajan and Rajesh Kumar Incidentally,Rajesh kumar has written over 1500 novels and is trying to get into the Guinness book for the most number of novels written by a single author.Find generous servings of sexual fizz in the stories. After all, whats pulp-fiction without a little harmless fun ? 🙂

I am currently on the second Blaft anthology and starting Life and times of a thunderbolt kid by Bill Bryson next..Whats on your bed stands?

Blast from the past..


When other children my age were busy trawling the neighborhood and indulging in games of hopskotch,“four corners” and “lock and key” on a gloriously sunny days,I amused myself with the books of every size and shape.My mother’s pleas to get out more and play with “normal” kids most often fell on deaf ears as I remained buried in my favorite books.There was never paucity of books to keep myself occupied with as dad is a book lover himself and our shelves always bulged with books which I lapped up with wide-eyed fascination.These were mostly books for grown-ups ,but that started a habit that I am thankful for. Books were my sanctuary -my private little secret garden I could escape into and be what I wanted.I could be a fairy,a princess or even a one-eyed monster if I wanted.

During summer holidays every year, dad used to take me to the Landmark book store and let me prowl the aisles of the shop.My heart almost always lept (still does) at the sight of all the books stacked neatly in front of me.During one of the trips to the store(this should have been at least 22 years back),I set my eyes upon a collection of Illustrated Classics.The compact pocket size books were neatly shrink-wrapped and sat alluringly on the shelves,beckoning me pick them up.As I ran my fingers over the shrink-wrap, I felt a strange feeling gripping me- I wanted to touch the books with my bare hands.

The titles that were in the collection: Little women,Black beauty,20,000 leagues under the sea,Kidnapped , The Wizard of oz, Around the world in eighty days,Heidi,The adventures of Robinson Crusoe,A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s court,Three musketeers,Sherlock Holmes and the case of hound of Baskervilles and Treasure Island. But one look at the price got me misty eyed- it was way to expensive. An assistant caught me looking longingly at the books and whispered conspiratorially “ Every other page is an illustration. It is selling like hot cake-only three more left.”

I decided that minute that I had to have it and thus started a love affair.

As I gazed at books, the red, pink, blue, violet, yellow inks of the shiny book covers merged into a hazy cauldron of colors, leaving me week-kneed and breathless with anticipation. A messily executed tantrum later,I was the proud owner of 12 books.It was the first set of books that I can truly call my own and I was proud of my new acquisition.My folks tell me that I wiped the books clean every week with a dry cloth and even fiercely guarded it from my little brother,who was a toddler at that time.I remember not letting my cousins and friends if their hands were dirty .

In the years that followed, taking the book out of the glass cupboard and re-reading them with friends was almost a weekly ritual. I routinely escaped the mundaneness of school curriculum by secretly slipping the books between the covers of my science and maths textbooks.I got caught several times and that was probably when my parents realised that their daughter wasn’t going to grow up into the next Ramanujam.

Sometime later, a bunch of us at school decided to have a library and circulate our books.I don’t remember what made me sign up, but I did.Everything went smoothly for a few months and then I realised that some of my books had disappeared from circulation.I couldn’t trace the person that had borrowed the books because the entry register disappeared as well ,mysteriously. Five of the books from that collection disappeared into a blackhole and I remember crying over the loss for days. I went back to landmark to replace the books-but could never find another set again with all the books again.Over the years, I have acquired the titles I lost, but these were normal paperback versions. That day I made a decision never to part with the rest of the books EVER.I balk and refuse if someone asks me if they could borrow them.

Over the next 15 years, I moved 4 times for college and work and every time the books traveled with me, across land and seas, cloaked in my mother’s old sari. Whenever I missed my family, I whipped the books out and got lost in the worlds of Jules Verne or Louisa Mary Alcott or the other authors.I almost always cheered up after thumbing through the familiar pages filled with illustrations. And then there was that sweet ester-y smell that I loved burying my nose into.As the books get older,the sweeter they smell- like old wine tasting better then freshly made one.

Currently, the remaining seven books sit on my shelf, yellowing with dignity and age. Sometimes when I open a book, loose pages fall down and the paper crumbles at times in my hand, but I know that I’ll hold on to these pieces of my past as long as I can.I can’t think of lending them out to anyone, considering how fragile they are.I treat the books like some favorite great grand aunt who cant gallivant around the world with her aching knees and joints.

Someday, when I have children, the books will become part of their collection- a blast from their mother’s past, which I hope they will love and treasure as much as I do. Till then, I will amuse myself and re-read these books for the hundredth time.When I think about the five books I lost,I still feel guilty and sad.Sometimes I wonder where they are- in some raddi shop,rotting unloved or if they have been crushed into pulp and recycled into something new and shiny or if they are amidst book-lovers who treasure them. Where ever they are, I’ll miss them!. And this makes me hold on to the rest with fierce determination and resolve.

PS: The photo shows only 6 books,but there is another one safe with me that i missed out.(The wizard of Oz).My camera’s conked off ,so i couldn’t take another pic.

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