Debra Schoenberger's Walk With Me (Book Review and Author Interview)

Title: Walk with Me
Author: Debra Schoenberger
Genre: Adult non-fiction / Photography

Pages: 104
Publisher: Blurb
Release date: December 26, 2017
Content rating: G

My Review of Walk With Me

Debra Schoenberger's Walk With Me is a collection of photographs that portray many facets of life.
Through the lens of her camera (whether phone or dslr), Debra shows the colour and variety that we live amongst day in and day out, and almost always take for granted.

One of the recurring tropes in Debra's pictures that fascinated me is people travelling - some exhausted, others excited.
Most photographs in this collection tell stories of everyday life, the struggle and the fun of it.

In the shoes that the photographer has captured, I imagined the persons wearing them. Shoes do tell a lot about the person, they say.

From the wares at the display of a shop and graffiti on walls to empty benches which seem to tell stories of their own to shots of nature, Debra's collection is a pleasure to delve into and imagine the tales hidden in them.

My Interview with Debra Schoenberger

Me: What are the locations of the photographs? You have mentioned that some are of your 'small island city of Victoria' and I could identify a few from Mumbai. Any other places in this collection?
Debra: They are Montreal, Florence, Venice, Rome, New York, Tibet, Beijing, Canada, New Jersey and New York, Mongolia, Delhi, Amsterdam, Paris, Iceland and others.

Me: Do you usually plan your shots, or are they 'go with the flow, capture the moments' kind?
Debra: They are mostly happy accidents. :D

Me: There are quite a few shoes pics in your collection. One can see a lot of the person(s) and their story in them. Any particular reason for the fascination?
Debra: I love shoes! A pair of shoes can tell you a lot about a person.

Me: There are a couple of black and white monochromes. Any particular reason for going retro with them?
Debra: I often see a scene in my mind and if it's in black and white I will take the picture in colour and then change it into black and white.

Me: Are any of them personal pics?
Debra: I'm not quite sure what you are asking - selfies? My selfies are pretty bad so I don't take that many.

Me: Any one favourite of the collection?
Debra: Not particularly, I love all my pictures, there is a memory behind every one of them. Sometimes I'll walk into a scene and say "oh wow" and hopefully nothing happens before I have a chance to take the picture. I don't catch all of these "wow" moments but they're still in my memory.

Me: You mentioned that you take a lot of uour photographs with your phone. But given a choice when you plan a 'photography walk', do you perefer to carry your camera?
Debra: Yes, of course. I prefer to carry one of my three cameras. They are all very heavy so I usually come home a bit tired and happy if I was able to take some great pictures.

Me: What stories do the empty benches, and seats, and chairs tell you?
Debra: Lol, I didn't realize that I had so many! Hmmm, sometimes I like the composition of a scene or maybe it brings back a memory.

Me: Thanks a lot Debra for taking time to answer my questions.

Book Description:

Whenever I'm asked "which is the best camera?" I pretty much respond: "the one you have on you." In fact, most of the images in this book were taken with my cell phone simply because I always have it with me.

This is not only a book about street photography but a visual diary, or collection of quirky, unusual and sometimes just plain weird photos I've taken over the course of the last decade.

As a street photographer, I need to be an assiduous walker. My sneakers often take me to little known, hidden corners, seaweed strewn (and sometimes stinky) beaches and really cool back alleys of my rather small island city of Victoria, BC.

I've also included images of curiosities I've seen throughout my travels.

Everyone sees the world differently and this is my collection of the quirkiness that I call life.

To read reviews, please visit Debra Schoenberger's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the book: 

About the Author / Photographer:

Debra Schoenberger aka #girlwithcamera

"My dad always carried a camera under the seat of his car and was constantly taking pictures. I think that his example, together with pouring over National Geographic magazines as a child fuelled my curiosity for the world around me.

I am a documentary photographer and street photography is my passion. Some of my images have been chosen by National Geographic as editor's favourites and are on display in the National Geographic museum in Washington, DC. I also have an off-kilter sense of humour so I'm always looking for the unusual.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ Pinterest

Other photobooks you may want to add to your collection:

Montreal by Debra Schoenberger

To Be A Child by Debra Schoenberger

India by Debra Schoenberger

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The lingering pain (Book Review: Vikram Kapur's The Assassinations - A Novel of 1984)

Title: The Assassinations - A Novel of 1984
Author: Vikram Kapur
Genre: Historical Fiction

As the author introduces us to the serene Delhi of 1984, there are many small details that, being a Delhiite, I can relate to. The Defence Colony bunglows, the hangouts at Chanakya Cinema and Nirula's (there were not very many places to go to back then), the University Special, and more.

Vikram Kapur's poignant novel begins in the year 1984 at a time before the four digits evoked painful memories and strong emotions.
And the biggest problem is a rather routine one - inter-religion love marriage.

Operation Bluestar changed things. 

The author comments "Most Hindus believed it was warranted; most Sikhs disagreed"... I realize that it holds as true today as it did in 1984.

And because the plot of the book has us getting the viewpoint of both a Sikh family and a Hindu family closely, the thoughts of both find a place in this book.

There is a parallel drawn between Partition, and the situation in Punjab in 1984 and what followed after that. 
Now that I think of it, I am surprised that I did not hear this comparison being made by any of my grandparents. All four of them had seen both Partition (they had moved from Pakistan in 1947) and '84 riots.
None of them are here now. So can't ask the question.

This books touched many chords with me. I am from Delhi. I am a Sikh. 

I was eager to read this book because of 1984. I was 7 years of age in 1984. I have vague memories of seeing burning buildings from the terrace of our house. I don't remember being worried. I can't even begin to imagine how terrified the grown-ups must have been.

For me personally, reading this book was a distressing experience. It took me a while to get my thoughts in order to write about it rationally.

As I was reading this novel, as the incidents of 31st October to 3rd November unfolded, I was restless for 4th November, because I knew the terror would end as 4th would dawn. 
What was it like without knowing this? What was it like to live through it? I have asked these questions a lot recently.

Not that the discussions about 1984 are too rare. They do crop up off and on. 
But after reading this book, the first question I asked family and friends, who were grown-ups back then, is a question I had never asked before. The one question that lingered in my mind after reading The Assassinations - A Novel of 1984 - "How do you stop being afraid?"
I felt restless and upset reading the '84 riots, even though I know things will return to 'normal'. 

"What made people agree to forget and go on as before? For no matter how hard you tried, you couldn't forget." 

A few Punjabi phrases used in the book don't find a translation anywhere in the book. Much as I loved them, I wonder how a non-Punjabi speaking reader would react to them. 
You won't miss the anything about the story even if you don't understand them. And the fact is that no translation can give you the impact that the slang does, I guess is a good reason for leaving them untranslated.

Vikram Kapur's The Assassinations - A Novel of 1984 is a must-read, not just to know about 1984, not just to feel the emotions of living through the riots and the after-effects of it, but also because it is a story that could be true for any community, any place.

Romance in Small Towns - Harlequin (Book Reviews)

Title: Always the Hero
Author: Anna J. Stewart
Genre: Romance

Anna J. Stewart's Harlequin Romance Always the Hero is a pleasing story based in a small-town, Butterfly Harbor. 

Deputy Matt Knight hasn't been around for long and is struggling with lingering issues from his past, trying to make a fresh start. 
When the story starts, he has already made mistakes in his relationship with Lori Bradley. There is a charm in Matt's struggle to do the right thing, as his intentions are always good, but his actions have a tendency to lead to misunderstandings.
In the author's words, Matt is "Burly, a touch of Southern good old boy and a former soldier who has seen more than his share of tragedy. He's as honorable as they come, sometimes to a fault."

Lori's life is more or less an open book for the residents of Butterfly Harbor. Struggling with her body image issues, Lori is a warm person. The author has handled Lori's insecurities sensitively, getting the message across.
Lori is not your typical romance heroine. She is not picture perfect and is a bit of a pushover.

In the process of getting the town back on its feet, Anna J. Stewart weaves a story with Sherrif's department, a difficult mayor, an upcoming festival, and more. 
There are natives who have returned after years, others who are new to the community, and many who have been around all along.  

This was the first book in the series that I read. When one comes across happy couples in a series, it is assumed that they have had their story, and I am sure it would be fun to get glimpses of their happy lives if has read the book in which they were the central characters.
Some have had their stories, others you can look forward to.

Always the Hero is not just a romantic story. It is also about discovering oneself, about issues of body image, confidence, the struggle of war veterans, and most of all, the charm and community feeling of a small town.

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Title: Marrying the Wedding Crasher
Author: Melinda Curtis
Genre: Romance

In Melinda Curtis' Marrying the Wedding Crasher we are introduced to Harley O' Hannigan and Vince Messina away from the Harmony Valley, the small town that is the setting for this story and the series.

Harmony Valley was Vince Messina's home at one time, but he has not been back for long. He has secrets that he has kept from his family, there are lies he has told, but now he is expected to be back for his brother's wedding.

Harley O' Hannigan comes with her own baggage of secrets which have her struggling on professional and personal levels.

The fun starts when Harley agrees to attend Vince's brother's wedding as his plus-one.

Harmony Valley with it's nosy, warm and interesting residents, and with the many memories that it holds for Vince makes for a difficult place in which to pretend to be a couple.

The relationship between the two has the attraction that neither can handle which leads to tussles, and repartees, as an effort to mask the attraction.

Marrying the Wedding Crasher has you feeling the pain of a man who took up too much responsibility for his age as a kid, and continues to be crushed by it even as a grown up.
Far-fetched dreams find a parallel in the impossible architectural designs of Harley.

As Vince comes home both figuratively and literally, and as Harley finds the confidence to deal with her problems with Vince's help, Marrying the Wedding Crasher makes for an enjoyable read. 

                   Amazon * Harlequin * Barnes & Noble

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Both Always the Hero and Marrying the Wedding Crasher are small-town romances. There is both the coziness of old friends and the suffocation of everyone knowing everyone.
There is the warmth of good people and the jealousies of the mean ones.
And there is the fact that even if one lives so close and assumes that everything about everyone is known, there can be surprises.
All is not what it seems.

I read Harlequin romances after years. There is a charm to these romances. I have gone back to them often. It is like going back to the security of a story that you know won't surprise you too much. You know it will end well and there is a comfort in escaping into it.

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March 6th Bargnhtress - Spotlight Bonnie Phelps, Author - Spotlight Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers - Spotlight The Avid Reader - Spotlight T's Stuff - Spotlight My Devotional Thoughts - Spotlight Susan Heim on Writing - Spotlight Remembrancy - Review Wishful Endings - Review
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Emotions behind big money deals (8 hours: Upendra Namburi) (Book Review)

Title: 8 Hours
Author: Upendra Namburi
Genre: Fiction (Corporate Thriller)
Published by: Westland Ltd.
No. of Pages: 282
Cover Price: Rs. 350

1. I don't understand much about multi-million dollar deals. What little I do know is from movies and books... and news, especially when a bank I have an account in, is part of an 11,000 crore fraud.
2. The huge figures of hundreds of crores, and millions, and billions are just that to me... huge figures. I find it impossible to even imagine what it's like to deal with that kind of money.

It is important to mention these points beforehand because I realize that anyone who is knowledgeable about these things may find more to like (and, maybe, criticize) in this time-bound thriller of Upendra Namburi.

8 Hours is third in a series of Number novels by Upendra Namburi and the second that I have read.

Aratrika, the protagonist of 8 Hours is described as a 'Corporate Czarina' in the book. She is the Managing Director of ARYA, the company that is on the verge of possible collapse. Important decisions are to be taken in the 8 hours documented in the pages of this novel.
Aratrika has inherited the business from her father, Madhusudhan Reddy and worked hard on fitting into and expanding the male-dominated, unorganized business. 
She has an impress-hate relationship with her father. Much as she hates him for being the insensitive, abusive person that he is, she always has a need to impress him.
The Reddy family is a dysfunctional one, the craziness of which just keeps coming up with new surprises.

In the 8 hours of the night, the story moves back and forth from past to present, giving us glimpses into what has lead to the present.

8 Hours is packed with raw emotions. Too many of them, I felt at times.
The different characters of this book have distinct idiosyncrasies. The author has given an emotional touch to the practical business deal, because of which it is difficult to predict what path the deal and the lives of those involved will take.
As a character in the book says, "Life would have been much simpler if it had been just about the money". Had the decision been about only money, the choices in 8 Hours would certainly have been much simpler and much less interesting.

There is some violence in 8 Hours and it made me cringe. If it is supposed to convey the 'anything goes' attitude of the corporate world, the animal attraction, the conscience-less world, it certainly did manage to do so.

I do feel that Aratrika's character could have been portrayed better. You get introduced to many aspects of her life. Her past and present, her pain and her ruthlessness. But something was missing. I felt I still didn't understand her.

The fast-paced plot of 8 Hours is full of quick, short conversations, and abrupt phone disconnections. 
One of the problems that I faced was with the many conversations, where I lost track of who is saying what. The quick repartees had me going back to the beginning. If this person said this line, the other one the next one. And counting to the 7th or 8th one, finally figuring out who said what.

8 Hours reads like a Bollywood movie - a mixture of many paradoxes. 
Anything is possible.
8 hours of people changing sides, and quick conversations having huge impact, is rather mind-boggling. 
At times, it felt like things in 8 hours just happen, and because there is tons of money, unimaginable power, and craziness involved, it is justification enough.

I watched the movie Fargo recently. Towards the end, the police chief Marge Gunderson asks, "...for what? For a little bit of money. There's more to life than a little money, you know... I just don't understand it."
That is the thought process I can relate to. So 8 Hours for me is a peep into a world which I realize exists, but I cannot be too affected because I am asking 'why' half of the time. Why do it at all? But it is like quicksand, I realize. Shouldn't have taken the first step but you didn't know.

I understand emotions. Money, that too of the kind of amounts here are beyond my comprehension. It is the emotions that kept me hooked to the book. Emotions and the fact that 8 Hours is fast-paced, easy to read.